Information and news about nigeria

Financial Inclusivity in africaWith more than half of the world’s registered mobile money accounts in Africa, the market for financial technology startups is steadily increasing on the continent. By streamlining, simplifying and speeding up trade and transfers, digital payment platforms are helping expand access to financial services and avoid high transaction costs typically charged by banks. As smartphone penetration grows in Africa, tech startups are gaining more customers and receiving more funding, enough to reach “unicorn status” — a title that describes a company valued at more than $1 billion, according to venture capitalists and private equity firms. As of 2019, smartphone penetration in South Africa stands at 91%. Due to the rise in smartphone users and broadband, mobile banking in Africa is quickly becoming more prevalent, increasing financial inclusivity in Africa.

3 Tech Startup Unicorns Promoting Mobile Money

  1. Interswitch. Founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, “Interswitch is a digital payment platform in Nigeria” that reached unicorn status in 2019. The company owns Verve, Nigeria’s most used payment card, and accounts for 18 million out of the 25 million cards in circulation in the country. The tech startup also owns Quickteller, an online payment platform. In October 2020, Quickteller launched the search for a “QTrybe community,” a group of 50 students from tertiary institutions to represent the company on campuses around Nigeria.
  2. Flutterwave. African payment company Flutterwave received its unicorn status in March 2021 after raising $170 million in funding. Established in 2016 “as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company,” Flutterwave “helps businesses build customizable payments applications” through application programming interfaces, a software intermediary that allows two applications to “talk” to each other. Despite the pandemic negatively affecting many growing businesses, Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, reports that the “company grew more than 100% in revenue within the past year” due to “an increase in activity in COVID-beneficiary sectors.” These are business sectors that have been thriving due to the pandemic, such as “streaming, gaming, e-commerce and remittance.” Flutterwave is present in 20 African countries and has processed more than 140 million transactions valued at more than $9 billion.
  3. Chipper Cash. Founded in 2018 by Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, Chipper Cash is a money transfer startup that facilitates cross-border payments across Africa. In 2021, just three years after it was established, the company confirmed that it raised $100 million, taking its valuation to more than $1 billion, therefore, reaching unicorn status. The company “offers mobile-based, no fee,” peer-to-peer payments. Aside from operating in seven African countries, Chipper Cash has now expanded to the United Kingdom, its very first international market outside of the continent.

Financial Inclusivity and Poverty Reduction

Overall, the emergence and success of these tech startups redefine mobile money and increase financial inclusivity in Africa. By digitizing the process, expanding services and reach as well as lowering costs, financial inclusivity is achieved. Even the most impoverished and marginalized populations are able to participate in the economy through mobile money platforms. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, “the potential market for banks in sub-Saharan Africa is $500 billion.” For impoverished people who cannot acquire bank accounts, mobile money solutions break down barriers to financial inclusivity in Africa, empowering people to rise out of poverty.

– Annarosa Zampaglione
Photo: Flickr

disparities in Education in NigeriaNigeria has struggled with a weak education system for decades. Of the total number of children not in school worldwide, 20% of them live in Nigeria. Essentially, one in five children out of school resides in Nigeria. Girls make up a large percentage of children not in school. In Northern Nigeria, less than half of all girls actually attend school. COVID-19 has served to highlight the disparities in education in Nigeria.

COVID-19 Sheds Light on Inequalities

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children not attending school in Nigeria stood at around 13 million. This number doubled to 36 million as schools closed and children were forced to stay home. A large portion of these children were girls. Many girls and children living in rural areas of Nigeria had difficulties accessing education during the pandemic. Even though the government implemented remote learning plans via radio and television, barriers still presented themselves.

Many students, especially those in rural areas, do not have access to electricity or technology, and therefore, could not access education at all. While more affluent families could continue connecting to education online, those without access were unable to learn for a prolonged period of time, setting them behind the rest of their classmates. While it has always been clear that disparities in education in Nigeria require improvement, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a greater desire for change.

How Improving Education Alleviates Poverty

There is a direct link between education and poverty, indicating how improving education in Nigeria can help the economic growth of the country while helping citizens rise out of poverty. When children are educated, they develop the skills and knowledge that can help them secure well-paying jobs in the future.

