GSG Delivers Data-Driven Customer Interface Portal for AGIS

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Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital is a planned city, having emerged from the lush greenery of Central Nigeria in the 1980s and 1990s. It remains a booming city, with annual population growth between 9-10% per year. Increasing traffic in the evenings underlines the enormous growth of peripheral districts such as Karo, Gwarimpa and Lugbe. Demand for land and real estate is constant, particularly given the city’s high income profile and buoyant economic growth. The task of managing this growing demand for land is the responsibility of AGIS, an agency of the Federal Capital Territory Administration.

To say the mandate is challenging is an understatement. Given the strategic tasks of AGIS in distributing and registering land plots in the FCT, its client base is very large indeed and demand is almost unlimited. On weekdays, scores of people from all over the country flock to AGIS’ premises in Garki. AGIS front office staff has been overstretched for a number of years, leading to delays for customers.

In 2013, AGIS decided on far-reaching modernisation initiatives aimed at improving internal processes but also customer service. GSG proposed a raft of e-administration solutions and was awarded a contract by AGIS for the development of a data-driven customer interface portal for land transactions.

On the portal GSG has developed, registered customers can process a majority of services and transactions offered by AGIS online. This will in turn enable AGIS to redirect front office staff to more efficient customer interaction, checking rather than processing transactions already performed online. Critically, payments can also be performed online, through credit card, mobile phones and bank transfers. This means AGIS is leading the way in Federal standards of e-governance and staff ethics. No doubt Abujans will notice the difference once the portal is launched live: those crowds around AGIS’ entrance should become somewhat smaller.

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Nigeria and the ‘Demographic Dividend’, Challenges and Opportunities

Wedding Preparations, early 1970s, Lafia Road, Kaduna. Courtesy of Nigerian Nostalgia Project

Wedding Preparations, early 1970s, Lafia Road, Kaduna. Courtesy of Nigerian Nostalgia Project

The World’s population is aging – fast. By 2050, the number of people older than 65 will top 1.5 billion, according to the UN’s most recent population projections. In advanced economies such as Germany, South Korea or Japan, more than half the population will be older than 50. The notion that rapid aging is a strictly Western phenomenon, although commonly held, is wrong: by 2050, countries such as Mexico or Brazil will have aged faster than the US, with higher median ages, around the mid-40s. China is aging even faster and facing much the same problem as ‘old’ industrialised economies.

So where does Nigeria fit into this global pattern? Improvements in healthcare and life chances are still positively impacting the country’s life expectancy whilst fertility rates remain high due to traditional approaches to family size and family safety nets (old people suffer much less from poverty than say in Latin America). So Nigerians are aging as well, but slowly, and the ‘demographic transition’ is in full swing, with massive population increase (+176% from 2010 to 2050, overtaking the US).

So much for demographics, but what does this mean economically? As the title suggests, Nigeria is facing similar challenges and opportunities as other major economies in past historical periods. On the positive side, the proportion of people living off the income of people in work will decrease through to 2050, with the working age population increasing from 51.2% of the general population in 2013 to 56.9% in 2050. This ‘demographic dividend’ represents a massive advantage for Nigeria, an exception to the 21st century rule, and a reserve of ‘free’ growth for decades to come – if harnessed successfully.

Massive population growth, coupled with an increase in age cohorts entering the labour market presents chronic challenges for both public and private sectors. Providing skills, training, jobs, housing, transport etc for the many Nigerians yet to join us represents a massive logistical as well as financial challenge. If we are up to the task, forget Vision 2020 and think top 10.

Exchange Rates, Oil & Trade: What Does 2015 Look Like for West Africa?

Immeuble_bceao_siege_dakar_au_senegalThe remarkable reduction in the price of oil has led the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to devalue the naira by 8% against the US dollar and raise interest rates. The Ghanaian cedi has taken a much larger hit this year. Both currencies should stabilise and the Cedi has firmed up with a Eurobond issue and cocoa loan inflows. Nevertheless it’s clear that in monetary terms, Ghana and Nigeria now find themselves in different places from the beginning of the year. Most forecasts see oil staying at current low prices for a large proportion of 2015.

What does this mean for competitiveness and growth? Looking at the regional perspective, the 8 WAEMU countries using the CFA franc as well as Cape Verde should also experience currency depreciation at some stage in the spring of 2015, offsetting any major gains in competitiveness for Ghana and Nigeria. The tumble in oil prices is likely to further reduce anaemic inflation in the Eurozone, and the European Central Bank will need to act – by printing money. The euro will weaken against the dollar, automatically pushing down the CFA and the Cape Verdean escudo as well.

