Thursday, 17 May 2012

Govt to enforce patronage of local products on MDAs

THE Federal Government may soon put in place a policy that would enforce local content in goods purchased by Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) in the country.
The policy, government said, would compel governments at all levels and their agencies to patronise made in Nigeria products.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, said yesterday that the extension of the local content to goods procured by governments organisations was aimed at increasing the productive capacity of local industries for job creation, wealth generation and, ultimately, economic growth and development.
Aganga spoke during the ongoing workshop on Enhancing the Productivity of Industries, in Lagos, on Tuesday.
He said that his ministry was working with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria to ensure that local manufacturers also got higher shares in the supply of goods to be procured by the government.
We are looking at the list of things that are procured by the Federal Government because the government is the biggest spender in the economy. So, we are looking at the items that are procured locally. We are working with the industries to find out which of these items are available locally, so that our local manufacturers can be patronised.
One of the highlights of the workshop today is how we can put in place an institutionalised framework  that will allow us to match the government, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and innovators  to possibly have an off-take agreements with them so that manufacturers can use that to raise funds needed to grow their businesses.
He added: We are thinking of reviewing our local procurement procedures to differentiate between locally manufactured products and the ones that are imported. Where there is a differential of about 15 per cent, we will review that to see if 15 per cent is the right number, or whether some sectors should be less or more. We are working with MAN to come up with the right number in this regard, he said.
The minister said the Federal Government was considering a new paradigm that would boost the development of the steel industry, as part of industrial revolution.
Aganga said that his ministry would partner the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development  to implement a backward integration policy that will enable the country  explore and process the abundant iron ore deposits across the country, in order to support industrial growth and development.
We are also embarking on an industrial revolution that is anchored on areas where we have comparative and competitive advantage, such as agri-business, solid minerals and petrochemicals. Also, we are concentrating on growing the industries that are labour-intensive so that we will be able to create jobs for our teeming population. For example, in the mining-related industry, we are collaborating with the Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop the chain in the steel sector.
There is no industrialised country without growth in its iron and steel industry. In Nigeria, we import raw materials for the steel industry, yet we have them a lot. As part of our industrial revolution, we need to embark on big strategies, working with the Ministry of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, to process the raw materials used for the steel industry.

Lagos woos investors to Island West development scheme

GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has called on private investors to help the state government in the implementation of the Lagos Island West Re-development Scheme.
Fashola made the call in Lagos at the 2012 Lagos Architects Forum organised by the Lagos Chapter of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA).
The theme of the forum was Lagos 3.0: Urban Mass Housing and Homes in Lagos.
The governor said that the focus of the forum was topical because the state government was trying to make some interventions in the housing sector through the scheme.
According to him, the state government intended to lead by example by encouraging investors in that field.
The documentary presented here today on First Cities, Future Cities is relevant to what the Lagos State Government is doing in the scheme, where we are hoping that almost all of the buildings would go high rise.
The government also has what we call Lagos Homes, where the state wants to replicate a particular design that unifies particular families in a whole setting. A block of four flats having a whole family in one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom.
The government is doing all these, to encourage some other investors in the field to come in, Fashola, who was represented by Mr. Toyin Ayinde, the commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, said that the government had respect for professionals in the state, especially those in the construction and housing industry.
According to him, it is this respect that produced the 2010 Law on Physical Planning and Physical Regulations in the state.
Fashola said that the government was interested in the outcome of the forum and he wished them fruitful deliberations.
Charles Majoroh, a former President of NIA, said that the state government should focus attention on mass housing development for the middle class.
In his paper on Urban Housing Projection The Role of Numeracy in the Desire for Home Ownership, Majoroh said the middle class housing satisfaction was the interface between the high and low class.
Without making the middle class and their families satisfying housing wise, there is no way we can have a thriving lower class. The middle class is the engine of any country.
The ability of this class to satisfy the need to own their houses go a long way in providing accommodation for others; satisfy the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and provide massive employment opportunities, he said.

