By Abdullahi Dambe
More facts seem to be emerging concerning the recent controversy over the National Arts Theatre, Lagos. My findings reveal that while it is true that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is championing a policy to support the creative industries via its Creative Industries Financing Scheme, and in furtherance of that, is working with the Bankers Committee to explore the development of creative hubs and zones in various parts of the country.
However, unbeknown to the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, there is an on-going transaction for the concession of the National Arts Theatre and its surrounding land mass which is being conducted by the presidency via the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Council (ICRC), which is at the point of closure and just awaiting the final nod from Federal Executive Council.
The World Bank facilitated the BPE transaction and even gave a grant to one of the consortia members which has a globally recognised expertise in the development of the creative industries.
The World Bank has also worked extensively with the ICRC to refine their transaction processes and even establish an online PPP portal to inspire confidence in local and foreign investors. All these resources have been brought to bear in shaping the consortia’s bid and to set it up for success.
The lack of this kind of rigour and absence of the prerequisite technical expertise has been the bane of many well-intentioned public sector initiatives and explains the many moribund white elephant, dead-on-arrival projects that have become a blight on the nation’s landscape.
Interestingly, the Master Plan developed by the consortia behind this concession, has the creative and digital industries as the catalyst for the sustainability of what is bound to become the tourism gateway into West Africa. A major part of the land use for the project is the 55-acre Creative Industries Business Park which will be home to film and music studios with sound stages, and which is being developed in partnership with some of the most successful players in this sector globally.
The consortia have been working on their plans for quite some time and already have the buy-in and interest of power brokers and several of the leading names of these industries both internationally and locally.
One of the issues that have dogged the Nigerian government over the years seems to be the lack of clearly defined roles for government agencies, and a tendency for lines to be blurred.
The National Arts Theatre transaction has been a victim of this ambiguity in the respective roles of BPE and ICRC, which resulted in two parallel processes being conducted for the same transaction. This explains why the transaction has dragged on for this long and is not due to any fault of the concessionaries.
With kudos to the presidency for brokering a resolution of all parties, which saw the concessionaries signing an MOU to work together as Master Developers for the project, the terms of which have now been endorsed by both BPE and ICRC.
It’s my belief that the collective wealth of resources that both the BPE and ICRC have deployed to see this transaction through and the coalition of local and international partners the concessionaries have mobilised is unparalleled.
There is a tendency for those at the helm of government agencies to want to seize every opportunity as a platform to turn the klieg lights on themselves, and to promote themselves and their agendas at the expense of the common good and the interest of the government they claim to be serving.
The unintended result is to embarrass the government in the eyes of the international community and portray the country as disorganised, and with no regard for the rule of law and due process, drives away foreign direct investment and leads to a perception that countries like Ghana, Kenya and even little Rwanda are more organised, more investor-friendly and open for business.
How else can one explain an inspection of the National Arts Theatre by the Governor of CBN and Chairman of the Bankers Committee for which the Ministry of Culture was unaware and neither the Minister, the MDAs behind concession nor Chairman of the National Arts Theatre Board was there to host the delegation and show them around? This suggests they were “trespassing” and sends wrong signals.
As CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said in a recent interview on ARISE TV – “Government has no business being in business. The policies of the CBN are focused on job creation and supporting economic growth. It is understandable given the scale of the problems confronting Nigeria, with sky rocketing youth unemployment, unsatisfactory loan-to-deposit ratios by the banks, smuggling and the unsatisfactory state of our infrastructure for the CBN governor to feel concerned and to feel the burden as he said in his interview that like President Buhari, he has been placed in the position of CBN Governor by God to serve his people and put in place policies designed to enhance the lives of his people.
There is, however, a danger when the CBN Governor moves beyond policy and begins to take on the role of the lender of first resort. The Anchor Borrowers Scheme for the agriculture sector has come under criticism by some of the very farmers it is designed to support who have found it hard to access. Earlier funds for the creative industries such as the Nollyfund were announced with the same kind of fanfare and at the end of the day, were given on terms that were almost impossible to access except for a small group of creative entrepreneurs.
