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THE experts who gathered in Durban last week for a conference on how developing nations can "create and leverage intellectual property (IP)" did not have to go far for an example of what not to do. They simply had to peek at the government's own proposal for revamping IP, the subject of intense domestic debate in the two months since it was released. Click title to learn more
The Lekki-Epe Road Concession is a 30-year concession agreement between the Lagos State Government and a private company called LCC (Lekki Concession Company) in a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme. In the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework, BOT is a model in which a single contract is awarded for the design, construction and operation of a capital project for a specified period. Ownership and control typically reverts back to the public after a specified period. Click title to learn more
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THE World Bank's mission and that of its International Finance Corporation (IFC) is simple: alleviate poverty and help people help themselves. The IFC dispenses about $4bn- $5bn a year in loans in the developing world, including sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, the World Bank has been captured by environmental extremists who are far removed from the realities in poor countries. Click title to learn more
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When people in the rest of the world think of Nigeria, what they readily think is oil, the “black gold” that dominates the Nigerian economy. But if the Nigerian government and business leaders play their cards right, Nigeria will be known for another oil: palm oil. If so, this will mean a new and better day has dawned for Africa’s most populated country. Click title to learn more
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ENVIRONMENTAL groups from rich countries have for years waged a campaign against those in poor countries who want to harness their natural resources for economic growth. Their efforts threaten to do lasting harm to the aspirations of millions of poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and must be resisted at all times and in all places. Click title to learn more
This initiative is meant to help the country restore its ravaged economy. But for Zim and other nations that lack the basic institutions required to build wealth, simply loaning or giving them money is not an effective strategy for reducing poverty. What's needed instead are programmes that foster the conditions that cause long-term prosperity and well-being.
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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has completed the audit of the remaining 14 banks. While some CEOs had been axed and the affected banks get bailout to the tune of N620 billion, it is incontrovertible that the banking sector is suffering from crisis of confidence. Already a vast number of people are unsure if there will not be a re-occurrence of the insiders’ abuse and account cooking. Click title to learn more
THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has completed an audit of 10 out of 24 banks, of which only five banks scaled through. Consequently, the Managing Directors (MDs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the affected five banks were fired, followed by an injection of about $2.6 billion in convertible loan to stabilize the affected banks and preserve public confidence. Click title to learn more.
Nigeria tends to make headlines for corruption but it has made impressive progress in fighting counterfeit medicines, through the determined actions of its National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), started under the brave leadership of the legendary Dora Akunyili. These analysts describe their new research that updates their frightening discoveries of fakes in 2007. Click title to learn more.
AS the nation awaits the new helmsman at the Central Bank of Nigeria to be confirmed, there are anxieties over the monetary and fiscal policies that will be pursued by the apex bank during his tenure. The fears are predicated on what successive apex bank governors did: discontinue with the policies of their predecessors. While it is uncertain if there won't be policy change, what is important is whatever the monetary and fiscal policies change might be, the bank consolidation needs to be sustained and not reversed. Click title to learn more.
The world economy is in severe recession. Trade is deteriorating every day. Political pressures demand import restrictions to protect employment. This is what makes a depression great.
The G20 meets in London on Thursday in an attempt to kick-start the world economy. Of course, expectations are high because the stakes are high. Click title to learn more
The G20 meets in London on Thursday in an attempt to kick-start the world economy. Of course, expectations are high because the stakes are high. Click title to learn more
Last year, the chief executive officers of banks requested the federalgovernment to intervene in the nation's financial sector to prevent the effect of the global meltdown. Building on that, there are reports that the federal government might soon be part owners of some banks. The reason adduced for this is primarily to guard against distress in the financial sector. Hitherto, the central bank governor has consistently assured that Nigerian banks are healthy, safe and in excellent conditions. Click title to learn more
Since September 2008, the World has been gripped with financial crisis that has simply overshadowed the two earlier crises: food and fuel. While the first two crises were caused by persistent rise in cost of oil and food for months, the financial crisis was caused by unsafe exposure of financial institutions to loans that were not well assessed. Click title to learn more.
