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Nigeria’s Middle Class Crisis!. —-Why the Diminishing Middle Class is Stagnating Economic Growth.

“A thriving middle class is the source of growth in a technological, capitalist economy. Investing in the middle class is the most pro-business thing you can do”…… Nick Hanauer

With 3.3 billion people in the global middle class representing the world’s largest group and the driving force behind global economic growth, this group is projected to reach 4.2 billion people by 2022 and will represent 53% of the world population, 5.2 billion by 2028, accounting for 62% of the 8.4 billion world population, the progress to reduce poverty is growing and it is projected that on average about 160 million people will join the middle class annually till 2021.

From 2017 to 2028, world population is projected to increase by 870 million (11.5%) while the projected population in the middle class will increase by 1.9 billion (57.6%), but majority of the population moving into the middle class will happen in the Asian continent. The precedent increase of the middle class has also fueled a booming world economy with increased consumer spending per household where GDP has grown from US$11.17 trillion in 1980 to US$80.68 trillion in 2017, a whooping US$69.51 trillion. At the same time world population grew from 4.43 billion in 1980 to 7.53 billion at the end of 2017 representing an increase of 3.1 billion in population, while the world population grew by 70%, the combined global GDP grew by 622% in the same 37 years.

The global goal of reducing poverty by moving a larger population into the middle class has been the strategy used by progressive nations to grow economy which has also propelled economic wealth and has now become the leading strategy amongst developing nations. Countries have come to realize the strategic importance of a growing middle class to economic growth, wealth creation, and sustainability.

Following the Global Recession of 2008, on December 6th, 2011 the then United States President, Barack Obama on his quest to reviving the economy and getting it going again, made a case for the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas on why the Middle Class is strategic to the overall strength and sustainable growth of the Economy. The President made it clear that if The United States must have a stable economy then it must continue to empower and grow the middle class. It is the middle class that grows the economy and not the rich.

So who are the middle class?…They are the individuals and household who fall between the working class and the upper class within a societal hierarchy. They have higher proportion of college or university degrees than those in the working class, more income available for consumption, and may own a property. They are often employed as professionals, managers, and civil servants. While the United Nations uses the Global measures and outlines a middle class as someone who lives on US$10 – US$100, the African Development Bank (AFDB) which focuses on the African continent, measures the middle class as those who live on US$2 – US$20 a day.

In Osawatomie, Kansas, President Obama made it known that a weakened middle class will not only hurt those in the middle class category but hurts everyone by stifling the overall economic growth of the country because of the strategic economic role it plays, stating that “when the middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom”. While politicians see the middle class as the gains that needs to be created from Economic growth, the middle class is actually the source of economic growth, stating that a strong middle class provides a stable consumer base that drives productive investments and those who supported President Obama’s claims presented data to prove the President’s points.

They argued that the United States Economy from 1947 to 1979, a period of 32 years, on average the middle class received 54% of the total nation’s income and the average Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for the economy during the period was a steady 3.7% per year. But between 1980 and 2010, the middle class received on average 46% of the nation’s income and the average CAGR dropped to an average of 2.7%, though a mere 1% drop but a difference of 1% over 30 years was a huge difference in the nation’s economic growth. At 3.7% the economy will grow more than 3 times its size and at 2.7% it will grow to about two and a quarter its size.

To illustrate this, the International financial organizations and multinational consulting firms have projected that Africa has the capacity to grow at an average CAGR of 4.5% till 2050 if the economies are diversified. Using Nigeria as a classical example and a GDP of about US$375.7 billion as at 2017, growing at an average of 4.5%, Nigeria’s GDP will hit US$1.605 trillion in nominal terms by 2050, but should the CAGR drop by just 1% to 3.5%, the GDP will reduce to US$1.169 trillion in nominal terms, a huge difference of US$436 billion with just 1% drop in CAGR over a period of 33 years. A loss of economic capacity and bigger than the present economy.

PICTURE 1

SO WHY THE MIDDLE CLASS!!…….

“A strong economy depends on a strong middle class”………Rahm Emanuel

A strong Middle class is the backbone of the economy, they are the major spenders and every economy depends on the spending power of the consumers. Of the five factors that makes up the aggregate demand (GDP) of an economy, consumer spending alone makes up two-third of the economy (66.6%), hence if consumer spending suffers it stagnates the entire economy. As the largest factor of the economy, it represents not just a major factor, but the pipeline to which every part of the economy gets their supply for survival, in the United States, Consumer Spending accounts for 70% of the national economy.

At US$375.7 billion economy, Nigeria’s consumer spending as part of the overall economy should ordinarily account for US$250 billion. This is the part of the economy that grows every other part, which is why when there’s a recession governments worldwide majorly focus on increasing consumer spending through fiscal or monetary policies.

A healthy economy depends on a growing and stable middle class, they are the drivers of entrepreneurship and innovation, while entrepreneurship is the foundation of most Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s), making up 50% of the GDP of any economy, the MSME’s make up over 90% of all businesses contributing 60% to 70% of all employments. Innovation on the other hand is what pushes every economy beyond its potential to a new level helping introduce new products to the market and the middle class creates the demand for the products.

The middle class create jobs in an economy, so when the middle class are not faring well or are being stifled, MSMEs suffer, workers are laid off, and unemployment increases, and as unemployment increases it depresses the economy, it becomes a circle and ultimately leads to poverty trap where those who have falling below the poverty line are unable to lift themselves out of poverty due to unavailable enabling opportunities and business environments. With over 90% of all businesses and contributing 60% to 70% of all employment, the middle class can be defined as the major job creators of any economy, a strong middle class is a strong consumer demand for the economy, and a strong demand grows businesses and employ more people, a strong and growing middle class means more MSMEs, and more MSMEs means more jobs for the economy. The level of employment is a major factor that influences the demand for consumer goods in any economy.

While in Nigeria, MSME’s contribute about 48.47% to the GDP and as at 2015 was employing 60 million Nigerians from a total of 37 million MSMEs, a growing middle class and MSME’s becomes an allure to Foreign Investors because the middle class spending contributes a hefty chunk to the consumer spending of any economy and this increases foreign capital inflow into the country at the same time facilitating technology transfer. Increasing middle class also signifies decreasing income inequality and reduces crime and promotes security stability for the country, countries with security stability attract the most foreign investments, and Asian countries are beneficiaries of major capital inflow through foreign direct investments due to increasing middle class. A greater part of the insecurity Nigeria faces today is as a result of the diminishing middle class.

An increasing middle class is a major driver for education, the more the middle class in a country the more kids are enrolled in school, they value education, and more so important, parents from a middle class family never want their kids to do less if they are educated. A society made up of a growing number of middle class means the bracket of income inequality is smaller, and equality promotes investments in education and such societies tend to invest more in public goods which further benefits the whole society by continuously closing the gap of income inequality. With about 13.2 million kids outside school in Nigeria, it is a strong evidence of a diminishing middle class and as the kids gets to adult age, this will lead to weak consumer demand and also lead to unemployment in future.

