Naira Suffers Free Fall; Now ₦385 To Dollar, ₦505 To Pound At Parallel Market

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The Nigerian naira on Wednesday, February 17, weakened further to ₦385 per US dollar and ₦505 per British Pound at the parallel market, while the official interbank rates remain stable at ₦199.34.

READ ALSO: Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further

Naira: Exchange rate as at the morning of 18/2/2016: The Guardian

(UPDATE) Naira: Exchange rate as at the morning of 18/2/2016: The Guardian

It was gathered that the demand for dollars to pay for Chinese goods was part of the reason for the latest decline.

“You know China had been on its one month annual holidays. But they resumed work on Monday, and people have to complete payment for goods ordered before the holidays,” a BDC operator said.

They had made 30% down payment to order the goods and they now have to pay the 70% balance otherwise they will lose the 30%.

That is why they are desperate and ready to buy dollars at any rate. Meanwhile supply is scarce and those who have dollars are not willing to sell because they might also need the currency soon”.

The rapid fall of the Naira had been traced to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) restriction policy on the weekly sale to Bureau de Changes with dollars on January 12th, 2016.

The post Naira Suffers Free Fall; Now ₦385 To Dollar, ₦505 To Pound At Parallel Market appeared first on 360Nobs.com.

Source: New feed

Naira Suffers Free Fall; Now ₦385 To Dollar, ₦505 To Pound At Parallel Market

Featured Image

The Nigerian naira on Wednesday, February 17, weakened further to ₦385 per US dollar and ₦505 per British Pound at the parallel market, while the official interbank rates remain stable at ₦199.34.

READ ALSO: Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further

Naira: Exchange rate as at the morning of 18/2/2016: The Guardian

(UPDATE) Naira: Exchange rate as at the morning of 18/2/2016: The Guardian

It was gathered that the demand for dollars to pay for Chinese goods was part of the reason for the latest decline.

“You know China had been on its one month annual holidays. But they resumed work on Monday, and people have to complete payment for goods ordered before the holidays,” a BDC operator said.

They had made 30% down payment to order the goods and they now have to pay the 70% balance otherwise they will lose the 30%.

That is why they are desperate and ready to buy dollars at any rate. Meanwhile supply is scarce and those who have dollars are not willing to sell because they might also need the currency soon”.

The rapid fall of the Naira had been traced to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) restriction policy on the weekly sale to Bureau de Changes with dollars on January 12th, 2016.

The post Naira Suffers Free Fall; Now ₦385 To Dollar, ₦505 To Pound At Parallel Market appeared first on 360Nobs.com.

Source: New feed

Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further

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The Nigerian Naira is expected to suffer more at the parallel market this week after shedding nine per cent of its value last week, foreign exchange dealers and economic experts have forecasted.

Naira depreciates to 304 per dollar

Naira to suffer more as Dollar demand continue to Increase

It was gathered that the local currency, last week, fell from 310 to 338 following the acute shortage of the Dollar as desperate Nigerian importers scramble to get the greenback to meet their obligations overseas.

The local currency also closed at 325, 318, 313.5 and 310 on Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday and Monday, respectively.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), however, did not tamper with the official exchange rate as it is still N197 to the dollar on its official interbank window.

“The situation has got to the point of hysteria now; everybody wants to hold dollars. So the demand is rising and piling up,” the Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said.

“We see the naira falling further in coming days if the central bank fails to lift the dollar restriction,” the Acting President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, said.

Reuters had on February 9, reported that the plunging global oil prices have battered Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy, with external reserves down to an 11-year low at $27.89bn on February 9.

Meanwhile, economic experts and forex dealers expect the Naira to fall further at the parallel market this week as demand for the greenback continues to soar.

The post Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further appeared first on 360Nobs.com.

Source: New feed

Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further

Featured Image

The Nigerian Naira is expected to suffer more at the parallel market this week after shedding nine per cent of its value last week, foreign exchange dealers and economic experts have forecasted.

Naira depreciates to 304 per dollar

Naira to suffer more as Dollar demand continue to Increase

It was gathered that the local currency, last week, fell from 310 to 338 following the acute shortage of the Dollar as desperate Nigerian importers scramble to get the greenback to meet their obligations overseas.

The local currency also closed at 325, 318, 313.5 and 310 on Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday and Monday, respectively.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), however, did not tamper with the official exchange rate as it is still N197 to the dollar on its official interbank window.

“The situation has got to the point of hysteria now; everybody wants to hold dollars. So the demand is rising and piling up,” the Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said.

“We see the naira falling further in coming days if the central bank fails to lift the dollar restriction,” the Acting President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, said.

Reuters had on February 9, reported that the plunging global oil prices have battered Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy, with external reserves down to an 11-year low at $27.89bn on February 9.

Meanwhile, economic experts and forex dealers expect the Naira to fall further at the parallel market this week as demand for the greenback continues to soar.

The post Nigerians Scramble For The Dollar As Naira Plummets Further appeared first on 360Nobs.com.

Source: New feed

Naira Endures Free Fall Against Dollar

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The Nigerian naira on Tuesday, February 9, weakened further to 313.5 against the United States dollar at the parallel market as shortage of the greenback, persists in the forex markets.

Naira depreciates to 304 per dollar

Naira continues free-fall against dollar

The local currency which traded for 310 to a dollar on Monday lost 3.5 units to close at N313.5 per dollar on Tuesday.

According to Reuters On Tuesday, the naira closed at 199.40 to the dollar on the interbank market, around the peg rate of 197 to the dollar.

This is coming just as the interbank lending rate rose to two per cent from one per cent on Monday, after CBN directed commercial banks to fund their naira accounts ahead of its intervention in the forex market on Thursday.

The naira had plummeted against the dollar last month after the CBN banned dollar sales to Bureau De Change outlets and later stopped daily sales to the interbank market.

The post Naira Endures Free Fall Against Dollar appeared first on 360Nobs.com.

Source: New feed

Why ATMs and Mobile platforms are not the solution for financial exclusion

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Financial transactions via mobile and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have grown tremendously in recent years. They are believed to be the major drivers of financial inclusion in Africa where 53 percent of the world’s active mobile money accounts are used. But if 98 percent of transactions in Kenya believed to be the home of mobile money, is still happening in cash — what do these numbers really mean?

“ATMs are not the solution for Africa…and neither is mobile the only answer,” said John Staley, CFO and Executive Director of Kenya’s Equity Bank at the first Business Forum East Africa organised by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

Although, M-PESA has been largely described as an African success story, Staley says the platform is still not focused on the continent’s poor. He explained that the mobile money platform is largely digitising transactions of $30-40 upwards. “Poor people are transacting from $5 down. This is a huge gap.”

“We made an assumption that poor people have electronic money; they do not,” he stressed.

Staley admitted that the growth of mobile money in Kenya is impressive and is having a huge impact on transactions which are rising significantly. The accessibility is enjoyed by the people, he notes, but argued that for the service to truly improve financial inclusion, more needs to be done. “It’s not just about giving people accounts, it’s about giving people accounts that they can use.”

The International Monetary Fund, in its 2014 Financial Access Survey (FAS), reported a dramatic increase in the number of active mobile money accounts in Kenya. The number of mobile money transactions increased by more than 130 times, from 5.5 million in 2007 to more than 700 million in 2013.

This statistic is not surprising given the incredible uptake of M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer and micro-financing service launched in Kenya by Vodafone in 2007. Upwards of 75 percent of Kenya’s adult population now use M-Pesa to process payments for a range of goods and services, they are not just account holders as suggested by Staley.

Despite the growth of mobile money, the level of financial inclusion in East Africa remains generally low. In the continent’s rural communities, where most of the financially excluded reside, access to formal financial services, usage of financial tools and presence of mobile infrastructure are still a concern. This is an integral factor that could drive economic empowerment in rural communities, factors hindering the growth of financial inclusion needs to be addressed. The solution forms the foundation for the sustainable economic development of Africa’s poor.

Stephen Mwaura, Head, National Payments System at Central Bank of Kenya, adds that access to financial services and inclusion will be the best way of eliminating poverty. He challenged banks to be more innovative.

