Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Video - Nigeria Coffee Art

To Nigeria now, where we meet an artist who's found a new purpose for coffee. Ekene Ngige is an avid coffee drinker, and has been using it in staining techniques in his art too.

Monthly uber passengers in Nigeria reaches 267,000

Transportation network company, Uber Nigeria, currently has 9,000 active driver-partners and no fewer than 267,000 monthly riders, an official has said. Francesca Uriri, the company’s Head of Communications in West Africa, made the disclosure in an interview in Lagos on Wednesday.

Uriri said that the drivers and riders were based in Abuja and Lagos, where Uber currently focused. She claimed that the growing number of the riders was due to safety and services provided by the company. “Uber works together with regulators to ensure the safety of its platform and that of those who use it,’’ Uriri said. 

The official also said that Uber maintained a high level of privacy. “Uber has taken steps to protect its sensitive external data repositories. “In Nigeria Uber is currently available in Lagos and Abuja and is focused on enabling driver-partners by providing business and economic opportunities. 

“The steadily growing number of Uber driver-partners in Nigeria is a testament to the appeal of the Uber business model. “That is because it creates real opportunities for local entrepreneurs to create and enjoy flexibility and enhance earning potential,’’ she said. 

According to Uriri, each city in Nigeria is unique and offers unique opportunities. “We have found Nigeria to be defined by agility, creativity and adaptability; we are committed to growth, and excited about the potential. “ When Uber commenced operations in Lagos four years ago, it (Lagos) was the fourth city in sub-Saharan Africa,’’ she said. She said that Uber was already present in over 140 cities in 40 countries before then. 

“ Today, Uber is available in 13 cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is available globally in over 600 cities in over 75 countries spanning six continents,’’ she said. Uriri said that Uber was constantly looking for ways to help driver-partners to get more value through many partnerships. “In Nigeria, we have partnered with companies such as FirstBank and Germaine Autos to ease the barriers of car ownership for driver-partners and to provide valuable car maintenance and servicing plans.’’ 

Uriri listed mapping and traffic congestion as some of Uber’s challenges in Nigeria but said that the company was working hard daily to overcome challenges to ensure seamless experience. Uber is a technology platform. 

The Uber app connects driver-partners and riders. Driver-partners use their own vehicles to pick up riders and drive them to their destinations and are paid for each completed trip. Uber was founded in March 2009 in San Francisco, California.

Uber testing UberEats in Nigeria

Nigerian government hands out cash to battle extreme poverty

The Nigerian government has just launched a collateral-free loan scheme which will see two million petty traders receive $28 repayable in six months.

It’s the latest social intervention program under Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari. The government also offers free meals in public primary schools and plans to distribute $300 million in looted funds recovered from Swiss authorities to its poorest people. Around 300,000 households in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states are expected to receive $14 per month.

There’s one simple reason Nigeria is doubling down on cash transfers to its poorest people: 86.9 million Nigerians—nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million population—live in extreme poverty.

So, does handing out cash to poor people actually work?

Yes, according to data.

A 2016 study by Overseas Development Institute (ODI) showed links between cash transfers and an improvement in school attendance, use of health services and dietary diversity in households that receive them. As Quartz has reported, when given to women, cash transfers have a positive impact on reducing domestic and sexual violence in poor households as well as reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Research has also dispelled the notion that poor people could abuse cash transfers with non-essential purchases. Several countries are wise to the potential of cash transfers as a development policy. Around a billion people currently receive cash transfers across 130 countries, according to the World Bank (pdf) with most of the transfers coming from governments.

But there’s a catch.

Studies also show that while giving money to poor people outright can have a positive impact on reducing poverty, the effects don’t last after the cash transfers stop. For many recipients, the cash transfers are essentially a means to better living on a day-to-day basis rather than a permanent transformative fix. The short-lived effects clearly give governments a hint: cash transfers are not substitutes for good governance or delivering a better life to citizens in the long-term.

Ephemeral effects aside, local nuance means cash transfers in Nigeria will unlikely be straightforward business. For starters, Africa’s largest economy notoriously lacks national records through which it will properly identify its poorest people. More so, with the poorest people likely unbanked, it’s unclear how the cash will reach them in a manner that’s transparent. In a country where corruption is rampant, that’s a red flag.

And then there’s the question of timing. With general elections due early next year, some will regard the interventions as a play for votes. There is already ample reason to be cynical. Recent state level elections have been marred by brazen vote-buying by agents of major political parties.