Joseph Stiglitz, a renowned economist and Nobel Prize winner also pointed out that the wider the income inequality is in a country the less the country will take collective actions to improve public goods which includes education and health. Countries with a higher number of middle class and lower income inequality tend to spend more on education and healthcare, research has also shown that countries that spend more on education tend to achieve more results through what is called the knowledge economy investing time and resources on research and development which leads to manufacturing, better process management, and efficiencies!!!…….. This is the foundation of most economic super powers of today.

President Obama in his speech argued that a growing and strong middle class promotes and boosts economic growth through better governance, stating that high and increasing inequality will create problems and challenges for democracy by distorting it through “an outsized voice to the few who can afford high priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions”. These few hold brief for the interest of a selected few, but a well-educated middle class stands to challenge governance, formulate and promotes efficient and honest delivery of government services through good policies that eventually leads to better economic freedom and ultimately leads to sustainable economic growth boosting investors confidence, but a weak middle class is the direct opposite where government is unable to deliver the basic needs to its citizens.

As Consumer spending diminishes, revenues of most companies are affected, and as revenues drops, companies basically switch to survival moods and have to cut down on employees to maintain profit levels to remain in business, hence unemployment increases in the economy. This is part of what has been driving up unemployment in Nigeria, the middle class is a critical economic and social developer for any country, creating a stable demand for local and international products, and when they are unable to create this demand, it weakens the economy.

In January 2018, the NBS released its report stating that the Gini Coefficient which measures inequality worsened from 2004 to 2013 from 0.356 to 0.41, surprisingly this was the period Nigeria had its biggest economic growth, which meant most of the wealth was accumulated in the hands of a few rich people. The Gini Coefficient only dropped to 0.391 in 2016 as stated in the report, why?…..it is simple!!!….while population living in poverty did not reduce to close the gap but actually increased, the wealth which the rich had access to reduced and coupled with reduced oil prices.

The report also stated that national income/expenditure of the upper class (the rich) which makes up only about 10% of the population had been rising between 2004 and 2013, reaching 59.42% in 2013 and declined slightly to 58.39% in 2016, while the middle class accounted for just 30.26% in 2016 from 29.14% in 2013, a slight increase, while the lower class accounted for 11.36%. What is basically happening is that with a weak middle class, the rich makes most of the spending in dollar terms compared to what the middle class spends, while the middle class that grows the economy and not the rich, a weak middle class means big challenge for the economy.

In 2017, with a combined global GDP of US$80.68 trillion, global middle class spending was about US$37 trillion accounting for 45.8%, while in 2014 the combined spending of the Africa’s middle class was US$860 billion with a combined GDP of US$2.47 trillion representing 34.8%. At 30.26% in 2016, Nigeria’s middle class spending is way below that of the world and African average.

Driving Economic Growth Through Strong and Increasing Middle Class!!…

Most striving and stable economies are those that have continuously grown the numbers of their middle class, increasing consumer spending and attracting FDI’s. Today, China is the second largest recipient of Foreign Direct investment in the World after the United States of America, with US$168.2 bn in 2017 and reaching an all-time high of US$290.9 bn in 2013, as companies target the growing middle class for business expansion and growth, with over 420 million strong middle class and combined spending capacity that will account for 16% of world middle class spending by 2020.

Of the 4.518 billion world population in 1981, according to the World Bank, 2.38 billion (52.7%) lived in Extreme Poverty in developing countries, income of US$1 per day or less (in 1985 purchasing power parity dollars), but the world has also made a tremendous and significant progress in reducing Extreme Poverty, as of November 2018, about 630 million people now live in Extreme Poverty worldwide US$1.90/day at 2011 Purchasing Power Parity representing 8.3% of the 7.62 billion world population. While Poverty may be reducing in the world, some countries including Nigeria, are increasing in Poverty.

Before the 90’s, most Asian countries accounted for the highest number of Poverty and Extreme Poverty in the world. In 1981, according to the World Bank, the countries of South Asia with a combined population of 922 million had a total of 566 million (61.4%) of their population living in Extreme Poverty. By 2013 at 2011 Purchasing Power Parity of US$1.90/day Extreme Poverty had reduced to 256.5 million (15.1%) of the combined population of 1.699 billion. The South Asian countries had been able to lift 309.5 million out of poverty and added an additional 777 million to the middle class through increase in population over a period of 32 years.

The success for Asian countries still lies ahead, it is estimated that 88% of the next one billion entrants into the middle class will come from Asia continent and will lead the world in GDP growth, 350 million from China, 380 million from India, 210 from the rest of Asia while 130 million from the rest of the world and middle class spending from the current US$37 trillion will reach US$64 trillion by 2030 and will represent one-third of global economy.

In East Asia/Pacific the reduction of Extreme Poverty and building up the numbers of the middle class was even more successful, the counties of East Asia and Pacific had a combined population of 1.582 billion in 1981 with 1.234 billion (78%) living in Extreme Poverty, China alone had 84% of its population of 994 million people living in Extreme Poverty about 835 million. By 2013 the headcount living in Extreme Poverty in East Asia and Pacific at 2011 Purchasing Power Parity of US$1.90/day had reduced to 78.82 million, (3.5%) of the 2013 combined population of 2.252 billion. China alone lifted 789.5 million people out of poverty as at 2017 and has helped in boosting economic activities.

PICTURE 2

The three major regions where Poverty was really prevalent in the world reduced poverty and lifted people into middle class, but the most successful regions had the highest growth in GDP per Capita. In East Asia/Pacific where the increase of the numbers of middle class was most successful, the average GDP per Capita increased from US$1,263 in 1981 to US$10,370 in 2017 (721%), this region included countries first world like Japan and Australia which helped boost its GDP Per Capita in 1981. While South Asia increased its average GDP per capita from US$268 in 1981 to US$1,841 in 2017 (587%).

Sub-Saharan Africa which had a lower percentage of people living in poverty in 1981 (52.8%) of the total population, had a better GDP per Capita than South Asia with an average GDP per Capita of US$692 in 1981, and only increased to an average of US$1,554 in 2017, an increase of US$862 (125%). Sub-Saharan Africa could only reduce poverty from 52.8% of the total population to 41% in 2013, but at the same time the region had the highest growth rate in the world. Despite the fact that the percentage living in Extreme Poverty had actually reduced, the headcount in Sub-Saharan Africa increased as population increased. South Asia has been able to lift more people out of poverty into the middle class hence the boost in economic activities and wealth creation.

For Sub-Saharan Africa to grow and expand its economies like the success recorded in the Asian continent, it must lift people into the middle class by investing in them, and the continent must make use proceeds of its vast mineral resources by investing it on its people. Looking at a country like Nigeria that was ahead of majority of the countries in Asia in 1981 with a GDP per capita of US$809 has only been able to increase its GDP per Capita to US$1,969 in 2017, expansion of 143% in 37 years because of a diminishing middle class.

