Information and news about nigeria

ColdHubsIn sub-Saharan countries, post-harvest crop loss is so high that nearly 50% of fresh food never reaches consumers. These losses not only diminish the economic potential of the agricultural industry, but they also aggravate food insecurity, malnourishment and stunting in young children. In turn, poor nourishment decreases productivity in individuals, which is reflected by a 2% to 3% loss in GDP. So far, many countries lack a solution to this serious problem. This is where Nigerian company ColdHubs comes in.

Post-Harvest Losses

The main culprit in post-harvest losses is spoilage, the natural process of decay and deterioration characteristic to perishable food items. While reduced temperatures can slow the pace of spoilage, sub-Saharan countries lack ample access to chilled storage spaces for produce. The small-scale farmers of sub-Saharan Africa who lack such storage face both financial and infrastructural barriers. While 62% of farmers cannot afford cooling technology, 36% do not have access to power in the first place.

In Nigeria, agriculture accounts for 22% of GDP and employs 36% of Nigerians. Nearly 90% of these Nigerians are small, family farmers. Yet large quantities of post-harvest losses pose a tremendous hurdle to their economic progress. For instance, Nigeria is home to the largest tomato production belt in West Africa. However, nearly half of the crop of tomatoes spoils each year. As of 2017, post-harvest losses in Nigeria cost up to $9 billion dollars annually. Meanwhile, more than 5 million people in Nigeria are food insecure. Two million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, and 45% of all child deaths are due to malnutrition.

Cabbage in Nigeria: A Case Study

One company is working to make a dent in those statistics. In 2013, a radio journalist specializing in agricultural news was following the journey of cabbage from farms to markets in Jos, Nigeria. What the journalist, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, hadn’t anticipated addressing was the story of the cabbage post-market. Farmers abandoned the cabbage that didn’t sell, leaving edible food to rot. Ikegwuonu tracked down the farmers, asking why they had left the cabbage and how to avoid such a situation.

In a recent interview with The Borgen Project, Ikegwuonu recounted, “They actually told me that if there was a form of storage inside the market, that it would be very useful to them to actually store their produce and then come back in the next week to pick up their produce [for sale] when there is less cabbage in that market.” It was this moment that inspired Ikegwuonu to develop ColdHubs. The idea: 100% solar-powered, walk-in cold rooms for food storage, installed in Nigerian markets and farms.

How ColdHubs Helps

The ColdHubs business model is simple. Farmers store perishable items in reusable crates provided by ColdHubs, using a flexible pay-as-you-store subscription. The crates then go into a ColdHub refrigerated room powered by solar panels. Each unit features enough solar panels to generate six kilowatts of energy every hour. However, the cold room itself uses up only 1.5 to 2 kilowatts per hour. This surplus allows for refrigeration to continue to run on rainy or cloudy days.

For a daily flat fee per crate stored, the solar-powered system allows farmers access to 24/7 chilled storage that operates entirely off the grid. This storage extends the shelf life of perishable foods from two days to 21 days. Importantly, this leads to an 80% reduction in post-harvest loss and a 25% increase in smallholder farmer income. For the 24 ColdHubs presently in use, some 3,517 smallholder farmers use the service. So far, ColdHubs has saved more than 20,000 tons of food from spoilage. Another 30 ColdHubs are currently under varying stages of construction. By the end of the year, the company hopes to have 50 ColdHubs fully operational throughout Nigeria.

Supporting Women and Farmers

ColdHubs looks not only to serve economic and renewable ends, but social ones as well. ColdHubs aims to employ women for its management and oversight operations. Thus far, the organization has created new jobs for 48 women. Additionally, ColdHubs is careful to maintain an affordable model ultimately aimed to support farmers over increasing profit.

“We designed Cold Hubs from a smallholder farmer from our perspective. I’m a smallholder farmer myself. The design was specifically suited so that the technology and service would be affordable,” Ikegwuonu explained. This manifests in the pay-as-you store model, as opposed to selling cold rooms outright. “We actually take up the risk of building in a cold room, and in three to four years we recover on that capital expenditure. It’s a slow, philanthropic process.”

