Saturday, December 29, 2012

Born Rich, a film by Jamie Johnson

Born rich was described as a documentary on the children of the insanely rich, directed by one of their own, Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson. - Wikipedia: Born Rich
You'll be glued to your screen, just watch.
Jamie Johnson also made a documentary film titled The One Percent, and wrote a (hilarious) column for Vanity Fair.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Who has tried wheat-cassava bread?

I bought this UTC wheat loaf that I thought was "cassava bread."  Not.  I hear Butterfield also makes the same.  I read somewhere too that the smaller bakers have not been as successful in integrating cassava into their bread.  Anyway, I'm still looking forward to try it; I mean, I've eaten potato bread, banana bread, gourmet zucchini bread, ... why not garri bread :D

I'm looking forward to working with the Ministry of Agriculture to publicize the successes and foster more success down-the-line.  Here is part of their progress report from the last sure and steady pdf:

The transformation agenda sets out to create over 3.5 million jobs in the agricultural sector, from rice, cassava, sorghum, cocoa and cotton value chains, with many more jobs to come from other value chains under implementation. 
The agenda aims to provide over 300 Billion Naira (US$ 2 billion) of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers. 
Over 60 Billion Naira (US$ 380 million) is to be injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour. 
In total, the agricultural transformation agenda will add 20 million metric tons to domestic food supply by 2015, including rice (2 million metric tons), cassava (17 million metric tons) and Sorghum (1 million metric tons).

Cassava Transformation:
The goal of the cassava transformation programme is to turn Nigeria, the largest producer of cassava in the world, into the largest processors of cassava in the world.
Government is aggressively expanding markets for cassava, through the development of high quality cassava flour to substitute for up to 40% of wheat imports, dried cassava chips, native and modified starch, high fructose cassava syrup and ethanol.

• Developed 40% substitution of cassava flour for wheat flour, through collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. This is the first time such a level of substitution will be achieved.
• Mr President directed on November 30, 2011 that the cassava flour bread be commercialized. Within 90 days, the commercialization was successfully achieved in February 2012 when UTC, the largest corporate baker of bread, introduced the cassava flour bread, with 20% cassava flour substitution for wheat flour. The feat was repeated in April 2012 when Butterfield, another large corporate bakery, introduced its 20% high quality cassava flour bread. Cassava Bread is 60% of the cost of Wheat Bread.
• Two large scale cassava processing plants (Thai Farms and DATCO) which were at the brink of collapse when the flour millers in Nigeria stopped buying cassava flour before the advent of this Administration, are back in business and have doubled their capacity to over 22,000 MT.
• 153 SME processors of high quality cassava flour, all of which had collapsed when flour mills stopped buying cassava flour, before this Administration, were fully audited and are being upgraded to ramp up cassava flour production. Total high quality cassava flour production now at 110,000MT, from the SMEs.
• Secured a total of 2.2 million MT of dried cassava chips exports to China. This amount is 200,000MT greater than our 2015 projected plan. Exports of dried cassava chips to China, for the first 1 million MT, started in July 2012. This will earn Nigeria $136 Million annually and represents the first time Nigeria will achieve commercial scale exports of dried cassava chips.
• Held a highly successful agribusiness investment forum in the US in April 2012. Successfully secured $ 6 Billion investment commitment from a large US investor for ethanol production. Four ethanol plants will be established, 2 in the North using sugar cane (a total of 200,000 ha) and in the south using cassava (a total of 150,000 ha). Feasibility is being completed and expected to break ground on first ethanol plant in 2013 with a 2015 completion date.
• Secured financing of over $ 200 million from the China Exim Bank for the procurement and installation of 18 large scale industrial cassava flour processing plants, with capacity of 1.3 Million MT of High Quality Cassava Flour, in place within 18 months. Processing plants to be run and owned by the private sector. The 18 plants will produce 1.3 million MT of high quality cassava flour and meet all of Nigeria’s cassava flour need for up to 40% substitution for wheat flour.
• The National Root Crops Research Institute released 3 Pro-Vitamin A varieties, the first in Africa to develop and release cassava varieties with Vitamin A.