The increasing and thriving middle class has continued to grow and expand Asia’s economies, China’s GDP per capita has grew from US$197 in 1981 to US$8,827 in 2017, expanding by 4,381% in the same 37 years. Indonesia increased from US$566 in 1981 to US$3,846 in 2017 (580%), Malaysia from US$1,769 in 1981 to US$9,945 (462%), and Thailand from US$721 in 1981 to US$6,594 in 2017 (815%). Despite good policies to grow the Asian economies, the success lies with the fact that a strong consumer demand was created by moving people from poverty to the middle class. Nigeria which had fewer people living in poverty both in percentage and headcount in 1981 and had more middle class as a percentage of the overall population had a higher GDP per Capita than most Asian countries then.

PICTURE 3

As people are moved out of poverty, the middle class is created, income increases and increased income is able to boost consumer spending in the economy causing a chain reaction to other aspects of the economy as more businesses and jobs start to spring up. This has shown in most Asian countries, a region that was the Poverty Centre of the world in 1981, of the 2.38 billion living in Extreme Poverty in the world in 1981, which was 52.7% of total world population of 4.518 billion, South Asia and East Asia/Pacific accounted for 1.78 billion (75%) of the total.

NIGERIA AND THE MIDDLE CLASS!!….

“No matter how wealthy a few plutocrats get, we can never drive a great national economy. Only a thriving middle class can do that”……Nick Hanauer.

As at 2010 estimate, according to The World bank, 70% of the Nigerian population lived in poverty, today the 70% is still used to measure the poverty line in Nigeria and as at the end of December 2018 The World Poverty Clock estimated that 90.6 million (46.4%) of Nigerians live in Extreme Poverty. Those who live in Extreme Poverty live on equivalent of $1.90 or less per day (2011 Purchasing Power Parity), and those living in Poverty are basically those whose basic needs are meet, but just barely. With more people being added to extreme poverty and total head count of people living in Poverty Increasing, it means Nigeria has a diminishing middle class.

In 2017, IntelServe Inc. Canada, a business consulting firm carried out a research on why poverty was increasing in Nigeria and why people were basically getting into what is called the poverty trap, a mechanism that makes it difficult for people to escape poverty, the Poverty Trap is created when an economic system requires a significant amount of various forms of capital in order to earn enough to escape poverty, and what the government must do to help the people get out of the poverty trap and build wealth.

The research discovered why the middle class has been slipping into poverty despite the fact that the country recorded economic growth or expansions and recessions over the years and why the Asian countries were able to lift their citizens out of poverty while recording economic growth. Of over 300 middle class families that were surveyed using household income and expenditure, about 99% had the same challenges and problems, the major factor being governments lack of investments in public goods, mainly education and healthcare and most importantly the underfunding which has led to the destruction of public education and introduction of private schools and how private schools have become the major drain pipe on the average household income of the middle class leaving most with a crippled consumer spending power after each school fees season and barely having enough to meet household expenditure with no extra spending power to invest in growing household wealth.

The major reason for this can be seen in the gross savings of the country, Nigeria’s gross savings averaged 18.03% in 36 years, from 1981 to 2017. The Gross Savings is the gross national income less the total consumption plus net transfers, in other words gross savings is the difference between disposable income and consumption…..basically what is left between your take home and your expenditure. This means that on average, a Nigerian should have 18.03% as gross savings from their take home after expenditure to save and create household wealth that they can build up over the years through different types of investments.

This is where it gets interesting, according to The World Bank, the average saving rates in developing countries which includes: Upper Middle Income Countries, Lower Middle Class Countries, Low Income Countries, and the Least Developed Countries is 20.5%, what this implies is that to get out of poverty, a family needs to invest an average of 20.5% of their annual income over time to create wealth. At 20.5%, Nigeria is already below the world average, but where it gets worrisome is what happens to the 18.03% average gross savings per family.

According to the research, an average middle class family in Nigeria spends an average of about 24.5% of their annual income on private schools for their kids. The research was carried out on families having between one and four kids and depending on the level of income and preferred private school. Families with four kids spend as much as 38% of their annual income on education while those with one kid spend as much as 12%……so the middle class which is supposed to grow the economy has no extra spending power due to lack of governments sufficient investments in the education sector. So why a case for public goods such as education and healthcare?.

PICTURE 4

Education fall under what is called merit goods, and merit goods are good the government gives to the people irrespective of the fact that they can afford them, because if it is not given free, the goods will either be paid for or under consumed, and their under consumption or being paid for has both social and economic consequences for the country. Such consequences include increasing poverty, stifling the growth and spending power of the middle class, lower consumer demand and consumer spending, and lagging MSMEs due to lack or insufficient injection of funds. External benefits are a major advantage of education, including rising incomes, present and future generations are able to benefit from productivity, and reduction of unemployment through occupational mobility.

Merit goods create positive externalities with third party spillover benefits increasing significant effects on social environment. When merit goods and services are under-consumed under a free market condition it leads to market failures, and this is the classic case of what is happening to Nigeria, today there are about 13.2 million kids outside school up from 10.5 million in 2013, the future consequences to the economy will be huge through increasing poverty, diminishing middle class, low consumer spending, and unemployment due to lack of available skills. The moment Nigeria destroyed its public schools and the mass migration of the middle class to the private schools was the beginning of the slow death of the economy.

PICTURE 5

So why are the Asians lifting people out of Poverty?…..it is simple!!….apart from the policies of the government, a critical look at the gross savings explains it, for example China’s average gross savings from 1982 to 2017 was 42.1%, which means that the average person in China has 42.1% of their annual income to save and invest to escape poverty while enjoying the privileges of merit goods from the government, while Nigerian’s are battling with school fees, the middle class is getting quality and free education in China and other Asian countries are doing same. Indonesia’s average gross savings in 37 years was 25.7%, Thailand had an average gross savings of 29.3%, and Malaysia’s averaged gross savings of 32% in the last 37 years. Note that all these countries are well above The World Bank’s gross savings average of 20.5% for developing countries.

The higher the developing country’s gross saving and the ability to provide merit goods, the more successful the country in getting people out of poverty to build a strong and sustainable middle class that grows the economy. While some countries in Africa are increasing their middle class by moving people out of poverty, Nigeria seems to be doing the opposite by diminishing the number of middle class as they continue to fall below the poverty line.

From 1981 Poverty and Extreme poverty has been on the rise in Nigeria creating a weak consumer demand and a struggling economy that only depends on oil revenue, as the percentage of population living in poverty increased from 54.4% in 2004 to 70% in 2010, moving more people from the middle class down below the poverty line and global oil prices dropping in 2008 to as low as US$34, coupled with the global recession, unemployment in Nigeria rose to 19.7% due to weak consumer demand and consumer spending. With global oil prices falling to US$45 in the first quarter of 2015, and as low as US$27 in the first quarter of 2017, consumer demand and spending is low as 46.4% about 90.6 million people have spending power of US$1.90 or less per day and 70% of the population about 138.8 million living just barely having their needs met.

In the last five years and with the diminishing middle class and fall in global oil prices, the economy has been facing an uphill task, while the devaluation of the naira has also made more Nigeria’s fall below the poverty line, about 76 million people out of the 90.6 million were already living in Extreme poverty as at May 29th, 2015 using the margin of average of 8,000 people added to Extreme Poverty daily by the World poverty clock, we then conclude that the middle class is being wiped out irrespective of both economic growth and recession in Nigeria.

In conclusions……First, to grow a sustainable economy, Nigeria needs the middle class because without the middle class there can be no strong demand in the economy and employment will only depend on prices of crude oil. Secondly, to create the middle class, government must come up with strong policies on how to reduce poverty as more people are falling into poverty daily and move the lower class into the middle class status, these policies must be centered on Human Capital Development to help with creation of individual wealth through the support of productivity from innovation and entrepreneurship, this will create products to be consumed locally and will cut down on importations which will lead to increase in the gross saving of the country. And lastly, government must provide merit goods to help Nigeria’s increase their household savings to enable them invest more and spend more in the economy to create demand and employment.

The answer to Nigeria’s economic growth lies with a strong middle class that can increase consumer spending, create consumer demand, thereby creating jobs and reducing unemployment. And like the British economist John Maynard Kayne had advocated during the great depression of the 1930’s that increased government spending and lower taxes will help stimulate demand and pull the economy out of the depression…..but we must not forget to understand that government must at least provide or meet the basic needs of merit goods to help the people with increased purchasing power to create and stimulate the demand.

Note: This article was written by Roman Oseghale and was published by Businessday Nigeria on February 15th, 2019.

https://businessday.ng/uncategorized/article/nigerias-middle-class-crisis/

 


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Impact of The Economy and Poverty on The Ease of Doing Business. ____Why government must look beyond just regulations!!..

As long as Poverty, Injustice and Gross Inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest”……Nelson Mandala.

With an average of 8,000 people being added to Extreme Poverty daily in Nigeria according to the World Poverty clock, and Nigeria’s subsequent move 24 points up the ladder on The Ease of Doing Business index from 169 in 2016 to 145 in 2017, Nigeria must look deeper and beyond the regulatory regime on The Ease of Doing Business and address the major factors that attract Foreign Investors into emerging economies if the country must benefit from the advantages of Foreign Direct Investments.

PICTURE 1

Foreign Direct Investments have different effects in an economy, which includes important avenue for improvement in the economy, increase in competitiveness, regional development, a major source of Foreign Capital Inflow which can help grow the economy, strengthen the local currency, create employment, and most important the transfer of technologies which can help propel a country to the world stage in manufacturing, become more competitive and further grows the economy.

While Governments around the world try to woo investors into their economy through easier regulations in the Ease of Doing Business, the same governments must look beyond the factors of regulations and at other factors which play a greater role in determining whether foreign investors will come or stay in their economies. Policies must be created around these factors and must not be tempered with, bipartisan politics is what will promote the positive results for the common interest of all. While Nigeria has concentrated on promoting the Ease of Doing Business through easier regulations, the country has neglected the most important factors that will attract foreign investors.

According to the 2018 Global Peace Index report, The Institute for Economics and Peace, a non-profit think tank that has authored the report for the last 12 years, outlines “The Economic Impacts of Violence: How the use of force hurts global economic output”. The 2018 Reports states that the Economic Impact of Violence in 2017 was $14.8 trillion in constant Purchasing Power Parity and roughly 12.4% of global GDP or $1,988 per person, with Syria recording an Impact of 68% of its GDP, Afghanistan 63%, South Sudan 49%, Central African Republic 38%, Somalia 30%, and Nigeria at 11% (equivalent to $150.2 bn) of GDP at Purchasing Power parity.

The Economic Impact of Peace goes beyond just affecting GDP growth, study shows that over the last 70 years, GDP per capita has been three times higher in highly peaceful countries compared to countries with low level of Peace. Countries with the largest improvements in peace also recorded 7 times higher per capita GDP growth than those that deteriorated the most over the last decade and would have added US$13.87 trillion to global GDP had the low peaceful countries achieved GDP growth equivalent to highly peaceful countries. When GDP Per capita is not increasing as it should be and population is increasing, it ultimately makes the country poorer and standard of living starts to fall.

While less peaceful countries experience economic stagnation, GDP per capita has grown on average by just one percent over the last 70 years resulting in economic factors such as high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inflation which are major risk factors for both political unrest and insecurity. As the low peace countries experience poor economic performance it leaves them more vulnerable to political instability and conflicts the very factors the multinational companies list as critical factor before investing in an economy, and according to the Global Peace Index, Nigeria falls within the very low peaceful countries.

PICTURE 2

Countries with higher level of peace have lower interest rates which ultimately helps financing in the domestic market attracting Foreign Investors compared to countries that have low levels of peace with higher interest rates which makes domestic financing expensive and in most cases leads to higher overheads and business failures. Inflation is on average three times higher and ten times more volatile in low peace countries than high peace countries and the reason why companies in developed economies rate low peace and unstable economies as high risk zones for businesses.

While all these factors play a critical role, they are all linked to low peace countries and studies shows that Foreign Direct Investment inflow are more than two times higher in countries with higher levels of peace relative to less peaceful countries and the GDP of least peaceful countries could increase by US$527 by 2030 if they were to grow at the same rate equivalent to the most peaceful countries.

In his Book “The End of Poverty” Prof. Jeffrey Sachs states that “The Destinies of the haves are intrinsically linked to the faiths of the have nothing at all, if we didn’t know this already it became too clear on September 11, 2001. The perpetrators of 9/11 might have been wealthy Saudis but is was in the collapsed poverty stricken state of Afghanistan they found sucker and sanctuary. Africa is not in the front line against terror but it soon could be”

As at 2016, the Boko Haram insurgency in North-Eastern Nigeria had claimed no fewer than 20,000 lives while about 1.8 million people had been displaced from their homes and communities grounding economic activities which not only affected the have nothings at all but also affected the faiths of the haves. The North East Nigeria Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) team had announced in early 2016 that the impact of the conflict in the region had cost US$9 billion and also indicated that US$6 billion will be needed to perform recovery efforts in the region.

Even as Nigeria declares war on terror, we must not fail to understand the deeper cause of the instability, the truth is that the increased military surveillance and expenditure will not solve the problem unless we address the fundamental cause. Had Nigeria invested the increased expenditures it is using today on military surveillance and hardware to fight insurgencies and terror on developing the people, the story would have been different.

While carrying out the research, there were two major findings amongst countries where internal conflicts degenerates into terror afflicted zones, they were low education expenditure and high poverty rate. On January 14th, 2011, the Arab spring began in Tunisia which later spread to other Arab countries igniting mass protests, but the root cause were: Economic Mismanagement, Corruption, and Increasing Poverty which had reached their heights, today the consequences are still being felt in places like Libya and Syria where the situations have degenerated into full scale civil war with millions displaced and thousands killed seven years after.

According to the Broker, a think tank organization which carries out research to help policy makers with better decisions makings…. “Looking at inequality between countries essentially means looking at poverty. Research by internationally renowned experts like Paul Collier and Nicholas Sambanis has shown a strong link between the wealth of a country and the probability of it suffering from civil war.”

For instance, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a senior officer’s salary is less than $100 a month and often goes unpaid. One of the commanders of a rebel group in the east of the country recalled the moment he was recruited: “I had spent five months in a training camp in Kinshasa with no salary. My family was going hungry. When [General Laurent] Nkunda began recruiting, I saw I didn’t have any option”. Ironically, The Democratic Republic of Congo is where 71% of the population lives in Extreme Poverty.

While the Nigerian government may enhance the regulations surrounding the Ease of Doing Business, the greater restrictions for companies coming to invest in Nigeria still remains Political Stability and Security. In 2017, the World Bank conducted a survey to know what CEO’s of multinational companies really want before investing in Emerging Economies which was published in the 2017/2018 Global Investment Competitiveness Report, Political Stability and Security was top on the list with 50% of the CEO’s holding it to be critically important, and only 2% saying it is not important at all.

PICTURE 3

Large domestic market size came second with 42% as critically important, while only 4% says it is not important at all. Legal and Regulatory Environment comes third with 40% saying it is critically important while 2% says it is not important at all. Macro-Economic Stability and Favourable Exchange Rates comes fourth with 34% and Available Talent and Skills of Labour comes fifth with 28%.

But the interesting thing is that all the indicator sets which makes up The Ease of Doing Business can’t function in a country that lacks peace, stability, and plagued by insecurity, eight of the eleven indicators have to do with procedures and time it will take to get things done, and a country that lacks peace or stability cannot guarantee that time frame, the North east as an example where when things starts to fall apart you can hardly get things done.

According to our findings, Nigeria has failed to focus on the major critical factor which will attract Foreign Investors despite its massive advantage of population and geographical location. Over the years the country has continued to witness security issues which has continued to plague its chances of attracting investors into strategic sectors like manufacturing. The simple truth is that as long as poverty and extreme poverty is on the rise the security challenges will not reduce. We may be able to subdue terrorism for a while but there are willing tools and people who poverty will push against their will and their very own consciences.

While Poverty and Extreme Poverty continues to increase as a percentage of population and threatens the stability of the country, the question has been why Nigeria has recorded economic growth over the years and poverty increasing at the same time. Today the Asian countries have continued to lift their citizens out of poverty and extreme poverty while recording economic growth, China is an example where almost 800 million has been lifted out of poverty from 1981 while the opposite is happening in Nigeria. If we have economic growth and at the same time increasing poverty then it means that something is wrong and we are probably operating the wrong economic model.

Economic Growth should lead to Economic Development, and Economic Development leading to better Human Development, but Nigeria has over the years recorded Economic Growth that has not positively impacted Human Development while creating poverty.

Sustainable Development!!……

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In conclusion, it is the Economic Development that is conducted without depletion of Natural Resources, it is an economic model that drives Education, Innovation, and Required Skills. It is then logical to conclude that we are not operating the right economic model.

Nigeria’s economic model is wrong and has not created wealth over the past 37 years as the creation of wealth comes from empowering the people through investments in Human Capital Development and helping reduce the number of people living in Poverty and Extreme Poverty and affecting the people positively leading to economic progress a better human development index. Nigeria has been operating an Expense Budget since the Mid-80’s rather than an Investment Budget, Investment creates wealth and not expense.

This can be seen on the Human Development Index where the country has stayed at the Low Human Development Quartile since 1990 despite recording economic growth and Expansion without being able to move up to the Medium Development Quartile whereas some countries have been able to move up from Low Human Development to Medium Human Development as they record economic growth, a scenario where the growth has been able to positively affect the population.

The Human Development Index is a composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capital income, it is no surprise that the index of life expectancy and education falls under Human Capital Development which when invested in leads to higher per capita income and this is where Nigeria has failed woefully and hence has remained at the Low Human Development quartile of the Human Development Index.

Countries that have sustained economic progress despite moving up the Human Development Index have managed to reduce their levels of violence and have escaped what has been termed the conflict trap: a tendency where countries with low income, low growth, and primary commodity dependence to remain trapped in a cycle of violence, political and economic instability. Economic instability is a known catalyst for political upheaval and social unrest which further reinforces poor economic performance.

Increasing Poverty!!……

In the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s Nigeria had a better standard of living than most Asian and African countries because of the heavy investments in Human Capital, especially Education which most Asian countries and African countries were not investing in, hence Nigeria had less people living in Poverty. In 1981 approximately 47% out of the population of 75.7 million people lived in poverty representing 35.6m people, by year 2000 the percentage had increased to 65% of the 122.3m people bringing the total headcount of people living in poverty to 79.5m people.

By 2010, percentage living in poverty had further increased to 70% of the total population of 158.6m people, the headcount living in poverty increased to 111m, this means that between 1981 and 2010, a total of 75.4m had been added to poverty. The Percentage living in Poverty has remained at 70% ever since while population continues to increase thereby increasing the headcount of people living in poverty, by the end of 2015, headcount had increased to 126.8m out of a population of 181.2m. The worrisome part is that GDP has increased from $61.1 bn in 1981 and reaching an all-time high of $568.5 bn in 2014, an increase of $507.4 bn (830.4%), within the same period Nigeria added 87.9m people to poverty and by 2016 had added 94.6m people to poverty.

Today Nigeria can be said to be in a situation called the Poverty Trap….A mechanism which makes it very difficult for people to escape poverty. A poverty trap is created when an economic system requires a significant amount of various forms of capital in order to earn enough to escape poverty. When individuals lack this capital, they may also find it difficult to acquire it, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of poverty.

Looking back at the economy from 1981 to date, Nigeria has had both Economic Recessions and Economic Growth with Poverty Increasing at both times, so no matter what happens in the economy poverty continues to increase. As Poverty continues to increase, Crime, Social Unrest, and Corruption will continue to increase which can lead to both State and Regional Instability.

By 2016, China’s Economy had grown from $196bn in 1981 to $11.2 trillion in 2016 (5617%) lifting 789.5m people out of poverty, India’s Economy grew from $196.9bn in 1981 to $2.264 trillion in 2016 (1050%) and lifted 137m people out of poverty, Indonesia’s economy grew from $85.5bn in 1981 to $932.3bn in 2016 (990%) and lifted 78.7m out of poverty, Thailand lifted out 29.4m people with an economic growth of $34.8bn in 1981 to $411.7bn in 2016 (1083%), Malaysia lifted out 2.93m people with an economic growth, and Bangladesh lifted out 24.3m people.

How did the Asian countries who were behind countries like Nigeria in the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s able to make such a giant stride?…….it was because the Asian countries changed their economic model in the mid-80’s by investing in Human Capital Development thereby driving Sustainable Development, ironically from research it was the same time Nigeria started reducing its investments in Human Capital Development.

Reaching 5% of GDP in 1981, Nigeria continued to reduce its Education Expenditure from the mid-80’s reaching an all-time low of 0.76% (Less than 1%) in 1992 and it has remained below 1% ever since, while it continued to treat education as an expense rather than an Investment. Investing in Human Capital Development is what helps individuals create wealth by attaining their potentials and this has long been the economic model of the western world, this was what Nigeria did in the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s and why Nigeria was ahead of the Asian countries. Immediately Nigeria stopped the Asian countries started their massive investments in Human Capital Development, building sustainable development and growth which has led to the reduction of poverty across the region.

With abysmal investment in Human Capital Development, there is no meaningful investment in the people to create wealth, and as poverty increases corruption continues to increase as well….Poverty leads to Corruption and Corruption further reinforces Poverty leading to deeper Poverty, this is why the number of Extreme Poverty in Nigeria will continue to increase threatening peace and limiting foreign investments.

Effect of Increasing Poverty on the Global Peace Index and TI International!!…..

The increasing Poverty over the years has led to increased crime, social unrest, and corruption in Nigeria, with the Social unrest leading to both state and regional instability between 2012 and 2015 when Boko Haram insurgency unleashed terror on North-Eastern Nigeria. The Global Peace Index which measures Global Peacefulness through 1). The level of Societal Safety and Security, 2) Extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflicts, and 3) Degree of Militarisation, ranks countries annually on peace.

The number one factor which drives foreign investors’ confidence in an economy is Political Stability and Security, in 2008 Nigeria ranked 118 out of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index, by 2011 the country had moved down the ranking to 142, and by 2013 it had further moved down to 148, this was the same time Boko Haram terrorized the North-East of the country. By 2014 and 2015, Nigeria’s ranking reached 151 at the height of the insurgency, not surprisingly Foreign Direct Investments into the country started reducing after reaching its peak of $8.84bn in 2011 to $7.07bn in 2012 and reaching $3.13bn in 2015.

Poverty leads to corruption and corruption breeds social unrest which leads to insecurity, it is no surprise that almost all the countries at the bottom of the Transparency International Index are the same countries at the bottom of the Global Peace Index. Almost all the countries at the bottom of the Global Peace Index are the same countries on the Global Conflict Tracker, a platform which tracks all the major conflicts in the world and which affects The United States interests globally.

PICTURE 4

Since Political Stability and Security is the number one factor that determines the Ease of Doing Business, the same countries dominate the bottom of the Global Ranking in the Ease of Doing Business and are the same countries ravaged by Poverty and Extreme Poverty. Nigerian may have succeeded in reducing the insurgencies in the North-East and moving up the global ranking in the Ease of Doing Business by 24 points, from 169 to 145 but the question is will it be sustainable with the increasing Poverty and Extreme Poverty?.

If we must attract Foreign Investors we have got to reduce Poverty and Extreme Poverty, only then can Nigeria guarantee security, and to reduce poverty we have got to change our Economic Model from a mineral resource economy by building a Sustainable Economy which invests in Human Capital Development, by investing in Education it enables the people create wealth and improve their standard of living. Enhancing regulations is not what will bring in investors but a stable political and security environment will not only attract investors but attract long term investments and not just Foreign Portfolio Investments.

Most foreign investors would rather invest in economies with high level of peace, a lower return on investments where long term sustainability of business can operate than investing in a country where there is low level of peace and higher return on investments. This is why investors tend to concentrate their Greenfield investments in countries with high level of peace and the countries ultimately benefit from technology transfers compared to countries with low level of peace where investors are more interested in short term investments through FPI’s and cash in on high returns due to high interest rates and investments are not really beneficial to the people in the real sector of the economy where it would have made much impact.

As Poverty and Extreme Poverty increases we should expect increase in social unrest and insecurity in the future, and as Nigeria leads the world in Extreme Poverty with 44.3% of its population and 70% living in Poverty, the country might just be building up both state and regional instability in the future repeating what happened between 2012 and 2015 and investors will avoid investing in the economy no matter how good the regulations are in the Ease of Doing Business and the reasons why the government must look beyond just regulations.

This article was written by Roman Oseghale and published by BusinessDay Nigeria on the 10th of October, 2018. See centre spread on the attachment below.

BusinessDay 10 Oct 2018-1

 


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Nigeria as Largest Rice Producer in Africa!…Harnessing Nigeria’s Comparative Advantage.

NIGERIA OVERTAKES EGYPT AS THE LARGEST RICE PRODUCER IN AFRICA WITH 4 MILLION TONNES A YEAR!

—-While we thank President Buhari for his policy, Nigeria must harness its comparative advantage to truly become number one!

The news of Nigeria becoming the largest producer of rice in Africa was made known by the Director-General, Africa Rice Centre, Benin Republic, Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley. According to Mr. Roy-Macauley, Nigeria now produces 4 million tonnes a year to overtake Egypt.

When I first read the news my initial reaction was:….Should we be celebrating or shouldn’t it be a time of Sober Reflections!

Egypt was basically producing an average of 4.3 tonnes annually but because of its harsh weather conditions caused by extreme heat, and Egyptian Government’s new policy of preserving water resources, annual rice output reduced by 40%, thus pushing Nigeria to the number position.

A quick comparison between Nigeria and Egypt will help you understand my line of thoughts!!..

EGYPT!!…

POPULATION: 97.55 million (2017 Est.)

LAND SIZE: 1.01 million Sqkm.

But 90% (909,000 Sqkm) of Egypt consist of desert areas, roughly almost the size of Nigeria. Which means Egypt only has 101,000 Sqkm of arable farmland for both population and crop yields. Little or no Agriculture takes place in the desert regions. The two main deserts being the Libyan desert and the Arabian desert.

ANNUAL RAINFALL:

20mm (0.79 inches) and 200mm (7.87 inches) of Annual Rainfall along the Narrow Mediterranean Coast. But south to Cairo, the average drops to nearly 0mm (0.00 inches) of Rainfall in the central and the Southern parts of the country.

ACCORDING TO THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA): Commodity Intelligence Report: 2015/2016

Egypt 2015/16 Rice Production: Yield Reduced by Extreme Heat.

SUMMARY!!!!….

USDA estimates 2015/16 Egyptian rice production at 4.0 million tons milled (5.8 million tons rough). Although Egypt planted a record 0.8 million hectares, production was lower than the five-year average of 4.3 million tons milled (6.2 million tons rough) due to poor yields. During August 2015, temperatures were abnormally high, even by Egyptian standards, causing damage to crops, particularly rice. The extreme heat accelerated crop development, reducing grain size and weight. Rough rice yield for 2015/16 is estimated at 7.25 tons per hectare (MT/Ha), a 25-year low, 28 percent below last year’s record 10.10 MT/Ha, and 22 percent below the 5-year average.

NOW LETS LOOK AT NIGERA!

NIGERIA!!..

POPULATION: 191 million (2017 Est.)

LAND SIZE: 923,763 Sqkm

There are no actual desert areas except Sahel in the extreme Northern parts of the country. This means agriculture can take place and food crops can be grown in every part of the country.

ANNUAL RAINFALL:

SOUTHERN PART: Well above the 2,000mm (78.7 inches) average rainfall totals giving for tropical rainforest climate worldwide. Over 4,000mm (157.5 inches) of rainfall received in the coastal regions of Nigeria and around the Niger-Delta regions.

SOUTH EAST: Rest of South East Receives Between 2,000 to 3,000mm (118.1 inches) of rainfall annually.

CENTRAL NIGERIA: Rainfall averages between 1,100mm (43.3 inches) to 2,000mm (78.7 inches).

EXTREME NORTH: Average of 500mm (20 inches) of rainfall.

We got so comfortable through easy policies that we imported everything and it slowly killed the economy!!….Only good leaders help you discover and tap your potentials and Capacity!!..but sometimes it comes through drastic decisions and measures which through persistence and perseverance the goal is achieved, President Buhari should should continue through his policies to promote local cultivation of rice while banning importation.

While Egypt as a whole has a population density of 84 people/Sqkm because of the size of the country and 90% being desert….majority live in the 10% habitable places along the Mediterranean with Cairo having a population density of 46,349 people/Sqkm compared to Lagos which is the most densely populated state with about 6,871 people/Sqkm.

I remember vividly the words my white colleague in Nigeria once told me: “I don’t understand what is wrong with you people, you have the right weather from January 1st to December 31st and you can’t do anything with it, do you know that during winter everything shuts down in Europe”

Nigeria’s Economic Power lies in its comparative advantage and we must learn to use it if are to survive as a nation!!..


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PDP Electoral Decisions Causing the Stock Market to lose Billions in Hours

As the February 23rd, 2019 Presidential and Federal legislative elections results continue to trickle in and the APC in clear lead as at Monday February the 25th, 2019, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP on the same Monday February 25th, 2019 through its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, in a press briefing claimed the results being announced were in favour of the ruling Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC.

Factors Affecting Investment Decisions

The Chairman claimed the results are filled with “Irregularities” and therefore, “Incorrect and Unacceptable”. He stated that “Our collation centres have the original results from all the polling units in the country. That is from where are going to reclaim our results.”

“The results are incorrect and unacceptable to our party. Officials of the APC working with INEC have decided to alter results to affect our people. This must now be resisted by every well-meaning Nigerian. “INEC must live up to its responsibility. They are under pressure. We have the facts and when the time comes, we begin to release them.”

This singular message unknown to many Nigerians would have passed a shockwave to investors in a country where security is very fragile during elections. In 2017, the World Bank conducted a survey on Multinational Corporations Executives on factors affecting investment decisions in developing economies, and top on the list was Political Stability and Security, with 50% of the CEO respondents stating Political Stability and Security as Critically Important, and 37% stating they are important, of all the 10 factors considered, Political Stability and Security was the most crucial on the list.

As at Tuesday the 26th, February 2019, the Stock market was already reacting to the threat of Political Instability should the election results be contested with market capitalization of listed equities on the same day February 26th, shedding N85 billion (0.69%) in six hours of trading, the market capitalization opened at N12.194 trillion and by close of day was N12.109 trillion.

While some analyst claim that it was because the opposition party, the PDP did not win, they must look at the crucial factors which guide investments and investors decisions, and uncertainty in Political Stability where a major political party heats up the polity may lead to breakdown of law and order which can lead to insecurity and causing investors to lose billions, hence they see the sensible thing to do as quickly liquidating their investments and moving the funds out of the economy, and this can further compound economic situations for the country.

The country at this time must assure investors of its political stability and security and the PDP and APC as the major political parties must be seen to play the role of reassuring confidence in the economy. Heating up the polity will lead to further liquidation of investments from the Stock exchange which will lead to high demand of the dollars, driving up its price as investors move out their funds out of the economy.

 


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PDP Electoral Decisions Causing the Stock Market to lose Billions in Hours.

As the February 23rd, 2019 Presidential and Federal legislative elections results continue to trickle in and the All Progressive Congress (APC) in clear lead as at Monday February the 25th, 2019, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the same Monday February 25th, 2019 through its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, in a press briefing claimed the results being announced were in favour of the ruling Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC.

Factors Affecting Investment Decisions

The Chairman claimed the results are filled with “Irregularities” and therefore, “Incorrect and Unacceptable”. He stated that “Our collation centres have the original results from all the polling units in the country. That is from where are going to reclaim our results.”

“The results are incorrect and unacceptable to our party. Officials of the APC working with INEC have decided to alter results to affect our people. This must now be resisted by every well-meaning Nigerian. “INEC must live up to its responsibility. They are under pressure. We have the facts and when the time comes, we begin to release them.”

This singular message unknown to many Nigerians would have passed a shockwave to investors in a country where security is very fragile during elections. In 2017, the World Bank conducted a survey on Multinational Corporations Executives on factors affecting investment decisions in developing economies, and top on the list was Political Stability and Security, with 50% of the CEO respondents stating Political Stability and Security as Critically Important, and 37% stating they are important, of all the 10 factors considered, Political Stability and Security was the most crucial on the list.

As at Tuesday the 26th, February 2019, the Stock market was already reacting to the threat of Political Instability should the election results be contested with market capitalization of listed equities on the same day February 26th, shedding N85 billion (0.69%) in six hours of trading, the market capitalization opened at N12.194 trillion and by close of day was N12.109 trillion.

While some analyst claim that it was because the opposition party, the PDP did not win, they must look at the crucial factors which guide investments and investors decisions, and uncertainty in Political Stability where a major political party heats up the polity may lead to breakdown of law and order which can lead to insecurity and causing investors to lose billions, hence they see the sensible thing to do as quickly liquidating their investments and moving the funds out of the economy, and this can further compound economic situations for the country.

The country at this time must assure investors of its political stability and security and the PDP and APC as the major political parties must be seen to play the role of reassuring confidence in the economy. Heating up the polity will lead to further liquidation of investments from the Stock exchange which will lead to high demand of the dollars, driving up its price as investors move out their funds out of the economy.

 


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The Nigerian Economy, Poverty, and The Ease of Doing Business.

______Why Nigeria Must Reduce Poverty to Attract Foreign Investors

Nigeria must invest in Human Capital Development if it must guarantee peace and security to attract Foreign Direct Investments which is the critical factor CEO’s of Foreign multinationals consider before investing in Emerging Economies. IntelServe Inc. CEO restates this on Channels TV.

With Increasing Poverty, and Extreme Poverty it is certain that crime and insecurity will increase and this will threaten investments into the country. Though the country may have moved up 24 points in the Ease of Doing Business from 169 in 2016 to 145 in 2017, Security still remains the critical factor in attracting foreign investors, Government must stem the flow of people into extreme poverty daily which currently stands at an average of 8,000 daily.

For Nigeria to attract Foreign Investors, the Government must guarantee peace and security, and to guarantee peace and security it must reduce poverty, to reduce poverty it must invest in Human Capital Development to create wealth. Poverty is a threat to Peace and Security.


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China’s Strategy of “Predatory Lending” and the Recolonization of African.

_________Why The Mounting Debt to China is Dangerous for Africa!

Xi Jinping on Africa

With the rise of economic prosperity in China over the last two decades, China is flexing its muscles internationally and lending to nations that are unable to fund national projects, while the projects may look very promising to the countries where they are being offered, China may have other motives as it sinks billions into Africa countries.

While China may be trying to build both economic and political influence in the Africa, Africa is a rich source of mineral resources for China’s rapidly growing economy. With Africa’s emerging market growing at a fast rate, China is bound to benefit from the growth having locked itself into the economy through lending to various countries and governments, many have argued that Africa is the next frontier, the underdeveloped continent seeking attention, while it has the fastest growth in both youth and overall population.

