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Nigeria not handing over Ajaotuka Steel Plant to British firm. Here’s why

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Nigeria’s Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, has refuted reports that the Federal government of Nigeria plans to hand over the Ajaokuta Steel plant to a British firm for rehabilitation.

The refuter was revealed via a statement issued by the minister’s Special Assistant on Media, Ayodeji Adeyemi on Monday.

The statement is in reaction to a report on some media outlets that the Ajaokuta Steel plant will be handover to a British firm,

“A local company in partnership with a British company has offered to execute the technical audit at no cost to Nigeria and with no preconditions. This was what I said at the media parley at the statehouse and not that Ajaokuta would be handed over to a British company for rehabilitation.” The statement reads.

The minister further explains that the ministry’s partnership with a Russian firm on the resuscitation of the plant due to international sanctions placed on Russia, which have also impacted Russian firms and businesses.

“The minister clarified that a local Nigerian firm with a British partner had expressed interest in carrying out the TECHNICAL AUDIT for free with no preconditions. The minister pointed out that the federal government had been in discussion with a Russian firm Messrs TPE (nominated by the Russian government) towards conducting the technical audit. The war between Ukraine and Russia has caused a setback to the proposed plan.” The statement concludes.

The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) is located in Ajaokuta, Kogi State, Nigeria on a 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) site starting in 1979, it is the largest steel mill in Nigeria, and the coke oven and by-products plant are larger than all the refineries in Nigeria combined. However, the project was mismanaged and remains incomplete 40 years later. Three-quarters of the complex has been abandoned, and only the light mills have been put into operation for small-scale fabrication and the production of iron rods.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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Botswana central bank predicts fall of inflation rates, maintains monetary policy

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Botswana’s central bank has predicted that the country’s inflation rate will gradually fall back within its target range by 2024.

The bank is predicting that inflation will fall back within the 3%-6% range in the third quarter of 2024. The prediction has made it keep its monetary policy rate unchanged at 2.65% on Thursday.

The bank’s governor, Moses Pelaelo while speaking at a news conference said “the domestic economy will continue to perform below capacity in the medium term and therefore not pose any inflationary pressures.”

The inflation rate in the Southern African country dipped to 13.1% year on year in October from 13.8% in September but is still far above the central bank’s 3%-6% preferred band.

“The drop in inflation in the past months is due to the dissipating effects of previous increases in administered prices,” Pelaelo said.

According to the World Bank, Botswana’s reliance on diamonds and a public sector-driven model makes the economy vulnerable to external shocks, as diamonds contribute over 80% of total exports and are a major source of fiscal revenues.

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