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Skills Africa needs for sustainable development

Over a billion people with 5 official working languages – Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili , will again celebrate Africa Day this year.

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From Addis Ababa to Durban, Lagos to Cairo, from the Sahara Dessert to the Nile River, over a billion people with 5 official working languages – Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili – will again celebrate Africa Day this year.
A day to remember, reminisce and celebrate successes recorded against the struggles for independence, freedom from apartheid and colonization. Although, with the new normal brought about by Coronavirus, the 2020 celebrations would be quite unlike previous years.

The Africa Union (Formerly OAU) has recorded good milestones in terms of political independence and self-governance. So now is a good time for Africa to reflect on our independence.

On reading the objectives of the Africa Union (AU), words like independence, territorial integrity, human rights, security, cooperation are splattered across the pages. Significantly, none of the AU objectives seeks economic autonomy for Africa or her member states. This is a fundamental flaw which speaks directly to Africa’s issue of having a large population without the requisite skills for growth.

Our education is largely dependent on the western curriculum and narrative. There is hardly any major infrastructure, industrial or development project in Africa with 100% African content in manpower, materials or capital.

(READ MORE: Nigerian economy going into recession, might contract by -8.9% – Finance Minister)

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It is now well established and more evident that political independence without economic independence is like a car without an engine. Economic empowerment is the nucleus of national development. No fewer than 14 West African countries currently use CFA Franc, with some having used the currency for at least 75 years. This goes beyond nameplate as the Bank of France holds half of those countries’ currency reserves. This is effectively cutting their growth capacity by 50%.

Skill Up Africa for Sustainable Development

8 of those 14 countries will relinquish the CFA franc for the new ECOWAS currency, ECO (to be launched in July 2020). However, there is no indication that the affected African leaders would ask France for compensation for the years of economic sabotage to their countries. The introduction of the ECO was to bring a ray of hope, but we hope the real difference would not just be in the colour of the currency. This is because the ECO will not be autonomous but would be pegged against the Euro.

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France is not alone in the economic sabotage of Africa, they are in the good company of the United Kingdom, the US and Belgium, to mention a few. However, are these foreign countries to blame? Africa got her independence, but African leaders refuse to be independent and the dependent mentality is also enshrined in the AU objectives.

One of the AU objectives states “to work with relevant international partners in the eradication of preventable diseases and the promotion of good health on the continent.” The statement looks good superficially, but it is enlaced with aid orientation, the lack of drive for self-reliance, and a beggarly mindset.

(READ MORE: Sahara Group donates medical equipment to support fight against COVID-19)

Let us educate Africa to pursue the development of its people, with core skills that are necessary to deliver the quality of the progress and growth that Africans desire. African construction companies should make African infrastructure and 100% African content should be the target in automobile engineering, healthcare, information technology,

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. The need for Africans to lead Africa out of poverty, tyranny and underdevelopment is a matter of great importance, far beyond just necessity. Every African must desire to get skilled, and not just education, as we currently have it. We must have the competence to develop our agriculture system, mine Africa’s natural resources and add value by processing them locally.

Africa Day would only be truly worthy of celebration when African people and countries are skilled enough to accomplish our dreams of self-reliance and economic independence.

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Article written by Olatunde Akintola. Olatunde is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria and alumni of Manchester Business School. He writes from Lagos.

Nairametrics frequently publishes articles from experts such as financial analysts, economists, researchers and investors. We also feature articles from guest writers and bloggers who wish to push their views and opinions through our platform. To get your articles on Nairametrics, kindly send an email to [email protected] and we will publish it within 24 hours of approval by our editorial team.

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Key ‘side-hustles’ Nigerian Bankers supplement their income with

The need to meet up with their financial obligations has forced some bankers to adopt side hustles.

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bankers, How much banks pay, Key 'side-hustles' Nigerian Bankers supplement their income with

The headline above seems a little inappropriate given the earnings of Bankers, vis-à-vis statistics on salaries and wages in the Nation.

