Earlier today, Nairametrics reported that Transcorp Nigeria Plc has plans to invest as much as $2.5 billion in the Nigerian power sector, a development that could improve the country’s electricity generation.
We also noted that the development would be good for the Nigerian economy which, for many years, has been adversely affected by epileptic power situation in the country.
Some people disagreed on Twitter – But some people seemed to disagree, arguing that electricity is not the only factor that prevents businesses in Nigeria from performing well.
— Jonbull (@Jonbullish) March 26, 2019
Mr Baoson Omofaye contributed to the conversation – Even popular business journalist, Baoson Omofaye, was dragged into the conversation. And in his response, he explained that electricity is not the only factor militating against the success of businesses in Nigeria.
According to him, he recently anchored a session during Afreximbank’s 2018 AGM in Kigali, during which panellists established that other factors such as bad roads and bad policies also affect businesses.
At the @afreximbank 2018 AGM in Kigali, a session with some 50 or so CEOs of different African companies which I handled, identified so many other factors aside #electricity – roads, logistics, local skills-sets, tariffs, local rules, etc as faultlines for businesses. https://t.co/6Aza3bEQfr
— Boason Omofaye (@BBoason) March 26, 2019
But electricity is, indeed, a major problem– Some people, however, maintained that inadequate power supply is, indeed, a major problem affecting Nigerian businesses. This has resulted in companies having to spend a lot on the purchase of petrol/diesel used in the generation of their own power.
They argued that if the electricity problem is sorted out, many businesses in the country would perform better.
I believe in the overall, creating enabling business policies and environment covers power supplies and many other factors affecting businesses. Power is just one of many factors.
— Obinna Ezeifedi (@zefedi) March 26, 2019
Might not hold the key, but erratic power is a major stumbling block…if moved out of the way, we can find the key and open the door of business and economic growth
— Richard Awe (@Richard3d7) March 26, 2019
Nairametrics’ position on the matter – Let it be known that Nairametrics never implied that Nigeria’s inadequate power supply is the only problem affecting businesses in the country. Instead, we focused on epileptic power supply because it is central to the news story we earlier reported. Moreover, epileptic power supply is, indeed, one of the major problems affecting the country.
Once again, Transcorp’s proposed $2.5 billion investment will help boost the country’s energy sector. This will, in turn, position the Nigerian economy on the path to growth.
Just in: NLC insists nationwide strike, protest to go ahead from September 28
The NLC has set Monday, September 28, 2020, as the date for it’s proposed strike.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted on going ahead with its earlier planned strike and protest, with effect from September 28, 2020, following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the increases in electricity tariff and fuel price.
According to a monitored media report, this disclosure was made by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, after the National Executive Council meeting of the labour organization in Abuja.
While restating that the proposed strike action by the organized labour would still go ahead next week, he also disclosed that the decision was unanimously taken by the chairmen of the 36 states and FCT chapters of the NLC.
This is coming as the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), extended its 7 day strike notice to September 28, to tally with NLC’s deadline for a united labour action against the increase in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.
While faulting the timing of the increase, the NEC at a meeting held at Labour House Abuja, directed the councils at 36 NLC states and Abuja to intensify mobilization of workers and other Nigerians.
Ayuba Wabba, advised the federal government to, in the interest of industrial peace and social order, listen to cries of workers and other suffering Nigerians and rescind the increases, warning that failure to meet the demands would make the planned strike and mass protest inevitable.
He said, “The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress comprising members of the National Administrative Council, President and General Secretary of members of the affiliate unions and our state council chairpersons and secretaries of the 36 states and FCT met today (yesterday) and resolved as follows: NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100% as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.’’
‘’This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5%, numerous charges being charged by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens, including their families.
“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed, but it is also counterproductive. NEC also observed that the privatization of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatization process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are also surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.’’
Agriculture vs Unemployment: Buhari’s farming policy has a major flaw
How workable is Buhari’s plan to send able-bodied young people to the farms as a way of solving unemployment in the country?
Two weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that food and fertilizer importers should not be given access to foreign exchange by the CBN.
The President added that Nigeria has lots of young people (median age of 17.9), hence, agriculture is a means to solve unemployment among youths.
“We have a lot of able-bodied young people willing to work, and agriculture is the answer,” the President said.
However, Nigeria’s problem in Agriculture is not a lack of personnel, but a problem with productivity.
— Chairman AW (@AffiSupaStar) September 11, 2020
Is productivity related to manpower in other countries?
The Netherlands is Europe’s largest agriculture exporter, boasting of Europe’s most advanced agriculture sector. In 2019, the Netherlands exported €94.5 billion worth of agricultural goods. That is a 4.6% increase in the €90.4 billion export figure for 2018. Around two-thirds of this growth is due to an increase in export prices, while a third is due to higher export volume.
In 2019, the Netherlands had a labour force of 9 million, and just 2% of that figure is employed through agriculture. Meaningless than 300k people produce €94.5 billion worth of agricultural exports in 2019.
What about other emerging economies?
Comparing Nigeria to the Netherlands does not paint a proper picture as the latter is a typical first world nation with most of the labour force out of agriculture.
