INFOGRAPHIC: The story of Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man

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“There are nearly 7.4 billion people on planet earth, but Aliko Dangote is one of the 74 men and women who make the world turn,” said Forbes in their World’s Most Powerful People list released last year.

Dangote is Africa’s wealthiest man with a current net worth of $12.2 billion. Forbes ranked him as the second most powerful black person in the world after Barack Obama (#48). He is Africa’s second most powerful person and the 68th most powerful person in the world. The business tycoon’s accolades are unending as his swaying influence in Africa is unmatched.

One of the evidences of how powerful he is was felt in Tanzania in November last year as one of his factories, Dangote Cement in Mtwara temporarily shut down as a result of high operational costs and non-fulfillment of obligations by the Tanzanian Government. It took President John Magufuli himself to instigate a timely intervention, which if delayed, could have led to a loss of many jobs and shattered investors’ confidence in Tanzania.

Surprisingly, Dangote is also interested in football. In 2016 it was reported that Africa’s richest man plans to buy Arsenal Football Club in the next 4 years.

According to Jiji.ng, Dangote owns the largest industrial business in Nigeria and throughout West Africa. He provides thousands of African families with bread and butter. He is also a source of inspiration for young entrepreneurs who strive for success.

Below is an infographic that tells you the story of Africa’s richest man

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Nigerians can now apply for driver’s license online

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In the spirit of the continuous revamping of processes of public ventures and ease of making transactions which has seen the Nigerian Immigration service launch a 48-hour online visa application system for businesspersons, the Federal Road Safety Corp has introduced a new and easier way of requesting and renewing driver’s license in all the states of the federation.

The improved means which was announced by the Director-General of Bureau of Public Service, Dr Joe Abah through his Twitter handle (@DrJoeAbah) has the official costs of a driver’s license at 6,350 naira for 3 years validity and 10,450 naira for 5 years validity.

Explaining the costs and the process, Dr Joe Abah stated the price above is solely for the license and not for any other thing. In essence, the process may incur other expenses which are by no means catered for in the 6,350, and 10,450 price groups respectively.

First-time applicants are expected, as a norm, to have gone through driving school where they must have taken driving tests and issued certificates of proficiency which will allow them to apply for the license. All costs incurred during this process are not covered by the license fee.

Dr Abah explained further that it is possible for Vehicle Inspection Officers who control the issuance of driving certificates at states level to charge certain amounts on certificates, which vary per states for driving certificates, different from the license fee. The state internal revenues board may also charge certain amounts for each license. This also varies by state. Taking driving lessons and tests are the normal procedure for the procurement of a driving license. The will to fraudulently bypass this process is taken as the main reason some applicants pay touts and fake officers double the stipulated fees.

The process for renewal is similar to that of new applicants except for the tests and certificates. For renewals and new applications, motorists are to log on to www.nigeriadriverslicence.org where they would initiate their renewal and pay the appropriate fees. The data page is then to be printed and taken to the nearest FRSC office for the necessary confirmations and affirmations.

In all this, however, the interesting part is that the application can now be self-initiated, with only minor confirmations, certifications, and tests to be completed at the branches of the Federal Road Service Corp. This will not only fast-track the process of applying for a license, it blocks, to an extent, avenues for corrupt officials to extort Nigerians.

CREDITS: This article is culled from http://venturesafrica.com/nigerians-can-now-apply-for-your-drivers-license-online/

Six Things Nigerian Startups Are Worried About

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Startups are the backbone of any economy. They are established by young Nigerians who make efforts to secure capital and start something on their own. This is not a simple task. Ask any young person who owns a business, you will be taken aback by their experiences and tales of running one in Nigeria. These startups which can be likened to small scale businesses have provided employment and contributed their own quota via creative ideas, to either offer solutions to societal problems or a service.

Despite this, there are quite a number of challenges they are encountering and are quite worried about. We discuss some of these worries.

1. Power

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The issue of electricity can’t be over flogged. If power can be stroked off the list of things startups are worried about, it will have an overall impact on the startup. First of all, you will not factor in money for buying a generator or fuel into your budget. Such a money will be invested in the business or employ more hands. But power is epileptic. You will be gobsmacked if you see the amount even big organizations budget for huge generators and diesel let alone startups.

