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Why Development in Sub-Saharan Africa is Lagging

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sub-saharan africa

By Tolu Oyekan

I was born in Nigeria in the early 1980s. Based on forecasts at the time, I should be starting the final decade of my life now.

But my odds have improved quite a bit. Indeed, it is a testament to the advances over these past 40 years in healthcare and standards of living – in the overall quality of life for at least some people – that the average life expectancy for a person born today in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has increased by 10 years.

In some countries, like Rwanda, which was beset by a devastating civil war in the 1990s, the life expectancy gains are even more dramatic.

Part of the reasons for the rise in average life expectancy is the fall in early childhood mortality. Death rates among SSA children under five have declined to fewer than 80 per 1000 live births in 2018 from more than double that figure in 1990. This progress is laudable.

But despite these gains, there is much further to go. Even with the advances in life expectancy, sub-Saharan Africa lags behind most of the rest of the world in this regard.

In fact, the life expectancy in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is only 55 years. And perhaps more disconcerting is the region’s alarming poverty rate.

About 40% of sub-Saharan Africa, or over 400 million people, live on less than $1.90 a day, defined as the extreme poverty line. That is more than double the poverty rate in South Asia, another region struggling with widespread destitution.

Moreover, the COVID-19 disease may set the region back even more. Recent separate reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank estimate that globally, the number of preventable child deaths and poverty rates will regress to previous high levels before the pandemic is over, particularly in countries already struggling the most. We already had a long journey ahead of us and now the distance has been stretched.

Clearly, the emergence of sub-Saharan Africa as an economic success offering a decent quality of life and a better future for its population is at best in its very infantile stages.

In virtually every category of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – covering healthcare, hunger, education, jobs, fair wages, economic growth and the environment, among other critical dimensions – sub-Saharan Africa trails well behind the rest of the world.

Perhaps the most problematic issue is that while we have a long distance to travel, we have to get there at a record pace. The UN has set a target of 2030 to reach the SDG’s goals and in effect, eliminate the developmental obstacles to growth and minimum livelihoods that hold back SSA and other countries around the world. For SSA, that is an ambitious deadline.

To just take one example, the ratio of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa dropped from around 50% a decade ago to today’s 40%.

Going from 40 per cent to zero in the next nine years would require a development campaign far exceeding anything tried before in these countries.

Yet, as difficult as that sounds, we can at least make significant progress if we avoid wasted efforts and inefficiencies. We must optimize our development efforts for faster impact. We must optimize for speed.

Over a series of articles, I will explore the critical facets of development activities in the region that must be emphasized and improved upon to achieve quicker and more permanent progress.

Initially, I will focus on three areas that can be addressed immediately and produce results in a relatively short time: We must gather more and better data and utilize it more effectively; we must increasingly adjust the developmental techniques we employ to ensure they sufficiently address local concerns and issues while taking advantage of existing best practices, even from other disciplines; and we must enlarge the tent to bring a wider and more diverse group of people into the design and implementation process.

Looking at these three areas more closely, there are significant gaps between how we view them today and how we should both enhance our understanding of them and improve how we use them to make real developmental gains:

    Data: Good data about the SSA region is essential. It would allow us to fully understand current conditions and livelihood challenges, compare ourselves against other regions that are attempting to be innovative in solving the same problems, and measure our progress in granular intervals against goals – including the UN SDGs – so that we can take corrective action quickly was needed to keep ourselves on track. Unfortunately, sub-Saharan Africa is data challenged and has been so for a while. But if we try to build our data aggregation capabilities slowly, following the path that regions with inherently more data have taken, we will not be able to move as fast as we must. Therefore, we must identify and implement pragmatic approaches to dramatically improve our data gathering procedures and methods.

    Techniques: In attempting to solve specific development challenges, we often make the mistake of adopting tried and tested technical approaches that perhaps have worked in other places but are insufficiently tailored to the specific needs of the sub-Saharan region. As a result, we forfeit the opportunity to consider methods and strategies that are aligned with unique regional needs. For instance, behavioural techniques can encourage desirable actions by sub-Saharan individuals and groups, which in turn can help in local development. Or digital solutions can leverage software to make a development programme more cost-effective. For instance, advancing the use of telemedicine so physicians from outside SSA can efficiently and inexpensively supplement local medical services. These are just two possibilities and the more we think about innovative techniques well suited to the region, the better we will get at designing and implementing them.

