Author: shu

Nigeria’s Economic Recovery & the Threats of the 2019 General Elections

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Nigeria’s Economic Recovery & the Threats of the 2019 General Elections

Nigeria is on the path to economic recovery after a biting recession occasioned by the recent fall in global oil prices. However, the approaching 2019 general elections seem to pose as a threat to this recovery.

The second quarter of 2017 witnessed Nigeria’s emergence from its worst recession in 25 years. This was after the first positive growth in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) following 5 quarters of contraction. Figures from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the country’s economic growth has remained positive since then. For instance, the country’s economy grew by 0.72% in Q2 2017, 1.17% in Q3 2017, 2.11% in Q4 2017 and 1.95% in Q1 2018.

The discovery of the “Black Gold” in Nigeria influenced the abandonment of other profitable sectors of the economy for years. For example, the agricultural industry that used to drive economic development became moribund. The oil boom, especially between 2011 and 2015 was, therefore, a two-sided coin.

The failure to save from the oil windfall for the rainy days like the recent recession ignited calls for diversification. Economic policy analysts in Nigeria are now able to assess the drawbacks of the mono-economy. Like the African Business magazine points out, recession has awakened Nigeria’s consciousness of broadening and strengthening its economic infrastructure.

Nigeria’s economic recovery efforts

The increasing calls and actions geared towards a shift from an oil-dependent to a diversified economy, are products of the recession. Nigeria’s 2018 budget stands at $29.8 billion, which the President calls, ‘the budget of consolidation.’

Economic diversification is aptly reflected in the budget but paradoxically, the budget is financed largely by crude oil. According to Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; “you need oil to get out of oil. If we combine reforms in the structural economy with rising oil prices, growth will come back.”

The Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) is the blue-print that has been guiding the Federal Government’s economic recovery agenda. Agriculture, transportation, power and gas, manufacturing and processing are priority areas in the recovery plan.

So far, President Muhammadu Buhari has been consolidating on the agricultural reforms of his predecessor. There have been reforms through the Ministry of Finance, to broaden the tax base of the economy. Major infrastructure projects are ongoing in the area of rail and road transportation.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, has also announced the exploitation of multiple sources of energy. This is to improve Nigeria’s power generation capacity which according to him, has moved from a steady 5000MW to 7000MW.

The 2019 general elections as a threat to sustainable economic recovery

Despite changes made so far, it’s evident the overhaul is still below expectation. Nigeria must remain consistent on the path of diversification, irrespective of global oil prices at any point in time. According to the NBS, the economy is in its second and last stages of recovery, heading towards sustainable growth.

However, the present build-up to the 2019 general elections in the country, is proving to be counterproductive to economic growth. The quest by the Buhari Administration to secure a second term in office is already in full gear.

This is happening amidst stiff opposition from his rivals and the Nigerian Youth who appear unsatisfied with his first term. Many of the President’s political associates have joined the opposition, prominent among them is Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki. Saraki, apart from defecting to the opposition, has also declared his intention to run for President.

His decision to rival Buhari in the 2019 election among many other political alignments and realignments are already causing political ripples within the nation’s political space. The polity is therefore already very tense at the expense of continuing sustainable economic recovery measures. It’s very clear that major spending will soon tilt towards the electioneering process rather than economic recovery projects.

In an audience with British Prime Minister Theresa May, in April 2018, President Buhari already expressed concerns about this fact. According to him, the increasing focus of politicians on the approaching elections is slowing down the economy. He, however, noted that he is not bothered, as he is focused on providing security and revamping the economy.

In response, Theresa May said the Buhari administration has “been making good progress on the economy,” there’s need to maintain the focus, despite approaching elections, and increase in political activities.

Rising crude oil price & the hidden truth behind Nigeria’s recovery?

While the price of crude oil is rising, Buhari’s critics have been quick to attribute the present recovery to this rising price. To them, the Buhari administration has done little or nothing in terms of diversification to achieve the present economic recovery. This explains the increasing calls from Nigerian youths on the need to “change the change.”

The future may still be economically disastrous for the country if the above claims are true. This is coupled with the ongoing 2019 electioneering frenzy at the expense of economic recovery activities. With the rising oil prices and a seemingly slow diversification process, the nation must be wary of resting on its laurels now that the oil windfall has returned.

The United States-China Trade War & Its Implication on Developing Markets

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United States-China trade War & Burden of Consumers

The world’s two leading economies – the United States and China, recently fired the opening shots in a trade war. How wide-ranging could the consequences of the war be for consumers, workers, companies, investors and political leaders? What implications does this have for emerging markets like Africa?

International relations scholars describe relations between the United States and China as very strong and at the same time, complex. The two economic giants have an extensive economic partnership, due to the significant volume of trade between both countries. This creates room for some sort of positive political relations, however interspersed with significant rivalry emanating from economic competition and other interests.

It’s therefore a relationship of economic cooperation, hegemonic rivalry in the Pacific and mutual suspicion over the other’s intentions. Both nations see each other as a potential adversary whilst at the same time being an extremely strong economic partner. The recent trade war between these two economic powers only go to further substantiate the complexity of Sino-American relations.

What is the trade war all about?

In early July 2018, the U.S. President Donald Trump, in a bid to protect the intellectual property rights of U.S businesses, imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. According to Trump, this new tariff policy also aims at ensuring national security and to help reduce U.S. trade deficit with China. April 2018 also saw Trump imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from China, Canada, and EU countries.

In a tit-for-tat response to the recent tariffs, China also imposed equivalent tariffs on U.S. products. It has now become a trade war between the two nations as they both battle for supremacy. There are fears of an obvious spillover effect of the backlash to other nations which are trading partners of both countries.