The fuel subsidy, multiple exchange rates and the abuses these have been subject to, should serve as a warning to the CBN that as well-intentioned as they maybe, the way to transform an economy is not to make incursion into sectors, without sufficient understanding of how the sector works and that are primarily beyond your mandate.
But as Mr Emefiele himself has said, to play a supporting role to private sector initiatives, especially when, as is the case with the National Arts Theatre, the private sector, with the stewardship of the BPE, ICRC, the National Council of Privatisation and the Ministry of Culture, has succeeded in bringing on board a wide spectrum of private sector players and multilateral institutions, who understand the benefits of a cohesive, comprehensive and complementary Master Plan which will ensure the sustainability and viability of this important project.
Rather than for government agencies to be working at cross purposes, the National Arts Theatre concession offers an important opportunity to deliver a successful PPP initiative where all the relevant arms of government will chip in their bit and work alongside the concessionaries who are the drivers of the project, to ensure the delivery of a world class project for the benefit of the country at large.
Abdullahi Dambe is an Art aficionado who writes from Lagos
African Marketers Simply Cannot Afford to Ignore Snapchat: Here’s Why
By Alistair Errington
Over the years, Snapchat has consistently defied its most ardent critics. The platform has grown from strength to strength rather than fading away as existing social networks mimic its features, and new ones, such as TikTok, target the same audience. This illustrates how people want more options and choices when it comes to social media (something that its critical advertisers understand).
As recorded by Statista, Snapchat boasts 347 million daily active users in Q2 2022, up more than 50 million from the same quarter in 2021. Data Reportal also sheds light on Snapchat’s presence, with a total advertising reach of more than 617 million people. This puts it in the top 10 social networks globally. It is, in other words, a platform that advertisers simply cannot afford to ignore. This is as true on the African continent as it is anywhere else.
In Nigeria, for example, Snapchat has more than 9 million users in addressable reach for advertising. This puts it on par with Instagram and well ahead of platforms such as LinkedIn.
With this in mind, it is worth looking at what makes Snapchat so popular, why it’ll continue to be a good marketing option, and how advertisers can best take advantage of it.
Embracing technological evolution
The key to Snapchat’s success in recent years has been its willingness to continue evolving and embracing new technologies as they emerge. In particular, it utilises augmented reality (AR) to appeal to its user base. Snapchat is a camera-first app, encouraging its audience to create personal, authentic content featuring themselves.
For instance, some 250 million users use AR tools that allow them to add 3D experiences in the real world and overlay graphics on images every day. But the platform’s AR ambitions go far beyond augmenting the world only for entertainment. Earlier this year, Snapchat announced updates to its AR shopping features which make it easier for users to try out AR versions of a retailer’s product and to buy directly from the AR experience on Snapchat.
As a result, Snapchat isn’t just a place where brands can advertise to their customers. In fact, it’s more like a virtual showroom that allows people to see what products would look like on them or in their homes. ‘Product trial’ has a whole new meaning.
But even its more prosaic offerings give advertisers a lot to work with. Take Spotlight, its short-form video offering, for example. Spotlight offers a place where an infinite stream of full-screen videos can be engaged with, tailored to the user’s interests. It saw instant success, growing 60% in activity year on year since mid-2021. Based on this growth, Snapchat announced earlier this year that they were testing ads on Spotlight, having successfully rolled them out in a revenue-sharing model with Snap Star creators.
Hyper-connected digital natives
It’s also important to highlight that Snapchat has been developing its technology for 10 years, and its followers have remained loyal through that evolution. Retaining a community that has grown with the app, Snapchat capitalises on the millennial generation and is constantly accruing a younger generation of users due to the cutting-edge experiences it offers.
