While the novel coronavirus brought about physical confinement of human activities in many parts of the world, interestingly countries and businesses that have infused digital and innovative technology in their operations have continued to relatively thrive amid the worldwide pandemic.
These countries and businesses are deploying emerging technologies to help curb the spread of the virus as well as finding medication; both preventive and curative. Pending the time the world gets successful with discovering a vaccine or cure, people across the globe are increasingly leveraging technology to continue their lives while the fight against the coronavirus persist.
Today our new normal includes ‘work from home’ and ‘stay at home’ – the COVID-19 mantra. However, the adoption of technology has made the new normal a lot more feasible for the tech savvy majority, while the erstwhile technology-shy people have had to adapt involuntarily.
For instance, businesses have moved meetings online. Practically all business meetings including those with teams and clients are held virtually.
Microsoft Teams reported a 500% increase in usage, Zoom and other conferencing tools have all reported increase in usage. Learning and knowledge sharing sessions online have increased.
Consultants, teachers and subject matter experts have taken to these technology tools to ply their trade. Anti-epidemic Robots are being deployed for faster and safer health service delivery.
More people are signing up on Apps to socialize, exercise, shop and even access healthcare. The value of digital channels, products and offerings has become glaring to both individuals and companies alike.
As these tech tools continue to shape the way we live in the new normal in spite of the constraints of the pandemic, one thing that has remained a common denominator has been the need to make payments.
Whether people are shopping, checking on loved ones, downloading Apps, meeting clients or have training sessions, they all need to make payments, one way or another. It is therefore no wonder that the digital payment tools remain some of the most embraced technology tools across the world.
Payments, being a recurring activity with every human endeavour has an opportunity to transform faster and be easily adopted. Incidentally, we have seen the significant increase from cash payment to digital payments. Reports have it that banks have to enhance their digital payment options; deploying more ATM, PoS, App, agents banking etc.
Beyond the banks, integrated digital payment service providers such as Interswitch Group have enhanced their platforms to ensure that Nigerians can make safe payments faster and more conveniently while trying to keep safe amidst the scare of the coronavirus. Across the Interswitch networks, Nigerians can make payments using ATM, PoS, credit/debit cards, Apps etc.
As a payment technology company, the Interswitch Group realized that payment will constitute one of the painpoints for Nigeria during these trying times. It has further enhanced its digital payment platform – Quickteller, to allow for people to make payments for goods and services, collect payments and transfer funds.
In leveraging its technology competencies with its partners across the financial and digital payment space, Interswitch has ensured that their support to these partners are continually functional so their customers can seamlessly transact across platforms, apps, PoS and ATM. This means that businesses and households can transact seamlessly anywhere.
In another partnership, Interswitch through its card scheme subsidiary – Verve International leveraged its alliance with PAX International to leverage the partners’ technology competencies in combating the virus. Both parties committed to promote the adoption of contactless point-of-sale (POS) payment solutions across the West African market.
Both partners underscored the realization that the widespread adoption of contactless payment solutions has great propensity to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
These contactless payment solutions include payments with contactless-enabled credit and debit cards, as well as QR codes. Other contactless solutions the company is persuading its customers to adopt is the use of USSD codes.
Through its health-tech subsidiary, e-Clat Healthcare Limited, Interswitch is building and activating user-friendly, locally-nuanced software platform for state governments across Nigeria. With the software, members of the public can assess their individual risk and pre-disposition to the novel coronavirus as a first-line intervention.
The software platform analyses users’ information provided from answers to a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure, observed symptoms, health and travel history. This inturn reduces the risk from contact spread and undue exposure to the overstretched medical facilities.
As our lives begin to return to what we used to know it to be, it is undisputed that a lot will remain changed. The new ways that we have adopted may continue with us for a very long time and perhaps open the way for new discoveries and technological advancement.
A critical part of our lives that will remain changed will be our payment pattern. More people will come onto the digital payment space, financial service providers will offer more digital solutions. Fintech, TechFin and digital platforms will become more integrated.
Owing to the importance of payments and settlements for trade and economic growth, the need to adopt digital payment cannot be overemphasised.
In our new normal, travels will be limited but cross border trade will continue. The rails that will ensure the seamless facilitation of these economic activities will be payment leveraged by technology-digital payment and Interswitch will be there to facilitate these payments.