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Today, as we mark World AIDS Day, we should take stock of the suffering this disease continues to inflict, particularly in developing countries. Twenty-five years after the disease was first discovered, AIDS continues to claim around two million lives each year. As an African, I've witnessed the suffering first-hand. My home region of sub-Saharan Africa has 12% of the world's population, but accounts for two-thirds of those infected with AIDS and 75% of all AIDS-related deaths.
THIS week, 25,000 people from around the world have gathered in Mexico City for the 17th International AIDS Conference. Many discussions will focus on how best to deal with AIDS in the developing world. Looking to the West - where scientific advances have allowed those with HIV/AIDS to live long, comfortable lives - many attendees will argue that pharmaceutical patents are the main barrier to getting medicines to the poor. That argument misses the true obstacle - local policies.
Quite recently, the Nigerian government deployed soldiers and war ships to dislodge the militants in the oil producing communities. This development is in direct response to the repeated attacks by militants on flow stations and other oil installations, thereby causing disruptions in oil production and substantial cut in revenue.
Riots around the world over food supplies are prompting panicked governments to find solutions to stem the crisis. Nigeria fell 800,000 MT short of a 5 MT production target for 2006 due to inconsistent government policies. Most locally-produced rice is of low quality, its market potential is limited even within Nigeria. By protecting local rice growers, the government shields them from competition. Farmers have no incentive to improve quality or yields nor are able to invest. This naturally breeds reduced production, and put pressure on price, writes Thompson Ayodele
The present government has assured jobless Nigerians it will create 10million jobs within the next three years. Of the current population of over 140 million, 60 per cent are youths. Many of them just idle away with nothing to do. It is a misnomer for government to think that it can create jobs for millions of people. Often government policies stifle job creation writes Thompson Ayodele in The Nation Online.
Listening to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton repeat stories they claim to have been told by the poor and the unemployed, who are unable to pay for food and medicine and feel miserable about it, is enough to make one think we are living in a Third World dictatorship and not the United States of America. But victimhood and a "can't do" spirit is what the Democratic Party has mostly been about since the Great Depression.
LAST WEEK, the governing assembly of the World Health Organization held its annual summit in Geneva. The two big items on the agenda were finalizing and approving a report recently released by the WHO's international public health subcommittee. The report deals with the role of intellectual property rights in developing countries struggling with disease. Unfortunately, instead of homing in on the real reason so many poor patients don't have access to pharmaceutical drugs -- the lack of health care infrastructure -- the report recommends a systematic undermining of patent protections.
This week Switzerland will become ground zero for the future of health policy in Africa. The World Health Organisation's (WHO) intergovernmental working group is meeting in Geneva to discuss public health, medical innovation and intellectual property. Many participants are expected to express their support for efforts to undermine patent protections for drugs. In doing so, however, these attendees ignore the more fundamental problem facing poor African nations -- dilapidated healthcare infrastructure.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has remained the highest-profile public health challenge, although more people die from curable diseases. Last year the UNAIDS estimate of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was reduced from 40 million to 33.2 million, writes Thompson Ayodele in Daily Independent
After decades of neglect the provision of effective healthcare is becoming one of the biggest concerns in Africa. Both foreign donors and African governments are keen to make this their priority and, consequently, the money taps have been opened.Foreign aid in the form of hard currency is flowing in unprecedented quantities into the ministries of health of many African countries.
With more than 1000 people massacred in Kenya over elections dispute, news filtering in from Chad in the last few weeks is depressing. While the crisis in Kenya appears to be simmering down, more than a million people have been forced to leave their normal place of abode in Chad. There have been exchanges of gunfire between the government forces and rebels as the latter are poised to remove the incumbent president.
African governments are keen to make healthcare a priority. Yet, things are not really improving on the ground: medical staff are demoralised, access to essential medicines remains low, and corruption remains a serious problem. Over 50 percent of Africans lack access to essential medicines. 80 percent of Africans have to pay for treatment from their own pockets. Bearing in mind the failure of the public sector in providing healthcare, the private sector should be given a far bigger role writes Thompson Ayodele in Daily Independent
The little that is left of domestic food markets in Africa is ruined by the inflow of cheap or free food aid. Since the beginning of the year, the world has been scourged with a food crisis. An increase in the price of food staples to sometimes astronomical levels has raised the risk of famine, exposed more people to malnutrition and led to protests around the globe. World leaders, seeking to avoid regime-toppling unrest, are trying to figure out how best to feed the world’s inhabitants.