Why It Matters Now

The proliferation of ColdHubs throughout Nigeria comes at a crucial moment, as farming seasons become more and more volatile. With prolonged heatwaves and an increasingly erratic rainy season, rain-reliant smallholder farmers struggle to raise  crops, predict growing seasons, and sell food before it rots.

“Once you harvest tomatoes, you have approximately 48 hours to sell it. With increased heat, it has actually reduced now to about 32 hours to sell that tomato.” Ikegwuonu added. With climate change in mind, ColdHubs operates with as much attention to its own climate footprint as possible. In addition to being entirely solar-powered, the cold rooms also use natural refrigerants. This reduces their contribution to atmospheric pollution.

Since approximately 54% of the working population in the continent of Africa relies on agriculture for income, ColdHubs could be a lifeline in the fight against hunger. The organization intends to bring its technology into other regions of Africa. As in Nigeria, it hopes to uplift smallholder farmers. “The future for us is to be running close to 10,000 ColdHubs in about five to 10 years, all across Africa,” Ikegwuonu shared. Once ColdHubs spreads throughout Africa, he hopes to bring the technology to developing countries across the globe.

Alexandra Black
Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future Program in Nigeria 
Nigeria is a nation burdened with poverty and an unemployment rate of about 50% for Nigerians under 25-years old. It also relies heavily on agriculture in its economy as this employs about 75%of people in the country. The U.S. Feed the Future program began with the mission to help those in economic need meet their hunger needs on an international level. This article will discuss how the Feed the Future program in Nigeria is making an impact on the nation.

Feed the Future

Launched in 2010, Feed the Future is a U.S. government program aiming to combat global hunger and ensure food security, worldwide. The program focuses mainly on its partnerships with the nations it works in and innovative solutions to work towards its goal. The program is currently focusing its efforts in 12 nations. This ensures the organization can properly allocate the money to be as efficient as possible. Overall, between 2011 and 2018, the program has spent more than 3 billion dollars to fund its mission.

Feed the Future Program Impact in Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the few nations Feed the Future focuses its initiatives on. The  program partners with Nigeria’s agricultural fund and supplies it with about 20 million dollars a year. These funds go towards improving Nigeria’s agricultural sector and proving economic help to create food security.

The Feed the Future program utilizes innovation to solve hunger. In 2018 alone, the organization had 38,000 people applying new practices to Nigeria’s agriculture sector. These innovations improved approximately 26,000 hectares of land throughout the same year. On top of these innovations, the program improves economic conditions by uplifting business development organizations in agribusiness. In this same vein, these efforts invest in Nigeria’s agricultural sector, directly.

As a result of the Feed the Future program, 79,000 children under the age of five received assistance regarding their nutrition needs in 2018. However, the Feed the Future program does more than just solve the problem; the organization creates a sustainable cycle to relieve the issue. For instance, in 2018, Feed the Future educated 236,000 individuals in nutritional, professional training to multiply the impact of relief.

Feed the Future in Nigeria: Outlook

The Feed the Future program’s success has been noticed as there is still a great amount of support for it. Thus, in 2018, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act was signed to ensure the continuation of the program through 2023.

However, despite the success, there are still changes occurring with the program. For instance, the Center for Strategic & International Studies recommends that the future of the Feed the Future program should shift focus “to strengthen resilience across all zones of influence”.  There is also a push for the program to make itself more sustainable. This is so that fragile areas will continue to show success in the program.

In the coming years, the Feed the Future program and its investments are expected to make major impacts in Nigeria. The Center for Strategic & International Studies anticipates the program to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural finance and investments. This funding will cause more innovation and more people to be food secure.

In the past decade, the Feed the Future program has become a major success that has drawn many people into a more stable future. The program’s future is secured until at least 2023 with recommended adjustments being taken into account to ensure the program’s efficiency.

Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr

covid-19 in africa

On a world map of the distribution of COVID-19 cases, the situation looks pretty optimistic for Africa. While parts of Europe, Asia and the United States have a dark color, indicating relatively high infection rates, most African countries are light in comparison. This has created uncertainty over whether the impact of COVID-19 in Africa is as severe as other continents.

Lack of Testing

A closer look at the areas boasting lighter colors reveals that the situation in Africa is just as obscure as the faded shades that color its countries. In Africa, dark colors indicating high infection rates only mark cities and urban locationsoften the only places where testing is available.

Although insufficient testing has been a problem for countries all over the world, testing numbers are strikingly low in Africa. The U.S. completes 249 tests per 100,000 people per day. In contrast, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, only executes one test per 100,000 people daily. While 6.92% of tests come back positive in the United States, 15.85% are positive in Nigeria. Importantly, Nigeria is one of the best African countries for testing: it carried out 80% of the total number of tests in Africa.

As a continent housing 1.2 billion individuals of the world’s population, Africa is struggling to quantify the impact of COVID-19 without additional testing. To improve these circumstances, the African CDC has set a goal of increasing testing by 1% per month. Realizing the impossibility of reliable testing, countries like Uganda have managed to slow the virus’ spread by imposing strict lockdown measures. As a result, the percentage of positive cases in Uganda was only 0.78% as of Sept. 1, 2020.

A Young Population

COVID-19 in Africa has had a lower fatality rate than any other continent. In fact, many speculate that fatality rates may even be lower than reported. Immunologists in Malawi found that 12% of asymptomatic healthcare workers had the virus at some point. The researchers compared their data with other countries and estimated that death rates were eight times lower than expected.

The most likely reason for the low fatality rate in Africa is its young population. Only 3% of Africans are above 65, compared with 6% in South Asia and 17% in Europe. Researchers are investigating other explanations such as possible immunity to certain variations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and higher vitamin D levels due to greater sunlight exposure.

Weak Healthcare Systems

Despite these factors, the impact of COVID-19 in Africa is likely high. Under-reporting and under-equipped hospitals unprepared to handle surges in cases may contribute to unreliable figures. In South Sudan, there were only four ventilators and 24 ICU beds for a population of 12 million. Accounting for 23% of the world’s diseases and only 1% of global public health expenditure, Africa’s healthcare system was already strained.

Healthcare workers are at the highest risk of infection in every country. In Africa, the shortage of masks and other equipment increases the infection rate among healthcare workers even further. Africa also has the lowest physician-to-patient ratio in the world. As it can take weeks to recover from COVID-19, the infection and subsequent recovery times for healthcare workers imply that fewer are available to work. Thus, COVID-19 in Africa further exacerbates its healthcare shortage.

Additionally, individuals who are at-risk or uninsured can rarely afford life-saving treatment in Africa. For example, a drug called remdesivir showed promising results in treating COVID-19. However, the cost of treatment with remdesivir is $3120. While this is a manageable price for insurance-covered Americans, it is not affordable for the majority of Africans. Poverty therefore has the potential to increase the severity of COVID-19 in Africa.

Economic and Psychological Factors

Strict lockdowns have helped some nations control the spread of COVID-19 in Africa, but at a heavy price. A general lack of technology means that, following widespread school shutdowns, students have stopped learning. Many adults have also lost their jobs. More than 3 million South Africans have become unemployed due to the lockdown.

Furthermore, the lockdowns have also resulted in much higher rates of domestic violence, abuse and child marriage. Many such cases are unreported, meaning that the real scope of the problem is probably larger. Mental health services for victims or those struggling through the pandemic are also often unavailable. In Kenya, the United Nations has appealed for $4 million to support those affected by gender-based violence.

The slow spread of COVID-19 in Africa has allowed the continent and its leaders to prepare. Importantly, its young population will lessen the severity of the virus’ impact. Although these circumstances provide reasons to be hopeful, there is no doubt that Africa’s economy and future will suffer from the virus. This potential highlights the need for foreign assistance not only in controlling COVID-19 in Africa but in the continent’s recovery for years to come.

