More investment in Nigeria

Briefly, the People’s Daily in China is reporting that

India has agreed to invest six billion U.S. dollars in power plants and other projects in Nigeria, Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria Anil Trigunayat said at the weekend.

The money continues to flow in and the ‘partnerships’ continue to expand.

…the Indian diplomat said as the most populous countries in Africa and Asia respectively, both Nigeria and India had a lot to learn and gain from each other.

Is the motivating factor altruism or business opportunity?

"We are also interested in investing in the development of infrastructure, but any such projects would have to be identified first by the Nigerian government," he said

Or energy?

Trigunayat expressed India’s desire to collaborate with Nigeria for the benefit of both countries, saying that India was also interested in engaging in joint venture projects with Nigeria in the oil and gas sector.

Book Review: The Sea Rover’s Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730

Sea Rover's PracticeI recently finished reading an excellent book on piracy by Benerson Little, The Sea Rover’s Practice. This is a great backgrounder on what really was behind the privateers, buccaneers / boucaniers, filibusters / flibustier, and pirates. Focusing on a hundred year period beginning in 1630, the former Navy SEAL draws on contemporary diaries and books to describe everything from the background, motivation, tactics, equipment, and even an appendix on drinks. The reality of the sea rover’s tactics are in stark contrast to the image of the Hollywood pirate. The reality were crews and officers operating under very democratic rules and performing complex operations seeking to maximize effort (return on investment).

Appropriate to the modern era of small wars? Little generally leaves it to the reading to connect to the present (absent a rare couple of modern analogies in the book), except for one paragraph at the end:

Whatever their vices, weaknesses, and moral ambiguities, these buccaneers have in common with most sea rovers several tactical virtues, including innovation, loyalty, perseverance, adaptability, and courage. Collectively, they prove that a loose, uncentralized, and informal network can conduct significant, complex military operations. They show the effect that an irregular force can have on the resources of a powerful state, causing great economic damage and tying down significant forces. And, most importantly, they demonstrate that elements of broadly divergent and disparate cultures, races, nationalities, classes, professions, and personalities can act as one with a common goal.

My brief comments here don’t do the book justice. The amount of detail Little puts in this book is sometimes mind boggling, not to say amazing. This is not a book that only looks at the past but has a surprising applicability to modernity. I have found it particularly useful in supporting various arguments about privatization of force as well as insurgent warfare.

The explosion of posts…

Sorry for the sudden appearance of dozens of posts, some incomplete w/ only a title and a link to a (sometimes) password protected resource like Lexis-Nexus. Some raw notes from a capture program I use (Onfolio, since purchased by Microsoft) got published before I could stop it. Many of these are useful but some may not be, especially in the form they are appearing (as only a link here but as full-text in Onfolio). Also, some of the items are copyright protected and hence I should not be posting here. Look for more of these data dumps in the future, but with a bit more control from my end.

The mass posting has been fixed through either deletion or edits.

Cisco Strengthens Presence in Nigeria, West Africa

Briefly, back on 27 April 2006, AllAfrica (link to LexisNexis password required) reported that Cisco was expanding into Nigeria. Formerly working the market from South Africa, its official debut includes opening a local office to "build a strong depth of technical skills in the market to serve the region".

Cisco Systems…is attempting to strengthen its presence in Nigeria and English West Africa with its launch of the Cisco Systems brand in Nigeria…

Cisco is a well known brand, but before now, operated in Nigeria, via its offices in South Africa. Cisco’s formal entry into Nigeria, said Emelife is to enable the company better support its long list of corporate customers as well as small and medium enterprises who use one form of Cisco router, switch or security solution, or another. "Our entry into Nigeria is also to enable Cisco to better penetrate the West African market as well as enable us build a stronger depth of technical skills in the market to serve the region".

The move to Nigeria, Emelife stated, "is timely as Nigerian telecom service providers continue to grow their voice services and begin to enter into mainstream data services. Cisco is the worldwide leader in building next generation networks, and so is positioning to help drive the build-out of this breed of networks in Nigeria."…

Emelife added that corporate social responsibility is core to the Cisco organization. "Our focus is three fold: providing basic human needs, enhancing access to education and responsible citizenship".