Despite the limited extent of technology advancement and adaptation in Nigeria and the Africa continent, it is important that the governments, businesses and households continue to seek technology solutions that will not only help fight the coronavirus, but help us thrive in the new normal.
The Need for Digital Marketing Inclusion in Varsities’ Curriculum
By Lead Web Praxis Media
The internet can boast of a high number of users worldwide and this is attributable to the development of technology.
This has led to the utilisation of digital marketing by a lot of businesses interested in reaching their target audience via the internet.
Simply put, digital marketing can be defined as the branch of marketing that makes use of the internet as well as the various digital technological devices for the facilitation and promotion of goods and services.
This concept is very vital especially if included in the curriculum of universities and here are the various reasons why such a move should be taken:
Fast-growing rates of digital markets
Digital marketing is experiencing a very rapid increase and statistics have revealed that this field of marketing will witness a very high number of job opportunities.
People are moving away from the analogue form of advertising and marketing and turning to more digitized options.
Introducing digital marketing as a course in the curriculum of universities across the country would be a step in the right direction. It will expose the students to an early learning experience in digital marketing and better equip them for this newly evolving field.
Digital marketing is believed to have one of the highest return on investment (ROI) in the marketing field. In a general sense, this means that a lot of companies are utilising this marketing strategy to push their products and services to their target audience.
Social media marketing as well as content marketing are best known to produce a very high ROI. Email marketing is also known to have a good conversion rate. The students would be taught the various types of digital marketing and they will also get the opportunity to choose the best digital marketing platform to use.
Active online shoppers
About 84 per cent of internet users would prefer to read reviews about certain products and services which will inform their buying decision. Google has about 3.5 billion searches carried out each year and most of these searches relate to businesses.
Most of the times, these searches are geared towards the purchase of goods and services rather than mere informational purposes about the businesses. These shoppers are always impatient with these searches and often don’t go past the first 5 pages of Google or any other search engine. This is the reason why most businesses adopt Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies. Students can learn more about SEO if digital marketing is introduced in the university’s curriculum.
Boost in economy
This is one of the important benefits of digital marketing that cannot be overlooked. Some people are still making use of the traditional marketing mediums which includes flyers, newspaper, TV and radio adverts in trying to put their businesses out in the visibility domain.
The truth of the matter remains that these approaches have a different impact on business. If students are able to understand and learn about the various aspects of digital marketing in the university, there is a higher chance that some of the traditional approaches to marketing would be jettisoned and online marketing would be adopted which will, in turn, boost sales and the economy generally.
Versatility and digital skill gap
Once a student is able to master the top roles of a Digital Marketer, he or she will be exposed to a wider range of skills that may be related or not. It is important to note that there is a very high demand for people that possess digital marketing skills.
There are a lot of online skills which most people lack and this is often referred to as the skills gap. It is not strange to find out that certain persons that possess one skill might not be able to complete certain projects or jobs because of the fact that they don’t possess certain skills too. Well, that is different from digital marketing because, with it, you can be able to up-skill your knowledge about trending technologies
Digital Marketing is very vital to the growth of every business owing to the latest trend in technological advancement. Early exposure to this area of online marketing would be the best for the growth of businesses across the country and the economy generally thereby the need for introducing digital marketing into the curriculum of universities.
We strongly suggest Digital Marketing inclusion in varsities globally.
The First Batch of Vaccines and Time to Look Ahead with Hope
By Gregory Kronsten
As a batch of almost four million doses of the AstraZeneca (AZ)/Oxford University vaccine for COVID-19 arrived in Abuja on March 2, 2021, we can start to look tentatively ahead to the new normal.
Drawing on the experience of countries where the rollout of vaccinations is more advanced, we can give some pointers as to the benefits and the pitfalls.
The first on a personal level is that, while no injection for any condition is 100 per cent effective, the shot in the arm provides a psychological boost to the individual.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has set out the regulatory and monitoring measures to be taken as well as produced a draft on the priorities and timetable for vaccination.
The age profile of Nigeria is very different from that of advanced economies, which has kept it much lower in the tables of fatalities adjusted for the size of the population.
Its median age is 18 years, and more than 8 per cent of Nigerians are below the age of four. In the US the median age is 38 years, and the population below the age of 18 was lower in 2019 than it had been in 2010. In the UK 15 per cent of the population is aged over 70 years.