    People: Although there appears to be a push to increasingly widen the participation of African people in the campaigns to solve Africa’s problems, I believe that we are still ignoring many potential beneficiaries. In other words, even in our attempts to enlarge the tent, we still fail to address the needs of key stakeholders that are pivotal for the success of SSA development efforts; among them, women, young people, the bottom of the economic pyramid, the private sector and small businesses.  Perhaps a more provocative perspective on this is that we must expand the tent of people taking part in designing developmental solutions and overcome our challenges with the help of beneficiaries – rather than trying to provide answers to or for the beneficiaries.

So, how should we approach development in sub-Saharan Africa during this decade? Africans favour the expression, ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I would add that we must actually go further than we had thought pre-COVID, and we must also go fast.

Over the coming weeks, I will share my thoughts about some of the things we can do to address the three areas I mentioned that must be immediately analysed, improved upon and tailored for a sub-Saharan solution. I hope we can debate these issues and that collectively, we can produce an exhaustive and workable series of steps to begin a viable developmental journey for SSA.

So, what do you think? Do you agree that we have a long way to go despite the progress? Is there a case for maintaining the status quo and continuing to attempt development across the region as we have before? In addition to Data, Techniques, and People, are there other aspects of development designs that we should be considering and fixing?

In my view, the gap between where we are today and where we must get to by 2030 is far. I look forward to exploring together how we achieve these bold goals quickly.

Tolu Oyekan is a Partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

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Registration Requirements For Business Entities In Nigeria

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Successful Small Business

By Benita Ayo

Registering a business venture is oftentimes the best and wisest move an entrepreneur should always take before launching out. The reason for this is not far-fetched.

In most situations, when an entrepreneur fails to register his business prior to its commencement, the desired business name may become subject to disapproval whenever he chooses to register the business at a later date.

This is one reason why it is strongly advised that a business undergoes the necessary registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Let it be known that it is never enough to simply register a business and retreat. There are still things the law expects a business owner to do after registration of a business with the CAC.

For instance, every business entity, such as (Limited Liability Company (Public or Private), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), Limited Partnership (LP), Business Name (BN), Incorporated Trustees (IT) etc, are all expected to file the Annual Returns of their businesses on or before the 30th June of each fiscal year. Failure to do this attracts penalties for default.

In extreme circumstances, where a business entity has failed to file its Annual Returns for consecutive years, the entity’s profile with the Corporate Registry will be deemed inactive.

In sum, while most business entities continue to transact their businesses unabated, a check on their profiles at the Corporate Registry will reveal that such businesses are, in truth, inactive.

A company whose Corporate Profile is ‘inactive’ is on the watch list of the CAC for de-listing.

You may contact me via the under-listed channels for further consultations on the following services;

  • Business/Company Registrations
  • Annual Returns filing
  • Re-activation of ‘inactive’ corporate profiles
  • Corporate Profile search etc.

WhatsApp: +2348063775768

Email: jaybella120@gmail.com

Benita Ayo is a Seasoned Corporate Commercial Counsel with over nine years of post-call experience. She has handled myriads of briefs in Corporate/Commercial, Employment Law as well as Property Transactional Practice.

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Checkmating The LGBT Incursion In African Politics: The Nigerian Case Study And Consequences

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LGBT

By Kwame lbrahim

The number of Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Nigeria, though largely undocumented officially, has continued to rise exponentially, especially among teenagers, youths and adults.

According to several projects related to fact-finding research and spontaneous polls conducted in some institutions of higher learning and amongst clusters of young people in social media groups and platforms, this is common everywhere but more pronounced in cities of Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Abuja, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Kaduna and Owerri.

This is even spreading all over the country at a growing rate despite the legal statutes and social responses, which have clearly red-flagged the queer preference and defined homosexuality as illegal in Nigeria and punishable by up to 14 years of prison in the conventional court system.

Nigeria is a largely conservative country, and the very Western proclivity towards openly embracing gay rights and LGBT penchants are deemed not only as anathema but also an unacceptable negation and disrespect for the very foundation on the mores and decency which its cultural, religious, traditional and secular communal existence have been built and have continued to thrive over the years.