Since August 2017, the Trump administration has been on a formal investigation into attacks on American. This also include allies’ intellectual property. Statistics show that this act of theft has been costing the U.S about $600 billion annually, excluding the losses by her allies.

Donald Trump says he is relying partly on Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.  He wants to stop claims of China’s unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property. Of course, the 1974 Trade Act empowers the president to unilaterally impose fines on defaulting trading partners. It also includes penalties on any partner who is seen to be unfairly harming US business interests.

But how is the trade war affecting both countries?

The trade war is already having a negative impact on both countries and other nations of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. There are expectations that things will get worse if there is no change.  Some Chinese products have been hit with a 25% tariff. They are therefore 25% more expensive for US and other global consumers.

These include technology goods like semiconductor chips assembled in China. They’re consumer products in use everyday life like televisions, personal computers, smartphones, and cars. Also included are a wide variety of products ranging from plastics, nuclear reactors and dairy-making equipment.

The Chief Economist of the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS), Taimur Baig, says a full-blown trade war between US and China is dangerous. It could cut 0.25% off the GDP of both economies this year and the figure would get worse next year.

Both countries may witness a reduction in growth of about 0.5% or more due to this trade war. This fall in growth rate can be more damaging for the US if her growth rate is lower than that of China.

Effect on developing markets?

Disruption in the supply chain as a result of the trade clash may also affect Asian economies. This include countries like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan which are major economic partners to these two nations. It may also negatively affect African consumers of manufactured commodities from these two nations.

“China is a hub where products from the rest of Asia are assembled and re-exported to the Western world, especially the U.S.,” said Inan Demir, senior emerging economist at Nomura International.

“If Chinese-origin products are subject to tariffs, the likelihood is that other countries will have less room to export to China, because the final destination of those products is the U.S. and also because Chinese growth will slow down.” He added.

Despite the general negative impact of the trade war on emerging markets, analysts argue that there are also significant long-term opportunities for them once the political tides turn again. An example of such emerging markets is South Africa.

Trump backpedaling on tariffs

In a bid to reduce the negative consequences of similar tariffs imposed on the EU in April 2018, President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have reached an agreement.

The two leaders came into an agreement recently to work towards eliminating tariffs and barriers on trade. It is still to be seen how the implementation of the agreement will go. This is because of Trump’s stubbornness in pursuing his new protective policy.

Nevertheless, economic experts have continued to argue that China is not the biggest loser in the US-China trade war. Rather, US consumers and other countries who largely depend on basic consumer goods imported from China are the biggest losers. The situation therefore presents itself as that of two elephants engage in a fight while the grasses suffer.

Infrastructure Development Funding Gap in Africa & the Way Forward

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Infrastructure funding Gap in Africa & the Way Foward

Investing in infrastructural development is critical in attaining the global sustainable development agenda. But some emerging African nations appear trapped in an infrastructure funding gap. Any possible way forward?

Indeed, infrastructure is a major determinant of economic growth anywhere in the world. It plays a significant role in establishing the development rates among countries. The development rates in China and India for instance, are mostly established from the physical infrastructures in both nations.

Infrastructure development, therefore, drives the production, distribution and consumption processes. The production process requires efficient infrastructure in terms of labour and machines. An effective and efficient transportation system also needs to be in place for the distribution of goods/services to consumers.

Without an excellent transportation infrastructure to move goods/services and raw materials, there’ll absolutely be a delay leading to economic and reputational losses.

According to the World Bank, infrastructural development is vital for the realization of citizens’ aspirations in emerging African nations.

Parents hope for clean and affordable pipe-born water, so their children do not get sick. They also yearn for a good and affordable educational system to educate their children.

The informal settlement dweller hopes for affordable electricity to engage in business ventures. The farmers desire all-weather-roads, reliable shipping and air transport to get their goods to local and international markets.

However, an infrastructure funding gap remains a challenge to some of these African countries.

The Infrastructure funding gap in Africa

Financing infrastructure in Africa remains a major challenge, even to some economic rising stars of the continent. Findings from a recent study show that 10 African nations may fall more than $1 trillion short of infrastructure financing. These countries need this amount in infrastructure financing so as to meet related UN development goals by 2040.

The study is an initiative of the Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) of the G20 wealthy and developing nations. It captures Morocco, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Benin, Guinea and Rwanda. These were all participants in the G20’s ‘Compact with Africa’ initiative, with the aim of channeling investment to the continent.

The GIH report also outlines the infrastructural challenges in Africa and exposes the investment opportunities available for willing investors. According to Chris Heathcote, Chief Executive of GIH, Africa is a fascinating continent for investors.

“They’re not saying ‘Am I going to Africa?’. They’re saying ‘I am going to Africa. I want to go to Africa. Which country should I go to?’”

The GIH report also makes reference to the infrastructural successes in Vietnam. This is in terms of roads, railways, airports, seaports, electricity, water and telecommunications infrastructure.

The findings reveal that the 10 African nations will need investments worth $2 trillion through 2040. They’ll also require additional investments of $383 billion to meet the SDG on universal access to power and water by 2030. This puts the total to about $2.4 trillion.

Finally, the report concludes that if the 10 African countries maintain their current average infrastructure investment level of 4.9% of gross domestic product, that would leave them with a 42% funding gap to fill.

The Way Forward for infrastructure funding in Africa

African nations by virtue of their developing nature, do not have the necessary financial capital to boost infrastructure spending. Even the assistance from aid agencies and other international donors is still not enough to fill the funding gap. Consequently, selecting priority infrastructures and engaging the private sector through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) initiatives become a necessity.

