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Transforming A 91-year-Old Colonial Hotel In Northern Nigeria

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True Nigerian Experience Interview with Barrister Nasser Ahmed

1. Central Hotel Kano was privatized and handed over to Broadfields Intermediaries Limited in 2002. Kindly run us through the Post Acquisition Plan under your management?

The main theme of the Post Acquisition Plan with the Bureau for Public Enterprises was “to rebuild the hotel into being pride and income to all stakeholders concerned and cater for the business and recreational needs of corporations, individuals, diplomatic community and visitors in the Kano city area. At the end of the development, a land mark area would have been developed assuring stakeholders of quality facilities that would compete with hospitality centres in South Africa and other parts of North Africa.”

To achieve this, the hotel had to be shut down completely, Management Agreements signed initially with Intercontinental Hotel Group (to use the Holiday Inn brand) and funds initially sourced locally but later refinanced under the Construction/Tourism Linked Relay Facility Programme of the Africa Export Import Bank of Cairo. An initial sum of $15 Million USD was drawn with support from NEXIM Bank and two other local Banks.

The redevelopment of the first phase was completed in 2011. This is the position, until recently when we signed a long management Agreement with a big African brand with international support system called BON Hotels. Being the first formal hotel in Nigeria and a place the Queen of England chose to stay in 1956, we are on the road for a complete refurbishment to meet current international standards with its preferred Interior parties like Delta Interiors South Africa. This arrangement will meet our vision of making the Hotel and Kano the destination of Hospitality in Northern Nigeria.

And we believe we have the pedigree to handle the task. I was a Director at Transcorp Hilton Abuja for over 13 years and my team all have background from our Abuja hospitality Centre Protea Hotel Apo. Funding has been a challenge, especially with pressure from impatient lenders. We however cherish the support of some institutions and their people like Professor B.O. Oramah now President of the Afreximbank Bank, my all-time late hero Mr. Tayo Aderinokun Co-founder and then Managing Director Guraranty Trust Bank Plc and Nexim Bank.

2. There are plans to situate a 5-star-floor Shopping mall within the complex of the hotel. Can you tell us how far you have gone with this plan?

We have had the design completed. We had held meetings with Numetro (known for Cinemas) in South Africa and Shoprite. But their special needs in terms of space and anchor tenants meant that by 2011 we deferred the project until the main hotel was finished and properly branded and run. Therefore, by the Management with BON Hotels signed, the new international partner has both capacity as operators and anchor capacities like shopping mall.

3. The Nigerian Stock Exchange has called for public listing of privatized State-Owned Enterprises. Is there any plan to go in that direction?

Yes. We will be going to the Nigerian Stock Exchange probably by the end of 2021. This is because the rule is that you need to have been in profitable operations for at least four years before you can go to the market so that people will know your track-record. And hopefully, by the first quarter of 2022, we will be quoted on the NSE.

4. Nigeria has recently witnessed influx of Global Hospitability brands. Do you intend to partner any for efficiency and standards?

Yes. We have signed with BON Hotels. The Group has excellent people of pedigree like Mr Otto Stehlik and Mr Bernard Cassar both of whom were the brains behind the creation and growth of Protea Hotels (before the sale to Marriott International in 2014).

I have personal experience working with international brands having served as Director at Abuja Hilton for 13 years and Protea SA for 11 years. The advantages of such partnerships are tremendous and we value such collaborations for sustainable growth.

For more information please visit :

www.grandcentralhotelkano.com

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How Inverroche Is Pioneering South Africa’s Craft Gin

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Inverroche is a progressive craft distillery that pioneered craft gin in South Africa, creating uniquely South African spirits using rare hand-harvested wild African Fynbos botanicals. A true proudly South African product, Inverroche is built on family and prides itself in creating a niche product which looks as good as it tastes.

Lorna Scott

Founded by Lorna Scott and her family in Still Bay, this petite distillery has grown from a small home industry to a pioneering craft distillery and leader in the world of craft Gins. Inverroche is located in Still Bay in the Cape Floristic region which hosts one of the highest known concentration of plant species known as Fynbos. Famous for its large and diverse variety of botanical species – the South African heritage is intertwined beautifully into the Inverroche brand.

Fynbos has long been used by indigenous people for medicinal and culinary purposes but is now under threat due to agricultural development and invasive alien plants. Lorna felt that one way of preserving fynbos would be to find a commercial use for it and to create a global brand telling the story of these historically significant plants which contributed to the emergence and survival of modern humans. BY doing this she created an abundance of jobs for the local community and this is portrayed by the in excess of 70% local female workforce employed by the distillery.