As Nigeria evolves into a more post-modern and more globalized society, credible findings have revealed that the fundamental threat that this surge in queer attitude poses for its secularity is disturbingly manifest in the deliberate and determined effort by LGBT advocates to take over the political, legislative process in its 2023 elections.

The basic aim of such financiers is to subsequently secure sufficient representatives in its National Assembly to push for and promulgate the law legalising and legitimizing homosexuality.

In the past, such an attempt was resisted by communities in Kenya through the support of community leaders and its government, but the Nigerian situation seems different because of the present unholy silence that has greeted many aspirants for senatorial and House of Representative positions of some political parties that have well known LGBT sympathizers and practitioners as their candidates.

This is indeed a worrisome phenomenon which, if allowed to become a reality, will not only erode the very fabric of Nigeria’s original existential identity but would dangerously affect the acceptable balance of decency and straight relationship, which have been the hallmarks of a majority of traditional families in Nigeria and Africa.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria society will be confronted with dire consequences if this queer LGBT advocacy gains traction in its National Assembly, especially when such a law would embolden the gays and lesbians to openly challenge and even violently rubbish any real or perceived rational and normal counter-argument against this quite uncharacteristic behaviour in its society.

Furthermore, there is no doubt whatsoever that a law legitimizing LGBT tendencies would result in uncontrolled homophobia, which will radically disrupt peaceful existence and dislocate many straight people, who will be subjected to unprovoked assaults by those gloating to endorse the new legislation on the streets, schools, bars and restaurants, churches and other places where the need to impose the law would be deemed necessary and patriotic.

This sad intent through politics by introducing and sponsoring LGBT members into the National Legislative System of Africa’s most populous Nation will, of course, come at a great social, existential cost and unleash in its wake major destructive consequences to all African societies, the Nigerian nation and most developing communities of the world.

Against the backdrop of an anticipated backlash of violent and berserk orgies of unprovoked violence by members of the LGBT community, who had hitherto felt constrained, the need to sensitise the general public through the various channels of communication becomes highly recommended and inevitable, especially in recognition of the fact that this behaviour and the attendant defensive fightback, will definitely escalate if such is not checked at this 2023 election period in Nigeria.

All well-meaning Nigerians must act swiftly at this point of the electoral and voting process, where all the gains already achieved from the existing bill prohibiting and stipulating penalties for such queer practices can be reversed if they allow the pro-gay and LGBT sympathizers to dominate the National Assembly with their presence as elected Representatives as they would have a voice on the floors of the two parliaments to destroy its moral standards and religious beliefs.

The accommodation, maturity, peaceful, harmonious coexistence and decency which exist in Nigerian society would all be eroded once the legislation to legalise same-sex and LGBT relationships are achieved. A stitch in time saves nine. This is a time for community, traditional and religious leaders to speak up. This is the time for the electorate to grow in proper awareness of the consequences of making inappropriate choices.

Already, findings from credible investigations conducted to ascertain the next strategic ploy by the Queer community to accomplish the deliberate agenda of forcing legislation that would favour their cause indicate that the LGBT community in Nigeria has set its target at producing twenty House of Representative members from four states, namely: Sokoto, Kano, Rivers and Lagos, during the 2023 election.

In states where party tickets could not be secured in the two major political parties, sympathetic aspirants were sponsored with huge amounts of funding to join fresh parties with the clear intent to attract followers, which is a major catalyst for political mobilisation in a country like Nigeria.

Specifically, Kano, Lagos and Rivers states are said to have recorded huge success for this aspiration. However, the extent to which these plans work out would largely depend on the acceptance or rejection of these aspirants by the level of awareness created for the voting public, especially through their leaders.

Kwame lbrahim, PhD, is from the African Research Institute and Doctoral School of Safety & Security Services, Budapest, Hungary

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Buying Naira with Naira, Rantings And Musings

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the new Naira notes

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure black people under pressure, under pressure Nigerians under pressure. No food in we belly, no money in ah we pocket, no bed we lay we head.