The priority list in Nigeria therefore looks very different. Another area to look out for is the definition of ‘key workers’ for priority vaccinations beyond frontline health employees.
Should the police refuse collectors and others in daily contact with the public be included? Another sensitive area, and one that the media is likely to pursue, is preferential treatment for the well-connected.
We should all be looking forward to life post-COVID-19 (or at least with contained COVID-19) even though this batch through the COVAX initiative is relatively small. It is essential to look through the tunnel for the light at the end of it, however distant, for morale-boosting and emotional health.
COVAX aims to distribute 237 million doses of the AZ vaccine by the end of May 2021, of which Nigeria is to receive 13.7 million doses. By end-year, its target is an ambitious two billion. Additionally, the African Union’s COVID-19 task force, chaired by Econet’s Steve Masiyiwa, is releasing its first batch of one million AZ doses.
Elsewhere, there is a surplus in some countries. The UK government says that it has secured 440 million doses of different vaccines, which gives each inhabitant two courses each of two doses plus two boosters.
Some of the excess could well be made available to other governments. Such an exercise of soft power would mirror the distribution of vaccines already launched by China, India and Russia.
Nigeria will likely lag most advanced economies in terms of whatever passes for full vaccination. (The concept is as mysterious as full employment, which does not mean that everyone of working age has a job). On arrival, the drivers underpinning its recovery will be different from theirs.
The fiscal resources available to the FGN are a fraction of those that G7 governments can tap; so no furlough schemes, no payments to the self-employed and much more limited programmes of public works to lift the economy out of recession.
Also, the pent-up demand from people obliged to work from home and unable to splash the cash on holidays and restaurants will prove significant in the advanced economies, much less so in middle- and low-income countries.
Gregory Kronsten is the Head of Macroeconomic and Fixed Income Research at FBNQuest
X-Raying Oragwu’s Suggestions on Nigeria’s Science and Technology Dilemma (II)
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
There are not only political but several technological obstacles that we collectively as a nation will determine how to overcome.
The origin of those technological challenges was in fact highlighted in the first part of this piece (READ IT HERE) and as a natural reaction, it is possible for readers that have gone through the first part, looking at what was presented, form opinions about the possible reason(s)/explanations fuelling the science and technology challenges in Nigeria.
Essentially, while some may conclude that such a challenge is rooted in the so-called mutual agreement which existed between Britain and the colonised Nigeria.
The rest may, however, heap the blame on the colonial masters’ heinous choice of giving Nigerians educations type that laid asymmetrical emphasis on certificates without substance.
Whichever way, to think that the above is the only possible explanation why Nigeria’s science and technology sector continues to have its headstock in the mud will amount to a false impression.
In fact, the challenge confronting the sector, as subsequent paragraphs will reveal, goes beyond the above considerations to include the effect of failures and obnoxious policies designed by successive administrations in post-independent Nigeria.
Such groundwork/‘atrocities’, according to a keynote address titled The Challenges of Science and Technology in Nigeria’s Economy: The Way Forward, delivered by FN Oragwu, in March 2018, at Eagle Square, Abuja, during an event organised by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), that exacerbated the situation includes but not limited to; Nigeria’s failure to learn from the highly successful technological innovations experience that took place in the defunct state of Biafra,1967-1970: Nigeria’s inexplicable failure to appreciate the role of science and technology in safeguarding her political independence since 1960: Nigeria’s Faulty Economic Development Planning Strategy since 1962: and the failure to develop the pivotal electrical power supporting infrastructure for economic growth and development in Nigeria among others.
Adding context to the discourse, mutual agreement, as explained by the aforementioned address and used in the first part of this piece, is that arrangement or policy document that allowed Nigeria to export or supply Britain with primary agricultural commodities which Britain required for her once-famous textile industry and her leather and leather products industry, and to supply Britain with unprocessed natural minerals (solid, liquid and gaseous), which Nigeria has in abundance and which are of interest to Britain for the production and manufacture of technologies and industrial goods in the British economy.
Britain on her part is to “provide or export at costs to Nigeria, all the modern technologies and industrial goods that Nigeria needs to sustain her own economic growth and development.”