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2. Business registration

Kudos to the Nigerian government for launching the 60-day national plan for ease of doing business in the country. It is good but it is more than just launching a plan. The time, money and stress of registering just a startup are discouraging. This is why many startups just register their business name while they leave the other paperwork for later. Business registration should be automated so that it won’t take more than a week to register a startup. In fact, priority should be given to startups.

3. Capital

Thanks to venture capitalists and seed investors who are supporting these startups to keep them afloat. Obviously, this is usually after you have invested a certain amount of your capital in the business. Where do you get the capital from? It is usually from friends and family. Banks are likely to deny you loans. And of course, the Naira to dollar fluctuations is also an issue.

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4. Little tangible corporate or government support

Corporate organizations rarely support startups. They prefer to sponsor or support entertainment programmes or ideas. If you pitch your idea to them and it is not entertainment related, you are probably wasting your precious time. Corporate organizations should sponsor competitions, where individuals with startups ideas can compete and get, will get financial support to implement the idea. As for the government, they are trying but there is more to be done.

5. Taxation

There are different bodies that collect taxes in Nigeria. And they charge to pay all sorts of rates. Although some organisations fail to pay tax, it’s not their fault sometimes. The government needs to block these loopholes and harmonize the taxation process. Hence, startups will know that they are not double taxed.

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6. Lack of patronage from Nigerians

It is worrying that Nigerians don’t buy made in Nigeria goods. They prefer foreign to Nigeria made. Patronizing Nigerian startups doesn’t only means you are supporting them, it shows you recognize their efforts.

Is it safe to drink Fanta and Sprite in Nigeria?

Bottles of SpriteA recent court case in Nigeria has highlighted concerns that locally made soft drinks may be considered unsafe for human consumption elsewhere, as Ijeoma Ndukwe explains.

There has been uproar in Nigeria after it emerged that the company that manufactures Fanta and Sprite, the Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC), has been ordered by a court to place warning labels on its products, stating that they are unsafe when consumed alongside vitamin C.

The drinks are said by critics to contain high levels of the preservative benzoic acid and the colouring sunset yellow.

NBC is challenging the ruling.

The case has caused deepening concern in a country where Fanta, Sprite and Coca-Cola are probably the most widely consumed soft drinks.

Barbara Ukpabi owns a grill restaurant which serves local food in Oniru, Lagos. She says she might stop buying Fanta and Sprite for the restaurant and also has concerns about giving the drinks to her children.

“I was thinking of reducing how much I drink of it. I’ll be thinking of drinking less of it or going to other substitutes like juice.”

Although like many Nigerians, the habit is hard to break.

“I just had my lunch and I had Coke and water.”

Security guard John Uloko didn’t see the reports about the soft drinks in the newspapers but heard about it via WhatsApp and hasn’t drunk any since.

‘Flexing their muscles’

The ruling was the result of a nine-year-long court battle initiated by Nigerian businessman Fijabi Adebo.

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John Uloko has stopped drinking Fanta and Sprite

In 2007, Mr Adebo shipped Nigerian-made Fanta and Sprite to the UK to sell at his chain of shops in Manchester.

His shipment was confiscated by UK customs, originally because of concerns about the authenticity of the beverages.

But when the UK health authorities tested the products, they were declared unsafe for human consumption and destroyed.

Mr Adebo sued NBC, Coca-Cola’s franchise owner in Nigeria, which had sold him the products.

They had refused to take financial responsibility for the incident.

He later extended the case to include the food standards agency National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), on the grounds that it had allegedly not performed its duty.

Last month – nearly 10 years after he filed his case – a Lagos high court ruled against NAFDAC and ordered the Nigerian Bottling Company to place written warnings on its Fanta and Sprite bottles.As NBC is appealing, the labels have not yet been added to the bottles.

Mr Adebo told the BBC: “Initially they were flexing their muscles, which dragged [out] the process. I went to court to compel NAFDAC to do its duty.

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The warning have not yet appeared as the ruling is being challenged.