Cassava_based industry in Nigeria
More on all this transformation stuff here: Sure And Steady Nigeria report

Fixing the budget is easy if we BudgIT

At , IT firm BudgIT lets you click and cut sections of the budget and design your own version of the national budget.  Make sure you share the eye-catching graphs and charts. 

 As suggested in a previous post, we can allow staff of each ministry, department, or agency (MDA) make budget reviews - sent to a confidential address - and when the streamlining is implemented, staff get paid significantly more for saving us all money.  

One could imagine civil servants finally being able to report their thieving bosses, a finance officer revealing how much of the budget request is fictitious, speaking out to cut down excessive entitlements, and a small fraction of the recovered money going back to supplement the wages e.g. with a budget savings bonus. 

I will like to see the budget platform at broadened to allow agency-by-agency budget reviews for each budget item, and a robust, easy-to-use, whistle-blower platform e.g. lets you put in a written report with supporting images and documents.  Then of course, it should be flexible, so that other countries, states, companies, and entities can use it for transparent budgeting. 

Progress: In this land of "Nigerian time", it was amazing, great, that the 2013 budget was presented on time, in late 2012.
Next Goal: To have a more rational budget for 2014 that is aligned with our growth and development goals. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Next Level

What do you want to do with your life?
I love 43things.  I've been using it for years.
Especially now as a new year, a new chapter, approaches, it's a good time to state some new dreams of yours.  I use the app at for this purpose.  It's good for voicing and tracking your goals and cheering other people...and you don't have to be public if you don't want to be.

43things, and the counterpart travel site 43places, remind me how small the world is: just a village of 6-7 thousand million people.   Just a village of 40 to 50 Nigerias lol.  Big village.

Happy New Year, everyone. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Case studies in electric power utility management

This series from Der Spiegel International is utterly fascinating. 

German Energy Agency Chief: 'We'll Need Conventional Power Plants until 2050'

SPIEGEL ONLINE - November 15, 2012 German Energy Agency Chief: 'We'll Need Conventional Power Plants until 2050'Stephan Kohler, the head of the German Energy Agency, says the country must act smarter and more realistically in its transition to renewable energy. The "feel-good" subsidies for locally produced wind and solar power have had unintended consequences, he says, and the environmental movement is often part of the problem. more... Forum ]

Quagmire in the Sahara: Desertec's Promise of Solar Power for Europe Fades

SPIEGEL ONLINE - November 13, 2012 Quagmire in the Sahara: Desertec's Promise of Solar Power for Europe FadesAs recently as three years ago, many thought that it was only a matter of time before solar thermal plants in North Africa supplied a significant portion of Europe's energy needs. But Desertec has hit a road block. Industrial backers are jumping ship, political will is tepid and a key pilot project has suddenly stalled. By Joel Stonington more... Forum ]

The High Price of Clean Energy: Tax Breaks and Subsidies for Industry Divide Germans

SPIEGEL ONLINE - October 26, 2012 The High Price of Clean Energy: Tax Breaks and Subsidies for Industry Divide GermansMajor industry is being spared of the costs relating to Germany's expensive shift from nuclear to green energies. The burden is being placed on small and medium-sized business as well as German consumers, who pay the second highest price for electricity in Europe. Resentment is starting to grow. By Jörg Schindler and Gerald Traufetter more...

Rising Energy Prices: Germans Grow Wary of Switch to Renewables

SPIEGEL ONLINE - October 15, 2012 Rising Energy Prices: Germans Grow Wary of Switch to RenewablesGermany's switch to renewable energies is driving up electricity bills across the country, with a green technology surcharge set to rise by nearly 50 percent next year. With frustration over the high price tag, it promises to become a key issue in next year's election campaign. more...


Merkel's Blackout: German Energy Plan Plagued by Lack of Progress

SPIEGEL ONLINE - October 10, 2012 Germany plans to abandon nuclear power by 2022, but its government hasn't been doing enough to ensure that the project succeeds. Needed infrastructure and technology is lacking, and coordination is a mess. Meanwhile, weary consumers are paying more for electricity, and the supply is in jeopardy. By SPIEGEL Staff more... Forum ]

Flexible Fossils: A New Role for Coal in German Energy Revolution

SPIEGEL ONLINE - September 07, 2012 Flexible Fossils: A New Role for Coal in German Energy RevolutionOne of the biggest challenges of Germany's ambitious energy revolution is the fact that renewables such as wind and solar are subject to large fluctuations in output. Coal has long been considered their dirty alternative, but a new generation of power plants may herald a glowing future for the fossil fuel. By Stefan Schultz more... Forum ]

Find more here:

Friday, December 07, 2012

Can reduced government spending enhance our economy?

