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Columnists

#EndSARS: Analyzing the economic prospects of another lockdown

Decisions taken in the next few days will determine how soon the issues surrounding the #EndSARS protests will be resolved.

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#EndSARS: FG denies placing protesters on no-fly list

The past five to seven days in Nigeria have been nothing short of fictional for the Nigerian people.

One would be hard-pressed to describe the events without seeming to take sides with either part of the standoff as emotions, euphoria and sometimes, unfounded principles have seemed to become the order of the day. Logic, accountability and common sense being on vacation as they often are in such matters.

If there were negotiations (of which there are none presently), parties involved may likely disagree on a couple of things ranging from the sincerity of the other party, approach to a peaceful resolution, what amounts to a peaceful resolution and how to forge ahead.

READ: COVID-19: How CBN policies helped prevent the collapse of the Nigerian economy – Oscar Onyema

READ: CBN removes “third parties” from buying forex routed through Form M

There would be accusations and counter-accusations, more so, as the chasm of discord between stakeholders continues to widen with each passing day of the #ENDSARS protest across major cities and towns of the Country. Nonetheless, one thing both parties would agree on is that their continued standoff and reluctance to resolve the complex issues around the protest is ruinous to the economy.

Nigeria’s real GDP growth for 2019 was estimated at 2.3% by the AfDB. It was an improvement on the 1.9% estimate for 2018 and an achievement of the 2019 expert projections despite the uncertainty about the 2019 election outcomes, policy implementation slowdown and sell-offs by foreign investors in 2018.

READ: $70 billion per annum will be needed to tackle pandemic induced poverty – World Bank

READ: Manufacturers receive N459.69 billion from banks, thanks to CBN’s lending policy 

Household consumption was the key growth driver in 2019, followed closely by growth in transport, the oil sector and information and communications technology. Agriculture, for all its Government patronage could not withstand the floods that heralded a climate change while suffering from the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers- it flopped, and so did manufacturing which could not be reckoned with due to a lack of financing. Estimated inflation for 2019 was 11.3%.

After a turnaround from –1.6% in 2016 to 0.8% in 2017, 2020 was supposed to be the year where Nigeria consolidated on the steady GDP growth of previous years by implementing its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan with an emphasis on economic diversification.

READ: Nigeria’s $1.5 billion steel plant set to produce 1 million MT of steel annually

The CBN’s proactive decree that banks hold loan–deposit ratios of 60% was geared to increasing lending to the real sector, even as they eased the risks of lending to small businesses.

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An increase in the value-added tax from 5% to 7.5% was implemented to shore up domestic non-oil revenues, and agro-industrial support from the Government was supposed to make 2020 a year to surpass growth forecasts even as oil revenues began to improve and drive foreign exchange reserves. Then came COVID-19.

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READ: CBN wades into the bank vs Fintech debate

Lacking a clear nationwide pandemic framework, coupled with a nonexistent welfare system and weak healthcare infrastructure, the Nation did a relatively impressive job in managing the pandemic but did lose the economic advantage it started the year with. Negative GDP growths were projected for Q2 and Q3 even as oil prices slumped to an all-time low.

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Diaspora remittances (which accounted for 83% of the FG budget in 2018) had reduced to a trickle because of the pandemic, and unemployment surges. The World Bank predicted a recession by Q4, it would be Nigeria’s worst in four decades.

READ: CBN clears air on Diaspora Remittances, official inflows $2.6bn not $26bn 

Once again, Nigeria beat the odds. A series of monetary and fiscal policies saw to it that more funds were made available to the real sector; delinquent loans were restructured to keep from becoming bad; the free fall of the Naira was staved off and key industries were supported through Government’s special intervention programs. A few optimists were beginning to think we had rounded the corner, then came #EndSARS protests.

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In the few days since the protests have begun, the Nation is estimated to have lost billions of Naira with Lagos state, understandably, being the biggest loser so far hosting the largest protests. Manpower hours have been lost, properties have been destroyed and worst of all lives have been lost.