There is a huge presence of influential international conglomerates on the continent involved in infrastructure development. Examples include Bouygues, Bollore, China Railway Construction Corp and General Electric among others.

However, the operational agreements between governments and these conglomerates have often been very lopsided and shrouded in corruption, benefiting largely the external partners. As a fallout, it discourages and keeps small foreign investors out of the market. It also leaves local potential investors very little or no space to contribute.

And so, there is need for an equitable and transparent infrastructure investment environment with clearly set rules of engagement. Such an environment should promote local and small international potential investors in infrastructure.

Chris Heathcote portends that “there is a wall of money being held by the pension funds” which is looking more and more at emerging infrastructure market. Nevertheless, investing such money, requires the adoption of strict anti-corruption measures. This includes the removal of inefficiencies that often stifle large-scale investments in Africa.

Generally, putting in place an efficient PPP program, will greatly enhance international and local investment in infrastructure development. Rwanda, is an apt example of a country where PPP has been working in infrastructure development. Private investment represents two-thirds of infrastructure spending in the country, thus showing the transparent nature of the process.

 

The Single Tweet That Fully Explains Emmanuel Macron’s Visit to Nigeria

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The Single Tweet that Fully Explains Emmanuel Macron's visit to Nigeria

Considering the unofficial and socio-cultural mood of the recent visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Nigeria, it will be analytically misleading to conclude that he came just to socialize with Nigerians.

This’ Macron’s first visit to Nigeria since his election in May 2017. Quartz Africa describes the visit as unconventional, anti-establishment and low in policy but high on culture.

This position is justified by the none inclusion of the visit on official government business and the absence of the regular pomp of a presidential welcome. Macron’s conspicuous trip to New Afrika Shrine, a concert venue in Lagos owned by the family of the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, also explains this fact.

But that visit has very much to do with French economic interests, which also depends on the security and politics around the Gulf of Guinea and the Sahelian zone.

Emmanuel Macron, notes that France cannot help Nigeria and Africa solve the problem of insecurity but will always intervene, in the fight against terrorism. In other words, France will only intervene in Nigeria or Africa on issues that threatens her interest and national security.

The question is, how is the Boko Haram terrorist activities a threat to French interests in Nigeria?

Emmanuel Macron Came to Lobby for French Economic Interest

Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TOTAL, one of the world’s leading energy companies attempts an answer to the above question. Prior to President Macron’s visit, Pouyanné, technically revealed the purpose of the visit through the tweet below;

Nigeria has a maximum crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day. In terms of ranking, she’s Africa’s largest producer of oil and the sixth largest global producer. It is equally a fact that Nigeria has more potentials in gas than in oil.

Consequently, TOTAL as an ambitious responsible Energy Major, has been very much present in the Nigerian oil industry. Nigeria, with its large market is also France’s largest trading partner in Africa. About 120 French businesses and companies are currently active in the country.

Statistics show that French investment in Nigeria in 2017 alone, amounts to more than N150 Billion. Nigerian businesses are increasingly seeking partnerships with these French businesses that add value to the diversification drive. The objective is to improve the quality of non-oil exports.

It’s obviously evident that these companies, including TOTAL have huge capital investments in Nigeria. These investments require protection amidst rising regional insecurity around the Gulf of Guinea.

Cameroon conflict threatens French Economic interest

Reports say Macron’s visit, was also to lobby the Buhari Administration for assistance to crush Anglophone Separatists in Cameroon. Cameroon, is in conflict with separatists in its two English-speaking regions, after mismanaging a civil unrest in late 2016.

French Secretary of state for Foreign Affairs visited the region under threatening security, before Macron traveled to Nigeria. Macron, on his part talked with the President Paul Biya of Cameroon on possible resolutions to the conflict.

The visit to Nigeria by President Emmanuel Macron (whether official or unofficial) was therefore very economically strategic. Intervening in regional security threats and not in internal issues like Fulani-Farmer clashes is purely for French economic interest.

France is the only former colonialist with very strong neo-colonial influence on her former colonies. Not intervening in the anti-terrorism fight and insecurity in the sub-region will put her investments in Nigeria at stake. It will also destabilize her former colonies which serve as sources of economic stabilization for the home economy. This is true on the bases of the post-colonial France/Afrique arrangement.

 

 

New Anti-immigration Policies in Europe and America: A Challenge to Concerned African Nations

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New anti-immigration Policies in Europe & America: A Challenge to Concerned African Nations

It appears that the present repressive immigration policies in Europe and America are good for Africa.

There is no doubt to the fact that global migration is becoming a major priority for the international community. Of course, global mobility and the growing complexity of migratory patterns are heavily impacting countries, migrants, families and communities.

The upsurge of international migrants has been evident in recent years, both numerically and proportionally. According to the 2018 World Migration Report, there were around 244 million international migrants in 2015, which equates to 3.3 percent of the global population.

In Europe and America, immigration rates have been alarmingly high. Justice for Immigrants posits that the major push and pull drives of global migration today remain politics and Economics. Migrants, especially, from Africa and other less developed parts of the world have been on the move.

Receiving Nations and receptive immigration policies

Europe and North America have largely been the destinations of most of the migrants. In 2015 for instance, about one third of the world’s international migrants (75 million) lived in Europe. Thousands continue to move legally and illegally from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia into Europe and North America.

In recent years, receiving nations, especially, within the European Union and North America have been welcoming, with favorable immigration policies.

For example, Germany under Angela Merkel has been exceptionally magnanimous. In the United States, the Obama administration relatively relaxed immigration policies, thereby giving some due advantages to immigrants. Canada, has also recently proven to be a sanctuary for global migrants, following its humanitarian and compassionate immigration policy.