A few approaches to answering this good question:

Anti-corruption - At this time, we need to reduce the financial reward for political officeholders to discourage "do-or-die" politics and perhaps encourage eggheads like me ;)

Economic growth - Produce more (consume less?) is the current imperative.  To produce more, we need to get infrastructure up, and rent-seeking down.  We must get more small-chunks of resources to productive hands, and disperse the glut of resources at the center (mostly from oil receipts).  This is understood but implementation is slooow.

Electricity - If we would get electric power provision right, we would spend less next year on diesel, generators, transport, communications, health and so on.  Ok, this has little to do with reduced government spending, but it's so important for our economic growth that I had to sneak it in.

Inflated budgets - Study the details of the budgets proposed for various agencies, ministries, etc.  Clearly most are overbudgeting: multiple requests for the same items, wage bills that can't possibly be explained by multiplying the small take-home pay by the number of staff, ... and other inconsistencies.  Why?  And what is the way forward?  Can we encourage these units to review their budgets, come up with new numbers, and maybe reward the rank-and-file staff with extra pay from the savings?  We could create a dropbox for such reviews.

Nine zeros is a billion. I can hear you say "What the hell is the National Judicial Council"

Proven unproductive sectors - a lot of the civil service and political class is unproductive, in the sense that their work has little positive effect on society.  Here are some of the ways this is so:

- Some of the staff doesn't exist i.e. ghost workers

- Some of the staff shouldn't exist e.g. We pay a stupendous pension to the families, multiple widows, and children of former military rulers and other presidents, and governors.  Why? Should they not also work?

- Some of the staff is actually anti-productive e.g. creating redtape and harassing citizens so as to collect bribes.  We ought to put such people in jail.  Instead we keep paying them to further destroy the lives of Nigerians.  For example, multinational wants to set up shop in Nigeria, you refuse unless you (not your people) can get a cut.  God will punish you.  You throw away qualified resumes sent to your boss so that you can sell the open position or give it to your cousin. 

- Where work is done, some of it is unproductive e.g. a workday that consists mostly of the effort to groom oneself, take stressful transportation methods, then settle in to gossip and or power-seeking at the office before heading back home.  It does not add anything to the world, except pollution maybe.  A legislator that can't or won't consider policy that would move the country forward but would travel all over for training (read sightseeing), seat-warming at high-tables, oversight functions like inspection of construction projects.

- A lot of the staff is good-for-nothing on the job, since the process of getting the job doesn't emphasize competence e.g. Last-minute money-sharing will get you to the National Assembly.  Being somebody's cousin will make you their paid assistant.  

- Some of the staff is redundant.  Because they do not have the necessary skills, additional skilled staff has been hired to get the job done.  There must be a stylish and humane and supportive way of either retraining them or relieving them of their duties maybe with a severance package and a business loan or school loan.

Sharing the pain -  Before the protests against subsidy removal this January, the president announced a move to cut salaries in government.  If we have given up our fuel subsidies and are making do with less, where is the matching contribution from the ruling class? How is it that they carry on wasting, carry on being overpaid, carry on receiving multiple "official" vehicles, while we are sacrificing for the future? 

Summary: Some belt-tightening may have occurred in the Nigerian government, but with a 70-30 allocation between recurrent and investment spending, the situation is far from satisfactory.  Government spending needs to be further reduced in favour of more productive spending. 

Read more:
- Budget Proposals at the Budget Office, Federal Ministry of Finance, Nigeria
- Nigeria needs to reduce rent-seeking (search result includes Udah and Obguagwu 2011, Coolidge and Ackerman World bank)
- Jonathan cuts salaries of government officials by 25% (reported January 7 2012).  He said in his speech: For the year 2012, the basic salaries of all political office holders in the Executive arm of government will be reduced by 25%. Government is also currently reviewing the number of committees, commissions and parastatals with overlapping responsibilities. The Report on this will be submitted shortly and the recommendations will be promptly implemented. In the meantime, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies must reduce their overhead expenses.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

NES 18: Deregulation, Cost of Governance, and Nigeria's Economic Prospects

The NESG is holding its 18th annual summit in Abuja (December 3-5, 2012)

Day One Intro:
President Goodluck Jonathan will lead the presidential policy dialogue at the opening session of the 18th summit and continue the frank and open interaction...
H.E, Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan will share the Pakistan experience on deregulation in a keynote address during the presidential policy dialogue.