“We shouldn’t have a product that is considered substandard in Europe.”

His viewpoint is echoed by many, angered that products considered unsafe for consumption in the UK are legal in Nigeria.

The case has prompted discussions about accepted standards in the country.

Although benzoic acid is widely used as an antibacterial and antifungal preservative in acidic foods and beverages to extend their shelf life, studies have shown that the chemical can cause health problems in certain circumstances.

‘Toxic’

A scientist based in Nigeria, who has dealings with NAFDAC and asked to remain anonymous, says some human toxicity studies have shown that benzoic acid may react with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in soft drinks, forming benzene.

“While benzoic acid itself is relatively non-toxic, when benzene is formed in the presence of ascorbic acid in foods it is particularly dangerous, as benzene is widely known to be toxic and linked to many forms of cancer. These include leukaemia and other cancers of the blood,” the scientist said.

The secretary-general of the Nigerian Medical Association says it is impossible to make a judgement about acceptable levels of benzoic acid without conducting a local study looking at health implications over a long period of time.

Passers-by walk past the Nigerian Bottling Company in Lagos
Soft drinks may need more preservative in hotter countries. Credit: AFP

Dr Yusuf Sununu Tanko says there are a number of examples where evaluations are different between countries because of differences in physical constitution, diet and environment.

“Each country has its own acceptable value of what is considered normal for what is fit for human consumption,” he says.

Nigeria’s health ministry published a statement in response to the public outcry, reassuring Nigerians that the drinks are safe for human consumption.

However, the ministry advises that medicines are taken with water to help “prevent unexpected drug-food interactions”.

Although the government has not spoken of enforcement, it “encourages” all bottling companies to include advisory warnings on all relevant products.

The Nigerian Bottling Company has appealed against the court ruling. It says the levels of benzoic acid in its soft drinks are “well within the levels approved” by both the national regulator and Codex Alimentarius, an international food standards body.

The company also says the ingredient levels set by countries for their food and beverages are influenced by factors such as climate, with drinks in hotter countries needing higher levels of preservative.

It also says there was “no proven case of negligence” or finding that the company had breached its duty of care to consumers.

The government’s Consumer Protection Council has formally requested documents from the Nigerian Bottling Company ahead of an independent inquiry.

With an appeal in motion and a government inquiry under way, this case is far from over.

CREDITS: This news story is culled from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-39340013

Nigeria’ Squares off against Senegal today in London

Super EaglesGernot Rohr will be looking to prevent the Terenga Lions from halting his impressive record as Super Eagles boss

Nigeria face Senegal in an international friendly on Thursday evening as coach Gernot Rohr continues his building process ahead of crunch Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers later this year.

The game billed for home ground of English League Two outfit, FC Barnet will see the former African champions square up against the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finalist.

Both teams last met during the preliminary rounds of the 2006 African Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles winning 2-1 courtesy of Obafemi Martins brace.

Below is the match schedule:

 

Nigeria vs Senegal

Time: (7:00pm West African Time)

Date: Thursday, March 23

Venue: The Hive Stadium

City: London

The Super Eagles will take on the Etalons of Burkina Faso four days later.

Both matches will be played at The Hive, home ground of Barnet Football Club.

The friendly games have been arranged to get the Eagles prepared for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which start in June, and the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon in August.

The friendlies will be the Eagles’ first games this year, as the last time they played was in the 3-1 win over Algeria last November in their second group game of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Genort Rohr called up 25 players for the Senegal and Burkina Faso friendly games.

 

FULL SQUAD

NIGERIA

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Goalkeepers: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC Ifeanyiubah)

Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); William Troost Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium); Kenneth Omeruo (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Uche Henry Agbo (Granada FC, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Musa Muhammed (FC Zeljeznicar, Bosnia-Herzegovina); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain); Kingsley Madu (Zulte Waregem, Belgium); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)

Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Victor Moses (Chelsea FC, England); Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Isaac Success (Watford FC, England); Noah Joel Bazee (Hannover 96, Germany); Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg FC, Germany)

SENEGAL

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Goalkeepers: Khadim N’Diaye (Horoya AC, Guinea), Abdoulaye Diallo (Çaykur Rizespor, Turkey), Pape Seydou N’Diaye (ASC Niarry Tally).

