Monthly Archives: September 2010
Norbert Dörr:Okay. We have done, as he said, quite a bit of research. And there are underlying factors which I think often are ignored. It’s amazing, when you talk to people out there, that they don’t actually know what’s going on in Africa.
One underlying factor is clearly the rise of the African consumer. In 2000, we had 50 million households earning more than $5,000 a year. And $5,000 is about the threshold where you can start having discretionary spending. We have now have 80 million households, that’s 60 percent more in eight years. And we’re going to reach 125 million households. So the urban African consumer is rising.
We have urbanization in Africa—which not many people talk about—which has been a key driver of growth and productivity in Asia. And now 40 percent of Africans are living in cities, and, in 2030, it will be 50 percent, so that’s a big driver. Also, Africa has huge potential on arable land that has no agriculture yet, but also on productivity. So we know there are lots of problems. But we think there might be also something coming.3
In short, our conclusion is that if you’re a multinational, if you’re CEO of a South African company, for example, Africa becomes strategically important. You can’t afford to not think about it. And if you want to move, we think you need to move now because the cultures with longer-term thinking, especially Asia, are moving now. And so, I think, the western companies need to move now.
Rik Kirkland:Great, we’ll follow up on some of those issues. But let me turn to Maria. How are you looking at your role in expanding the capital markets here in Africa? And do you see the story that Norbert just described?
Maria Ramos:We still need to get our heads around the fact that financial markets need depth. They need liquidity. All of that allows for the ongoing ability to finance a growing and developing economic model. And I think that getting to that level of sophistication is the next piece of this puzzle when it comes to economic sustainability.
There are 20 companies in Africa with revenues of over $3 billion. For the size of our continent, we need many more companies with revenues of $3 billion or more. Additionally, there are millions more small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs. They, too, need access to finance. Now, if we are able to do that and to open up those markets, you unlock economic value and entrepreneurship. And Africa is a place of entrepreneurship.
Rik Kirkland:Bill, how are you looking at the opportunity? Where are you now and where do you see this going?
Bill Egbe:I believe the reason growth in Africa is going to be sustainable comes from a couple of key factors. One is that I think most companies are starting to realize, most businesses are starting to realize, that you can generate good returns in Africa. People get blinded sometimes by the challenges and I always say that those challenges are part of our reality. We don’t mourn them. We don’t complain about them. We take those into account as we design our business models.
So businesses have to have a mind-set that says, “We’ll build a business model that takes into account these challenges and builds a system that enables them to be able to overcome and still generate a profit.” That’s quite important. The other reason why I think the growth in Africa is sustainable is because, whether we like it or not, the aspirations of Africans go beyond just being able to buy and trade: simple commerce.
The point that Maria made about the importance of entrepreneurship is critical. For us to be able to reduce poverty in Africa, it’s not going to come from big companies creating jobs. There’s no other economy where the bulk of the job creation comes from big companies.4
It comes from small and medium enterprise. The question is, “How do we, in the private sector, partner with the governments to ensure that we can accelerate the pace at which we create viable entrepreneurs on the continent, not just traders?” And how do you get people who start with trading to evolve to the point where they can start supplying major companies, and then evolve to the point where they can start manufacturing what they supply to major companies?
The last point is that companies have to also understand that, in order for them to have a license to operate in Africa, they have to earn that license, not from the governments but from the consumers. And that license means that you’re doing things that support socioeconomic development in Africa. You have a role in doing things to support the improvement of the standard of living of Africans. It means that you have to invest in the communities in which you do business, be it in building plants, creating jobs, providing skills, providing business opportunities.
Rik Kirkland:I’ll go to Maria, wearing your policy hat. Are there regulatory barriers and structures that need to be addressed that are keeping business formation back? There must be.
Maria Ramos:I think it’s important to just be realistic and to say that, yes, I think there are often regulatory challenges. I mean, there are barriers to entry. There are sometimes too many bits of compliance and costs of compliance. All of these measures—you know, the cost of and how long it takes to get through a border post, how much paperwork there is, how long it takes to register a company—all of those things are worth looking at.
How innovation progresses in a country is fundamentally important. We have the most unbelievable resource on this continent, and that’s our people. We should be investing in people. We should be encouraging people to think, to do great things. And in order to do that, you need to be able to register innovation. Innovation is what we should be investing in.