However, things appear not to be the same again.

Tough immigration Policies in Europe and the United States

There is a current wave of resistance to immigration in Europe and USA. Europeans seem to have received enough of political and economic migrants from Africa and the Middle East. President Donald Trump is currently at loggerhead with Americans for his anti-immigration stand.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel has been under immense pressure from majority of citizens and political rivals. As a political survival strategy, they want Merkel to reverse her pro-immigration policy, which has welcomed thousands of undocumented migrants.

A recent survey shows that 62 percent of Germans are in favor of turning back illegal migrants at the border. This supports the position of Markel’s Minister of Interior, Horst Seehofer, who is openly against admitting more illegal migrants.  From the Infratest dimap poll, 86 percent of respondents want faster deportations of asylum seekers who have not been given a stay.

In the US, Donald Trump’s repressive Immigration Policy has been raising tensions between the US government and neighboring countries. This also includes African and Middle East countries where the president recently imposed travel bans.

Trump’s idea of building a wall along the US-Mexico border to deter illegal crossings into the US is still in place. The president is, therefore, continuously developing different methods of restricting US-bound migrants.

One of such is his executive order that allows government to separate children of illegal immigrants from their parents in detention. Though the order is now history after a barrage of criticisms from US stakeholders, many families are already separated.

Illegal African migrants aggravating the situation

There is no doubt that Africa is leading in the sending nations in global migration. This is especially true when it comes to illegal migrants from the continent to Europe. The horrible stories of thousands of African migrants trying to reach Europe through the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea are not new to anyone.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1.4 million African migrants arrived Europe between 2015 and 2017. More than 11 thousand deaths were registered during this period. Just between January and June 2018, there has been 42,653 arrivals, with 1063 deaths at sea.

Between 2017 and 2018, hundreds of migrants intercepted by Libyan Coast Guards have been returned to their countries of origin. This was after the uncovering of the slave trade by some Libyans using arrested migrants.

The Challenge to Sending African Countries

The present anti-immigration atmosphere especially in Europe is a challenge to African leaders, whose nations are largely the sending countries. It’s validating the fact that the receiving countries are no longer comfortable with the migratory trend.

The populations of these receiving countries are mounting pressure on their leaders to stop receiving immigrants. As people-driven democracies, these leaders have no choice than to dance to the dictates of the people.

African leaders, must, as a matter of urgency, take this as a challenge. It’s a challenge to restructure the socio-economic and political fabrics of their various nations. Pan African institutions like the African Union (AU), African Development Bank (AfDB) and regional blocks must be seen to be aggressively responding to this challenge. This will undoubtedly help in curtailing these illegal movements of Africans to Europe, where they’re no longer welcome.

The achievement of AU agenda 2063 is dependent on the inclusive contributions of all Africans, especially its vibrant youthful population. Consequently, it’s time to check this continuous and dangerous trend of migration of agile African youth to Europe and America.

China’s Infrastructure Grants to Africa and the Missing Local Content in Usage

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China’s Infrastructure Grants to Africa and Missing Local Content in Usage

Is it fair to say that China, through her infrastructure grants is Africa’s “Santa Claus”?

As what can be described as the “second scramble” for Africa heightens, China’s influence on the continent is ever alarming. The economic giant appears to be on a full aggressive neocolonial mission.

It’s a mission in which she certainly wants to assert herself as the world’s future center of global economic determinism. This, probably, explains her massive infrastructure grants/loans to African institutions and states.

The new headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has the fingerprints of China all over it. The $200 million (£127 million) edifice is Beijing’s gift to the Pan-African institution, as she (China) continues to strengthen her influence.

China’s Infrastructure Grants to Africa and Missing Local Content in Usage

China provided 90 percent of skilled and unskilled construction workers during the building of the $200million AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

ECOWAS is currently depending on the same China for the financing of a new headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. The project promises to gulp another $32 million in grants from the Communist People’s Republic.

In terms of consolidating her influence on African states, Beijing is to build numerous public infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, she’s financing parliamentary structures in Zimbabwe, Congo, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, and Lesotho, etc. She’s also reconstructing Gabon’s burnt parliament and renovating Sierra Leone’s.

Recently, the Tanzanian government signed a US $64.4 million grant with China for two major infrastructure projects in the country. The first project includes the construction of the University of Transport in Dar es Salaam, worth US $62 million. The second project is a feasibility study costing US $1.4 million towards constructing a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). The Chinese are also financing similar projects in Nigeria, and other African countries.

China’s Infrastructure Grants to Africa and Missing Local Content in Usage

Chinese and Nigerian construction workers on the Chinese funded Abuja-Kaduna Railway Project

While most of these infrastructures indicate that funding is by Chinese grants, some are with loans. Some of these loans come from the Exim Bank of China. All these may sound good for Africa’s development but there are a good number of germane concerns.

Concerns about China’s Infrastructure grants/loans

It appears China, through these grants is increasingly becoming a “Santa Claus” to Africa. This is evident in that beneficiary institutions and governments basically have no leverage over them. Lopsided memoranda are often signed, giving the Chinese government total leverage to manage the projects. That’s why it’s common to find indigenous Chinese companies in charge of the award and execution of Chinese-funded projects.

Money for the projects is often released from China’s Exim Bank, directly into the accounts of executing companies. These contractors buy their materials from Chinese markets and shipped to the beneficiary countries. In some cases, the Chinese mount these materials within China before shipping. Skilled indigenous Chinese contractors are paid to execute the projects within the beneficiary country. And at the end of the day, an almost absolute percent of the grant finally goes back or remains within the Chinese economic space.

