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MTN announces airtime sales channels as banks standoff continues

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he telecommunications firm, MTN, has announced alternative channels for consumers to buy airtime for the phones, after commercial banks disallowed MTN subscribers to use their channels.

Banks removed the telecom firm from their platforms on Friday, following a feud over the sharing of fees by both sides.

The disagreement began after MTN reduced the percentage it remits to the banks for each amount of airtime from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

Sources within the company defended the move, citing applicable charges elsewhere, while banks said MTN was already paying lower than other telcos.

The Nigerian government said it intervened in a late Friday and that talks to resolve the row “reached an advanced stage” for the suspended service to be restored.

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“On the fallout between @MTNNG and some banks on USSD services today, I engaged with both regulators, the Governor of @cenbank and EVC @NgComCommission. We have reached an advanced stage of resolving the issues, for the services to be restored to our citizens. Many thanks,” the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, announced on Twitter.

The situation unchanged, however, 24 hours later as customers were still unable to use the banks’ USSD systems to recharge.

Alternative

On Friday, MTN through its spokesperson, Funso Aina, advised subscribers to use alternative channels to access its services electronically.

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Gates Foundation Shakes As American Billionaire, Warren Buffett Resigns From The Foundation

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arren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that he has resigned as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, weeks after the couple announced their divorce.

Mr. Buffett, a longtime friend of Mr. Gates, had been a huge presence at the Gates Foundation: It is one of five nonprofit organisations to which he has pledged the majority of his fortune — estimated at $105.3 billion, according to Forbes — and the only one not run by a member of the Buffett family.

All told, Mr. Buffett, 90, has donated $41 billion worth of Berkshire stock to the five foundations. In Wednesday’s announcement, he said he has donated an additional $4.1 billion, New York Times reports.

“For years I have been a trustee — an inactive trustee at that — of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG),” Mr. Buffett said in a statement. “I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire’s.”

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Mr. Buffett did not give a reason for his action. The foundation’s reputation for global philanthropy has lately been overshadowed by reports of Mr. Gates’s questionable conduct in work-related settings. The New York Times has reported that on at least a few occasions, Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and at the foundation, according to people with direct knowledge of his overtures.

In 2019, Microsoft’s board, on which Mr. Gates sat, opened an inquiry into one of those cases after being notified that he had “sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesman said. The board hired a law firm to investigate. The following year, Mr. Gates stepped down from Microsoft’s board.

Also in Wednesday’s statement, Mr. Buffett acknowledged the recent debate over how little in income tax American billionaires — including himself — pay. Citing leaked Internal Revenue Service data, the news organisation Propublica reported that the Berkshire chief paid just $23.7 million in taxes from 2014 to 2018, a period when his wealth grew $24 billion.

Without referring to the ProPublica article specifically, Mr. Buffett acknowledged that he had “relatively little” income, with his wealth flowing largely from his Berkshire holdings. He also argued that his charitable donations led to only about 40 cents per $1,000 in donations.

A longtime advocate of tightening tax rules for the wealth, Mr. Buffett said Wednesday that although tax deductions were important to some wealthy donors, “it is fitting that Congress periodically revisits the tax policy for charitable contributions, particularly in respect to donors who get imaginative.”

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Nigeria Relegated As Amazon Chooses Its African Headquarters In South Africa

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mazon has concluded plans to open its African headquarters in South Africa with a real estate investment of over R4 billion.

Authorities in Cape Town said Amazon would be occupying a new development in River Club, a prime section of the city, local media reported.

The 15-hectare parcel of land will cost R4 billion and include two precincts. Authorities said the first precinct of 60,000sqm would occupy different layers of development, while the second section of 70,000 will hold Amazon headquarters in Africa.

“US retail giant, Amazon, will be the anchor tenant, opening a base of operations on the African continent,” Cape Town city officials said in a statement. “The development is envisaged to take place in phases, with construction set to take place over three to five years.”

Over 5,000 direct construction jobs and 19,000 indirect jobs are expected to be created due to the move, Business Tech reported.

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Amazon has had its web engineering giant AWS in South Africa for years, but its main e-commerce services have not been available anywhere on the continent.

The announcement comes a week after Twitter picked Ghana for its first African office and headquarters. Twitter said Ghana’s democratic and economic strides made the West African country a highly competitive destination over Nigeria and other countries.

It was unclear whether Amazon considered Nigeria and similar parameters as Twitter while deciding its African base.

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We’re Losing Millions Of Dollars To Sell Cement In Nigeria—Dangote

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angote Group says its cement is cheaper in Nigeria than in Ghana and that it is losing dollar earnings focusing on the Nigerian market.

“To ensure that we meet local demands, we had to suspend exports from our recently inaugurated export terminals, thereby foregoing dollar earnings,” he said, adding that the company also reactivated its 4.5 million ton capacity Gboko plant

“While a bag of cement sells for an equivalent of $5.1, including VAT in Nigeria, it sells for $7.2 in Ghana and $5.95 in Zambia ex-factory, inclusive of all taxes,” it claimed in a statement amid claims the price of Dangote’s cement is higher in Nigeria than elsewhere.

Dangote Cement noted that the price of a bag of cement from its factories and plants in Obajana and Gboko was N2,450 and N2,510 at Ibese, including the Value Added Tax (VAT) as of April 12.

Devakumar Edwin, the company’s Group Executive Director in charge of Strategy, Portfolio Development, and Capital Projects, stated this in a statement in Lokoja on Tuesday.

According to him, the clarifications become necessary given the recent insinuations that the company sells cement in Nigeria at higher prices relative to its sales in other countries, particularly in Ghana and Zambia.

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Though the company had direct control over its ex-factory prices,  Edwin said it could not control the cement’s price in the open market.

“This is all in a bid to guarantee that we meet demands and keep the price of cement within control in the country. Over the past 15 months, our production costs have gone up significantly.

“About 50 per cent of our costs are linked to the USD (dollar), so the prices of critical components such as gas, gypsum, bags, and spare parts; have increased significantly due to the devaluation of the Naira and VAT increase.

“Despite this, Dangote Cement has not increased ex-factory prices since December 2019 to date while prices of most other building materials have gone up significantly,” he said.

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