Norbert Dörr:The real issue is getting the business climate and environment to reform. And the larger companies, they can afford another 50 lawyers to deal with it. But if you’re a small guy, you can’t afford 50 lawyers to deal with regulation. So it’s more the execution and taking the red tape out. It’s not about the frameworks. I think Africa, in many places, has very good policies. But the execution, often, is the problem.
It’s not that the government tries to make it difficult for you to get licenses. But if the process isn’t clear, and when you go to the offices that are supposed to help read more
The new INEC chairman and former chair of the NYSC, Prof. Attahiru Jega has foreclosed any voting participation of Nigerians in the diaspora in the upcoming 2011 election for presidency of Nigeria. In a conversation he had a few days ago on prime time with AIT’s (African Independent Television) Mr. Gbenga Arelula and numerous callers Jega was unequivocally clear on the following points
ü That all party primaries will be monitored by the INEC team and encourages the political parties to ensure that INEC personal and team in charge of primaries are invited to all primaries. They will serve as witnesses to the results and certify the primary winner. He further stated that politicians who claim to have won without INEC certification run the risk of not being recognized at the general elections. Mr. Jega wants Nigerians to know that INEC will be vigilant.
ü Jega promised that campaign financing would be strictly monitored and Nigerians who because of their status and wealth feel that they can buy the election have something else to look forward to. He would prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law. No “Money Miss Road” will have sway over the outcome of the election. He alluded to the fact that the international community is watching to ensure that we have a free and fair elections without rigging. He welcomed citizen participation at the polling booths to deter would be culprits of voter padding and caution political parties and indeed aspirants of the consequences of trying to circumvent the will of the Nigerian people who are clamoring for a free and fair election
ü Jega noted they would not be using electronic voting but assured everyone that the Direct Data Capturing machine (DCC) that INEC would be using would be bug free and delay free. He further assured the people that the acquisition and distribution channel of the machines would be direct from manufacturers and direct to customers. The programming that will be used in the machine has been vetted and is wholly owned by INEC. While INEC was asking for a short extension to prepare for the elections, that extension must be within the confines of the May 29th handover date etched in law. He maintained that the integrity of the process is paramount and controls have been put in play to ensure the process is managed from organization to planning to people.
ü He maintained that Nigeria’s extant laws does not allow for the votes of citizens in the Diaspora to be counted. While this might be disappointing to some, it is the law.
The question Nigerians should ask is whether this eloquent former university Don can pull this off with the rivalry and forces that push against one another in country. African Analyst likes the clarity of purpose but understands that he is only one man. We call on Nigerians in the diaspora to come together and support his efforts by becoming engaged and challenging the status quo. It is not enough to fund raise for party aspirants or arrange parties that only result in one on one discussion without merit or purpose. We must support the institutions if we seek to see a fair election outcome.
As Jega put it “the days of win at all cost is over” Mr. Jega gets a Green rating from us at this stage!!!
Following the series of declaration by different interested Nigerians for the office of the President which election comes up 2011, it is expedient we look at the personality of those who are coming out, to ascertain whom to trust. Politically, a lot have been steering up, and we are all apprehensive of who leads this great nation in the coming months. Much is at stake, from our socio economic life to our security as a nation and as individuals living therein, our lives will be directly impacted by the choices we make; let’s also note that the next President of this nation will determine the stability of this nation as well as the overall development to be attained. Outcries have been coming from all corners of the nation, from the creeks of the south-south to the farm settlements in the far north, from the south-eastern part to the south western part of the nation, it’s been varying sentiments shared across, as we rally behind ethnics, religious and social ideologies, not undermining players interest above national interest, all these are necessitating the tension that is experienced now.
Let us now have a periscope on those that have made their intensions known so far? While trying to deduce what their chances are, as well as the capability of impacting when eventually given power. Former Head of State Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida declared his intension for the position under the platform of People’s Democratic Party PDP, knowing that IBB have lots of allegations against him from his previous military regime and a staunch campaign against him, one will wonder the political maneuvering that is to be seen from his camp for him to scale through, and should the party PDP which happens to be the party to beat feeds him, which on its own can divide the house. Can we say we trust him?
Shortly after, the current President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after keeping mum for so long about his intensions, finally declared his interest to run for the office he is presently occupying; amidst pump and pageantry to the delight of many; the incumbent President who is coming for his first tenure after having been in for our Late elected President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died in office, he is wildly seen as a destiny child having found his way to the seat of power with some sort of divine intervention, can he savage this nation from our many problems? It may seem like the people are behind him, but time will tell whether they really are and if he eventually wins, hope he would not be beclouded by his many influences around him.