“In the 100 years that we have been doing banking in Kenya, only 20% of the population has gained access to banking. It makes you wonder whether the system is working properly. When 80% of the population is unbanked you cannot effectively implement monetary policy either,” he said.

While the growth of mobile money is forcing banks to be more creative in reaching the unbanked, Visa is also pushing to grow financial inclusion in East Africa. Through a public-private partnership with the government of Rwanda. “We are working to enable a government and empower a whole nation,” said Natalie Baatjies, Senior Director, Financial Inclusion, Visa.

The company has put in place a financial literacy programme, established a payment acceptance network – in shops, hotels, garages and supermarkets – and helped the government to increase the number of ATMs.

While Staley insists neither mobile money nor ATMs are going to solve the problem of financial exclusion, mobile money growth in East Africa and increase in interoperability and accessibility by banks and partners hold great hope for the future of financial inclusion in the region and Africa at large.

The post Why ATMs and Mobile platforms are not the solution for financial exclusion appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Abraaj is gradually cornering the Nigerian market for itself

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The Abraaj group, one of the world’s largest private equity funds, has been increasingly turning its focus towards Africa, a market it considers the next realm for unprecedented growth driven largely by consumer spending. “Our faith and belief in the African consumer story is dramatic because the African consumer today, in my opinion, is well neglected,” Arif Naqvi, the group’s CEO, told Ventures Africa at the World Economic Forum last year in Davos. “Everybody looks at Sub-Saharan Africa and calls it a resources story. I’ve always called it a consumer story.”

Abraaj, which focuses mostly on emerging markets—known for their high risk, high reward business climate—has put its money where its mouth is, investing over $2.5 billion across the continent’s top markets (including Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria) over the past couple of years. This April saw the firm close a $990 million sub-Saharan Africa fund, its third in the region.

In Africa, Nigeria offers the investment group its biggest consumer market. Despite a host of political and economic uncertainties—notably security, corruption, and the global oil crisis—Nigeria remains Africa’s most populous nation with more than 170 million people. It also has one of the world’s youngest and fastest growing populations, an attractive statistic for any consumer-driven investor.

Economically, Nigeria still holds Africa’s largest economy, with a GDP of $510 billion, though the recent oil crisis has dealt a huge blow to its growth forecast, which was previously one of the highest globally.

Abraaj has wasted little time taking advantage of the enormous potential offered by the Nigerian market. This week, the investment group announced that it had acquired a significant stake in Mouka Foam, a leading mattress manufacturer in Nigeria. “We’ve long been interested in the mattress-manufacturing space, and have carefully reviewed a number of opportunities in the past,” said Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, a Partner at The Abraaj Group. “The market opportunity for high quality sleeping products offers good potential for growth, and we believe Mouka is very well positioned to capitalize on this.” The Mouka stake was acquired from Actis, another global investment firm actively present in Africa.

Mouka is a household brand name in Nigeria and a leading manufacturer in the Nigerian foam and bedding space. The Company has an extensive distribution network across the country, partnering with over 500 distributors who operate through more than 1,000 outlets.

But this isn’t Abraaj’s first foray into the Nigerian market. In 2013, the group bought over the West African FMCG company, Fan Milk. The deal was reportedly the largest PE transaction in Sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa. “Abraaj is one of the most active investors on the African continent, with a particularly strong track record in Nigeria. We continue to see significant upside potential across the country in tandem with the fast growth of its population and the expansion of its middle class.”Abraaj’s deeply diversified investment portfolio for Nigeria now includes: AOS Orwell, C&I Leasing, Custodian & Allied Insurance, Computer Warehouse Group, The Bridge Clinic & PathCare, and Lily Hospitals.

Last year, Egyptian-born Mustafa Abdel Wadood, who serves as a partner and chairman of Abraaj’s Management Executive Committee, offered a peak into Abraaj’s strategy for achieving so much success despite investing in the world’s most difficult places. The key, he said, was engagement; being to close to your investment. So an on-the-ground team is paramount to the fund’s operations.

It is no different for its investment in Mouka Foam. Abraaj will team up with the Moukarim Family (Mouka’s founding family) to strengthen the mattress maker’s domestic leadership position and enhance the company’s product offering, distribution network and geographic presence.

As the years run by, Abraaj is gradually deepening its footprint not only across difficult but rewarding markets like Africa, but within Nigeria–a market that currently holds so much uncertainty but has a long history of providing investors with healthy returns.

The post Abraaj is gradually cornering the Nigerian market for itself appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Radio remains the main source of daily news in Nigeria

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Although we are in the 21st century, radio still remains the main source of daily news in Nigeria rather than social media/internet. This was revealed in a recent survey by a country-specific polling service in West Africa, NOI Polls. While the findings buttress the rising embrace of social media in Nigeria and the world, they do not discount the growing significance of social media as a news source in the country.

According to the survey, about 34 percent of Nigerians surveyed affirmed that ‘radio’ is their major source of information while television and social media accounted for 27 and 20 percent respectively.

NOI 1

The result of the survey illuminate that the use of radio as means of daily news is mostly true for residents in the north east, north west and south east of Nigeria.

Even though radio is the main source of information, its use declined by 18 percent in 2015, while the use of social media for daily news increased by 14 percent.

NOI3

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Source: jobd23

How bad can it get for Nigeria’s President Buhari?

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President Muhammadu Buhari is still in his early days at the helm of Nigeria’s affairs, but his honeymoon is long over. Barely a month after triumphantly entering the oval office with the broom of change, the new president is already struggling to sweep off the barrage of attacks and expressions of discontent over his actions, inactions and pace of his government. His delay in setting up a cabinet and rolling out promised reforms have earned him the nickname ‘Baba Go-Slow‘. He is also being accused of political ineptitude, poor leadership in the rift in his party’s controlled National Assembly, nepotism, for favouring northerners in his first few appointments, and ineffectiveness, for the rapid increase in Boko Haram attacks.

Even seemingly trivial issues have drawn the ire of Nigerians. One of such was the wristwatch worn by President Buhari’s wife to his inauguration and in her official portrait as the first Lady. Several online blogs described the watch as a $52,000 Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-Carat White Gold Diamond Ladies Watch. So serious was the uproar about the watch that even mainstream global media houses like the BBC picked up the story. “Buhari underlined his humble credentials by raising money from ordinary voters. He even had to stretch his finances to pay the fee to register as a candidate. This image was diluted somewhat when his wife, Aisha Buhari, was pictured wearing an expensive-looking watch at her husband’s inauguration last week,” read an article published on BBC trending on June 3. While that furor seemed to die down days later, another has come up, just a month after, over comments alleged to have been made by his daughter, Zara on Twitter. Yesterday, the Presidency issued a statement that the Tweet came from an impersonating account, but even that move has been criticised.

While many of the current critics of President Buhari have never been his fans, some of the issues being raised are matters of serious concern to the general public. The delay in setting up the federal cabinet is one of such issues. The President has been widely criticised for failing to pick his ministers more than a month after his inauguration. “It’s approximately three months since Nigerians voted for Mr. Buhari, on his fourth try, to be their president. By any objective measure, three months is more than enough time for a man who sought power with a certain persistence to figure out his cabinet,” wrote popular political commentator, Okey Ndibe, in Sahara Reporters, an online platform famous for its harsh criticism of the past President Jonathan’s government. Okey Ndibe was himself very critical of the former president during his tenure often accusing him of being out-of-touch with the challenges of Nigerians.

Another issue that has brought much criticism on President Buhari is his inaction in the face of the parliamentary leadership crisis threatening to tear his party apart. The crisis has created huge worries even inside the president’s strong fanbase. Dele Momodu, the owner of popular celebrity magazine and a staunch supporter of Buhari, expressed his discontent with the retired military General’s stand: “There is no doubt that the present imbroglio in your Party is as a result of your lukewarm attitude to Party issues thinking you could merely concentrate on nation-building while others deal with political intrigues. However, it is not always as simple as that. As you can now see, you don’t seem to be on the same page with your Party,” Momodu wrote in an open letter to the President. Another part read, “Sir, let me say right away that the goodwill garnered during your campaigns and the jubilation that heralded your recent victory are fast fading and you need to, as a matter of urgency, convince the people of Nigeria that you’re now ready to hit the ground running. They are not going to listen to excuses since you had 30 years after quitting the high office to onerously prepare for the job again. For them it is immaterial that you met an empty treasury or that you are mostly surrounded by selfish, corruptive influences and impostors.”