Zooming into Africa, these younger generations are becoming the centre of attention for Africa. The majority of purchasing power will reside in this audience, not to mention how connectivity in these countries becomes ubiquitous. Nigeria serves as a prime example of a market that is well positioned for digital growth – both in digital users and an audience to be capitalised on. With the combination of internet penetration currently sitting around 51% and over 70% of the users on Snapchat being 21+ in Nigeria, the opportunity for advertisers is there in the short term to bring returns and prepped for the long term to invest in. Bundle this with a median age of 18 and the expected addition of 35 million more internet users by 2026 in Nigeria, and Snapchat anchors itself in the helm of a booming economy.
There is also a very exciting convergence taking place in the digital sphere with this spike in internet users: by 2025, nearly 75% of the global population and all social/communication apps will be frequent AR users. Right now, Snapchatters spend over 3 minutes a day engaging with AR experiences alone and more than 30 minutes on the app everyday – nevermind the fact that they open the camera over 30 times a day resulting in 2.4M snaps every minute around the world. And one of the most interesting nuggets to these behaviours is that it’s done by an audience barely found anywhere else. On any given day, 95% of Snapchat users aren’t on TikTok, 84% of Snapchat users aren’t on Twitter and 47% of Snapchat users aren’t on Facebook. Snapchat hosts a unique audience.
The right messaging with the right partnerships
Of course, advertisers can’t simply hope to slap their existing messaging onto Snapchat templates and expect great results. They have to ensure that the messaging matches the platform and that they’re reaching the people they want with it.
Here, the right partner can help. Brands should look to work with a media sales partner that not only understands platforms such as Snapchat inside out but also has extensive experience working in growth markets like Nigeria.
In doing so, they can reap the full benefits of being on a rapidly growing platform that’s becoming increasingly significant on the African continent.
Alistair Errington is the Snap Partner Director at Ad Dynamo by Aleph
Nigeria at 62: A Critical Analysis
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
Going by historical events and developments starting from 1914, it is evident that Nigeria is not a natural country, state or nation but an artificial creation via a marriage of two unwilling brides who had no say in their forced and ill-fated union- an amalgamation of the northern and the southern protectorates on the 14th February 1914, a day set aside to celebrate love all over the world, by Sir Lord Lugard.
The British colonial overlords probably intended the protectorates to operate symmetrically with no part of the amalgam claiming superiority over the other. This arrangement conferred on the fledgling country the form of the Biblical trinity.
At independence in 1960, Nigeria became a federation, resting firmly on a tripod of three federating regions-Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. Each region was economically and politically viable to steer its ship.
Shortly after the independence, but before the country became a republic, precisely in 1961, something that qualifies as a setback happened.
According to a report, Southern Cameroun, which was then part of Eastern Nigeria, agitated that it wanted to leave Nigeria to rejoin their French Cameroun brothers. The United Nations resolved the matter by conducting a plebiscite to determine whether it was the wish of the majority of the Southern Cameroon people, then part of the British Colony, to leave the independent nation of Nigeria.
An overwhelming majority, said to be around 90% of the people, agreed to leave Nigeria, and they did in 1961, thereby reducing the geographical size and population of the Eastern Region of Nigeria, a clear warning of a possible separation of Nigeria’s constituent ethnic nationalities from the Nigerian Federation.
That was not the only early warning signal that something was fundamentally wrong with the federation.
Take, as an illustration, the federating units were meant to enjoy some level of independence, yet mutual suspicion among them was rife as regional loyalty surpassed nationalistic fervour, with each of the three regions at a juncture threatening secession.
The late Premier of the Western Region once described Nigeria as a “mere geographical expression” and later threatened “we (Western Region) shall proclaim self-government and proceed to assert it”, a euphemism for secession.
In the same vein, the Northern Region under the Premiership of the late Ahmadu Bello never hid its desire for a separate identity. Just before independence, the region threatened to pull out of Nigeria if it was not allocated more parliamentary seats than the south. The departing British colonial masters, desirous of one big entity, quickly succumbed to the threat.