READ: CBN knocks airline and shipping firms over non-compliance with form NXP

Household spending, transportation and manufacturing cannot continue to thrive in these unrests. September inflation was pegged at 13.7%, its highest since February 2018 there is already considerable strain on healthcare due to the pandemic and the exposure of the populace during the #endsars protests and counter-protests could spike up the COVID-19 numbers once again.

The peculiarity of the nature of the protest has seen Nigerians in the Diaspora channel their funds to supporting the protests in Nigeria while organizing theirs in their host country. Another significant loss of diaspora remittances which represent a substantial percentage of the GDP. Also, the protests are beginning to weigh in on stock market activities and could affect other economic indices if tensions escalate further.

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READ: Nike stocks post gains, women’s apparel division grow by 200%

The unfortunate resolve of both sides to fight to the finish without giving room for dialogue could lead to another lockdown of economic activities as witnessed in Edo, where a 24hr curfew has been declared; Lagos where schools and businesses have shut down; Osun, Ekiti, Plateau, Imo and the FCT where business activities have come to a grinding halt.

The cyber warfare being threatened by both sides could also have far-reaching effects on the liquidity of our financial institutions as their customers opt for crypto wallets as safe haven for their funds and as punitive measure for brands they perceive as not being supportive towards their cause.

READ: Leaked memo: CBN instructs banks to block bank account of 38 companies for “forex abuse”

Of course, decisions taken in the next few days will determine how soon the issues surrounding the protests will be resolved, but for a country on the precipice of serious economic repercussions, both parties seem a little too comfortable in staring down the opposition when serious gains could be made by coming to a round table.

Kelly Zolonye Ushedo is passionate about Banking, and simplifying complex issues around personal finance and start-ups. He has over 8years experience in various job functions in the Banking industry across top Banks. Follow @Zolonye on Twitter.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Rita Asha

    October 20, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    Good article

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Columnists

One year after Nigeria’s index case, what has her energy sector learned?

A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything from the oil shock?

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On February 27, Nigeria confirmed its first case of COVID-19 which at the time had infected just about 80, 000 people with a little below 3, 000 dead as a result. Exactly one year later today, with over 113, 000, 000 people infected and over 2, 500, 000 dead globally, the pandemic has radically transformed the way of life of the world. There has been learning across various sectors and a re-imagination of how things are done. A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything?

In early March, only about a week after Nigeria’s index case, the world was greeted by oil shocks resulting from the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, further aggravated by falling demands resulting from lockdowns, flight restrictions and the general apprehension about movement and the pandemic. Countries dependent on oil exports, like Nigeria, were concerned about the toll it would take on their economy.

Oil went to an all-time low, the lowest it has ever been in 18 years and many economies went into panic mode. It was not long before the Nigerian government removed petroleum subsidies at the tail end of Q1 as it was costing the country up to $2 billion a year. The end to subsidies -or what we assumed was the end, led to market-led pricing for petroleum.

Around the same time, the marginal field bid rounds were launched, with the various fees to be paid by prospective investors rising exponentially from what they were under the last bid rounds, and required to be paid up front. The country also witnessed increased divestment in oil and gas assets by major oil and gas companies. At the start of Q4, the government introduced what it called service-reflective tariffs which were about twice the initial costs previously paid by customers.

There was equally a significant peak in renewable energy projects as many were turning to it for succor due to increased petroleum prices and utility power tariffs. The Federal government also launched its solar power strategy to electrify 5 million homes with solar power. We saw a heightened commitment to gas utilization, with the Central Bank introducing the N250bn intervention facility to stimulate investment in the local gas value chain.

The Minister of Petroleum for State, Chief Timipre Sylva had also promised that gas-powered cars would begin operating in October 2020. In his words “The alternative we are now introducing is gas, which is definitely going to be cheaper than the subsidised rate of PMS”.

He went on to say that Nigerians were urged to convert their cars to dual fuel. Four months later, we are yet to see any auto gas cars ply our roads. There were also very swift moves to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) last year, and indeed many stakeholders waited expectantly for it, but the legislature failed to deliver.