The Inverroche distillery lies at the confluence of the Goukou River and the Indian Ocean near the coastal resort of Still bay in the Western Cape. Vineyards, olive groves and Fynbos surround the distillery itself, with ancient Milkwood trees marking the boundaries of the estate. The name Inverroche was an amalgamation of French and Celtic words, combined to celebrate the unique geography surrounding the distillery (‘Inver’ refers to the confluence of waters, ‘Roche’ is the French translation of the word rock).

The distillery’s three gins were launched on 16th December 2011, which incidentally, is also the first time that they opened their doors to the public. From selling a few bottles on that first day to now being the leading South African Luxury Gin in both South Africa and abroad.

Each variant of Inverroche (Classic / Verdant & Amber) is carefully created with fynbos from the various areas (Limestone rich lowlands / mountainous terrain / coastal region ) which make them truly unique spirits.

Try the below Gin & Tonic serve with the Inverroche Amber Recipe

Drink Serve Recipe

NAME: AMBER G&T

50ML INVERROCHE AMBER

200ML INDIAN TONIC WATER

3 DASH BITTERS

GARNISH WITH FIG JAM AND SESEAME SEEDS

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Charmaine Mabuza Honoured With FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Social Impact Award

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Brand Voice by Zamani Holdings and ITHUBA

Group CEO of Zamani Holdings, Charmaine Mabuza was honoured with the Social Impact Award at the 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit held in Durban ICC recently.

This award recognizes Mabuza for her measurable philanthropy that has positively impacted the lives of many South Africans for the past 21 years. 

At the top of her philanthropical projects is the Eric and Charmaine Mabuza Scholarship Foundation which she founded with her husband, Advocate Eric Mabuza in 1999. The Scholarship Foundation started in Mpumalanga, where the Mabuza’s business hub is centered. Speaking to Ukhozi FM in an interview, Charmaine Mabuza said that together with her husband, they funded this foundation straight from their pockets. “Both my husband and I come from humble beginnings and we know what it’s like to not have means to study further, especially when you believe that education is your way out of poverty. So when we started making good profits from our small businesses at the time, we decided to dedicate a portion of our personal income to funding tertiary education fees of previously disadvantaged children”, said Mabuza.

Powered by Zamani Holdings, the Scholarship Foundation later expanded its reach to the rest of South Africa, supporting over 160 students countrywide, many of which have qualified as Doctors, Chartered Accountants, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and many more. The 2020 Scholarship Foundation programme launched on 13 January, with an intake of 21 students.

Zamani holdings has empowered the rest its group of companies to roll out CSI initiatives that truly transform the lives of ordinary South Africans. At the forefront of these initiatives is ITHUBA, the South African National Lottery Operator and Zamani’s flagship company.

In July 2017, ITHUBA launched the ITHUBA Female Retailer Development programme, specially designed to empower women who own spaza shops and informal supermarkets, who currently sell National Lottery products, from all around the country. This included women from previously marginalized communities in the rural outskirts.

In collaboration with reputable institutions such as Regenesys and the University of Johannesburg, this programme has upskilled over 100 women in retail business. The latest group of 14 women graduated in October 2019 at the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway campus, each being awarded a qualification in Advanced Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation.

Zamani’s Social Responsibility initiatives include:

  • ITHUBA Graduate Programme: An annual skills development programme for graduates within the Marketing, Finance, IT, PR, HR and Logistics fields, with intake of 13 students in 2020.
  • Youth Enterprise Development:  Eradicating youth unemployment through developing upcoming entrepreneurs and helping them build sustainable, profit making business. 
  • Housing project: A project that builds houses for employees in the lower income brackets, who have been in the employment of the company for 10 years and more.
  • A media campaign to condemn femicide and violence against women.

“I firmly believe that education is key to eradicating poverty and injustice. This is why all of our initiatives are based on imparting knowledge and skills. Through education we empower, through education we liberate” said Mabuza.

