- Youth Unemployment as a Ticking Time Bomb
Nigeria’s self-deceit, with the policymakers erroneously believing that the current dysfunctional structure of a bloated centre can get us out of the economic wood is robbing our youths of a glorious future. Indeed, the recurring ugly decimal of youth unemployment in Nigeria that keeps worsening by the decade calls for serious concern and urgent action. And such an intervention should come from a sustained pragmatic synergy involving the federal and state governments, the private sector and richly endowed individuals.
If not done, we may soon be agonising over spilt milk as the wave of sundry crimes such as armed robbery, hostage taking for ransom, terrorism, prostitution as well as drug peddling and its addiction takes over our directionless youths.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment and underemployment in the country combined escalated from 37.2 per cent to 40 per cent in the Second Quarter of 2017. It got worse for the youths, especially in the age bracket of between 15 and 35 which stood at an alarming rate of 52.65 per cent! Apparently, the warning given by the International Labour Organisation to Nigeria of an impending unemployment crisis back in 2010 has not been heeded.
In comparative terms to some African countries, youth unemployment in Liberia stands at 4.7 per cent, Kenya 18.7 per cent, Egypt 26.3 per cent, South Africa 27.7 per cent (its highest in recent years), Lesotho 31.8 per cent, Libya, 43.8 per cent and Ghana 48 per cent. As expected in more economically advanced countries, youth unemployment figures are more acceptable. For instance Germany has as low as 3.6 per cent, Great Britain 4.2 per cent, the European Union 7.4 per cent and France 9.4 per cent. The reasons are obvious as the political leaders are less self-serving but more visionary, responsive and responsible to the citizenry, combined with social protective buffer policies firmly in place.
Unfortunately, here, the youths –our hope for a better Nigeria– have been left naked to the elements of preventable poverty and penury characterised by harrowing hunger, rise in diseases and the growing ogre of ignorance. Virtually on a daily basis, they are regaled with frightening figures by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, of humungous sums stolen blind from our national till. But they can hardly point to adequate life-changing or job-creating projects to lift them from what one often refers to as the ignoble pit of poverty.
In their bold bid to find alternative solutions, some get even more trapped in the mire of misery as they are enslaved in Libya en route to Western Europe. The unfortunate ones are shut at pointblank range, or hung upside down from fiery stakes and roasted! The lucky ones return only to be caught in the short- cut circuits of pools staking, drug trafficking or enmeshed in addiction to drugs all-day long! But we cannot go on this weird way.
The solutions are well-known to our set of political helmsmen but they simply find it difficult, in my words, to sacrifice the self from the state. The first is to toe the restructuring lane, whether it is now a cliché or not. The aim is to devolve the obscene political and economic powers from the centre to the states or the six geopolitical zones to bring governance closer to the people and make it more inclusive. But it is sad to say that even our dear President has yet to see the wisdom in that.
One keeps asking if there is any other democracy in the world where state governors go cap-in-hand like beggars to the centre to ask for crumbs from the master’s table but no one has given an example of one. Again, I ask: Is this how the presidential system of government is run in the United States which we copied from? The answer is no.
For instance, it was reported that “within the first three months of 2017, over N1 trillion was shared among beneficiaries of Federation Account Allocation Committee. Interestingly, the large chunk of the funds was realised from crude oil sales, proceeds from Petroleum Profit Tax, Value Added Tax and Company Income Tax.”
With the states in firm control of their resources and paying a tax of a maximum of 30 per cent to the centre, they would generate their power and transmit it to the local councils without feeding it into the National Grid. With 40 solid minerals identified in commercial quantities spread across the 36 states, analysts indicate by projection that Nigeria has the capacity to generate at least N5tn yearly from mining as well as export of its vast solid minerals deposits. For instance, national reserves of coal are estimated at 2.7 billion metric tonnes (mt), iron ore, limestone and lead are 10 billion mt, three trillion mt and five million mt respectively. But first, the issues of illegal mining and provision of safe, environment, bolstered with stable electric power and good access roads are imperative to drive the process.
