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IMF reaches agreement with Benin Republic to extend its $658 million credit facility

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), has reached what it termed as a staff-level agreement with Benin Republic on a new 42-month extended credit facility worth $658 million.

In a statement on Friday, the global bank said the extension is intended to help the impoverished West African country address its pressing financing needs related to security, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as anchor its national development plan.

“IMF staff and the Beninese authorities have reached agreement on an innovative program – first case under the IMF’s High Combined Credit Exposure (HCCE) policy – to support the economy in the near-term while advancing policies and reforms to foster sustained private sector led growth,” the statement said.

The agreement which is subject to approval by IMF Management and the Executive Board around mid-June 2022, will see Benin having access to borrow from the IMF on more liberal terms, according to the statement.

An IMF team led by Constant Lonkeng, held meetings with Beninese representatives in Cotonou during April 4–13 and in Washington D.C. during April 19–22 to negotiate a new program in support of the authorities’ ambitious policy plans and to conduct the 2022 Article IV consultation. The agreement is subject to approval by IMF Management and the Executive Board around mid-June 2022.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Lonkeng issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that the Beninese authorities and the IMF team have reached a staff-level agreement on new 42-month blended Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangements to support the authorities’ economic and financial policies.

“The proposed exceptional access under the ECF/EFF of SDR 484.058 million (equivalent to US$ 658.4 million or 391 percent of quota) seeks to help Benin address pressing financing needs, preserve macroeconomic stability, and anchor the country’s National Development Plan centered on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Nigeria: Antigraft agency EFCC says 70% of financial crimes traceable to banks

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Banks are implicated in about 70% of financial crimes in Nigeria, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This was revealed by EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukayode, during a speech at the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria’s 2023 Annual Retreat and General Meeting in Abuja. He pointed out that the banking sector was increasingly becoming a cesspool of fraudulent activities, and this had been raising considerable challenges and concerns for the commission.

Olukayode, who was represented by the Director, Internal Audit, EFCC, Idowu Apejoye, said there was a need for concerted effort by relevant authorities and professionals, especially audit executives, to prevent and tackle issues of fraudulent practices in the sector.

He said, “Broadly speaking, banking fraud in Nigeria is both inside and outside related. Inside-related fraud comprises outright selling of customers’ deposits, authorising loan facilities, forgery and several other kinds of unhealthy and criminal practices.

“The outsider related ones include hacking, ATM fraud, and conspiracy, among others. And then the absurd one is when both collaborate—that is, collaboration among the bankers and the outsiders.

“That one is the one that is really absurd because when you do that, that means you are selling out the system. It is estimated that about 70% of financial crimes in Nigeria are traceable to the banking sector, this scenario is disturbing and unacceptable.”

Olukayode said that ACAEBIN should make sure that accounts are properly reconciled each month in compliance with accounting regulations in order to stop the inconsistencies.

He gave the group tasks like keeping an eye on banks’ financial operations, comparing actual and planned revenue and expenses, conducting periodic assessments, and conducting checks.

Prince Akamadu, the chairman of ACAEBIN, declared that the organisation would strive to implement some of the suggestions made by the head of the EFCC.

He added that one of the goals of the retreat was to address the association’s complete commitment to resolving Nigeria’s foreign currency problems.

“That is part of the reason why we are having this retreat—to ask ourselves, to do an introspection and ask ourselves, given our position in the banking industry, or the executives of banks in Nigeria, are we doing enough?

“Have we done enough? What more can we do to help in sanitising the system? Are there things the banks could do to help in sanitising the FX in this country?”

“By the end of this retreat, we are expected to come up with a communique, and we hope to address some of the issues, one way or another, that will address the role of banks in FX challenges in this industry.”

For the past year, e-payment channels like computer/web, mobile, and point of sale have continued to be targeted by scammers. FITC’s “Reports on Frauds and Forgeries in Nigerian Banks” show that banks record 78,584 occurrences of online fraud annually, indicating that the growth of electronic payments has allowed for the persistence of this crime.

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Energy, rental expenses lower Airtel Uganda’s pre-tax profit in 2023

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Telecom company, Airtel Uganda, reported on Monday that a rise in energy and rental expenses was behind a 9.8% decrease in pre-tax profit for 2023 compared to the previous year.

The company, a division of the massive Indian telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, went public last year on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) following a significantly undersubscribed IPO.

Its pre-tax profit for the previous year was 426.8 billion Ugandan shillings ($108.9 million). In the east African nation, Airtel faces off against a division of the MTN Group headquartered in South Africa.

Established in 1995, Airtel Uganda (previously known as Celtel Uganda Limited) launched the country’s first mobile cellular network. Airtel acquired the business in June 2010 and renamed it Airtel Uganda.

MTN accounted for roughly 54% of all mobile subscriptions in Uganda as of the fourth quarter of 2022. Over the period from 2015 to 2022, Airtel has maintained the second-highest proportion of wireless subscribers, accounting for 33% of all subscriptions since 2016.

Beginning to rise in 2020, Airtel’s share will reach 42% by 2022. By the fourth quarter of 2020, Africell held about 11% of Uganda’s mobile subscriptions. However, in 2021, the company suspended operations and left the nation.

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