Santuraki flays alleged plans to merge DFIs

THE Managing Director of Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Mohammed Santuraki has condemned moves by the regulatory authority to merge any of the Nations Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), including the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and the Bank of Industry (BOI).
Santuraki said such merger would not only be counter-productive, but would amount to policy summersault, capable of derailing the programmes articulated for the DFIs to boost Nigerias economic growth and development within the shortest period.
The Managing Director, who spoke in Kaduna during the Cotton-Value-Chain stakeholders meeting held at Asaa Pyramid Hotel, argued that the situation in the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), where merger and consolidation became the order of the day should be a food for thoughts for those pushing the idea of merger of DFIs in Nigeria.
Santuraki said: There are scores of DFIs in India and other developing economies of the world, nobody has considered merging them because they are playing their roles in various ways, how can anyone suggest a merger of the only four DFIs we have in Nigeria in the name of consolidation.
According to him, If consolidation and merger of deposit banks from more than 80 in Nigeria to about 25 and later to about 12 has not really worked, how can it then work in Development Finance Institutions; it will be counter-productive.
Santuraki further posited at a meeting attended by commissioners of Agriculture in the cotton-growing states across the nation, cotton farmers, expert and professionals from academic institutions, and other development partners, that there is need for concerted efforts on ways to improve on cotton production in the country.
However, he lauded the initiatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for coming up with the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), saying the package was an eye opener for stakeholders to take advantage of and ensure the development of the nations agricultural system.
According to Santuraki considering the windows of opportunities thrown open by the CBN, there is no way Nigeria farmers can produce food crops the way and manner our fathers produced in the 50s, stressing that beyond enhancing the process of lending to farmers for mass production, the CBN and other financial institutions are also looking into storage and marketing issues for farmers.
He assured participants at the stakeholders meeting which was organised by the BOA that the nations Development Finance Institutions are ready to look critically into all inhibitions standing in the way of Nigeria large scale and small farmers with the aim of addressing them holistically, stressing that matters such as insurance cover for agriculture loans, and other risks in the sector would be addressed.
Besides, Head of the National Integrated Project Implementation Office of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Jude Uzonwanne said there has been a critical study of the problems facing all categories of farmers in the country, but assured that in a short while the critical issues standing in the way of farmers would be addressed.
Nzonwanne, who presented a catalogue of problems facing farmers and an outline of aids, as financial and technical antidote put together by experts and other professionals, said all hands should be on deck for the success of the initiative, which is aimed at supporting about 54,000 cotton farmers across Nigeria.

Shell starts repair of 60,000bpd Nembe Trunkline

THE Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has commenced repair of damaged Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL), which resulted in a deferment of some 60,000 barrels of oil per day of production after shutting it down on May 4th, 2012 because of the activities of crude oil thieves.
The company said yesterday that on May 13th, SPDCs pipeline repair team disconnected two six-inch lines through which thieves were stealing crude from the 97-kilometre line.
Shell stressed that the repair team will tackle eight other illegal bunkering points as it continues to re-assert the integrity of the facility, which was commissioned in 2010 at a cost of $1.1 billion to replace an older pipeline.
Vice President, Health, Safety and Environment, Shell Sub-Saharan Africa, Tony Attah, noted that this is a difficult work requiring careful planning and digging up several sections of the line in swamp and land, investigating illegal bunkering points and deciding whether to clamp them or do sectional replacement.
According to him, when you add the cost of repairs to the facility downtime and loss of revenue, it becomes clear how crude theft has denied Nigeria of badly-needed revenue.
He lamented also that the Trans Niger Pipeline has also been suffering from crude theft leading to frequent shutdowns for repairs and integrity checks.
Clearly, we are concerned by these increasing cases and appeal for concerted efforts to stop the crime for the sake of the environment, the Nigerian state and the communities themselves, he said.
In December last year, the NCTL was shut down for one month to repair damaged pipeline by  oil thieves. The latest shutdown has led to the declaration of force majeure on export of Bonny Light.
Managing Director of Shell Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), Mutiu Sunmonu, had said recently that Nigeria was losing about 150,000 barrels of oil per day and $5 billion yearly, through crude oil theft.
He explained that the SPDC joint venture suffers a daily loss of 43,000 barrels to thieves and illegal bunkering, adding that the trend negatively impacted on the environment, beside depleting  the countrys revenue.
According to him, this is a serious attack on the state the people, the economy, and the environment. Since, we calculated the crude theft quantities based on volumes produced from flow stations and what is received at terminals, it is true that additional oil is stolen between wellheads and flow stations.

