Africa’s leading e-commerce firm Jumia released its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday showing it incurred a loss of Eur 37.6 million (N17.1 billion) in the second quarter of 2020 despite the rampaging effect of COVID-19.
According to Jumia, it did not experience any “meaningful change in consumer behavior” following the COVID-19 induced shutdown.
Contemporary views suggest e-commerce firms were one of the winners in the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown. However, the company reported significant challenges to its operations. Here is how Jumia responded;
- In Nigeria and South Africa, we faced significant disruption as a result of movement restriction.
- This disruption persisted during the early part of the second quarter of 2020, before gradually easing towards the later part of the quarter.
- Our food delivery business, Jumia Food, which was negatively impacted by restaurant shutdowns starting mid-March, resumed normal operations in late May/early June in most cities where we operate the service.
- Across the majority of our addressable market, we experienced no meaningful change in consumer behavior, aside from increased demand for essential and every-day products and reduced appetite for higher ticket size, discretionary purchases.
- The nature of lockdown measures put in place consisted mostly of localized restrictions of movement and partial curfews rather than nationwide lockdowns, with the former leading to less drastic changes in consumer lifestyles and behavior than all-encompassing, nationwide lockdowns.
What this means
Jumia’s revelations confirm fears that the COVID-19 lockdowns may not have positively impacted on the e-commerce sector whose business model requires that their gross merchandise volumes increase for them to improve margins.
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However, by confirming that Nigerians focussed more on essentials, the negative impact of the COVID-19 appears to be more severe than even expected.
Nigerians are perhaps also cautious about their spending, avoiding expenditures that do not speak to their immediate need such as food supplies, medicare, and utilities.
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.
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?
Simple, because they need to meet up with their financial obligations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
FAAC disburses N696.2 billion in July 2020, as Lagos State parts with N1.46 billion
The sum of N696.18 billion to the Federal, State, and Local governments in July 2020 from the FAAC account.
The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), disbursed the sum of N696.18 billion to the Federal, State, and Local governments in July 2020, from the revenue generated in the month of June 2020. This was stated in the latest FAAC report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the report, the monthly disbursement increased by 27.2% compared to N547.3 billion shared in June, and 14.8% increase compared to N606.2 billion disbursed in May 2020.
Checks by Nairametrics research, shows that a total of N4.58 trillion has been shared to the three tiers of government, between January and July 2020. Highest disbursement was recorded in April (N780.9 billion), followed by N716.3 billion in January 2020.
Meanwhile, Lagos State – the economic hub of Nigeria, parted with N1.46 billion as external debt deductions in the month, indicating a total of N9.74 billion deductions between January and July 2020.
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- The amount disbursed in July comprised of N474.53 billion from the Statutory Account, N128.83 billion from Valued Added Tax (VAT), N42.83 billion from Exchange Gain Differences, and Distribution of N50 billion from Non-Oil Revenue for the Month.
- Federal Government received a total of N266.13 billion from the total disbursement. States received a total of N185.77 billion, and Local Governments received N138.97 billion.
- The sum of N28.50 billion was shared among the oil producing states as 13% derivation fund.
- Revenue generating agencies such as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) received N6.32 billion, N15.05 billion, and N2.68 billion respectively as cost of revenue collections.
South-South scoops highest share
The South-South region, also known as the Niger Delta region, received the highest share of the disbursement in the month of July. The region received a sum of N49.44 billion, representing 25.4% of the total net allocation for states.
This is largely because the region contributes mostly to crude oil production in Nigeria, which is a significant source of revenue for the federation. Out of the six states in the region, only Cross River State is not an oil producing state. Hence, Rivers, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Delta States received a total of N24.28 billion as part of 13% oil derivation fund.
North-West region received N36.83 billion (18.9%); followed by North-Central region, which received a net total of N30.69 billion (15.8%). Others include South-West (N29.55 billion), North-East (N26.32 billion), and South-East (N21.97 billion).
External debt deductions
A total of N4.47 billion was deducted from the state’s allocation, as external debt deductions for the month of July. Lagos State parted with the highest amount of N1.46 billion, representing 32.6% of the total debt deductions in the month. A sum of N9.74 billion has been deducted as a result of external debt obligations between January and July 2020.
It is worth noting that, the State’s external debt has declined by 9.67%, from $1.39 billion recorded as at the end of December 2019 to $1.26 billion in June 2020.