How does this benefit the beneficiary country?

Basically, the only benefit for the receiving institution or state is the physical project, with a few unskilled employment opportunities. Very few or no skilled local African personnel acquire technical training at the end of such projects. Management of technological installations in such infrastructures is still dependent on the Chinese firm concerned.

Spy technologies are even sometimes allegedly installed in order to track the activities or secret dealings of the beneficiary institution. Such is the case with the new headquarters of the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A French Magazine recently accused China of hacking AU headquarters’ computer systems every night for five years and downloading confidential data.

Need for local content in the execution of Chinese projects

Local content is almost completely missing in the execution of Chinese grants/loans inspired projects. There’s need for African governments to review the rules governing Chino-Africa relations. This is especially necessary in the domain of trade and implementation of Chinese-funded projects in Africa. The population of the beneficiary country must be able to acquire skilled knowledge at the end of such projects.

African leaders must completely review the idea of China supplying both the financial and necessary human resources. This should apply, especially, in cases where such financial resources are proceeds of a loan from the Chinese government. Nigeria and Rwanda for instance, are two African countries already enforcing local content orders or laws. These laws provide opportunities for a reasonable percentage of local skilled labor especially, in executing foreign-financed projects.

Where such local skills are not available, the foreign contractors, as part of the rules of engagement, must train a reasonable percentage of local labor on the job. This is to help build the capacity of local citizens in such domains. By so doing, they can effectively manage such infrastructures upon completion or do similar jobs for the nations.

 

The Ingenuity of the African Youth & Overdependence on Foreign Gifts

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Overdependence

Amidst global socio-economic competitiveness, can the present generation of African youth undo Africa’s overdependence on aid/gifts?

Africa is rising and her youthful population isn’t lacking behind. This is visible through the increasing ingenuity of a good number of African youths. Through independent multi-sectoral startups, these young hustlers are already making tangible contributions to national developments across the continent.

However, the search for funding for such ingenious initiatives, has resulted in their almost total dependence on foreign gifts, with its attendant consequences. It’s therefore important that this rising breed of African youths also rise against overdependence on foreign aid/gifts at this stage.

Africa’s Overdependence on Foreign Aid

Much of post-independent Africa largely depends on foreign aid, despite economic growth in parts of the continent significantly outpacing the global average. For instance, Ethiopia has a split personality as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

The economy, between 2004 and 2013, grew by about 10% a year. The country has also been the center of attraction for foreign investors. Nevertheless, a third of Ethiopia’s population earn below $1 a day, with the government receiving $504 million (£324 million) in aid from the UK in 2011/12, thereby making it the biggest recipient of bilateral aid for the country that year.

Overdependence

Of course, such aid/gifts have often come with serious strings or conditions attached. In most cases, they serve the interests of the donors. The late erudite Pan-Africanist, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, posits that, “Independence cannot be real if a nation depends on gifts.”

According to Nyerere, real independence demands that African states negotiate with foreign donors on acceptable conditions for loans and gifts. This, however, is not the case as African leaders often reluctantly accept unilaterally set conditions by donors.

Overdependence of African youth startups on foreign gifts

Regrettably, most young African startups and youth-initiated small projects, are today also leaning towards overdependence on western donors. This is continuously being manifested through one-sided partnerships between initiators of these small projects and their western financiers.

Many Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other development initiatives run mostly by the youth, are victims of such overdependence. Their projects are totally dependent on western benefactors for financing. These benefactors dictate the tune in the management of these resources, most of which serve largely, the interests of such patrons.

It’s therefore, not uncommon to soon find such organizations or small projects transferred and managed from abroad. In some scenarios, the aid to such foundations, organizations or small projects hardly leaves the donor country. The initiators find themselves in donor nations through a technical form of brain drain. Cases where founders of such small projects or startups appear not to be absolutely loyal to donors or infringe laid down rules between the two, have mostly ended in litigation.

The way forward for the African Youths

In a 21st century society driven by the knowledge economy, the present generation of African youth must start thinking beyond aid. It’s unproductive and unprofitable for any young startup to spend valuable time seeking for aid or gifts from agencies that would dictate the rules of their operations.

Ingenious African youth should take initiatives to create innovative and salable ideas and not begging for funding. As future leaders, it’s not yet time to seek to be successful but time to seek to be valuable. Creative African youth must develop their gifts to be so valuable that they will receive payment to perform them.

Like President Akufo-Addo of Ghana pointed out during his keynote speech at the 2018 Oxford Africa Conference, the aid/gifts dependence mentality is a product of the economic structure defined for Africa by the colonial masters. It was never meant to economically transform the continent and its population.

That is why the socio-economic and political transformation of Africa in the 21st century cannot be gotten through aid. It has consequently, become necessary for African youths and governments of this generation to begin looking at Africa beyond aid.

Apart from her huge mineral deposits, Africa is also rich in vibrant human capacity.  This is resource that can effectively attract investors on equitable rules of engagement. The youths, as leaders of tomorrow, must reset their minds to deliberate qualitative change. Change, that seeks to abandon the colonially inherited economic structure.

The African youth must concentrate on developing their own gifts and not depending on gifts. Only through this can Africa and the future generation of her youthful leaders gain the respect of the world.

The Hustler’s Digest – Orange Cameroon Dancing to the Tune of Digital Education

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The Hustler’s Digest - Orange Cameroon Dancing to the Tune of Digital Education

Today’s Quote

“Education is a sector in transition. There are some common challenges… We’re shifting into this mould of digital pragmatism where institutions are looking at how they are changing their practices.”