Attacked for his passivity, President Buhari has also taken some flack for some of his actions. National newspaper, Punch, a few days ago reported of an uproar over the President’s appointments favouring the North which he hails from. “Of the nine appointments made by Buhari so far, eight are from the North, while one is from the South,” the paper said. It described the people from the South as “concerned” over the president’s moves, quoting several online commenters and chieftains of Southern ethnic pressure groups. “We expect the President to recognise other nationalities that make up Nigeria. Elections are over, it is time for governance. We expect that the principle of federal character, which is constitutional, should be respected,” Gary Enwo-Igariwey, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a pressure group which advocates the interest of the Igbos who dominates the South East, told the Punch.

The paper also cited complaints from the southwest-dominated Yoruba ethnic pressure groups. “What is more worrisome is that the immediate past INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, handed over to a Southerner but the Presidency changed it to a Northerner” A leader of one of the pan-Yoruba groups, Senator Anthony Adefuye, told Punch in reference to Buhari’s appointment of  Hajia Amina Bala Zakari as the Acting of the Independent Electoral Commission. The pressure is also mounting on President Buhari to deliver his promise of security in the face of increased attacks from Boko Haram. Nigeria’s online media space has been abuzz with the number of people killed since the new president’s innauguration, with some blogs putting the figure as high as 500. “Since the inauguration of President Muhammudu Buhari on May 29, over 500 people including soldiers have been killed by Boko Haram forces either through bombings, beheading or shootings”, Akinshilo Ayomide wrote in new generation news website, NAIJ.com, yesterday. Fredrick Nwabufo’s figures in a similar platform, the Cable, was lower, he wrote on the 25th of June,  “Between May 29, 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in, and June 24, at least 221 lives have been lost in Boko Haram attacks, concentrated on Borno and Yobe states. This time around, the attacks have not been territorial — a battle the Nigerian military seemed to have won convincingly — but asymmetrical.” Just this morning, a bomb attack on a government building in Zaria has claimed at least 25 lives. While none of these reports are verified, they follow the rising trend of discontent towards President Buhari’s effort in shutting down the Islamist sect, a key promise of his campaign.

“The President is just being thorough and painstaking,” Lai Mohammed, the ruling party’s spokesman said in response to the growing concerns Nigerians have over the pace of the new government. True as that is, since it is still very early days in Buhari’s presidency and he still has almost all of his four years to turn around the present difficulties, the rising pressures tell of the difficulties of leading Nigeria, particularly through the change that the President has promised. Like former president Goodluck Jonathan, whose government was heavily criticised for virtually every move, Buhari is already getting a lot of slack. And that is unlikely to change, at least not anytime soon.

The post How bad can it get for Nigeria’s President Buhari? appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Nigeria’s President Buhari approves $3.5bn bailout plan for bankrupt states

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As many rightly predicted, President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to bailout bankrupt Nigerian states—which have been unable to pay the wages of public workers in the past few months—after approving a N713.7 billion ($3.5 billion) relief fund.

The fund is part of a three-pronged relief package. Of the total sum, N413.7 billion ($2.1 billion)—sourced from LNG sales proceeds—is recognised as a special intervention fund, made available to pay outstanding wage commitments. The remaining N300 billion ($1.4 billion) is a soft loan to states. The soft loan will be provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

As of mid-June, it was reported that about 10 of the 36 Nigerian states—Osun, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Benue, and Bauchi—owed workers salaries, some of whom have not been paid for the past 10 months. The combined outstanding wage bills of the broke states was placed at N110 billion. The new fund is expected to boost purchasing power of Nigerians, particularly the average and low-income earners, and to reflate the economy in a period where government revenues have been battered by the global oil crisis, and local fuel scarcity is raising the daily cost of living.

Mixed reactions

Those who have branded the governors running bankrupt states as incompetent, have remained critical of the move by the President to bailout the needy states. “It is unfortunate that governors, most of whom operate flamboyantly and mismanaged their states’ resources are begging for bailout,” said Dr Kayode Ajulo, the National Secretary of the Labour Party, a Nigerian political party.

While it has become a necessity to provide relief for unpaid workers, Dr Kayode advised that there must be new measures put in place to ensure the habit of mismanagement does not reoccur. “I say this knowing the antics of some of our governors as we should not be surprised that some of them may commit the money to another white elephant project or buy private jets which is the latest vogue among them. Greece was given conditions when she asked for bail out from the European Union and I see nothing wrong in setting a condition for the bail out as there must be an end to the prevalence of financial indiscipline  among our state executive.”

Pat Utomi, a political economy expert, believes the intervention is key to reviving the drowning Nigerian economy. “It is important to recognize that without such bailout, the economy will be in danger as there will be no spending going on while those offering services will be unable to offer anything. The bailout is very important for the economy.” He however shares Dr Kayode’s sentiment on employing stringent measures to curb mismanagement. “This development should now make government impose conditionality that will stop mismanagement and unnecessary spendings”.

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Source: jobd23

How Lagos Startup Week is creating access to investment for entepreneurs

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On July 31, a Nigerian startup will be offered the opportunity to compete for $1.5 million in investment by emerging markets-focused startup competition, Seedstars World. The global seed-stage competition will climax the Lagos Startup Week holding from July 27.

The week-long event for startups and entrepreneurs in Nigeria will culminate with a pitching competition for 10-15 Nigerian companies to identify the best early stage startup in Nigeria. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market.

“Some of the most pivotal moments for startups and businesses have come down to one big pitch. We are committed to supporting Startups/SME’s, entrepreneurs with investment opportunities, mentoring and tools to make great ideas come to life,” says Olumide Olayinka, one of the organisers of the event.

He notes that with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, set to experience significant growth over the next couple of years as predicted by economists, Lagos Startup Week hopes to bring together major industry players and create a platform to harness opportunities and encourage growth of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.

Marcello Schermer, Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World, says the competition partnered with Startup Week Lagos for the promotion of entrepreneurship and the elevation of Nigerian startups to a global stage. “We believe partnerships are an essential element to drive the growth of an ecosystem and we couldn’t have found a better partner for this,” says Schermer.

Seedstars World’s past participants have raised $20 million together, providing employment to more than 360 people around the world. The competition has also expanded to more than 50 countries for 2015 (up from the 36 countries of the 2014 edition).

Simeon Ononobi, Co-Founder of SimplePay, an online payment system and winner of Seedstars Lagos 2013, advised startups to register for the competition. “For me Seedstars was a great step in the right direction, as I not only got funds, but the required expertise and exposure my business needed. SimplePay was transformed from a bedroom company to a world class solution.”

A statement by the organisers of the event highlights the basic criteria for applying to the competition: a seed-stage company, less than 2 years since the founding date, less than $500,000 in funding and a minimum viable product available.

Startups can apply by an invitation through key incubators, accelerators and investors in the market, through the open pre-application and the #UberPitch competition that will allow anyone with 15 minutes and a good idea to request a ride and compete for a last minute spot in the Seedstars World competition. Uber, whose appas connect riders and drivers is also a partner for the competition.

So far, Startup Week has been hosted in 75 cities around the world including Seattle, Austin, Denver, Portland, Maine, and more. Lagos is the first city to host it in Africa.

The post How Lagos Startup Week is creating access to investment for entepreneurs appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Millennials growing Africa’s mobile economy

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In many respects, Africa is on the cusp of a new dawn. Never in the history of the continent has technology and society had such a close relationship as we see it today, as the activities of citizens, companies and governments continue to generate information and data at a rate unforeseen in human history.

