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Again, Finance Minister argues that Nigeria is not in debt distress  

Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, has once again argued that Nigeria does not have a debt problem.

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Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, has once again argued that Nigeria does not have a debt problem. She emphasised this earlier this month in Senegal when she spoke to CNBC Africa on the sidelines of the IMF’s International Conference on Sustainable Development and Debt Sustainability which held in the country’s capital city of Dakar.

Recall that this is not the first time the Minister has made a similar claim. Back in August, she argued that Nigeria’s debt profile was not a problem, even as she called out the “insensitivity” of experts questioning the government’s borrowings.

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But there is a problem

However, Mrs Ahmed did acknowledge that there is a problem. According to her, what Nigeria has is a revenue challenge. She also noted that since this problem was identified, the President Buhari-led government has been working hard to solve it by looking at various means to boost revenue.

“Currently, Nigeria’s debt is at N25 trillion; that is about $83 billion. And at $83 billion, we are just at 18.99%…so 19% debt to GDP. I hear people say Nigeria has a debt problem. We don’t have a debt problem. What we have is a revenue challenge and the whole of this government is currently working on how to enhance our revenues, to ensure that we meet our obligation to service government as well as to service debt.”

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2020 budget and more debt

Now, the Nigerian Senate, yesterday, passed a 2020 budget of N10.59 trillion with a deficit of N2.18 trillion. This is a lot of money, which means that the Nigerian government may not have a choice but to resort to more borrowing. When the Minister was asked to comment on how Nigeria intends to make the future debts more sustainable, she said the following:

“The way to make it more sustainable is to make sure that we conduct regular debt sustainability analysis. So, for every debt we are going to add, we would have incorporated it into the national debt, looking at what is going to be the impact on debt service and the total debt stock.”

Meanwhile, in further attempt to justify more borrowing from the government, the Minister argued that no country can adequately develop by relying on revenue alone. In other words, debt is also important.

[READ MORE: Nigeria’s Entertainment & Media industry to hit $10 billion by 2023 – PwC (Opens in a new browser tab)]

Need for sustainable debt

In the course of the interview, the Minister, however, emphasised the need for Nigeria and other African countries to balance the need for development and debt sustainability. Note that Nigeria and Africa at large have a huge development deficit, even as revenue is not enough to take care of these developmental needs. As such, borrowing becomes essential. But this notwithstanding, there is a need to ensure that borrowing is responsible, she advised.

You may watch the entire interview here.

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Emmanuel covers the financial services sector for Nairametrics. Do you have a scoop for him? Well then, contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Business News

COVID-19: World Bank approves $114 million response funds for Nigeria

FG is expected to provide grants from the CoPREP to the 36 states and the FCT.

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World Bank approves $2.2 billion loan for Nigeria

The World Bank has approved the sum of $114 million to assist Nigeria in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund is to help Nigeria prevent, identify and respond to the dangers associated with the coronavirus disease with special focus on the various states and the Federal Capital Territory.

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This was disclosed in a statement from the bank on Friday, August 7, 2020.

According to the statement, the funds come in the form of $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.

It also states that the Federal Government is expected to provide grants from the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Project (CoPREP) to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

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The World Bank Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, in a statement on Friday, said, “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, but more needs to be done at the states level, which are at the front line of the response.”

He disclosed that the project would provide the states with the much needed direct technical and fiscal support in order to strengthen their position in the fight against the pandemic.

The World Bank Chief also pointed out that the project would finance federal procurements of medical equipment, laboratory tests and medicines to be distributed to the states based on their needs.

According to the World Bank, CoPREP would finance further support to all the 36 states and the FCT through the NCDC to implement the COVID-19 Incident Action Plan.

Nigeria has recorded about 45,687 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease with 936 fatalities and 32,637 people discharged as at August 7, 2020. Some serious concerns have been raised about the country’s testing capacity, which though has improved is still regarded as inadequate.

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Sports

How Nike rejection birthed sports wear industry in Nigeria

To Udezue, sport is more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies.

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How Nike rejection birthed sports wear industry in Nigeria

For many years, Nigerian sports had to depend on foreign brands for all kinds of sporting and leisure wears. In doing this, Nigeria was also ceding to these countries the opportunities that came with the business of sports. None of these changed, until Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports started out in Nigeria years ago.

Recently on Nairametrics Business Half Hour show, Founder of Africa for Africa (AFA) Sports talked about how Nike’s rejection became the birth of an industry in Nigeria.

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Ugo Udezue had come to Nigeria to establish the Continental Basketball League, (CBL) after spending 17 years with BDA Sports management in California. At this time, he saw sports as being “more about creating opportunities than just winning trophies”.

READ MORE: How the United States plans to control the African Development Bank

What he saw was the prospects of creating a whole economy built around the game – alternate relaxation options for workers who had spent long hours at work, and better opportunities for people to trade their wares and entertain guests during the games.