To help enhance access to education and professional opportunities across the world, the company has founded the Cisco Networking Academy Program. This program is dedicated to providing students with the education and resources they need to design, build and maintain computer networks. The Cisco Networking Academy, said Emelife, has 1,320 students in 22 academies around Nigeria. This number, he added, will grow into the future….

To celebrate the occasion of the launch of Cisco Nigeria, the company hosted over 200 guests to a banquet at Eko Hotel. Guests included the US Ambassador to Nigeria, represented by Brian Browne the Consul General, the Minister of Communications and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission. Also present was a large team of senior Cisco executives including Cisco’s Vice President for Middle East and Africa, Mark De Simone and its Managing Director for Africa, Anthony Vonsee.

Nigeria delivers final debt payments to Paris Club


Nigeria said Friday it made a final wire transfer to pay off its Paris Club debt, becoming the first country in Africa to clear its books of loans by that group of Western creditors.

While the move will free up cash for investing at home, Africa’s most-populous nation still isn’t completely debt-free, owing US$5 billion to other creditors.

Nigeria worked off US$30 billion in Paris Club debts through cancellation grants and buy-backs and it sent the last tranche of US$4.5 billion in several currencies on Friday, said Mansur Muhtar, head of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office.

"All the creditors need is to confirm receipt and automatically that will trigger the terms of the deal," said Muhtar.

Most of oil-rich Nigeria’s debt came from loans taken in the early 1980s, as oil prices fell. In 1985, the total debt stood at US$19 billion (euro15.4 billion).

At the end of 2004, it had ballooned to US$35 billion (euro28.4 billion) with arrears and penalties piled up under a succession of corrupt military governments.

The Paris Club deal required Nigeria to pay about US$12.4 billion (euro10 billion) in exchange for the cancellation of US$18 billion (euro14.6 billion) in debt.

Link to article…

State Department Official Says Internet Aids Spread of Democracy – US Department of State


As the greatest purveyor of news and information in history, the Internet transcends borders, unites people and empowers the spread of democracy, said Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the Department of State.

But, he added, some countries are attempting to use technology to suppress dissent.  “The restriction today [on Internet access] is government created rather than geographically created or even economically created,” Gross told a Washington audience at the American Enterprise Institute on April 11.

Gross said that governments universally claim to have a desire to want more Internet access for their people and that the United States is working bilaterally with governments around the world on creating an environment to promotethe construction of infrastructure and access to information.

“Governments themselves are responsible for control of communications including the Internet within their borders,” Gross said, “but with control comes responsibility.” Legitimate government tools to control the Internet are the rule of law and a progressive regulatory environment, he said.

Regulating the intermediary, however, said Alan Davidson, Washington policy counsel for Internet search engine Google, removes due process.

Davidson said his company, like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco, abides by censorship laws when operating in countries that require them to do so. Google blocks prohibited terms in China and the company does not allow e-mail or blogs that could be viewed as political protest. Yahoo! and Cisco provided the technology to Chinese authorities that identified and put behind bars Chinese journalist Shi Tao in 2005.

“The world is a better place when people have more access and more information,” said Davidson. In that way, the Internet has been a revolutionary force, he said, but targeting Internet service providers to enforce a country’s free speech restrictions raises concerns.

“The United States does a lot to foster the free flow of information,” Gross said. He cited the Global Internet Freedom Task Force, an initiative to work with governments, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector to maximize access to information and minimize efforts to block content, suppress political debate on the Internetor use Internet data to track and prosecute legitimate dissidents.

Link to article…

China’s ZTE to produce GSM phones in Nigeria

Further expansion of China into African infrastructure (this is part of an info dump into the blog).
Akwa Ibom, Chinese firms in ultra low cost handset deals
By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

There are possibilities that Nigeria will become the first country in Africa to experience local manufacture of ultra low cost handset judging by initiatives already put in place by the Federal Government, the Akwa Ibom State government and some Chinese equipment manufacturers.

Continue reading “China’s ZTE to produce GSM phones in Nigeria

Brown in $15bn education vow to poor nations

The Financial Times reports (10 April 2006):

Gordon Brown earmarked $15bn (£8.6bn) of future British aid spending for education in some of the world’s poorest countries Monday, on a trip to Africa intended to urge western nations to commit similar sums.