Furthermore, poverty is a cycle, and, a lack of access to education perpetuates that cycle. Oftentimes, parents are unable to send their children to school due to the unaffordable secondary costs of schooling. Even when school itself is free, textbooks and uniforms warrant costs that families simply cannot afford to pay. Uneducated children are unable to break cycles of poverty, meaning the next generation will most likely continue the cycle of poverty too.

Additionally, education reduces gender equality disparities. Educated girls are able to attain financial independence, reducing poverty for themselves and their communities. Educated women are also more likely to prioritize the education of their children. According to Global Citizen, If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million people could rise above the poverty line. This is due to the fact that education increases yearly earnings by 10% with each added year of education.

Latest Grant for Improving Education in Nigeria

The international community is working to help improve Nigeria’s education system with renewed vigor due to the intensified disparities caused by the pandemic. UNICEF allocated $20 million for the 2020-2022 period to support the education of children in Nigeria during COVID-19. The goals of the grant include four components:

  1. Supporting children affected by conflict. This goal involves building 100 temporary places for learning and rebuilding or creating 100 schools. It also includes creating more “gender-responsive” hygiene amenities and “promoting inclusive and gender-responsive enrollments in 18 local government areas across three states.” Furthermore, the grant aims to provide learning resources for 500,000 students. Roughly “100,000 conflict-affected children” will receive mental support services and 500 community leaders will be educated on protecting children’s rights.
  2. Improving the government’s role in education, especially in emergencies. This includes “budgeting, planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting.”
  3. Improving teacher preparation. This entails helping 28,000 teachers gain their teaching certification. A “teacher recruitment system” will be established and teachers will receive ongoing training to learn “Teaching at the Right Level.” A proper education assessment system will help monitor progress in schools.
  4. Improving the schools’ ability to support education for children affected by conflict. This involves “establishing and developing capacities of 300 school-based management committees on gender equity and gender-based violence” and promoting inclusivity of disabled students. Education plans should be conflict-sensitive to accommodate such children.

The Road Ahead

Education and poverty strongly correlate. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened inequality worldwide, exacerbating poverty and increasing the number of children out of school, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. To eliminate disparities in education in Nigeria, greater measures must be implemented to overcome inequalities and ensure the country’s education system is better equipped to handle unprecedented circumstances in the future. With grants from supporting organizations like UNICEF, education in Nigeria can improve.

– Alessandra Heitmann
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria
About 20 million girls and women in Nigeria have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). Female genital mutilation in Nigeria is prevalent as the country has the third-highest number of FGM cases in the world, accounting for 10% of the global total. A 2020 U.N. brief states that 20% of Nigerian women aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM.

Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described FGM as the partial or complete removal of external female genitalia or damage to other female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is still prevalent in about 30 countries around the world. Although FGM creates many painful long-term complications for women and girls, it continues because it provides supposed benefits for men.

“Traditionalists in Nigeria support the practice because they see it as a necessary rite of passage into womanhood which ensures cleanliness or better marriage prospects,” says Public Health Nigeria. In certain cultures, women must undergo FGM so that others consider them suitable for marriage. The fear is that women will become sexually promiscuous or unfaithful to their partners if they do not undergo FGM. Since Nigerian men pay a dowry for their brides, it is common for the bride’s father to encourage some form of FGM to make his daughter more marketable to bachelors.

FGM in Nigeria is a tradition that has been upheld for centuries to maintain male dominance. It is performed to ensure women keep their virginity, to provide men with greater pleasure during sexual intercourse and to remove genitalia that appears unattractive to the male eye. Men make decisions regarding women’s bodies without considering how their choices negatively impact women and girls.

Types of FGM

People practice multiple types of FGM worldwide. During an interview for Hello Nigeria, a medical practitioner, Nesochi Okeke, classified the various forms of female genital mutilation in Nigeria. In Type I, FGM practitioners cut off part or all of the clitoris. In Type II, the clitoris is removed and part or all of the labia minora. Type III is even more extensive, with FGM practitioners removing most of the external genitalia, including the clitoris. After the procedure, a midwife sews together what remains, leaving only a small hole for urination. The sutures symbolize that a young girl has found her husband, staying in place until she consummates her relationship.