Day One Info:

I'm not there, but here are highlights - Tony Elumelu's tweets, and a burning question - will Nigeria actually make it to the top 20 of world economies by 2020, or will we get stuck at say #27 ?

Coming Up:
  • Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister of the Economy will lead the Economic Management team in a dialogue on 'Economic Transformation through Deregulation' 
  • Governor Sanusi of Nigeria's Central Bank will lead the session with Financial Regulators on 'Achieving financial inclusion for Nigeria'. 
  • A special plenary on the PIB and the future of Nigeria's oil industry will be led by top public and private sector stakeholders. 
  • A conversation with young Nigerians on the state of the nation will take place during the Emerging leaders Forum** 
  • The newly introduced Civil Societies Forum will seek to create a framework for collaborative advocacy on critical policy issues among civil society organizations. 
  • A Legislators' Forum underscores our determination to engage our elected representatives on their role in the attainment of key national developmental objectives.
** The Emerging Leaders Forum will have Audu Maikori, Nmachi Jidenma, Toyosi Akerele, and others.
I was on the emerging leaders panel at NES#16 - all I can say is hope it's counted. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Converting between Alexa rank and number of site visitors

I think there is a weirdly linear (in a log-log sense) relationship between the visitor count (number of monthly visitors) and the global Alexa rank of a website.
This is called a power law.
It is easy enough to remember - a little like Moore's law, or Ohm's law :)
Relationship between Alexa rank and monthly visitors
It implies that to improve your ranking by a factor of 10, you need 10 times the visitors.
To halve your ranking, double the visitor count.  
If you dropped to 1/3 of your usual site visitors, your new ranking will be old ranking x three.
And so on.

Here's the data I used:

Site %Traffic Reach Est. Monthly Visitors* Alexa rank
yahoo  20 1000000000 4
craigslist  1.5 75000000 42
meetup 0.2 10000000 465
nairaland 0.08 4000000 1385
jobberman 0.02 1000000 4653
cp-africa 0.004 200000 44206
wemabank  0.00028 14000 557445

*The monthly visitors numbers are estimated by assuming jobberman has 1million visitors per month (I think that corresponds to a ranking around 5k) and that the traffic reach percentage (data given by alexa for each site) is simply number of visitors for this site / a fixed number corresponding to all traffic.  That is, take the traffic to be proportional to the traffic reach percentage.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Henry Ford, the great industrialist

In 1891, Ford (born 1863) became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. After his promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893, he had enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on gasoline engines. These experiments culminated in 1896 with the completion of a self-propelled vehicle which he named the Ford Quadricycle. He test-drove it on June 4. After various test-drives, Ford brainstormed ways to improve the Quadricycle.

Also in 1896, Ford attended a meeting of Edison executives, where he was introduced to Thomas Edison. Edison approved of Ford's automobile experimentation. Encouraged by Edison, Ford designed and built a second vehicle, completing it in 1898.

Backed by the capital of Detroit lumber baron William H. Murphy, Ford resigned from the Edison Company and founded the Detroit Automobile Company on August 5, 1899.  However, the automobiles produced were of a lower quality and higher price than Ford wanted. Ultimately, the company was not successful and was dissolved in January 1901.

 With the help of C. Harold Wills, Ford designed, built, and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile in October 1901. With this success, Murphy and other stockholders in the Detroit Automobile Company formed the Henry Ford Company on November 30, 1901, with Ford as chief engineer.

In 1902, Murphy brought in Henry M. Leland as a consultant; Ford, in response, left the company bearing his name. With Ford gone, Murphy renamed the company the Cadillac Automobile Company.