– Beti Sharew
Photo: Flickr

Unemployment in NigeriaNigeria a small country in Africa, has the highest population of any African nation. After multiple military coups, the country now has an elected official in office. However, social issues such as growing unemployment still plague the nation. Growing industries and government aid, however, could help Nigerians find work. Here are five facts about unemployment in Nigeria. 

5 Facts About Unemployment in Nigeria

  1. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria presents as confusingly high. Nigeria has the most robust economy in Africa. Yet in 2019 it reported an overall unemployment rate of 25%, with an additional 20% of its 186 million people being underemployed. The situation worsens for young Nigerians, as the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 35 hit 55.4% in 2019. 
  2. Oil dependence exacerbates unemployment in Nigeria. To explain its unemployment crisis, Nigeria’s experts look to the prominence of oil as the country’s disproportionately dominant industry. The nation’s economy has neglected other potentially job-creating fields in order to feed oil. According to The World Bank, “The oil sector provides for 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and 80% of its budgetary revenues.” Degree-holding Nigerians consequently have trouble finding positions in their field, and others lack access to “vocational training” that should otherwise allow them to find work in a number of industries.
  3. Growth in Nigeria’s real estate industry could help lower unemployment. Nigeria’s real estate industry needs attention; the deficit of homes in Nigeria currently sits at 17 million. The nation’s apparent neglect of real estate likely comes from a lack of investment on the government’s part and its people’s subsequent inability to afford a home. Fisayo Okare of Stears Business reports that “The ratio of mortgage loans to GDP is less than 1%, compared to 34% in South Africa.” An increase in real estate would create jobs in all fields related to the industry, such as carpenters and plumbers, and also help to lower the cost of living for an already struggling nation.
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased unemployment. Recently, since the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, Nigerian companies have executed major salary cuts and layoffs of their employees. For instance, software company Andela and financial institution Ren Money are two of many more that laid off more than 500 people. This comes as a result of the detrimental effects of the pandemic on the global economy.
  5. Tech companies could save Nigeria’s youth. In spite of the numerous obstacles inhibiting employment in Nigeria, tech companies that operate in Nigeria continue to hire young professionals. Tek Experts, one such company that employs over 7,00 people worldwide, intends to increase its staff size. Since 2018, it has hired 1,300 Nigerians, and it aims to bring that number up to 2,000 by the end of 2020.

Unemployment in Nigeria is a growing concern that stems from the country’s many political and economic issues. Though very rich in natural resources like oil, this industry is actually causing more harm since the country has not diversified its economy. Therefore, if the country were to invest more in its real estate and tech companies. The unemployment rates could decrease and help solve the issue of unemployment in Nigeria.

– Will Sikich
Photo: Flickr

Living on Less
The term “extreme poverty” is often used in political and humanitarian discussions. However, what does it really mean? About 734 million people around the globe live in extreme poverty. This means they live on $2 or less every day. It can be difficult for many people to grasp this concept. As a result, discussions about extreme poverty often focus on statistics in order to rationalize the issue. To truly comprehend what living in extreme poverty is like, statistics are not the only important information to take into consideration. Anecdotes and firsthand accounts from people living in this type of poverty are necessary for comprehensive understanding. They are the ones who can truly tell about their experiences and everyday lives as people living on less than $2 a day.

Serin Dossa of Lagos, Nigeria

Serin wakes up every day and begins making Koko, or porridge, to sell throughout the day. She makes the equivalent of $1.12 each day. Her husband does not have a job. Consequently, she has to take out loans to feed her family, including her young children. Although she works to save her money, it is difficult to do so when her family members fall sick so frequently due to unhygienic living conditions. She is the provider for the family like so many other Nigerian women in communities like hers.

Lal Mohammed of Kolkata, India

Lal pulls people and packages behind him on his rickshaw every day not because he likes to, but because it is the only stable job he can find. He supports himself, his wife and their three children. Lal takes the bus into the city every day where he then picks up his rickshaw and begins his long day of work. He sometimes walks up to 10 kilometers in just one day. Lal hopes his children will grow up to have a better education than himself. However, their family simply cannot afford to have any savings.