The average Nigerian Banker earns at least four times the poorly implemented National minimum wage of N18,000; gets his pay promptly without being owed arrears, and enjoys other employment benefits, such as healthcare, without hassles.

Why then would these privileged few, whose wage bill cost the 13 NSE listed banks, a whopping N178b in the first three months of 2020, lockdown notwithstanding, need to supplement their already impressive income?

READ: 3 major ways COVID-19 will affect Banks’ 2020 profits

Simple, because they need to meet up with their financial obligations.

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The expectations are high for anyone with a decent job in a country where the unemployment rate is currently 27.1%, and where 28.6% of its population are underemployed.

The expectations are even higher for those whose work is in the banking sector, of whom it is erroneously believed, have access to unlimited funds, and an endless flow of credit facility, because they facilitate the consummation of volumes of such transactions daily.

(READ MORE: Naira expected to be under pressure until backlogs for FX payments are cleared )

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The peculiarity of HR policies in Nigerian banks does not allow for ‘helping’ of relatives into the same system, as is obtainable in the Nigerian Civil service. Hence, the basic assistance which Bankers can offer their ever-expanding network of dependants is direct financial aid, forcing them to engage in moonlighting activities to meet up the ‘hype’.

The activities below are from close observation and interactions with Nigerian Bankers.

Forex dealings

The existence of different exchange rates, coupled with the scarcity of FX for most sectors of the economy has given rise to opportunities for arbitrage and round-tripping. Most bankers, who by virtue of their jobs have become privy to their customers’ FX needs, are able to broker deals; matching the demand of FX with supply, and earning handsome margins in the process. Gratitude, loyalty, and referrals from their customers are an added bonus for flouting their Bank’s internal policies on staff participation in FX dealings.

Such dealings have in recent times expanded to include transactions in cryptocurrencies.

Personal professional practice

Nigerian Banking industry is a melting pot of various first degrees, with some using their bank jobs as a stop-gap for their employment problems, as they seek to improve on their chosen professions. Hence, it is not uncommon to see bankers start and run their startups in other fields, while still in paid employment of their banks.

Although, the Banks are likely to frown on not getting 100% commitment from their employees; they continue to provide a rich base of potential clients for these startups and have been their customers too.

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Sports betting and Mobile Money agencies

Sports betting in Nigeria has opened up a new world of investment possibilities for sports enthusiasts and shrewd businessmen. Since 2009, when the first online sports betting site launched in Nigeria, over twenty more have joined to compete for the market in Africa’s most populous black nation, and they all seem to be thriving, as each sports competition sees the unveiling of another sports betting site in Nigeria.

(READ MORE: Bank like a hero with the Stanbic IBTC Super App “Voice Banking” feature)

Bankers, with their knowledge of the industry figures, have had a first mover’s advantage in being agents of these sport betting firms.

The same holds true for Mobile Money agencies, where Bankers have been known to use the influence of their office to expedite mobile money agent approvals and secure POS terminals, which have consequently become inaccessible to the common man.

READ: Analysis: UACN, is the dividend worth it?

Other activities

As with most business endeavours, Bankers generally indulge in businesses, in which they have a comparative advantage. Bankers in big cities use their cars to run shifts under popular cab-hailing services; some moonlight as real estate agents, because they can match customers with their real estate needs. A few others have become millionaires, by investing in their customers’ businesses. The possibilities are endless, as Bankers seek to make ends meet through their ingenuity, while staying relevant in their careers.

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

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Cyprian Ekwensi in his classic novel ‘Chike and the River’, made popular the phrase of a man who lives by the bank of the Niger, washing his hands with spittle. Sadly, this has become the lot of most Nigerian Bankers, as they live from paycheck to paycheck, exploring one loan option to pay off a previous loan, even as they condescend to their customers in volunteering financial advice, that they are better off implementing in their personal finances.