Ian Fordham, Microsoft

Africa

$20m investment by MainOne in Cote d’Ivoire for provision of wholesale connectivity services

The Nigerian open-access connectivity services provider group, MainOne is to invest $20m in Cote d’Ivoire for provision of wholesale connectivity services. This is after it obtained the  C1B license from Minister Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services. The license was to enable MainOne land its transAtlantic submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire to strengthen connectivity.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke, “Cote d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a very important hub for business and transport in West Africa…”

Consequently, its cable landing will provide open-access infrastructure within Cote d’Ivoire and other WAEMU countries to expand internet access for all users in the region and support rapid development as well as facilitate increased non-resources trade and improve public services to aid the evolution of regional businesses.

Former Nigerian President, Chief Obasanjo blasts President Buhari

Former Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, made another cutting remark at the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. According to Chief Obasanjo, President Buhari, bungled his trip to the US for talks with President Donald Trump, thereby losing another opportunity to “self-redeem.” President Obasanjo had earlier within 2018, described the Buhari administration as a total failure and that he cannot be seen trying to reinforced failure.

President Buhari had on Monday April 30th, met with the US president at the Whitehouse. President Trump during the meeting expressed concern over “…the religious violence in Nigeria, including the burning of churches and killing of Christians”. He encouraged the Nigerian State to do the needful to immediately secure communities and protect innocent civilians, including Muslims and Christians.

Political drama has continued to unfold among the different political divides in Nigeria as the 2019 general elections approach. There has consequently been increasing political bickering, accusations and counter accusations among political stakeholders relating to the performance of the Buhari administration and whether he deserves a second mandate or not.

Orange Cameroon contributes to Digital Education

Indeed, education is the key to success as Solomon Ortiz once said. In order to make education more flexible for students, Orange has decided to commit to the digitalization of Cameroon’s public Universities. This decision was signed on April 27, 2018, by the company’s managing director, Frederic Debord, and the Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Jacques Fame Ndongo.

According the minister of higher education, this commitment will help in meeting the objectives set by Cameroon’s president of distributing laptops to students. These objectives include, distance learning and a better appreciation of ICTs.

Notwithstanding, the new support by Orange will help to prove the digital standard of the public universities and this will give students more knowledge of ICT. It will also improve the love for education and will reduce the workload on these institutes.

President Paul Biya decries dissemination of fake news

As the world celebrated World Press Freedom Day on May 2, Cameroon’s President Paul Biya took to his twitter account to decry the spread of fake news. According to the President, “Disinformation, slander and lies for selfish gains, have eclipsed the dissemination of real news,”

President Biya’s statement came at a time when international rights agencies are reporting an atmosphere of fear and restrictions employed by the government to force journalists to self-censor their work for fear of detention and high fines. Many Journalists in the troubled Anglophone regions were recently arrested and locked up in line with their duty.

The President’s act of decrying the dissemination of fake news on twitter on Press Freedom Day, appears more to be a justification of his government’s anti press freedom activities.

Kenya’s Safaricom, goes into social networking

Kenya’s mobile network operator, Safaricom, is going into social networking. The mobile network operator is launching a platform that will allow its customers to send and receive money while they chat. The move is to make the messaging service, also known as Bonga (which means “to chat” in colloquial Swahili), more social.

The  Bonga chat service positions Safaricom as a social networking site, allowing its near-30 million subscribers to not only send direct messages on a singular free platform but it will also help them conduct business meetings and enhance their commercial experience. Users will have access to a special M-Pesa button that will allow them to send and request money.

Is the Kenyan President really serious about this?

Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is seeking for forgiveness from the Kenyan people. In his first State of the nation address since winning a second term in office, President Kenyatta said the people should forgive him, if in anyway during the heated elections, he contributed in damaging the unity of the country.

Kenyatta in his speech also praised the resistant opposition leader, Raila Odinga, for accepting to collaborate with his administration towards the restoration of national unity and reconciliations. “Hon. Raila and I stood together not because we agreed on every item of politics or policy, but because we agreed that Kenya belongs to all of us.” He said.

May be the President should begin by seeking forgiveness from the families of those who died from police excesses during the post-election protests and the judges of the supreme court whom he described as “thugs” for annulling the elections. Notwithstanding, Kenyatta may just be speaking from his heart.

South Africa’s Wezart art subscription service globalizes African artists

South Africa’s Wezart has launched an artwork subscription service that will help African artists sell to the world.  It should be noted that Wezart is the South African art and fashion marketplace which helps African artists and designers sell to the rest of the world via its e-commerce platform. It focuses solely on new-age African identity in fashion and art, allowing Africans to sell their modern contemporary creations as efficiently as possible.

Early this week, the startup rolled out an artwork subscription service, which allows companies and individuals to rent artwork from artists through subscription, rent-to-buy artwork they want to own, and commission portraits. The service is the first of its kind in South Africa, and empowers artists by allowing them to make a living from their work before it is sold.

Egyptian online rental platform secures a $1 million funding

An Egyptian Startup, La Reina just raised a US$1 Million from its country’s leading tech firm, Algebra Venture.

La Reina is Egypt’s first online rental platform that was founded in 2016 by Ghada El-Tanawy and Amr Diab. The platform caters for women standing on either side of a demand and supply equation, enables women to rent their used gown to each other online.

Also, the company plans to use the acquired investment to expand its team. “We are certainly focusing on the team,” says Amr Diab, La Reina’s co-founder. In addition, La Reina has caught the attention of US-based global venture capital fund, 500 startups. “We have been watching the La Reina team since the beginning and were impressed with their innovative approach to solving a huge regional pain point,” says 500 startup partner Sharif El-Badawi.