The food crisis has been a major headline around the world. Since the beginning of this year, food prices have increased by over 65%. Aside from street protests in many parts of the world, there have also been panicky measures aimed at solving the food crisis. Whether those measureswill ultimately bring about abundance of food is subject to debate. Everywhere the price of food has increased. Retail prices of foods are up 18% in China, 17% in Sri Lanka and 10% or more throughout Latin America and Russia. In Nigeria, rice epitomizes the magnitude of this crisis as its price has doubled since last year.
Nigerian government has vigorously pursued economic policies aimed at liberalising the economy, promoting competition and investments. These are done through a lot of policy reforms. While some of these reforms have been carefully adhered to, others got derailed midway or pursued half-heartedly. The last administration embarked on ambitious reforms. Initially they were meant to inject life into the Nigeria’s comatose economy. However, this administration at inception, opened a can of worms, which revealed that close friends and business associates of the last administration must have benefited more from these reforms than majority of Nigerians who the reforms widely proclaimed, were meant to ameliorate their level of poverty.
With more than 1000 people massacred in Kenya over elections dispute, news filtering in from Chad in the last few weeks is really depressing. While the crisis in Kenya appears to be simmering down, more than a million people have been forced to leave their normal place of abode in Chad. There have been exchanges of gunfire between the government forces and rebels as the latter are poised to remove the incumbent president. Once again the situation in Chad evokes images of African countries that had similar poor political and economic profiles-Liberia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia to name a few.
Once again, Nigeria is on the eyes of the world’s political microscope. The April 21, 2007 presidential election has been decided at the Court of Appeal which serves as the court of first instance for disputes arising from the election. The Appeal Court decision to uphold presidential in favour of the incumbent is one of the series of legal fireworks towards the peaceful resolution of last year’s presidential election.
The chairman of the African Union has urged critics of African governments not to forget that corruption is as old as Adam. Besides, he adds, the canker occurs everywhere on the planet. Such irresponsible comments only strengthen politicians against the people they serve. Corruption in America or Europe makes a minor dent on the economy. A key lesson from the Nigerian case is that fighting corruption should not be centered on one benevolent authority, writes Thompson Ayodele in the Business Daily
Corruption is one of the banes of development across the world. It accounts for the weakness of the rule of law. In Nigeria it has dwindled economic growth and prosperity. For many non-Nigerians, it is hard to believe that the country is poor considering the country’s huge oil proceeds alone. Until recent time, corruption rating in Nigeria had been unimpressive. Rather than personifying the war of corruption, it is imperative to build effective institutions that would expose corrupt individuals and ensure that they do not escape justice, writes Thompson Ayodele in The Nation
The Nigerian government has assured jobless Nigerians that it will create 10 million jobs within the next three years. Sixty per cent of Nigeria’s 140 million are youths. Many of them just idle away with nothing to do. Raising the hope of hapless jobseekers in a time like this is important. However, the reality on the ground suggests that creating the quoted number of jobs within a short time is a tall dream.
Solving the food challenge in Africa goes beyond President Bush and simple food aid. Since the beginning of the year, the world has been scourged with a food crisis. An increase in the price of food staples to sometimes astronomical levels has raised the risk of famine, exposed more people to malnutrition and led to protests around the globe. World leaders, seeking to avoid regime-toppling unrest, are trying to figure out how best to feed the world’s inhabitants.
In Africa the true test of how mature and vibrant democracy is comes during and shortly after election. The cardinal rule in a democracy is that everyone that participates in an election must play by the rules. Election must be seen to be free and fair. Where a free and fair election is thrown into the dustbin, it would tear apart the fabric that united the ethnic composition of any country. Often it would threaten the basic co-existence of various groups.
The gory details of famine in Niger are making headlines again, with pictures of old and young scavenging for food. This second-poorest country in the world suffers from drought and locusts, but also heavy state intervention. Half its income is from international aid. Instead of finding solutions to the production shortage, many in the aid industry attribute the famine to the government's lame market reforms.
