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MTN $8.1bn repatriation case: Court adjourns till Jan.22

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A Federal High Court Lagos, on Wednesday, further adjourned until Jan. 22, 2019 for report of settlement in a suit between MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over repatriation of 8.1 billion dollars.

Justice Saliu Saidu adjourned the case for report after parties had informed the court that they were still engaged in settlement talks.

At the last adjourned date on Dec. 4, counsel had told the court that parties were discussing settlement, and had sought an adjournment for report of settlement.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) announced his appearance alongside two other senior lawyers for MTN.

Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) announced his appearance for CBN, while Mrs Oluwakemi Kanbu, appeared for the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

Olanipekun then said: “we were before this court on Dec. 4, and had told the court that parties were talking settlement, my Lord, the discussion is still ongoing and progressing.

“As a result of this, we seek further indulgence for a date in January, so we can inform your lordship on further developments. We are very much obliged,’’ he said

In the same vein, counsel to CBN, (Sowemimo) said: “I confirm that we are still making moves for out of court settlement, and we will be available on Jan. 22, 2019, subject to the court’s convenience.’’

Counsel to the AGF (Kanbu) also aligned with the submission of Sowemimo.

Following the development and based on agreement of parties, the court consequently adjourned the case until Jan. 22, 2019, for a report of settlement.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that MTN had filed the suit, seeking an injunction to restrain the CBN and AGF from taking further actions to reclaim the alleged debts.

The firm wants the court to hold that CBN lacks power to determine its civil obligations or penal liabilities.

It is urging the court to declare that the CBN acted outside its statutory powers when it wrote a letter to it on Aug.18, demanding a refund of 8.1 billion dollars.

It wants the court to hold that the demand was illegal, oppressive, abusive, unauthorised and unconstitutional.

On its part, CBN alleged that the telecoms firm improperly repatriated dividends, and requested that MTN should return 8.1 billion dollars to its coffers.

Meanwhile, MTN had filed a sister case before another judge of same court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke, against the AGF, challenging a withholding tax assessment of 1.3 billion dollars and an import duty tax of N242 billion.

MTN queries these assessments.

Justice Aneke has fixed Feb. 7, 2019 for hearing of all pending applications in this suit. (NAN)

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Press Release

Talabat expands outsourcing services in Egypt through regional customer service center in Cairo

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talabat Egypt Managing Director, Hadeer Shalaby (Image: Supplied)

Talabat, one of the leading food and grocery delivery apps in Egypt and the Middle East, has announced the expansion of its outsourcing services in Egypt with a regional customer service center located in Cairo. This expansion comes in tandem with the company’s one-year anniversary since rebranding and will allow talabat to enhance its cutting-edge services to its seven current markets. These include Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq while providing services in three primary languages: Arabic, English and Kurdish.

The expansion of its outsourcing services comes in light of talabat’s role as one of the driving technology companies that supports the Egypt 2030 Vision and Digital Egypt plan. talabat also aims to provide a direct and permanent channel of communication between them and all customers through various mediums.

“Egypt was our first choice to establish talabat’s regional service center given its large pool of young talents with mastery of different languages and eagerness to build their capacities as we train our employees on the latest and best technologies. Additionally, the presence of a solid infrastructure allows Egypt to manage the largest workload possible, as being positioned in the middle of the world offers a decent time lag that gives good access to most global communications lines,” said Hadeer Shalaby, Managing Director of talabat Egypt.

The center controls all operations related to our business’ ecosystem which is constituted primarily by employees, customers and partners. The center’s role begins with restaurants by creating their tailor-made and data-driven menus, onboarding them onto our application, raising their awareness of our provided services and handling their requests and complaints. On the customers front, we support dealing with all inquiries and requests through multiple channels that include chat rooms, e-mail, and phone calls; to provide a unique ordering experience characterized by professionalism and ease,” said Usama Nabil, Senior Director Operations SSC.

Shalaby explained that a hybrid model is being implemented for the regional service center that allows customer operations management at the headquarters and outsourcing. Employees are coached to manage customer inquiries, emails as well as all the services provided by talabat. This is rolled out in a way that keeps pace with the Egyptian government’s efforts in enhancing the capacity building of young cadres within the field of communication and information technology. Currently, talabat has 2,000 employees in the center and sees that number to reach 3,000 during peak seasons such as the month of Ramadan.

talabat team Image: Supplied)

Driving a seamless ordering experience is the ultimate objective for talabat Egypt. We are working towards that goal daily on all fronts, one of which is through employing top-notch talent that can bring both customers and partners a smooth experience,” Shalaby added. Furthermore, talabat has a solid team of experts specialized in training Human Resources who are always on the lookout for the latest developments in technology and work variables to ensure that the training curricula is always up to date. All new employees are extensively trained for two weeks, followed by another two weeks of cohabitation in the work environment.