Akolgo A. of Salpiiga, Ghana

Akolgo is a peasant farmer, and his only source of income is his crop yield. In 2017, he put all of his money towards his farm crops in hopes of raising money to rebuild his home that was falling apart. Although he raised enough money to do so, his house flooded later that same year. His family has been homeless ever since. He receives $26 every three months from his government, but this is far too little money to rebuild his home how his family needs it to be.

Devli Bai of Rajasthan, India

Devli works as a day laborer doing manual labor. She takes the bus into the nearby city each day and waits for a contractor to hire her for the day. Her most common tasks include shoveling rocks and carrying rocks on her head at construction sites. She typically earns a little more than $2 each day, but the cost of her daily bus tickets dwindle that amount down so that she is living on less than $2 a day. She is divorced from her husband and raising her two children alone.

Who is Helping?

Although these stories are upsetting, they are crucial in understanding what living on less than $2 a day really looks like. The good news is there are several organizations doing great work to help those who live in extreme poverty. With over 70 years of experience, Oxfam International works with over 90 countries across the globe. In 2019 it directly helped 19.5 million people with their programs. It focuses on collaboration with communities who need help the most and long-lasting solutions driven by innovation.

The Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development is another nonprofit organization. It is currently working on 31 global projects across several countries. One of its aims is to tackle issues one at a time in whichever community needs its help the most at a given time. It also has well-established emergency relief and response programs to prepare for the unexpected.

Another nonprofit fighting extreme poverty is Concern Worldwide. Its reach extends to 23 countries and its initiatives in those countries are guided by six central themes of poverty. In 2019 alone, Concern Worldwide helped 11.5 million people through their emergency response programs and 15.1 million people through their long-term development programs.

Living on less than $2 a day is something no human should have to endure, which is why nonprofits like these are so important in our contemporary global community.

Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Flickr

Power Production
Development programs often emphasize distributing a needed resource to as many people as possible. Once a program or company finishes with an area, it moves onto the next one. However, that strategy risks leaving people in poor, especially rural areas with infrastructure they may not know how to keep up. One such infrastructure is power production.

Electric Supply in Nigeria

Take the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as an example. It was owned by the government, was the only centralized electric company there and contributed to less than 1% of the country’s GDP. In the U.S., electricity production and movement accounts for five times that GDP percentage. As the country with the second-most total economic activity in Africa, PHCN is a significant player and has the potential to be a leader for the rest of the continent. The inefficiency of power production and the deterioration of existing lines and plants, however, seriously hurt growth. Most Nigerians, if they have power at all, can only use it erratically. If they want a steadier supply, they must rely on fossil fuel generators, which is simply unattainable for many low-income families and groups.

Proposed Solutions for Reliable Electricity

The lack of consistency in power production hurts far more than it may initially seem. If the industry cannot produce with regularity, other countries will outcompete Nigerians in most cases, compounding the issue of growth already present. Even when the industry does get power, it is more expensive because so much of it is lost – the system is currently working at 1/3 capacity, producing less than 3,900 MW for the whole country. With all these issues, it’s obvious that there needs to be a change. Some solutions that the government and other groups proposed are:

  1. Privatization: In theory, letting in investors should allow people to run the power sector of Nigeria with much more efficiency. Additionally, it can reduce the amount of corruption by separating power production from a not-so democratically elected government. This happened in 2012 when control passed to many oligarchs in the Nigerian GENCO group. However, privatization may widen the income gap between the rich and poor, where the top 1% already have 82% of the country’s wealth.
  2. Grants: Many organizations can give money to improve the general infrastructure directly. The World Bank gave Nigeria one such grant in 2018 of around $500 million. This money focuses on increasing access to and stabilizing the already existing power grid that supports 50% of the population. Although $500 million may seem like a lot of money, it’s an investment that can pay off for American and other developed countries’ businesses, as Nigerians can make more wealth and spend it in other parts of the world.
  3. Rethinking the System: The limited amount of energy-producing plants creates an opportunity for alternative energy solutions. Nigeria could invest in greener energy solutions, such as solar panels and wind turbines that produce power locally. Since long-distance power lines lose 7% of their energy, localizing production could save hundreds of megawatts, increasing stability and accessibility. This could also reduce environmental challenges due to greenhouse gases.