M & A Capital  launches Reverse Factoring  as an alternative financing platform for SMEs in Senegal

On April 26, 2018 in Dakar, the Pan-African investment company M & A Capital and the Agency for Development and Supervision of Small and Medium Enterprises announced the start of the project “Reverse Factoring ” as an alternative financing platform for SMEs through a joint venture called M & A Fintech.

This initiative responds to the desire to provide an alternative to the traditional mode of financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Small and medium industries (PMI), very small businesses (TPE) and very small industry (TPI).

Financial Afrik  reveals that this project has strengthened the financing capacity of these structures for the Senegalese economy by improving capitalization, working capital requirements (BFR) and short-term cash management. This is due to the establishment of a secure tripartite platform between banks, suppliers (SMEs, PMI …) and prime contractors (large enterprises).

 

World

Why is WhatsApp founder quitting Facebook?

On April 30, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced plans to leave the company, owned by parent company, Facebook. Koum has worked with Facebook and served on the company’s board since Facebook acquired WhatsApp for over $19 billion in 2014. In a Facebook post, Koum said it was “time for him to move on.” And that he’ll be taking some time off to pursue non-tech related interests.

Nevertheless, Koum, did not detail his reasons for leaving Facebook. But The Washington Post said he was departing because he has clashed with Facebook execs over the messaging app’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use WhatsApp personal data, monetize the service, and weaken its encryption. And this is one thing he had fought so strongly against.

The social giant had originally promised not to share WhatsApp data with Facebook. However, that changed less than two years after the acquisition, leading to ongoing disagreements over data sharing.

€3.25 million to station all your web apps in one place

Paris-based SaaS startup, Station, is setting out to build a web browser that unifies work applications in a single interface. It has now raised €3.25 million in a seed round of funding led by Accel Partners.

Founded out of Paris in 2017, Station wants to create a browser for businesses that gathers all your cloud-based web apps into a single portal. However, this will not help if you are still using traditional applications such as Office on your desktop. But there has been a snail shift to subscription-based software that’s accessed in the browser. And Station believes it has a solution to boost productivity by sidestepping browser tabs like Chrome and Firefox.

With $3.25 million in its bank, Station said it plans to accelerate its product development and grow its user base. But what this really means is, Station just solved a personal issue we all experience–the over-accumulation of tabs in our browsers.

China’s 21st richest man to purchase 70% of marriage and dating site, Baihe

Fosun International chairman and business magnate, Guo Guangchang, plans to purchase a majority stake in marriage and dating website Baihe.com for just under RMB 4 billion ($630 million).

Baihe’s shareholders entered into an agreement with Yuanhong Investment to sell 869 million shares at a price of RMB 4.6 ($0.72) per share. Guo controls 100% of Yuanhong, which will make him a controlling shareholder of Baihe when and if this deal goes through. However, there has been no indication as to when the purchase will be concluded.

The Chinese online dating market has expanded dramatically, and the sector is experiencing a period of increased growth. According to Statista, the number of users of online dating platforms will increase by 45% by 2020. In 2019, total revenue in the sector is predicted to reach RMB 4.4 billion, up 600% from 2010. Guo’s interest in Baihe, therefore, comes as no surprise.

What’s the relationship between the Nobel Prize and a sex scandal?

The Nobel Prize in Literature for this year has been postponed. The postponement came in the wake of a sexual and financial scandal rocking the Swedish Academy, the cultural institution in charge of awarding the prestigious prize.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced,” the academy’s permanent secretary, Anders Olsson noted.

Some people may have questioned the relationship between the sex and financial scandal within the academy and the Nobel award. But authorities of the Swedish academy say their action is out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public. It’s therefore an issue of credibility.

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Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere and the Arrival of CloudCover – Virtual SIM Technology

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Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere & the Arrival of CloudCover - Virtual SIM Technology

CloudCover recently joined the Nigerian tech space. Are Nigerians ready to give them a share of the market?

Nigeria’s tech ecosystem is growing with an increasing influx of investors into the market. Mobile operators, broadband companies, content providers and other technology-focused companies around the globe are pitching their tents in Nigeria. Of course, the underlying aim is to tap from the large market provided by the over 180 million Nigerians.

Lagos, Nigeria,  has recently been declared set to overtake Nairobi, Kenya, as Africa’s start-up capital. This is probably because Nigeria boasts of many tech/eCommerce startups like Konga, Jumia, Andela, iRoko, Farmcrowdy, and Flutterwave, among others. There equally exist investments like; ‘Yabacon Valley’ and the $360 Million African ecosystem investment, where Nigeria got about $109 Million.

These consequently reflect an increased investor interest within the Nigerian tech space/ICT market. CloudCover, certainly wants to grab its own share of  the big market.

Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere & the Arrival of CloudCover - Virtual SIM Technology

In the first quarter of 2012, the Telecommunications and Postal sector was the primary driver of growth of the Nigerian economy. The sector is the fourth highest contributor to the nation’s GDP. From recent developments in the Nigerian tech space, it can be said that the above situation has not declined but there has instead been an improvement.

 

However, there’s still a problem.

Accessibility to high-speed Internet connection and telephone services remains a huge challenge. It is, therefore, not uncommon to find Nigerians migrating from one Internet and telecom provider to another in search of better Internet connection and communication services.

The recent arrival of CloudCover in the Nigerian ICT market thus, provides a glimmer of hope.