Marginal effects within the region by mid-2015, but what about West Africa’s terms of trade with the rest of the World? A durable decrease in the price of oil is a source of concern all round. Oil is no longer an exclusively Nigerian or even Ghanaian bonanza. From Freetown to Niamey, oil revenues have been penned in to macro-economic and budget scenarios.

Devaluation should offset some of the loss in expenditure, but it’s clear a finely tuned and targeted approach to import substitution will be required in many countries, most notably Nigeria. Increased import prices present a clear opportunity for local manufacturers. Jonathan Nicol of the Shippers’ Association of Lagos State sees imports reduced by 3-5% on current exchange rates. Nevertheless, critical imports such as productive capital or selected raw materials should be stripped of import duty fairly rapidly to avoid increased costs for intermediary goods hitting local manufacturers and consumers’ purchasing power. The potential for significant import substitution is a clear opportunity for the region, but it involves trimming government revenue collection in the short term…

GSG Delivers Study on Leasing of Productive Assets to SMEs in Nigeria

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SMEs with healthy business profiles suffer from lack of access to credit globally. In emerging markets such as Nigeria, the issue of SME finance has for decades been a source of complaint in the business community as well as a headache for policymakers. One option currently discussed is the development of leasing for SMEs’ productive assets.

An important stakeholder interested in this debate is DEG Invest, the development finance arm of the German bank KfW. With assets worth EUR 4.6 billion and co-financing operations afforded to more than 1300 companies in 120 countries, DEG Invest is well aware of business and finance opportunities in the West African market. Keen to investigate the potential for leasing, DEG Invest contracted Global South Group, given its presence and intelligence in the Nigerian market, to conduct a study on the potential for financing of Nigerian companies offering leasing solutions for productive assets catering to SMEs.

After extensive field research in Lagos and other major economic centres in the Nigerian market, GSG findings show that, while leasing can be a cost effective alternative for SMEs to finance their productive assets, the enabling environment remains highly unfavourable toward the SME profile. This is due to a lack of credit assessment facilities, collateral registration and a centralised identity registry which undermines banks’ ability to gauge risk.

In addition, Nigeria’s bigger companies and fixed financial assets offer attractive, lower-risk investment options that tend to overshadow an SME sector characterised by a lack of formal financial administration, business planning and hierarchy. Similarly, independent leasing companies are ill prepared to assess SME risk because of poor IT infrastructure, scant training and a highly uncertain and insufficient legal and regulatory framework. Specific capacity building measures, such as IT software subsidies for leasing companies and market access techniques and business counselling for SMEs, are in high demand.

For foreign investors, the Nigerian leasing sector presents a number of challenges. Very few local leasing companies match foreign direct investors’ (FDIs’) capitalisation requirements, for example. And the relatively few institutions that are well capitalised, such as commercial banks, tend to use their capital to support corporate clients offering higher and steadier margins than SMEs.

Global South Group’s large sample of SME and leasing company responses nevertheless enabled to make a number of recommendations for DEG Invest’s potential interventions in the identified sector.

التجارة العالمية تعتزم إقرار انضمام اليمن

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من المنتظر أن تكلل جهود اليمن التي استمرت ثلاثة عشر عاماً للانضمام إلى منظمة التجارة العالمية بالنجاح هذا الشهر، ليصبح حصوله على عضوية المنظمة مجرد إجراء شكلي في أوائل العام المقبل. ويُظهر جدول أعمال جرى توزيعه على الدول الأعضاء في المنظمة هذا الأسبوع أن مجموعة العمل التي تبحث انضمام اليمن ستعقد اجتماعا في 26 سبتمبر/أيلول الجاري لإقرار الوثائق الرئيسية التي تحدد شروط العضوية.

وستوقع كل الدول الأعضاء على هذا الاتفاق، ثم تقره مجددا في اجتماع وزاري في ديسمبر/كانون الأول المقبل لتصبح أمام اليمن فترة ثلاثة أشهر للتصديق عليه. وقال مسؤولون في منظمة التجارة العالمية إن الاتفاق أصبح ممكناً بعد أن وافقت أوكرانيا على شروط عضوية اليمن، لتسحب بذلك اعتراضها الذي كان العائق الوحيد منذ أكثر من عام.

وكان اليمن قد طلب الانضمام إلى منظمة التجارة العالمية في أبريل/نيسان 2000، وسيصبح في حال انضمامه العضو .الستين بعد المائة

لماذا الانضمام

ويشير موقع وزارة الصناعة والتجارة اليمنية على الإنترنت إلى أن السبب وراء سعي البلاد للانضمام إلى المنظمة العالمية هو أنها الوحيدة التي لها سلطة سن القوانين التي تحكم التجارة الدولية، وبالتالي فانضمام اليمن سيمكنه من المشاركة في صنع القرار، والاستفادة من آلية اتخاذ القرارات داخل المنظمة التي تعتمد على الإجماع وليس التصويت.