No one is immune to the economic squeeze our double-digit inflation has brought on fixed income earners, especially not our beloved bankers.

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Emerging concerns on crude oil price dents economic recovery

The economy continues to face severe dollar shortages due to lower oil receipts which continues to pressure the nation’s FX reserves.

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Crude Oil prices, oil

Yesterday, Brent crude oil price settled at US$41.44/bbl, down 10.7% from 6-month high of US$45.86/bbl. We note rising emerging concerns on the outlook for oil price in the global market. Cases of coronavirus are now rising faster in many European countries that had earlier taken gradual steps to open up their economies. For example, in the United Kingdom, Prime minister Boris Johnson stated the possibility of another lockdown to curtail the recent resurgence in new cases of infections. Furthermore, Libya (who has not been producing crude) announced the lifting of the force majeure on some oilfields & ports where fighters no longer have their presence. This implies Libya would resume production soon which may lead to a glut in the crude oil market particularly as the country is exempted from all OPEC cuts. The fear of increased supply comes amidst fragile demand for jet fuel.

The renewed concerns around crude prices is an unwelcome development for Nigeria considering the fact that hope of an economic rebound is largely hinged on sustained rebound in crude prices. Last week, the Minister of Finance highlighted that the country has suffered a 65% slump in revenue largely due to weak oil revenue. Furthermore, the
economy continues to face severe dollar shortages due to lower oil receipts which continues to pressure the nation’s FX reserves. In addition, external trade condition continues to worsen with a trade deficit of N2.2tn in H1 2020. With oil prices still down by c.30% from 2019 levels amidst the nation’s pledge to OPEC cuts, we do not expect any significant improvement in external conditions. However, we believe news of a decline in crude prices may provide succour for the Nigerian consumer given that lower crude price is expected to translate into lower petrol prices following the deregulation of the downstream sector.

That said, we reiterate our position that the diversification of the economy from oil remains the key strategy in reducing the vulnerability of the Nigerian economy to volatilities in oil market. The non-oil economy (which accounts for c.90% f GDP) remains crucial and its potentials can be best exploited by the private sector.


CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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Are we heading towards a food crisis?

The government may need to review the protectionist measures in place in order to avert a food crisis.

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How Nigeria’s GDP growth and food security hinges on financial inclusion of farmers

Based on the selected food price watch data for August 2020 released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), major consumer staples showed substantial increases between August 2019 (when the land border closure took effect) and August 2020. The steep price increases across the food items is consistent with the increase in food inflation from 13.17% in August 2019 to 16.0% in August 2020. Of more concern is the fact that rice, the most
widely consumed food staple among consumers showed substantial increase in the two variants; local sold loose (up 37.5% y/y) and imported high quality sold loose (up 40.7% y/y).

Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data

READ: Nigeria among countries to be worst hit by food crisis globally

In our view, the predominant factor behind the surge in the prices of major food items is the closure of the land borders, which has been exacerbated by administrative controls employed by the monetary and fiscal authorities in rationing foreign exchange. We recall that in July, the CBN included Maize on the list of items ineligible for FX from official sources. Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to allocate foreign exchange to importers of food and fertilizer. We also understand that heavy rainfalls in the northwestern part of the country have also affected farmlands, as the head of Kebbi state branch of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria revealed that about 90% of the 2 million tons of rice to be harvested were destroyed.

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READ: Has the President erred in stopping CBN from funding food imports?

The persistent increase in the prices of food items despite the protectionist measures implemented by the government suggests that local production still lags consumption significantly. Considering the weak harvest season due to the impact of the global pandemic amidst higher distribution costs linked to higher PMS prices following the deregulation of the downstream sector, we believe price of food items will continue to trend upwards.

Additionally, we expect the pass-through impact of the devaluation in the local currency to put further pressure on imported food inflation. Overall, we think the government needs to review the protectionist measures in place in order to avert a food crisis.

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CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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