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Innoson exports $4.7m made-in-Nigeria vehicles to Sierra Leone

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The first batch of vehicles manufactured for the government of Sierra Leone by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Ltd., IVM, has been delivered to the West African country by the Nnewi-based indigenous automaker. The vehicles, which arrived in Freetown on November 21, 2022, were built to order by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Defence. The request for the made-in-Nigeria vehicles was made during a working visit to Innoson Vehicles by the top hierarchy of the Sierra Leone Defence Ministry led by Mr. Edward Soloku, the Minister of Internal Affairs, as well as the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation, SLRTC, led by its President, Mr. Isaac Ken-Green.

Head of Corporate Communications, Innoson Group, Cornel Osigwe, said in a statement that various models of vehicles bought within that dispensation were for the present administration. Osigwe explained that subsequently, the government of Sierra Leone, led by President Julius Maada Bio, placed an order for the manufacturing of Innoson vehicles valued at $4.7 million for the officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, RSLAF. The first set of vehicles supplied from Nigeria to Sierra Leone left on Monday from Queen Elizabeth 2 Port (Sierra Leone’s seaport, “Water Quay”) in Free Town for distribution to military officers across the country.

Reacting to the development, the people of Sierra Leone have been commending their president, Julius Maada Bio, for acting in line with the spirit of the continental agreement by opting for an African, IVM, brand of vehicles for the use of the country’s armed forces. In one of the many reports in the local media on the purchase of the made-in-Nigeria vehicles, a popular blog in Sierra Leone, Focus News Blog, hailed President Bio for believing that “our army officers deserve better.” The post, which showed a line-up of the IVM products from Nigeria, informed Sierra Leoneans that the vehicles would soon be “ready for distribution to military officers across the country” by the government.

Innoson Group has penetrated the vehicle market over the years. It is currently serving as one of the few wholly African car assemblers. One of the effusive commendations for President Bio by a Sierra Leonean, Francis Ken Samu, remarked, “We are on top of the situation in times of security.  Congratulations, Mr. President Bio! Keep the military colour flag flying higher than ever before in Sierra Leone’s history. God bless you, HE President Bio, for equipping the RSLAF.” This development is indeed a step towards the acceleration of intra-African trade, as facilitated by the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

With the arrival of the Innoson vehicles in Free Town, Sierra Leone has become the first country in West Africa whose armed forces are using the IVM products outside Nigeria. Four years ago, the Nigerian Army signed a partnership agreement with the Nnewi auto plant for the supply of purpose-built vehicles for its personnel. The agreement also includes identifying requirements for the production of the armoured fighting vehicle in the Nigerian Army Central Workshop in Kaduna and enhancing the capacity of Nigerian Army personnel to actively participate in the successful implementation of these joint ventures  The export of Innoson is coming two years after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the AfCFTA agreement in July, 2019. (Vanguard)

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Alaba traders shut market to collect PVCs

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•Alaba International Market

Traders at the two major markets at the sprawling Lagos International Trade Fair Complex, Balogun and Article markets, yesterday shut their shops to collect Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

The measure was a decision by the management of the markets to give traders in the commercial hub the opportunity to get their PVCs at ward areas ahead of the January 29 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deadline.

Those who fail to collect the cards at the ward centre at the expiration of the deadline will have to go to INEC offices in their local government secretariats to collect same.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the automobile spare parts market within the complex was shut last Saturday for the same purpose.

Spokesman for Balogun Market, Mr. Leo Ogbonna, told NAN that the shops were shut to encourage the traders to collect their PVCS and exercise their franchise on Election Day. (NAN)

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Banks hoarding new Naira notes for next month’s elections – Shehu Sani

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Former lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani has alleged that banks are hoarding the redesigned Naira notes for politicians in the February elections.

There has been outrage across the country over the scarcity of new notes as banks continue to dispense the old notes despite the approaching deadline.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, which earlier directed that the old notes be phased out on January 31, had urged customers to persuade banks for the new notes.

Less than 11 days to the deadline, customers are yet to access the notes in banks.

Speaking on the matter, Shehu Sani in a tweet on Saturday alleged that politicians are conniving with banks to hoard the new notes for the February election.

According to him, the refusal of the banks to release the notes defeated the ultimate aim of the redesigning.

He wrote, “Banks are hoarding the new currency from the public with the intent of making it available for politicians next month to be able to buy votes.

“The ultimate aim of redesigning the national currency is defeated”.

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Enugu Electricity Distribution Company increases tariff by 13%

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EEDC

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), has said the recent minor electricity tariff adjustment of about 13 per cent reflected current economic realities in the country and was necessary to keep the electricity industry alive.

The Head, Corporate Communications of EEDC, Mr Emeka Ezeh, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Sunday.

The tariff rate for Non-MD customers under R2SB class increased from N58.47 to N66.47 per kilowatt.

Ezeh spoke on the sidelines of complaints by some customers over the surprise increase in tariff per kilowatt they noticed which cuts across all categories of customers within the company’s network franchise area in the South-East.

He said that the minor adjustment, which took effect from Dec. 1, 2022, was approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) some months ago across all electricity distribution companies in the country.

According to him, there is a minor adjustment by some percentage across board in the whole electricity distribution companies nationwide currently and it is not peculiar to EEDC alone.

He said: “The minor increase in the rate of tariff approved by NERC is for Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCOs) to meet up with the current economic realities in the power/electricity sector.

“Currently, the sector is seriously affected by the high inflationary rate in the country; as it affects our daily operational maintenance and services to our esteemed customers in our network.

“The issue of high foreign exchange rate is affecting our business too in terms of importing most of our spare parts needed for daily maintenance and repairs in the network.

“The high foreign exchange rate also impact on EEDC ever increasing investment on installations to further expand and fortify the network, leading to the improved services customers are experiencing within the South-East.”

The EEDC spokesman appealed for the understanding of its esteemed customers, adding that if the indices mentioned and other factors “turn positive tomorrow; we belief that NERC will review the tariff downwards”.

“The recent development is for us to remain in business, service our customers better and maintain obligations to other stakeholders within the sector/industry,” he added.

However, customers within EEDC network in Enugu have continued to complain that the increase is already tightening the existing economic hardship.

They were of the view that before now, the high inflationary rate of about 22 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), was even affecting how their families feed daily.

Mr Obinna Nwafor, a resident of Achara layout in Enugu, noted that it was terrible that the residents cannot get any economic respite; “as there are so many struggles to survive in the country”.

Nwafor said: “I wish this increase has not come now; so that at least we can have a sector that is relatively stable and not being affected by the nationwide inflationary trend”.

Mr Jude Onyia, a resident of Uwani axis of Enugu metropolis, urged EEDC to consider those in the lower categories of their tariff line and exclude them from the increase.

“It is clear that those of us in the low category of the tariff cannot easily meet up and other alternatives to electricity are quite costly too,” Onyia said.

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