Making the economic republic of Lagos great

During my recent visit to Lagos, not unlike the previous ones, I had the opportunity to observe and scrutinize the energetic metropolis. This often required me to take off my Nigerian lenses and put on the lenses of a tourist, an investor, or an expatriate. With these different critical lenses, I was able to assess, without bias, the real situation of things.

My conclusion during this last visit confirmed what is already known: Lagos is far ahead of all the other sub-national units in virtually all aspects of development, including the civil service. Indeed, Lagos is now an economic republic on its own.

Welcome to the ‘Economic Republic’ of Lagos

According to the 2016 edition of Demographia World Urban Areas, published by NewGeography.com, Lagos is ranked the 24th largest city in terms of population within the recognised metro area. From the mainland to the island, every corner of the sprawling state is economically vibrant. Yet, there are untapped opportunities and unrealized potentials lurking everywhere.

It is a well-known fact that since the 19th century, Lagos has been a melting pot of Africans and Europeans. The barber who cut my hair in Lekki, the lady who gave me a nice pedicure in Ikeja, and one Uber driver and another Taxify driver were all foreigners who had come into Lagos from neighbouring African countries as economic immigrants. Taken as a country, Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa.

Despite the lack of government’s support and paucity of basic infrastructure, the Lagos entrepreneurial spirit is not dampened. CNN’s Anthony Bourdain noticed this during his recent visit for his popular travel and food TV show, Parts Unknown. “I have never been in any place where I’ve seen such wild, entrepreneurial, positive thinking, a go-go, unrestrained capitalism completely out of the purview of control of government,” the American chef and television personality said. The Rockefeller Foundation listed the state among the 100 most resilient cities in the world.

Development experts have pointed out that a city’s performance reflects the strength of its economy, social conditions and the environment. Regardless of its economic achievement thus far, Lagos’ urban development requires smart thinking and global best practices in urban planning to make the city sustainable and also feature in the best cities rankings. Singapore rose from a colonial harbour to a world-class city-state in just a few decades. In its report “How to make a city great,” McKinsey and Company warns that, “Economic growth, however, does not automatically deliver a better quality of life for citizens and can often harm the environment. Indeed, many cities find they have to take expensive remedial action to fix problems caused by growth itself. It is better, then, not to assume that all growth is good, but to learn what smart growth looks like.”

Making Lagos great

As it grapples with the challenges of urbanisation, there are critical sectors that the government must pay close attention to and provide necessary interventions in. Lagos is the commercial, cultural and entertainment capital of Nigeria. It is home to the nation’s major ports, and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE); the headquarters of virtually all the banks are in the city. Most of the country’s manufacturing industries, multinationals and oil companies are based in Lagos. This explains why there is a high incidence of migration from less economically active sub-national units to the state. People who are seeking employment opportunities throng to Lagos, hoping  to improve their living conditions.

Lagos is the capital of Nollywood, the metonymy for the Nigerian movie industry. The industry’s major distribution centres are located in Idumota Market on Lagos Island and Alaba International Market in Ojo. This billion-dollar sector with huge potential to support other value chains of the Lagos economy remains poorly regulated. This is stifling the potential of the industry. Practitioners and consumers alike are dissatisfied with the performances of the key regulatory bodies, Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) and National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). These bodies have not been able to fulfil their mandates to provide an enabling environment for the growth of the film industry. The industry is still bedeviled by piracy and weak distribution infrastructure to ensure videos and DVDs get access to the market.

With its many private beaches and resorts, Lagos can easily be one of the leading tourism destinations in Africa. It is surprising that I have never come across an advert in an international tourism magazine that tells the international community about the culture and tourism potentials of Lagos. Although some steps have been taken by the government to revive a number of cultural festivals, and there are plans to build six theaters across Lagos, these would not be enough.

The culture and tourism sectors require massive and focused investments both by the public and private sectors. Seoul, the world’s 5th largest city, is home to 115 museums. The South Korean capital also has the world’s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World.

Traditionally, the physical elements of a city are its road networks, buildings and the open spaces. Although Lagos has one of the largest and most extensive road networks in West Africa, the transportation networks are sorely inadequate to meet the demands of the vast and growing population. Road congestion at peak hours remains a perennial feature of the state. Although its BRT system is functional, it is not extensive. A rail system that runs across the city is still under construction, while its water resources are underutilized. A total reform of the transportation system is required if the state intends to prepare for the future.

Other areas that need urgent attention include power, water supply, broadband, waste management, and affordable housing. Improvements in these areas will attract foreign investors and help small and medium scale businesses thrive, thereby helping to increase tax revenue for the state. During my last visit, I saw a lot of small and medium-scale businesses operating independently of state-provided support or public infrastructure. This kind of situation does not motivate business owners to pay their taxes.

The government also needs to pay attention to the retail industry. Analysts have forecasted that the next frontier of middle-class growth will be in the retail sector. McKinsey and Company’s report, “Africa’s growing giant: Nigeria’s new retail economy,” estimates that between 2008 to 2020, there is a $40 billion growth opportunity in food and consumer goods in Nigeria. Lagos will attract a major part of this. A well-thought-out retail building policy will help to attract the right retailers.

In all this, the government needs to collaborate with the private sector to achieve its programmes. Under the privately-run park system in Tokyo, parks are developed and managed by the private sector. Hope SF, a partnership between the city of San Francisco and private developers, is transforming distressed public housing units on five sites into thriving, mixed-income communities with more than 50,000 housing units.

Promoting inclusivity

As Lagos continues its rapid urbanization process, it will be foolhardy to leave behind the vulnerable residents of the state. Social issues need to be taken seriously. Mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, intoned an inclusive vision when he said: “My job is to make sure that everybody has an opportunity in Boston. More than 50 percent of our population is made up of different minorities. We have to look out for everyone. This includes good education, good schools, and good services.”

A well-drafted social entrepreneurship framework can help in addressing social issues, while creating jobs and reducing unemployment. The value proposition of great cities is not limited to economic development; they offer opportunities to all residents, reduce inequalities and protect the vulnerable.

The late American urban planner, Kevin Lynch, prescribed the five basic dimensions of a city’s performance as: vitality, sensibility, fit, accessibility, and control. According to Lynch, a vital city successfully fulfils the biological needs of its inhabitants, and provides a safe environment for their activities. A sensible city is organized so that its residents can perceive and understand the city’s form and function. A city with good fit provides the buildings, spaces, and networks required for its residents to pursue their projects successfully.

An accessible city allows people of all ages and background to gain the activities, resources, services, and information that they need. A city with good control is arranged so that its citizens have a say in the management of the spaces in which they work and reside. Until Lagos meets the above criteria, its mega-city status will remain a mirage and questionable.

@jideolutuyi

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6 Cool Tech Jobs of the Future (That You Probably Haven’t Heard of)

What the experts are saying is true – the highest demand jobs of the future will be in STEM fields! Not all STEM fields are created equal, however; as it turns out, the majority of high-paying STEM jobs are in computing. This is great news for you and your young Tynkerer, who’s getting a head-start on computing skills and principles! So what are some of these tech jobs that are on the table for your child – and more importantly, which are the jobs they’ll get excited about? We’ve outlined six of the coolest tech jobs of the future, because it’s never too early to get inspired!
1. Blockchain engineer
If you’re following the ascent of cryptocurrency, you’ve probably heard of bitcoin – but do you have any idea about the technology behind the digital currency? The blockchain, the core tech behind bitcoin, has the potential to be applied to everything from ID cards to trading platforms. While the tech behind blockchains isn’t necessarily difficult to understand, it’s niche enough that finding good blockchain engineers is proving difficult for employers. For those willing to put in the time to learn the necessary algorithms and cryptography, becoming a blockchain engineer places you at the center of a dynamic new field!
2. Commercial civilian drone operator
From use in infrastructure inspections to delivery services like Amazon Prime Air, drones are the future. With the implementation of drones comes a need for those who can adeptly control commercial drones. Want your kids to get an early start? See our drone courses and let your kids program and fly their own drone!
3. Avatar manager
For a fascinating convergence of art and tech, look to this career of the future! An avatar manager is responsible for designing and managing virtual holograms of people. It seems more far-out than it is – in fact, many bands and artists already use holograms, so one can only imagine all the other handy applications of having a hologram of yourself on hand!
4. Digital artisan
A career as a digital artisan is ideal for out-of-the-box thinkers who’d like to combine IT skills with art and design to create amazing products and ideas. An interest in programming paired with a keen sense of creativity composes the perfect profile of a future digital artisan. Get your child ready by encouraging them to create independent projects in Tynker!
5. Virtual habitat designer
As more and more learning, working, and overall living moves into the virtual realm, someone has to make it navigable and comfortable! That’s where virtual habitat designers come in. Their role is like that of an urban planner – but of the digital world. Skills like art, design, and, of course, coding come together in this a fascinating career that appeals to many different types of people!
6. VR engineer
VR isn’t just for gaming anymore – it’s being used to bring people around the globe together through immersive news stories, academic collaboration, improved health care, and more. With so many divergent uses for VR on the rise, we’ll need lots of smart engineers to make it all happen! Your child’s dedication to learning a new realm of technology and a strong sense of innovation just might land your child an exciting job as a VR engineer down the line.

When asked what they want to be when they grow up, kids don’t always have a clear vision – as many kids we’ve spoken with have noted, most of the careers they’ll enter haven’t even been created yet! At the root of it all, the workplace of our changing world depends on creative problem solving. When kids code, they acquire these problem-solving skills as they learn the technical skill of coding. There’s no better way to prepare for the future!

 

By: Tynker

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The case for imposing broad-based sales taxes in the states

The Nigerian sub-national economies have always had cashflow problems, which have become acute in the last two years. With very few exceptions, the states are finding it difficult to pay workers and pensioners. Between four to 12 months’ – or more in some cases – salaries and pensions are being owed by the states. This is an absurdity.

Over the last two years, the federal government has bailed out the states more than once to enable them meet their payroll obligations. It is true that even in times of high oil revenue, some of these states owed salaries. The fall in oil revenue has made the situation worse.

The gatherings of states’ commissioners at the federal capital to receive statutory allocations every month is not only anti-development; it is an unfortunate practice in a federalism. It could also be likened to gathering of welfare recipients, receiving their monthly welfare benefits. It is high time states began to tap their human and natural resources to increase their revenue and improve the wellbeing of their people.

