Toothpicks are on the list of more than 40 items for which the Central Bank of Nigeria has forbidden the sourcing of foreign currency through the formal banking system for spending on imports, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 3 August 2015
THERE has been a lot of talk about toothpicks in Nigeria of late. The humble implement for removing elusive morsels of dinner is a culprit in Nigeria’s foreign exchange crisis. It is included in a list of more than 40 items for which the Central Bank of Nigeria has forbidden the sourcing of foreign currency through the formal banking system for spending on imports.
Other items on the list include private jets, tinned fish, vegetable oil, roofing sheets, cosmetics, soap, plastic and rubber products, Indian incense, steel pipes, plywood board, glassware and kitchen utensils.
Although the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s economy has grown from 1.9% in the early 1990s to 6.8%, the country has little to show for years of import bans designed to boost local manufacturing.
BURUNDI’s president goes to the polls this week to stand for president of his tiny nation for the third time, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Pierre Nkurunziza has not been dissuaded by violent protests in which many have died or been displaced. Nor has he been daunted by the African Union’s (AU’s) calls for the vote to be postponed because of the violence,
So, despite improvements in governance in some areas, it is business as usual for sub-Saharan Africa’s third-termers. There was a glimmer of hope late last year that change might be in the air when hundreds of protestors set fire to Burkina Faso’s parliament and forced their president, Blaise Compaore, out of power after 23 years. The president, who tried to try to get himself a third term, is in exile in Cote d’Ivoire.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there were protests in the streets when word got out that the president, Laurent Kabila, was considering running for a third term in next year’s election. He might still run, but the outcry has given him pause for thought.
It is rather different in Rwanda, where President Paul Kagame’s chances of a third term increased after legislators voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing the constitution to allow his extended rule after 2017. More than 3-million people have signed a petition calling for an amendment to the constitution to allow him to stand again.
WE CANNOT afford to disappoint Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari told his party leaders at the weekend, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Published in Business Day SA, 7 July 2015
Mr Buhari was responding to concerns from a nation impatient for signs that their new president has the will and capability to tackle corruption, fight insecurity and instill discipline into the polity.
Just a few weeks into the job, Mr Buhari is battling to get on top of an array of problems plaguing the country, despite bold promises made before the April election that he would move swiftly to build a better Nigeria. He has spent his early days in office fighting fires in his party and in the country.
Last week, it emerged that Mr Buhari may not announce his new cabinet before September — three months into his tenure and nearly six since his election as president.
THE admission by Nestlé that it overestimated the size of Africa’s middle class has caused ripples in the "Africa rising" story. But it is also a much needed reality check for companies that have pinned their hopes — and their investments — on ambitious growth forecasts of the middle-class pot of gold, writes DIANNA GAMES
Pubished in Business Day SA, June 22 2015.
Last week, the multinational food producer said it was cutting 15% of its workforce across 21 African countries and reducing its product lines. In 2008, it decided to invest heavily in sub-Saharan Africa based on projections of rising middle-class demand. Last week, it said turnover was way short of growth forecasts.
Much new investment in Africa in recent years has been based on the potential of this rising middle class despite the fact that the size and actual spending capacity of this category of consumer is rather hazy.
The African Development Bank’s 2011 research estimated that 34% of Africa’s population — 313-million people — was middle class.
As long as politicians enjoy official passports and visa-free travel to many countries in Africa, the political will to change the situation will not be there, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA on 8 June 2015
THE best African passports to have are those from The Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire or Kenya. Why? Because travellers with these passports need visas for just 41% of African countries, lower than the average of 55% of countries requiring Africans to have visas for other African countries
The worst to have is a Somali passport, even though the country does not require visitors to have visas — rather unsurprisingly.
These findings from research conducted by McKinsey were part of a broader discussion at the recent African Development Bank annual meetings in Abidjan, where business people, politicians and others raised questions about why the free movement of people across the continent, enshrined in the founding principles of pan-African organisations, is still difficult. The issue is one of the sticky items on the agenda of the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations, which are scheduled to be launched at this week’s African Union summit in Johannesburg. The free trade area, due to be launched in 2017, will cover an area stretching from Egypt to Cape Town.
Many of those governments around the table will be the same officials who have visa regimes in place for fellow Africans. Read more ...
Nigeria’s agriculture minister who takes over the bank this year has the energy and vision to take this premier African institution into the future, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 1 June 2015
THE new African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Nigeria’s Akinwumi Adesina, has been a breath of fresh air in African agriculture.
As Nigeria’s agriculture minister, he worked to cut Nigeria’s $11bn-a-year import bill for basic foodstuffs by looking at innovative funding mechanisms, tackling corruption and improving efficiency.
He tried to reframe the sector as being a critical catalyst for growth rather than a tool for poverty alleviation. "We were looking at agriculture as a developmental activity, like a social sector in which you manage poor people in rural areas. But agriculture is not a social sector… (it) is a business."
Muhammadu Buhari may have ben handed a poisoned chalice, having to balance tackling a litany of economic and security problems while satisfying Nigerians' expectations of change, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day SA, 25 May 2015
NIGERIA is facing a crisis of expectations as it heads for one of the most auspicious moments in its relatively short 16-year democracy.
The inauguration later this week of Muhammadu Buhari is expected to bring significant change to this large, complex nation.
Not only will Nigeria have a different head of state, it will have a new cabinet and two-thirds of the 36 states will be changing governors after the opposition All Progressives Congress won at the polls this year, displacing the Peoples’ Democratic Party, which had governed Nigeria since 1999.
While this presents an opportunity for a new broom to sweep away much of the rot that has dogged Nigeria’s progress, it’s a formidable task. Read more ...
The outgoing president has become a household name in Africa for his stellar performance and innovative policies. He leaves big shoes to fill, writes DIANNA GAMES.
Published in Business Day SA, 11 May 2015
A LANDMARK election is coming up later this month that will affect Africa’s fortunes over the next decade — and yet most Africans are unaware of it.
The election of a new president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) looms as Donald Kaberuka spends his last few months in office after a decade at the helm.
When Kaberuka, former finance minister of Rwanda, was voted into the job in 2005, Africa was a different place. There was no talk of Africa rising, China was just starting to make its mark in Africa and the 2008 financial crash lay in the future. Africa was awash with fragile states and the possibility of middle-income nations emerging across the continent was some way off. Read more ...