Defenders: Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Cheikh M’Bengue (Saint-Etienne, France), Kara Mbodj (Anderlecht, Belgium), Zargo Toure (Lorient, France), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes, France), Adama Mbengue (Orlando City, USA), Moussa Wagué (Eupen, Belgium)

Midfielders: Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham, England), Cheikh N’Doye (Angers, France), Henri Saivet (Saint Etienne, France), Papa Alioune Ndiaye (Osmanlıspor, Turkey), Salif Sané, Alfred Ndiaye (Hull City, England).

Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool England), Keita Balde Diao (Lazio, Italy), Famara Diedhiou (Angers, France), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke, England), Ismaila Sarr (Metz, France), Moussa Sow (Fenerbahce, Turkey), Opa Nguette (Metz), Babacar Khouma Gueye.

Amaju Pinnick: I will work for Africa, fight for Nigeria

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Nigeria’s latest entrant into the Executive Committee of Confederation of African Football, CAF, Melvin Amaju Pinnick has promised that his election into the Executive Committee of African soccer-ruling body, CAF, would bring cheery news to the country.
After savouring his success at the 39th CAF Congress in Addis Ababa that blew away loquacious Benin Republic’s Moucharafou Anjorin by 32 votes to 17 to become the third Nigerian to serve on the Executive seat of CAF, Pinnick has promised that a Nigerian referee would officiate at the World Cup, which remains the ultimate dream of any Referee and country.
“First things first, I want to see Nigerian referees getting considerations in officiating in top CAF competitions and most importantly, officiating at the World Cup”, the NFF President said.
Nigerian referees have become outcasts in CAF competitions but Pinnick said their relegation was not borne out of incompetence but out of dirty politics of not having anybody to put in words for them.
“With all sense of modesty, Nigerian referees are among the best in Africa. The time has come for a Nigerian to officiate at the global stage, which is the World Cup”.
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Pinnick also said that his victory at the polls would also see a Nigerian work at the CAF headquarters in Egypt. Pinnick played a prominent role to see that African football wears a garb of change in mobilizing other like-minded Africans in overthrowing Issa Hayatou, 71, who ruled CAF with a tight grip for 29 years.
“It is not going to be about Nigerian interests. Together with a listening and pragmatic CAF President, Ahmad and other Executive members, we’re going to bring positive changes to African football”.
The NFF President, who was hailed by other African administrators for his tireless role in achieving a change of guard in CAF, said he was happy that he realized his dream of ensuring stability at home and gain global recognition.
“I’m not going to be a peripheral member in CAF but an integral member who will work for Nigerian football and ensure that African football competes favourably with the rest of world powers in the game”.

Seven Relaxation Techniques to Help Ease Tension

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With all the stressful situations we face in our day to day lives, it’s good to have knowledge of relaxation responses to these stressors. This will help you avoid negative effects of stress like insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue etc.

We share seven relaxation techniques to help you achieve this. You can sample several of them to see the one(s) that work(s) best for you.

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1.Breathing Exercises

In this exercise, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, disengage your mind from distracting and troubling thoughts and sensations, says Julie Corliss, Executive Editor of Harvard Heart Letter. You should let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as possible (without forcing it), and breathe out without pausing or holding your breath, just let it flow out gently.

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Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in gently and regularly, and try counting from one to five in the process. It’s ok if you can’t; if counting is distracting you just focus on the exercise without counting. Try doing it for three to five minutes. However, this technique might not be appropriate for those with respiratory ailments or heart failure.

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2.Progressive Muscle Relaxation

After a few minutes of breathing exercises, you follow up with progressive muscle relaxation. Here, you focus on one part of your body or a group of muscles per time, and mentally release any physical tension you feel there. Basically, you scan your body to identify physically tense areas, and consciously relax those areas (one after the other) to help ease tension. You can lie on your back or sit with your feet to the floor while doing this, start the body scan from your toes to your scalp, noticing how your body feels and relaxing at every point.

