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The Afrocentric Sounds are revitalizing the British Music industry and the Economy

The truth is that Afrobeats is not only spreading but is also mutating even in the Queen’s own Country.

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The Afrocentric Sounds are revitalizing the British Music industry and the Economy, Nigeria’s Entertainment & Media to hit $10 billion by 2023 – PwC 

It is no secret that Afrobeats is the popular genre around town currently. A friend joked that he visited a remote city somewhere in South East Asia recently and almost thought he was transported by a genie to the bubbling city of Lagos Nigeria because shop after shop he entered, he heard the strong vibes of Afrobeats. This is kudos to the likes of Wizkid, Davido, Burna Boy, Shatta Wale, and a host of others leading the way in the progression of music from the African continent. The truth is that Afrobeats is not only spreading but is also mutating even in the Queen’s own Country.

Initially synonymous with artists directly from the continent, it is important to note that the British African diaspora has played a huge role, not only in progressing Afrobeats but also in creating sub-genres that resemble the vibrant Afro-centric sounds from the Motherland.

In the city of London, British citizens have been influenced strongly by Afrobeats and dancehall, due to the vibrant black society in the U.K, which consists predominantly of Africans and West Indians.

The Afrocentric Sounds are revitalizing the British Music industry and the Economy

[READ MORE: The Nigerian Afrobeats Music Industry Gains Global Momentum]

The cultural diversity in London and the acceptance of Afrobeats created two sub-genres that have shaped the U.K music scene. The first genre is U.K Afrobeats, while the other is called Afro swing. U.K Afrobeats from the African continent involves artists singing over traditional Afro sounding beats with their mother tongue; however, it varies slightly mainly because of their glaring British accents.

The likes of S.K, Sona, Kwamz & Flava, BM, Eugy, and Afro B are just some of the few pioneers that are flying the U.K Afrobeats flag high. The target audience for this genre was initially for the African Diaspora in Britain; however, as time progressed, people from across the pond in the United States and Canada gravitated to U.K Afrobeats.

One artist that benefitted handsomely from this new-found audience in North America is Afro B. His 2018 smash hit “Joanna” became frequently played on U.S song radio. The song “Joanna” even had a few remixes. One, in particular, featured French Montana, a Grammy-nominated American rapper from the Bronx, New York. As a result of Joanna’s triumph in the American market, Afro B was able to sign to EMPIRE, an American distribution and recording company that was founded by Ghazi Shami in 2010.

The Afrocentric Sounds are revitalizing the British Music industry and the Economy

Afro Swing, on the other hand, is different from U.K Afrobeats. This genre of music involves a mixture of Afrobeats, Dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, reggae and grime. The sound of music developed originally in the mid-2010s; however, in recent times, people in the U.K saw the genre as a much-preferred alternative to U.K Afrobeats because it was more inclusive of all other cultures and also because the content of music was not as repetitive as U.K Afrobeats.

The blend of West African and Caribbean culture in this genre has produced reputable artists like J Hus, who was famous for his 2017 smash hit, “did you see,” as well as Not3s, who released hot singles like “Addison Lee,” “Aladdin,” “My Lover” and “Just Fine.” Other notable artists popular within the Afro Swing genre include the like of Kida Kudz, Kojo Funds, Yxng Bane, NSG, Lotto Boyz, Tion Wayne, Belly Squad, Mo Stack, Stefflon Don and many more.

The Afro Swing has generated some momentum over the past couple of years despite the popularity of Heavy Metal and has, in turn, had a knock-on effect on the net worth of the U.K music industry. According to Music Week, a popular trade paper for the U.K record industry, the U.K music industry grew by 2% in 2017 and it contributed about 4.5 billion pounds to the economy.

In addition, Music Week reported that the exports of the whole U.K music sector grew by 7% and was valued at 2.6 billion pounds. It also stated that employment within the U.K music sector increased by 3%.

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The reason for this growth could be credited to the like of J Hus, who released his Afro Swing debut album titled “Common Sense” on May 12, 2017 and Not3s, who released his first mixtape “Take Not3s” on November 17, 2017, as well as others like Kojo Funds, who released the critically acclaimed song, “Dun Talkin,” with his fellow East London rapper, Abra Cadabra, and Yxng Bane, who had the eclectic single, “Vroom,” which stole the hearts of the ladies.

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The dynamics of Afro Swing has spread across the world and it is becoming more familiar around nightclubs in Europe and America. As a result of Afro swing’s consistent trajectory, artists from the U.K are signing to more major labels in the United States. This is the case for Stefflon Don, who penned down a new deal with Quality Control Music, an Atlanta based record label founded by Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas, that has a joint venture partnership with Capitol Music Group and Motown Records.