The Dangers of FGM

The majority of FGM procedures occur with unsanitary cutting tools. Women and girls of varying ages are held down while a midwife cuts the genitalia. After the procedure ends, it is common for midwives to use dried cow dung to halt the bleeding.

According to Public Health Nigeria, the short- and long-term side effects of FGM include but are not limited to:

  • Inability to heal
  • Abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Excessive scar tissue
  • Painful sex and menstruation
  • Hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Infertility
  • Increased risk of bleeding during childbirth

Preventing FGM

In 2015, Nigeria passed the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act against FGM and all other gender-based violence. Although FGM is illegal in Nigeria, it is still prevalent. The patriarchal ideology has begun to shift in some countries, but the ancient value of male dominance remains.

Education plays an essential role in curbing FGM cases around the world. In 2019, UNICEF began taking action to eliminate FGM in Nigeria by 2030. To educate the Nigerian public on the harmful effects of FGM, UNICEF has organized a series of workshops. Christianah Fayomi has performed FGM procedures for nearly 29 years, charging between 500 and 1,000 nairas to circumcise an infant or child and 5,000 nairas to circumcise an adult woman. Because of UNICEF’s workshops, she no longer practices FGM. “I saw the diagrammatic representation of the female genitalia and was tutored about the ills of the practice and I am now promoting its abandonment,” Fayomi says.

Organizations like UNICEF are working to implement change across Nigeria and put a stop to patriarchal traditions that occur at the expense of women and girls around the world. When educating and mobilizing communities, it is important not to criticize tradition, but rather to help people understand the negative impacts of the practice. Education efforts must emphasize that women and girls are an integral part of society. They are mothers, wives, daughters, nurturers, innovators and changemakers. When people see women as they truly are rather than viewing them through a material lens, the patriarchal ideology may begin to shift.

Sara Jordan Ruttert
Photo: Flickr

Improve Girls' Education in NigeriaFor women in Nigeria, education is a privilege because not all of them have access to it. Some people in Nigeria see education as a commodity and there are many children currently out of school. The Malala Fund estimates that 30% of girls aged 9-12 in Nigeria have never been to school. The children who are in school are more likely to be male. Some families have faced violence for sending their daughters to school. Nigeria faces several challenges in education but organizations are fighting to improve girls’ education in Nigeria.

Fears of Retaliation

In 2018, 13.2 million Nigerian children were out of school and 60% of them were girls. At the time, this was the highest number in the world. Many parents cannot afford to send their children to school and often do not have access to transportation. Free primary education helps, but it is not enough. Others fear retaliation from sending their daughters to school. In 2018, Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls as a message to parents. Boko Haram was very vocal when speaking out against Western education.

In 2021, Boko Haram still controls much of the northeastern part of Nigeria. Boko Haram has a distaste for Western education. In fact, the Islamist militant group’s name loosely translates to “western education is forbidden.” The 2018 kidnapping of 110 schoolgirls was not the group’s first attempt to stop girls’ education in Nigeria. Almost seven years ago, Boko Haram “took 276 girls from their school in Chibok in northeast Nigeria.” Many of these girls are still missing. Inciting fear is one of the ways Boko Haram keeps parents from sending their daughters to school.

Societal Norms

Girls accounted for 60% of children out of school in Nigeria. Poverty, child marriage, societal norms and violence are some of the reasons this rate is so high. Some of these girls had never been to school at all. Not seeing the value in sending their daughters to school if students are not receiving a quality education, families frequently marry girls off instead. Girls’ education in Nigeria has societal impacts as well. When girls have a secondary education, child mortality rates drop, child marriage rates decline and the lifetime earnings of girls increase. These positive outcomes help better society.

Ties With Poverty

One can also tie the lack of girls’ education in Nigeria to its poverty rate. In 2019, the poverty rate in Nigeria was 40% of the population, which equaled roughly 83 million people living below the poverty line. Northern Nigeria has low-quality education, which often means girls often do not get the education they need to thrive.

