[Nigeria Business Week] Andrea Ayemoba: Persistent shortages and inflation call for new measures
Africa has in the past decade positioned itself as a knowledge economy, with one of the most robust startup ecosystems in the world. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya have consistently been in the startup spotlight, thriving in sectors like Agric (agritech) and financial services (fintech). Successful startups in agriculture have taken it upon themselves to ‘pay it forward’, putting measures in place to empower new entrepreneurs and youth. ThriveAgric is one such example, now involved in raising funds to empower thousands of farmers in Nigeria. Industrialist Dangote is also a pioneer in agribusiness. With a $2.5b fertilizer plant set to boost food production capacity, this branch of investment on the industrialist’s part is predicted to be as successful as the manufacturing arm of the Dangote Group. Fertilizer plants have seen a considerable increase in the country in recent years, a trend that has been attributed to President Buhari’s initiative to ensure food sufficiency.
So despite these advances, why does Nigeria continue to experience food shortages and high market price? A number of reasons come to mind – expanding population, inefficient supply chain, archaic farming methods in rural areas and now crushingly, fuel scarcity. Indeed the head of the African Development Bank has cited the crisis in Ukraine as a cause of food shortage that may well culminate in food riots.
Other developmetns this week struck a happy note. As we said earlier, fintech and telecom remain strong in Nigeria. Statistics show that telecom subscribers grew by over two million in January and Glo announced a special offer to its members. On the aviation side, a new terminal was inaugurated this week and it was revealed how much of foreign airlines’ funds Nigeria holds in its possession.
As market prices fluctuate, so do share prices. Nestle Nigeria did not have a profitable week on the stock market. Following a growing call for diversification into non-oil potentials, government bodies are calling for more investment in the mining sector, an industry which contributed considerably to last year’s GDP. This also follows another call by the World Bank for better employment and faster economic growth, two factors crucial for Nigerians to live above the poverty line.