One of the most common avenues that sub-national governments in other climes use to generate revenues is by imposing sales taxes. A sales tax is a tax levied on the sale of goods or services. It is usually proportional to the price of the goods and services sold.

The sales tax has a fascinating history and it is believed to have been around for a long time. In 415 BC, during the auction of slaves in Piraeus, Greece, a sales tax of 1% was imposed. The Roman emperor Augustus also collected a 1% general sales tax, known as the centesima rerum venalium (hundredth of the value of everything sold), which he used to fund his military.

The first broad-based general sales tax in the United States was introduced by the state of Mississippi in 1930. Twenty-four other states introduced theirs in the late 1930s, followed by six states in the 1940s, five in the 1950s and 11 in the 1960s. Vermont was the last state to enact its sales tax in 1969. Five states (Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) do not impose state-wide sales taxes. For some of these states without state-wide taxes, they have excise taxes, municipal sales taxes, gasoline taxes, as well as cigarette and alcohol taxes.

Basically, there are two types of sales taxes, one is a consumption tax or retail tax, which is a straight percentage tax placed on the sale of goods. It is considered the traditional type of sales tax. The second is the value added tax (VAT). The VAT is distinctly different from the consumption tax. It is an indirect tax designed as a final tax liability on the final consumption of goods or services. Currently, VAT is the only sales tax operated in Nigeria and it is collected by the federal government.

VAT was established in Nigeria on August 24, 1993 under the Value Added Tax Act 1993. It replaced the sales tax, which had operated under Decree No. 7 of 1986. The old sales tax was deemed to insufficiently cover the growing consumption industry, hence the need for its replacement.

I am not under the illusion that implementing sales taxes in the states in the current dispensation is going to be a soft sell, especially given the lack of trust in the leadership at every level. But despite the mistrust by the citizens, there needs to be more ways of generating funds to provide basic amenities. The onus is now on the leaders to prove that funds collected will be appropriately utilized.

As a country, both the citizens and their leaders are quick to compare Nigeria to the developed nations. But the reality is that development doesn’t come cheap. It comes when the leaders do what is right and the citizens pay their fair share and demand accountability from the leaders.

The fact is the revenue to meet the obligations of states has to come from somewhere. In my opinion, the sales tax remains one of the best options for the states to increase their revenue and invest in infrastructural development.

In an internal report by the economists at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the effects of various types of taxes on the economic growth of developed nations within the OECD, it was found that sales taxes are some of the least harmful taxes for growth. They are also economically efficient in collecting per dollar of revenue spent.

In a 2002 study conducted by the Fraser Institute on taxation in Canada, and focused on the marginal efficiency cost of various taxes in the country, it was found that per dollar collected, corporate income taxes did $1.55 in damage to the economy. Income taxes were found to be somewhat more efficient, doing only $0.56 economic damage per dollar collected; while sales tax came out on top with only $0.17 in economic damage per dollar collected.

A sales tax is considered a regressive tax. What this means is that the rate does not change based on a person’s income or wealth. Those against sales tax are quick to point out its regressive nature as the reason it does not favour the low-income earners. While this is correct, states who have implemented sales taxes mitigate the negative effect on low-income earners by excluding some goods and services such as rent, electricity, food, clothing and medications.

In a country with a very large informal economy and low tax-to-GDP ratio, the sales tax remains the most effective tool that can raise money from the informal sector, including the underground economy. Consider an example of a drug dealer who does not pay income tax. But he would have no choice but to pay taxes under the state’s sales tax whenever he purchases goods and services.

It is also evident that despite the high poverty rate in Nigeria, the country still ranks high in the purchase of exotic and luxury items like wines, designer clothes, cars and many others. These are potential sales tax items.

As stated earlier, selling a sales tax policy will be a hard sell. Taxpayers would need to be convincingly reassured that funds generated would be utilized for the benefit of the citizens. Some of the steps the government must take to reassure the people is to cut waste and show more seriousness in fighting corruption.

The states’ sales tax may not be a permanent tax in some cases, similar to what we have seen in the case of the province of Alberta in Canada. In Canada, the federal government operates a value added tax, called the Goods and Services Tax (GST), while most of the provinces operate the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). The federal GST rate is 5% while the PST rates vary from province to province. Only the province of Alberta and the territories of Yukon, Northwest territories and Nunavut have no sales taxes.

While Alberta is without a provincial tax or harmonized tax, it was the first province to impose a sale tax back in 1936-1937 during the Great Depression. The province, rich in natural resources, has gone 80 years without a sales tax.

Enacting and implementing the sales tax is a herculean task. But it is not unsurmountable. Any state that intends to implement a sales tax must be ready to back it up with technological support and innovation. Each state must also be aware that in implementing a sales tax, it needs to pay attention to the sales tax, if any, in the neighbouring state. If taxpayers see that it’s cheaper for them to cross the border to the next state to purchase an item just to evade a sale tax, they will do so.

For instance, the state of Texas doesn’t impose income tax. This makes it very attractive to corporate executives. But property and sales taxes in Texas are high. One study found that the bottom 20 percent of the Texan population pays 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

While the sales tax may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to solving the perennial cashflow problems of Nigerian states, each state would have to dig deep and decide on what is best for its populace.

@jideolutuyi

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VAIDS and the need for effective tax administration in Nigeria

As part of efforts to improve non-oil revenue amid a global outlook of low oil prices, Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, recently signed an Executive Order (EO) on the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS). The main objective of the scheme – which commenced on July 1, 2017 and will last for a period of nine months – is to help expand the country’s tax base.

Other objectives of the scheme, as announced by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, include increasing tax-to-GDP ratio from 6% to 18% by 2020, and improving compliance with existing tax laws. VAIDS is also expected to curb the use of tax havens, discourage tax evasion, and tackle illicit financial flows. With the introduction of VAIDS, the government hopes to encourage voluntary disclosure of previously undisclosed assets and income and the payment of outstanding tax liabilities.

In one of its reports on Voluntary Disclosure Programmes, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) describes VDPs as “opportunities offered by tax administrations to allow previously non-compliant taxpayers to correct their tax affairs under specified terms. When drafted carefully, voluntary disclosure programmes benefit everyone involved – taxpayers making the disclosure, compliant taxpayers, and governments.” The Nigerian VAIDS is being implemented by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in collaboration with all 36 State Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and the FCT IRS.

While signing the EO on the scheme, Osinbajo said it had become imperative for the government to do something about the low level of tax compliance, adding that, “When people pay taxes, they pay more attention to what government is doing. There’s a greater level of political and social consciousness. Taxes are not only about boosting government revenues. When people pay taxes, they hold the government to account more.” He is right. In developed countries, citizens pay their fair share of taxes and they have a say in the way their representatives in government manage government funds.

Considering Nigeria’s low tax-to-GDP ratio, and the fact that out of a taxable class of about 69 million people, only 14 million are currently in the tax net, the implementation of VAIDS could go a long way in increasing non-oil revenue. Despite having a non-oil sector that accounts for up to 93% of Nigeria’s GDP, government’s non-oil revenue in 2016 was N2.99 trillion (or 2.9% of GDP). Suffice to say, though, that there was a decline in non-oil collection from the N3.08 trillion recorded in 2015. Nevertheless, this does not alter the main gist, which is the dismal performance of the non-oil sector in terms of generating revenue for the government.

Permanent and temporary disclosure schemes

Voluntary disclosures regarding tax matters are not new in tax administration. Indeed, VDPs are widely used in developed countries, helping to enhance the effectiveness of their tax administration. Voluntary disclosure programmes can generally be grouped into two categories, namely permanent or temporary programmes. The Nigerian VAIDS is considered a temporary programme.

The Canadian Voluntary Disclosures Program is a permanent programme. It gives individuals and companies a second chance to change a tax return that was previously filed or to file a return that should have been filed. To be eligible, it must be voluntary. Should an individual or company be contacted by the Canada Revenue Agency before making the disclosure, it won’t be considered voluntary.

South Africa also operates a permanent VDP as part of its tax administration. However, a temporary VDP was introduced last year. Called the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP), it is similar to Nigeria’s VAIDS. The SVDP window period is between October 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017. It is meant for individuals and companies who have not, in the past, disclosed tax and exchange control defaults in relation to offshore assets.

In developed countries, there are benefits associated with voluntary disclosure, including reduced penalties and an allowance to negotiate for protection against criminal prosecution – in serious cases of default.

In the case of VAIDS, some benefits to individuals and companies were also listed during the rollout, such as: immunity from prosecution for tax offences; immunity from tax audit; waiver of interest; and waiver of penalties. However, for there to be institutionalization of voluntary disclosure in Nigeria’s tax administration, there needs to be an enactment of a permanent VDP law by the National Assembly. The South African Revenue Service Voluntary Disclosure Programme (VDP), which came into effect on October 1, 2012, is administered under the Tax Administration Act, 2011.

VDPs have been found to rake in significant funds for governments. Canada’s VDP raked in $1.3 billion in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, out of which about $780 million came from offshore disclosures. Similarly, the United States Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) has raked in about $10 billion in taxes, interest and penalties since 2009. In Nigeria’s case, the VAIDS has a tax revenue target of $1 billion.

Revamping tax administration

For VAIDS or a future VDP law to be very successful, an efficient and effective tax administration has to be in place. The country’s current tax administration is bogged down with several issues, ranging from lack of accurate data, duplicity of taxes and crude collection systems. These issues will need to be dealt with.

In his book, The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Scottish economist, Adam Smith, outlined the four principles or canons of a tax system: 1) “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.” 2) “The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain, and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor, and to every other person.” 3) “Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it.” 4) “Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and to keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state.”

Modern-day economists have re-stated the above four canons as: equality (everybody ought to pay the same rate or percentage of his income as tax); certainty (there should be no ambiguity about the time, manner and quantity of payment); convenience (the sum, time and manner of payment of taxes should not be burdensome to the taxpayer); and efficiency (taxes should be as simple as possible and collection costs minimised). Much of these principles are lacking in Nigeria’s tax administration.

The FIRS and the Ministry of Finance would need to work hard to revamp the country’s tax administration. Although Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, has expressed optimism that the agency and the government will meet their revenue target for VAIDS, the tax agency will need to do more than a temporary disclosure programme to boost tax revenue in the country. It should also look at how a permanent VDP can be embedded in the tax administration.