Period poverty is another factor that has impacted girls’ education in Nigeria over the years. Not being able to afford menstrual products has discouraged girls from going to school when menstruating. Menstrual products are a luxury that many cannot afford. Period poverty leads to many girls and women skipping work or school. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to urinary tract infections and period poverty can cause depression or anxiety. All these factors can affect a girl’s education.

Previous Projects to Improve Girls’ Education in Nigeria

The Girls’ Education Project initially began in Nigeria in 2004. The focus was on supporting the Nigerian government in its efforts to achieve universal basic and primary education. A subsection of the project was the Girls’ Education Project 3 Cash Transfer Programme. Nigeria implemented it from 2014 to 2016 to improve girls’ education in Nigeria. The program mitigated the impact poverty had on girls’ enrollment in school. Through this program, social and economic opportunities for girls increased. More girls in Nigeria also completed basic education.

In 2020, UNICEF in Nigeria received a grant of $140,000. The grant went toward an online digital platform and strengthening states’ radio and television education programs as well as providing activity books, worksheets and assessment cards. The aid came amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a major impact on the education of children. UNICEF also provides “psychosocial support to children and teachers” and secures wash and hygiene resources for schools.

Today’s Efforts

UNICEF has implemented a program that aims to give all children access to quality education in a safe learning environment. This will take time, but its goal is to help the government achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The key areas of focus for the program are access, learning and skills for emergencies and fragile contexts.

This means providing “gender-equitable access to quality education from a young age, quality learning outcomes and skills development and improved learning and protection for children in emergencies and on the move.” In 2021, 60 million schoolchildren gained access to primary or secondary education.

UNICEF has also established a girls’ education program that focuses on gender equality in education. By giving girls access to a safe education, inequality is reduced, allowing girls to reach their full potential. UNICEF helps governments and schools eliminate gender gaps in education, focusing on teacher training and removing gender stereotypes from learning materials. With help from organizations such as UNICEF, girls’ education in Nigeria will soon become commonplace.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr

mint countries Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, also known as the “MINT” countries, are the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world. While COVID-19 has socially, physically and economically impacted the MINT countries, the nations are still playing a tremendous role in helping alleviate poverty for millions of people.

Mexico

Mexico is the perfect example of an emerging economy. Due to its strong trade relationship with the United States, its GDP is higher than almost all developing countries. However, Mexico’s overall GDP is not yet enough to meet the standards for a developed country. Similarly, while the poverty rate remains high in Mexico, the percent of people living on less than $3.20 has dropped from 12.8% in 2010 to 6.6% in 2018.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico’s economy has declined sharply. In fact, the Mexican GDP decreased by 8.3% during 2020, its largest drop since the Great Depression. While the country has partially recovered from its economic downturn due to increased trade, it still has a long way to make up for its GDP drop from 2020.

Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth-most populous nation in the entire world and ranks 56th in economic freedom. This statistic is a result of low tax burdens and increasing political participation. Similarly, the country is one of the top-ranked Asia-Pacific countries in terms of its economy and the country has seen steady financial improvements since 2017. In fact, Indonesia cut its poverty rate by more than 50% from 1999 to 2020.

While COVID-19 had major effects on the country, economic activity has rebounded significantly. For example, in July 2020, the government eased lockdown restrictions, which allowed for increased exports and stronger government support. Without the burdens of the COVID-19 recession, Indonesia can continue to develop its economy and reduce poverty.

Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. However, the country saw relatively minimal growth during the last few years because of high oil prices. The drops in oil prices are significant because Nigeria is Africa’s biggest exporter and contains Africa’s largest natural gas reserves. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous effects on the country. The economy contracted by 6.1% in the second quarter of 2020 with 27% of Nigerians unemployed.

However, the country has made recent strides to tackle poverty and improve its economy. Due to eased lockdowns in the country, Nigeria’s oil prices have improved. Furthermore, its economy has grown by 0.5% in the first quarter of 2021, helping the country exit its COVID-19 related recession. In fact, the president of Nigeria inaugurated the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) in June 2021. The inauguration marks Nigeria’s commitment to raising 100 million people out of poverty within 10 years, fueling optimism about the country’s future.