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3.Guided Imagery

Here, you remember soothing scenes, memories, places or experiences to help you relax and ease tension. If you have intrusive thoughts or find it difficult to conjure up mental images, you can find and download free apps or online videos of calming and soothing scenes and imagery. You only have to ensure you personally find these scenes calming and soothing.

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4.Talk to Someone

Talk to your loved ones, as reaching out to those in your social circle is one of the best ways to handle stress and tension. Share your burdens with them, and in the process get fresh and helpful perspectives on the things weighing you down.

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5. Listen to Soothing Music

Research shows that listening to soothing music can actually lower your blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety. Create a playlist of calm and soothing music (consider adding some classical music to that playlist), listen to them and allow your mind focus on the different melodies, instruments or even on the singer’s voice.

6. Move Around

Exercise helps the brain release feel-good chemicals and this gives the body a chance to deal with stress and ease tension. Quick walks around short distances, leisurely walks around your area or environment, walking up and down a flight of stairs, or doing some stretching exercises are enough to help you deal with stress and ease tension.

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7. Repetitive Prayer

Yes prayer, especially for those who find religion and spirituality meaningful. Harvard Health Letter advises the use of this technique as a relaxation response to potential stressors. Here, you silently repeat a short prayer or a phrase from a prayer while practicing breathing exercises.

Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria safe – FG

Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria safe – FG

The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria were safe for consumption.

This is contained in a statement issued by Mrs Akinola Boade, the Director, Media and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Health, on Friday in Abuja.

She said the explanation followed a stakeholders meeting summoned by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to address related issues on the recent court judgment on the case filed by Fijabi Holdings against the Nigeria Bottling Company and NAFDAC.

Adewole explained that both benzoic acid and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) were ingredients approved by International Food Safety regulators and used in many food and beverage products around the world.

“Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the organisation established by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to set internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines relating to foods, food production and food safety.

“In the case of benzoic acid, the standard set by Codex was 600mg/kg until recently reviewed to 250mg/kg and adopted in 2016.

“With reference to the Codex standard and other relevant documents, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in consultation with and relevant stakeholders elaborated the standard of benzoic acid in soft drinks to be at 250mg/kg based on the national climatic and storage conditions.

“This standard has been in existence since 1997 and revised in 2008, the levels of benzoic acid in Fanta (1 batch) and Sprite (2 batches) presented by the claimant in the court are 188.64mg/kg, 201.06mg/kg and 161.5mg/kg, respectively,” he said.

The minister stressed that the levels were in compliance with both the Codex and Nigeria Industrial Standards, stressing that the Coca-Cola products manufactured in Nigeria were safe for consumption in view of the following reasons:

“Risk assessment was conducted to ascertain maximum limits of food additives acceptable in foods. This takes into consideration the environmental, storage and distribution conditions as well as the shelf life of food products.

“NAFDAC and SON regularly monitor the manufacturing practices of food industries and conduct laboratory analysis to ascertain continuous compliance with required national standards.

“There was a routine inspection conducted at Nigeria Bottling Company by NAFDAC officers in December 2016, which was satisfactory.

“With reference to the Codex standards, each country or region is permitted to adapt a standard and limit based on country specific scientific evidence such as environmental, storage and distribution conditions,” he added.

Adewole noted that benzoic acid as a preservative prevents the growth of micro-organisms which thrive more at higher climatic temperatures like in Nigeria.

He said that due to the different environmental conditions obtainable in the UK, the standard for benzoic acid was set at a lower limit of 150mg/kg, while in Nigeria it was set at 250mg/kg even below that of Codex (as at time of production of that batch; Codex limit was 600mgkg).

Besides, the minister said that food products being imported into a country must comply with the relevant standards of the destination country.

“NAFDAC has processes in place to ensure products imported into the country are evaluated to ascertain compliance with required Nigeria Industrial Standards.’’

Adewole further said that the claimant did not obtain NAFDAC certification before export; otherwise, he would have been advised on the required standard of the destination country.

He therefore advised Nigerians to take medicines with potable water as this would help to prevent unexpected drug-food interactions.