But the much bigger task is putting in place policies to engender sustainable inclusive economic growth, increase access to funding for small businesses and revitalize the private sector. Tax revenue plays a key role in building the economy. However, the economy has to be supported to grow and diversify. And the economic diversification agenda of the government is hinged on boosting non-oil revenue, of which tax revenue is a huge part of.

While VAIDS remains a temporary programme, the tax agency must also ensure punitive measures for tax defaulters are clearly stated. Otherwise, VAIDS will soon join the pool of several government programmes that were rolled out with pomp and pageantry but never achieved their objectives.

In designing an effective tax system, the FIRS and the Finance Ministry must bear in mind the power of taxation, as James Madison, America’s fourth President opined: “The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.”

@jideolutuyi

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How corporate governance can affect Nigeria’s development

Corporate Governance is not just about how a company is directed and controlled to maximize performance and ensure accountability to stakeholders. Better governance practices and processes have become imperatives for both national and global economies. A company that is run very efficiently and responsibly will perform very well and ultimately contribute to strengthening the economy.

Public, private and non-profit organisations all need to be governed – apart from day-to-day management of the entities by their executive teams. Corporate governance is the responsibility of the governing body, or board of directors in the case of companies.

The first corporate governance codes were introduced in December 1992 in response to corporate failures in the United Kingdom. A report, known as the Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance, was produced by a committee headed by Sir Adrian Cadbury. Now referred to as the Cadbury Report, the report significantly influenced corporate governance thinking around the world. Other countries followed suit, France (Vienot Report, 1995); South Africa (King Report, 1994); Canada (Toronto Stock Exchange recommendations on Canadian board practices, 1995); The Netherlands Report (1995); and Hong Kong (a report on corporate governance from the Hong Kong Society of Accountants, 1996). These reports tried to forestall the abuse of power by corporate entities.

But at the turn of the 21st century, the world began to experience some corporate challenges, which led to the review of corporate governance practices. One of the widely-recognised outcomes of these efforts was the United States’ Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known colloquially as SOX. The Act requires certification of internal auditing, increased financial disclosure, and it also imposes criminal penalties on directors for non-compliance. SOX is considered one of the most influential pieces of corporate legislation in the world. It was built on the idea that corporate governance should not be left to the discretion of directors of companies and their chief executives.

Nigeria also has its fair share of corporate governance history. Before the 1990s, the principal company law in Nigeria was the Companies Act 1968, which was modelled after the Companies Act 1948 of the United Kingdom. The law was repealed and replaced by the then Companies and Allied Matters Decree No. 1 of 1990. There were several modifications over the years but the principal statute regulating companies in Nigeria today is the Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap. C20, 2004. The current statute was the product of a rigorous process led by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

The first corporate governance code in Nigeria was the Code of Corporate Governance for Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria. It was issued by the Bankers Committee in August 2003. The regulation was introduced in response to the financial crisis of the 1990s. The 11 principles of the regulation focus on appointments, board proceedings, board responsibilities, assessment and audit committees. Unfortunately, this code did not have much impact.

Analysts have attributed the lack of impact to the issuance of another legislation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) two months after the Bankers Committee had issued its corporate governance code. In October 2003, SEC’s 17-member committee, headed by Atedo Peterside, issued the Code of Best Practices on Corporate Governance in Nigeria. The SEC code emphasised the role of the board of directors and management; shareholder rights and privileges; and the audit committee. Not only was the code influential, it was also the first to be issued by any regulator in the country.

Although the SEC code presented some sweeping reforms, it was soon found to be inadequate in addressing new challenges. Therefore, in 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) issued its Code of Corporate Governance for Banks in Nigeria Post Consolidation. This code was introduced to ensure accountability on the part of bank CEOs. It specifies fines and penalties, including jail terms for erring CEOs. It prescribes risk management measures within the organisation, particularly emphasising the role and qualification of a company’s internal auditor.

The National Pension Commission (PENCOM) issued its own code in 2008, known as the 2008 PENCOM Code. Subsequently, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) issued its Code of Corporate Governance for the Insurance Industry in 2009. These three industry-specific codes were meant to address the issues that were not addressed in the SEC legislation.

However, in 2011, SEC released the Code of Corporate Governance for Public Companies in Nigeria, which effectively replaced its 2003 legislation. This latest law was adjudged at the time as the most comprehensive corporate governance code in Nigeria. The code is anchored on five main principles, which include: leadership, effectiveness, accountability, remuneration and relations with shareholders.

A new study jointly published by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and KPMG places Nigeria among the top five countries in Africa for compliance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Principles of Corporate Governance. The report examines the corporate governance requirements for listed companies in 15 African countries against the four tenets of corporate governance as underpinned by the OECD Principles. The countries were ranked based on the principles, which include leadership and culture; strategy and performance; compliance and oversight; and stakeholder engagement. Nigeria came behind South Africa, Kenya and Mauritius – but ahead of Uganda in the top five bracket.

Despite these developments, Nigeria lags behind countries like the United Kingdom in terms of corporate governance codes, policies and enabling laws. The UK, through the Financial Reporting Council, regularly reviews and updates the country’s corporate governance codes, principles and best practices. The regulator promotes high standards of corporate governance to foster investment.

The establishment of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), through the Financial Reporting Council Act 2011, was widely praised. The Directorate of Corporate Governance of the FRCN has the responsibility to develop principles and practices of corporate governance. The directorate can act as the coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the council’s attempt to overhaul the country’s corporate governance framework to encourage more disclosure and better governance practices was scuttled last year.

One issue bedevilling Nigeria’s corporate governance landscape is the multiplicity of overlapping legislations. The council tried to address this issue and unify the sectoral corporate governance codes with the National Code of Corporate Governance 2016 (NCCG), released in October 2016. The NCCG – which provides corporate governance legislation for private and public sectors as well as not-for-profit organizations – was suspended by the federal government in November following stiff opposition from various stakeholders. In suspending the code, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, also issued a query to the FRCN for overreaching itself and to essentially explain the rationale for the legislation.

While the political leverage of religious organisations was apparent in the suspension of FRCN code, it is important to state that the corporate governance of charitable organisations, especially religious bodies, needs urgent attention. At the very least, if implemented, the code would foster transparency in the management of these organisations that are becoming behemoths in the country. Effective and frequently updated corporate governance codes are required for a developing country like Nigeria to overcome its development challenges.

Data indicates that Nigeria has lost 75 banks since the advent of banking since 1914. There is evidence suggesting that these bank failures were largely due to weaknesses in corporate governance. A CBN and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) study of distress in the Nigerian financial services sector (October 1995) provides the following data, showing the factors that cause distresses in the banking industry: Economic depression (25%); political crises (17.9%); bad credit policy (25%); undue interference by board members (corporate governance) (32.1%).

In a report presented to the Global Corporate Governance Forum in 2003, Stijn Claessens, Professor of International Finance at the University of Amsterdam, identified several channels through which corporate governance affects the growth and development of a nation. According to him, “The first is the increased access to external financing by firms. This in turn can lead to larger investment, higher growth, and greater employment creation. The second channel is a lowering of the cost of capital and associated higher firm valuation. This makes more investments attractive to investors, also leading to growth and more employment. The third channel is better operational performance through better allocation of resources and better management. This creates wealth more generally.

“Fourth, good corporate governance can be associated with a reduced risk of financial crises. This is particularly important, as financial crises can have large economic and social costs. Fifth, good corporate governance can mean generally better relationships with all stakeholders. This helps improve social and labour relationships and aspects such as environmental protection. All these channels matter for growth, employment, poverty, and well-being more generally. Empirical evidence using various techniques has documented these relationships at the level of the country, the sector, and the individual firm and from the investor perspectives.”

Despite the flaws of the NCCG, the unintended consequence of its suspension is the potentially negative impact on investment in the country. The effect of corporate governance on the overall development of an economy cannot be overemphasised. In his foreword to the Claessens’ report, Sir Adrian Cadbury said of the significance of corporate governance for the stability and equity of society: “The aim is to align as nearly as possible the interests of individuals, of corporations, and of society. The incentive to corporations and to those who own and manage them to adopt internationally accepted governance standards is that these standards will assist them to achieve their aims and to attract investment. The incentive for their adoption by states is that these standards will strengthen their economies and encourage business probity.”

It is for the sake of bolstering investor confidence and attracting foreign investments in Africa’s largest economy that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and SEC jointly developed and launched a Corporate Governance Scorecard for publicly-listed companies in the country.

Efforts should be made to quickly resolve the issues with the FRCN harmonised corporate governance code for Nigeria. Moreover, the council should be provided the independence it needs to function effectively and promote higher standards of corporate governance and reporting in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

 

@jideolutuyi

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Review of Online Payment Gateway in Nigeria

Well it’s no news that Nigeria is a fast growing developing country and same can be said about its technology sector, if you read my post on digital marketing in Nigeria you will understand this statement

So with the soar growth of the internet and the way businesses and individuals have now embrace the web to represent their business online, there is a great need for dependable e-payment companies in Nigeria that are capable to handle online payment in Nigeria. This has left most Nigerian Banks to dive into this lucrative opportunity of facilitating online payments for their customers.

Although there are international online e-payment processors that can handle e-payment in Nigeria, but most do come with a lot of restrictions and high transaction fees compared to Nigeria payment gateway, which in most cases are also restricted to handle international transactions. There are only few e-payment processing companies in Nigeria that can boast of such facility to allow you to collect your payment both locally and internationally.

In this post I will provide a comprehensive list of familiar and best online payment processing platforms which you can deploy on your various websites with no restriction to your website frame works.

To provide you with a list of best online payment gateway in Nigeria I will be measuring each of them with the following metrics:

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation
  • Fast responding and Technical support
  • Usage and level of acceptability
  • Setup convenience and setbacks
  • Setup fees and charges
  • Vulnerability (security)
  • Compatibility with Banks
  • Online reputation (review) and popularity

Nigeria payment gateway review are not based on my personal experience but are based on tons of web users report on their experience and usage of each e-payment system in Nigeria. To be candid, I can assure you this is the most detailed post you will ever get online payment gateway Nigeria review.