Soon, the Federal Government launched the Nigerian Gas Expansion Program at the tail end of Q4, a month after the news of the country officially entering recession broke. The aim of the Program was to increase gas development from three streams- Liquefied Natural gas (LNG,) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

With initial reports of a vaccine rollout, the oil price that had crashed to lower than $30 per barrel last year began a steady and somewhat magical rise and currently has gone as high as $67, with predictions that it could rise to as much as $100, particularly with the release of more vaccines and easing of lockdown.

With things looking good for the country again, we see a return of the petroleum subsidy in the locked pricing of petrol. A return of fuel subsidy means heavily increased subsidy payments for the country and similarly an increased propensity for corruption and misuse of funds which has characterized Nigeria’s subsidy regime for long. We cannot claim to have learned much as a country if we think all is well, and we are out of the woods.

It would be counterintuitive to wait on another oil shock to begin to quickly diversify our portfolio and heavily invest in gas and renewables. Like the Biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh, we should save during our “seven fat years” for the “seven lean years”.

This is not the time for Nigeria to sit back and gloat in its rising oil fortunes, but a time to invest in improving energy access for its citizens by funding renewable energy research, aggressively supporting a solar drive, entering into public-private partnerships for gas development and providing incentives for businesses working in the energy transition space. Perhaps climate change and the decisions made around it will be the next price cruncher for oil. Whichever way, we cannot afford not to be battle-ready.

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5 successful ways to increase profits in your business

Constantly working on these areas of your business, you are more likely to have raised profits.

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Development Bank of Nigeria , Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA)

Most business owners are required to make certain changes to their business operations to achieve more profits. It is a fact that it is not possible to raise the profits directly, therefore, you need to increase them indirectly. It is not going to be possible without having a specific strategy in place. The only thing that is possible is improving the variables of your business and this can lead to an increase in profits and a higher bottom line.

Lead generation and conversion

A process that is used for attracting interested prospects to the business is lead generation. Suppose five people out of the ten coming to your business place end up purchasing the product or services from your business, you can try to raise the number of people coming to the business to fifteen. This allows you to make more money by increasing the profits by 50%. Lead conversion is a process used for converting the leads into paying customers. It is a measure of the effectiveness of your sales efforts. If it is possible to raise the conversion rate from 1 out of 10 to 2 out of 10 it is likely to double the sales figures and get you raised profits. There is no replacement for continuous sales training sessions. It applies to the owner and everyone that speaks to the clients.

READ: How scammers use SIM cards to rob your bank accounts

 Transactions

The number of independent sales you make to the customers you have acquired can be increased by raising the frequency of the purchases by say ten percent. You will thereby increase the number of sales and also rise profits by the same amount. Think about the things you could do for getting your existing customers to purchase more from your business and also make these purchases frequently. The size of the transaction and the profit you make from every one of them matters as well. You need to be on the lookout for ways of up-selling all the customers so that this person will buy more every time.

Profit margins

Profit margins could be the gross profits you make from all the sales of products or services. By finding out the ways of raising the price or lowering the cost of making the product and services without reducing the quality you will be able to raise the profits per every sale. All the money you save while holding the costing constant flows straight to the business bottom line as profit. Every time you decrease the expenses and at the same time, if you can hold the sales and revenues constant, money is going straight to your pocket as net profit.

Reach a global audience

In the modern scheme of things, all cities are turning into global economies. Therefore language translation services can be used for increasing the profits of any business big or small. It might be a good idea to translate the content on your website to reach a global audience. The global language services industry is rising quickly and can touch a figure of $50 billion by the end of the year. Most of these services these days are used by both private and government sectors alike. With rising globalization, the demand for translation is also increasing.

Customer acquisition costs

Consider the amount of money you have to spend to acquire every paying customer. You need to continuously be on the lookout for creative ways of improving your promotion and advertising so that there is a reduction in the money you have to spend to get a new customer. This will have a positive effect on the profits of your business. You can also try to increase the number of customers that come to you as a result of referrals from your existing satisfied customers. Developing single or multiple referral systems can impact the business positively and in turn, can help in making more money for your business.

Conclusion

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When you are constantly working on these areas of your business seeking improvement in all of them, you are more likely to have raised profits. You will make more money and it will contribute to the success of your future financial endeavours.

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