[READ ALSO: Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame beats Titanic’s $2.12bn box office record]

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The Afrocentric Sounds are revitalizing the British Music industry and the Economy

 

Both genre, Afro Swing or U.K Afrobeats, are indicative of two things, the influence and preservation of culture through music. They tell a larger story of the African convoluted journey from the motherland to the Caribbean through slavery to the journey from the Caribbean’s to Britain, from the African journey from the independent African State post the scramble and partitioning seeking greener pastures in the Country of the Colonizer –  strange convergence which has initiated the black man into the Common Wealth of Nations.

These contemporary genres are curious hybrids of the very past, near past and the now. They also represent how the black population has contributed to the growth of the British economy through music. It is through this Afrocentric sounds that black people in the U.K celebrate their heritage and distinguish themselves from other racial demographics in the country.

For UK, this is one potential export that defies the physical boundaries, perhaps good news if and when Brexit happens. A fundamental question still remains – who should own the proprietary rights of Afrobeat?

Paul Olele Jnr writes from Washington DC. He is a 2019 graduate of George Washington University and currently works as graduate Media and Research Intern at the Initiative for Global Development.

 

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Blurb

Secret behind MTN’s blistering performance

Despite COVID-19 disruptions, MTN Nigeria’s 2020 financials showed marked improvements compared to its 2019-year-end.

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NCC, MTN’s parent company faults regulator’s recommendation for data price reduction, MTN Nigeria reacts to poor internet as network issues go beyond Nigeria 

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN Nigeria) released its audited financial results for the financial year ended December 31, 2020.

Despite a challenging 2020 to individuals and businesses caused by COVID-19 disruptions, MTN Nigeria’s financial and non-financial information showed marked improvements compared to its 2019-year-end as well as prior quarters of 2020 results that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the evolving pandemic which intensified lockdown, remote working, and work-from-home procedures, appeared to have led to increased adoption of MTN Nigeria data and digital services.

Specifically, year-on-year on non-financial information, mobile subscribers increased by 12.2 million to 76.5 million; active data users increased by 7.4 million to 32,6 million while the company’s mobile money business continued to accelerate with a 269.2 % increase in the number of registered agents to over 395,000 and 4.7 million active subscribers from approximately 553,000 in 2019.

Year-on-year on financial information, service revenue increased by 14.7 % to NGN1.3 trillion driven principally by voice (with revenue growth of 5.9 %) and data revenues (rising by 52.2 % led by increased data use and traffic); profit before tax (PBT) grew by 2.6 % to N298.9 billion; profit after tax (PAT) increased by 0.9 % to N205.21 billion; while Earnings per share (EPS) rose by 0.9 % to N10.1 (N9.93, 2019).

Nonetheless, significant increases were noted in its operating expenditure as well as capital expenditure. First, there was a 2.3 % increase in operating expenses arising from the rollout of new sites and the impact of naira currency depreciation affecting the costs of MTN Nigeria lease contracts. Secondly, EBITDA margin declined by 2.5 %age points to 50.9 % (from 53.4 % in 2019) There were also other significant cost rises including a 25.4 % increase in net finance cost, and 19.4 % increase in capital expenditure which had a 11.7 % knock-on increase in depreciation and amortization costs.

On the back of the year-end result, MTN Nigeria has proposed a final dividend per share (DPS) of N5.90 kobo per share to be paid out of distributable income and brings the total dividend for the year to N9.40 kobo per share, representing an increase of 18.7 %. MTN Nigeria paid N4.97 as final dividend for the year ended December 31, 2019. This was in addition to an interim dividend of N2.95, which brought its total 2019 dividend to N7.92 per share.

The proposed dividend implies a yield of 3.4%. Having paid an interim dividend of NGN3.50 in 2020, the proposed dividend, if approved, will bring the total dividend per share to NGN9.40 or c.19% higher compared with 2019.  We expect a positive reaction from the market due to the marked improvement in earnings. However, the market’s reaction may be dampened by negative investor sentiments on equities arising from the uptick in yields on fixed-income securities.

We expect that the introduction of additional customer registration requirements requiring subscriber records are updated with respective National Identity Numbers (NIN), and the continued suspension of the sale and activation of new SIM cards will affect subscriber growth.

MTNN share price remains unchanged at the end of trading yesterday at N174 per share.


 

Tade Fadare PhD, is an economist, and a professionally qualified accountant, banker and stockbroker. He has significant experience working or consulting for financial institutions in Europe, North America, and Africa.

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Blurb

How does a bank make N19 billion a month?

The strategy for banks globally is to attract deposits at a lower rate than it lends out to borrowers.

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How does a Financial Services Group make N19b a month, post a Profit After Tax figure of N230b in an environment where global commerce virtually ground to a halt in 2020?

The Zenith Bank Plc (Zenith) Year-end 2020 final results are a blockbuster, not just in the quantitative, but the qualitative as well. In all major headline numbers, Zenith posted growth on a Year-on-Year basis, specifically, Gross Earnings are up 5.2%, Net Interest Income up 12%, Customer deposits up 15.3%.

