It’s the last newsletter of the year from us to you, we hope you’d take the holiday season to unwind and get prepared for the new year.

We’d miss you for the 2 weeks we’d be away, see you on the 11th of January, 2020.

Let’s dive into the news 😊

Nigeria

So what’s been jumpy lately?

Nigeria’s inflation rate. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that inflation has risen year on year by a mammoth 11.85% in the month of November, 2019, its highest since April 2018. 

Cause of the jumpiness?

Mostly Food. The costs have been pushed up by the border closure that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered in order to curb the smuggling of rice and other food commodities. Food inflation rose from by 14.48% in November in comparison to 14.09% in October. The culprit food commodities include Bread, Cereals, Oils and Fats, Meat, Potatoes, Yam and other tubers and Fish. Other causes include rise in the price of cleaning, repair, hospital services, hairdressing salons and clothing materials.

The foreseeable future

The festive holiday season has raised the demand for these commodities, piling pressure on prices because Nigerians typically spend more at this time of the year. It is however expected that the prices of food would drop afterwards, this may positively impact inflation.

No! Don’t Alter Our Constitution 

bill seeking for Presidents and Governors to only sit for a six year single term seems to have fallen short through second reading at the House of Representatives. 

Why is this necessary?

John Dyegh, a representative of Gboko/Tarka (Benue) Federal constituency at the House of Representatives  Benue State sponsored the bill which he suggested should also include members of the National Assembly. The 5 year single term  Bill is aimed at solving election irregularities and curbing violence attached to re-election. 

According to him, re-election for the President and governors cost three times more than the first election and is characterised by violence. 

Fact Check: We couldn’t validate that re-election costs are 3x more but we’re aware election costs are rising and violence is the order of the day.

So what is their stand now? 

Lawmakers, on the other hand, rather pushed for a credible electoral system and argued that six years isn’t enough to make meaningful achievements.

Nigeria’s Economic Outlook for 2020

The end of the year comes with a lot of reflection for individuals, companies & countries. For Nigeria, when Fitch an International rating agency looked at Nigeria’s performance in 2019 and what 2020 would look like, it had only one thing to say: Please, Lower your expectations.

What did the report have to say?

In summary: Nigeria’s economic outlook moved from being stable to negative, kudos to wrong policies implemented by the government.

Nigeria should have an average GDP growth of 2.4% from 2019 – 2021, that’s higher than Nigeria’s current growth rate ( Nigeria’s GDP grew by 2.28% in Q3 of 2019, the fastest since the fourth quarter of 2018) but lower than what Nigeria needs to turn things around.

Inflation would increase in 2020, if policies such an increase of VAT from 5% to 7.5%, closure of border and FOREX protection are implemented

The government would likely borrow more to get things done, this would lead to a higher amount of the country’s revenue being used to repay debts.

How are other African countries looking?

Positive Outlook: Benin and Cote D’Ivoire are posed to have a better 2020 due to concrete policies aimed at reducing government deficits and debt accumulation. 

Negative Outlook: Countries such as South Africa, Angola, Ethiopia also have Negative outlooks due to a worsening debt to GDP ratio, slow economic recovery and political instability.

Bottom line: Economic outlooks are very realistic and objective, however, as usual this wouldn’t sit well with the Nigerian government which is always more optimistic.
Well, It’s up to the Nigerian government to prove Fitch wrong.

Africa

Rise of An Empire?

With Chinese venture capitalists flocking to invest in startups, and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey moving to the continent that will “define the future,” Africa seems to have a bigger say than she thinks she does.

What’s the latest?

Growth, like never before. For a start, $360 million was invested in Nigeria-focused payment ventures in November alone—roughly one-third of all the startup venture capital raised in the entire continent in 2018—making her Africa’s unofficial capital for fintech (financial technology) startup investments. Nigeria also hosts the only tech unicorn in Africa, Interswitch, as Jumia’s declining share prices since going public have dropped the company’s valuation to below $1 billion.

What’s a unicorn, by the way?

It’s a privately held company valued at $1 billion or more.

What’s worth noting?