1.) GTBank GTPAY Review 

GTBank has come on board to help service the issues of delivering e payment in Nigeria with a very easy way to process online payment deposited to your local accounts. With GTPAY merchants can integrate it to their e-commerce website to start accepting payment online using debit Cards issued by banks on the Interswitch Network. The GTpay payment platform support Nigerian Cards such Visa, MasterCard and Interswitch Verve card.

GTBank GTPAY has over 4000 customers using the gateway to process both local and international transactions online. Now GTBank has a very strict procedure when it comes to getting a GTpay account with them.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Approval for international card acceptance policy has been reviewed. To activate GTBank GTPay for international card acceptance, the customer has to open and maintain a corporate domicilliary account for 6 to 12 months, before been approved after submitting GTPay and completing GTBank and Interswitch certification process. This is quiet annoying, as the Bank neglects to inform existing customers about this ordeal nor inform new customers it would not be possible to access GTPAY on your website instantly at point of submitting the GTPay form. Thus we discovered that the bank only activate customers for local cards; and international acceptance require them to open a Domicilliary account and run for at least 6 months.

Some web developers and programmers reviews about the GTBank GTPay integration complain that the certification and approval process is quiet long and lengthy. Amazingly, after passing this whole process of GTBank GTpay, proceeded to Interswitch for certification, GTBank team are supposed to move the site to Go live stage. Amazingly, they just delay/stall the whole process indefinitely for no justifiable reason. We experimented this with integration of GTBank GTPay ourselves and confirmed this to be true.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation :The GTPay platforms have a better integration work flow, and codes have been simplified for developers. GTBank is a certified developer partner; hence GTPAY Integration for merchants’ fee is waived. Their customers get a waiver for integration to interswitch– reduced sign-on fee. GTPay integration documents and coding has been upgraded to make it easier for integrators to understand. However, the certification and approval process takes quite a very long time.
  • Fast responding and Technical support:GTBank has a dedicated, responsive and good technical support team that attend to issues timely. Emails are responded timely after sent by customers. One of our clients confirms this to be true.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: GTPay payment gateway is one of the most widely used online payment gateways in Nigeria. The GTBank gateway has over 4000 customers using the gateway to process local and international transactions. It supports Visa, MasterCard and Interswitch Verve card. GTPay payment gateway also supports international cards (Visa and MasterCard).
  • Setup Convenience and setbacks: A critical requirement for activating GTBank GTPay for international card acceptance is that customer must open and maintain a corporate domiciliary account for a period of 6 to 12 months, before being approved. This is annoying and frustrating as customers are not being notified on time. Even after the 6 to 12 months period, international card acceptance still comes with a condition of 3% charge per transaction (no cap) and a N5, 000.00 monthly subscription fees. This is no doubt a huge amount for small medium enterprise and discouraging for a customer that doesn’t regularly do large volume turnover transactions. This is the reason why many of GTPay customers don’t subscribe to the international card acceptance.

Again, the certification and approval process takes quite long and lengthy time (i.e. time frame for integration to go live is quite long). Customer has to apply through GTBank to Interswitch, before test ID will be created. After which, TEST integration document and link will be sent to customer with long checklist of requirements. Customer will integrate, and send the checklist to GTBank for verification, then send to Interswitch to set their test date. Interswitch will fix a date for the test, conduct the test before approval and onward live integration details sent to GTBank, GTBank will then setup the customer on their site. This is a very long process; it takes time and can be complex if you don’t understand what you are doing very well. GTBank GTPay integration process and DIY integration document is quite lengthy.

GTPay platform for selecting card type can be difficult for a customer that doesn’t read everything on the page when they want to check out and make payment. This can lead to higher shopping cart abandonment rate. Customers paying online may not know they have to click their preferred card and then enter email below the page, before proceeding to payment page to enter their card details. This stage can be bypassed for customers that want to accept only local cards. Unfortunately, the stage cannot be avoided by customers that want to accept International cards. The bank should have made it like a simple radio button or something easier for the customer to know they must click, and no need to enter email address again (since it can be bypassed for local cards). Customer has to open a corporate account with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc to be able to use this service

  • Setup fees and charges

SETUP FEES : GTBank GTPay platform supports both wordpress themes and e-commerce website. The initial setup cost is N75, 000 and integration cost varies depending on your developer.

CHARGES: MasterCard/Visa (local) –TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2, 000) Interswitch Verve (local) –TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2, 000) MasterCard/Visa (International) – TRANSACTION FEE: 3% of transaction amount; no cap on International Gateway Monthly Charge – N5, 000

BEARER:  MERCHANT—————MERCHANT

  • Vulnerability (security) :The system is highly safe
  • Compatibility with Banks: GTBankis a certified developer partner. The gateway supports Visa, MasterCard and Interswitch Verve card. It also supports international cards (Visa and MasterCard).

How to get started with GTBank GTPay

To get started with GTBank GTPAY, visit official  GTBank GTPay  web page • Complete the GTPay Application form. • Send filled form along with Certificate of Incorporation to your Account officer. • For further enquiries, kindly send an email to epay@gtbank.com

There are already coded script for any e-commerce frame work which you can get via STORE PLUGINS for a lesser fee.

2.) Interswitch Webpay Review 

Writing a list of best top online payment gateways/portals in Nigeria wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Interswitch Webpay. They are the frontier with e-payment in Nigeria and also contributed largely to the facilitation of ATM (automated teller machines) in Nigeria.

WebPAY is an Internet Payment Gateway developed by InterSwitch to facilitate payments on the Internet using debit cards issued by member banks on the InterSwitch network.

When you talk about online payment processing platform in Nigeria, Interswitch is the frontier for all online payment processing platform in Nigeria. They are the pioneer of online payment platform in Nigeria. They process both online and offline payment for virtually all commercial banks in Nigeria.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation:Interswitch webpay payment system adopts the same process as GTBank GTPay. The process is a bit lengthy and also uses a DIY integration document. Their documentation is not usually enough for you to easily execute the integration. Their documentation is not so helpful; they need to do more work on their documentation. However, the payment processor has partnered with many developers to assist customers with integration at a low cost.
  • Fast responding and Technical support: They have a fairly good technical support team. However, response to issues when using Interswitch WebPAY is slow. They delay in responding and resolving customer issues and challenges. Reconciliation is in 2 ways; that is Bank Settlements and payment gateway portal transaction log.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: The company has over 5000 customers using the online payment gateway to receive payments. The Interswitch WebPAY gateway support Verve cards, Visa and MasterCard. However, this payment gateway platform only supports Nigerian interswitch compliance cards. International cards such as VISA and MasterCard are not accepted on WebPay gateway. A service many Nigerians merchants and online investors are now demanding for.
  • Setup convenience and setbacks : To use the Interswitch WebPAY to accept payment online, the customer has to register and be setup on the gateway in demo mode. Thereafter, the customer will go through a certification process; once the test process is passed, they will be migrated to a live mode to start accepting real-time transactions on their website. To enrolled, the customer requires a bank to generate Merchant ID on their platform before Interswitch will then synchronize them together. The whole setup process is a bit lengthy and time consuming.
  • Setup fees and charges: The setup fee for Interswitch Webpay on website is N150, 000 (One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira Only). This, to us is quite high especially for small medium enterprise (SME).
  • Vulnerability (security): The system is absolutely safe.
  • Compatibility with Banks: WebPAY plugs-in seamlessly with existing websites; acts as a bridge between a merchant’s website and banks to process payment transactions. The card details are sent in an encrypted manner to InterSwitch for real-time authorization at the issuing bank. All Nigerian banks have an Interswitch license for processing Interswitch cards online and through other platforms such as POS, ATM etc.
  • How to get started with interswitch webpay/Quickteller : To get started with interswitch, visit the interswitch website Terms and Conditions:www.interswitchng.com

3.) STANBIC IBTC Bluepay (CIPG & MIGS) Review

Where other banks seems to be slacking STANBIC IBTC seems to have the right ringing tone! similar to GTBank, STANBIC IBTC also offers it’s own online payment processing platform for their clients that can also process international transactions by the way they are the only Nigeria bank that will offer you a better cheaper dollar rate if you are to purchase USD dollar or to convert Naira to dollar USD to make purchase via the internet (using local credit card).

Stanbic IBTC Bank has two payment gateways: Consolidated Internet Payment Gateway (CIPG) and MasterCard Internet Gateway Service (MIGS). The two payment gateways of the bank have fantastic features, CIPG to us is a basic payment gateway, while the MIGS have extra premium features.

  • Usage and level of acceptability : CIPG support merchants receiving payments via multiple card variance cards; including MasterCard, Visa, Verve, and Etransact. It also allows receipt of payment via direct bank transfers with the use of CentralPay which rides on NIBBS instant payment platform. It clears and settle the funds to the customers/merchant Stanbic IBTC account.

MIGS (MasterCard Internet Gateway Service) is the premium version of the CIPG. MIGS enables Merchants to process local and international cards using the MasterCard platform. As a premium service, It offers segregation of local and international transactions which makes processing easier, support selective profiling per risk level for merchants and comes with unique Payments Processing features; among which are: Purchase – outright authorization & settlement, Pre-Auth & Capture – Authorize now pay later, Void/ Reversals – Before settlement, Refunds – After settlement, Tokenization – card storage in the form of a token which would be used for future transactions, Recurring payments – Merchants can set recurring payments with historic data of the initial transaction done by card holder.

  • Setup convenience and setbacks :Setup for international cards is usually fast and seamless. However, some customers complain of downtimes, recent decline of cards (especially international cards) and settlements being delayed which is greatly affecting their business especially when they have to pay their vendors and suppliers on weakened basis. They are making timely effort to improve in this area.
  • Setup fees and charges :The cost of this payment gateway is cheaper than many banks gateway currently (excluding UBA UCollect which is free).Setting up of CIPG STANBIC IBTC myBluepay is N50, 000 (Fifty Thousand Naira) while setting up of MIGS STANBIC IBTC myBluepay is N250,000 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira)
  • Charges : MasterCard/Visa (local) – TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2, 000) Interswitch Verve (local) – TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2, 000) MasterCard/Visa (International) – TRANSACTION FEE: 4% of transaction amount; no cap. International Gateway Monthly Charge (MIGS only) – N5, 000
  • Vulnerability (security) :CIPG (Consolidated Internet Payment Gateway)- It is a secure payment gateway powered by Interswitch that facilitates collections via a merchants website. While the Security and Fraud Solutions that comes with MIGS; such as: Fraud screening – which offers a basic gateway fraud prevention tool which allows the Bank to control merchants acceptance based on the type of transactions, black-list look-up and behavioral pattern blocking. Cardholder verification: MasterCard secure code, Verified by Visa, J/Secure (JCB), Enable 3D secure blocking.
  • Compatibility with Banks :Stanbic IBTC Bank Mybluepay payment gateway is a payment gateway provided by Stanbic IBTC Bank.To get started with Stanbic IBTC Bank Mybluepay payment gateway; visit Stanbic IBTC BANK bluepaywebsite.