Data is poised to be the next most valuable natural resource, and from all indications, Africa is not prepared to be left behind in the emerging data-driven global economy. The combination of data and the mobile culture will be a key competitive advantage for citizens, companies, national and sub-national governments in Africa, fueling vast economic growth and societal progress.

Recent studies show reveal that 80% of all the data in the world was created in past three years. This is one of the reasons why two-thirds of IBM’s technology research’s work is now devoted to data, analytics and cognitive computing.

There will also be a three-fold increase in data-transmitting transistors per human by 2017. Humanity currently generates about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from a variety of sources daily – from emails, blogs and climate information to posts on social media sites, and purchase transaction records to healthcare medical images. Africa’s share of this global data mix is bound to be significant, especially as mobile communications adoption and internet usage on the continent continues to grow.

Close to 70 per cent of Africa’s population now comprises of millennials – many of whom have grown up seeing mobile devices as a normal part of everyday life. As the region’s future decision-makers, customers, and constituents, these millennials will be major stakeholders in the success of both Africa’s businesses and governments – from hiring top talent to ensuring satisfaction with public services.

IBM

The millennial generation in Africa and elsewhere have much to contribute when it comes to moving enterprise organizations along the path toward greater mobility – but only if it is empowered to do so. More than 30 percent of millennials globally view work/life flexibility as essential to being engaged at work, according to a recent study by the IBM Institute of Business Values.

Businesses however looking to mobilize their workforce can no longer rely on a top-down approach. Instead, they must enlist the help of their tech-savvy millennial employees and tap into the generation’s inherent understanding of what it means to be truly mobile. In the enterprise space, this manifests itself in two ways – ensuring that millennial employees are armed with the right tools to provide the best possible experience for customers and encouraging their feedback on and involvement with new mobile developments.

Mobility is an enabler for business transformation and a catalyst for innovation. African enterprises which effectively harness the power of mobility will begin to uncover valuable hidden insights that lead to new products and services, gain a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ needs, and benefit from faster transformation and results. The implementation, however, can be an uphill battle for many organizations.

Beyond these peculiar infrastructure challenges in the African environment, employees may also lack the necessary skills and many businesses have yet to implement an effective mobile strategy that ensures accessibility without compromising security. Along with growing security concerns, consumer expectations of mobile offerings also continue to rise, and the pressure is building on organizations to derive and action on the real-time information generated by mobile devices. Millennial employees, however, can help bridge the gap. As organizations explore new ways to leverage the feedback cycle between mobile services and end-users, millennials can assist businesses in creating increasingly targeted experiences to maintain the attention of young consumers.

As the future leaders of change, millennials have a vested interest in the mobility of their employers. And with more millennials flooding the workforce pool, they will continue to prioritize working on mobile devices. In fact, millennials in the Middle East and Africa region are optimistic about their abilities – a recent survey from Telefonica found that 81 percent of the region’s millennials believe they are on the cutting-edge of technology, compared with 75 percent worldwide.

Businesses in Africa can seize this unique opportunity as a way of improving customer interactions. As younger employees are more likely to be on the front line of an organization – perhaps, working as customer service representations, or managing and providing content for brand social media channels. By empowering the employees with direct access to customers – with streamlined access to real-time information – organizations can ensure a better experience for their customers.

We are increasingly living in the era of the Mobile Mentor. When we think of the word ‘mentor’, most people tend to picture a veteran with decades of experience. However, when it comes to embracing mobility, it is the up-and-comers who have the advice to offer. Corporations and governments in Africa can benefit from direct input by millennial employees. By encouraging the feedback of younger employees, businesses can find out exactly what millennials workers and consumers are expecting from new mobile services and gain deeper insight into ways to streamline functionality.

Citibank is an example of a company which has successfully implemented this practice. Its reverse mentoring program pairs senior executives with undergraduates to work together on projects, helping the company stay one step ahead of the top technology trends and laying a foundation for improved recruiting and new talent cultivation and generation.

IBM is also encouraging its millennial employees to join the wider business conversation. Through its Emerging Leaders program, millennials were able to join more than 1500 C-level executives in discussing how to use enabling technologies including mobile, cloud, and Big Data analytics as a competitive advantage. By tapping into the digital wisdom of millennials, organizations can unlock new ways to solve business challenges, enhance productivity and better define the needs and strategic interests of the corporation in the future of the marketplace.

The post Millennials growing Africa’s mobile economy appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

As Greece Votes on its Financial Future, African Countries Should Take Note

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I had a recent conversation with a senior risk professional at a global multi-national company. The company’s operations include at least eight African countries across north, east, and the southern African regions. My contact made a comment that surprised me, he said, “Africa is one of the most stable parts of the world for us right now. Right now, we are consumed with Greece, Argentina and Venezuela. When things calm down we can sit down, but right now I’m on 24 hours local Greece issues…”

For once, Africa is not the world’s biggest problem.

The most apparent thing to note is that African markets are not correlated to each other. In contrast to the Eurozone, African markets provide natural diversification of risk to participants with exposure across the continent. Africa also provides interesting opportunities for investors to allocate funds based on the relative economic attractiveness of one region or country over another. Investors can therefore isolate countries with an uncertain economic outlook with limited risk of contagion. In the first quarter of this year Market Atlas observed substantial investment outflows from Nigeria during the election period and oil price slump earlier this year. At the same time the Kenyan stock market experienced net inflows and rising valuations. In the second quarter, we observed a reversal of this trend as noted in an article written by Akin Sawyerr, Market Atlas’ Chief Strategy Officer. The conclusion of the Nigerian election and stabilization of oil prices eliminated some of the short-term uncertainty in the Nigerian economy.

While African countries are relatively stable in an otherwise cloudy world economy, Greece’s unfolding tragedy should be looked at with caution by African leaders. There are two key lessons that can be drawn from the Greek experience.

Unsustainable fiscal policies  are a red card

Greece has to choose between two difficult options. The first option is to stay within the Euro currency regime and continue a crippling reform program that has led to deep spending cuts in health and other social programs (malaria and HIV cases have risen since austerity measures were put in place). Option two is to exit the European monetary union and reintroduce Greece’s old currency, the Drachma.

Greece’s current problems stem from the 1999 introduction of the Euro common currency. Common currencies are beneficial because they reduce trade costs to member countries and support the increase of trade amongst members. On the other hand, currency unions often lead labor costs to rise for the smaller economies in the currency zone.   Rising labor costs in Greece made their exports increasingly more expensive causing budget deficits to rise to 15 percent of GDP in 2009 from 5 percent of GDP in 1999. To further complicate matters, reports of fiscal mismanagement, deception, and corruption in the Greek government also surfaced in 2009, further increasing Greece’s borrowing costs. Greece abdicated its ability to manage its own currency by joining the European Monetary Union which removed its ability to devalue its currency. A devaluation would have allowed Greece to increase demand for domestic goods, reduce its trade deficits, and grow its way out of its problems through increased foreign demand for its cheaper goods.

On the African continent one need not look any further than Ghana for a cautionary tale about a country that is walking down the path that Greece has taken. Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio increased dramatically to 68.41 percent in 2015 from 46.83 percent in 2012. The failure to curb spending on civil service salaries is one of the main contributing factors to the deterioration of fiscal situation. Ghana needs to take substantial measures to address its fiscal imbalances in order to avoid a Greek like situation in the future.

On the whole, African governments need to take a second look at their fiscal policies and make the necessary adjustments stay on sound economic footing. Additionally it is key to keep in mind that a number of African countries have gone to the Eurobond market to raise substantial amounts of capital. While this seems like a good idea, a number of the projects funded by some of these Eurobonds have not produced the expected economic results. Further the pricing of these bonds could be impacted by fluctuations in the value of the Euro after a Greek referendum. It is important for countries that have gone this Eurobond route keep a healthy level of reserves to cope with future economic headwinds.

GDP diversification is a necessity

While the politics of the austerity measures imposed by Greece’s creditors are up for debate, it is without question that Greece’s GDP is not adequately diversified. Tourism (a mainstay of the Greek economy) is a great industry, but a country needs more than one source of income. African countries that rely on one key export for a majority of their revenues are vulnerable to the same challenges facing Greece and are thus further susceptible to pressures from external debt holders.

