As part of efforts to grow the economy and support local companies, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has said it has made available $200 million (about N76 billion) as intervention fund through loans.

Simbi Wabote, NCDMB Executive Secretary, stated this in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on Friday, at a capacity building workshop for Energy and Business Correspondents, entitled: 'NCDMB and the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund'.

Represented by Isaac Iyalah, the Director, Finance and Personnel Management, the Executive Secretary revealed that, so far, about 45 applications had been received.

While 11 applications have been approved, he noted that $11 million had also been released to the qualified beneficiaries.

Wabote said: “The Nigerian Content Intervention Fund is a basket of funds created outside NCDMB. Recall that one per cent of all contracts awarded in the oil and gas sector is deducted by NCIF, which is being managed by the board, to see how the intervention fund can be used to support local companies to enhance their growth and development.

“The $200m NCIF is a pivotal plank of NCDMB that is set up with the responsibility to implement and enforce provisions of Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010. It is the practical expression of NCDMB's efforts to institutionalise financial support for indigenous services companies operating in the oil and gas industry."

Noting that proper operations and utilisation of the fund would help reverse the unhealthy foreign dominance in the sector by empowering local businesses to thrive, he explained that the financial cover of the NCIF is a comprehensive one, as it deals with contract financing for Nigerian oil services providers, contract financing for oil and gas community contractors, and contract and loan refinancing for servicing companies that already have facilities with Nigerian banks.

According to Wabote, the fund will empower the community contractors who, before now, are constrained by staggering amounts required to compete favourably, win and execute profitable contracts on offer by different oil companies and also empower them as agents of wealth creation.

He added that the beneficiaries would have a repayment period of over five years, at eight per cent interest rate.

Wabote explained that the fund would serve as a social, as well as economic development tool, that would create sustained impact in boosting local manufacturing, create jobs to enhance local technical capacity, as well as igniting economic growth in the local communities of the Niger Delta and Nigeria, in general.

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