The chancellor arrived in Mozambique on Monday morning for talks with African leaders and finance ministers as well as Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa.

“In 2005, ‘Make Poverty History’ forced governments to make promises on aid,” Mr Brown said at a visit to a school in Mozambique. “Now, in 2006 it is time for us to keep our promises.”

The UK’s commitment involves a step change in British aid spending over the coming decade and means that the Department for International Development will be one of only a few winners in the next Whitehall spending round.

Link to article…

Nigeria ‘Nobody knows tomorrow’

Emeka Nwandiko writes in New African (March 2006) about the growth of Nollywood (Nigerian Hollywood) and its portrayal of and impact on African culture. Nigerian films are hot in Africa and far cheaper than the American flicks they are displacing.

As the sun sets over Hillbrow in Johannesburg, South Africa,
Phillipine Theledi, her fiancé, and a friend settle down to watch TV.
The watching hour of the soaps has begun, but the 24-year-old police
constable and her guests are not interested in the bizarre goings on in
the Hollywoodstyle soap operas. Instead they get their entertainment
from watching Nigerian (or Nollywood) movies.

"I can’t remember when I last watched a soap," says Theledi, who
started watching Nollywood movies five years ago. Her friend and
colleague-constable, Kgaugelo Motsepe, who began watching Nigerian
films two years ago, says: "Soaps are always the same – you know that
Brooke (of The Bold and The Beautiful) will always marry someone else."
Constable Motsepe adds that she stopped watching Hollywood soaps
because "people just die and come back to life. That’s not reality".

The two policewomen live a couple of doors away from each other at
the high-rise South African Police Service barracks in the densely
populated inner city neighbourhood of Hillbrow, which they patrol.

It was while they were on different patrols in the neighbourhood
that they discovered Nollywood films – almost every second street
corner in Hillbrow has a shop run by a Nigerian whose Nollywood DVD
sales form part of a barber shop or cellphone shop.

On their days off, the two spend their time glued to the TV. This
evening they are watching Keep Us Together. It is trademark Nollywood
fare, and it has their full attention. Motsepe, 22, says she can relate
to the values depicted on the screen. "From these movies, you can see
that Nigerians are very traditional people. They are very religious and
strongly believe that God can help them no matter the odds."
ButTheledi’s fiancé, Cornelius Maphoto, who began watching Nigerian
films not long ago, is not too impressed: "They’re okay," he says, "but
about three-quarters of the films have the same message. They’re

Many a plot of a Nollywood film revolves around money and reflects
the psyche of Nigerians: "If you no get monie, you no be person. Ho ha!
(If you don’t have money you’re nobody. Simple and short!)" Nollywood
films reflect the social dynamics that make Nigeria a money-mad
country. The basic formula is a son promises to send money to his
impoverished family before he leaves the village to head for the big
city or country (say London, South Africa, America, etc). Under
pressure to deliver, he gets involved mjuju, waiyo (419 scams), armed
robbery, political assassinations or drug dealing. For female lead
actresses, the roles are a spinster who will only settle for a rich
man. She steals him from his wife, using juju, or falls for a dashing
mugu (419) specialist who turns out to be her worst nightmare.

Often the architects of the diabolical plots end up with nothing. In
their own way, the directors and scriptwriters question Nigerians on
whether the quest for money at all costs is really worth it.

But not all Hollywood films are about the unrelenting quest for
money. There are also love stories such as Keep us Together. The plots
though have a rather familiar theme: son/daughter wants to marry a
woman/man of higher status but because he comes from a tribe/poor
family/socially inferior clan, the woman’s/man’s family frowns upon the

Nollywood films can be compared to egusi soup (a popular meal eaten
in Nigeria) that is badly cooked. But within the soup, there are some
nutritious morsels in the form of proverbs spoken by Igbos from
southeastern Nigeria: "The chicken that is searching for food in the
rain must be very hungry"- Chukuma scheming, with his younger brother
Greg, on how to get the wealth of their elder brother in the film, The
Price of Love.

"When a lamb plays in the den of a lion, is there any future to
expect?"- Chief Phillips to his daughter whom he wants to dissuade from
marrying the son of his arch rival in the movie, Power Play.