Market critics say that government intervention is necessary to prevent few firms from monopolizing the market. This negates the fact that people are smart enough to make rational economic decisions without government planning or intervention. Poor people need no government sympathy but demand that the government gets out of their way by allowing market institutions to flourish.
Last year, the Federal Government indicated its desire to raise the Value Added Tax (VAT). To actualise this, it forwarded to the National Assembly a Bill asking it to increase VAT currently at 5% to 10 %. Fortunately for us the Senate acting on sound economic judgement rejected the proposal and it now lies with the House.
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It is recognized that perpetual achievers in any field engage in life long learning, through reading and other forms of accessing fresh ideas and discoveries thereby making themselves up-to-date. World Bank has excellent publications. Those in public affairs and administration would benefit from regularly reading the Bank publication entitled: Bureaucrats in Business. This publication is about ways to go about privatising state owned enterprises (SOEs). Like most World Bank policy research reports, it can be easily understood without being an economist.
New artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT drugs) will, and pesticides (including DDT) may, henceforth play greater roles in the global battle against malaria. So said World Health Organization and U.S. Agency for International Development officials at a September 14 hearing before the House Subcommittee on Africa. The declarations may represent significant progress, and exceptionally good news for millions in developing countries – if the agencies really mean what they said and US Congress is willing to hold them to their commitments.
Blessed is he who considers the poor. (Ps. 41:1) At the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than 1.1 billion people the world over are living in “extreme” poverty. This is a category created by social scientists indicating that people at this dire level of need are subsisting on less than US$1 a day. In a recent report from the United Nations Development Programme, Nigeria is ranked 171st on its index of national development, with more than 70 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.
On 28 October this year, those convinced of the merits of freedom will commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of John Locke, whose ideas on philosophy and political economy are still more powerful than is commonly understood. More than anyone else, this English physician, diplomat, civil servant and philospher has shaped the foundations of modernity and what some now call 'Western values'. He lived from 1632 to 1704, during turbulent times – through Cromwell's republic and the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89, political and social turmoil reminiscent of what we observe in many third-world countries today – and was a steadfast champion of individual freedom and inalienable human rights.
Today, December 1st, 2005 is World AIDS Day. Far too many of us Nigerians have to live with the consequences of HIV/AIDS every day - the pain, the sickness, the death. But World AIDS Day is an opportunity to reflect also on the causes of the pandemic and on potential solutions. Here in Nigeria, the fundamental reason for our terrible problem with HIV/AIDS is simple: poverty is the disease’s best friend. It is poverty that provides the circumstances under which the disease thrives, killing thousands of our sons and daughters each month.
Economists generally view competitive behaviour of firms operating in an industry as desirable. Competitive behaviour leads to socially desirable outcomes. When producers compete, they will choose socially acceptable levels of production and will undertake profitable investments that increase asset value. As a result, products are of high quality and prices are set at the opportunity cost of producing the good or service. In this way, competition ensures that resources are allocated to their best uses. In the absence of any externalities, competition promotes technical and economic (allocative and productive) efficiency.
Last week on December 1st, the World AIDS Day was again marked with pomp and pageantry. Almost all the themes commemorating the Day across Africa eluded one fact: Poverty fuels the spread of AIDS. This year’s theme, Protecting Women and Girls From the Spread of HIV/AIDS is particularly poignant, but yet another case of a shot far too misfired.
Although desirable, is democracy possible or even necessary in Africa? The history of Western Europe shows that democracy emerged when those in power found it in their interest to negotiate with domestic owners of assets for resources to fight wars. It wasn’t the emergence of democratic principles that spurred development of democracy; it was necessity.
It is widely acknowledged that the environment is life. It is therefore pertinent that protecting the environment is protecting and saving life. Environmental policy discussions by governments and organizations world over always assume that the only way to advance environmental values or conserve natural resources is to create government programs or adopt new regulations, decrees, laws, and acts. Even imprisonment and fines have been stipulated for violators all to no avail.