Even the Federal Government recently unveiled the fact that the country was capable of growing solid minerals GDP from N103bn (2015) to N141bn in 2020 at an average annual growth rate of 8.54 per cent. Specifically, it can facilitate the production of coal to fire power plants, produce geological maps of the entire country by 2020 on a scale of 1:100,000.
There is, however, the need to integrate the artisanal miners into the formal sector, encourage and promote mineral processing and value addition industries that strengthen backward and forward linkages. This is evident in the blueprint document, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020). With true fiscal federalism in operation, Kogi State, for instance, would be able to resolve the decades of long-winding issues concerning the Ajaokuta Steel Company to generate youth employment.
On tourism, Nigeria is literally sitting on the gold mine of tourism and hospitality combined. According to the Nigeria Hospitality Report 2016, the industry generated an estimated $5.5m, about N1.7bn, representing about 4.8 per cent contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product in the third quarter of 2016. The report by Jumia Travel Nigeria, Africa’s hotel booking online portal, also said the industry employed about 1.6 per cent of Nigerians in 2016. And if Nigeria adopts the recently-launched African Union passport, the prospects would be much brighter.
Concerning agriculture, according to a former minister of the sector and current President, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the growth of the Nigerian population means that the agricultural sector has compelling long-term growth potential. Why not as there are increasingly more mouths to feed.
Experts agree that agriculture should not be seen as a way of life, or a social sector or development activity, but as a business venture for it to thrive. And the more we treat it as a business, to create wealth, the more it will promote development and improve people’s livelihood.
The government’s neglect of our farmers led to stagnated yields. Worse still, investments in infrastructure were reduced, the abandoned rural communities slid to poverty, and Nigeria became a food importing country, spending an average of $11bn a year on wheat, rice, sugar and fish imports alone.
Yet, with vast arable land area of 923,768 km² , water resources 13,000 sq km. and crops such as yam, cassava, maize, rice, cocoa, coffee, cashew, cotton, rubber, sorghum and millet in addition to a variety of animals Nigeria is capable of feeding her citizens and export if modern technology is applied to processing, preservation and marketing of the finished products.
What has been grossly lacking is good leadership-one that knows and identifies the yearnings of the citizenry. With such in place, our youths would be gainfully employed, beginning with the SMEs that are driven by stable power and access to credit facilities at single digit interest rates.
SEC To Ban Unregistered CMOs From Operating By Month End
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it will stop operations of Capital Market Operators (CMOs) that are yet to renew their registration on May 31, 2021.
This was contained in a circular signed by the management of SEC in Abuja on Monday.
On March 23, SEC had informed the general public and CMOs on the reintroduction of the periodic renewal of registration by operators.
The commission noted that the reintroduction of the registration renewal was due to the need to have a reliable data bank of all the CMOs registered and active in the country’s capital market.
“To provide updated information on operators in the Nigerian Capital Market for reference and other official purposes by local and foreign investors, other regulatory agencies and the general public, to increasingly reduce incidences of unethical practices by CMOs such as may affect investors’ confidence and impact negatively on the Nigerian Capital Market and to strengthen supervision and monitoring of CMOs by the Commission,” SEC explained.
According to the circular, the commission said CMOs yet to renew their registration at the expiration of late filing on May 31, would not be eligible to operate in the capital market.
It explained that CMOs were required to have completed the renewal process on or before April 30, however, the commission said late filing for renewal of registration would only be entertained from May 1 to May 31.
SEC also said that asides from barring the CMOs who failed to comply accordingly, their names would be published on its website and national dailies.
It added that names of eligible CMOs would be communicated to the relevant securities exchanges and trade associations.
A Threat to Revenue As Nigeria’s Largest Importer of Crude, India slash Imports By $39.5B
Nigeria’s revenue earning capacity has come under threat following the reduction of importation of crude oil by India.
India, Nigeria’s largest crude oil importer, reduced crude oil imports by $39.5bn in April, compared to the same time the previous year, data from India’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell showed.
According to the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, India’s crude oil imports from Nigeria in 2020 amounted to $10.03bn.
This represented 17 percent of Nigeria’s total crude exports for the year according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, as quoted by OilPrice.com.