In fact, the north at that time pretended it never wanted anything to do with Nigeria. For example, the motto of the ruling party in that region at that time was “One North, One People, One Destiny.” And the name of the party itself, “Northern People’s Congress (NPC),” was suggestive of separatist fervour and distinct identity.
It has also been said in several publications, which no one from the north has refuted till today, that the primary reason for July 29, 1966, bloody revenge coup carried out by young soldiers of Northern Nigerian extraction which led to the massacre of thousands of Igbo soldiers and civilians, including Nigeria’s first Military Head of State, General Thomas Johnson Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, was primarily to pull that region out of Nigeria.
But of all the secession threats since independence, it was the one issued by the Eastern Region in 1966-67 following the bloody counter-coup of July 1966 and subsequent genocide by northern soldiers and civilians in which thousands of easterners living in the north lost their lives or were maimed, and the failure of Gowon to implement the Aburi Accord which was aimed at settling the crisis, that was much more potent.
This also explained the massive ARABA (secession) protests that rocked the region shortly after the coup. The result was the declaration of the Eastern Region independent country with the name “Biafra” on May 30, 1967, by the then Military Governor of the Region, the late General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in compliance with the Eastern Nigeria Consultative Assembly resolution and mandate of May 26, 1967.
The proclamation ended with the emotional ‘Biafra Anthem,” The Land of the Rising Sun rendered in the beautiful tune of ‘Finlanda” by Sibelius, symbolising the end of the struggle to assert the self-determination of a new nation.
The scene was set for a confrontation between the new state of Biafra and the balance of the ethnic nationalities that made up the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to resolve the question of the unity of the Nigerian states by use of force (see the report titled Scientific and Technological Innovations in Biafra).
Without a doubt, today, the war ended over 50 years ago, but its effects and fears remain and stare on our faces.
More dangerously, after 62 years of independence, a wave of secessionist sentiments is still sweeping across the country, with restive youths in the north and southeast as the main gladiators. Some groups in the southwest and south-south have also joined the fray to demand the marriage of 1914 be ended as the basis for its continued existence has severely been weakened.
For example, at the return of democracy in 1999, Ralph Uwazurike, an Indian-trained lawyer from Imo State, ignited a passion for Biafra among southeast youths via his separatist platform Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
MASSOB and its founder enjoyed tremendous following and respect among mostly youths of the region and it almost became an alternative government in the southeast. The group’s sit-at-home orders were religiously obeyed, just as the one declared by IPOB on May 30th was a monster success.
Uwazuruike’s support base has since drastically waned following dissent in MASSOB. But from the ashes of MASSOB’s bye-gone years of strident pro-Biafra agitation came Kanu and IPOB, a much more vitriolic but charming personality and organisation.
Kanu happened in the national and international limelight through a pirate radio called Biafra, which he used as a vehicle to promote the agitation to actualise the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) quest for independence. Two factors have so far worked for Kanu in his separatist agenda: his long incarceration by the Buhari government over Biafra and the recent quit notice given to the Igbo residing in the north by Arewa youths. Both factors, apparently unknown to President Buhari’s handlers, have helped and still helping IPOB and Kanu’s cause. One, his incarceration for almost two years helped to project him to his supporters, a mass of Igbo youths, and the international community as a prisoner of conscience and freedom fighter.
Secondly, the thoughtless quit notice by northern youths to the Igbo resident in the north has not only made Biafra more attractive to most south easterners and portrayed Kanu as a messiah of the Igbo but has triggered off a chain of secessionist sentiments in the southwest and south-south.
While those of us who believe in the unity of Nigeria may not agree with the campaign by any group or ethnic nationality to dismember Nigeria, the truth must be told to the effect that the whole gamut of restiveness of youths, whether in the south-east, south-south, north or south-west, and resurgent demand for the dissolution of Nigeria stems from mindless exclusion, injustice and economic deprivation.
Evidently, Nigeria has not fared well as a nation in all sectors of national endeavours. Let’s look at the particulars of this claim.
Fundamentally, there is no denying anymore that presently, life in today’s Nigeria, quoting Thomas Hobbs, has become nasty, brutish, and short as Nigerians diminish socially and economically, and the privileged political class on their part continues to flourish in obscene splendour as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will.
Again, even as we celebrate, it remains a painful commentary that presently, no nation on the surface of the earth best typifies a country in dire need of peace and social cohesion among her various sociopolitical groups than Nigeria as myriads of sociopolitical contradictions have conspired directly and indirectly to give the unenviable tag of a country in constant search of social harmony, justice, equity, equality, and peace. As a nation, Nigerians have never had it so bad.
Nigeria is a nation soaked with captivating development visions, policies and plans, but impoverished leadership and corruption-induced failure of implementation of development projects on the part of the political leaders is responsible for the under-development in the country. Today, mountains of evidence support how seriously off track the present administration in the country was taking the nation with their deformed policies, ill-conceived reforms and strategies,
Lately, the greatest and immediate danger to the survival of the Nigerian state today is the unwarranted, senseless, premeditated, well-organized and orchestrated killings across the country.
The country’s economy, on its part, has shown its inability to sustain any kind of meaningful growth that promotes the social welfare of the people. The result can be seen in the grinding poverty in the land (eighty per cent of Nigerians are living on less than two dollars per day – according) to the African Development Bank (AFDB) 2018 Nigeria Economic Outlook. Nigeria is ranked among the poorest countries in the world.
Sadly, according to a report from Brookings Institute, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the world’s largest number of extremely poor in early 2018. At the end of May 2018, Brookings institute’s trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute.
In Education, 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria, the highest in the world. Our industries continue to bear the brunt of a negative economic environment. As a result, job losses and unemployment continue to skyrocket, creating a serious case of social dislocation for most of our people. The University students have been at home for nearly seven months or more. No thanks to the incessant industrial action which currently characterizes the nation’s university system.
The running of our country’s economy continues to go against the provisions of our constitution, which stipulates forcefully that the economy’s commanding heights must not be concentrated in the hands of a few people.
The continuous takeover of national assets through dubious (privatization) programs by politicians and their collaborators are deplorable and clearly against the people of Nigeria. The attempt to disengage governance from public sector control of the economy has only played into the hands of private profiteers of goods and services to the detriment of the Nigerian people.
This malfeasance at all levels of governance has led to the destruction of social infrastructure relevant to a meaningful and acceptable level of social existence for our people. It has been shown that adequate investment in this area is clearly not the priority of those in power.
As a result, our hospitals, whether state-owned or federal-owned, have become veritable death centres where people go to die rather than to be healed. The absence of basic items such as hand gloves and masks indicates decadence and rot in the country’s health National Budget recommended by the United Nations.
With regard to the criminal justice system, our people, especially the poor and vulnerable, continue to suffer unprecedented acts of intimidation and violation of rights at the hands of security agencies across the country. Extra judicial killings, lack of scientific-based investigation of crimes and corruption in the judiciary contribute to acts of injustice against the innocent. Our prisons have become places where prisoners are hardened rather than places of reformation of prisoners for reintegration back into society.
As to the solution to these challenges, this piece and, of course, Nigerians with critical minds believe that leadership not only holds the key to unlocking the transformation question in Nigeria but to sustain this drive, leaders must carry certain genes and attributes that are representative of this order.
Thus, as the nation celebrates, one point Nigerians must not fail to remember is that only a sincere and selfless leader and a politically and economically restructured polity brought about by national consensus can unleash the social and economic forces that can ensure the total transformation of the country and propel her to true greatness.