Turkey

Turkey, one of the wealthiest MINT countries, has had an impressive economic run since the 2000s due to open trade with other countries and cooperation with the EU. Similarly, the Turkish government has implemented government reforms in most impoverished regions of the country. These reforms successfully cut poverty rates in half.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey has been able to recover, and its economy remains strong. While the leaders of Turkey have been accused of political corruption and Turkey saw a COVID-19 spike in April 2021, the number of infections has dropped by 72% since then because of a total lockdown measure. Similarly, Turkey’s recovery from COVID-19 is expected to boost the country’s GDP by 5% by the end of 2021.

Even with the factors of COVID-19, political instability, corruption and more, the MINT countries have shown resilience and progress. By decreasing poverty, implementing reforms and recovering from the pandemic, the MINT countries move toward a bright future.

– Calvin Franke
Photo: Flickr

educational and cultural development
Africa is a continent rich in natural resources, accompanied by a vibrant culture that educates the youth in many ways. The oral storytelling, artwork and scientific advancements within Africa are why a new crop of rising African scholars see a brighter Africa for the educational and cultural development of the African future. Yet the previous generations of Africans, especially from the sub-Saharan countries, have faced a tough battle in attaining educational progress. Only two-thirds of children in sub-Saharan countries complete primary education, according to the Global Partnership for Education.

Studies from the World Bank showcased the correlation between educational attainment and overall lower unemployment and social outreach: a child who finishes primary school is more likely to finish secondary school and pursue university. Community centers and resources aimed at increasing education create a better array of job-ready individuals who will be able to create a new economy for countries in dire need of infrastructural change.

Giants of Africa

Giants of Africa is a nonprofit, pro-sport and pro-educational program that focuses on helping children around Africa with the opportunity of achieving high educational and athletic development. With annual inclusive camps, the founder and president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, has been working since 2003 to educate and cultivate physical, psychological and emotional development for underdeveloped communities. These camps have helped many exceptional African youth players find a pathway way into the NBA and the African National Leagues around the continent. However, more importantly, they have uplifted the educational and cultural development in Africa.

Ujiri has worked vigorously to do two things. First, he wants to find a new crop of African talent, both female and male, to a direct pipeline into the NBA and WNBA, or even collegiate programs. The basketball camps have been a safe place for many African youths to take shelter in. Second, he wants to establish a network of camps that help in the educational and cultural development of the youth in Africa. Ujiri’s specialization in sub-Saharan countries coincides with their growing population.

There has been an establishment of different basketball camps across Africa, mainly those around the most impoverished communities. One of the largest camps is in Somalia, where Giants of Africa works with girls who are in danger of sex trafficking. Partnering with the Elman Peace Centre, Giants of Africa created camps that invited more than 50 girls in 2019 to participate. Here are the areas where Giants of Africa created the camps.

Giants of Africa’s Camps

  1. South Sudan: The establishment of a community center in South Sudan’s capital has been instrumental in giving more than 53 young children rigorous educational lessons. This occurred through a partnership between Giants of Africa and the Luol Deng Foundation.
  2. Kenya: In Kenya, Giants of Africa have teamed up with The Mully’s Children Family organization that focuses on helping displaced women and children who have HIV/AIDS, children stuck in child labor and victims of sex trafficking. Giants of Africa has been instrumental in funding food, education, shelter, educational training, healthcare and counseling resources.
  3. Nigeria: In Nigeria, which is also where Ujiri is originally from, funds went toward making a permanent community center after the annual camps took place. There, Giants of Africa partnered with Little Saints Orphanage in Lagos to establish a community system for the orphaned youth. Ujiri has used Giants of Africa’s sponsorship with Nike to donate Nike apparel and equipment as well as organized funding for the orphanage.

The combined average unemployment rate of South Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria is more than 25% and faces an unprecedented future without the investment of the rest of the world. Africa is an entirely different world with so much potential to blossom.

Educational Performance with the Necessary Tools

Research from a recent World Bank study demonstrates just how important youth development can be towards educational performance, cultural development and social mobility. These camps helped more than thousands of susceptible young children who are the future of Africa.

These results are more relevant now than ever with Africa housing a population in which more than 63% are under the age of 25. Inhabitants within sub-Saharan Africa make up the largest growing youth in the world. The attainment of formal education along with formal events of communal work services could impact the world on a global scale. A recent study that Richard Reeves, a British economist from the Brookings Institution, conducted, found that sub-Saharan countries do revere educational attainment and the social mobility that goes along with it. This goes hand in hand with the results of community outreach and higher-income status.