50 independent power providers get license

The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says the Federal Government has given licence to more than 50 independent power producers to ensure stable power supply under the new dispensation.
Eyo Ekpo, the NERC Commissioner for Marketing, Competition and Rates, who spoke on Wednesday, said the new tariff regime would attract more investors.
He said that the new tariff had been categorised in favour of low- income households and small and medium enterprises.
Ekpo said that some consumers' bills would increase by as low as 11 per cent under the new tariff regime.
He said that the bills of certain category of consumers, classified as special customers’’ including hospitals and street lights, would increase by less than 11 per cent.
Ekpo said that those in the R1 category, consisting of rural dwellers and the urban poor, would pay lower tariffs as they would still continue to enjoy subsidy from the Federal Government.
He said that those in the C1 group, consisting artisans and small businesses, would also pay low tariffs in line with the governments policy of providing power to small and medium enterprises.
In working out the tariff, we place the burden differently. We are to cross-subsidise those who cannot pay, he said. As such, the cost of power to those in the R1 and C1 categories will still be low since they will enjoy part of the cross-subsidy.
The commissioner said that NERC was charged with the statutory function of effecting major reviews of electricity tariff every five years.

Oriental Energy, Afren exploration discovers oil in Ebok

Oriental Energy Resources and AfrenNigeria an independent oil & gas company listed on the Main Board of the London Stock Exchange, with a diversified portfolio of production, development and exploration assets, have announced that its Ebok North Fault Block exploration well, offshore south east Nigeria, has succesfully made a new oil discovery.
Ebgert Imomoh, chairman of Afren, while giving insight into the stage by stage process that led to the finding, said the Ebok North Fault Block (Ebok NFB) exploration well was spudded on 12 April 2012 by Afren and Oriental Energy Resources (Oriental) after which it reached a total vertical (and measured) depth of 4,320 ft, with the Transocean Adriatic lX jack-up drilling rig.
The well was targeting a separate fault block structure located to the north of the main Ebok field, and has successfully encountered good quality oil in the same Tertiary reservoir sands, equivalent to those that have been developed and are in production at the main Ebok field development. The discovery of significant oil pay at this location underlines the high-grade prospect that exists across the wider Ebok/Okwok/OML 115 area, and represents an important step towards unlocking the full volume and value potential of what is a core hub of Afrens portfolio.
The well will now be suspended whilst Afren and Oriental determine the optimal development solution for the new discovery, which will likely incorporate synergies using the existing production, storage and off-take infrastructure at the main Ebok field. The Transocean Adriatic IX rig will next be deployed to commence the drilling of early production wells at the recent Okoro East discovery.
Commenting on the development Imomoh, saidWe are delighted to have continued our run of exploration success this year with the Ebok NFB well, which follows on from the Okoro East discovery also offshore south east Nigeria and the Simrit-2 exploration well in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, giving us a year to date exploration success rate of 75 per cent (100 per cent of operated exploration).
The proximity of Ebok NFB to existing infrastructure at the main Ebok field production hub means that we can quickly monetise these newly discovered volumes. We now look forward to the test results from Simrit-2 discovery in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, followed by exploration drilling in East Africa.