Others on the list of top 5 deductions are, Kaduna (N414.6 million), Oyo (N305.4 million), Rivers (N280.3 million), and Cross River (N222 million). On the flip side, Ogun State parted with the lowest, as N9.1 million was deducted, followed by Borno (N21.6 million), and Taraba (N24.5 million).
- With dwindling federally collected revenue, caused by volatility in global crude oil price and economic downtrend caused by COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that federal allocations will likely face drastic decline, which is a cue for the State governments to strategize on more creative ways of generating revenue internally.
- A quick check at the states’ IGR numbers, shows that 91.9% of the states in Nigeria with the exception of Abuja, Ogun, and Lagos States rely more on federal allocation, as against internally generated revenue.
- This implies that several states in Nigeria are technically bankrupt without debt financing, and Federal Government monthly allocation.
Nigerians in diaspora reveal their favourite Nigerian Stocks
Nigerians in the diaspora have given their thoughts on some of the Nigerian stocks that have caught their attention lately.
The Nigerian equities market has in recent weeks recorded impressive gains, as investors take positions in blue-chip stocks.
The All-Share Index and market capitalization, on Wednesday, gained 0.50%, to settle at 25,783.02 points and N13.474 trillion respectively, reducing the YTD loss to -3.92%.
As the COVID-19 virus continues to rattle global financial markets, including the Nigerian bourse, it became prevalent to seek diverse opinions about Nigerian equities. In this case, that of Nigerians living abroad.
Nairametrics interviewed Investment Experts, Traders and an Engineer, seeking their opinions on what Nigerian Stocks they will presently consider for a BUY.
Their responses were varied, ranging from top Banking, Industrial, and unsurprisingly, Agriculture-based stocks.
London based, Lukman Otunuga, the Senior Research Analyst at ForexTime (FXTM) said,
“In a world where the coronavirus menace has created widespread chaos, disruptions, and uncertainty, no prisoners were taken.
“Oil has been one of the biggest causalities of COVID-19, down roughly 40% year-to-date (YTD), as worldwide restrictions a few months back, crippled demand for the commodity. With a fair chunk of Oil & Gas companies losing billions of dollars to the pandemic, their respective stock prices declined considerably.
“Big names in Nigeria such as Oando, LekOil, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, and 11 Plc, among others, have seen their shares depreciate between 20 to 40% + YTD. However, if Oil rebounds on stabilizing global economic conditions and a possible breakthrough in finding a COVID-19 vaccine, this could provide an opportunity for Oil & Gas companies to roar back to life – ultimately pushing stocks higher.”
According to France-based Computer Engineer, and COO, Feldel Gas Limited, Oladayo Oladele,
“Generally speaking, I will be interested in stocks in the IT/Telecoms sector, which includes MTN Nigeria, Airtel, because Nigeria has a digital economy that is growing at an exponential rate. Lots of tech startups like PiggyVest, Paystack, and Flutterwave are fast becoming internationally relevant, not forgetting agriculture-based stocks like Okomu oil, as the border closure by President Buhari’s administration seems to increase their profitability in the near term. Finally, FMCG stocks, like Nestle and Unilever, as significant buying pressures from their offshore-based parent companies, shows a high room for more upside.
“My bias is that, no matter how unstable Nigeria’s economy looks presently, these domains are the least affected in my opinion.”
In the words of Scotland-based Market Analyst, and an Energy Trader, Dapo-Thomas Opeoluwa, “When it comes to picking stocks from overseas, it’s a bit difficult, because we do not know how the companies are faring in the country. Sometimes we go with Warren Buffet’s recommendation of investing in a good business.
“So, to be on the safe side, we invest in the household names that give us dividends, and hopefully capital appreciation in the long run.
“I invest in Zenith; GTB; Stanbic; Sahco PLC (which are particularly promising, because of its cheap price and high potential, given how tourism might pick up, the aviation company might benefit); and Dangote Plc.
“Sometimes we go through the financials of these companies, and check if the businesses are healthy and if they’ve got what we call ‘moat’.
“Notably, because our stock exchange isn’t as fundamentally driven, as it is in England or the United States, we can’t trade stocks like we do overseas.”
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It is imperative to note that, most of the professionals interviewed seem unsurprisingly attracted to banking, energy dominated stocks, and most especially, blue-chip stocks on their prevalence to Nigeria’s economy.
Many Nigerian stocks still look greatly undervalued, and exhibit high potential for more upsides, in terms of their present price action and also attraction attributes to foreign portfolio investors in the long term.