The lack of research on how community centers and funding have helped Africa grow economically and educationally is a testament to the lack of resources available to them. With the largest growing population in the world, the key to global porosity lies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusion

The continent of Africa is now facing a period of educational advancement for the youth. This has occurred not only through the extravagant work of Masai Ujiri but also through the action of many grassroots organizations that see the potential in Africa. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Somalia are at a crossroads with the future of global society. Not only has Giants for Africa established a pipeline for extraordinary young basketball players to forge their journey into a better professional and educational future, but it is also helping the children who are also at a higher risk of not continuing their education.

– Mario Perales
Photo: Unsplash

Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria The African nation of Nigeria is prioritizing its growth and development. In a tough economic climate of high unemployment and poverty, the youth of Nigeria are motivated to prepare for the future. While classroom learning is undoubtedly important, students are also pursuing a different type of education, oftentimes on top of their schoolwork. Informal Nigerian apprenticeships provide children with personalized vocational training from the master craftsmen of their communities. The benefits of youth apprenticeships in Nigeria are particularly advantageous for children who face a lack of education and extreme poverty. Youth apprenticeships in Nigeria provide useful skills that increase children’s future employability and help them get a head start on their careers. Up to 49% of children are involved in apprenticeships in some areas of Nigeria.

History of Apprenticeships

The master-apprentice relationship has been around for hundreds of years and its implementation can be seen all over the globe. The Igbo apprenticeship system became the prominent model for the Igbo ethnic group, who reside in Southeastern Nigeria. Once young learners prove their knowledge and ability, learners receive more responsibility in their given occupation until they eventually take over the enterprise from their mentor. Now, this same model has spread to different parts of the country and is an ingrained part of the culture. The modern version of this system is different from before because it is not a strictly patrilineal arrangement. Today, apprentices do not have to be male or of relation to the master craftsman as in earlier times.

Benefits of Youth Apprenticeships in Nigeria

Nigerian apprenticeships are mindful of students’ school commitments. The apprenticeship system does not discourage academics but rather works in harmony with it. Hours are flexible and tend to be after school and on the weekends. In addition, many young people find that having a commitment apart from school keeps them busy and out of trouble. A typical age range for these child apprentices is between 10 and 15. In order to avoid malpractice or exploitation, the Nigerian Child Rights Act serves as protection, “but does not rule out children working altogether.” This specification is in place because working can be very advantageous to Nigerian children and restricting work could actually add to their economic difficulties and prevent their career development and economic progression.

Specialty trades for apprenticeships include farming, weaving, pottery, carving, bricklaying, mechanics, hairdressing and operating market stands. For children who are unable to complete their formal school education, being a skilled tradesman or artisan provides a steady alternative career track. Apprenticeships are generally unpaid, but some do provide small cash payments for children to afford basic necessities such as food and clothing. Even little contributions are extremely beneficial for the well-being of Nigerian families in poverty.

Reducing Rates of Poverty

Nigerian apprenticeships can help to ease pre-existing pressures that stem from high unemployment rates and increasing rates of poverty. On top of the potential money generated from apprenticing, the pupil may have the opportunity to take over the mentor’s position in the future with the knowledge of the inner workings of the operation.

Apprenticeships allow more people to have access to financial freedom and present an antidote to global poverty. Overall, Nigerian youth apprenticeships are bringing positive benefits to the country. The likelihood of youth falling further into poverty sees a drastic reduction and personal development becomes a reality.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Flickr

LifeBankFounded in 2016, LifeBank is a Nigerian health technology startup created to address the issue of blood shortages in Nigeria. The startup recently expanded to Kenya and aims to save lives across all of Africa. LifeBank has succeeded in saving more than 10,000 lives in critical emergencies and plans to save 990,000 more lives as it extends its reach to Kenya. The startup works to find technological solutions to improve healthcare in Africa.