Cheta Nwanze, researcher with SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based intelligence consulting firm, says the loan scheme “will likely end up as a largesse which will not make a dent” and for which “return rates will be very poor.” Recent history backs up some of that sentiment. After launching a $126 million loan scheme for farmers in 2015, the government has struggled to recover the loans. As of December 2017, less than 50 of the 5,540 rice and wheat farmers who received loans had repaid them.

Single women struggle to rent homes in Nigeria

Many landlords in Nigeria suspect single women of being prostitutes, making it difficult for them to rent apartments.

A successful career woman, Olufunmilola Ogungbile, 30, never thought that she would be sleeping on a friend's couch after five months of apartment-hunting in Abeokuta city in south-western Nigeria.

She had moved from Lagos after securing a good job with the Ogun state government as a project administrator. Despite being financially independent, she struggled to find an apartment in middle and upmarket areas because she was single.

"The first question the landlord would ask me is if I'm married?" Ms Ogungbile said, "I'd say 'No', and they'd follow with, 'Why not'?"

She was often left puzzled.

"What does my marital status have to do with me getting a place to live in?"

'We want decent people'

Ms Ogungbile said the discrimination was widespread.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the landlords I met did not want to rent to me because I am a single woman," she told the BBC.

"Most landlords and agents would tell me, 'Can you bring your boyfriend or your husband?' In these kinds of apartments, we don't like boys coming in. We just want decent people."

Ms Ogungbile believes the hurdles she faced are down to cultural expectations - marriage is a benchmark used to measure decency.

"In this part of the world, if you are not married then you are a prostitute," she added.

Sylvia Oyinda - a product manager in the retail sector in Lagos, Nigeria's throbbing metropolis - agrees that the stigma makes it difficult for single women to rent in Nigeria.

Ms Oyinda, 31, was engaged when she started looking for an apartment. Landlords refused to meet her without her fiancé.

"There is a saying 'small girl, big god' that describes young single women who rent alone or squat with other females.

"The saying refers to single women who have sponsors, typically older men, who pay their rent," she said.

'Men have more money'

Ms Oyinda believes landlords assume most young single women are like this.

"The three landlords I met all refused to show me their apartments. They would tell me, 'Don't bother.'"

Out of frustration she stopped scouting on her own. On the fourth attempt, she went with her partner, to whom she is now married, and was taken seriously. The couple eventually settled for a four-bedroom flat in the high-end area of Lekki.

Coleman Nwafor, a landlord and property owner, said he does not discriminate, but most of his tenants and buyers are men because they have more money.

"Most single ladies are under the responsibility of their parents or a lover. You can never tell what will happen after the first year. And every landlord wants a tenant who will pay without stress and renew their contract once it expires," he told the BBC.

"Most single ladies are not working. There are more jobs for men than women in Nigeria. That is just the way it is."

'Landlords try to police women'

Yinka Oladiran, 25, who moved from New York to Lagos in May 2016 to pursue a career as a TV presenter, said she lived independently in the US and wanted to maintain her freedom in Nigeria.

She also wanted to reduce a three-hour commute to work from her father's home, but she could not rent an apartment without her father giving his consent to landlords.

"There were landlords who said they did not want to rent to me until they had spoken to my father to make sure that he was OK with it, even though I was paying with my own money," Ms Oladiran told the BBC.

"My opinion didn't matter. The landlords try to police women," she added.

After searching independently for more than six months, she finally got an apartment in April 2017.

However, she said she felt constantly undermined by security staff, especially when she came home late from work, as they often asked her who she was visiting.

"For that to even happen over and over again was very insulting," Ms Oladiran said.

As for Ms Ogungbile, her five-month hunt ended last week when she finally moved into a studio flat.

She said she secured it through a letting agency which focused on her income rather than her gender or marital status.

The 30-year-old, who is now excited about painting her new home in her favourite colours - purple and lilac - believes she fought back against discrimination in her own little way.

"Part of fighting the stigma was me refusing to bring a spouse or a partner because that was part of the criteria before they would hand me the keys," she said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Video - Nigerian government seeks to address petrol theft

As it stands today, Nigeria does not know how much refined petrol it consumes. Government agencies have bandied different figures ranging from 30 M to 70 M liters per day but the country's Bureau of Statistics says the figures are best guesstimates. The net effect is that the country pays subsidies on refined petrol consumption it cannot really account for. The government is now moving to address the age long problem.