(Readers are equally encouraged to read The Dual Mandate of Europe in Tropical Africa, 4th Edition, London, 1929, by Lord Fredrick Lugard, first Nigeria’s Governor-General, 1914-1918).
With this highlighted, let’s focus on the aforementioned/outlined challenges.
The most serious and most surprising of such post-independent failures, going by the above address, is Nigeria’s failure to learn from the highly successful technological innovations experience that took place in the defunct State of Biafra, 1967-1970.
It was noted that the Nigerian scientists and engineers who found themselves in the defunct State of Biafra faced the daunting challenge of no domestic capacity for technology and industrial goods production which left the defunct State of Biafra scampering to import technologies and industrial goods but could not do so because of lack of foreign currency and blockade of a superior federal military government.
The address further said in part; it is this situation of no external support or assistance whatsoever during the civil war that forced the scientists/engineers/technicians to learn the hard way to produce technologies in Biafra.
The scientists and engineers had no choice but to adopt the strategy of technology innovation as earlier defined and through copy engineering design, copy components fabrication and copy technologies production and manufacturing creativity.
It is this strategy that enabled the scientists, engineers, technologists and technicians in Biafra, 1967-1970, to leapfrog within six months into domestic modern technology production/manufacturing capacity without any assistance and support whatsoever from the outside world.
The scientists/engineers, it was observed, were incredibly able to design and fabricate refineries for the production of petrol, diesel and kerosene, to produce effective weapon technologies, to construct airports among others which enabled the defunct State of Biafra to resist for 30 long months the awesome superior technology power of the federal military government.
This is the strategy that Japan used at the turn of the 20th Century to leapfrog into competition with awesome industrial Europe and North America. This is the same strategy that is now being used by countries such as China, India, South Korea and Brazil, to leapfrog into technology and industrial goods competition with top industrial Europe, North America and Japan.
It is, therefore, an inappropriate and hopeless task for Nigeria to continue to try to re-invent the wheel which Europe invented for us during the 18th and 19th Century industrial revolutions.
From the failure to learn from the highly successful technological innovations experience that took place in the defunct State of Biafra, flows something new and different.
It was emphasised that at Ghana’s Independence Day address, Dr Kwame Nkruma, the President of Ghana, reminded the Ghanaians that for economic reasons, Britain did not give Ghana the domestic endogenous capacity to produce and manufacture modern technologies and industrial goods in Ghana’s economy and that Ghana must acquire this capacity the hard way.
Without the domestic endogenous capacity for technologies and industrial goods production, Dr Nkruma stated in his Independence Day address, that “Ghana’s Independence would be meaningless”.
With this policy statement, Dr Kwame Nkruma directed that a Ghana Council for Scientific Research and Industrial Development be established to build and create the domestic endogenous capacity for the production of modern technologies and globally competitive industrial goods in Ghana’s economy for domestic use and for export. This is exactly what President Nehru of India was reported to have done at India’s Independence in 1947 and India is now one of the 20 top world industrial economies.
In contrast, it was underlined that no Nigerian political leader at whatever level, at our Independence Day address on October 1, 1960, said anything about the role of science and technology in safeguarding the independence of Nigeria and there was no mention of any relationship between science and technology and Nigeria’s economy.
All the energies of Nigeria’s political leaders since independence were seen to be consumed in fighting battles of ethnic nationality and religious differences. What Nigeria did in 1961 was to enter into military technology assistance agreement with the same departing British colonial power for protection, an action that led to protests by young Nigerians.
Nigeria’s poor economic development planning, which started from 1962 till date, is another contributing factor to the sector’s challenge identified by the keynote address.
They were based on foreign capital intensive technologies and on what funds were available to import these technologies and related industrial goods inputs and when the funds were not available as most times the case to import these foreign inputs, then the implementation of the plans failed.
There were no provisions in the plans for inputs from domestic produced technologies and industrial goods. Consequently, the domestic R&D/technology production agencies were left to do what they pleased and of course they simply revert to scientific research for knowledge acquisition which they know best and contributed nothing to the plans.
This is why Nigeria, with highly qualified and talented scientists and engineers equal to any in the world, cannot contribute any modern technologies or globally competitive industrial goods to Nigeria’s national economic development plans.