Millions of people got an eleventh-hour death-row reprieve on November 2, when U.S. President George W. Bush won re-election. His commitment to ending killer diseases in developing countries is solid. Every year, up to 300 million Africans get malaria; up to 2 million die. Millions more perish from typhus, tuberculosis, dysentery, malnutrition, AIDS and other serial killers they would likely survive if they didn’t also have malaria. Other countries – like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Brazil, Surinam and Peru – also have serious, worsening malaria problems.
I recently visited Nigeria for a holiday. A neighbor and a clergy paid me a visit to discuss ‘things spiritual.’ After the preliminary greetings my wife enquired how our guest’s madam was. He replied: “Ah, she retired from her post as matron of a government hospital and has gone to work in London. These days it is women rather than men who venture far to look for work. She simply retired but not tired”
The World Economic Forum ranked Ghana 65th on its Networked Readiness Index of 104 countries. Ghana had moved from 74th place to the current position in a year. The index measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by ICT. But the road to the top won’t be easy for Ghana. Only half a million of Ghana’s Twenty million people are active computer users. The country’s Universities produce an average 300 Computer Science and Engineers most of whom until recently, received computer tuition on black boards
Globally, education is seen as the only important legacy which responsible parents can give to their children. This must not be just education for the dogs. To ensure qualitative education and patronage of public schools in Nigeria, various successive governments have introduced different educational programs and policies all aimed at ensuring that public schools are patronized.
Tafa Balogun’s recent exit from the police force has been interpreted in basically two ways. Firstly, it is perceived as a sign of this administration’s determination to fight corruption. Secondly, Balogun is seen as the latest unfortunate scapegoat in the selective shooting gallery of Obasanjo’s war on corruption.
In much of the world, there has been a rediscovery of the importance of elements of a civil society in empowering citizens and providing an active means for them to improve their quality of life. And so, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe criticisms of private charities, religious groups and other aid organizations for what he considers to be inappropriate interference in Zimbabwe's domestic politics are disturbing. But it is more problematic that he asked legislators in his majority Zanu-PF party to pass a law to tighten controls on such organizations.
Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Ruth Oniango has a dream. A member of Kenya’s parliament, she envisions a day when the people of her poor country “can feed themselves.” Congress of Racial Equality national chairman Roy Innis shares that vision. But he also knows the obstacles. “Over 70% of Africans are employed in farming full time,” he points out. “Yet, half of those countries rely on emergency food aid. Within ten years, Africa will be home to three-fourths of the world’s hungry people.”
In the fight against AIDS, there is an increasing variety of drugs available to help relieve the symptoms for unlucky sufferers. Properly administered and manufactured, anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs can help the victims of AIDS live longer and more useful lives. However, the widespread use in Africa of poor quality generic copies of these drugs is threatening to undermine their clinical effectiveness, bringing with them the possibility of new, drug-resistant strains of HIV.
Since 2001 and up to early part of 2004, several attempts had been made to have a flying national carrier. The names that came under those attempts are Airwing Aerospace/ Air Nigeria, Nigeria Global and Nigeria Eagle Airline. Despite optimism expressed at the onset whenever each of them surfaced, the reality is none of them succeeded in flying the national carrier by whatever any name.
The Tsunami that struck Asia and Somalia left unprecedented, unfathomable, unspeakable death and destruction in its wake. It was a shocking reminder that, for all its transcendent beauty and bounties, Mother Nature still periodically unleashes awesome powers that threaten our lives, even our very civilization – and expose the shocking vulnerability of our Ear! th’s poorest families and communities.
Mobility of goods and people is a key element in today’s globalizing world. Global mobility depends on oil for transport of goods and people, whether by land, sea or air. Demand for oil is increasing, while traditional sources of supply are diminishing. The arrival of China’s 1.3 billion people as significant energy consumers in the world market is introducing further complexity and competition into the traditional oil markets.
Several moves have been made to midwife a new national carrier after the liquidation of the national carrier- Nigeria Airways. From Airwing Aerospace/ Air Nigeria, Nigeria Global to Nigeria Eagle Airlines, if it is not the problem of finding appropriate investors, it would be former staff of Nigeria Airways doing all they can to thwart any new airline from taking off unless their entitlements are paid.