Improving access to electricity in developing countries like Nigeria is no easy feat. However, teaching proper maintenance techniques is essential no matter what path the country decides to take. That’s how power will get to the last 50% of Nigerians and be stable for everyone in the nation.

Michael Straus
Photo: Flickr

chlorhexidine reduces neonatal mortality
Although the neonatal mortality rate across the globe has been consistently decreasing, neonatal death is still common in many regions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), annual infant deaths were at an all-time low of 4.1 million deaths in 2017, decreasing from 8.8 million in 1990. However, the death rate in Africa is over six times higher than it is in Europe, illustrating a severe disparity. As such, there is still much more that people can do to lower neonatal mortality rates. One potential solution is chlorhexidine, which reduces neonatal mortality.

How Chlorhexidine Reduces Neonatal Mortality

To combat mortality rates, Save the Children and governments in Nepal and Nigeria have implemented chlorhexidine, an antiseptic found in mouthwash. When used to clean the umbilical cord as soon as possible after birth, chlorhexidine reduces neonatal mortality by preventing infection in newborns, which is among the top drivers of neonatal deaths across the globe. Save the Children and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) partnered to create a chlorhexidine gel to distribute in wrapped pouches. Save the Children noted that this gel “was developed to be suitable for use in high temperatures, useful in sub-Saharan Africa and [South] Asia where the risk of newborn infections is high and temperatures are hot.”

Chlorhexidine gel has become wildly popular in Nepal, where USAID created the Chlorhexidine “Navi” Care Program to distribute chlorhexidine gel. In Nepal, around half of deliveries happen at home, making newborns even more exposed to infection if they are not delivered in a clean environment. In fact, a large majority of deaths in Nepal occur within the first month of life. Moreover, infections cause half of those deaths. In Nepal, chlorhexidine has reduced neonatal mortality by 24% and decreased the rate of infections in newborns by 68%. The Chlorhexidine “Navi” Care program’s objective aims to distribute chlorhexidine gel to all 75 districts of Nepal.

The Lifesaving Effects of Chlorhexidine

Nepal is not the only country to see chlorhexidine reduce neonatal mortality rates. Nigeria, one of the most populous countries in Africa, has also seen success. Its neonatal mortality rate has dropped from 48 deaths per 1,000 births in 2003 to 37 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013. According to many estimates, infections cause at least one-third of newborn mortalities in Nigeria. In March 2016, Nigeria created a plan to scale-up the use of chlorhexidine to lower neonatal mortality rates. If this program succeeds, it will save 55,000 infants. Although this scaling up program started slowly, the Nigerian government has committed to continuing the use of chlorhexidine to prevent infection and fatalities. To do so, it has a plan in place to help local governments achieve their goals.

Across the globe, there are large imbalances in neonatal mortality rates. Countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have a much higher neonatal death rate than countries such as Australia, Canada or China. In developing countries where poverty rates are higher, neonatal death skyrockets due to a lack of resources. This simple, cheap and over-the-counter chlorhexidine gel is saving lives across the globe. As chlorhexidine becomes even more accessible to every community, it is hopeful that neonatal deaths will continue to decrease.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: Flickr

African Auto Boom
The future is brighter for Africans looking to buy a new car as the automobile industry is rapidly growing. Many nations across the continent are investing in better infrastructure because of this African auto boom. They are also building roads to support rapid economic and population growth. African automobile companies such as Kantanka, Kiira and Innoson have recently entered the marketplace. They provide jobs that help alleviate poverty across the continent.