Nigeria, with its reliance on oil revenues to generate foreign exchange and support the government budget, is a country that must be wary. Though Nigeria’s economy has significantly diversified, oil still forms over 80 percent of government revenue.  Over the past year, the country has experienced first-hand what a sharp drop in oil prices can do to its finances and its ability to provide basic services. African governments must identify secondary and tertiary sources of income outside of their primary revenue generating industries and focus on developing new sources of revenue for their economies to better weather cyclical downswings in primary industries.

But even more important is the social contract between the government and its citizens. Having a strong tax base and high compliance with tax collection helps keep elected officials accountable. Alternatively citizens who do not pay taxes tend to overlook government affairs which makes waste, abuse and corruption easier to get away with. When corruptive pressures win, the economic impact can be grave; from ballooning civil service payrolls, to a lack of capital investment in infrastructure and wasteful government policies that benefit the politely connected.

A number of African economies experienced crippling debt levels throughout the 1980s. The vast majority of these countries received debt relief from external debt holders that returned them to stronger fiscal standing. African countries will do well to avoid returning to the challenging economic environments that many experienced in fairly recent times. African countries must take heed not to kick the can down the road, and make difficult fiscal decisions while there is time to structurally adjust incrementally.

So what does the Greek crisis mean for African markets? Here too, we find two possible areas of impact on vulnerable economies.

CFA Franc countries could be adversely impacted

The Market Atlas Africa Currency Index has noted that the CFA Franc is overvalued by 15 percent compared to the U.S dollar. An overvalued exchange rate tends to depress domestic demand and encourage spending on imports. This can be particularly problematic during periods of sluggish growth.  The CFA Franc is pegged to the Euro and is directly exposed to any potential devaluation that may occur should Greece leave the Euro currency. Depending on the way Greece resolves this crisis, the Euro could stand to lose up to one third of its value.

Additionally, the U.S. Federal Reserve is sending signals that it is ready to begin raising interest rates. With European rates already at negative levels in real terms, a rise of US excess reserve deposit rates by 0.25 percent will widen the spread between US rates and Euro rates, resulting in a stronger dollar. When coupled with the fact that central banks in Europe and Asia are all in monetary easing mode, the dollar will have more room to appreciate on a global basis. This will put further downward pressure on the Euro that could be accentuated by a Greece exit. The knock on effect would be a negative impact on the economic competitiveness of the 14 countries that use the CFA Franc and the region’s ability to keep trade levels up while Europe is in recession.

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Currency valuation relative to the US dollar — Source: Market Atlas

African markets will still be competitive for yield seekers

Greece will decide its destiny and the European Community will act accordingly after today’s referendum.  Global investors worried about the outcome can take solace in the fact that African markets will still offer competitive yields on a long-term basis. The Federal Reserve will gradually raise interest rates to avoid pushing the anemic US economy into recession and this will give long-term investors continued opportunity to remain exposed to African economies and benefit from higher yields, and portfolio diversification.

African markets are still  relatively attractive places to park capital, but African governments need to take a measured approach to ensuring their fiscal policies do not derail the economic growth story of the last 20 years. The alternative could be a path much worse than the drama playing out in Europe that would make the  current Greek nightmare look like a Mediterranean dream.

The post As Greece Votes on its Financial Future, African Countries Should Take Note appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Jobless South African man builds helicopter from recycled material

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What started as a dream soon turned into a reality for Vusimuzi Mbatha. The 35-year-old man from Siza informal settlement near Rustenburg, who’s dream was to fly a helicopter before he dies, decided to take fate into his hands by building his own helicopter.

Vusimuzi Mbatha, who originally hails from Libode in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, revealed he became fascinated with the idea last year only after seeing a helicopter during a strike on the platinum belt in the North West. “I dreamt I was controlling a helicopter. That was in January last year, during the strike in the platinum mines. The dream continued and I decided to follow it. It was easy to build this helicopter because I have a vision of what I wanted to do.”

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Vusimuzi Mbatha’s Helicopter

From that point, he started to buy parts and used scrap metals to build his helicopter, which stands a proud giant in front of his cabin. His creation regularly attracts locals to take a look at the metal giant with a roaring engine, which he built bit by bit. It stands on a four wheeled trolley and is built out of scrap metal has its cockpit built out of soft drink crates, within is a television set, a two way radio and a clock which Mbatha says will help him record estimated time of flight. The engine is powered by petrol and a motorbike battery which is used to power and propel the rotor, with the rotor hub housed in an old soft drink crate and the steering wheel made from a Play Station control. There is also a clutch and an accelerator.

Mbatha admits he has always loved and maintained a keen interest in science but could not further his education due to financial constrains, which ultimately forced him to drop out of school after the 7th grade.

But members of his community have expressed their surprise at his creation, one of whom is Mr Kgositsile. “We are surprised,” he said. “We never expected something like this to come from our area. This guy is talented. Government needs to help him to take his dream further, we thought he was playing when he started to assemble it. We did not see it until we heard the roar of an engine and rotating rotor,”

However Mbatha, who came to Rustenburg ten years ago looking for a job in the mines, remains unemployed.

The post Jobless South African man builds helicopter from recycled material appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

What does the 4th of July mean to African Americans in the US?

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The declaration of independence was signed on July 4th 1776, marking America’s independence from Britain. However, the Black man in America did not get his freedom until 1865 when slavery was abolished.

For most Americans, the fourth of July is a day to take some time off work, enjoy some family time and the great spectacle of the annual fireworks. More importantly it is a time for many to reflect on the long road towards developing a freer state and a tolerant community. But what does it mean for the members of the Black Society?

On July 5 1852, Frederick Douglas gave a speech in Rochester, New York, entitled: What to the slave is the fourth of July? He reminded listeners that when the declaration of independence was signed, many Africans were still slaves. “This fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. What to the American slave is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which is a constant victim…”

2015 will mark one of the most disheartening years for African Americans in the US. The country has played host to hundreds of killings of unarmed black people by the police, mass killings of innocent black people in places of worship, and burning down of churches built by African Americans in different parts of the United States. At least 136 individuals have been killed by US police within the first half of 2015, a vast majority of them being African Americans and Latinos.

In response to the treatment of black people in the United States, Senegalese recording artiste, Akon said: “America was never made for blacks”. Several celebrities of African heritage have made similar statements to this in recent times, both on social media and in TV interviews. One of which is Chris Rock. In June 2013, the comedian posted on twitter: “Happy white peoples Independence Day, the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed the fireworks.”

However, some black Americans find reason to joyfully celebrate the holiday. Stacy Swimp, In a Washington’s Time’s op-ed noted that at least 5000 black men fought for the Continental Army against the British, they believed that freedom from the British would result in freedom for slavery.

Swimp also mentioned that although slaves weren’t free at the time of the declaration, it is as a result of the document that every American under the U.S. Constitution is equally guaranteed individual freedom. “What, to Black Americans is the 4th of July?” He writes, “Everything”.

The post What does the 4th of July mean to African Americans in the US? appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

How the NBA Africa Game is already attracting elite sponsors

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Earlier this year, the NBA announced its first ever ‘Africa’ game which will see an NBA selection of Team Africa take on Team World. Noting the popularity of basketball, particularly the NBA on the continent, the NBA is seeking to connect more with the African audience and also contribute to developing sporting talent in Africa with several training programs.

The decision to stage an NBA Africa game has been commercially validated as a number of elite corporate partners have been announced. They include Econet Global Limited, Ford, Nike and South African Airways. In regard to sponsorship category designation, Econet will serve as the Official Mobile and Telecommunications Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015 while Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa will serve as the Official Automotive Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015. NIKE Inc. is the Official Marketing Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015 and South African Airways is the Official Airline Partner of NBA Africa Game 2015.

As part of their commitments both Nike and South African Airways will also serve as partners of Basketball without Borders Africa 2015 while Econet will be introducing a NBA Africa Game marketing campaign across the continent.