The unflinching interest of Chinese investors in Africa. After investing a total of $220 million in Nigeria-based PalmPay and Opay, they went ahead to invest $50 million in East African trucking logistics startup Lori Systems. Seems they’re seeing something many aren’t. And Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey will be spending a few months in Africa next year to find this thing.

Next year promises to be interesting for this landscape—and that’s all we can say for now.

Burundi: Tales of A Double Entendre

The political dynamics in this East African country has gotten even more perplexing.

Tell me more.

In April 2015, Burundi’s President and religious minister Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be seeking a third term in office, having been in power since 2005. When the public replied in negation whilst reminding him that he was violating the constitution, he argued that his first term should not count as he was not directly elected. Well, he’s still in power, and his party has proclaimed him the “eternal supreme guide.” In fact, a 2018 constitutional referendum approved amendments that could allow him to stay in power till 2034.

Why does this concern me?

If the politics doesn’t bother you, then the suffering should. Currently, 300,000 people have fled the country for safety, 116,000 are internally displaced, and almost 1.8 million need assistance. Civil and political rights are under siege, while opposition leaders have been mysteriously killed. Numerous media organizations have been exiled and reporters arrested. And anti-government protests are spreading. All while Pastor Nkurunziza continues to preach the gospel and wash the feet of the poor.

Who’s trying to help?

Local, regional and international bodies—but the government is extremely fending against them. It rejected UN and AU peacekeeping proposals in 2016, left the International Criminal Court in 2017, and closed the local UN Human Rights Council’s offices in 2018.

Okay. Now I’m worried.

We are too. And we hope the situation changes soon.

International


Trump (not yet) Impeached

Earlier this week President Donald Trump became the third president in US history to be impeached but that’s only one leg of the hurdle.

Trump who is a republican would be counting on his party to frustrate the impeachment plans are the next phase is another round of voting by the senate.

Backstory: President Trump was impeached on the basis of abuse of power, after he was charged for his influencing Ukraine to announce investigations targeting former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2020 rival, and other Democrats on discredited allegations. 

Up next the senate

If all democrats in the senate vote for the impeachment of President Trump, they’d still need the votes of 20 republicans in order to successfully impeach Trump.

Do you think he’d eventually be impeached?

Triple threat becomes tag team 

2019 has ended with many bangs. Here’s another one.

Shock me.

Three Silicon Valley giants Google, Amazon, and Apple alongside other members of the Zigbee Alliance are joining forces to ensure all smart home hardware works together seamlessly. 

This is an effort to reduce the burden on hardware makers and consumers who have to decide from the start which connectivity method their device supports and then build updates every time that method changes. Also, considering that the global smart home market is predicted to grow to $174.2 billion by 2025, these behemoths are pretty much the early birds.

Alright! Who doesn’t think that’s cool?

Many people. There are grave concerns about data privacy—with companies like Google and Amazon tracking how many times you’ve told your smart speaker to turn off the lights; fears of being hacked; and skepticism about trading personal data to other companies.

What a bang this is.

Meanwhile, in the Far East…

India has been thrown into turmoil. 

Say what now?

Last week, the Hindu government passed a law set up to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It includes Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, but not Muslims. Since then, protests have surged and deaths have been recorded across the densely populated country

Why did they do that?

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has explained that the law is only “for those who have faced years of persecution outside and have no other place to go except India.” But critics say it’s his latest effort to execute his party’s Hindu nationalist agenda (see here, here and here). 

Protesters have taken to the streets for various reasons, some believing that the law marginalizes Muslims and others scared that more immigrants from Bangladesh could lead to cultural shifts or more job competition. Even UN officials and international advocacy groups have called the law discriminatory.

How much would it cost to buy all of the items in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’?

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

A partridge in a pear tree…

Have you ever wondered how much all this stuff would actually cost?

Well In 2019… 

  • If you just count each line in the song once: ~$39k.
  • If you count cumulatively (adding up the total mentions of each item in all verses): A toasty $170k.

Worth Reading 📚

The Year of Cuddly Capitalism 

Google top search trends 2019: From ASUU strike to Naira Marley to Xenophobia to Big Brother Nigeria

Investment options for salary earners

What you need to know about new BVN 2.0

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