Paving the Future

African nations are rapidly growing and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the change. Numerous North African nations combined efforts and are currently constructing a trans-African highway system. This highway system will connect people across the northern region of the continent. The Trans-Maghreb highway will connect 55 towns and 22 international airports in addition to numerous ports and other industrial areas. Growing businesses require room to expand and will significantly benefit from the increasingly connected continent due to access to more trading partners.

In addition to economic benefits, the African auto boom empowers individuals to migrate and travel to other regions easily. Currently, 416 million Africans live in extreme poverty, and many are stuck in impoverished areas that are difficult to escape physically. Access to automobiles allows people to leave poorer areas for better opportunities in different regions. There is a strong correlation between the lack of access to cars and poverty. Professor of urban planning David King states, “There are a lot of people who keep struggling because they can’t afford to get around reliably.” Some jobs require someone to travel an unwalkable distance; those without access to a car cannot work specific jobs. The expanded highway system, coupled with the growth of regional automobile manufacturers, promotes more economic opportunities and individual autonomy.

Empowered Growth

Major automobile companies such as Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan operate manufacturing plants across numerous African countries and provide high-skilled jobs for local economies. Nations such as Nigeria and Kenya offer automobile companies tax incentives to expand their business and provide employment to reduce the unemployment rate. Many companies view Africa as a continent that has great potential and predicts the rapid growth of sales as more countries industrialize and modernize their economies. Although major companies face stiff competition from used car sales, more people have access to automobiles and high-skill jobs.

In addition to the manufacture and sale of foreign cars, African owned automobile companies developed domestically produced alternatives that compete with international brands. Ugandan-based Kiira Motors Corporation company produces both hybrid and electric vehicles ranging from sedans to solar-powered busses. It also provides numerous jobs to local Ugandans and boosts the country’s industrial productivity. Other companies such as Kantanka Automobile company and the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing company are participating in the African auto boom. They produce automobiles that compete with foreign car companies and grow local businesses. The cars are manufactured, designed and sold in Africa. Domestic production chiefly benefits local people that need both jobs and cars to escape poverty.

The Road Ahead

Despite the automobile industry’s early success in Africa, there is still great potential for growth and eventual prosperity. Volkswagen predicts sales will reach three to four million new cars a year and other companies continue to expand across the continent. Domestic African automobile companies are rising and competing with big-name companies. The African auto boom will continue to provide stable jobs, grow the economy and increase the autonomy of impoverished populations across the continent.

Noah Kleinert
Photo: Flickr

urban overpopulationAfrica’s urbanization has been rapidly increasing. For example, sub-Saharan Africa is regarded as the world’s fastest urbanizing region. This increase in urbanization is related to the increase in people migrating into urban areas. However, urbanization often leads to overpopulation. Here is how urban overpopulation impacts sub-Saharan Africa and what African countries are doing to solve it through infrastructure development.

Rural-Urban Migration

African cities have fast-growing population growth. The UN reports that urban population growth has evolved “from about 27% in 1950 to 40% in 2015 and is projected to reach 60% by 2050.” This pressure has led to the over-exploitation of infrastructural resources like roads and markets. Many rural areas in Africa are remote, and they have fewer job opportunities. Accordingly, many people move from these regions to urban areas where they can find jobs easily. This problem causes a migration influx that leads to urban overpopulation in many African cities. Because urban areas also have advanced, easily accessible social services and facilities, people who may need or want better medical care or educational services have to move to urban areas. This kind of migration leads to increased population growth and urban overpopulation.

Urban Overpopulation

Increased population automatically increases urban areas’ population density, or the measurement of population per unit area. Overpopulation occurs when urban areas contain more people than the optimal proportion of population to land. When urban areas become overcrowded, people start building slums, the roads become very busy with high traffic, public markets and malls consistently become overcrowded and the competition for resources increases. This leads to increased pollution and the destruction of much infrastructure.