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A major kitting challenge came up for the CBL, as most of the foreign brands did not seem to cater for the African climate. The kits and balls being used had been designed by foreign brands using their weather condition and environment as the guiding factor. Because of this, they could not cater to the needs of the Nigerian basketball players.

“The balls were not designed to absorb sweat and so the players kept dropping the balls. Even the jerseys and shoes had clearly not been designed for the African weather since we did not play the game in air-conditioned courts,” he explained.

READ MORE: Is sports betting gradually making Nigerian youths lazy?

When Udezue reached out to Nike to seek Apparel sponsorship for the CBL, he received the shocking news that “Africa was not in their plans at the time”.

This rejection, though a short term challenge, became the inspiration behind founding AFA Sports, done by Africans to cater to the sporting needs of Africans.

As you may well know, there were foreign companies sponsoring Nigerian teams at the time, making jerseys and other apparel. But because they were not producing these things locally, they were depriving the country of the opportunities and benefits which should have come with such ventures.

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Gradually, Udezue and his team moved from the initial years of chaos and unprofitability, to growing AFA Sports into the biggest performing sports brand in Africa. The company’s products are now shipped to different countries.

In a couple of years, the dream started to materialise when AFA sports became the official apparel sponsor of the Nigerian National Basketball team D’Tigers during the Afro Basket 2017 competition. It was a major game-changer for sporting in Africa.

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READ ALSO: Kobe Bryant: What Nigerian athletes, business owners must learn

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An industry waiting to explode

Manufacturing in Nigeria is often thought of along the lines or agricultural and industrial products, without much attention on the sporting and leisure industry. From jerseys to tracksuits, leisure wears, boots, balls, caps and others, there is a whole economy waiting to be explored.

“I saw sports as a way to create wealth. I realised that it was an opportunity to create jobs for Nigerians while meeting the need for football clothing, and for as long we keep sourcing these materials from the foreign brands, we will miss out on ways we could have used it to empower our economy,” Udezue said.

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With these items produced locally at the factories and even exported to other countries, jobs are created for Nigerians. AFA sports, for instance, has three factories in Lagos state where it employs people to carry out its productions of sports and leisure wears.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Shutdown of sports is crippling the world economy – Oma Akatugba

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Beyond saving Nigeria the cost implications of importing such products, the products are now being exported to other African countries bringing in some foreign exchange for Nigeria.

As Nigeria moves towards self-sufficiency, there is the need to pay attention to the sports economy and its attendant benefits. Much more than sponsorships, hosting games in local economy can turn the fortunes of small business owners in the locality, given them a wider market and increased income.

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Tech News

Facebook, Microsoft lash out at Apple over gaming apps

Microsoft and Facebook facing challenges in bringing cloud gaming services on iOS devices.

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Apple iPhone 11, Tax battle: Apple challenges $14 billion court case , Apple to pay $500 million settlement in lawsuit over slow iPhones, Apple supplier Foxconn to reopen manufacturing base in China, Apple donates 10 million face masks to healthcare workers, App developers can now challenge Apple store guidelines 

The world’s leading technology brands, Facebook and Microsoft, recently bashed Apple for its restrictive App Store policies, which they claim prevents them from launching their gaming services on Apple devices.

Microsoft also disclosed that it will no longer be launching a limited testing version of the app on iOS. The gaming platform Microsoft had created for Apple devices can only support one game, which Microsoft said was due to Apple’s App Store policies.

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READ MORE: Apple, Facebook record impressive earning results in spite of COVID-19 disruptions

Microsoft’s concern

Microsoft revealed that such policies set by Apple will make it unable to launch its game streaming service commercially on iOS due to these limitations.

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“Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement Friday.

“Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.”

READ ALSO: Facebook rivals TikTok with launch of video-sharing product inside instagram

Facebook’s concern

The social media giant finally struggled to launch an Apple version of its gaming app on Friday, but it disclosed that it was compelled to make a concession to bring it on Apple’s App Store and had to remove the ability to play games instantly.

“Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app – meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android,” Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement Friday.

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“We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month — whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”

Microsoft and Facebook seem not to be the only ones facing challenges in bringing cloud gaming services on iOS devices. Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce had also experienced difficulties in launching iOS versions of their apps due to the App Store’s guidelines.

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READ MORE: Apple unveils a new credit card, Apple Card

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Will Apple cave in?

“There is quite a lot of pressure building from different entities, and they are attempting to build consumer awareness of the issues involved as a way to convince Apple to change its policies,” Piers Harding-Rolls, research director of games at Ampere Analysis, told CNBC.

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“Is it inevitable that Apple will cave in? Not necessarily. Apple is plowing its own path with privacy and how it wants to manage its ecosystem.”

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