As at 2015 with a population of 1.136 billion, Africa accounted for 15.7% of the world population of 7.2 billion people, Africa’s population is set to hit 2.4 billion by 2050 and the continent will account for 25% of the 9.6 billion people, a stable middle class that will increase from 123 million in 2015 to 1.1 billion by 2060. Africa is a huge market waiting to be explored, so access to abundant mineral resources for its manufacturing in China and a huge market to sell its finished products is key to Chinese Economic Growth.

Today Africa is estimated to contain 90% of the entire world supply of Platinum and Cobalt, two-thirds of world manganese and 35% of the world’s uranium, and half of the world’s gold supply. Nearly 75% of the world’s coltan is in Africa, the major important mineral component used in electronic devices including cellphones. As a leading cell phone manufacturer, according to statistics, over 1 billion cell phones was produced in China between 2014 and 2015, but between January 2017 and June 2018 cell phone production had increased to 2.086.1 billion, China needs a constant flow of mineral resources to meet it demand and Africa is its target.

To meet its furniture demands in furniture, the Chinese are also championing the deforestation of Africa, in 2017, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) a Non-Governmental Organization based in the United States released a report “The Rosewood Racket China’s Billion Dollar Illegal Timber Trade and The Deforestation of Nigeria’s Forest” the report chronicles how 40 containers of scares Rosewood trees are shipped put of Nigeria daily. The trees are cut down, converted to logs and leaves North-Eastern Nigeria everyday through Shagamu and eventually shipped out from Apapa port by the Chinese, the 40 containers are said to be equivalent to 5400 logs and 2,800 trees daily.

China is massively devouring Africa’s mineral and Natural resources, and to go to the same China for loans might spell doom for the continent, especially with China’s predatory lending style…

So What is Predatory Lending?…… and The Chinese Strategy?

Predatory Lending includes any unscrupulous actions carried out by a lender to entice, induce and assist a borrower in taking a loan that carries high fees. A high-interest rate, strips the borrower of equity or places the borrower in a lower credit rated loan to the benefit of the lender.

Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is.

The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral, and one of the big concerns around Chinese loans is the debt-trap diplomacy where the Chinese government will pressure countries that can’t pay into exploitative deals. In most or all cases, the repayment of loans is never the intent of the lender but how to takeover assets or collaterals of the borrower knowing full well that the borrower will default.

The Worries!!!….

On March 6th, 2018, the former US Secretary of States, Rex Tillerson stated that Beijing “Encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loans practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth, Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries.”

Africa's debt to China

With the US lawmakers and government warning about Chinese Predatory lending in Africa and its subsequent effect on future economic growth of the continent, Sub-Saharan Africa’s debt to GDP is rising, in the 1980’s African economies were crippling under sovereign debts which alienated most of the countries from the global financial system in the mid-90’s.

In 2005, the rich lender nations reached a solution to forgive the loans of heavily indebted poor countries of which 30 were African countries from the World Bank, IMF, and African Development Bank. By 2008, median debt level to GDP was about 23%, and by 2012, Sub-Saharan African median debt level had risen to 30% of GDP and with subsequent borrowings increased to over 50% of GDP by 2017. Many fear that the debt level is getting worrisome and that most Sub-African countries will default on repayment and these are the countries holding most of the mineral and natural wealth of Africa.

A report written in 2016 by Deborah Brautigam, a professor of international political economy at John Hopkins, estimated that Chinese banks, contractors, and the government lent approximately $86 billion to Africa between 2000 and 2014 and about $29 billion of that was loans backed by natural resources.

China's Loan to Africa

Of the total debt of about $453 billion Sub-Saharan Africa owes in external debt stocks, Sub-Saharan Africa has borrowed $136 billion from China, which the Chinese government extended to Africa from year 2000 – 2017, that is 30% of Sub-Saharan total external debt stocks, and with the new $60 billion loan approved recently by the Chinese government, Africa’s debt to China will increase to almost $200 billion.

While China’s influence and loans continue to increase in Africa, Trade balance has also been skewed in favour of China, in 2015, China’s Export to Africa was about $150 billion in mostly finished goods while Africa exported about $38 billion worth of goods to China with majority being raw materials and unfinished goods. In 2016 Chinese Export to Africa was $88 billion and only imported $40 billion from Africa.

China’s long term strategy is to outdo the western world in its loans and grants to African, using them to buy influence and position itself to access the abundant mineral and natural resources, including the gain of geopolitical influence.

The Takeovers!!!……and the Future Takeovers

The Chinese predatory lending spreads across not only Africa but other poor countries as well, in 2010, China invested $1.5 billion to build the Hambatota port in Sri Lanka, and when the country couldn’t repay the debt, Sri Lanka signed a 99-year lease of the port with a Chinese state-owned company to service some of the billions it owed.

Recently it was reported that Zambia was in talks with China over a possible takeover of the country’s electricity company, ZEWASCO, after defaulting on loan repayment, and possible takeover of the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport also belonging to Zambia should they fail to meet their debt obligations with China, though government has refuted the claims but many claiming the takeover bid to be true.

Recently a lawmaker in Kenya addressed the house warning the government of the impending disaster ahead claiming if Kenya does not wakeup the country will end up selling its national assets to China, 66% of Kenya debt is to the Chinese. China constructed the Lamu Port in Kenya fr $16 billion, and Kenya is set to default in three years’ time unless they can pay 1 million Kenyan shillings per day. Lamu Port is the biggest port in east Africa and will be handed over to the Chinese for 99 years. The challenge will be when a major importer  and exporter of your mineral resources take over your port.

Of the $136 billion loan given to Africa since year 2000, Angola which is mineral and natural resource rich country accounts for $42 billion. Angola used oil as part of its collateral for loans from China and as oil prices plunged, it found itself with more oil flowing to China for debt repayment and less to sell in the international market to plug budget deficits. It also means that to make their money, Western Oil companies which manage Angola’s production with exports of 1.8 million barrels/day will take more for their investments and services.

In 2017, Djibouti leased land to China for $20 million per year after lending billions of dollars to an heavily indebted Djibouti and the country unable to pay back the loans, China has used the land to set up its first oversea military base just a few miles from a US naval base which is the only permanent US military facility in Africa.

The story is the same across Sub-Saharan Africa for most countries that have courted China in loans for development, from Sierra Leone to Liberia, from Ghana to Nigeria where the Chinese are building the railways and some other major projects, and from Djibouti to Zimbabwe which many believe will soon start defaulting on its loan with China. While the loans are given, no cash is given to the countries, China executes and builds the projects using labour, materials, and equipment from China and undermining if there are available labour in those countries.

Most Asian Countries are starting to understand the predatory lending of China and are taking steps at cancelling such loans, they include Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore who have recently cancelled some loans they see as being predatory.

With China using the debt-trap diplomacy on Africa and Africa’s debt increasing daily to China, African countries may well be positioned in the future to be recolonized through China’s strategy of Predatory Lending, but the worrisome part is the first colonization of Africa was through the use of force, while Africans basically used debt to entrap themselves this time around.