Urban Planning

African governments have started investing in solutions to accommodate this growing urban population through infrastructure. One way in which they are doing so is through urban planning. Many African nations have begun to provide urban planning education facilities and resources. This solution started preparing people who were equipped to design and plan for the overpopulated cities in Africa. For example, Nigeria established the Town Planners Registration Council. This council is in charge of determining who is capable of being the town’s planner and setting the basic requirements for people who want to enter the profession of urban planning. In 2013, Kigali City in Rwanda established the city’s master plan. This plan represented a vision the country had for organizing settlement in the city. The Building Permit Management Information System reports that this master plan is a “comprehensive long term plan intended to guide growth and development of Kigali City.”

Building Infrastructure

Most African countries have a complex topography. Some cities are hilly or close to forested areas. These natural features become a big challenge to companies seeking to build roads and skyscrapers in the most environmentally friendly ways possible. Despite these challenges, African nations are investing in building new infrastructure to support urban areas. GlobeNewswire reports that in 2019, all projects in Africa invested in building new and upgrading “54,110 km for roads, 55,345 km for railway and 599 km for bridges” in total. To include the environment in these developing cities, some countries introduced green belts in urban regions. For example, Kenya and Rwanda have started reserving some areas in cities for planting trees.

Africa’s population is growing fast. However, countries are investing in sectors that will manage to accommodate this urban population. Infrastructure has been one of the sectors that have helped cities plan for the population and the cities’ activities.

Renova Uwingabire
Photo: Flickr

The 419 email scams, also known as Nigerian email scams, are a familiar frustration to anyone with an email address. The scams lure a victim by offering to share an investment opportunity or fortune they need the recipient’s help to obtain. They either ask for the recipient’s bank information or a small advance payment for travel or other expenses. Americans lost approximately $703,000 to these scams in 2018. While people carry these scams out from across the world, more than one-fifth of them originate in Nigeria. Here are five facts about Nigerian email scams and why they are so common today.

5 Facts About Nigerian Email Scams

  1. The Nigerian email scam has been around for centuries. In the late 16th century, Nigerian scammers would send letters to disenfranchised French people claiming to be the faithful servants of marquises murdered during the revolution. The letters explained that their masters left behind a large fortune and that they needed the recipient’s financial help to find it. Scammers then offered to split the fortune with recipients. According to a French detective of the time, the process was successful about one in every five attempts. People have adopted, adapted and passed this scam down for centuries.
  2. This scam escalated in the 1980s. When oil prices collapsed in the 1980s, Nigeria faced economic upheaval and increased government corruption. Literate, English-speaking Nigerians were now facing poverty and rising unemployment rates. This environment forced many to find unconventional ways of supporting themselves and their families. Through the 1980s, millions of paper 419 scams were sent across the world using counterfeit postage.
  3. Corruption enables the Nigerian email scam. Those who participate in the scam have little to no fear of being punished by Nigerian law enforcement. The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Interpol and other law enforcement offices are easily avoided through bribery. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Nigeria has always been one of the most corrupt nations in the world. As Nigeria becomes more corrupt, resources become scarce and poverty increases. In 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime considered corruption to be the third most important problem facing Nigeria, following the high cost of living and increased unemployment rates.
  4. Corruption equals poverty. Though the Nigerian government has made implemented large-scale poverty relief efforts, corruption, lack of continuity and absence of legal framework or policy often lead to the failure of these efforts. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the executive director of Transparency International’s Nigerian chapter, explains that many national relief efforts fail because they are conduits for siphoning public funds.
  5. Greed begets disillusionment. The government’s mismanagement of Nigeria’s oil riches led to 86.9 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty by November 2018. According to Apolitical, the level of corruption in Nigeria has led to public disillusionment and has undermined the legitimacy and effectiveness of the government and its law enforcement offices. This environment is the perfect breeding ground for the Nigerian email scam.

It is important to understand that Nigerian email scams are just one consequence of many larger issues. Today, the email scam is the butt of many jokes, causing others to forget or ignore Nigeria’s struggles with poverty and corruption altogether. Despite this, many some are making efforts to reduce poverty and invest in a brighter future for Nigeria, meaning one day these scams may no longer exist.

Caroline Warrick-Schkolnik
Photo: Pexels