LifeBank’s Mission

LifeBank has dedicated itself to solving the problems of healthcare in Africa. Founder Temie Giwa-Tubosun was initially inspired by her own child’s birth, which took place in the United States. The baby was born prematurely and Giwa-Tubosun could have died of postpartum hemorrhage had she given birth in Nigeria. Giwa-Tubosun told Africa Renewal that “Eight out of 10 women who bleed to death while giving birth can be saved if blood is readily available.” Blood shortages are common in Nigeria and other African countries. Giwa-Tubosun created LifeBank to address this issue.

LifeBank has had a profound impact on healthcare in Africa. The innovative company “uses data, technology and smart logistics to improve the discoverability, delivery, affordability and safety of essential medical products like blood and oxygen for health systems” in Nigeria and Kenya. Since its creation, LifeBank has saved thousands of lives by delivering more than 25,000 essential medical products to roughly 550 hospitals in need.

How LifeBank Works

A strong health supply chain engine in Africa is characterized by a 24-hour delivery service from ports to medical centers. LifeBank works to make this process affordable, adaptable and accessible to everyone. LifeBank uses every type of delivery service, including “bikes, boats, trucks, tricycles and drones.” The company utilizes Google Maps to calculate and monitor the routes involved in blood transportation.

LifeBank uses AI and Blockchain in its distribution system. Its deployment services utilize USSD or SMS to ensure universal access. Patients or doctors place a phone call to LifeBank or make an order through the company’s app. Then, LifeBank contacts the blood bank closest to the patient and the delivery service begins. LifeBank’s service is on-demand. It works across eight states in Nigeria and will now expand to Kenya. The company is able to deliver supplies in less than 50 minutes. LifeBank has made a visible impact on healthcare in Africa and intends to continue doing so.

Improving Healthcare in Africa

According to the World Health Organization, “nearly 20% of all global maternal deaths” occur in Nigeria. Access to blood could significantly reduce cases of maternal deaths involving blood loss. The Nigerian National Blood Transfusion Service often raises concerns about the lack of blood donors in the country, which significantly impacts the blood shortage in Nigeria.

LifeBank aims to solve two major problem areas in the health sector of Africa: accessibility and infrastructure. People in need of blood or hospitals, especially those located in rural areas, have no access to essential medical supplies. Further, blood banks are searching for patients and hospitals to provide for. LifeBank helps connect the two, providing quality information and ensuring fast deliveries.

LifeBank hopes to create a more robust healthcare system by strengthening the supply chain engine across Africa. With its expansion to Kenya, it will continue to save more lives by delivering medical supplies to reduce preventable deaths.

Addison Franklin
Photo: Flickr

The Smart City ProjectThrough a combination of STEM education, infrastructure and trade with industrialized countries, many formerly underdeveloped nations have seen significant growth in economic output and improved quality of life, especially Asian countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea. Halfway across the world from those countries, a massive well of largely untapped potential lies in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos houses nearly 15 million people, making it the most populated city in Africa. A combined effort from the Nigerian government and various private enterprises aims to revolutionize tech infrastructure in Lagos and spur economic growth through the Smart City project.

Making the Change

The Smart City project is led by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, assisted by several individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors. The government has assigned a budget of 250 million nairas (around $640,000) toward research on tech infrastructure in Lagos under the management of the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council, which will invest in fields such as AI, robotics, biomedical informatics and sustainable energy. The Smart City project aims for multi-level integration, with the government providing funds and direction for the private sector. This strategy aims to improve tech infrastructure in Lagos and increase the city’s productivity.

The Plans

Lagos is a city with a very large population. Nonetheless, the people of Lagos are limited to a space of less than 4,000 square miles, resulting in immense pressure on existing infrastructure and transportation systems. According to Sanwo-Olu, one of the premier goals of the Smart City project is to construct an intricate rail network that would allow for much more efficient transportation of people and goods, along with remodeled roads, airports and seaports.

Tech infrastructure in Lagos will also be improved through the installation of “3,000 kilometers of fiber metro network cables and broadband infrastructure.” This will provide high-speed internet access to offices, homes, healthcare buildings and schools. High-speed internet would increase productivity and allow for increased connectivity between organizations and the possibility of learning or working remotely, if necessary.