The popular saying at the back of every Nigerian’s mind that fuels
their hopes and ambitions for a better life is uttered by Mama Enyi
about her son’s forbidden affair in Keep Us Together. "Nobody knows

In fact, Hollywood films have a kitsch feel about them. The poor
technical quality of shots taken indoors gives them their distinct low
budget feel. Scenes that involve actors shouting in anger or crying
loudly often come out as a screeching sound.

Inadequate use of lighting indoors leaves macabre shadows dancing
around actors and the soundtracks of some films often do not correspond
to the scene on view. Added to this gaucheness, are the titles: After
the Fight, Nothing Spoil, Who’s Fault, I Want My Money, The Broken
Plate, Last Billionaire, Dogs Meeting, Hard Lover and My Own Share.

But in spite of their perceived poor technical quality and tacky
titles, Nollywood films are in huge demand. Constables Theledi and
Motsepe each rent up to three Nigerian films a week. And their interest
has caught on with their families as well.

"Emperor" is the owner of a video rental shop at the Mansion Hotel
in Claim Street, Johannesburg. His store, a DVD store-cumbarbershop, is
the largest of the lot in the downtown area. The wall on the left and
centre are crammed (from wall to ceiling) with Nollywood films. He left
Nigeria for South Africa seven years ago and most of his clients are
South Africans, Zimbabweans and Zambians.

His clients say, compared to American films, Nollywood movies
enhance African culture and show that Africans have a rich heritage to
draw from, and give them a sense of dignity and pride.

Apart from their cultural appeal, Nigerian films are also drawing
interest because they are cheaper to hire than Hollywood films. Emperor
rents out a Nollywood film, burned on a double compact disc, at R5 for
three nights – a Hollywood equivalent hired for one evening costs Rl 8.
Despite the low cost of rentals, Emperor, who has a collection of about
4,200 Nollywood films, is able to make a profit. He says if he spends
about R30,000 importing 1,000 Nigerian movies, he can rent out about
100 videos in an average week and make about R700. But the bulk of his
profits come from selling videos for about R60 each.

The genre of Nollywood films in greatest demand is comedy, and it is
easy to understand why. Films featuring Nkem Owoh (Osuofia in London 1
& 2) and the actors Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze (Lagos Boys 1
& 2 and De Don and De Capo) are always booked out. In the case of
Nkem Owoh, his delivery of punchlines in pidgin (broken) English is
side splitting. The pint-sized Iheme and Ikedieze (their feet barely
touch the floor when they sit on chairs) can deliver a brand of
waiyo-scheming humour to make Leon Schuster’s comic feats seem like a
geriatric on a zimmer-frame.

The Nollywood film industry is primarily geared towards the DVD home
market. It is estimated that there are about 57 million DVD players in
Nigerian households. Home movies took precedence over cinemas when
celluloid films became too expensive to make under the military regimes
that ruled Nigeria in the 1980s. Now that Nigeria is under democratic
rule, on average about 430 movies are made every year, powering an
industry estimated at R300m. A typical Nollywood film will have 50,000
copies dubbed onto VCDs at less than R5 each. It is not clear to what
extent piracy and bootlegs are driving the value of the industry down.
But in the next few months, the script that Nollywood currently acts
out is about to change – dramatically.

According to Brian Pottinger, CEO of Johnnic Communications Africa
Division, an agreement has been signed by Nu Metro Home Entertainment
West Africa for a new distribution chain, starting in Nigeria, with a
VCD and DVD plant to open in October which will make licensed and
quality-made Nollywood films available to markets in Africa and beyond.
The big idea is to ensure that from the licence agreements, revenues
generated will be ploughed back into the industry in the form of
royalties which "will create a sustainable industry in which actors,
producers, directors, distributors and ultimately the consumer
benefits", says Pottinger.

As the storyline on the Nollywood film industry unfolds, perhaps an apt title should be: Nobody Knows Tomorrow.

Link to article…

Google’s hidden payroll

From the Christian Science Monitor comes a report on the hidden actors in the Google economy:

Jayant Kumar Gandhi, a former software engineer in New Delhi, is one of hundreds of thousands around the world on Google’s shadow payroll.

In his spare time, Mr. Gandhi runs a free computer help website and recently began running ads by Google on his homepage as part of Google Adsense, a program that pays website publishers for advertising space. When visitors click on the ads on Gandhi’s site, Google makes a small profit from the advertiser, and in turn, pays a percentage of that profit to Gandhi.