 

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ReelFruit Secures $3 Million Series A Funding To Expand Production with New Factory

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ReelFruit CEO/Founder; Affiong Williams (Image: Supplied)

ReelFruit, a premium dried fruit company known for its high quality nutritious snacks, today announced a Series A investment of $3M. Alitheia IDF led the round and invested $2M while other investors included Samata Capital and Flying Doctor Healthcare Investment Company. The New Practice advised ReelFruit on the transaction. With the capital, ReelFruit will scale its dried fruit production, develop new products, and increase exports by 10 x to 15 MT in the first year.

Key to its expansion plans, ReelFruit will acquire a new factory in Ogun State to increase its monthly dried fruit production from 6 MT to 30 MT. The factory will hire over 200 people in its first year. With its greater supply of dried fruit, ReelFruit will continue to innovate new products for the local and international markets.

As part of its efforts to secure high quality raw materials, it plans to deepen its existing work with Nigerian fruit farmers. The company will form an agro-extension services program for 250 registered mango and pineapple producers. The program will boost fruit yields and help support a steady supply of high quality raw material for the factory.

To meet strong demand for its dried fruit snacks, ReelFruit will diversify its local and international sales channels. The company will launch an e-commerce channel for direct US sales by 4Q21. ReelFruit will also unlock more B2B opportunities including white-labelling and co-packing to support the national drive toward import substitution. Local buyers will be able to buy dried fruit locally thereby reducing dependence on imports. Reelfruit is already on track to double last year’s revenues by November 2021.

“This investment takes ReelFruit to the next level. We can meet increased demand for our products and tackle one of our biggest challenges – raw material supply. We’re thrilled that this will unleash a greater impact on our value chain by increasing farmer incomes and creating up to 300 decent jobs for Nigerians,” Affiong Williams, ReelFruit CEO/Founder.

“Alitheia IDF is proud to support ReelFruit’s ongoing efforts to boost food production in Nigeria and positively impact communities through deliberate partnerships with local farmers, distributors, and retailers. The investment will strengthen the company to unlock further growth, upskill farmers and improve economic outcomes for thousands of women who play a significant role in the production of ReelFruit’s products,” said Tokunboh Ishmael, Alitheia IDF co-founder.

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Press Release

Wärtsilä signs Concession Agreement to develop, operate and maintain major 120 MW power plant project in Gabon

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From left: Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A and Akim Daouda, CEO of Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic ©FGIS

Wärtsilä, the technology group and Gabon Power Company (GPC), the subsidiary of the Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic (FGIS) dedicated to energy and water, have on 22 September 2021 signed a Concession Agreement with the Government of Gabon for the development, supply, construction, operation and maintenance of a 120 MW gas power plant. Wärtsilä, jointly leading the project development with GPC, will build the plant under a full Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract and will then operate and maintain the plant under a long-term 15-year Operation and Maintenance (O&M) agreement. The EPC contract and the O&M agreement will be signed in 2022 with Orinko S.A., the joint venture between Wärtsilä and GPC.

The plant will be located at the industrial site of Owendo, close to Libreville, the country’s capital. When commissioned, the plant will supply electricity to Société d’Energie et d’Eau du Gabon (SEEG), the Gabonese utility, under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement. The project represents one of the largest of its kind in Sub-Sahara Africa and a sizeable energy infrastructure project for Gabon.

“There is currently a structural deficit between the supply capability and the demand for electricity, which is increasing year by year. This project will play an important role in bridging this deficit, and some 600,000 people will ultimately benefit from a more sustainable and economical electricity supply delivered to SEEG. The plant will replace rented generation assets by SEEG and bring significant benefits, in line with Gabon sustainability ambitions,” said Marcelin Massila Akendengue, General Director, Gabon Power Company.

“This is a major and very comprehensive project that will deliver sustainable energy at a competitive price. It highlights many of Wärtsilä’s strengths, including the efficiency and flexibility of our generating sets, our EPC capabilities, our project development skills with insight into the financing arrangements, and our lifecycle support through long-term O&M agreements,” said Nicolas Mathon, Director, Project Development, Africa and Europe, Wärtsilä Energy and Managing Director, Orinko S.A. “The project also emphasises the leadership role that Wärtsilä plays in moving the industry towards a decarbonised future by delivering solutions that enable a transition to renewable energy.”

The project is being developed under a Public Private Partnership framework, with the asset to transfer to the Gabonese authorities at the end of the concession agreement. It has the full support of the government of Gabon, with the Council of Ministers approval received in May 2021, and the Concession Agreement having received approvals by the country’s President, Prime Minister, and the relevant Ministries. When completed, the project will have a major impact on the Gabonese economy.

Wärtsilä’s installed base in West Africa comprises 440 plants with 946 engines producing 4928 MW in 34 countries. In Gabon, Wärtsilä has a long-term presence from projects delivered and contracted with SEEG and private energy intensive companies.

 

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