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Tinapa, Nigeria’s $450m White Elephant



  • Tinapa, Nigeria’s $450m White Elephant

With its futuristic film studios, luxury shops and elevated light railway, Tinapa should be a showcase of Nigerian dynamism, a commercial hub for West Africa raking in millions of dollars.

But 10 years after it opened, the resort in south-east Nigeria is a ghost town and has become a symbol of monumental waste.

Its majestic contours and avant-garde domes rise defiantly out of the bush and palm trees. At the entrance, a giant signboard proclaims “Tinapa back on track!”

But the few visitors who venture inside are quickly disillusioned.

Apart from a few idle employees, not a soul stirs in the endless aisles of shops and warehouses that should have made the capital of Cross River state, Calabar, famous across Nigeria’s south.

“It’s empty there, we have no clients, it’s like a cemetery,” said one shop assistant in Da Viva, which sells the popular brand of wrapper skirts.

“Many have left already,” he added, pointing to shuttered premises.

A huge supermarket still displays clothes, furniture and foreign-made knick-knacks but in virtual darkness: the electricity was cut off some time ago.

Inside, an old man snoozes in the suffocating heat.

Tinapa, with its 80,000 square metres (861,000 square feet) of warehouses and shops, cost $450 million (413 million euros) to build.

But it has become a financial black hole for its backers.

– Economic development –

At the turn of the century, Nigeria was on the point of becoming Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer. Newly returned to civilian rule, everything seemed possible.

A handful of businessmen and architects got together and imagined an international centre of commerce and tourism in a free-trade zone.

Nigeria’s biggest banks fell over themselves to finance the project, which was opened in 2007.

“At that time, everyone was excited. Tinapa was going to boost economic development of the whole region and create thousands of jobs,” said Bassey Ndem, who was in charge of the project.

It aimed to attract Nigerian millionaires, who ordinarily jetted off to Dubai or London to go shopping, as well as make Cross River a commercial crossroads on the Atlantic coast.

A plush 242-room hotel with a view over the lagoon and a water park with slides were built to cater for the cream of high society and their families.

Alongside luxury tourism, imported goods would provide for Nigeria and its neighbours such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger, competing with the country’s commercial capital, Lagos.

“Everything was going well at first,” said Ndem. “At the peak, in 2009, we generated $30 million of revenue. But we faced a lot of resistance from the customs.

“They really didn’t want the tax-free zone to work.”

Goods were supposed to be exempt from import duties in the free-trade zone.

But from the beginning, the customs — which has a reputation for rampant corruption — blocked containers destined for Tinapa in the ports, paralysing business.

– Top down, trickle up –

Ndem left in 2012. None of his successors has managed to get Tinapa off the ground.

“There was clearly a lack of political will” to make the project succeed, he said, describing himself as angry and frustrated at a “wasted opportunity”.

For the economist and blogger Nonso Obikili, Tinapa’s downfall was largely because of a lack of existing infrastructure to transport goods: bad roads and an average-sized port.

“It was a wide project conceived with the deep sea port, which was supposed to enable big ships to come to Calabar,” said Obikili.

“It was the responsibility of the federal government but finally it wasn’t done,” he told AFP.

In the end, no big-name jeweller or pret-a-porter line wanted to invest in the paradise promised by its promoters and the hotel remains desperately empty.

The cinema studios have likewise been unable to attract Nollywood’s stars, who have largely preferred to stay in Lagos.

In “Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria”, the British-Nigerian author Noo Saro-Wiwa castigates the leaders in the country of her birth.

Few of Nigeria’s nearly 190 million inhabitants have benefited from the riches brought by oil; most still live in extreme poverty.

“This top-down approach to boosting Calabar’s economy seemed hollow,” she wrote.

“I’d heard Nigerian politicians’ endless talk about theme parks, tourist resorts, shopping malls and their ‘trickle down’ effects on the economy.

“But there’s no such thing as ‘trickle down’ in Nigeria — money trickles upwards or evaporates on contact with air,” Saro-Wiwa wrote in 2012.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Are There Better Ways to Help Consumers Tackle Social and Environmental Problems?



Consumers - Investors King

Techniques used by online microfinance platforms to spur user involvement could be useful in helping organisations to persuade people to behave in ways that benefit both society and environment.

Microfinance platforms have popularised the idea that ordinary people can become bankers to the poor. Communities of lenders get together every day to crowdfund microloans to disadvantaged micro-entrepreneurs by investing small sums of around only 25 dollars.

A new study digs into the universe of these microloan platforms to investigate how they manage to attract investors and perpetuate their enthusiasm for responding to social problems such as poverty.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Southern Denmark have identified two major ways through which platforms maintain and potentiate lending. Their findings are published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Firstly, the platforms assemble resources that function as an ‘apparatus of affirmation’ – providing first-hand evidence of impact that help consumers imagine the benefits of their actions, thereby creating a sense of empowerment.

Secondly, the platforms translate complex and distant social problems, such as poverty, into personal encounters between lenders and borrowers – creating a sense of connection and familiarity via photographs, stories and loan updates. This set of techniques is theorised as the ‘apparatus of relatability’.

Co-author Dr Pilar Rojas-Gaviria, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Birmingham, comments: “Organisations such as microlending platforms, which strive to mobilise responsible consumers, face two key challenges – overcoming the powerlessness felt when facing daunting problems, and removing a sense of disconnection from ‘faraway’ problems.

