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Multichoice blames economy as DStv subscribers in Nigeria decline by 18%

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French firm, Canal+ Group offers to buy MultiChoice for $1.69bn

African Pay-TV operator, Multichoice Group, has blamed Nigeria’s harsh economic condition as active DStv subscribers in the country declined by 18%.

The company stated this in its financial result for the year ended March 31, 2024. It said the decline in Nigeria affected its overall subscriber database leading to a 9% decline for the year.

While the total subscription figure for Nigeria is not stated as it is lumped with other operating units outside South Africa tagged as ‘Rest of Africa’ (RoA), Multichoice reported that the 18% decline in Nigeria brought the RoA’s total active subscribers down by 13% to 8.1 million from 9.3 million in 2023.

“The group’s 9% decline in active subscribers was mainly due to a 13% decline in the Rest of Africa business as mass-market customers in countries like Nigeria had to prioritise basic necessities over entertainment, while the South African business showed more resilience with a 5% decline,” the company stated.

Blaming the decline in Nigeria on the economy despite implementing price increments three times in the last year, the company said:

“The Nigerian economy and consumers faced persistent challenges through FY24. The removal of fuel subsidies, sharp currency depreciation with the official naira halving in value, inflation climbing to over 30%, and higher emigration of the middle and upper class drove an 18% YoY decline in active subscribers.”

It added that this also reduced Nigeria’s contribution to the Rest of Africa revenues from 44% to 35%. It noted, however, that Ghana saw a similar subscriber trend given an inflation rate that is still above 20%

Multichoice further stated that due to the challenging market dynamics, the short-term focus of its RoA (Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe) business was shifted from subscriber growth to safeguard profitability and cash flows.

“Several cost-saving initiatives were implemented, including scaling back significantly on decoder subsidies (-46% YoY or ZAR1.3 billion), and reducing selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs by ZAR500 million. These interventions enabled the Rest of Africa business to increase trading profit by 48% YoY to ZAR1.3 billion,” it said.

Showing that the decline was across its operations, Multichoice reported active subscribers in its home country, South Africa also declined by 5%.

The total subscriber base in the country stood at 7.6 million.

The company blamed the decline on the power outages experienced on 275 days of the year, which it said further discouraged potential subscribers without backup power.

“Although the Premium bouquet is trending toward a stable base given the targeted retention efforts, the premium customer tier (which includes the Premium and Compact Plus bouquets) declined by 8%. The mid-market Compact base, which is most exposed to the macroeconomic challenges, was down 9%, while the mass-market tier was 2% lower due to pressure in the Family base, the impact of load shedding, and reduced decoder subsidies,” it said.

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Nigerians can now obtain UAE visas, says FG

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says Nigerians can now apply for and obtain visas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Idris said the federal government has reached an agreement with the UAE to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the Arab nation starting today, July 15.

The minister spoke with the State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, shortly after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting.

He said the agreement includes updated controls and conditions to be fulfilled before the issuance of a UAE visa.

On December 13, 2021, the UAE issued a travel restriction on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing a surge in the countries’ COVID-19 cases among passengers from the two African nations.

However, TheCable reported the travel ban might not be unconnected with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the Arab country.

Air Peace had requested a slot of three weekly flights from Nigeria to Sharjah Airport in the UAE, but only one was granted by the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA said Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport; the Nigerian airline, however, denied the claim.

In retaliation for Air Peace’s treatment in the UAE, the federal government dropped Emirate’s slots from 21 to one, leading to the Dubai-based airline suspending all its flights to Nigeria.

In September 2023, the federal government said the airline would resume services in Nigeria, signaling a resolution of the dispute.

The assurance followed a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mohamed bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates.

But since the meeting and the federal government’s announcement, Emirates has yet to begin scheduled flight operations.

In April, Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, said Emirates Airlines is prepared to resume flight operations to Nigeria.

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Lagos state government designates 5 operational parks for trucks in Lekki-Epe corridor ahead of e-call up system launch

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The Lagos State Government has designated five operational parks for trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor in anticipation of the e-call-up system’s launch on August 1, 2024.

This strategic initiative aims to regulate truck movements and prevent the traffic congestion previously seen at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

According to Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the designated parks for articulated trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor are Hog Marketing Limited in Okorisan, Epe; Nilmage Two4Seven in Poka, Epe; Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd. opposite Dangote Refinery on Lekki Coastal Road; Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. in Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe; and Tal Concept Ltd. at HFP Brick Industry on Lekki-Epe Expressway.

“Five operational parks for trucks: Hog Marketing Limited (Okorisan, Epe), Nilmage two4seven (Poka, Epe), Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd (Opp. Dangote Refinery, Lekki Coastal Road), Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. (Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe), Tal Concept Ltd (HFP Brick Industry, Lekki-Epe Expressway),” the statement read in part.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Government has mandated that all articulated trucks operating in the corridor must be equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. This requirement aims to streamline and automate the management and tracking of truck movements once the system goes live next month.

Additional initiatives in the implementation plan include the separation of wet and dry cargo and the deployment of vehicle inspection services at parks for vehicle certification.

These measures are designed to eliminate traffic congestion, address environmental concerns, and reduce accidents caused by trucks along the corridor. They will also help manage the increased activity expected from the Dangote Refinery, Lekki Port, and other entities.

The Lagos State Government provided additional details on the e-call up system, clarifying that it will officially launch on August 1, 2024, through the platform mycallup.com, with full enforcement beginning on August 7, 2024.

Compliance with this system is mandatory, and trucks that fail to comply will be impounded to ensure strict adherence to the new regulations.

The government emphasized the necessity of cooperation from all stakeholders for the success of this initiative. This includes truckers, organizations, security agents, and local communities, all of whom must work together to prevent a recurrence of the severe traffic congestion and logistical issues previously experienced at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

The active participation and commitment of these groups will be instrumental in ensuring a smoother and more efficient transportation process along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

The state government emphasizes that by adhering to these regulations and fully cooperating, stakeholders can contribute to a more organized, safer, and environmentally friendly transport environment in Lagos.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate increases to 34.19% amid rising food prices

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Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 34.19 percent in June 2024 — up from 33.95 percent in May.

The data is captured in the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its consumer price index (CPI) report for June, released on Monday.

The CPI measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services.

According to the bureau, food inflation also surged to 40.87 percent in the month under review as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

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