Earlier this week, The former Chairman Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Mallam Nuru Ribadu made his intension for the office known as well, he is coming under the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria ACN, which is also gearing up momentum, whether he will become their flag bearer is to be seen and if he eventually does, can he politick through? Knowing that he doesn’t even see himself as a politician, though he is passionate, tenacious, and focused, would this be enough to give him the lead way? Would the party he is coming out from represent his ideology? As the Chairman of EFCC he had claims and counter claims on the key personalities in the party alleged involvement in corrupt practices; now, he is in their fold, these and many more questions we will want to have answers.
Some others, have over the years been regular participants in the electoral process, the likes of Retired GeneralMuhammadu Buhari, whose antecedence and huge northern followership gives immense presence, but going by the way his campaign had always been directed, many believe that he is overtly concentrating on the north and also a religious fanatic. This can leave a huge doubt on his candidature.
As the days go by, we will observe the intrigue, tenacity and political maneuvering that goes with our politics, hoping that pandemonium does not creep into the process as we have always experienced. Whether we trust those coming out or not, we look forward to a credible electoral process. A lot is expected; we are watching!!! read more
Since our last meeting, the Electoral Act 2010 has been signed into law and gazetted, which resolves one of the central impediments to our preparations for both the registration of voters and 2011 elections, as I mentioned at that meeting. On our part, we have released the election timetable and continued at breakneck speed to prepare for voter registration exercise and the elections proper. In the one month since our meeting, in addition to releasing the election timetable, we have set a clear and targeted agenda with a detailed inter-Departmental operational plan that will guide our activities up to the elections in January 2011: we are now on the verge of signing the contracts for procurement of the equipment required for the registration exercise; we have met with and received the buy-in of numerous stakeholders; we are nearing the finalization of an MOU with civil society organizations; we have commenced the recruitment of over 360,000 staff required for the voter registration, and; we have fully developed a new registration software that is completely owned by INEC, which is currently being rigorously tested.
Following the release of the election timetable, the Commission has received repeated inquiries expressing concerns about the ability of political parties to comply with the timelines of the calendar in the context of the new Electoral Act 2010. Principal among the worries is the new format for the nomination of candidates, which is much more decentralized and extended than before, thus requiring a longer timeframe to be actualized. Apart from the political parties, government officials, our development partners, the mass media and the wider public have also wondered about the ability of INEC to deliver a fresh Voters’ Register for the 2011 elections and to conduct the elections proper within the timeframe established by the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010. Surely, INEC is not oblivious of these legitimate concerns, which reflect the collective will of Nigerians and the friends of the country to ensure that we get the next election right.
Yet, these time constraints were not unanticipated by the Commission. You may recall that in my very first Press Conference as Chairman of the Commission, I clearly stated that the two constraints facing the Commission, having decided to conduct a voter registration exercise from scratch, were time and availability of funds. I therefore alerted Nigerians that our ability to deliver a new Voters’ Register, which is the bedrock of free, fair and credible elections, depended largely on meeting certain timelines. Among these were award of contract for the acquisition of the DDC machines early in August, delivery of the first 15,000 units of the machines early in September and training of registration officers by early to middle of September. It has since become clear that we have missed some of these timelines. Fortunately, the problem of finance has now been largely solved, with the supplementary appropriation and agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance on a schedule of releases of funds, which, I am very happy to note, the Ministry is commendably adhering to.
However, the nagging problem of time endures. It is important to put this constraint of time in perspective, considering the diverse interpretations it has received in the press over the last few weeks. The fact that we have time constraints does not mean that the tasks at hand are impossible to accomplish within the existing timeframe. Instead, what it means is that there is a very limited margin to make modifications to timelines, particularly for critical deliverables. For instance, if for any reason it would take five weeks instead of the estimated four to deliver all the DDC machines needed, that would totally put the registration exercise in jeopardy. And the more we miss the timelines, the more difficult it becomes to adjust. Still, as a Commission, we have repeatedly insisted that we shall work within the existing legal framework as contained in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Electoral Act 2010. We have also consistently said that the more time we have, the better the outcome of both the registration of voters and the 2011 elections. These positions are informed by at least two considerations:
1.It is not the Constitutional responsibility of INEC to establish or change the legal framework, including timelines, for electoral activities. Consequently, to canvass the change in the legal framework or Constitutional provisions on election dates would not only be inappropriate, but could open the Commission to public suspicion, given the well known recent electoral history of Nigeria.