To help sustain technological progress for the future, the government has also sponsored student participation in a new program, the 774 Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award. This program aims to promote interest in STEM subjects among young Nigerians and encourage youth participation to innovatively solve the challenges within Nigeria. The fact that more than 66% of the population of Lagos are younger than 30 makes it certain that the future of Nigeria lies in the hands of the youth. As such, Nigeria aims to prioritize and empower young Nigerians.

The Progress

The installation of network cables is well underway with 3,000 kilometers of fiber cables laid in the ongoing first phase of plans. According to Sanwo-Olu, the Nigerian government has funded more than 20 innovative startups “in areas such as agriculture-tech, environmental tech, educational technology and small-scale manufacturing.” The government has also financially supported more than 70 research programs in four educational institutions.

Sanwo-Olu’s administration has also secured funding for the Fourth Mainland Bridge, which is slated for construction in December 2021 and will be the longest bridge in Africa upon completion. Another project slated for completion in 2021 is the Imota Rice Mill. The mill will be the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and will create more than 250,000 jobs for Nigerians.

The government and people of Lagos have made great strides to modernize tech infrastructure in Lagos. The Smart City project has the potential to transform Lagos into a tech powerhouse. Such a development has the potential to reduce poverty throughout Nigeria.

Sawyer Lachance
Photo: Flickr

Cryptocurrency in NigeriaNigeria has the highest GDP out of all the African countries, but 40% of its population lives in poverty. The country’s struggling economy primarily relies upon oil exports, accounting for more than half of government revenue. Lacking transport and energy infrastructure as well as neglecting to diversify the economy results in a disadvantaged population of impoverished people. The use of cryptocurrency in Nigeria is proving to be a beneficial solution to help lift people out of poverty.

Boosting Supplemental Income

The 2016 recession caused a significant strain on Nigeria’s economy and the country is still struggling to recover. In the second quarter of 2020, the country reported a 27.1% growth in unemployment. Average incomes have been declining for six years straight and experts predict there will be less than a 2% rise in income during 2021. The value of the country’s national currency, the naira, fell by 24% in 2020. This economic downturn caused some Nigerians to seek supplemental income.

A 2020 survey indicates that 32% of Nigerians participate in buying and trading cryptocurrency. In 2020, Nigeria accounted for $400 million worth of cryptocurrency transactions, ranking it third globally in trading volume. Cryptocurrency in Nigeria has so far positively enriched the lives of impoverished citizens. For example, a Nigerian cryptocurrency investor, Tola Fadugbagbe, credits cryptocurrency for lifting him out of poverty. Initially struggling to survive on minimum wage odd jobs, Fadugbagbe now earns enough money from cryptocurrency trading to build his own house and purchase a farm.

Ease of Banking

Approximately 60 million Nigerians do not possess a bank account. People who do have bank accounts can only withdraw less than the equivalent of $100 due to local bank restrictions. The hurdles have led to a shift toward mobile banking and cryptocurrency investments. In 2017, reports showed that 71% of Nigerians use mobile phones for communication and internet access. Mobile platforms, including Xend Finance, allow Nigerians to transform their funds into cryptocurrencies. One cryptocurrency that has become popular is stablecoin, which has minimal transaction fees. Stablecoins provide the added benefit of protecting funds from devaluation.

Providing Educational Opportunities

Cryptocurrency in Nigeria is also bringing about educational opportunities. In September 2020, the #BuiltWithBitcoin campaign, led by the bitcoin marketplace Paxful, began construction of a new school in the Nigerian area of Sanga. Paxful is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that operates on a peer-to-peer basis. Nigerians use the platform to make nearly 1.1 million monthly blockchain transactions.

The new school expects to serve 100 to 120 children from ages 3-6. During the evenings, it will function as an adult education facility. Additionally, features of the school will include a water well and solar power. The water from the well can also be sold to the community at a low cost. Paxful will cover all costs needed to run the school such as school uniforms, educational resources and salaries.

The upsurge in cryptocurrency transactions has had a profound effect on many Nigerians seeking a way out of poverty. Nigerians are capitalizing on the educational opportunities and supplemental income cryptocurrency brings. The unexpected benefits of cryptocurrency in Nigeria bring hope to citizens living in poverty.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr