Press zooms in on new travel restrictions, lockdowns of economies, others

The report of travel restrictions being reinstated against a number of countries in southern Africa and the concerns about the…

The report of travel restrictions being reinstated against a number of countries in southern Africa and the concerns about the risk that the new infectious variant could return many economies to lockdowns is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Monday.The Guardian reports that with travel restrictions being reinstated against a number of countries in southern Africa by the United Kingdom, United States of America and Singapore, among others, as well as the European Union (EU) and Brazil calling for the same, there are concerns about the risk that the new infectious variant could return many economies to lockdowns.

For many economies dependent on commodities trading, there are concerns for the recovery recently recorded as oil prices slumped by over 10 per cent across the board, hovering at $72 a barrel from the rally of $80.

The black liquid benchmarks had one of their worst weekly performances last week with both contracts losing over $10 a barrel on Friday, representing their largest one-day drop since April 2020.

Both benchmarks were set to reverse their four-week losing streak, posting over three per cent gain as of mid-week. However, a new variant of the coronavirus, which is reportedly vaccine-resistant, caused panic selling of the black liquid.

The sell-off was prompted by the discovery in South Africa of a new Coronavirus variant, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week.

The WHO said it is concerned about the variant’s large number of mutations and said “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection” when compared with other strains of the virus.

The newspaper says that more reactions, yesterday, denounced the planned removal of petroleum subsidy and introduction of N5,000 transportation subsidy to 40 million Nigerians as announced by the Federal Government last week.

The President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Francis Wale Oke, cautioned the government against compounding people’s woes with subsidy removal.

In a release issued by his media office, Oke, who is also the presiding Bishop of The Sword of the Spirit Ministries, warned that the implementation of such policy would increase the hardship currently being experienced by citizens.

The cleric lamented that prices of consumables and other items were going out of reach of the people, noting that if the proposed subsidy removal is effected, it will heighten the hardship in the land.

He said: “An increase in the price of petrol from its present N165 to N340 per litre can trigger tension and crises in the country, which in turn can paralyse our economy if not handled with utmost care.

“Everybody will feel it, particularly, the less privileged. The negative effects will surely outweigh the positive. The cost of transportation for humans and goods across the country will skyrocket and other things connected, which will have a spiral effect on the general living standard of the populace; the suffering will be multi-dimensional. Please let all stakeholders be sensitive to this avoidable path and do the needful.”

He lamented that the situation has become worrisome due to the reduction in the purchasing power of Nigerians caused by the continuous fall in the value of the nation’s currency at the exchange market.

The Punch reports that latest data obtained from the Nigeria power grid shows that electricity generation on the national grid plunged by 849.2 megawatts, as power producers blamed this on the poor utilisation of energy by the system.

A study of the country’s grid performance as posted on Sunday showed that a peak power generation of 4,898MW was recorded on November 26, 2021, but this dropped to 4,048.8MW on November 27.

Our correspondent also observed that the total energy generated on November 27 was 108,361.39 megawatt-hour, which was lower than the 111,436.31MWh that was recorded the preceding day.

Findings from the latest report on the grid performance indicated that the total energy of 106,802.88MWh that was sent out on November 27, was also lower than the 109,883.01MWh, which was sent out the preceding day.

But power producers blamed the drop in generation to the poor utilisation of generated electricity.

Reacting to claims that the poor supply of electricity was due to lack of generation, the Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Joy Ogaji, said Gencos were not dispatching at full capacity due to the poor utilisation of what they produce. She said, “There may be many reasons for the ‘seemingly perceived poor or lack of generation.

The Sun says that Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) is set to unveil a new Domestic Base Price (DBP) framework and applicable gas wholesale price for the strategic domestic sector.

Its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Farouk Ahmed, who disclosed this at the weekend, noted that the new framework was in fulfilment of the relevant sections of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.

The law, which was assented to by the President on the August 16, 2021 and gazetted on the August 27, 2021, provides a clear regulatory framework for the determination of a market-based pricing regime for the domestic gas market in Nigeria.

In line with Section 167 and Third and Fourth Schedule of the Act, which require the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to determine the Domestic Base Price (DBP), three months following the effective date of the Act.

Ahmed indicated that the applicable Wholesale Gas Price for the power sector shall be the established Domestic Gas Price.

He hinted that the DBP would be determined annually based on the criteria set in the Third Schedule of the Act, which are: reference DBP to prices of gas in countries with significant reserves and production of natural gas.

The newspaper reports that Nigeria’s is planning to increase its refining capacity in modular refinery operations by 10,000 barrels per day next month.

The move to grow the country’s poor refining capacity was disclosed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr. Simbi Wabote, during an inspection visit to the Duport Energy Park located at Egbokor, in Edo state.

Wabote, noted that the Duport Modular Refinery is on track to be completed before the end of December 2021.

The project is being developed with equity contribution from the NCDMB in line with the Federal Government’s policy of catalysing modular refining, which is geared towards increasing in-country refining of petroleum products, adding value to crude oil resources, and creating jobs from oil and gas operations.

The Executive Secretary indicated that installations and civil works at the plant as well as all mechanical works would be concluded before December 23, 2021, noting that by first quarter of 2022, the gas gathering facility will also be completed.

The NCDMB boss hinted that local content opportunities on the project are numerous, noting that 100 percent of the total workforce is all Nigerians from the clearing of the site to the civil works.

ThisDay says that the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Lagos State government have expressed optimism about the launch of 10 megawatt data centre facility in Nigeria by the Africa Data Centres, which held in Lagos at the weekend.

Both the federal government and the Lagos State government said the launch would further diversify Nigeria’s economy and enhance her digital transformation agenda.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Licensing at NCC, Muhammed Babajika, said the facility launch in Lagos was a welcomed development and that the NCC would offer all the regulatory support that will make Africa Data Centres succeed and achieve its objectives in Nigeria.

According to Danbatta, “The diversification of Nigeria’s economy is a key priority for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, and government therefore welcomes Africa Data Centre to Nigeria to further boost her diversification process. Growing the ICT sector is a priority for government and we welcome Africa Data Centre to join government in further growing the sector.”