After a day of contentious debates, furious negotiations and few compromises, the African Union rejected a plea by the G4-Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, to give Africa two seats without veto power on the UN Security Council. These events unfolded at a special summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa last week where representatives from across Africa gathered to discuss plans on how best to forge a consensus on seats for the continent in the UN Security Council.
The 4th Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum was recently concluded in Senegal. Coming on the heels of the need to build a robust trade relation with Africa, the AGOA signed in October 2000 aimed at building on existing US trade programs by simply expanding the (duty free) benefits which was earlier available only under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Basically, AGOA intends to ‘liberalize’ trade between the United States. Today there are 37 eligible countries in Africa.
Recently, at a luncheon in Lagos, I had a somewhat sober encounter with Mr. M. Akinbinu, who was, to my pleasant surprise, introduced as the General Manager of Honda Manufacturing Nigeria Limited, makers of Honda generators and motorcycles. I had been driven to frustration by a new and expensive generator that had expended all the fortunes and goodwill associated with the brand by refusing to accord value for money and thereby making itself a disastrous and disappointing supplant of the moribund National Electric Power Authority. Fortune could therefore not be kinder, a chance I must seize by the forelock. But on reflection, I elected to mollify the mordacity of my words, giving the benefit of the doubt on a first encounter.
Since President Olusegun Obasanjo launched the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS), which is the government's policy initiative for transforming the Nigerian economy, very few players in the economy are yet to examine what the strategy expects of them and how they think such expectations can be met.
Would you take medications that could cause anemia, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss - even increased risk of infection and fetal defects? Most people with terminal cancer would jump at the chance to take such risks. And if an activist "stakeholder" tried to prevent them from undergoing chemotherapy - because of "ethical" concerns about its "dangers" or a preference for "more appropriate" alternatives like surgery, broccoli or hospice care - their response would be fast and furious.
Wednesday, 6 July, 2005 Lagos, Nigeria —As the G.8 Meeting commences today in Gleneagles , Scotland , members will be confronted with the demands of their host, Prime Minister Tony Blair, who seeks to cancel Africa ’s debts and to double the amount of aid to African countries.
Anti-free enterprise activists are at it again. This time they’re using the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which gave signatory nations and indigenous people sovereignty over their biological resources. During the coming months, World Trade Organization (WTO) and CBD delegates will meet again in Geneva and elsewhere, to devise an international legal framework to control access to the resources and ensure fair and equitable sharing of any financial or other benefits that might come from utilizing genetic materials and traditional knowledge to create new drugs.
Africa doesn’t need “organic” agriculture. Instead, modern, productive farming methods must be made available so that people can feed themselves. In 1968, when the world’s population was less than 4 billion, Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb, making dire predictions of a Malthusian disaster. Indeed, many believed that we just would not be able to feed a growing population, and that mass famine would become commonplace. Looking back from the early years of the 21st Century, this seems difficult to believe. There are now more than 6 billion people on the planet, most of whom are better fed than ever, and most food commodities are at historically low prices.
The news that a Kenyan girl was able to trace her ancestry in China 600 years after one of the legendary Chinese Sailor Zheng He’s fleet of 25,000 ships sank while on a peace and trade mission unearthed the fact that globalization is not a modern phenomena. Mwamlaka Shariff Lali (19), a simple girl from Siyu village in Lamu, was recently a Chinese State Guest after DNA samples linked her ancestry to China. The Chinese story is that of opening up and letting people free to move and explore.
The most obvious trend in the Nigerian banking industry today is the consolidation drive. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposes a N25 billion minimum capital base in order to increase asset portfolios of banks, partly in response to the spate of insolvencies that has characterised the sector in recent times.
Let's commiserate with the families of those involved and affected in the recent plane crash which killed 117 great men and women on board. That singular event has made many widows, widowers. The sorrow occasioned by the tragedy will however continue to linger in the minds of the deceased families
The gory details of famine in Niger are making headlines again, with pictures of old and young scavenging for food. This second poorest country in the world suffers not only from drought and locusts but from heavy state intervention; half its income comes from international aid. But instead of finding solutions to the production shortage, many in the aid industry attribute the famine to the government's half- hearted market reforms.