The NBA Africa game is the next step for the NBA’s involvement in Africa as the continent has enjoyed several benefits from the NBA over the years. NBA’s Basketball without Borders Africa programme which seeks to spot talented young stars has been on the continent a total of 12 times and the NBA also runs its ‘NBA Cares’ programme. Signaling intent to further its work in Africa, the NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg five years ago.

The NBA Africa game is scheduled for the 1st August at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg and SuperSport who will air the game live as on board as the Official NBA Broadcast and Radio Partner for the event. There is also a credible charitable slant to the occasion as the game will be played in support of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa as well as SOS Children’s Villages Association of South Africa and also, the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The post How the NBA Africa Game is already attracting elite sponsors appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

CBN Vows Not To Devalue Naira

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has revealed that it will no longer devalue the Naira.

According to the apex bank, the idea not to devalue the Naira was borne out of the need to safeguard the Nigerian economy from the shocks and negative impact the depreciation will have on the economy.

In a statement signed by its Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Ibrahim Mu’azu, the apex bank stated that it will not panic and take desperate measures to satisfy few misguided interests in the market.

Mu’azu, who was reacting to an article in the Economist Magazine, said the article seemed to ignore the fact that the exchange rate is simply a price that is essentially determined by the forces of supply and demand, adding that the CBN believes that the 48 per cent decline in oil prices may not be transitory and made bold policy changes including closure of the subsidized Official Foreign Exchange (Forex) Window, which resulted in a 22 per cent depreciation in the currency, the Naira.

“Because the Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on imports and the exchange rate pass-through to inflation is high, we believe that this adjustment is optimal at this time.

“Contrary to the article’s argument, adjustments to a sharp decline in supply of US Dollars cannot all be borne by an indeterminate depreciation, without considering the full impact on the Nigerian economy.

“The demand side also has to be considered, not just in response to the pressure on the Naira but as an opportunity to change the economy’s structure, resuscitate local manufacturing, and expand job creation for our citizens.

“Take rice imports, for example: why should we keep allocating scarce forex to rice importers when vast amounts of paddy rice of comparable quality produced by poor hardworking local farmers across the rice belts of Nigeria are wasted, and farmers are falling deeper into poverty while we export their jobs and income to rice producing countries?” The statement read,

Source: 25

Boko Haram may have just become more deadly and difficult to defeat

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From a caliphate to a network of sleeper cells; Boko Haram’s military defeat has turned it into something worse. 

A couple of months ago, the Nigerian Military—supported by troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon—recaptured virtually every territory under the control of Boko Haram and put a final end to their Caliphate. Six weeks of sustained advances dragged the sect from controlling an area the size of Belgium in Nigeria’s northeast to looking for a place to hide. With the military successes, many in and outside the country predicted an end to an insurgency that has claimed more than five thousand lives. But the current almost-daily attacks have shown how wrong they were. It proves rather that while the Boko Haram caliphate –and any hopes of it—is dead and gone, the sect is very much alive and perhaps now has an even more threatening modus operandi.

There is no doubt that Boko Haram has been severely weakened and will never be as opulent as they were before April. Dozens of their bases have been razed, caches of their weapons seized and destroyed, and nearly a thousand people freed from their captivity. It is inconceivable that they will conquer territories again. But that is where the problem lies. The sect seems to have abandoned its aim of controlling territory, ISIS style, and has instead adopted a sleeper cell style of attacks, similar to that espoused by the forerunner of global terror—Al Qaeda.

The past few weeks have shown just how deadly these Al Qaeda-style attacks can be. Since May, the terrorists have killed around 300 persons in Nigeria mostly through hit-and-run attacks, and with no intention to hold ground. On Wednesday, the group gunned down at least 80 Muslims praying in mosques in Kukawa, a remote town 180km northeast of Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria and the birthplace of Boko Haram. Yesterday the group struck again when two suicide bombers killed 10 people in two separate but apparently coordinated attacks in Malari, southeast of Maiduguri. Other Coalition partners have also been hit by Boko Haram’s network style attacks. In June the group struck Niger and Chad in the same week, killing close to 80 people. In none of all their post-caliphate-destruction attacks did they try to hold ground; they are often already ‘gone’ by the time security forces arrive.

Boko Haram’s shadow tactics has made them harder to defend against and more difficult to defeat. The large and very loose nature of the northeast and its borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, as well as the limitations of the Nigerian—and coalition—security forces to effectively police the area plays perfectly into the group’s current script. This means the coalition forces now need a new effective counter script.

Nigeria’s transfer of the Command and Control centre to Maiduguri will make a helpful feature of the counter script, as will the strengthening of intelligence gathering, military empowerment and regional coordination. Most importantly however, there needs to be a change of perception of Boko Haram, from a sect seeking to establish a muslim caliphate by establishing territory to a group espousing regional Jihad through sleeper cells. The latter is more real and more deadly, and defeating it will need triple the effort it took to dismantle the former.

The post Boko Haram may have just become more deadly and difficult to defeat appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Using mobile money to end hunger in Africa

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“In Africa, hunger is a constant,” says U.S-based charity group Save the Children. Over 200 million Africans are reportedly living in hunger, meaning almost one in every three are either hungry or undernourished. The World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security, has been leading the charge to end hunger globally—and in Africa—since it was established in 1961. With over $2 billion of cash reserves—sourced mostly from donors globally—the WFP provides food assistance to 80 million people in 75 countries each year from its base in Rome, Italy.

The WFP has been very active in many parts of Africa, with its largest operations currently in South Sudan due to civil unrest. It is also actively supporting relief efforts in Central Africa Republic and in West Africa countries ravaged by Ebola. However, for sub-Saharan Africa, which holds the second largest population of hungry people after Asia and the Pacific (578 million), the international food agency has been using mobile money, with significant success, to pursue its new strategy of handing out cash rather than distributing food.

Poverty is considered the principal cause of hunger globally as people simply do not have sufficient income to purchase enough food. Africa is no different, with more than 42 percent of its population living on less than $1.25 dollars a day. To curb both hunger and poverty, the WFP in recent years switched to cash handouts, rather than its traditional style of distributing only food items. “Where the market are properly functioning we have a choice of either purchasing ourselves locally and then distributing to our beneficiaries or if the retail supply chain works well to make a value transfer in terms of voucher or cash payment increasingly through digital or electronic to make them available to our beneficiaries,” Robert van der Zee, WFP’s Treasurer and Deputy Director of Finance, told Ventures Africa in an interview. “In the end it depends on the context where we are able to provide a cash base intervention locally and whether it is more cost effective because of course our donors would only want us to do that if it is cost effective and cost efficient.”

Credit: The World Food Programme

Credit: The World Food Programme

It has seen a smoother transition to cash handouts in East Africa, than in the western part of the continent. “We have done this (cash handouts) for many countries across the globe, particularly in the Middle East tremendously because of the Syrian crisis and of course there are better financial systems that we can tap into and good retail supply chains,” Robert noted. “We have seen that as well perhaps more in Eastern Africa, so far than in Western Africa but Western Africa is catching up rightfully as well but there are some funny inclusion challenges.”

Some of these challenges include: are providers available in the rural areas? Is there connectivity? Is there liquidity cashing in the system? Is there cash been taken out of the system? This is where mobile money has made the difference. “Mobile money has many advantages; one of them is that you can quickly distribute cash by SIM cards,” he noted. East Africa has recorded the most success in deploying this technology to grow financial inclusion, particularly within rural areas were issues like hunger are prevalent.

M-Pesa, a mobile-based money transfer and micro-financing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, has revolutionized the payment system in Kenya and deepened financial inclusion across East Africa. Since it was rolled into the financial market, it has become the most successful mobile-powered financial service in the developing world. As of June 2013, 98 million of the 203 million registered mobile money accounts globally were in Sub-Saharan Africa, with East Africa holding the lion’s share of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total and accounting for 34 percent of the global total.

The branchless banking service allows users to deposit money into an account stored on their cell phones, to send balances using PIN-secured SMS text messages to other users, including sellers of goods and services, and to redeem deposits for regular money. Users are charged a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service, a cost effective option for the WFP.