Manufacturers hit, pull out on security concerns

Nigerias manufacturing sector is bearing the brunt of the ever growing state of insecurity in the northern part of country, brought about by the activities of Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group, and businesses are pulling out of the region.
Investors and much of the skilled labour force, apparently worried by the continued bombings, are taking flight, while would-be investors are tagging the region a no- go area. BusinessDays findings show that the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sub-sector, which has witnessed spectacular growth since 2008, faces prospects of much lower earnings, following increasing security threats from the Islamic militant group.
BusinessDay investigation further reveals that escalating costs of sales and operating costs are already eroding profit margins of consumer goods companies like Flour Mills, Nestle, Cadbury and Dangote. According to our findings, input costs in Nestle rose by 30 per cent of sales year-on-year from N43.9 billion in 2010 to N57.2 billion. Also, marketing and distribution expenses increased by 10 per cent, cost of sales rose in Flour Mills of Nigeria increased from N103.0 billion in the third quarter of 2010 to N123.22 billion in the corresponding period of 2011.
For Dangote Sugar, cost of sale increased from N50.70 billion in 2010 to N68.90 billion. This rise in sales costs cannot be removed from the state of insecurity up North, which has come with high cost of transporting products to the region a large market for consumer products.
Commenting on the impact of the state of insecurity in the North on his company, Keith Richards, managing director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited said, You know with the borders closed, a lot of formal and informal exports are not happening. People are not coming from Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Mali. So you see a downturn in demand. The North is important to us. A lot of our brands are doing very well here.
Now consumption is plummeting. In 1st Quarter 2012, our milk sales volume declined by 14.3 percent, powdered beverage sales by 3.7 percent, and tea by 9.1 percent. But our seasoning products sales grew by 7.1 percent. And I know all the businesses in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) are affected too, especially with products like beer, soft drinks and tobacco.
According to informed industry sources, sales of packaged products are 30 percent up in Lagos area, whereas they are 50 percent down in the North. The East is not doing badly, and South-West is flat. The sources also said that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Cadbury have relocated from Maiduguri to Jos, GSK and Chi are pulling out of Kano.
Cedric Bra, analyst at Euromonitor International, a consumer market research organization, has warned that the growing modern retail market in Nigeria risks being compromised due to security concerns in northern parts of the country.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) which has an expansive distribution network in the North is affected by the shutting down of stores, stemming from the crisis.
But Manoj Kumar, P&G chief for West Africa, says the company is up to the task. We have been here for 20 years. All sorts of crisis have come and gone. We are therefore not worried like other companies who have spent a few years operating in this terrain. The crisis has not dampened our commitment and enthusiasm in Nigeria.
The World Investment Report (WIR) of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said that the Nigerias domestic economy has lost N1.33 trillion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the Boko Haram crisis. According to the report, FDI flows to Nigeria fell to $6.1 billion (N933.3 billion) in 2010, a decline of about 29 per cent, from the $8.65 billion (N1.33 trillion) realised in the 2009 fiscal year.
Similarly, the 2010 annual report by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that the total foreign capital inflow into the Nigerian economy was $5.99 billion. The records show that FDI represented about a 78.1 per cent drop from $3.31 billion in 2009.
Closely related to the FMCG issue, is the impact of the crisis on food supplies from the North to the South. Nigerians in the southern part of the country may need to brace up for an impending food supply problem and accompanying higher prices in the coming months, as food supplies from the North, which account for over 70 per cent of national consumption, are dwindling by the day, on account of the Boko Haram crisis.
BusinessDay found out that supply of yam tubers , a food product for which Nigeria is world number one producer, has also dropped from 50 trucks to 15, a 70 per cent drop; onion from 50 trucks to 10; and pepper 80 to 20, a 75 per cent fall.
The Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers vice-chairman, Issa Umar, attributed the problem to security issues, bad roads and high cost of diesel. Cost of hiring these trucks has also gone up by about 113.3 per cent and prices of food items have gone up by over 50 percent said Ahmed Yusuf, secretary-general, Shukura Yam Sellers Association, Mile 12.
Usman Muttaka, professor in the Department of Economics of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria stated that investors are now becoming wary of coming to do business in the country, especially in the north, because of the current security challenge. The decline in investment has been attributed to the increasing insecurity in the country, as well as infrastructural decay.