2. The question of fixing and changing election dates has been one of the major sore points of our electoral experience in Nigeria . The degree of partisanship that usually informs discussions of these issues is legendary. Consequently, we decided as a Commission that direct involvement in such debates could undermine the independence of INEC in the public eyes, and we deliberately chose to keep away from it.
Yet, we fully understand the position within the relevant arms of government that INEC is in the best position to indicate if it needs more time to carry out its Constitutional roles effectively. Certainly, he who wears the shoe should know exactly where it pinches and what is worth doing is, indeed, worth doing well. The foregoing aptly captures the dilemma that the Commission has been grappling with in the past few weeks namely, that while it is true that we require more time, we must consistently act within the law and also insulate the Commission from the partisan politics that is bound to trail any demand for time extension.
At a Retreat of National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of INEC in Calabar from September 16 – 19, 2010, these issues were exhaustively discussed, weighing all the implications for the Commission, the electoral process and the Nigerian people. The Retreat clearly noted that while the Constitution and Electoral Act must remain sacrosanct, there is no point in delivering an electoral process the outcome of which will again be controversial and incredible. At the end, it was concluded that:
Having examined the Commission’s detailed Action Plan for the voter registration and elections, the Retreat noted that the timeline for the implementation of this Plan is very tight. Consequently, the Commission shall endeavour to engage all the relevant stakeholders with a view to exploring all legal avenues for extension of the time to enable the Commission deliver on the aspirations of Nigerians for credible voters’ register and free, fair and credible elections. Should this happen, May 29 2011 inauguration date must remain sacrosanct.
There is no doubt that political parties constitute the most critical stakeholders in this regard and that is why this meeting is taking place two days after the retreat. I hope that this meeting will closely interrogate the existing situation regarding the election calendar and make recommendations to relevant bodies. I hope also that we can reach a consensus on these issues and avoid divisive positioning. We are sharing with you the detailed work plan of the Commission for the registration of voters and elections, which particularly convinced our Retreat to seek ways of extending the time available to the Commission. Our expectation is that you will profoundly critique the plan, paying necessary attention to its operability within the subsisting timeframe.
Finally, let me state clearly that the reason the Commission decided to be upfront with the Nigerian people about the Herculean challenges confronting it was an abiding commitment to ensuring their ownership of whatever the Commission is doing. We have always insisted that our actions will be transparent and that we shall always seek the understanding and support of Nigerians in difficult times. Surely, this is one of such times.
I thank you all for coming and wish us all fruitful deliberations.
Professor Attahiru M. Jega, OFRChairman, INEC read more
After almost 50 years of independent thinking and sovereignty of the nation Nigeria, she still can’t pride herself on having had a leader of repute that could distinctively layout a blueprint on where she should steer, ply the way and have others follow same path. That is what we have been expecting for almost half a century and as we prepare to mark our 50 years of nationhood, let us celebrate and hope that we get a leader that will first discover the way.
Prior to independence we had erudite statesmen who deemed it fit to fight the good fight of independence. But the product of that action was not defined because they did not have a clear cut vision on the macro positioning of the nation. They could not see 50 or 100 years ahead. What tells between great nations and others is the vision which usually was passed down by a visionary Leader for generations to come to follow; that is what is called developmental pattern as was set by leaders like Lee Kuan Yeu of Singapore fighting for independence 1959. Notwithstanding the lack of abundance natural resource and many other challenges laid a road map and followed it till Singapore became Asian financial and industrial superpower, George Washington of United States of America fondly called “the father of America” He fought, created and pilot the independence of the United State of America in July 4th 1776, amidst ratification of the United States Constitution in 1789 et al; these role model pattern the growth and development of their nations they were clear about the vision they had, they laid and left the road map for others to follow.
Looking back at the last half a century of our existence as a sovereign entity, what can we say is the road map we had? Where have we gotten it wrong to retrace our steps? If the vision was clear enough, how can we seek a leader that will take us back to our ancient land mark? Even as we seek a leader, let us not be blinded by geo-political, religious and tribal sentiments, necessitating our choice of a President. I sincerely look forward to a leader that will follow the people; who will lead from behind and put others in front, celebrating victory when nice things occur. And then take the front line when there is danger. Then we will all appreciate his or her leadership.