In August, 2014, WFP provided 3,500 mobile phone handsets to the heads of households in Rwandan camps to facilitate the electronic money transfer through partnership with financial institutions, using the mVisa technology provided by VISA Inc. Each refugee receives RWF 6,300 ($9) per month to cater for food needs. The WFP deposits the entitlements with the bank, which then credits each beneficiary account (mobile number), and the refugee families then receive a confirmatory text message showing the credit to their account.

Credit: World Food Programme

Credit: World Food Programme

Tomson Phiri, a Zimbabwean journalist, also confirmed that the WFP is using cash and vouchers in the Southern African country to tackle hunger where food is available in the market place but most people do not have the required income to buy. “In the past, WFP handed out cash to beneficiaries waiting patiently in line. Nowadays, the organization transfers cash and food vouchers via mobile phone.” This method, Tomson notes, is more convenient for the recipient and cheaper for the food agency.

With most countries like Zimbabwe filled with rural settlements, inaccessible to conventional financial institutions, Tomson adds that it is also a good way of injecting money into cash-poor areas. In 2013, the WFP transferred more than $9 million through cash and voucher schemes to some 295,000 people. Its cash and voucher distribution this year is expected to exceed $13 million.

But West Africa still has some catching up to do, according to Robert. “… The problem for financial inclusion [in West Africa] is really an eco-system that needs to be aligned, so you need government to stimulate the sector: You need a regulation that helps financial service providers see opportunities in servicing the poor people, you need good use of technology to make it cost effective and you need and partners using the service, utility companies or mobile phone companies or the likes of ourselves that make social transfers.”

During Robert’s earlier presentation at the EuroFinance conference in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, last week, he identified three key challenges that have limited the WFP’s cash-giving scheme—Power, Identification, and cost of patronizing Microfinance institutions. But these, as well has what West Africa needs to do to catch up with its Eastern neighbors, can be significantly tackled using mobile money solutions. “The good examples are primarily Kenya and Tanzania where there is enough trust in the M-Pesa system that people keep their money in their mobile accounts.”

However, the revolutionary payment tool hasn’t been deployed without challenges, a reason why the WFP has stuck mostly with card payment solutions for a number of its African operations. “Our donors have pretty high standards in terms of reporting they want to know how cash is been used,” Robert noted. “Generally banks are much better (than more money agents) in reporting back to us on how funds are been used and of course you can make specific agreement with retailers.”

Like Robert correctly points out, there will be an eventual convergence between mobile and banking. East Africa (and parts of Southern Africa) has already positioned itself to be at the forefront when the benefits of mobile money start trickling in, one of which is providing the WFP a useful tool to help rid its communities of hunger. And Should West Africa hope to do the same, pursuing greater financial inclusion using the innovative payment system will prove vital, as the number of mobile money accounts gradually outnumbers bank accounts.

The post Using mobile money to end hunger in Africa appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

If Nigeria wants to avoid economic collapse, it should tax its wealthy

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Most economists agree that the Nigerian economy is in the midst of turmoil caused by a crash in the global price of oil. The only question is, how bad will the situation get? The overwhelming majority of Nigerian government revenue derives from oil exports. As oil prices have fallen from $115 a barrel to hover around $50 a barrel over the last nine months, economic indicators in Nigeria have entered a downward spiral. At one point just before the elections, the Nigerian naira fell to record lows of around 206 to 1 dollar. With global capital markets currently reeling from the Greek default crisis in the Eurozone, oil commodity prices will continue to fall and sovereign borrowing costs will continue to rise rapidly, especially for governments with low-credit worthiness. It is now the responsibility of the new APC-led administration to arrest the current economic slide. The only way to do that is to increase government revenue, immediately. Throughout the campaign president Buhari, his running mate and other APC associates suggested that they would increase revenue by eliminating mismanagement and political corruption – in the petroleum sector and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Nigeria has suffered from gross mismanagement and theft of public funds, particularly in the petroleum industry. The recently released audit report on the NNPC identified a host of opaque and unprofessional practices, including oil swaps (paying for refined oil with unverifiable amounts of crude oil), that need to be rectified immediately. However, as long as oil prices remain around $60 per barrel, it is doubtful that even after curtailing mismanagement and corruption, there will be enough revenue to service debts, fund social development programmes, maintain a reasonable exchange rate for the naira and bailout bankrupted states.

President Buhari still enjoys popular support and will continue to for his first hundred days in office. He presently has a tremendous amount of political capital to spend on his political objectives. As time goes, political opponents will begin to regain their footing, as we just saw in the national assembly, and executing acute policy shifts will become more difficult. It is very important during these early days that President Buhari and the APC choose their battles carefully. It would be a catastrophic mistake for Prresident Buhari and the APC to spend their honeymoon period primarily waging anti-corruption battles with the NNPC and other entrenched interests for two reasons. First, the wellspring of political support to tackle corruption in Nigeria will never run dry. Nigerians are sick and tired of the graft and mismanagement that has plagued the country for over half a century and it would be a total waste for Buhari to squander his honeymoon period on an issue that he could tackle at any other point in time with little or no public resistance. Second, it is doubtful that the protracted anti-corruption battles with NNPC will plug enough holes to raise enough revenue to stabilize the naira and avert a severe economic slowdown.

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Source: Central Bank of Nigeria

During the campaign, the APC took a page from Soludo and pointed to the period a decade ago when Nigeria received debt relief and thus was able to increase its savings even with the comparatively low oil prices at the time. The inference they try to make is that they can continue to rely primarily on oil to fund all their initiatives and run the states no matter how low the price falls. The problem with this logic is that the economic landscape in Nigeria is totally different today. Nigeria is not receiving debt relief anymore, but actually faces a rising debt profile that is now primarily from domestic sources. Furthermore, even if President Buhari were to solve the corruption problem overnight, as long as global oil prices remain depressed, as an oil-reliant state, Nigeria will face difficult economic times.

Over the last decade, Nigeria’s elite have grown fabulously wealthy. With a record number of billionaires and millionaires, the country has become a top destination for private jets, luxury cars, champagne and a host of other extravagances enjoyed by a global elite. Nigeria’s elite enjoy a 3 percent tax rate, one of the lowest on the planet. In contrast, in other economically successful countries the elite pay on average 13 percent or more of their earnings and assets in taxes. Nigeria can no longer afford to allow its elite to get away with not paying what they owe to the society that has made them wealthy. President Buhari can fix Nigeria’s revenue problem almost overnight by enacting redistributive taxes on the elite. Doing so will help prevent further devaluation of the Naira, and more importantly prevent inflicting austerity on Nigeria’s masses.

If President Buhari is truly interested in increasing revenue, there are a series of taxation measures that he can implement for the wealthiest 3 to 5 percent of Nigerians that will dramatically increase government revenue:

  1. Mansion Taxes: homes that are valued in the top 5 percent in the country should be taxed on a sliding scale up to 20 percent. Tenants of leased properties should pay 80 percent of these taxes. Owners of multiple houses, in country and abroad, should pay higher tax rates on their properties.
  2. Luxury Vehicle Taxes: personal vehicles valued over a certain threshold should be taxed (this includes firms that purchase luxury vehicles for employees). Households with more than one vehicle should pay an added tax on any additional vehicles. There should also be taxes on owners of yachts, and other aquatic vehicles, as well as private aircraft.
  3. Increased tax rate on incomes over 10 million naira.
  4. Increased capital gains taxes on shareholders of companies, including SMEs with earnings above a certain threshold that employ more people than just the registered owner.
  5. Government Contractor Taxes: an additional tax on the profits or earnings of any company or individual that has done business with the government in the previous three years.
  6. Inheritance Taxes on estates valued over 10 million naira.
  7. Luxury taxes on imported luxury consumer goods such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, foreign brand foods, luxury textiles, satellite broadcasts, foreign film screenings and business class or first class travel tickets.