However, other emerging economies also have large agriculture sectors, which could be comparable to Nigeria’s.
The top 4 rice exporting nations of 2019 were India ($7.1 billion), Thailand ( $4.2 billion), USA ($1.9 billion), and Vietnam ($1.4 billion).
The United States is the only top 4 exporting rice nation that is not regarded as an “emerging economy.”
Does agriculture play a major role in their economic workforce/ productivity?
India: The Asian giant has a labour force of 494 million, of which 44% are employed in agriculture, the Industry employs 23% of Indians while the Service economy employs 31% of Indians.
However, despite being the world’s largest exporter of rice, agriculture produce did not even make India’s top ten exports, as industrial goods were responsible for India’s top ten exports. Mineral Fuels made up India’s top export in 2019 at $44.1 billion, followed by Gems and Precious Metals at $36.7 billion, and Computer Machinery at $21.2 billion.
India’s I.T sector is also a major producer of Indian productivity with domestic revenue expected to hit $44 billion in 2020, while exports revenue was estimated at US$ 147 billion.
Agriculture contributes 8.4% to Thailand’s GDP, with Industry at 39.2% and Services being the highest contributor at 52.4%.
Food is not a major top 5 export from Thailand, as Computer Machinery was its major export in 2019 at $40.2 billion, followed by Electrical equipment at $33.9 billion and Vehicles at $28.9 billion.
Vietnam: Southeast Asia’s star economy was the 3rd largest emerging economic rice exporter in 2019, with a labour force of 57 million. Vietnam recorded a trade surplus of $11.12 billion in 2019, from exports of $264.189 billion.
Agriculture contributes 15.3% to Vietnam’s GDP, followed by industry at 33.3% and Services at 51%.
Vietnam exported $126 billion in electrical equipment in 2019 alone, with smartphones and spare parts making up $51.38 billion of that amount. Footwear exports came at $24 billion in 2019 while clothing was $16 billion.
From the data above, agriculture which employs a component of emerging market economies does not contribute the most to their productivity, as manufactured goods are a major source of export income and rising.
Does sending more people to the farms increase productivity?
Affiong Williams, the founder of food processing company ReelFruits, says that she does not think sending more Nigerians to the farms will increase productivity because “There is very little material productivity to achieve by increasing physical labour on the farms. Productivity increases in Agriculture, which moves the needle on production output, are more impacted by things like fertilizers, mechanization, and increased technical expertise. Manual labour is no match for any of those things.“
What does Nigeria need to do to improve yields?
“The over-reliance on smallholder farming, in my opinion, is the biggest hindrance by the government to improve agro yields,” she added.
She added that even though the current model may be seen as a “development activity,” it barely achieves its true aim.
“To improve the output of any crop, one needs to do a lot of testing and control for so many factors to be able to arrive at the right conditions which increase productivity. Smallholder farmers do not have the resources to do this type of ‘A/B testing’ as it were and so it is very difficult to get true information and disseminate the right techniques that all of these farmers can apply.
“I think the government needs to enable more commercial farming by the private sector who are able to acquire the resources to increase productivity and disseminate such learnings at a faster pace,” she said.
The story is even more tragic when you compare with our neighbours: pic.twitter.com/YMAcGlzbOf
— Chairman AW (@AffiSupaStar) September 11, 2020
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Bottom Line: The Nigerian government is not focusing on the aspects that increase productivity in agriculture which experts say are fertilizers, mechanization, and increased technical expertise, components that cannot be replaced with more human capital in the farms.
Secondly, growth in Nigerian agriculture yields can only be done through large scale commercial farming with the ability to conduct tests to find the right techniques for farmers.
Finally, compared to contemporary emerging economies, Nigeria is seriously lagging behind in both agriculture exports and manufactured exports, as Nigeria’s top ten agriculture exports hit just N289 billion between April 2019 – March 2020.
AfCFTA: Nigeria securing approval to ratify agreement – Trade Minister
The Minister revealed that Nigeria has set up a National Action Committee on AfCFTA.
Minister of Trade, Niyi Adebayo said Nigeria is currently in the process of securing approval to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement soon.
The Minister disclosed this during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA), Mene Wamkele on Monday.
During the meeting, the Honourable Minister informed him that Nigeria has established … pic.twitter.com/vSDnNqcfmE
— FMITI Nigeria (@TradeInvestNG) September 21, 2020
Recall that Nairametrics reported last week Mr. Adebayo said that Nigeria is actively working to attract more foreign direct investments into key industries to meet the demands of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“As we gear up to meet the demands of the enlarged continental market which will be fostered by AfCFTA, we are actively working to attract more foreign direct investments into key industries,” the Minister said.
In today’s meeting, The Minister told the delegation that Nigeria has set up a National Action Committee on AfCFTA, which would implement Nigeria’s roll-out strategy in a bid to take advantage of the agreement. He added, “Nigeria is currently in the process of securing approval to ratify the agreement within the shortest possible time”.
The African Union announced in August that the first commercial deal of AfCFTA will be taking off on January 1, 2021.