The naira continued its downswing against the United States dollar at the interbank for the third consecutive day as it fell by 90 kobo to close at N158.90 to a dollar, as against the N158 to a dollar it stood on Tuesday.
While some experts attributed the development to increased demand for the greenback by offshore investors who sought to reduce their exposure to the domestic market, others hinged it on rise in demand for the dollar by oil importers.
In all, data obtained from Financial Market Dealers Association (FMDA), showed that the local currency dropped by a total of N1.05 in the last three days.
On the other hand, at the Wholesale Dutch Auction System (WDAS), yesterday, the local currency closed at N155.69 to a dollar, the same value it was on Monday.
But the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased the volume of dollar supplied to the 19 banks that participated in the auction to $200 million, from $150 million on Monday.
In his opinion, Emerging Markets Strategist, Standard Bank Plc, Samir Gadio, said the naira primarily came under pressure because of increased forex demand from offshore investors that sought to reduce their exposure to the Nigerian market as well as profit-taking by investors.
Gadio revealed that the apex bank had intervened in the interbank market on Tuesday; a move he said, helped in reversing intraday losses on that day.
The central bank has been virtually out of the interbank market in 2012 and the proactive intervention would indicate that it is somewhat worried about the sudden jump in $/N and will attempt to prevent the build-up of further negative pressure, he explained, in an interview with THISDAY.
On her part, the Sub-Saharan Africa Economist, Renaissance Capital (RenCap), Yvonne Mhango, who also spoke in an interview with THISDAY, said the risk against the naira was gradually building up because some of the fuel importers that did not import the petroleum product, had commenced importation.
That suggests that we are going to be seeing increased demand for forex and we could see a slowdown in the build-up of the forex reserves we have seen since the beginning of the year, Mhango added.
Commenting on the rise of inflation rate to 12.9 per cent inflation in April, Gadio said the market as well as the apex bank had anticipated the increase.
In fact, the most likely scenario is still that investors will be gradually positioning for an attractive duration trade going forward given the forthcoming shift to a more accommodative monetary policy stance later this year (if dollar/naira stability is ensured) and a decline in inflation post-third quarter 2012.
The main intermittent upside risk to bond rates may actually come from the switch auctions planned by the Debt Management Office and designed to exchange liquid on-the-run instruments for off-the-run short term securities, although even this possibility is ambiguous in light of the intrinsic demand for fixed income instruments amid a limited pool of investable assets in Nigeria, he added.
Worried by the low patronage of locally manufactured computers and its accessories, the Federal Government has promised to protect all Information Technology (IT) products, through new policy formulation and implementation.
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The government agency responsible for the implementation of IT policies for the country, dropped the hint in Lagos at a one-day retreat on IT Hardware Standards Development, organised by NTDA.
Director-General of NITDA, Prof Cleopas Angaye, in his remarks, said there was need to benchmark practices and processes against international standards to make local IT products competitive and marketable within and outside the country.
The retreat, he said, was NITDAs initiative to give impetus to the buy-made-in-Nigeria policy of the Federal Government, which made it mandatory for all government agencies to patronise locally developed hardware and software.
The directive was however blatantly violated because of governments weak action towards the development local hardware and software.
According to Angaye, At the end of the retreat, there will be issuance of new guidelines that will protect local IT products, and it will be regarded as economic sabotage if government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) do not patronise Nigerian IT products.
He said after the issuance of the new policy, it would become an offence punishable by a prison term and fine under the NITDA Act, for public procurement of non-made-in-Nigeria computers and IT products, where certified local brands exist.
Angaye insisted that public funds should only be expended on locally manufactured products, and that for Nigerians to benefit from the planned policy, multinational companies would be invited to set up production or assembly plants in Nigeria.
With more than half the population of West Africa Nigeria has a large enough market to justify foreign direct investment in Information Technology. Instead, one finds that all the multinational firms operate only marketing and sales promotion offices. The transformation of Nigeria into a developed economy cannot be achieved by being a consumer nation, he said.
Between 2002 and 2007 several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) were accredited by government to operate in the Nigerian IT manufacturing spectrum, but owing to the expediency of the time, no strict guidelines or standards were prescribed for them.
