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Japan Sets Sights on Africa As a Top Investment Destination

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  • Japan Sets Sights on Africa As a Top Investment Destination

Focus for the longest time has been on China’s domination when it comes to investments in Africa. While true that China leads the pack when it comes to investments, Japanese investments are becoming increasingly popular as the island nation looks to explore the continent’s untapped resources.

While Japanese African relations trace back to the 1960’s, it is only now that the economic powerhouse appears to have started taking a keen interest on what the continent has to offer when it comes to investment opportunities.

Japanese investors are increasingly showing great interest in setting up companies and financing other businesses around the continent. The result has been win-win situations for both.

Japan’s investments are becoming increasingly popular in part because of the country’s balanced trade across the continent. In 2017 the country exported $7.5 billion worth of goods to Africa and imported $8.3 billion.

South Africa Top Destination for Japanese Investors

While China has sought to spread its investments around the continent, Japanese investors appear to be maintaining a keen interest in some markets, more than others. According to data compiled by Asoko Insight the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan External Trade Organization, South Africa remains a top investment destination for Japanese investors.

According to data compiled by JETRO and analysed by Asoko Insight, there were about 738 Japanese companies registered in the Content as of the end of last year. Almost half of the companies, at 354, had their investments distributed across South Africa.

Most of the Japanese companies in Africa operate either as wholly owned subsidiaries or in partnership with local companies. Some of the companies are also believed to have formed alliances with foreign firms particularly from Asia and Europe.

Away from South Africa, Japanese company’s presence is also being felt in North Africa which happens to be the next top investment destination. In North Africa, there were about 138 Japanese companies representing 7.3%. East Africa comes third with about 120 Japanese companies followed by West Africa with 114 companies.

Areas of Investments

When it comes to investment areas, Manufacturing remains a top investment area with the JETRO Survey indicating about 315 companies involved in such operations. A quarter of the companies employ more than 51 staff with the others employing 50 or less.

Energy and mining are the two most popular investment areas for Japanese companies in the continent. The companies are in pursuit of fresh raw materials in the form of mineral resources that would keep their country’s industries up and running.

Why Africa?

Increased investments in Africa are part of a bigger plan of gaining access to markets for finished products back at home. The island nation plays host to some of the biggest companies in the world.

Faced with competition in developed markets, Japanese’s companies have had to look for new markers elsewhere, with Africa emerging as an exciting prospect in this case.

The continents market size is another attribute that appears to be fuelling investments according to JETRO Survey. Other factors include the vast continent portfolio of untapped natural resources. Pursuit of natural resources in Africa does not come as a surprise given that the country is not the most endowed on this front.

Asoko Insight is a data and information services company operating across Africa. Asoko is bridging the information and data gap across the continent, focussing on delivering the best corporate data and analytics platform of African private companies for market mapping, due diligence and investment needs.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Travel

High Altitude, Higher Prices: Domestic Airfares Jump 150%

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Nigerian air travelers are reeling from a dramatic increase in domestic airfares with prices skyrocketing by 150% over the past year.

This surge has forced many passengers to reconsider their travel options, opting for road transport despite the risks involved.

Passengers like Dare Adepoju, who frequently commutes between Lagos and Abuja for business and family visits, have expressed frustration.

“It’s unsustainable,” he lamented. “With flights nearing N200,000 for just an hour, I’m exhausted.”

Social media is abuzz with similar sentiments. Akinloa Adejuwon tweeted about the tough choice between costly flights and unsafe roads, highlighting the dire situation many Nigerians face.

The fare increase is attributed to a limited number of operational aircraft. Airline Operators of Nigeria revealed that many planes are grounded due to maintenance needs and lack of access to foreign exchange for repairs.

The current situation sees airlines like Ibom Air and Air Peace charging up to N238,000 for a one-way ticket between major cities.

This price jump, from about N51,000 last year, reflects the severe challenges the industry faces.

Capt. Roland Iyayi, a senior member of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, pointed to the shortage of aircraft as a primary cause.

“Making forex available to airlines is crucial for resolving this crisis,” he stated.

As the industry grapples with these challenges, passengers continue to hope for relief. The aviation sector’s future hinges on addressing these issues, ensuring safe and affordable travel for all Nigerians.

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Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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