Away from the economic development plan, one more problem area necessary to the present discourse is the inability of successive administrations in the country to develop the pivotal electrical power supporting infrastructure for economic growth and development in Nigeria or learn from a country like the Republic of South Africa with a population of about 50 million as at 2011 but was generating 45,000 MW of electricity and is now the only member from Africa in the top 20 leading world economies.
Solutions proffered to this teaming challenge are the objective of the 3rd/final part.
To be continued.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via email@example.com/08032725374.
Christianity, Economic Potential, Neanderthals & Billionaire’s Judgement
By Nneka Okumazie
It is almost totally impossible to get a near-exact potential of an unknown, or uncertainty long before.
Lots of things come to succeed – or get mainstreamed after so many years, that in the beginning may not have been seen by any or most individuals.
Things that seem more predictable are those mostly tested, so it is possible to expect.
Life is a lot uncertainty, though many laws and theories are strongly established.
But life is not the only component of existence.
Death too is.
There is something that those who had lived have left – and there’s a result of life also in death.
From ancient times, lots of peoples and cultures have believed in the afterlife, but most were the wrong ideas.
Maybe they found a clue from their consultations of external channels.
Life, though parts of it are explainable by science, was not created by science, or started by the chance that science explains.
Light, like life, has many spectrums.
Some visible to human eyes, some not, some got measured by instruments, some would be corrected or emerge in the coming years – if better instruments or situations are seen.
There’s life waiting for all after death – in the scriptures, like Heaven or Hell.
That judgement cannot miss.
People sometimes ask why people get away with huge cruelty, that why not something strike them?
There’s the possibility that an individual can be continuously overgenerous, beyond the normal level of generosity. If the individual withdraws the excess at any time, the recipient may decide to be angry, or be grateful about the past, but the giver retains the right.
Being alive is Jehovah’s generosity.
The patience, for repentance, is over generosity.
Once it’s up and goes, it’s over.
Jesus wants salvation for all to the extent of acceptance in this life.
There’s a lot of mercy available, but whoever gets carried away by the struggles or pleasures of this world – would lose the next.
Jesus who came to this world refused survival which most people want and refused the position of power, which is a driver in this world.
The potential for the acceptance is of Jesus is beyond the spectrum of this world.
Everyone lives in their own beliefs or bubble.
Some want to see first, some want to measure, some want evidence, etc.
Some are focused on the evolution of the Neanderthals – without considering what evil they’d have had.
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.
[Galatians 3:22, But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.]
X-Raying Oragwu’s Suggestions on Nigeria’s Science and Technology Dilemma
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
As a response to a recent intervention entitled Historical Perspectives on Nigeria’s Tertiary Education which among other things chronicled how Nigeria’s tertiary education originally got into trouble and with solutions on ways out of the debacle, I got several reactions/emails from esteemed readers.
Indeed, all contributions were well appreciated, but two qualified as outstanding.
The first queried; why can’t we as people forget the past and face the present/future? Why are you always in the habit of making reference to history?
In my response, I started by quoting EH Carr’s observation that history is an unending dialogue between the present and the past that assists the anxious inquirer in improving the present and the future based on a clearer understanding of the mistakes and achievements of the past. I submitted that it is only a society that has lost belief in its capacity to progress in the future will quickly cease to concern itself with the progress (or retrogress) in the past.
While the above query added a sidelight to the conversation, the second, though a mixture of private and public concerns was not only thought-provoking but strategic as it opened a vista that stemmed from new intervention.
It was an email from Professor Felix N.C Oragwu, Former Head of R&D Planning Division/Coordinator of Technological Services of the Technological Aspects of the Industrial War Machine that operated in the defunct State of Biafra, 1967-1970, Director in Charge of Industrial Research and Technology Innovation in NSTDA, Federal Government Cabinet Office, Lagos, 1977-1979.
It reads; Hello,/Dear Jerome-Mario, Thank you and congratulations on your masterpiece on Historical Perspectives on Nigeria’s Tertiary Education now characterised by Certificate Acquisition without the relevant knowledge needed for its use/application in national development. This is well illustrated by the over 120 existing universities each with Faculties of Science, Engineering and Technology, and we cannot make a pin or produce/manufacture any technology/globally competitive industrial goods in our economy, both for domestic use and for export to the global market for foreign revenue. This is the consequence of our poverty, insecurity and criminality now ravaging Nigeria and nobody is asking questions. I hope Nigeria’s leadership, in particular those in politics and in government, will find time to read your wonderful writings and internalise their message. Congratulations again and my best wishes. Felix Oragwu, FSAN.