According to Angaye the landscape has since changed, as the industry has since grown and the operating Federal Government accreditation of  local OEMs and computer assembly plants has since expired. New companies have also joined the industry. There is need therefore to review the guidelines under which they operate and under which new entrants are admitted.
Angaye said, in giving accreditation to local OEMs, the intention of the Federal Government was to develop the indigenous IT industry, create employment through local assembly of computers and build the capacity of IT entrepreneurs, but this can only be achieved if Nigerians patronise local brands, explaining that the policy was mandatory for the public sector where the products to be procured were manufactured or assembled in Nigeria.
Angaye who frowned at the display and use of non-made-in-Nigeria computers in government offices and for government business where certified local brands are available, said the action was not only an unpatriotic act but also an act of sabotage and disregard for both government policy and extant statute.
He said a monitoring unit had been created within NITDA to undertake regular checks to ensure compliance to the regulation throughout the Federal Public Service.
NITDA, he said, would seek the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure that the accreditation of schools and renewal of accreditation would depend partly on the establishment of Information Technology laboratories equipped with locally manufactured IT products.
As the World Bank rounds up its seven-year assistance worth $120 million for the sustainable development of Nigerias solid minerals sector, stakeholders are playing Oliver Twist. They are clamouring for an extension of the project to enable a second phase to start as soon as possible.
One of the project objectives is to establish a basis for poverty reduction and rural economic renewal in selected areas of the country through the development of non-farm income-generating opportunities through small-scale and artisanal mining and to diversify from oil sources of income.
The second is to increase the governments long-term institutional and technical capacity to manage Nigerias mineral resources in a sustainable way.
At the end of project stakeholders workshop in Abuja, Minister of Mines and Steel development, Mr. Musa Mohammed Sada, said: The view of the ministry is that the SMMRP (Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project) is closing at a wrong time in that government is not quite ready for disclosure. The World Bank intervention needed to continue till the opportune time when government will be in a position to take over seamlessly and build on project achievements.
He stated that as mining was very capital-intensive, government was taking its time to operationalise the Solid minerals Development Fund as provided in the Solid Minerals and Mining Act 2007.
The sector also requires adequate funding from annual appropriations to the level that donor support will no longer be required, he said. Until we reach a comfortable level for the sector, we believe that the World Bank assistance will still be needed. Accordingly, we hereby make a case for SMMRP Project II to enable intervention (in) some other critical areas in pursuit of solid minerals development, as a stop gap to keep momentum and forestall collapse of the lofty achievements of SMMRP, he said.
He however gave the verdict that the project achieved its purpose and expressed his appreciation to both committees of the National Assembly on Solid Minerals Development for the wonderful support they accorded the project and the ministry at large. He also thanked the World Bank for making all its achievements possible.
Among the achievements were the use of $10 million dollars from the $120 million for micro-grant as a poverty alleviation scheme targeted at artisanal and small scale miners and mining communities, with 245 mining cooperatives benefiting, and the upgrade of the National Geosciences Researches Laboratory, which it supported with state-of-the-art facilities.
The World Bank fund was also used in the promotion of Nigerias minerals endowment, revision of Geodetic Network and Cartographic Coverage, environmental management capacity building programmes and train the trainers course in governance, accounting, finance and taxation in the mining sector.
The project also facilitated the establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Mining and Geosciences, geological information gathering for investment and national planning; and training and capacity building contents under which the World Bank Project trained 10,000 Nigerians from both public and private sectors in various components of the sector.
Similarly, it engaged in the provision of field vehicles, civil works and technical equipment for the ministry and its agencies as well as the development of selected minerals for import substitution and provision of livelihood in mining communities.
The project also undertook baseline data collection, provision of legal and regulatory framework and administration of mineral titles through the establishment of the Mining Cadastre Office which is fully equipped for the transparent and efficient grant and management of mining titles, in line with international best practices.
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