A group of 8 wealthiest nations will be meeting this week to discuss issues that impede their wealth creation strategies. Top on the agenda will be climate change, subsidies and international trade and African poverty. In order to increase awareness on misperceived African poverty, Rock Star ‘economists’ are at it again 20 years after raising money on famine in Africa. Once more African musicians were given token recognition by the Live-8 organizers, a pure indication of the rich nation’s mindset about Africa. The international commotion in the name of the poor has left analysts questioning the sincerity behind the whole show. Just what is the African problem?
After politicians made various pledges and promises before the election, Nigerians gave them the mandate to take charge of their affairs. In turn, they all thanked us for the confidence we reposed on them. Months after, we are yet to see any fulfilment of heaven and earth pledges and promises made.
It is incontrovertible that Nigeria suffers from a resource curse as we have little or nothing to show of as a country despite several years of oil exploration. Most of the proceeds of our oil wealth has ended in the pockets of our leaders (gulf oil windfall and looting of the nation’s treasury by the late despotic ruler General Abacha).
Over 99% of Nigerians living in Nigeria have malaria parasites living in their liver. The malaria parasites will emerge from the liver into the blood stream when the immune defences against malaria are low. It is from the blood stream that malaria causes fever and end-organ effects such as muscle pains, cerebral malaria with convulsions, anaemia and kidney failure.
One of the political comments that have emerged recently is the one comparing the Banbangida-Abacha years to the present regime in the economic management of Nigeria. It is common to hear related comments that unemployment has been increasing and living standards among Nigerians have been falling since the present regime came to power. While such comments are largely political, they also present an issue of understanding how a future regime tends to bear the costs of macroeconomic policies undertaken by past regimes, particularly when attempt is made to remedy those costs.
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The International Telecommunications Union says Nigeria has the fastest telecoms growth in Africa . Since its liberalization a couple of years ago, the Nigerian telecoms sector has witnessed an unprecedented growth. Private investment in the sector has soared to $4.5 billion from meager of $500 million. Hitherto the sector could only give less than a million lines before year 2000. In less than five years there are over six million lines. Thank goodness telephone is no longer for the rich.
August 26th provided us a worrisome evidence of the discontent of the Igbos within the Nigerian State . The Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MMASSOB), an Igbo ethnic militia, had called on all the Igbos to stay at home on that day. Leaders of the organization said what they intended achieving was to draw attention to the “injustice” visited on their race. Disturbingly, the stay-at-home order was successful to the extent that betrays the precarious state into which Nigeria has slided. In major cities and town, not only the eastern part of the country populated by the Igbos, traders shunned markets, transporters stayed off the roads, banks and other businesses closed their doors.
Trade and investment gap between the developed and developing countries has a wide margin. To many analysts, the developing nations exist on the fringes of world economy. To reduce and possibly close the gap, the Institute of Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) came to existence in 2001 to formulate well meaning Nigerians who believed that strategic ideas and practical policies to take Nigeria to greater heights. IPPA is determinated to correct that the imbalance in the relationship between the developed and developing nations world economies.
A couple of weeks back Nigeria’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development, came out with a slight suggestion that one of the statutes that deprive people in the country of property rights is on its way into the trash can. The Minister hinted that the nation’s controversial land law, the Land Use Act, might be “reviewed” or even “repealed”.
Evidence of the absolute decay of the education system abounds. In public schools across the country, infrastructural collapse is a manifest fact. Virtually in all schools, primary, secondary or tertiary, classrooms are overcrowded. Libraries are full of old, irrelevant books, and laboratories of obsolete equipment. Frequent strikes by teachers cripple academic activities; the cancer of cultism is now widespread; student population in the league of armed robbers and prostitutes is increasing. Sexual harassment is also contributing its own quota to the destruction of education in the country.
"I earned capital in the campaign…political capital. And now I intend to spend it." With these words President Bush declared victory over his Democratic challenger, John Kerry and accepted another four-year mandate from the American people as President of the United States. But how will this effect Africa? Will President Bush be spending any of that political capital on sorting out the problems on our own troubled continent? Or will he be distracted in his next four years by turmoil in the Middle East and by America’s own domestic issues?