He did one more thing.
In his real zest to establish how Nigeria’s economy can move away from near-total dependence on imported technologies and imported industrial goods, to become a technology exporting nation, as the status of the economy of any nation is a function of the agricultural/mineral commodity endowment and the endogenous domestic capacity to produce modern technologies and industrial goods in the economy, he forwarded some materials to me out of which, his address titled: The Challenges of Science and Technology in Nigeria’s Economy: The Way Forward, delivered in March 2018 at Eagle Square, Abuja, the nation’s capital, during an event organised by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), has emerged the focal point of this intervention.
At this point, critics may ask; what is spectacular about a keynote address? Haven’t we seen in the past more superlatively written, and creatively delivered addresses?
Indeed, these questions are all deserving but there are, however, many reasons that characterise the address as a vital road map. Aside from the public good consideration, others include the fact that it laid out how technological activities could be used as a key instrument for realizing Nigeria’s proposed Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) points out how the nation has paid little attention to history, and lip service to science and technology, failed to learn from the highly successful technological innovations experience that took place in the defunct state of Biafra, 1967-1970: It more than anything else visibly spread out challenges posed by the inherited Lord Fredrick Lugard’s policy for S&T, Industrial/Economic Development in Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, as a demand by the intellectual property law which creates propriety rights over intangible assets, before further dissection of the address, this writer directs every credit to Oragwu as the greater paragraphs/plot of this writing is chiefly from the aforementioned keynote address.
However, with this alighted, it needs to be underlined also that sharing this priced information is predicated on informing those in the position of authority to such an existing road map which is part of my obligation as a citizen.
Beginning with the historical perspective of what set the groundwork for the present predicament science and technology suffers in the country, the keynote address pointed out how Lord Fredrick Lugard, first Nigeria’s Governor-General, 1914-1918, in his book titled The Dual Mandate of Europe in Tropical Africa, 4th Edition, London, 1929, enunciated the S&T policy for economic development in Nigeria on what he called a mutual agreement said to be existing between Britain and the colonised Nigeria.
In this so-called “agreement”, Nigeria is to export or supply Britain with primary agricultural commodities such as cocoa, palm oil/palm kernel, rubber, cotton, livestock hides and skins which Britain required for her once-famous textile industry and her leather and leather products industry, and to supply Britain with unprocessed natural minerals (solid, liquid and gaseous), which Nigeria has in abundance and which are of interest to Britain for the production and manufacture of technologies and industrial goods in the British economy.
Britain on her part is to “provide or export at costs to Nigeria, all the modern technologies and industrial goods that Nigeria needs to sustain her own economic growth and development”. Lord Lugard further stated in his book that that was the prime objective of the British colonization of Nigeria.
‘With this dual policy, a balance of trade between Nigeria and Britain was established. This policy means in effect that Nigeria should not develop any domestic capacity to produce and manufacture modern technologies and globally competitive industrial goods in Nigeria’s economy during the British colonial rule as that could undermine or compromise the mutual agreement.
This is when the rain of underdevelopment in science and technology began to beat Nigeria, apologies to Chinua Achebe, Nigeria’s internationally acknowledged novelist of Things Fall Apart.
This Lugard’s policy, he added, is recently alluded to in an article discussing Infrastructure and Africa’s Development and Prosperity: The Imperative of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), held in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 15-16, 2017, by one Engr. Chidi K. C. Ijuwa, of the Presidency, Abuja, Nigeria, made the following interesting observations, namely, (a) “the price of cocoa is declining in the world market but never the price of chocolates, (b) “the price of cotton may fall but never the price of clothes and garments, and (c) “the coffee farmers may face declining prices in the world market, but the coffee grinders and Starbucks will smile all the way to the banks”.
To make assurance doubly sure that the dual mandate was fully implemented, Britain, he noted, established only one University College, at Ibadan in 1948, coupled it with the Senate of the University of London. The University College was not allowed to offer courses in Engineering, Technology and professional courses but allowed full complement of courses in Latin and Greek (Classics), English History, Zoology, Botany, Geography, Organic Chemistry (initially no Physical Chemistry), Classical Physics, Agricultural Commodity Sciences, Mathematics (of 19th Century, G. Hardy of Cambridge University School of Mathematics who swore never to be alive to see his Mathematics applied), and Divinity respectively from 1948-1960.
Britain also made sure that during the British colonial rule, there were no Polytechnics, no Colleges of Technology and no Technical Colleges to train and develop skilled technical and professional manpower for technology and industrial goods production in Nigeria’s economy as that may breach the dual mandate.
There were also no Research and Development (R&D) institutions for technology production and industrial goods manufacture in Nigeria’s colonial economy. Has Nigeria’s leadership elite ever asked questions on these developments since 1960?
However, primary Agricultural Scientific Research Institutions, the address submitted were established for British West Africa including Nigeria such as West Africa Cocoa Research Institute with headquarters in Accra, Ghana, West Africa Oil Palm Research Institute with headquarters in Benin Nigeria, West Africa Trypanosomiasis Research Institute to address tsetse fly menace against cattle livestock, the source of raw hides and skins for leather and leather products industries in Britain,
Earlier in 1899, Britain established an Agricultural Experimental Scientific Research Station at Moor Station in Ibadan to experiment on primary cotton production in Southern Nigeria. Kano in Northern Nigeria produced abundant primary cotton but there were no roads and no railways then for use in transporting the raw cotton produce to Lagos seaport for onward shipment to Britain and Europe.
To be continued.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.
Resilience of Labour Markets During COVID-19
By Gregory Kronsten
It is said by some analysts that COVID-19 is responsible for irreversible changes in our economies, including patterns of employment.
It was, therefore, a revelation to read the latest national income dynamics study-coronavirus rapid mobile survey (NIDS-CRAM) from South Africa.
Based upon a sample of 10,000 individuals, wave 3 (the most recent published data) shows that active employment in the country in October was just 0.15 per cent lower than the level in pre-COVID February.
The recovery has been strong. In April, when the domestic lockdown was at its height, employment was 40 per cent lower than in February and in June, when most restrictions had been eased, it was still 20 per cent down.
Additionally, the data suggests that the recovery has been in all forms of employment, and not just part-time posts created by employers nervous about future economic prospects.
The three academic authors of the section of the surveys covering the labour market, two based in the US and one in the UK, noted similar trends in other emerging markets (EMs): from the low point in April, the recovery was well underway by June in Brazil and Mexico and by August in India and Ghana.
Closer to home, we refer to COVID-19 impact monitoring, a series of publications by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in partnership with the World Bank.
The narrative is similar to the sixth and latest instalment of this smaller survey, which covers 1,950 households: 87 per cent of respondents were employed in October, compared with 86 per cent at the pre-COVID base (mid-March).
Reflecting the structure of the economy, households are divided between urban and rural. Employment was a little behind March for the former, a little ahead for the latter.
A clear trend is apparent across selected emerging markets. There is a familiar lag in the release of data from academic sources, research foundations and official statistical bodies. Job losses may have picked up again in South Africa due to the resurgence of COVID-19 and the reimposition of some restrictions in late 2020/early 2021. This does not detract from our broader argument that these economies display resilience in employment terms once controls are eased.
We are not looking for parallels with advanced economies because of a point we have often made in these columns: that they have fiscal and other resources on a scale of which emerging market governments can only dream.
You can close down the economy and pay your employed citizens not to work through a furlough scheme in an advanced economy. You can then reopen the economy and subsidize meals out for the family. In EMs your choices are far more limited.
A core tool of the South African government, for example, is its social relief of distress grant, which is received by 35 per cent of all households.
Three other conclusions from the three waves of NIDS-CRAM are worth highlighting.
First, the employment trends are consistent with monthly production data from Statistics South Africa, the local counterpart of the NBS. This is true of mining, manufacturing and retail but not, for obvious reasons, of tourism.
Second and tentatively, there has been an unusual increase in jobs in sales and services.
Thirdly and again cautiously, earnings may have risen slightly between February and October.
If we attempt to read across to Nigeria, we do not have the data for the first two conclusions while the fourth instalment of COVID-19 impact monitoring noted that two-thirds of households surveyed reported a fall in earnings.
Gregory Kronsten is the Head of Macroeconomic and Fixed Income Research at FBNQuest
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