He added that all bottling companies are encouraged to insert advisory warnings on all products as necessary. (NAN)

Five Smart Ways To Reduce Smartphone Expenses

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The amount spent on maintaining a smartphone is definitely on the high side. It has become a recurrent expenditure for some people. Regardless, you cannot do without your smartphone. Hence getting rid of your smartphone is not an option. At the same that if you are not careful, you will be spending an outrageous amount on your phone.

Therefore, it is important for you to reduce your smartphone expenses. In line with this, we roll out smart ways you can lower the monies you spend on maintaining your smartphone.

1.Use chat apps instead of SMS

The number of individuals who send SMS has significantly dropped. The reason for this is not farfetched. It is because there more instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook messenger that you can use to exchange messages. In fact, you can get immediate feedback.

2.Subscribe to the same network with your partner and family

You should use the same network with whoever you interact with frequently. It is cheaper to call similar networks and quite expensive if you subscribe to different networks. Interestingly, since mobile phones can accommodate as many as 3 sim cards, they have all the networks.

3.Be conscious of how you data usage

Another way you spend money on your smartphone is via data subscription. In Nigeria, 1.5 GB cost 1,000. And the fact is you will subscribe twice or thrice before the month runs out. So, you should be conscious of how you use data. You can decide to do away with apps and make use of the web version (opera mini). And if you can use Wi-Fi if you have access.

4.Turn off in-app purchases

For those who download all sorts of apps on their phones, there are some in-app purchases you have to make to have the full complement of the app. So, turn off in-app purchases so that you don’t have to pay for it. It is quite unnecessary. But you will be surprised that some people pay for these addition fees to download an app.

5.Get an ordinary phone

This is quite radical but if you want to drastically lower your phone cost, you should get an ordinary phone. The only money you will spend on an ordinary phone is on a prepaid card. In other words, take a break from your smartphone. It helps. But, the truth is it is difficult. Still, you can try.

Trade Minister: How Nigeria can kick oil habit and become a global player

Falling oil prices have plunged Nigeria into sustained recession and a foreign currency crisis.
Falling oil prices have plunged Nigeria into sustained recession and a foreign currency crisis.

“Never waste a good crisis” is a motto for Dr. Okechukwu “Okey” Enelamah, the Nigerian minister of industry, trade and investment.

Right now, he has plenty to work with.

One of the largest economies in Africa is shrinking. Collapsing oil revenue has plunged Nigeria into a full-year recession for the first time since 1991, and caused a damaging foreign currency shortage.
Storm clouds are gathering over crucial trade and development relationships with Britain and the US, as the former contemplates an uncertain future outside the European Union, and the latter signals a shift to “America First” protectionism under President Donald Trump.
Enelamah, an experienced private sector banker, only entered government in November 2015. But the new minister believes he can chart a course through the turbulent waters, and discussed his plans with CNN in London.
Dr. Okechukwu "Okey" Enelamah, the Nigerian minister of industry, trade and investment.
Dr Okechukwu “Okey” Enelamah is the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

Britain and the Commonwealth

Enelamah was in London for the inaugural Commonwealth Trade Minister’s Meeting, a gathering of officials from the former British colonies that make up the Commonwealth.
The host nation is keen to forge new trade alliances as it retreats from Europe. The 52 Commonwealth states — representing a combined population of more than two billion people – offer an attractive alternative.
Critics have attacked the event as an exercise in colonial nostalgia, branding it “Empire 2.0.
But Enelamah is satisfied that Britain is not seeking a new era of exploitation, and sees opportunities for Nigeria in deeper partnership with the UK.
“My experience so far with Britain and (Trade Secretary) Dr. Liam Fox has been very equal and collaborative — I don’t sense an imperial mindset,” he says. “Any agreement would have to be a 21st century agreement, accounting for where countries are today, not where they were 100 years ago.”
Enelamah hopes Britain will support advanced industrialization in Nigeria, so the country can move further up the manufacturing value chain and away from relying on the export of raw materials – predominantly oil. He also believes British expertise can improve quality control for Nigerian exports, which would improve access to markets.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/TradeInvestNG”>@TradeInvestNG</a&gt; Minister, Dr. Enelamah and Trade Ministers from Commonwealth member states after the Commonwealth Trade Ministers Meeting <a href=”https://t.co/pcmqbeChOx”>pic.twitter.com/pcmqbeChOx</a></p>&mdash; FMITI Nigeria (@TradeInvestNG) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TradeInvestNG/status/841652849436184576″>March 14, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Trump and the US