With any policy, enforcement is key. As it stands, compliance with Nigeria’s existing taxation measures is very limited. Keeping track of 170 million citizens’ assets is clearly a complicated logistical endeavor, but enforcing these luxury taxes on the proclivities of Nigeria’s top 3 percent should target around 5 million individuals and several thousand companies. This will make the task much more manageable.

Nigerians should understand that despite ongoing turbulence in the rest of the world, Nigeria can avoid an economic crisis. Further devaluation of the naira is not necessary, and austerity measures that reduce funding to social services are also unnecessary. If any of these things occur in Nigeria, it will be in part because President Buhari failed to use his post-election honeymoon period to address Nigeria’s core fiscal problem of dependence on oil for government revenue. The ongoing Eurozone crisis means there will likely be very little global assistance for Nigeria if the country’s economic situation worsens. President Buhari needs to act quickly and decisively to implement policies that raise revenue or face a possible collapse of the Nigerian economy before year’s end.

The post If Nigeria wants to avoid economic collapse, it should tax its wealthy appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Who’s who in the corporate zoo

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The ‘corporate jungle’ is hardly a flattering term for the management suite, but some similarities have to be acknowledged. Survival is a vital issue in both scenarios. Predatory instincts can be an asset along with the ability to mark and defend territory when necessary.

It’s not surprising, then, that leadership consultants sometimes see parallels between the animal kingdom and successful executives.

After years of approaching (some might say ‘ensnaring’) senior managers, I confess that some prime specimens do possess certain beastly characteristics.

When hunting game like this at least seven targets stand out …

Lion: some bosses may enjoy the association with ‘the king of beasts’, but probably for the wrong reasons. The lion has great presence and the roar can be intimidating, but a lion does little real work. His ‘mates’ generally do that. The power is there all right, but it stems from the lion’s ability to delegate, only moving in to claim his due when the leg-work is over.

Hyena: this sounds insulting, but results can be spectacular. The hyena is nature’s great opportunist. The corporate variety shows patience and lets others claim the kill, but then moves in to grab a big share of whatever’s going. Being first to market costs time and money. You cut risks and costs by coming second, but following up effectively.

Zebra: apparently the perfect team player. He or she seems to blend in with the herd. This is an illusion. Zebras, organisational and otherwise, constantly seek to improve their position and corner the best grazing. When teamwork is prized and aggressive leadership can prove destructive, you bring in a zebra. The team stays intact and the organisation moves in the right direction.

Cheetah: the best leadership choice when speed is crucial. When running down a target is the prime requirement and you need to outpace competitors, this speedster is ideal. Decision-making is instant. But single-minded pursuit at breakneck pace may mean other opportunities are missed. A cheetah’s acquisitions may impress, but slowing down and consolidating requires other skills.

Tortoise: a born survivor. Evolution seems to pass them by, but that solid shell keeps them from harm. They are slow, but get there. Sometimes the prime organisational requirement is a safe pair of hands. The organisational tortoise is safety personified, but may need to team up with other players if additional objectives are; set.

Eagle: the ability to see the big picture is highly prized. The eagle soars high and spots opportunity and danger from afar. But a far-sighted visionary may seem aloof. Coming down to earth and getting the job done requires great versatility – or complementary skills from a senior colleague.

Dolphin: this gifted communicator exchanges information constantly and uses feedback to coordinate appropriate responses. But perpetual chatter may lead nowhere fast. You might optimise short-term opportunities and remain safe from immediate danger, but if more aggressive goals are set, the great communicator may need help from a great executor.

It’s ironic, but in all cases these executive specimens usually improve their leadership performance by applying the human touch.

The post Who’s who in the corporate zoo appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

Nigerian student turns vintage volkswagen into $6000 solar-powered car

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Segun Oyeyiola, a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, has converted a Volkswagen Beetle, using mainly scrap parts donated by friends and family, into a $6000 wind and solar powered car. He describes his creation as “Nigeria’s future car.”

The reinvented vintage Beetle comes fitted with a giant solar panel on the roof—exploiting Nigeria’s abundance of sunlight—and a wind turbine under the hood that takes advantage of airflow while the car is in motion. Also, to ensure the car does not clasp under the added weight of the installed technologies, it comes with an extra-strong suspension system.

The car is still in the early stages of design, and still requires a lot of work to reach the optimal target (the batteries for the solar panel take four to five hours to charge). However, now that Segun has succeed in building a working prototype, he plans to take his final university exams and then get straight back to working on the eco-friendly car.

His concern for the environment has always been his motivation, this has helped him dedicate much of his time and resources to creating the automobile despite many critics labelling his pursuit ‘a waste of time’. “I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emission[s] going to our atmosphere that lead to climate change or global warming which has become a new reality, with deleterious effect,” he said. “Seasonal cycles are disrupted, as are ecosystems; and agriculture, water needs and supply, and food production are all adversely affected.”

The post Nigerian student turns vintage volkswagen into $6000 solar-powered car appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

CBN Adjusts Naira-Dollar Exchange Rate As Traders Predict Currency Shrink

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Nigeria’s Apex Bank, CBN, has on Tuesday lowered the Naira peg to 196.95 against the Dollar from 196.90, it set last week.

According to Reuters, this is the fourth time the CBN will be adjusting the peg since it was introduced in February.

Information gathered also suggests that the development has led to the recent fall of the Naira to 228 against the Dollar at the parallel market.

The yield on the Federal Government’s 2024 bond in the JP Morgan Government Bond Index also rose by 40 basis point to 14.74 per cent.

Traders said the move might indicate that CBN is beginning to think about how to loosen its currency regime.

Source: 25

#BeingFemaleinNigeria: How social media sparked a necessary conversation about feminism in Nigeria

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It was only a few years ago that Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s now globally recognized TED Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ called for citizens around the world to understand the necessity and significance of feminism. However, while Chimamanda’s address was to the world, within Nigeria her speech was met with almost an indifference that illuminates the challenges of talking about feminism or issues affecting women in Nigeria. This may be odd to some, expecially considering some of the realities for women and young girls in Nigeria. Like Boko Haram’s crusade against women, and the continued kidnapping of women and girls throughout Northern Nigeria. Or the fact that Nigeria has some of the highest rates of FGM and child marriage in the world.

So when the Warmate Book Club, decided to create a hashtag #BeingFemaleinNigeria (or alternatively #BeingAWomaninNigeria) to share their first hand stories of sexism in Nigeria- it was somehow surprising yet also welcome, when thousands of women joined in on the conversation. Now over  20,000 tweets later, it’s encouraging yet depressing to hear the tales of what it means to be a woman in Nigeria.

What Nigerian women face before and during marriage:

Just how many different ways women’s rights are violated: 

Then of course, there’s the man who felt the need to tell women to simmer down:

But he was appropriately silenced, albeit by another man:

The post #BeingFemaleinNigeria: How social media sparked a necessary conversation about feminism in Nigeria appeared first on Ventures Africa.

Source: jobd23

CBN Vows Not To Extend Deadline Of BVN Registration

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The Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Ibrahim Mu’azu, has disclosed that the deadline – Tuesday, June 30, 2015 – for registration of the Biometric Verification Number will not be extended.

According to Mu’azu, bank customers have been given suffice time and CBN expected they should have taken advantage of the period scheduled for the exercise to register.

Contrary to the speculation that customers who do not have BVN will be prevented from making transactions, such as payments and withdrawals, Mu’azu said only customers using remote access services: internet banking, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and other on-line services would not be able to transact.

He also confirmed that over 14 million bank customers have already registered.

For Nigerians in Diaspora to participate in the exercise, CBN has also directed banks to provide online platforms for those who have local accounts to register.

Meanwhile, here are 7 things you should know about the BVN:

1. The BVN is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
2. It was launched in February 2014
3. It is a unique number that enables one person to have a single identity in the banking system
4. It is aimed at protecting bank customers from identity theft
5. It wills serve the purpose of strengthening the Nigerian banking system
6. A customer is only expected to register at one bank, irrespective of the number of accounts he has
7. Customers will still be able to access cash after the BVN deadline ends but online transactions will be restricted

Source: 25