Politicians are quick to say Nigeria's democracy is still young and that it needs to be properly nurtured. This is quite true. Unless everyone behaves and plays according to the rules, it is doubtful if a mature, virile democracy and a free society envied by others would ever be built. The skirmishes in oil-producing areas culminating in the Abuja deal, crises in several parts of the country, labour strikes, might-is-right posture among leaders and the ethnic composition of Nigeria are issues that require national discourse.
Every government recognizes the importance of foreign investment in kick-starting the economy, creating more jobs and increasing the well-being of the citizens. President Obasanjo was in India last week appealing to Indian businessmen to invest in Nigeria. The trip, no doubt, would be one out of other numerous trips the president would be taken to get as many as possible credible investors to invest in the Nigerian economy.
The deregulation of the downstream oil sector is the news again. If this write up were to be written four years ago, the title would still be Downstream Deregulation in the eye of Storm. If same is written in four years’ time, the title would remain unchange. This is because for more than a decade the deregulation of the downstream sector has always been in the news and would continue to be in the news, at least in the next few years.
In every country, the importance of intellectuals are many and varied. In The Intellectuals and Socialism, Friedrich Hayek warns that it is dangerous to ignore or underestimate the importance and influence this class. He describes intellectuals as “professional second-hand dealers in ideas”. According to him, the position of this class of people affords them familiarity with new ideas which they promote through their writings and speeches.
As an economic development program of the Africa Union, the New Partnership for Africa Development was adopted in July 2001 during the 37th Summit of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU). With all its attendant pomp and fanfare NEPAD has not been seen to have tackled any of the development challenges facing Africa 1096 days after it was founded.
Like many developing countries, Nigeria faces several challenges at multiple levels in its attempt to address the poverty that plagues its society. There is no simple solution. Alleviating poverty will involve all Nigerians and most Nigerian social, political, and religious institutions. These remarks paint with a broad brush, but are intended to begin a conversation about some of challenges of overcoming poverty and bringing Nigeria to the point where it can develop a vibrant economy, a middle class, a vast democracy and freedom for its 130 million citizens. As an American, I can only hint at both the problems and solutions. The specifics must come from the leaders of the Nigerian religious, business, academic, and political realms.
Environmental activists as spending millions of dollars in their campaign to ban genetically modified foods, as millions of Africans starve. These activists, who must believe that ideology is a good substitute for bread on the table, need to understand some simple truths. Human activity is based on living a healthy life. Sufficient food is the first requirement for health, which gives people the strength to flourish and live productive lives. Hunger and undernourishment undermine human society, retard education, and destroy human social capital, which in turn brings technological change and economic growth to a grinding halt. Unfortunately, this has been Africa’s story for decades.
In the last few weeks, oil prices surged to as high as $53 per barrel. Consumers are accustomed to searching for villains when oil prices rise. Recent spikes in the price of oil to over $50 per barrel can be attributed, in no small part, on a group of rebels operating out of the steamy swamps of Nigeria’s coast.
The market is constantly despised and castigated for aggravating the lot of the poor and for increasing their poverty levels. This has been the rhetoric of the self-appointed friends of the poor. Their solution is for government to allocate resources and regulate the economy. They perceive government as all-knowing, all-merciful, and all-wise, and assume that it is charitable to take charge of people's needs the way government officials think is appropriate while disregarding the ability and talents of individuals.
"We are not privilege to give you that kind of information you seek." This is a common refrain among officials of government ministries and departments. Getting information from government ministries and agencies is time consuming if not virtually impossible.
Are there no enough reasons for Africans to embrace biotech in their quest for food security, and fight hunger and starvation? Recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report says at least twenty five African countries are grappling with food emergencies. Food scarcity is threatening to consume about 1.9 million human lives in Angola, and hunger has joined the league of killers in Sudan. In Zambia, 2.5 million people are battling with starvation, and millions are groaning in the painful hold of hunger in Zimbabwe.
AHEAD of African leaders meeting on Thursday, to focus on the twins monsters of poverty and unemployment, which have greatly regarded the continent's growth, he Institute of Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) last week in Lagos canvassed their full attention to some key trade and investment issues relevant to Africa under various agreements.