About CloudCover in Nigeria’s ICT Market

CloudCover is a multinational provider of multi-network mobile data services. The company provides a portable CC1 Mi-Fi device which allows users to access the best available network anywhere in over 100 countries, including Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere & the Arrival of CloudCover - Virtual SIM Technology

Some Executives of CloudCover displaying the portable CC1 Mi-Fi device in Abuja

The company has existed in Nigeria since 2017 and has been servicing citizens in all 36 states. It is a pioneer in virtual SIM technology in the country. It supports the states, Federal government and the private sector to strengthen the growth and impact of the ICT industry.

CloudCover, therefore, works towards providing constant reliable Internet connectivity for subscribers on an extensive scale, with just a single device. It reduces the burden of tough decision-making which Internet providers go through in a country. And so, the service becomes very necessary in a country like Nigeria with multiple service providers.

On April 24, CloudCover hosted Critical Information Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The session was to discuss the future of the Internet in Nigeria. Through its leading 4G/LTE device – CC1 MiFi, CloudCover presents an unwavering solution to the fluctuating Internet services in Nigeria. This will help subscribers to cut down on extra cost in buying different SIMs and Mi-Fis.

Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere & the Arrival of CloudCover - Virtual SIM Technology

CloudCover executive lectures ICT stakeholders in Abuja on the Virtual SIM Technology

Mission of CloudCover

Virtual SIM technology is increasingly being adopted around the globe, especially in Western countries. Consequently, this concept clearly appears to reflect the future of mobile technologies. Nick Dixon, CEO of CloudCover shares this position.

“Constant connectivity to the Internet in today’s world is priceless. With so much innovation being shared and discovered in the cyberspace, it has become imperative for one to stay connected regardless of time and location. People in today’s generation are relying on the Internet to do a lot of many different tasks. This is why we created the CC1 Mi-Fi that keeps you constantly connected locally and internationally,” he argues.

Nigeria’s Burgeoning Techsphere & the Arrival of CloudCover - Virtual SIM Technology

Nick Dixon, CEO of CloudCover

With this, it is obvious that the Virtual SIM technology innovation is the future of Internet and cellular technology in the world. Considering its vibrant and flourishing ICT market, Nigeria thus provides a favorable and enabling environment as one of its testing grounds in Africa.

 

Biometric e-Gates at Ghana’s Airport; An Emulative Innovation

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Biometric e-Gates at Ghana’s Airport; An Emulative Innovation

African governments are increasingly living the realities of the digital age by adopting and implementing different digital/e-governance practices. The underlying objective of embracing these practices is to ensure an efficient governance process that facilitates governments’ services. One of such e-government services in Africa is the Biometric         e-gates innovation introduced at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport, Accra.

Biometric e-Gates at Ghana’s Airport; An Emulative Innovation

The e-Gates, installed at the arrivals and departure halls of the airport, provide an automatic border control solution.

 

The biometric e-gates control and visa management system is part of a bigger e-migration initiative by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS). The aim of this innovation is to enhance security clearance procedures and passenger processing. Thus, the e-Gates, installed at the arrivals and departure halls of the airport, provide an automatic border control solution. They also lessen the workload for immigration officers, as they perform identification, authentication and verification functions.

This novelty is a combined achievement of Ghana’s Ministries of the Interior, Communication and Aviation. Equally part of the success is; the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), the Ghana Airports Company Limited, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and contractors – Gemalto, Josanti and Dart Company who all collaborated to achieve the fit.

Cost of the Biometric e-Gates

The realization of the project is thanks to the sponsorship of the Ministry of Communications. A total of $18 million dollars has been spent so far to this effect. According the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), the project is part of the government’s digitalization agenda. Obviously, it is out to facilitate information exchange and safeguard efficiency in government services. It covers the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the GIS headquarters and subsidiary offices, Disaster Recovery, two sea ports and three land borders.

The government says the focus of the e-immigration system is the provision of an end-to-end integration of border control operations. This also includes permit and visa management systems, business processes (including document and record management). Added to these are a web-enabled system, improved and efficient information technology infrastructure and interconnection with key stakeholders.

 

The GIS is expected to make optimum use of the new Secure Border Management System. It is specifically developed for Ghana but conforms to global standards and completely different from the current system.

A survey by Ghanaian aviation experts reveals that more than six out of ten travelers support digitalization of airport services. They appreciate a faster deployment of biometric technologies to speed up check-in, boarding, and security procedures.

How the Biometric e-Gates Work

The biometric e-gate has been developed under the e-Transform programme, a World Bank funded project under Ghana’s Ministry of Communications. It performs three major functions – identification, verification and authentication of travelers’ documents.

At the biometric e-gate, a passenger places the identification page of his/her passport on a screen for an automatic identification scan. After identification, the e-gate opens for the passenger to go into the verification booth. Where the biometric information conforms, the door automatically opens for the passenger to go out to the other side. However, where the information doesn’t conform, the door remains shut. An alarm then triggers, requesting the passenger to wait for an officer.

This is an indication that with the e-gate, it is pretty difficult for any falsification of identity at the airport. It’s not going to be business as usual for those individuals involved in faking and stealing other people’s passports.

A necessary and emulative innovation?

Generally, Ghana is among the African countries that have chosen to move with the digital age and the new media. A larger percentage of the country’s population consists of people of the digital generation. Consequently, adopting the biometric e-gates innovation is not only enhancing governance and security in the aviation industry. It’s also to meet up with the needs of its largely digital-driven population.

The e-gate is a novelty worth emulating by other African countries. Aviation standards in the developed world are changing to new daily digital realities. African nations therefore cannot afford to lag behind.  The port of entry in any nation plays a significant role in the first impression of first-time visitors. A modern and efficient aviation system thus, gives visitors a positive first impression about governance in the country.