The people dem are suffer, in ah ghetto, in ah city, everywhere dah me go oh, me see them, some are cry, some are die, some are weeping! Some are wailing! Everywhere dah oh eh. Under pressure we wail under pressure, under pressure everybody under pressure, Ras Kimono Under Pressure

You see the Nigerian looks upon Nigeria as a theatre and the entire population representing and manifesting the full spectrum of acts and actors. In this revelry, life is the theatre; the nation is the stage upon which we perform. The politicians and a few of us are the actors, very often mediocre. When stars appear, it is more often because a play must have a star rather than because the player is possessed of some dramatic genius. We saw it with Obasanjo, we saw it with Mr Yar’adua, and with the shoeless one, we are seeing it with the soon-to-end Mr Buhari. We falter and we muff our lines; sometimes our performance takes on an aspect of the grotesque-nobody takes this seriously because it is perceived as being the nature of the play. Our people become the audience.

I once watched with bemusement a deaf and dumb boy who caught his mom with a stranger in bed. When his father came home, the poor young boy was at a loss on how to communicate his discovery. After several futile attempts, the boy ceased trying. The father, on the other hand, patted him, walked into the bedroom and was scolding the wife, he asked her why she was sick, rolling on the bed and could not call for help from the neighbours or the family doctor.

I am not going to talk about the currency redesign brouhaha, because as good a policy as it supposedly is, again, it has exposed the gross behavioural nature of some Nigerians. The central bank, the commercial banks, the bankers, the PoS Operators and the general populace are guilty of varying degrees of culpability.

And, then the fuel palaver, the same one that once upon a time Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said: “This is the winter period. There is always more demand for refined products from petroleum during winter in colder countries. This is what we are experiencing now.” Today, I guess it is winter in those places again. And at the black market, the usual trend, is certainly high petrol prices, unavailable and weak Naira, low minimum wage and increasing poverty.

Legislators are neither here nor there; governors’ are not sure where they stand. In all the noise the product disappears. Transportation fare increases, food prices skyrocket…a nation that has a disconnect between the ruled and its rulers, like the deaf and dumb boy, his mother, the stranger and his father.

The fact is, our currency wahala, and fuel palaver are not the government’s problem. What are we really subsidising? Is it the high cost of energy or unavailable petroleum products? Nigerians are tired, hungry and not in protest mode. There’s no fuel scarcity but fuel criminality because leadership lacks the will.

Where are the refineries promised, all gone with the wind called Turn Around Maintenance! There is no PMS in the fuel station, but unregistered marketers/blackmarkers all have the commodity… a continued rationalisation and justification of absurdities like a commentator put it. It is even more disheartening when the intellectual effort and voice of elites are at the heart of such theatricals due to ethnoreligious cleavages birthed by economic disenfranchisement.

Our major problem is the lack of leadership manifesting itself in every facet of our human endeavours. Some of these areas may be fixable in future if we get the right people with the right policies but how do you fix the future of the mass population of our children who are not getting educated today?

The future of Nigeria is bright, and interesting but scary if we reflect on it. Teachers are illiterate; students can’t go to school because schools are closed down, and alternatives are unaffordable, the change is bleak…

The fuel management chain is a lucrative cankerworm of corruption, our banking system is not exactly different, a serious government can yet tackle it, it’s beyond committees and white papers. It’s action; only action can stop the rot. Nigerians can, I believe we can but we don’t know that we can, and doubt if we are ready.

The reason is simple…we are not just part of the problem, in some cases, we are the problem, when Sunny Okunsun sang;

Which way Nigeria, which way to go? I love my fatherland, o yeah, I want to know; Yes, I want to know. I love my fatherland, which Nigeria is heading to? Many years after independence, we still find it hard to start. How long shall we be patient still we reach the promised land? Let’s save Nigeria, so Nigeria won’t die. Which way Nigeria? Every little thing that goes wrong, we start to blame the government. We know everything that goes wrong, we are part of the government.

Which way Nigeria is heading to? Inefficiency and indiscipline is ruining the country now; corruption here there and everywhere, inflation is very high. We make mistakes in the oil boom, not knowing that was our doom. Some people now have everything, while some have nothing. Which way Nigeria, which way to go?

I end with this encounter, a politician was charged with profanity for calling an opponent a bastard: the politician retorted, “When I call him s.o.b I am not using profanity. I am only referring to the circumstances of his birth”. What is the circumstance of the birth of Nigeria, can anything be done to bring destiny and fate to conjure up some good for us all?

The elites are having a field day, but with each fleeting moment, three facts of life beckon, the rising of the sun, the setting of the moon and truth, only time will tell.

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