وأضافت الوزارة أن هذه العضوية تجعل أي دولة، مهما كانت صغيرة، نامية أو أقل نموا مثل اليمن، قادرة على توقيف مفاوضات أو الاعتراض على قرار ليس في صالحها، كما أن لدى منظمة التجارة العالمية مبادئ مهمة جدا -تضيف الوزارة- مثل الشفافية ومراجعة السياسات التجارية، والتي تعمل على تسهيل عملية الحصول على المعلومات التي يحتاجها رجال الأعمال حول السياسات التجارية للدول الأعضاء.

المصدر : الجزيرة

ICT: Nigeria To Fast-track Infrastructure Rollout

Nigeria-Internet-UsersNigeria’s Minister of Communication, Omobola Johnson, has revealed the Government’s plans to speed up the delivery of much-needed ICT infrastructure. She also disclosed that her ministry would be working closely with the Federal Ministry of Works to streamline and standardize the processes.

“The National Economic Council last month formally endorsed these guidelines and has also committed to streamlining and standardizing the levies that are charged on telecoms infrastructure. Working with the Ministry of Environment we have finally been able to align the NESREA and NCC regulations on base stations,” Johnson said in a keynote speech.

Johnson explained that there weresystems in place to allow thegovernment to iron out any other issues that might arise.

“These are extremely significant achievements and milestones as they have established the predictability of the cost of infrastructure development in the ICT sector, reduced the cost of network deployment by ensuring that for every Naira that is spent on infrastructure more is spent on actual infrastructure and less on administration and taxes, as well as shortened the period for application processing,” she said.

After television stations migrate from analogue to digital, as directed by the Nigerian government, it is estimated that $2 billion (N320 billion) in precious spectrum can be reallocated for broadband use in the country.

“The spectrum gain after the transition can be used for mobile Broadband. This will enable broadband penetration into the rural areas, with its attendant benefits. Properly managed, the sale of this leftover spectrum by auction should yield over $2 billion,” said Edward Amana, former director of engineering at the NTA.

Source: ITNewsAfrica

Niger: la croissance économique évaluée à 10,8 % en 2012 contre 2,3 % en 2011

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L’analyse de la situation économique du Niger fait ressortir un taux de croissance réel du produit intérieur brut (PIB) de 10,8 % en 2012, nettement au-dessus de la cible de 8 % retenue dans le scénario de base du Plan de Développement Economique et Social (PDES 2012-2015), contre un taux de croissance de 2,3 % en 2011, a indiqué le ministre du Plan, Amadou Boubacar Cissé.

Présentant, mercredi à Niamey, le rapport annuel de suivi de la mise en oeuvre du PDES, adopté il y a bientôt un an par le gouvernement, Boubacar a fait savoir que le rapport qui couvre la période 2012 et le premier semestre de cette année, a pour objectif d’évaluer l’atteinte des résultats dudit Plan par la mise en oeuvre des réformes économiques et financières pour l’année 2012 et de servir de document de base pour la programmation budgétaire 2014-2016.

Notant que le rapport 2012 fait état d’une mobilisation importante de ressources humaines et financières dans plusieurs secteurs pour assurer la mise en oeuvre des différents programmes du plan d’actions prioritaires du PDES, le ministre a mis l’accent sur des avancées notables enregistrées en matière de planification, de mobilisation des ressources extérieures et de croissance économique et sociale.

Au plan de la mobilisation des ressources, il a rappelé que la Table Ronde des partenaires sur le financement du PDES a permis d’enregistrer des annonces de plus de 2400 milliards de FCFA en novembre 2012, affirmant que les efforts de mobilisation se sont accrus en 2012 et intensifiés en 2013.

Le montant des conventions signées est passé de 323 milliards de francs CFA à 789 milliards entre 2011 et 2012, a expliqué le ministre, qui assure également la présidence de la Commission interministérielle du Plan de développement économique et social.

En juillet 2013, le montant a atteint 583 milliards de FCFA et des conventions de l’ordre de 347 milliards de FCFA seront signées dans les prochaines semaines.

Selon le rapport 2012, des avancées positives ont été réalisées au niveau sectoriel, notamment pour les indicateurs des secteurs de la justice, de la décentralisation, de l’Initiative 3N (les Nigériens Nourrissent les Nigériens), de l’éducation, de l’hydraulique, de la fonction publique, et des infrastructures économiques.

Le ministre a toutefois souligné qu’en dépit des efforts déployés, des défis importants se posent encore pour la mise en oeuvre du PDES, relevant que la problématique de la capacité d’absorption des crédits d’investissements est devenue un thème récurrent au cours des revues et un facteur limitant pour les actions de développement.