Somehow Zenith grew her loan book by 18% in a recession and reduced the volume of Non-Performing Loans in the same period. Zenith was also able to post a higher revenue number from non-interest income even as yields on fixed-income fell across Nigeria. I must stress, Zenith has posted these results by servicing her target segment of the high-end corporates in Nigeria.

READ: Union Bank Nigeria Plc posts N15.9 billion profit in 9M 2020, up by 2%

So how did Zenith achieve this? I want to do a deep dive into how to make profits in a recession. However, it is important to start with a background on how banks make money which is basically in two ways;

  • Interest income: which is income generated from the bank gathering deposits from customers and investors and “renting” out these funds to individuals and corporates for a fee called interest. Interest Income is seen as the main business of banks. It is a measure of how well the bank has fine-tuned its people, process, and systems to generate returns from a commodity called cash.
  • Non-Interest Income: This is the income the bank generates from deploying its brands and people to juice revenues from activities that do not necessitate a transfer of cash. For Example, a bank asset management business leverages the bank’s skillsets to earn fees by providing investment advice to clients. Does a business want to expand? The bank can advise on the process to make that happen.

READ: Zenith Bank spends N20 billion on IT in 2020, up 122%

The strategy for banks globally is to attract deposits at a lower rate than it lends out to borrowers. This allows the bank generate a spread between cost and revenue. The bank’s interest spread can be magnified by the number of quality loans it creates as Interest Income rests also on the quality of the loan book. Positive spread drives the funding of other banking services and is supported by the banks internal competencies to manage risk

So a bank makes profits by

  1. Attracting cheap deposits
  2. Earning positive spread
  3. Providing value addition for a fee
  4. Effective Risk Management

All these have to happen simultaneously. A bank that sources expensive deposits by paying higher rates generates a lower spread. Lower spread exposes the bank to cost overruns and will prove fatal to long-term growth.

READ: Zenith USSD banking transaction value rises by 30.8% Y-o-Y to hit N497.29 billion

With this in mind, let’s review Zenith FY 2020 Performance

  • Attracting Cheap Deposits: In 2019, Zenith’s total interest expense, which represents how much it paid to get deposits was N148b, that figure dropped in 2020 to N121b. this means the bank was able to grow deposits by 25% but at a lower cost. How? Zenith changed her deposit mix, reducing borrowed funds/leases and time deposits by 41% and 38% respectfully and increasing the share of current accounts by 155%. By swapping the deposit mix, the bank’s cost of funds ratio fell by 18mn%.
  • Earning Higher Spread: Zenith grew Net Interest Income by 12.2% in 2020. This figure represents income earned from the deposits and investments of the banking group. Again, this was achieved by asset mix reorganization. In the face of falling rates especially on shorter-dated FGN instruments, Zenith shifted allocation from Treasury bills to longer-dated FGN bonds which paid a higher yield. Zenith’s Non-interest Income also grew to N275b a 5% jump from 2019. This is driven largely by extraordinary items including foreign currency revaluation gain, which is the gain realized from the revaluation of foreign currency-denominated assets. I must highlight this. Zenith was able to post a gain of about N43b which is a 256% gain from FY 2019 based on the Naira being devalued to the US Dollar.
  • Providing Value Addition: Value addition will include all non-core banking services Zenith Group provides to the public including subsidiaries like the Zenith Penson Custodians which has N4t in assets under custody. Commission on agency and collection was a big contributor to Zenith’s non-core banking revenue.
  • Risk Management: Zenith was efficient in deploying its internal competencies to minimize and avoid risk and impairments from the ordinary and extraordinary course of business. Zenith like other financial institutions saw a pullback in commercial activities from her clients. Take the Commerce subsector, the Non-Performing Loan share in that sector grew from 9% to 24%. Zenith, booked an increase in the number of NPLs by volume to N125m in FY 2020 but the bank was able to keep the NPL ratio down to 4.29%. An extraordinary feat.

Overall, the bank was able to navigate a difficult year and post a good return and a handsome dividend of N3 to investors. Zenith was able to achieve all this while increasing the staff strength by 4.6% to 7555 employees.

However, there are red flags as well:

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  • Net Interest Margin was down in FY 2020 as yields declined. If yield continues to stay muted, can Zenith keep finding profitable avenues to invest that N5.34 deposit base?
  • Interest income positive in FY 2020 at 420b but when compared to 2017, interest income is falling.
  • If you ignore the revaluation gain, then Non-Interest income will be considerably muted, possibly negative in FY 2020
  • Fees on electronic products fell 36% in an environment where online banking has been not just sound business practice, but life-saving as well.

Overall, in an environment with months of local and international shutdowns, Zenith has posted good numbers and demonstrated it is possible to eke out gains from a hard environment. When one looks at the dividend yield, P.E. Ratio of the bank, for me, this is a Buy.

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