Friday, December 30, 2011

Truth be told - 2012 game planning

Truth be told, the open discussion on TV about the fuel subsidy removal is better government than I'm used to seeing in Nigeria.  Goodbye to that particular avenue for wasting our resources.
Now let's also tackle jumbo pay.  The same day the subsidy officially ends, there should be a 20% cut in recurrent expenditure, mostly from ending jumbo pay.  After all, there has long been an outcry to curb spending on those perks - free cars, food, clothing, shelter, travel, "contracts", "security votes", "constituency allowances", I mean, what is all that rubbish?
I actually think the National Assembly should be conducted by email or video conferencing on most days, to meet in Abuja monthly.  My Senator should not necessarily drive a car.  I want to share a keke / bus ride with the woman.  Otherwise, what are you representing in the Nat.Ass.?  Your husband?  Your pocket?

THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY IN 2012
The economic priority for 2012 ought to be the following: getting a breakthrough in the drive to get 100 billion USD worth of investment over the next 3-4 years.  This means at a minimum we want $10billion worth of investments in the Electric Power sector and another $10bn in refining, manufacturing, and services, for a total of $20bn in 2011-2012.  How is the Ministry of Trade and Investments doing, as this is their mandate?
In setting this investment target, I remember that the stated mission of the Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala (and the IMF president Lagarde) is to create jobs.  Well, getting investment from large companies, from the Chinese and Indians and Americans and Europeans, ought to create jobs.  I also will not forget that as I write there's no electricity in the house (so I'm rushing this post).  $10 billion invested in electric power is verifiably about 10,000MW added to the available power (or 3X the current capacity). I also see that the moves to clean up the port processes, restructure government spending towards investment, and institute a managed Sovereign Wealth Fund, are part of what we need for financial health.  I'm pretty impatient to see some of these changes. 

NIGERIAN SOCIETY IN 2012
1. Internet everywhere.
2. Lower birthrate (MAGIC NUMBER THREE)
3. Cool agric.  For example, where are the ads in the Tuesday Guardian newspaper calling graduates to market agric commodities or work in food processing?  Where are the Agric Chic fashion shows?  We do have a few cool things - the agric loan guarantees, the role models in agric-related business...we just need more sexiness around agric in general. 

 
Pics: AGRIC CHIC Sketches
 
POLITICAL
Jail Jail Jail - self-explanatory.  Gangsters abound because there seems to be no punishment. 
Cut cut cut - end the jumbo pay.  make politics just a normal-paid job. 
Local government - Every Nigerian 12 years and up should answer two questions: where is my local government?  Do we have a monthly Local Government meeting? 

THE NEXT DIVERSION
Naturally, the Presidency will revive the debate on tenure elongation.  No, Mr. President, you can not extend your own tenure.  A simple fact, really, but you can waste time trying.  Let's fix electric power and MAYBE talk re-election.  Otherwise, 1245 days to go.  You can do it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The tech bubble is not a bubble

by James Altucher for TechCrunch.com 
There’s no bubble 2.0.
And while I’m at it: there was never a bubble 1.0.
Let me explain.
A bubble occurs when an asset moves up today only because it moved up yesterday. Think about it. I’m not going to define it more than that.

The Internet went up in 1999 because now, 12 years later, everyone on the planet uses the Internet. And many Internet 1.0 companies: Ebay, Amazon, let’s throw in Apple, lets even throw in Google although it was late to the game, and a slew of others, are at all-time highs in value and create tens of billions in earnings. Because they are real.

Why are they at all-time highs? Because everyone was right about the Internet. Everyone did eventually start using it. It did make commerce easier throughout the world. It did make corporate IT easier. It did allow companies to fire parts of their workforce because they are now replaced by easy to use technology (the real reason for the now probably permanent 8-9% unemployment we have: every corporation used 2008-9 as an excuse to fire the dead weight the Internet created in their workforce. I’ve had Fortune 100 CEOs admit this to me: “well, everyone was firing people. So finally we were able to.”) Just like when cars appeared we were able to fire all the people who rode horses.

Internet usage went from 30 million people to 2 billion people worldwide. That’s not a bubble. Groupon, no matter what you read about their stock, their moat, their people, their competition, their model (“its a coupon business”), is the fastest growing company in revenues in world history and it started in November, 2008.
Zynga is another one of the fastest growing companies in world history.
Facebook has 800 million users and is slowly but surely figuring out how to extract $2-$3 a year from every customer (which will give it a value of about $100 billion).
Facebook is a mini-Internet. It’s an organized Internet. We’ve all moved our “home pages” to be our “Facebook pages”. Companies flash their Facebook page on their commercials now instead of their own websites.

So imagine the value of the entire Internet. Discount it just a little. That’s Facebook. Or maybe Facebook + Twitter + Google. And then everyone who builds tools to service those behemoths. That’s dot-com 2.0. It’s not a bubble.
So why does everyone call dot-com 1.0 a bubble? Wasn’t it? Wasn’t there pets.com? And a sock puppet?
A venture capitalist might invest in 20 companies. 10 might be zeros. 5 might be losses. 3 might be small wins. One or two might be home runs. That’s different from the normal everyday investor portfolio where everyone expects all of their stocks to go up.
In 1999-2000, the public was given the chance to have a venture capitalist-style portfolio. It didn’t work. And in anger it was called a “bubble” and then a “bust”. Tulips! they said. Tulips don’t have $80 billion of cash in the bank like Apple does. Tulips never had $43 billion in revenues like Amazon does.