During the course of our review, test, experimentation, integration and interaction with the customers actively using it, we discovered that the gateway have good support for  their payment gateway. Setup for international cards is fast and seamless. Though some customers complain of downtimes, recent decline of cards (especially international cards) and settlements are delayed which is greatly affecting their business especially when they have to pay their vendors and suppliers weekly. When we contacted the bank they said they are already making some improvements on the gateway.

There are already coded script for any e-commerce frame work which you can get via STORE PLUGINS for a lesser fee.

4.) 2CHECKOUT Review

2Checkout (2CO) is no longer accepting Nigerians as of JUNE 1 2017, they were bought by AVANGATE same period and I am guessing due to some reforms and change in management they must have come to this decision apart from the vague reason given above, why they have decided to remove Nigeria.

But good news! I have discovered a better payment Gateway here in NIGERIA that actually accepts international credit cards from countries like USA or UK etc the name is FLUTTERWAVE and I recommend them for those that will like to offer such payment options to their clients, you can accept payment from other African countries too via Flutterwave.

5.) CASH ENVOY Review 

Cash Envoy is a Nigerian payment system, owned by Electronic Settlement Limited that started on November 2009 and enables merchants receive payment online from all the major Nigerian debit cards, international Visa/Mastercards and also from the CashEnvoy wallet. The payment platform has been endorsed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (BPS/PSP/GEN/PSM/02/010) to process web transaction. They are member of Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria.

CashEnvoy can settle fund to customers account within 24hours, unlike interswitch and other bank e payment system. Cashenvoy vision statement is to create the magical payment processor that customers will always want to pay with and merchants always want to receive payments with. CashEnvoy is the only Nigerian Payment Aggregator/Processor this is accepted on Shopify.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation:I should say they are the best because they have shown to be so. Practically, you will not need the help of anybody to understand the integration process. You will find everything you need in the documentation. You can only contact them when you are going LIVE with the payment aggregator. Although, you will only need an experience as a developer.

I will at this juncture suggest that all payment platforms learn from this company on how to make documentation simple and straight forward. No ambiguity, no obstruction.

  • Fast responding and Technical support: CashEnvoy offers very good support (a bit slow with email replies) and provides documentation/ ready-made plugins for popular shopping cart solutions such as woocomerce, OpenCart, Prestashop and Magento.
  • Usage and level of acceptability :Cashenvoy doesn’t charge for online different variants of cards. Merchants can accept local and international card such as – VISA, MASTERCARD, eTranzact and Interswitch cards.
  • Setup convenience and setbacks :Virtually everything is automated. The company simplifies the setup process by just receiving basic details and forms. You don’t need to call anybody to get a merchant account. There is always a sandbox for your test and the test accounts are made available online. With this, you can’t just be doing it wrong. I see this as a perfect choice for those who need to choose a platform that would not require them to keep calling technical support. They power website with the UAT document, customers have to pass their test phase of site integration – that is to test your website before going live.
  • Setup fees and charges

Setup fees

Registration fee, admin, fee— 0 Withdrawal fee- 0 Activation fee- 0

Setting up Business account is Free, except to receive payments which comes with a competitive rate of 2.5% + N12.60 fee for a Nigerian payment aggregator presently. The Business account features includes: Accept payment on your online store via debit cards, internet banking and CashEnvoy wallet, Receive payment and donations online with ease, Easy to use, with complete transaction records, No integration, withdrawal or subscription fees and Easily pay and settle other merchants on your platform.

The merchant decides who bear cashenvoy charges unlike paypal which the merchant bears the cost.This can be easily selected from the merchants CashEnvoy Dashboard.

Charges

Send Money To Business Account only – Free Make Payments To Business Account only – Free

Transaction fee BUSINESS ACCOUNT

RECEIVE PAYMENTS 2.5% + ₦12.60

WITHDRAW FUNDS  ₦120.00 fee for withdrawals of ₦4,000.00 or less

No hidden charges

International Cards

Commission = 3.9% +N2.60, maximum of N5000.

  • Vulnerability (security) :Their implementation work flow (as given by them) is lovely but some careless developers do implement it with room for vulnerability.
  • Compatibility with Banks: All websites that are integrated with CashEnvoy can accept payment from all the major Nigerian debit cards, international Visa/Mastercards and also from the CashEnvoy wallet.

How to get started with Cash Envoy: To get started with cash envoy, visit cash envoy official website www.cashenvoy.com

 

6.) Voguepay Review 

Voguepay is a Nigerian online payment gateway that allows customers to accept payment on their website. The system support automatic withdrawal to the merchant bank account, unlike most payment processors that merchant has to manually request for withdrawal. The Gateway can process local and international Visa, Mastercard and Verve card. The setup process is faster as customers doesn’t have to go through the Interswitch Certification process. The gateway has feature to accept recurrent billing which simplifies the payment process for both the customer and the merchant as the constant payment is automatically debited from the card at pre-defined time frame, a feature many Nigerian customers have been requesting for years.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation: They have pre-developed Plugin which merchant can just download and install to their existing website for selected shopping carts. This minimizes the stress and energy of having to integrate the gateway to your website. Sites without a readymade plugin or code, the company has an integration document you can use for custom integration with your website. You canintegrate Voguepay payment gateway into wordpress blog.
  • Fast responding and Technical support : They are fast in response. Voguepay takes pride in their email support response on any issue to be replied to within 24hours.
  • Usage and level of acceptability : The gateway Supports both Local and international cards. It has wallet Funds Transfer for local and international merchants. Voguepay enables Merchants to display the paying currency for the customer at payment page. So, merchant can choose to display Naira or United States Dollar. In our last review, we see that it was impossible to change the display currency from Naira (NGN) to United States Dollar (USD), but now it’s possible.  VoguePay USD MasterCard/VISA channel has been disabled. This is due to the fight against fraud and unauthorized card usage, Merchants who wish to have the channel enabled for them will have to request for it by contacting their support team
  • Setup convenience and setbacks; Voguepay’s comprehensive integrated solutions and services are quite understandable. The setup process is faster as customers don’t have to go through the Interswitch network Certification process. The gateway accepts recurrent billing which simplifies the payment process.
  • Setup fees and charges

Setup fees

NIGERIA – Business Account Business Account opening – Free Merchant Fee – Free Merchant Verification N1500 (with Corporate Affairs Commission Certificate) and N2500 (with Government issued Identity cards)

Charges

Transaction Fee Transaction Fee Naira Cards – 2.5%USD MasterCard & VISA Card – 4.5% (No Gateway Fees Applicable) Withdraw Money 1% + 120 Naira Integration Free (Fee may apply for customized Integration)

  • Vulnerability (security) : VoguePay distinguishes itself from other online payment aggregator with its array of features guided by its core values: Security and Reliability. Voguepay has multiple security tools such as SSL, IP monitoring, encryption, User ban and suspension management, risk evaluation management system, email and phone number verification. All this will help minimize fraud by monitoring fraudulent IP addresses, securing the payment page, user authentication and host of others.
  • Compatibility with Banks :Voguepay can process local and international Visa, Mastercard and Verve card. The system support automatic withdrawal to the merchant bank account.

How to get started with voguepay:To get started with voguepay, visit voguepay official website: www.voguepay.com

7.) Simplepay Review 

Simplepay is a new Nigerian payment gateway founded in 2013. The company is located in Abuja Nigeria. The gateway utilizes international acceptability of Zenith Globalpay to allow their customers accept payments online using their local and international Visa Card, MasterCard and Interswitch cards

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation:The company also has developed integration Plugin for different variants of shopping carts and Content Management System, in addition, the integration document is available on the website for custom integration. Getting your website running to accept online payment is simple – it takes a non Technical Person 2hours, for a Developer, you should result in minute.
  • Fast responding and Technical support: Their response to issues is slow. Customers complain about their recent poor service delivery, delay and incomplete remittance of fund among others.  Simplepay attributed this to their ongoing upgrades on their entire infrastructure, certification, and global expansion plan among others.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: Accept local and international cards. With simplepay, customers must not have an account with any specific bank in Nigeria to used Simplepay. You can choose any bank of your choice; unlike GTBank GTPay, Zenith GlobalPay and UBA UCollect and others. The payment platform does not also insist on SSL, DEDICATED IP among others like UBA UCollect
  • Setup convenience and setbacks: Integration plugin are available for download and where plugin is not applicable, easy to implement documentation are available on the website.

However, the ticket support page link cannot be foundd simplepay4u.com.  There is no telephone number on the site and it takes long time to respond to customer queries via email. The system keeps debiting customers card severally for transaction charges, this leads to so many complains. The amount credited is lesser than amount withdrawn, all efforts to correct proves unsuccessful.

The system only allow N100, 000 (One Hundred thousand naira) per withdrawal. With this, a customer withdrawing above that will have to do this multiple times and pay withdrawal charges several times a. So the charges are much higher if you are doing huge transactions

This takes more time to withdraw. Unfortunately, when the fund is withdrawn to account, the total sum expected is not credited. When contacted to reconcile and refund the outstanding balance, no response heard.

  • Setup fees and charges

Fees

Signup fees: FREE Integration: FREE

Charges

DEPOSIT: Verve Card/ Naira MasterCard – 1.50% plus N10.00 per transaction Etranzact Card/Web – 1.50% plus N0.00 per transaction Visa (Vpay) integration – 1.50% plus N0.00 per transaction International Payments via Credit Card Visa and MasterCard (Zenith Bank Transfer) – 5.00% plus N10.00 per transaction Withdrawal: Wire Transfer – N300.00 per transaction; Receive Money: 1.00% plus N10.00 per transaction SMS: N2

  • Vulnerability (security): Vulnerability is on a high side though they claim to have an intelligent system that constantly check and monitor transaction flows. The company has an amazing fraud review system
  • Compatibility with Banks: Their customers accept payments online using their local and international Visa Card, MasterCard and Interswitch cards. The system support automatic withdrawal to the merchant bank account.

How to get started with Simplepay: To get started with simplepay, visit their official Website: www.simplepay4u.com

 

8.) Zenith bank Globalpay Review 

Zenith Globalpay is a product of Zenith Bank Plc, allowing the Bank customers to receive local and International card payments on their website. it takes the bank a longer time before enrolling their customer on the payment gateway platform. This is even worst when the customer is requesting for International card acceptance. According to a staff of the Bank, it’s better to get it right and minimize fraud than to make it open to everybody.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation: There are two ways to take advantage of GlobalPAY: • Direct Integration with Website: The payment gateway is integrated into your website enabling you receive card payments on the website from cardholders from any bank in Nigeria or internationally. • Storefront Page: A payment page is hosted for your business on the GlobalPAY Storefront at www.globalpay.com.ng.

The integration work flow and documentation is commendable

  • Fast responding and Technical support: Those guys respond quickly to issues. They have a good customer setup process and technical support.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: The payment gateway support local and international cards such as MasterCard, Visa and Verve Cards. They have manageable customer base.
  • Setup convenience and setbacks

They accept multi-card with just a single integration. They use Highest levels of data protection via PCI Compliance Setbacks: As a matter of fact, deployment of this gateway started with N250, 000 (Two hundred and fifty thousand naira), they made a promo and deploy it for 75,000 (Seventy five thousand naira). Currently, the platform has been reviewed upward back to N150, 000 (for Visa, Mastercard and Interswitch card support). Monthly charge is discouraging for customers with international card acceptance. Customer verification, KYC and approval process for international card acceptance can be delayed.

  • Setup fees and charges

SWITCH -SETUP FEES -TRANSACTION FEE-BEARER MasterCard/Visa (local) – N75,000.00 -1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2,000)- MERCHANT MasterCard/Visa (Int’l) – N75,000.00-3.5% of transaction amount; no cap- MERCHANT Interswitch Verve – N75,000.00-1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2,000) -MERCHANT Monthly Access Fee – N5, 000.00 Foreign Settlement Charge – $50 (per settlement).

The Bank monthly Access Fee – N5, 000.00 and Foreign Settlement Charge – $50 (per settlement) combination are the highest so far. Setup fee of N150, 000 – is also high.

  • Vulnerability (security): It is safe. It utilizes the highest level of data protection via PCI Compliance
  • Compatibility with Banks: Globalpay is owned by Zenth bank. The gateway accepts all banks local and international cards such as MasterCard, Visa and Verve Cards. www.zenithbank.com

9.) UBA UCOLLECT Payment Gateway Review 

UCOLLECT is an online payment processor platform offer by United Bank of Africa. United Bank for Africa Plc has upgraded and partially moved their entire payment gateway – UBA UCollect to a whole new system, allowing their corporate customers to receive online payment from customers using their local and international Visa and MasterCard.

The gateway technically simplifies the process by enabling merchants receive payments without the usual stress of Interswitch certification. Also when customers want to pay, the Merchant, they don’t need to enter the usual OTP password sent to phone or email before a transaction is authorized. This makes the payment process easier and faster for both stakeholders, amazingly the gateway is deployed FREE of charge

The online payment gateway HAS BEEN DOING POORLY due to is slow resolution of customers issues, rapid decline in customer service, deactivation of customers from UCollect payment gateway without notification of Merchant, cumbersome setup process and even delay of customer application for UBA UCollect payment gateway especially when customer is requesting for international card acceptance. The new bank policy makes running of UBA UCollect more difficult, even for existing customers having UCollect. The Bank sometime ago sent an email requesting that all Web merchants (except for top corporate) should be disabled until they comply with UBA Merchant Acquisition and Evaluation framework. Hence, the bank is requesting for so many irrelevant documents; which obviously is discouraging and frustrating. All these recent changes complicate and make operation of UBA UCollect difficult for a merchant.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation: The integration workflow is superb and easy for good developers. There are three ways to connect your HTTP post (in a different way), XML and JSON. The documentation is quite detailed and explanatory, except there are few other things they would have added.
  • Fast responding and Technical support: Zero! They never respond fast as you may want them.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: You can use all bank cards on this payment platform. Customer can get their local and international transactions credited to their Naira and US Domiciliary account.
  • Setup convenience and setbacks: The Bank finally published product detail of UBA UCollect on their official website. There are few incomplete files and link missing, which can make it cumbersome for a new web developer to integrate to the site. In addition, the gateway lacks a test site, which means even when integrating, you need to be using a live card for every test process. You need to understand the programming to get the integration. You need to approach a customer technical support person in the bank for setup. Their system is not all that complex so I wonder why they wouldn’t allow their setup process to start and finish online.

The customer don’t have access to the backend where they will set RETURN URLS – Success, Failure and Pending URL, you need to fill the URL on the form – for the bank to update and you need to do this consistently anytime you want to do any update on the site. Customer has to open a corporate account with United Bank for Africa Plc to be able to use this service, like all other Banks that acts as a payment processor in Nigeria. Information about UCollect is not sufficient among staff at the branch level; you have to call or email the head office for enquiries and support. The Bank still maintains old and new UCollect payment gateway, which can raise suspicion for potential customer occasionally when they see two different interfaces and links to on different merchants’ site. Customer needs to spend extra Naira installing an SSL security on their website. Since the UCollect platform is already secured there is no need for an SME to install SSL again. UBA UCollect charges are quite higher: 1.5% for local transactions – with no cap and 4% for international – no cap.

  • Setup fees and charges: They have partner with developers who can develop a website and integrate UBA UCollect for the bank customer FREE.

No setup FEE

SWITCH: MasterCard/Visa (local)

SETUP FEES:  FREE

TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of transaction amount – No CAP

BEARER: MERCHANT SWITCH: MasterCard/Visa (Int’l)

SETUP FEES:  FREE

TRANSACTION FEE: 4% of transaction amount – No Cap

BEARER: MERCHANT

Interswitch Verve 1.5% of transaction amount (subject to a maximum of N2, 000).

  • Vulnerability (security): The system is safe.
  • Compatibility with Banks: UCollect payment gateway is provided by UBA.  U-Collect is a Consolidated Internet Payment Gateway Solution which integrates multiple payment solutions available in Nigeria – VISA, Verve, MasterCard, and e-Tranzact on the Bank website. However, the gateway does not support an Interswitch Verve card which is the indigenous and widely used card option in Nigeria. There is usually no need for OTP code sent to email or phone as the gateway is not powered by Interswitch.

How to get started with UCOLLECT

 To get started with ucollect, visit official Ucollect web page

Websitewww.ubagroup.com

There are already coded script for any e-commerce frame work which you can get via STORE PLUGINS for a lesser fee.

10.) REMITA Review 

Remita is a new e Payment in Nigeria and an e-Collections solution developed by SystemSpecs Limited. It enables Merchants and Customers to receive and make payments on a single multi-bank platform. Remita is in use by many individuals, public and private sector organizations that process over 500 Billion Naira worth of transactions on a monthly basis. The Central Bank of Nigeria endorses Remita for the payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Remita is used by 22 commercial banks and over 400 micro finance banks in Nigeria. Remita has significantly revitalize the e-payment industry in Nigeria.

  • Easy integration work flow and documentation: Remita can be integrated into a website, portal or ecommerce store. The gateway provides a standards-based REST interface which enables application developers to interact in a powerful, yet secure way with their Remita account. Developers may call the API directly over HTTPS using the language of their choice. Integration enable the corporate or merchant leverage on Remita’s diverse and seamless payment options to complete customers’ transactions in a handshake implementation known as Remita integration. Available methods of integration include;
  1. Downloading of Remita Plugin and checking of plugins for compatibility with your eCommerce or CMS store and download the appropriate one. Integration with a plugin is simple and doesn’t require any custom integration.
  2. Use the integration specification to adapt Remita to your specific needs.

Every detail of integration, documentation and setup process are available at remita website.  A new customer can begin accepting payment online with Remita within five (5) working days once integration is completed.

Remita presents you with a “Push” and a “Pull” model to receive funds. The Push model empowers you to push an e-Invoice to your payers to empower them to pay you easily electronically. The “Pull” model empowers your payers to either visit your website and click a “Remita-Pay-Now” button or select you as a beneficiary at remita.net. Either way, they would be requested to complete a pre-defined form requesting for their details before proceeding to pay you easily electronically.

  • Fast responding and Technical support
  • Their response to issues is slow. Sometimes, they ignore customers when contacted.
  • Usage and level of acceptability: The gateway supports multiple card variants – Verve, MasterCard, Visa, Unionpay.  It also supports China Unionpay. Remita is an award winning Software Company which has received award from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian ICT Centenary Awards, and Beacon of ICT awards. Their customers includes: Nnamdi Azikiwe University, University of Nigeria University of Abuja, and Department of Petroleum Resources, Vconnect, Manufacturers Association Nigeria, National Open University of Nigeria, Corporate Affairs Commission and many others.
  • Setup convenience and setbacks
  • Remita presents a “Push” and “Pull” model of receiving funds. The Push model empowers you to push an e-Invoice to your payers to empower them to pay you easily electronically. The “Pull” model empowers your payers to either visit your website and click a “Remita-Pay-Now” button or select you as a beneficiary at remita.net. In either way, they would be requested to complete a pre-defined form requesting for their details before proceeding to pay you easily electronically. Meanwhile, their minimum of N100 per transaction is higher than bank gateways whose charge is 1.5% flat on the average.
  • Setup fees and charge

Setup Fees

FREE SETUP (No setup fee paid by customers)

Charges MasterCard/Visa (local) – TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of total transaction (subject to N100 minimum and N2,000 maximum) Interswitch Verve (local) – TRANSACTION FEE: 1.5% of total transaction (subject to N100 minimum and N2,000 maximum) MasterCard/Visa (International) – TRANSACTION FEE: Additional 2% (Minimum of N100 and a Maximum of N2,500)

NOTE: Remita Prices are VAT exclusive

  • Vulnerability (security): Security of transactions shouldn’t be a problem as there are multi-level security and control features on the platform, according to Remita. Such as: Application Secured server, Data encrypted (at rest and during transmission), multi-layer authentication features, authorization check and balance, pre-defined approval workflows (up to ten levels) and user validation (at the point of initiation and up to remittance). They have a comprehensive multi-party and multi-channel transaction real-time monitoring, screening and reporting structure (inclusive of the above security features). Example; no single person can initiate and finalize a single transaction on the platform. A combination of soft and hard tokens, biometric authentication and multiple approval levels among other security and control features are natively built into the system.
  • Compatibility with Banks: Remita support multiple card variants includes: Verve, Visa, MasterCard and China Unionpay . Remita also comes with an optional Payroll and HR solution for full integrated processing.

Remita, developed by SystemSpecs, and voted many times as Nigeria’s Software of the Year, is indeed a success story and a pride to Africa.

What Can Remita do for you?

Make Payments from All Your Accounts in All Banks on a single platform Receive Funds through Debit/Credit Cards, Branches of all Banks Nationwide, etc. Automate your Payroll and deliver Payslips to all Staff. Who Can Use Remita?

Individuals to manage their personal finances

Public and private sector organizations of any size, structure and complexity

To get started with Remita integration, visit the website:www.remita.net/developers/

After this review was done, there have been some updates as highlighted below

LATEST UPDATES 6/14/2017: As of 1st of June 2Checkout aka 2co is no longer accepting Nigerians due to some support restrictions and if you already have an account with them, with some money in your wallet, you will be required to fill a W-8 form. The purpose of the W-8 form is to verify that you are not a U.S. Entity or U.S. Individual, and therefore not subject to U.S. tax laws. The information you provide is a verification of the 2Checkout account information that is already on file for you as an International merchant.

I have replaced 2checkout with another payment gateway that seems to support even the likes of simplepay, cashenvoy and Access bank (remember Paystack is backed by Access Bank) among the list of top companies, the name of these company is flutterwave, will prefer Flutterwave to any one of them on this list. But it all depends on what you want personally as a end user. I have also noticed that simplepay is emulating the checkout design/flow of paystack of recent and it seems simplepay also accepts international payment where you have to pay 4.00% + ₦10 more for international transactions (a bit vague info on this as Ghana can be classified as one, hope they where referring to US).

Paystack has now include the option for your customers to pay directly with bank to your account, meaning they no longer have to use their credit cards just pay via bank, which is a BVN feature functionality to allow you to accept payment owed from another user it works like a mobile transfer

 Simplepay and cashenvoy with access bank to mention a few of Nigeria payment gateways using flutterwave . They offer the functionability to also operate a payment gateway on the platform meaning you can build your own payment gateway using their site. If you are into disbursement of funds then you might want to check one of flutterwave’s payment management platform MONEYWAVE it is quite impressive only time consuming fact is that you have to create a wallet ID for each country cards you want to accept on your website (country supported are just Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana as of this writing).

Flutterwave is a FINTECH backed company co-founded by a Nigerian (Iyinoluwa Aboyeji) built to compete with interswitch in terms of online payment. The company is based in most major African countries and also support international payments and their charges to personal website owners is simply the same offer you will get from other sites like Paystack or Simplepay, so don’t think you are getting a discount.

Another thing I will like to state out with flutterwave is that they allow you to process different type of payment processing gateways, which other Online Nigerian or international payment systems are yet to serve.

By Olatunji Adetunji

Posted in Africa, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Fintech, Nigeria, Payment Solutions, Technology | Leave a comment

Sports as part of Nigeria’s economic diversification

sports 1

During my childhood and teenage years, my younger brothers and I were very fond of soccer. From Barnawa Housing Estate, Kaduna to Airport Road, Kano and Okumagba Estate, Warri where we lived, soccer was the most popular and the most enjoyable game amongst our peers. My younger brother was a talented goalkeeper, and I was good with my left foot. Like most Nigerian kids, no one taught us how to play soccer. We watched other people play, we understood the rules and then we started playing.
But sadly, our parents – much like other parents – would have none of it. I still remember vividly how the sight of the nanny, walking towards the neighborhood field, not only meant it was time to go home; we also knew we were in trouble. This was the case for many other kids, too.

I am not certain my parents ever got to know how good my brother was as a goalkeeper, or how good I was with my left foot. They didn’t appreciate the importance of sporting activities in building social cohesion in communities; nor did they know the role of sport in social and economic development. To compound our issues, there were no government policies or advocacies encouraging parents to allow their kids to participate in sports.

Decades later, I now live in Canada, and I have seen a completely different worldview. I practically struggle to get my son enrolled into the junior soccer league in our neighbourhood. Despite the fact that the enrolment is not cheap, it is still so hard to get a spot for your child. During the summer months, most neighbourhood fields are filled with kids and their parents who come to drop them off and watch them play. It is well organised. Hockey, which is Canada’s most popular game, is even more organised and sophisticated, costing parents thousands of dollars just to kit their kids.

The fact is, different parents go through the pains for different reasons. But no matter what those reasons are, government support and community volunteering create the enabling environment. Overall, the impact on communities and the economy is evidently significant.

Sport can be a tool for economic development. It can also support the development of social skills and future job skills. According to the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG) – an inter-governmental policy initiative hosted by the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) between 2009-2015 – sport has the potential to promote social integration, gender equality, social capital development, peace building and conflict prevention, amongst other benefits.

There is a lot Nigeria can benefit from sporting activities. Unfortunately, the country has a history of checkered commitment to sports. Our sport policies are tied to participations in regional and global competitions. To better harness the country’s sporting potential and produce better outcomes in sports, we will need a paradigm shift in policy. A recommended policy must have a bottom-up approach, involving long-term planning, and integrating grassroot communities.

Apart from enriching the social and cultural fabrics of communities, developing the nation’s sports industry can boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings by attracting foreign investors and tourists. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the North American sports industry generated $60.5 billion in 2014, and is expected to reach $73.5 billion by 2019. Sources of revenue include merchandising, sponsorship, media rights and gate receipts, which is the biggest source of revenue. But revenue derived from media rights deals is projected to surpass gate revenues. The industry also provides employment in different areas ranging from the athletes to coaches, scouts, umpires, referees, commentators, amongst others.

In Europe, the data is even more compelling. The sports industry’s contribution to the European economy is enormous. The figures show that sports accounts for 1.76% – or about 175 billion Euros – of European Gross Value Added (which is Gross Domestic Product + subsidies – (direct, sales) taxes), according to Sportyjob, the online job market for sport jobs in Europe. This means the industry contributes more to the European economy than agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined. If other sectors that benefit from sports are included, the share of the continent’s sports GVA jumps to 2.98% or 300 billion Euros.

In terms of jobs, the sports labour market accounts for 2.12% of the total employment in Europe, equivalent to about 4.5 million sports-related jobs. The largest number of sports-related jobs is in Germany, estimated at 1.5 million jobs. Sports and sport-related activities are estimated to supply over 400,000 full-time jobs in England, or 2.3% of the country’s jobs market.

Canadian sports business researcher, Norm O’Reilly, led other researchers in a study of hockey, Canada’s favourite game. The research, “Ice Hockey in Canada, 2015 Impact Study,” finds that hockey generates over $11 billion annually with more than $1 billion in tourism revenue. The study also finds that ice hockey rinks are part of the landscape in Canada with nearly 2,500 rinks across the country.

As a country, Nigeria needs to begin to tap into the enormous opportunities that sports present. And as a sport-loving people and country, we have a lot to gain if the industry is properly developed. Nigerians spend a lot of money acquiring foreign club jerseys and souvenirs. A lot is also spent on cable TV subscriptions to watch sporting activities in Europe and America. Part of these funds accrue to those countries, meaning Nigerians are contributing to growing those economies.

sports 2

In a report titled ‘Economic impact of Sport in Dubai’ prepared by the Sports Business group at Deloitte, the total amount of expenditure related to sport in Dubai is over $1.7billion while total economic impact is estimated at about $670milion. When the expenditures are further analyzed, of the $709million spent on events, $407million of that amount is estimated to come from seven major annual events. These are Omega Dubai Classic, Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon, Dubai Tour, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai World Cup, DP World Tour Championships and the Emirate Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.

Another $250million of the said amount is attributable to the 46 international events while local events accounts for the remaining $52million. This clearly shows the importance of sporting events in the overall sporting industry. The report further posits that “sport plays an important role in the growth and appeal of any global city. It is a driver of economic development and has a significant bearing on tourism, lifestyle, public health and ultimately a city’s international reputation”.
Dubai currently boasts of 300 annual regular events, 14,500 core industry employment and over $13million expenditures on sports equipment per annum.

Reflecting again on my teenage years, my siblings and I were great supporters of Nigerian football clubs. While I was a fan of IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan, my younger brother was an avid fan of New Nigerian Bank Football Club of Benin City. Although we never had the opportunity to watch our favourite teams live, we never missed their games on TV. Local football clubs and other sporting activities in the country can still generate such followership – which the industry’s entrepreneurs can leverage – with the enabling policies.

A grassroots approach to sports development is key to unleashing the potential of the industry. Just like hockey is the dominant sport in Canada, Nigerians are passionate about football. Therefore, football pitches should be part of our landscape. Developing the infrastructure for the industry to thrive becomes a crucial enabling factor. Today, I can convince my friends to go with me to the shopping mall but I cannot convince them to go the stadium to watch a game of soccer because many of the facilities are shabby and they are not properly secured. There is no reason every community should not boast of a fully-equipped stadium.

Like the current made-in-Nigeria campaign geared towards promoting domestic cottage industries and patronage of locally-produced goods, local football clubs should be encouraged and supported to build their proudly Nigerian brands. The government should begin to understand that aside from the economic impact from promoting such a policy, sport can also be a tool for fostering peace and security. A country bedeviled by unemployment and youth restiveness urgently needs a well-oiled sport policy to reduce unemployment as well as curb the agitations.

The administration of sports also requires trained professionals. The government can partner with tertiary institutions to introduce academic programmes in sports management and marketing. Undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in sports prepare individuals to work professionally in coaching, administration, management, as well as know the business of sports.

As a matter of fact, the president and state governors can begin to evaluate the performances of their sports ministries by the amount of successful and meaningful sporting events they have launched, and how many Nigerians they have empowered. Once such a policy becomes operational, we will begin to see some impact. This will also slow down the ‘muscle drain,’ which has been deemed comparable to brain drain. Athletes leave our country mostly due to lack of opportunities and facilities to develop themselves. Anthony Joshua, who recently defeated Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight boxing title fight wanted to represent Nigeria in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing but he was rejected. He went on to win a gold medal for Britain in 2012. Today, he is world heavyweight champion.

As a country, we need to start recognizing that sport is not just about partaking in competitions. It benefits the individual and the society at large. When we recognize this fact, and integrate sport into the fabric of our society, it will have a significant impact on the national economy and improve the image of the country in the international community. Therefore, sport and allied activities need to be considered as part of the economic diversification strategy of the Nigerian government.

@Jideolutuyi

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science

Tech companies, and increasingly even non-tech companies, are struggling with the fact that there are not enough trained data scientists to fill market demand. Every company has their own strategy for hiring and training, but Airbnb has taken things a step further — running its own university-style program, complete with a custom course-numbering system.Airbnb.png

Data University is Airbnb’s attempt to make its entire workforce more data literate. Traditional online programs like Coursera and Udacity just weren’t getting the job done because they were not tailored to Airbnb’s internal data and tools. So the company decided to design a bunch of courses of its own around three levels of instruction for different employee needs.

100-level classes on data-informed decision making have been designed to be applicable to all teams, including human resources and business development.

Middle-tier classes on SQL and Superset have enabled some non-technical employees to take on roles as project managers, and more intensive courses on Python and machine learning have helped engineers brush up on necessary skills for projects.

Since launching the program in Q3 2016, Airbnb has seen the weekly active users of its internal data science tools rise from 30 to 45 percent. A total of 500 Airbnb employees have taken at least one class — and Airbnb has yet to expand the program to all 22 of its offices.

Interestingly, Airbnb says it tried four times to build and scale a data science education program. Jeff Feng, product manager on the analytics and experimentation team, told me in an interview that there were three best-practices that really enabled this iteration to work:

  • Designing an accessible curriculum for everyone
  • Working with leadership across the company to set data literacy expectations
  • Finding ways to measure success

Feng hopes that other companies will adopt similar practices when designing their own internal data science courses. The program seems to take a page from Google’s internal classes that helped it differentiate back in the day. Google’s version includes both technical and non-technical courses, ranging from data visualization to beekeeping.

Airbnb rolled out its intro data science classes first, making a statement that the program was about more than just engineers, though the more technically inclined will be getting additional higher-level classes moving forward.

by John Mannes ( @JohnMannes)

Credit : TechCrunch

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Made-in-Aba, gum arabic and Nigeria’s economic development

During my childhood, Aba-made or made-in-Aba was a popular cliché amongst Nigerians. The phrase referred to any locally made product believed to be cheap and inferior in quality. As a matter of fact, when you got to the market, it was common to hear someone ask: “I hope say no be Aba-made?” But I was amazed when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently said he also started hearing about Aba-made in his childhood.

However, this decades-long trope is no longer so popular today. The manufacturing potential that emerge from the southeastern commercial city of Aba was never harnessed by the government. Much of the manufactured and high-end consumer goods in Nigeria these days are from China, South Korea, Japan, western Europe and the United States.

The Vice President also posited that Nigeria has no business with Chinese products if Aba’s budding entrepreneurs had been supported and the city’s industries developed. As a National Youth Service Corps member in Owerri, I took the opportunity, together with some friends, to visit the popular Ariaria market in Aba. We were confounded at the bustling entrepreneurial activity in different parts of the city. We saw artisans sewing chinos and jeans, as well as those making shoes and bags.

Unfortunately, the advent of oil windfalls in the country helped a lot of middle- to high-income individuals to develop perverse appetite for foreign-made products to the neglect of the local industries. Nigeria’s once-vibrant textile industry was also a casualty of petrodollars. In a conversation with one of the artisans, I asked him why he used a counterfeit label of a popular foreign brand, Levis, on the jeans he made. His reply was not unexpected. He said no one would patronize a local brand. The result of this make-believe marketing strategy is that a lot of boutiques around the country are stocked with clothing items made in Nigeria but are labelled as made-in-Spain or made-in-Italy.

It is the deficit of visionary leadership and long-term planning that has prevented Aba and other local industrial clusters from becoming global manufacturing hubs. Nevertheless, the current economic realities in the country have pushed the government at both national and sub-national levels to start looking inwards. Aba-made products are now receiving some attention.

On October 1, 2016, the Abia State government launched an e-commerce site, MadeInAba.com.ng, to make it possible for Aba-made merchandise to be retailed across the country. MadeInAba.com.ng is a much larger market that includes an online retail store and physical stores to offer wholesale and retail services.

Part of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s reforms include providing infrastructures for the markets to thrive. Last year, members of the Leather Products Manufacturers Association (LEPMAS) in Abia State received a N10.4 million loan from the Bank of Agriculture. The loan, aimed at supporting the standardisation of finished leather products, was facilitated by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE).

Industrialization is what catalysed the development of today’s advanced economies. Manchester, England, earned the moniker of “Cottonopolis” during the industrialisation of the 19th century and because of the large number of textile factories in the city. As a matter of fact, the term Manchester is being used for some household textile materials in Australia and New Zealand.

It was during the first industrialisation that the first-ever intercity railway, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, was built. So many other government interventions and infrastructure sprung up to support the textile revolution in Manchester. A lot of industrial cities around the world share similar history of government’s intervention once an opportunity was identified. Banks, insurance companies and other institutions stepped in to provide support in various forms, including funding.

The contribution of industries to Nigeria’s GDP has shrunk from 25.3% in 2012 to 22% in 2016. Last year, the sector lagged behind the agriculture (24.4%) and services (53.6%) sectors. Despite having a number of industrialisation policies, the Nigerian government has failed to successfully implement them. The primary sector remains the largest source of foreign exchange for the country. Value-addition and industrialisation are the key to rapid economic growth and structural transformation of the Nigerian economy.

When I arrived in Canada over 10 years ago, I took a liking to the small hard mints, called Tic Tac, manufactured by Italy-based Ferrero. I remember vividly the day I bought the first one. I glanced at the ingredients and to my surprise, one of it was gum arabic, a natural gum that is found in large quantity in Northern Nigeria.

Also known as acacia gum or meska, gum arabic is a natural emulsifier. It is extensively used in the food and pharmaceutical industries; it is also used in printing, photography, paint production, glues, cosmetics and many other products. It is used to make water colour paints and shoe polish. In the ceramic industry, it is used as an addictive to ceramic glazes. It is also the most common form of adhesive used for the rolling paper in cigarettes.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, recently said the country earned more than $43 million from the export of gum arabic in 2016. First, the amount the minister was touting is a drop in the ocean. At prices between $3,200 and $3,800 per tonne, Nigeria’s total export of gum arabic amounts to less than 12,000 tonnes. Sudan, the world’s largest exporter of gum arabic, exported 60,000 tonnes to western Europe and US alone in 2014. In 2015, the country said it had an annual output target of 300,000 tonnes for 2016-2018.

Nigeria currently has less than 5% of the world’s gum arabic market. Sudan and Chad together account for about 95% of the market. Since 1999, Nigeria has lost its US market share of Grade 1 gum arabic because it failed to meet the necessary standards for production and export. Sudan and Chad get 20% higher prices for their Grade 1 gum arabic than Nigeria does because of inconsistency in the quality of Nigeria’s gum Arabic produce. To compete, Nigeria must be known as a reliable source of the Grade 1, then the country must maintain that reputation.

In a report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), China and Japan import Grade 1 gum arabic, but only from Sudan. India is a major importer of Nigerian gum arabic, but the Asian country buys mainly Grade 2, and mixed grades.

Most of Nigeria’s Grade 1 gum arabic trees, the Acacia Senegal, grow in three states, Borno, Jigawa, and Yobe. The climate and soil in these states are well-suited to the Acacia Senegal tree. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government has not provided the required capacity-development support for gum arabic growers to produce this resource. The gum arabic business is improving the livelihoods of local farmers in Sudan.

The global demand for gum arabic is mainly due to its multi-functionality and medicinal properties. According to Markets and Markets, reputable for publishing premium market research, the global gum arabic market is projected to reach $800 million by 2019.

The other issue is that Audu Ogbe’s comment betrays the lack of strategic thinking required to invest in adding value to gum arabic production in Nigeria before exporting it. Exporting the raw material is tantamount to exporting jobs and generating investment opportunities in other countries, while we continue to import foreign goods.

Both at the primary commodity and value-added segments of the market, the benefits in terms of jobs and revenue arising from the gum arabic value chain are enormous. The government should through NAGAPPEN (National Association of Gum Arabic Producers and Exports of Nigeria) provide support to gum arabic growers to help expand Nigeria’s share of the international gum arabic market.

A strategic engagement of the Nigerian government in the production of this resource as well as supporting entrepreneurs in Aba, are viable approaches for achieving the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy sought by the current administration’s economic plan. Moreover, supporting the manufacturing sector in the south-eastern part of the country would go a long way in boosting the political capital of President Muhammadu Buhari in that region. In all, both the government and the private sector have major roles to play in achieving economic security for all Nigerians.

@jideolutuyi

See more at: http://www.financialnigeria.com/made-in-aba-gum-arabic-and-nigeria-s-economic-development-blog-244.html#sthash.tdY2vpqA.dpuf

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Muted dividends of procurement reforms in Nigeria

A Nigerian company I am acquainted with recently contacted an office of a state government to enquire about the process of doing business with the government. The company was directed to visit the Ministry of Works to collect a form. When the form was fetched, an executive of the company was shocked at what he found. It was a photocopied document with bid requirements printed on both sides of the paper. The text appeared faint and barely legible. The typography was unprofessional. But this sloppiness simply typifies the state of public procurement in the exalted offices of many sub-national government agencies in Nigeria.

Public procurement refers to the process by which government departments and institutions purchase goods or services from private sector entities. Such public-private engagements cover a wide range of funding activities given the varying needs of the government to provide services to its citizens. Public procurement is one of the most important governance activities. The procurement cycle involves identifying needs, vetting and selecting vendors, awarding contracts, implementing and managing contracts and making payments.

 

Read the full article Here

 

 

 


 

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