Looking at George W. Bush statement on leadership; “I have a different vision of leadership. A leader is someone who brings people together.” We need a leader that will first be able to unite us and then chart a course for glory to be followed by other; He has to be very clear on what he wants and be accepted by all not because of love rather respect. He is to be driven by integrity, passion and a renewed sense of loyalty. This personality will be ingrained in service, courage, tenacity and impeccable spirit of excellence, without this we will still be roving round as a nation; all these are to be needed from the man that will deliver this change we envisage in this nation.
As we get ready to go to the polls to pick people for various political positions a lot is expected from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), all tires of Government, security personnel, electorate and lastly those seeking elective offices. We all have a collective role to play in this peculiar period of our history; and if we do not get the leader of our dream now we‘ll keep hoping that some day we will get this leader. read more
“We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything and no one is responsible for the state.”
Margaret Thatcher, Former British Prime Minister
Looking at the many happenings in this nation Nigeria, one will be quick to believe that God is a Nigerian, she is a perfect example of the renownedpolitical scientist Richard Sklar’s characterization of the African continent as a “workshop of democracy,”going down memory lane looking at the birthing of the nation called Nigeria by the then British empire with the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorate to form a country under the administration of Lord Frederick Luggard in 1914 which was in the first place not necessitated by shared value and common interest but unconscientiously placed on the populace that inhabited the geographical space due to the administrative skill of the High commissioner of a unified colony which was named Nigeria, it was well appreciated back in his home land as a sterling effort in leadership with economic relevance.
This to some was strategic but to many was to be accepted as fate; but in this a jewel was birthed in the middle of the savannah and not long theBritish colonial rule nurtured north-south separation, which has remained the classic cleavage in the country. In particular, after Lord Frederick Luggard’s pact with northern emirs to protect Islamic civilization, the north was shut off from much of the Westernizing influences to which the south was exposed. This protection gave the southern peoples a head start, especially in Western education. During the struggle for independence, northern leaders were afflicted by a constant fear of southern domination. Many of the northern responses to national politics to this day can be attributed to this fear; these and some other systemic separation were the strategy to continually sap the colony of her resources.
Then in 1929, the Aba women riot when thousands of Igbo women organized a massive revolt against the policies imposed by British colonial administrators in southeastern Nigeria, touching off the most serious challenge to British rule in the history of the colony which till date is the singular most organized confrontation from any group. Amazingly, after consciously or unconsciously planned struggle for independence was given to the colony to become a state in 1960; managing the newly gained freedom became an uphill task as the unmanaged freedom was preceded by several in fighting and socio political struggle which had a harsh consequence on our nascent sovereignty. Shortly, before we could know what we were in two coups d’étattook place in 1966 first in January and the second in July nurtured by the severe in fighting between the northern and eastern Nigeria, a situation which led to a harsh reality of a civil war from 1967 – 1970; reason? A clamour for separation after 7 (seven) years of independence to create the Republic of Biafra from Eastern Nigeria, a question that immediately comes to mind is? in all those years that we lived together under the British colony was it that we were forced together or that we were not ready for what we bargained for? Looking closely I get to wonder how we survived it.
Something is certain all nations that survived infighting went on the become world shakers, like United States of America after a civil war from1861 – 1865 was the needed bond that spurred the great American revival, another is the East Germany and West Germany cold war in the 1980’s which also brought about a strong bond after the fall of“Berliner Mauer”. Many nations which didn’t experience as much in fighting fell like a pack of cards a fact that tends to buttress that division doesn’t necessarily solve these problems like in the case USSR and others. Many nations now that are economic superpowers like China, Singapore, India etc all became stronger after they survived the toughest time in the history of their nationhood.
Nigeria has experienced rounds of military and civilian rule and civil war, it is time to face a peaceful national reconstruction and the onus falls on us to turn things around. United Nations will not, foreigners won’t only Nigerians home and in the Diasporas will. The list of the challenges we are facing as a nation is endless but we can add a word to the growing list of solutions, that is; all that matters.Africa needs the development of this glimmer of hope, the world needs it as well and as we celebrate our golden jubilee as a state let us not forget to state our role in making her take her pride of place in global politics and economic relevance.
Long live Nigeria. read more