Venture capitalists will wait five to ten years for their payoff. The average investing public will wait five to ten minutes or it’s a bubble. Again: the dream came true: the Internet actually did bloom to billions of users. That’s not a tulip garden.

Read the entire article: Facebook Shareholders Suck…(Or, Why This Is Not Bubble 2.0) by James Altucher for Techcrunch.com

Thursday, December 08, 2011

23401 is the zip code for Lagos State in Nigeria

My debit card did not work online until I used 23401 as my zip code.  That's like an electronic/credit card; it's labelled Visa, but issued by a Nigerian bank.

Previously, the specialized customer care from the bank had suggested many reasons why my address wasn't working, but yesterday I found out that Lagos indeed has a five-digit zip code or postcode.  Presumably, other cities/states in the country have 234-something-something too, but good luck finding those since the NIPOST utility at nigeriapostcodes.com is down (domain name expired).

This postal code issue has confused many Nigerian people, and I suffered so much trying to use my very super special card online until I had to beg my sister and my mother and transfer money just before deadline.
Then I found out this new secret zipcode, and I have just made a purchase online with it, no problem at all.

Although they couldn't get the zip code right, the customer service (phone number at the back of your card) helped me figure out which of my many possible addresses (work, shack, parents', other job, ...) I had entered.  I will inform them about this blind spot of theirs.  If you have trouble with your own card, phone the number; for once customer service in Nigeria really tried to be helpful. 

Welcome to the late 20th century, brethren. 

ADDITIONAL POSTCODES
Lagos State 23401
Oyo State 23402
FCT (Abuja) 23409
Maybe the last two digits are from the telephone area code?  (See Nigeria local area codes here)

Advertisement: Read my books.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Six Questions with Chude Jideonwo

Chude Jideonwo is very young. He attended Nigerian Law School, and has become an important entrepreneur in media and related services. Some of the things he has been involved in: writing for magazines, hosting TV shows, running a media company, being a part of EnoughisEnough, using facebook then twitter A LOT, co-founding The Future Nigeria awards, speaking up at the Goodluck Jonathan youth lunch, running a serious PR firm, publishing Y! one of my top-two magazines, being an employer, writing newspaper editorials, marching on Abuja with the youth in March 2010, organizing workshops on social media, ... I admire the guy. Soooo...

I asked him a few questions in my first interview ever:

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
CJ: Honestly in 5 years, I expect to have built a business to be proud of. I look at people like Aliko Dangote and Fola Adeola and I just keep going. These are iconic men so I am by no means comparing myself with them; I am simply inspired by them.
The urgent need to create value, and a brand that will change the way Nigerians access the media – to provoke thought and to inspire action and growth – drives me daily. I am resolutely convinced that the more entrepreneurs our country has, the more its capacity to regenerate itself.
In 5 years, I’d have reached my 30 mark, build a system that can grow and survive outside of me, and move on to the next stage of value creation.

2. Tell upnaira readers four things that make you indescribably happy (PG version o!)
CJ:
A woman I love.
To produce a magazine edition that wows.
Great food!
Great, over-achieving staff.
3. Describe your business philosophy in three words
CJ: Humaneness. Relentlessness. Integrity.


4. Name your two biggest crushes ever :)
CJ: I can’t even lie 0 – I have a crush on Studio 53 presenter Eku Edewor (and there’s a line of people who will roll their eyes when they see this!).
And Angelina Jolie – I can look at her for days!: )


5. Where did you learn to take the initiative and "just do it?"
CJ: I honestly don’t know – I think some people are made that way. In my 5 years or so of being a manager or employer I have seen people who are amazing and competent but who are just not driven and don’t take initiative by themselves – as staff, partners etc. And I don’t take too much offense, because no one taught me. I just knew to achieve the things I want to achieve there’s no choice. Recently I have begun to read biographies, and to find out that its really the spirit that drives any kind of leap.

6. How can more Africans learn to be problem-solvers?
CJ: Tosin honestly I have no idea. But I will hazard a guess. We need more Aliko Dangotes and Mo Ibrahims. People who show Africans the way the Henry Fords and the Rockerfellers showed the Americans it is possible. That way we learn that we have the capacity to do great things. We sorely need inspiration – practical examples.

You're welcome.  

From Chude's profile at RED:
A lawyer and award-winning journalist, Chude has, for more than ten years, garnered key experience in all forms of traditional and new media and has worked as a communication professional with blue chips including the Nigeria LNG, Virgin Nigeria and Bank PHB’s The Apprentice Africa.
Also known as a development expert especially with regard to the youth demographic, in 2007, he was selected as one of 101 Young African Leaders by the African Business Forum; in 2009, he was selected for the US Government’s International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP); in May 2010, he was selected for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative’s (NLI) Future Leaders Fellowship. In May 2011 he was appointed a member of the awards committee for the Ford Foundation Jubilee Transparency Award, alongside distinguished Nigerians like Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte and Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah.
He was member of the Editorial Board of NEXT Newspapers, is the youngest recipient of the Nigeria Media Merit Award, and is concluding a Masters programme in Media and Communication at the prestigious Pan-African University, Lagos.
He is Managing Partner at RED, and oversees Creative, Content and Communication.

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