The minister is warier about relations with the US. He has followed the progress of the new administration with some concern, particularly as Nigerian nationals were denied entry to the US.
“We hope this is resolved in a responsible way or there will be negative effects,” he says.
But Enelamah points to a reassuring statement from the US embassy in Nigeria, and a friendly call between President Trump and Nigerian Premier Muhammadu Buhari, as cause for optimism.
“We both understand and acknowledge the strategic importance of our countries to each other,” he says. “We intend to do more not less with the US.”
At a time of growing instability, the minister emphasizes the value of cultivating a wide range of alliances. Should the US retreat from commitments such as a major investment in the energy sector, Nigeria could lean more heavily on its burgeoning relationship with China, which underpins much of the state’s infrastructure development.
The Nigerian government is following the new US adminstration's immigration policy with some concern.

Closer union

Nigeria’s most important partners could yet be on its doorstep. Intra-African trade accounts for just 15% of the continent’s total trade, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, whereas the figure for Europe and North America is over 60%.
“It’s not where it needs to be,” admits Enelamah. “We believe there is a lot of scope and opportunity to do more in Africa.”
Nigeria recently signed the Trade Facilitation Agreement, reducing barriers to international commerce, and is pushing for a free trade agreement between all 54 African states.
The African Union mandated trade ministers to create a framework deal by 2017. Several rounds of negotiation have been completed. Enelamah is confident the historic accord can be reached, and believes it will deliver political as well as economic rewards.
“We want to optimize relations among us and trade is a major force for optimizing relations between nations,” he says.

After oil

As Nigeria pursues international trade and partnerships, there is an urgent need to move beyond its longstanding reliance on oil, which still accounts for the vast majority of export revenue.
Enelamah believes the oil price crash could be a blessing in disguise for Nigeria.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he says. “Given the very negative consequences of the drop in oil and commodity prices…we must make good on our commitment to diversify the economy.”
To fulfill this ambition, the government recently launched its “Economic recovery and growth plan,” which aims to deliver 7% annual growth and 15 million new jobs by 2020.
The plan includes strategies to develop manufacturing in the food and agriculture sector, new energy projects, and advanced industrialization with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprizes (SMEs).
“It’s about going back to basics, to where we have a comparative or natural advantage,” says Enelamah. “Nigeria is in the right place for agriculture and it is natural to continue investment into the industrial agriculture value chain.”
High yield offshoots of oil are also a focus, such as fertilizers and petrochemicals, as well as textiles including cotton.
Another priority is to improve the business climate and facilitate economic activity. Enelamah’s ministry is overseeing the creation of Special Economic Zones with new incentives for business, and claims to have secured $1 billion investment from China.
Nigeria's recovery plan involves investment in industrial agriculture.

Currency crisis

For a sustainable recovery, Nigeria must resolve its foreign exchange crisis. The high cost of Nigerian currency and falling oil prices have deterred foreign investment, and reserves are severely depleted.
Economists are calling for a devaluation of the Naira, which the government has so far resisted, and Enelamah does not see that policy changing.
“If we create the right conditions foreign investors will come back in a big way,” he says, pointing to healthy returns on diaspora remittances and Eurobond sales. “People are interested in Nigeria, and the infrastructure projects we have can bring in investment. We must implement policies to create market confidence.”
The minister does acknowledge mistakes. In 2016, Nigeria’s Central Bank attempted to boost the flagging Naira through import controls on items including medicine, furniture and foodstuffs. Enelamah accepts this has created problems for Nigerian businesses and undermined prospects for a manufacturing revival.
“Some policies we passed affected manufacturers in terms of their raw materials and we are correcting those now,” he says. “We want to discourage dumping and bad practices that happened in the past. But we need to do it in a way that does not hurt local manufacturing.”