“Supplementing the power of ideas and knowledge with personal stories that inspire hope and aspiration, affinity and connection are powerful techniques that could be useful in inspiring consumers to more actively participate in efforts to tackle social and environmental problems, such as climate change.”

Through storytelling, imagery, platform design and communication, the researchers note that online microlending platforms nurture a feeling that genuine change is possible through affordable actions. They also develop a sense of affinity and empathy among potential investors with aspiring micro-entrepreneurs, particularly those from Low-and Middle-income Countries (LMIC).

For example, the platforms publish loan requests to showcase individual borrowers with first names, photographs, and short biographies. This personalised strategy effectively frames microlending as a virtual encounter with a borrower and their story of micro-entrepreneurship. Celebrities, such as actor Natalie Portman, have over the past years helped the microfinance industry to promote microloans as an act of hope that empowers resourceful poor in their efforts to escape poverty.

Co-author Domen Bajde, from the University of Southern Denmark comments: “The advent of online microlending has expanded the pool of potential investors to anyone with internet access and $25 to spare.

“After learning that lenders were more interested in ’emotional returns’ rather than financial profit from their loans, platforms began to dramatise microlending as an act of aspirational hope and affinity toward the entrepreneurial poor.”

The research is also significant for charitable giving, noting that donors are more likely to contribute when they see their donations as a way of empowering the disadvantaged and when donations are experienced as impactful investments.

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Tunde Hassan-Odukale is FBN Holdings Largest Shareholder, Not Femi Otedola, FBN Holdings Clarifies



Tunde Hassan Odukale - Investors King

In response to the questions asked by the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), FBN Holdings has said Mr. Tunde Hassan-Odukale, a Director of First Bank of Nigeria Limited is FBN Holdings Plc’s largest shareholder and not billionaire Femi Otedola.

In a statement signed by Seye Kosoko, Company Secretary, FBN Holdings Plc and released via the Nigerian Exchange Limited on Wednesday, Mr. Tunde Hassan-Odukale directly holds 26,231,887 shares or 0.07 percent.

However, his indirect holdings stood at 1,897,280,212 shares or 5.29 percent of FBN Holdings’ total issued shares.

Breaking down Mr. Tunde Hassan-Odukale indirect holdings, the director holds 755,959,459 or 2.11 percent shares through Leadway Assurance Company Ltd.

Another 486,605,478 shares or 1.36 percent via ZPC/Leadway Assurance Prem & Inv Coll Acct. He acquired 0.04 percent or 13,229,148 shares through Haskal Holdings Ltd. Mr. Hassan-Odukale also purchased 1,004,528 shares through Leadway Capital & Trust Ltd.

He then bought 112,552 shares through LAC Investments Ltd; 112,237 through Leadway Properties & Investment Ltd; 211,290,798 or 0.59 percent via Leadway Holdings (Holdco); 53,771,413 or 0.15 percent through OHO Investment and finally acquired 375,194,599 or 1.05 percent through Leadway Pensure PFA.

Therefore, Mr. Tunde Hassan-Odukale direct and indirect holdings in FBN Holdings Plc stood at 26,231,887 or 0.07 percent and 1,897,280,212 or 5.29 percent, respectively. In totality (Direct and Indirect), he holds 1,923,512,099 or 5.36 percent shares in FBN Holdings.

This is more than the 10,000,000 or 0.03 percent shares directly owned by Mr. Olufemi Peter Otedola and another 1,808,551,625 or 5.04 percent he acquired via Calvados Global Services Limited. Mr. Otedola total stake’s in FBN Holdings now stood at 1,818,551,625 or 5.07 percent. Making him the second-largest shareholder in the company.

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Tesla’s Valuation Crosses $1 Trillion Mark After Hertz Orders 100,000 Vehicles



Tesla Model 3 - Investors King

Price of Tesla stock rose by $115.18 or 12.66 percent on Monday after Hertz, an American car rental company based in Estero, Florida, ordered 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles in a deal worth $4.2 billion.

Four months after surviving bankruptcy, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. is strategically moving away from fuel cars to electrify its rental-car fleet.

According to Hertz, customers will be able to order Tesla Model 3 at airports and other locations in major U.S. markets and some cities in Europe starting from early November.

The announcement bolstered Tesla’s market value above $1.03 trillion before it moderated to $1.01 trillion at the close of business on Monday.

Tesla’s valuation has risen at an unusual pace since the COVID-19 outbreak. The company’s valuation jumped from $100 billion to $1 trillion in less than two years, according to data available on Dow Jones. It took Amazon, Apple and others more years to attain the same status. To put it in perspective, it took Amazon more than eight years to move from a $100 billion valuation company to $1 trillion.

Despite analysts saying Tesla is extremely overvalued and a series of price adjustments post-COVID-19 are predicted, Tesla Inc and Elon Musk, the company’s CEO and Co-founder, seem not to be slowing down.

Musk’s Tesla holdings, including vested and unvested options, were valued at around $297 billion as of Monday, October 25, 2021, according to corporate-governance data company Equilar Inc. Elon Musk’s holdings in Tesla is more than the valuation of Toyota Motor Corp., the second-largest automaker by market capitalization.

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