Such clicks can translate into pennies – or dollars – a day for a Web publisher. "I had no intentions of using it for more than a week," Gandhi says. "I didn’t believe the stories that Adsense paid decent money. I ignored them as a marketing gimmick."

But Gandhi’s Adsense profits have exceeded his wildest dreams. He now earns about $1,000 a month from the program, the same salary he previously earned as a software engineer. His new income has allowed him to leave his job and return to school. "Today I am able to sponsor my higher studies because of Adsense," he says.

Link to article…

Watchdog seeks lost Africa wealth

Transparency International watching Africa:

[TI] urges western governments to help Africa recover wealth lost through corruption.

An anti-corruption campaign group has urged governments in the West to help Africa recover part of the wealth lost through corruption.

Transparency International made the appeal in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The group estimated the amount of illegally appropriated money invested outside Africa to be $140bn (£80.4bn).

It called on Western governments to change their banking laws to make it easier for illegally acquired wealth to be repatriated to Africa.

Transparency International (TI) which leads a campaign against corruption worldwide, says the phenomenon is seriously undermining Africa’s fragile democracies and hindering efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Link to BBC article…

Google grows up… and gets lobbyists

More on Google…

After largely ignoring Washington for years, Google is scrambling to match the efforts of competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft.

As lawmakers and regulators begin eyeing its ventures in China and other countries and as its Web surfers worry about the privacy of their online searches, Google is making adjustments that do not fit neatly with its maverick image.

It has begun ramping up its lobbying and legislative operations after largely ignoring Washington for years, in a scramble to match bases long established here by competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft, as well as the deeply entrenched telecommunication companies.

Google has hired politically connected lobbying firms and consultants with ties to Republican leaders like the party chairman, Ken Mehlman; Speaker J. Dennis Hastert; and Senator John McCain; and advisers say the company may set up a fund-raising arm for political donations to candidates. And in a town where Republicans hold the levers of power, Google has begun stockpiling pieces of the party’s machine.

To some, Google is a novice arriving late to the table. To others, the company’s embedding on K Street, which serves as home to many of Washington’s top lobbyists, represents a new and not necessarily welcome sign of sophistication.

Link to article…

Nigeria Pressed by U.N. Court to Arrest Liberia’s Ex-Leader

From the New York Times…

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, March 26 — Pressure mounted Sunday on Nigeria to arrest Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia who is under indictment for war crimes in connection with his role in the brutal, decade-long civil war here.

Mr. Taylor apparently remains in Nigeria, where he has been living since 2003, when a deal brokered by Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo, sent him into exile. But security around the compound where he is living has been lax, according to local news reports and Human Rights Watch, leading to fears that Mr. Taylor may try to flee.

Link to article…

[Update: comment on the ‘decade-long civil war’ was a typo on my part and not the text of the original article which is updated appropriately above.]

Nigeria, Chinese firm sign investment MOU

Expanding the essential presence of Chinese companies in Nigeria across a variety of sectors. An MOU is one thing, let’s see the partnership deliver.

Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on economic cooperation and investment with the Guangdong Xinguang International Group of China.

The MOU would herald at least two-billion-dollar worth of investment in the agriculture, health, education, transport, industry, commerce and housing sectors of the economy.

Link to article…

Lessons from Biafra: The Structuration of Socially Relevant Science in the Research and Production D

From Social Forces comes this:

Africa’s dismal economic performance is directly attributable to its weakness in the production and use of modern technology. Even Nigeria, a country with immense human and material resources, coupled with significant scientific infrastructure, has not yet been able to manage the all-important technological leap forward. The situation was different in Biafra (1967-70), when indigenous scientists and engineers performed socially relevant science without the preconditions conventionally perceived as necessary for technological development. Anchored in structuration theory, this article explores the sociology of scientific and technological practice in Biafra, outlines the achievements of Biafran scientists and engineers, and offers explanations of why the Biafran technological success has not been replicable in post-civil war Nigeria. Discussion concludes with a suggestion for development-driven geopolitical restructuring.

Interesting to overlay the seemingly valuable partnerships with outsiders with the past.

Link to article…