This, as argued elsewhere, will help ensure adequate social infrastructures such as genuine poverty alleviation programmes and policies, healthcare, education, job provision, massive industrialization, and electricity provision, to mention a few. It is critical to jettison this present socio-economic system that has bred corruption, inefficiency, primitive capital accumulation and socially excluded the vast majority of our people.
The only way this can be done is to work to build a new social and political order that can mobilize the people around common interests, with visionary leadership to drive this venture. Only then can we truly resolve some of the socio-economic contradictions afflicting the nation.
Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com/08032725374
How Standard of Living in Africa is Making Start-Ups Innovate Around Disposable Income
By Otori Emmanuel
An organisation in its early phase of existence is referred to as a start-up. Entrepreneurs that desire to create a product or service think there is a market for launching start-ups. Because start-ups often have high startup costs and low revenue, founders frequently look for money from a variety of internal and external sources, including personal savings, loans from family and friends, business venture capitalists, and crowdsourcing. There are start-ups in different industries like Information Technology, agriculture, communication, health and other sectors.
Start-ups and Innovation
Establishing a start-up takes careful planning, including consideration of factors like business location, cost of goods or services, product packaging, and supply efficiency. Start-ups frequently run the risk of failing because of unfavourable environmental and industry conditions. Embracing new opportunities and focusing on innovation, among other methods, are accelerators for a business’ survival and growth.
Although, it is true that established businesses also frequently collapse. Technology has advanced throughout time, and many start-ups are combining the cutting-edge idea of tech into their respective fields.
For example, tech is now being used to improve education as in edtech, finance as in fintech, and more use cases are being introduced to daily activities. Statistics show that start-ups are expanding most quickly globally in the technology sector. Over the past few decades, Africa has seen an exceptional number of start-up generations.
The State of Start-ups in Africa
The phrase “start-up” became more common in the 1990s as the number of enterprises centred on technology and the internet rapidly increased.
According to an analysis, African start-up marketplaces hit historic heights in 2021 at over $4 billion, representing a nearly 20x rise since 2015. Start-ups have been increasingly popular in Africa due to various factors, including drawing on previous success stories from the west, attempting to address grassroots challenges, adapting global content to local quirks, and adhering to supportive policies. In terms of current economic events and cultural developments, numerous different facts are at play here.
In terms of living standards, the rate of extreme poverty in rural areas in Africa was close to 50%, which was far higher than the rate in urban areas, which was about 11%. According to the conference board’s Global Economic Outlook, the pace of global GDP growth will reach a recessionary level in 2023 after starting to decline from 3.1% in 2018 to 2.7% in 2022.
Africa has clearly also been impacted by the global economic downturn, which has resulted in a sharp decline in living standards, lower-quality goods, higher costs, and inflation. When prices increase generally, yet fewer goods are available for the same amount of money in an economy, this is called inflation.
When there is inflation, sources and forms of income are affected, from passive income to investment income to disposable income. Our focus here is the disposable income which is the money left to take home after tax and other deductions. Most households depend on disposable income for survival, and the trending inflation gradually steals from this income of an individual in the form of increased grocery prices and the cost of feeding. This has led to the term “sachetization”.
Startup business owners use this approach to satisfy declining demand and maintain operations. Sachetization is the idea of distributing products, which are typically sold in greater amounts, in smaller quantities using sachets in an effort to increase sales. Sachetization helps consumers purchase what they can afford. When only a small amount is required, consumers do not need to buy big quantities of the commodity. So far, this has appeared to be sustainable, with the exception of its drawbacks, where it has been observed that sachet items are of low quality, contain fewer items than is indicated, and even defraud the consumer into purchasing smaller packages when, in reality, a larger package would have been more appropriate.
Reduced disposable income has also affected start-ups in maintaining production costs, purchasing raw materials, increased interest rates on loans, market instability and declined demand.
Therefore, to get through the process of inflation, individuals, households, and businesses seek sustainable measures to meet their needs. A few include:
- Cost efficient purchases
- Opportunity cost methods
- Valuable investments etc.
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