Nigeria: Corruption – Tough talk, tough action

From Foreign Direct Investment (1 Oct 2005):

    Recent high-profile arrests of prominent Nigerians on corruption charges have buoyed public opinion that the government’s promise to stamp out graft is sincere. Corruption itself is unlikely to disappear soon but the government’s best hope is to win the battle of perceptions, convincing Nigerians and external stakeholders that it has the upper hand in a grinding war that has a long way to go. These small victories, among others, chip away at a firmly entrenched perception of deep-seated corruption in Nigeria. The country is ranked third-last in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. But the government, and the president in particular, is quick to admit that there is a long way to go. Although Nigerian authorities are adamant that ground has been won in the fight against graft, and even suggest that the country’s reputation is worse than the reality, there is a healthy recognition of where they have to take the fight. In particular, it is at the state and local government level that the anti-corruption push is being resisted or failing to reach.

Link to article…

Nigeria: Retail’s “Sale of the Century”

Briefly, Foreign Direct Investment reports…

The early success of the Nu Metro Media Store in Lagos, which opened in Junethis year, selling books, music CDs and DVDs, was the first proof of the massive
pent up demand for world-class retail that exists in Nigeria. Until then, the
largely-untapped buying power of Nigeria’s 130-million strong consumer market
had gone untested. In the face of a maddening number of challenges of setting up
business in the country, it is this virgin market that is one the greatest draw
cards. Before Nu Metro, there was nothing in the retail space that could be
described as modern let alone world-class. For Nu Metro’s owners, Johnnic
Communications, the push into Nigeria – which includes taking a stake in local
newspaper Business Day – has not been without frustration.

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Nigeria Economy: Privatisations make headway

EIU Newswire reported on 2 December 2005:

In August the BPE also unveiled a shortlist of six potential bidders for a 51% stake in Nigerian Telecommunications (Nitel) and its mobile unit, M- Tel. The potential buyers are South Africa’s MTN and Telkom, Chinese equipment maker, Huawei Technologies, Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, Celtel International and Newtel. They were picked out of 22 companies that expressed interest in Nitel. Nigeria’s communications minister said in September that one of the bidders will be chosen by the end of the year. Analysts expect the stake to fetch substantially less than the US$1.3bn offered by the preferred bidder in the 2001 sale, which collapsed after the buyer failed to pay the purchase price.

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Interconnection Costs

Mike Jensen writes about the impact of interconnection costs on ICT. Others have suggested SkypeOut rates as a real-world indicator of the impact on the barriers to connectivity noted by Jensen.

The world is still in the middle of a seismic shift in communication architectures as internet-based networks steadily replace the circuit-switched systems that were designed for voice, while rapid innovation continues to throw new technologies into the mix. We are still in a relatively early stage of this evolution, and as a result, internet interconnection issues are complex, fast changing and not well understood.

Link to PDF…

SkypeOut Rates – All Destinations

An indicator of the falling costs of telecommunications in Nigeria are rates Skype, a leading Voice over IP provider, charges. These rates for the SkypeOut feature provide a comparative cost against virtually every country by reflecting connection costs associated with each destination. SkypeOut rates to Nigeria dropped in January 2006, reflecting increasing efficiencies and falling barriers. Compared to other African countries, the SkypeOut rate for Nigeria is nearly a third of Kenya’s, less than Zimbabwe, and nearly half that of calling Niger. Overall, the rates are comparable to South Africa with similar differences between mobile and landline destinations .