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FOCUS ON NIGERIA: The Next Level For Africa

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“Foreign companies, especially oil prospects and development companies, have been in Nigeria for about two generations – 40 years and above and so on. So, they know the environment. They stayed that long. They continue to invest because they know the potential Nigeria has in oil and gas and the capacity of the people to learn and work hard.” H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria

With the recent re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has secured an additional four years with an administration that is dedicated to the nation in its efforts to continue its path toward bringing Africa to the next level. With the largest population on the continent, domestic demand in Nigeria continues to rise while resources and favourable demographics are attracting the strong flow of FDI. As one of the leading markets in the continent, investment possibilities in the country cannot be overlooked. Improved macroeconomics, which are supported by recovering oil prices and production, has ensured that Nigeria maintains the title of the largest economy in Africa. This title is largely aided by Nigeria’s powerhouse of GDP generation: oil and gas.

Nigeria has seen strong and steady growth in the oil and gas sector over the past sixty years when petroleum was officially discovered. To bring the reality of the oil and gas industry into perspective, the first quarter of 2018 reported that sales of crude oil made up 76.3% of Nigeria’s export earnings, bringing in about US$11.7 billion. In the same time span, processed oil products (e.g. condensates and lubricants) earned an additional US$1.75 billion, which accounted for an additional 11.4% of the total export earnings. In regard to contributing to the immense success of the industry, Segun Adebutu, CEO of Petrolex says, “As integrated energy conglomerate with strategic investments across the energy value chain, we are committed to building communities, transforming lives and driving economic growth and development in Nigeria.”

Driving economic growth and development is ultimately the central goal of His Excellency President Buhari’s administration. H.E. President Buhari says, “The administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments.” The administration’s commitment is further brought to life through a focus on infrastructure development. Nigeria currently has several on-going and upcoming gas projects in the works for the rapid development of the country’s energy sector. One such project is the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline. The AKK pipeline is a continuation of infrastructure built for the domestic gas market. “The AKK pipeline is part of the Gas Master Plan,” says Emeka Okwuosa, CEO of Oilserv. “It is going to move 1.5 billion scf of gas a day and provide resources for power generation and other energy requirements. It is not only a development of the north; it is such for the entire country. So, this single project can transform the whole of Nigeria in terms of industrial capacity.”

The implementation of the AKK pipeline will only further Nigeria’s potential in the industry, specifically by monetising the incredible opportunity in the gas market. Focus on this type of infrastructure is testament to how the current administration is embracing the Gas Master Plan, which is poised to help Nigeria become the gas hub of West Africa while improving the socio-economic development of the nation. Recently, State Minister of Petroleum Resources, Hon. Chief Timipre Marlin Sylva has declared 2020 as “the Year of Gas”, and this proves to be true as the country makes moves to capitalise on gas and improve its local energy distribution. With an extensive roadmap in place, the gas revolution is on the right track to usher in Buhari’s vision for a next-level Nigeria.

Reflecting this dedication to the next level of the sector, Chief Tunde J. Afolabi, Chairman & CEO of Amni, speaks of the potential of gas in the country: “Given that Nigeria has three to four times more gas than oil, companies such as ours should focus more on gas; in our discovery of gas reserves we should look to harness and monetise the gas as we go along. The government is making a requirement that when looking for oil, companies must find a solution for the gas before they are allowed to produce oil.” This mentality will inevitably evolve the prosperous sector toward new avenues and make even greater use of the natural resource. 

While the oil and gas industry continues to sustain further growth in forthcoming years, FDI remains crucial for the sector and new investments keep being launched to make sure it continues sustained growth and development. Tein T.S. Jack-Rich, Founder and President of Belemaoil, says “Nigeria has been pretty predominant in the oil business. Nigeria has great potential. We have the demographics to decide the right economic framework.”  Investment opportunities range from upstream oil and gas production, such as deposits or drill wells, or in downstream production that focuses on the post-production of crude oil and natural gas activities, such as seen in refineries plant production, or sales. Within any level of exploration, extraction or production, the partnering opportunities are immense.

Under the guidance of H.E. President Buhari’s administration and the Gas Master Plan, the oil and gas sector is destined to spur economic growth and drive industrialisation with linkages to other key sectors such as construction, ICT, power, railways and agriculture. H.E. President Buhari is confident in the future of Nigeria, saying, “We have laid the foundations for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people.” As such, the upcoming years are sure to prove that the “Year of Gas” is, in reality, a new era for the industry, which will further signal a new age for Nigerians by creating jobs, facilitating investment, and offering greater access to electricity. While it is known that oil is a constant, Nigeria is showing that gas will continue to play an increasingly important role to ensure that the nation progresses forward towards the next level.

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