As Nigeria’s largest importer of crude oil, lockdowns in India’s major cities from the COVID-19 surge in April had ripple effects on Nigeria’s oil sales.
The NNPC was prompted to drop the official standard price of its main export streams, Bonny Light, Brass River, Erha, and Qua Iboe, by 61-62 cents per barrel below its April 2021 prices. They traded at $0.9, $0.8, $0.65, $0.97 per barrel respectively, below dated Brent, the international benchmark, as Oilprice.com showed.
India had been buying the not-too-light and not-too-heavy Nigerian crudes that suited its refiners.
Reuters reported that the Indian Oil Corporation’s owned refineries were operating at 95 percent capacity in April, down from 100 percent at the same time the previous month.
An official at the IOC was quoted as saying, “If cases continue to rise and curbs are intensified, we may see cuts in refinery runs and lower demand after a month.” Hundreds of seafarers risked being stuck at sea beyond the expiry of their contracts, a large independent crude ship owner reportedly told Bloomberg.
India reportedly bought more American and Canadian oil at the expense of Africa and the Middle East, reducing purchases from members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to around 2.86 million barrels per day.
This squeezed the group’s share of imports to 72 percent from around 80 percent previously, as India’s refiners were diversifying purchases to boost margins, according to Reuters.
India also plans to increase local crude oil production and reduce import expenses as its population swells, according to Bloomberg.
A deregulation plan by the Narendra Modi-led government to boost national production to 40 million tonnes of crude oil by 2023/2024, an increase of almost eight million tonnes, had already been initiated.
According to Business Today, an Indian paper, the country currently imports 82 percent of its oil needs, which amounted to $87bn in 2019.
Invest Africa and DLA Piper Partner to Support ESG Best Practice in African Renewable Energy Projects
The global law firm, DLA Piper, has partnered with Invest Africa, the leading trade and investment platform for African markets, to support the development of ESG best practice in African renewable energy projects.
Clear Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) targets and measurements have become an increasingly important part of fundraising as investors seek to align their portfolios with sustainable growth. For a continent boasting ample natural resources, this presents a significant opportunity for Africa’s green energy sector. However, renewable does not always equal sustainable and developing and articulating ESG metrics can pose a significant challenge to projects as they prepare investment rounds.
The project will assemble experts from the worlds of impact investment, development finance and law. Across a series of online meetings, participants will discuss strategies to improve ESG practices in African renewable projects from both a fundraising and operational perspective.
Amongst those speaking in the inaugural session on Thursday 13th May are Cathy Oxby, Chief Commercial Officer, Africa Greenco, Dr. Valeria Biurrun-Zaumm, Senior Investment Manager, DEG, Orli Arav, Managing Director – Facility For Energy Inclusion (FEI) – Lion’s Head Global Partners, Beatrice Nyabira, Partner, DLA Piper Africa, Kenya (IKM Advocates) and Natasha Luther-Jones, Partner, Global Co-Chair of Energy and Natural Resources, International Co-Head, Sustainability and ESG, DLA Piper.
Veronica Bolton-Smith, COO of Invest Africa said, “Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change despite contributing very little to global emissions. As the price of renewables fall, they will form an ever more important part of Africa’s electrification. In this context, it is essential that projects be given the tools to apply best practice in ESG not only from an environmental perspective but also in terms of good governance, fair working conditions and contribution to social inclusion. I look forward to working closely with DLA Piper on this important topic.”
Natasha Luther-Jones, Global Co-Chair Energy and Natural Resources and International Co-Head Sustainability and ESG at DLA Piper also commented, “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges companies, and people, face today and when we look at its reduction – whether that be in how we power our devices, what we eat or how we dress, where we live or how we work – all roads come back to the need to increase the amount of accessible, and affordable, clean energy. However, renewable energy companies are not automatically sustainable as sustainability is a focus on all ESG factors, not just environmental. We know the need for renewable energy is only going to continue to rise, and therefore so will the number and size of renewable energy companies. The additional challenge is to make sure they are truly sustainable organisations and that’s what we’re excited about discussing during the webinar.”
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