Link to Skype’s SkypeOut Rates…

NCC Penalizes Globalcom for refusal to Reconnect PTO’s

The Nigerian Communications Commission, in line with section 53 (1) of the Nigerian Communications Act, has on April 7, 2004 issued a Direction to Globacom Limited demanding the payment of a penalty of N34 million to the Commission for flagrantly refusing to reconnect certain private telecom operators 24 days after the expiration of the seven-day period within which to comply.Of the amount, N10 million is the lump sum payment for non-compliance with the preceding Direction of the Commission and N24 million is the aggregate of the sum of N1 million per day for each day of non-compliance.
As a result of complaints received from some operators that they had been disconnected from Globacom’s network, the Commission held a meeting with Globacom on December 13, 2004. Arising from that meeting, the Commission forwarded to Globacom a Notice of Intention to issue a Direction dated January 19, 2005.
Following the failure of Globacom to respond to the Notice of Intention to issue a Direction, the Commission on March 7, 2005 issued a Direction in the following terms:
That Globacom Limited should ensure interconnection of its network with all the affected operators including but not limited to Cell Communications Limited (CELLCOM), Disc Communications Limited (DISCOM), Independent Telephone Networks Limited (ITN), Reliance Telecommunications Limited (RELTEL), XPT Links Limited (XTP), and other PTO’s affected by the disconnection within seven days thereof.
Upon failure to reconnect any of the said operators within seven days, Globacom Limited shall pay to the Commission a penalty in the sum of ^10 million and thereafter the sum N1 million per day as long as the contravention persists.
The seven-day period within which compliance was required by the Commission expired on March 14, 2005. Up till April 7, 2005 Globacom had not migrated any of the affected operators to another switch as it undertook to do at the meeting held on December 13, 2004 or as required by the Commission in its Direction issued on March 7, 2005. The Commission is of the considered opinion that ample opportunity has been given to Globacom to comply with its lawful Direction.
At the expense of repetition, the Commission wishes to stress that the issue of unilateral disconnection of operators without its approval is expressly prohibited by law. A situation where an operator does not only unilaterally disconnect other operators but also refuses to heed a Direction from the Regulator to reconnect them is inimical to the growth of the industry and must be discouraged.

Link to article…

Working Paper Access to Information

Transparency International’s working paper on Access to Information

For democracy to flourish, citizens must beinformed about the operations of their government. This study’s
purpose is to survey existing practices respecting access to
information in the developing countries.

Link to article…

The Role of Transparency and Accountability for Economic Development in Resource-rich Countries,

Address by the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF

Transparency and accountability are critical for the efficient functioning of a modern economy and for fostering social well-being. In most societies, many powers are delegated to public authorities. Some assurance must then be provided to the delegators—that is, society at large—that this transfer of power is not only effective, but also not abused. Transparency ensures that information is available that can be used to measure the authorities’ performance and to guard against any possible misuse of powers. In that sense, transparency serves to achieve accountability, which means that authorities can be held responsible for their actions. Without transparency and accountability, trust will be lacking between a government and those whom it governs. The result would be social instability and an environment that is less than conducive to economic growth.

Link to article…

Africa Policy Outlook 2006

An interesting read from 9 March 2006.

In 2006, Africa will witness a new wave of U.S. soldiers landing on the continent for training and other missions, as Washington takes aim at reshaping Africa to better serve America’s security interests. The trend in the Bush Administration’s Africa policy is toward an even greater focus on the so-called War on Terrorism, with emphasis on intelligence gathering, securing "ungoverned spaces" on the vast continent, and pre-positioning soldiers and equipment to project force globally and to deter Al-Qaeda in Africa. But American involvement in actual peacemaking or peacekeeping missions in Africa is far less likely, even as genocide continues in Darfur, Sudan.

The same Africa policy is equally intended to secure access to West African oil, which the Bush Administration now views as a strategic national interest. Imports of African oil are projected to grow from their current 15% of the U.S. total to 25% by 2015. The U.S. already imports more oil from Africa than Saudi Arabia, and within a decade it could become a greater source of oil imports than the whole of the Persian Gulf.

This year, when it comes to U.S. relations with Africa, the pre-occupation of U.S. officials with oil and guns will stand in stark contrast to the expressed concern of the American people regarding the ongoing genocide in Darfur and global health challenges like HIV/AIDS and the bird flu. The Bush Administration’s policy also fails to address Africans’ own concerns with human development, still an urgent priority despite last year’s proclaimed Africa focus.

Link to article…

Media Rights Agenda: Weekly Debates on FOI Airing on Lagos Television

Briefly from 4 Dec 2005:

A weekly television discussion programme aimed at highlighting the importance of the Freedom of Information to various sectors of the Nigerian society went on air last week on Lagos Television (LTV). Titled “Freedom of Information and You”, the programme will run for every Wednesday, between 5.30 pm and 6.00 pm for 10 weeks. The programme is sponsored by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) with funding from the European Commission (EC).

Link to article…