Teaming up with former racing cyclist Tom Cooper, Ford also produced the 80+ horsepower racer "999" which Barney Oldfield was to drive to victory in a race in October 1902. Ford received the backing of an old acquaintance, Alexander Y. Malcomson, a Detroit-area coal dealer. They formed a partnership, "Ford & Malcomson, Ltd." to manufacture automobiles.
Image: Ford Assembly Line

Ford went to work designing an inexpensive automobile, and the duo leased a factory and contracted with a machine shop owned by John and Horace E. Dodge to supply over $160,000 in parts.  Sales were slow, and a crisis arose when the Dodge brothers demanded payment for their first shipment.

Source: Wikipedia (Henry Ford)

In response, Malcomson brought in another group of investors and convinced the Dodge Brothers to accept a portion of the new company.  Ford & Malcomson was reincorporated as the Ford Motor Company on June 16, 1903, with $28,000 capital. The original investors included Ford and Malcomson, the Dodge brothers, Malcomson's uncle John S. Gray, Malcolmson's secretary James Couzens, and two of Malcomson's lawyers, John W. Anderson and Horace Rackham.

Ford then demonstrated a newly-designed car on the ice of Lake St. Clair, driving 1 mile (1.6 km) in 39.4 seconds and setting a new land speed record at 91.3 miles per hour (147.0 km/h). Convinced by this success, the race driver Barney Oldfield, who named this new Ford model "999" in honor of the fastest locomotive of the day, took the car around the country, making the Ford brand known throughout the United States. Ford also was one of the early backers of the Indianapolis 500.

Read More: Wikipedia (Henry Ford)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Poverty and women

Women earn less.  Women do a lot of unpaid labour.  Men enjoy a lot of unpaid labour.  There are few women at the highest-earning levels.   Many boards should have more women.  Many marriages do not help women as much as they help men.  For instance, most homes in Nigeria are owned by the men, and not co-owned by the women. 

Here is the US data on women's earnings:
The poverty class is 60% female.  The wealthy end is about 30% female.  OK. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Battle time in transformation land

Nigeria has come a long way from April when I was frustrated about Delays in Power, the Petroleum industry bill, even the systems of business grants and buses that were promised as a palliative measure after the partial roll-back of subsidies on fuel importation.  We've seen the buses, we're glad about YouWIN, but there are still some problem spots:

Power - As at September, and even until now, the use of available power infrastructure was improved such that many homes + businesses started getting the highest level of "nepa-on" that they've seen in years.  This is a  fantastic development that gives us hope that we can complete the journey in electric power provision.  Note that the improvement so far - from over 2,000 to around 4,000 MW on a max capacity of 5 or 6 thousand - is little compared to what we are really hunting for (in the tens of thousands).
Power Privatization progress is that
1. the generation companies finally got new owners / operators (except for Afam, connected to the resignation of the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji)
2. The preferred bidders for the distribution companies have been announced (some bidders complained about the process, but it seems they don't really have a case)
3. the transmission company got new management three months ago, but on paper only.  Business Day reports reveal vested anti-privatization interests in the upper ranks of the privatization process, if that makes any sense.
This is probably why the Minister of State for Power (not to be confused with Minister of Power, still a vacant seat) was moved to the Niger Delta portfolio, and a woman, Zainab Kuchi, erstwhile Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, brought to replace him.
Current Battlepoint: Install Manitoba as an independent manager of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, that is free to apply its considerable technical base in the growth and management of Nigeria's electric power industry.
If this fails, it may be "cheaper" for the country to allow/license private concerns to develop new transmission infrastructure (natural monopoly or not; there are situations in which such redundancy is normal) and perhaps to weaken the need for the transmission company by allowing local/regional power projects. 

Security - Our people are still being killed in the name of Boko Haram.  A recent study highlighted that the strong-arm response of the military is making the problem worse.  Well, we learn everyday.  I know that Nigeria will use this feedback to work on ensuring our security. 
Current Battlepoints: Ok this one is not a battle, it may need a long-term strategy.

Petroleum - After the subsidy protests, there were four panels set up, including one charged with speeding up the passage of the PIB.  Poor bill, it is being debated still.
Now it turns out that the other three panels had their reports hidden/junked for months, then one was leaked, and now finally the reports will be seen by the President.  It will be fantastic if the reforms they suggest can be taken seriously.
I know that there are political reasons why some may not want these common-sense reforms. For example, in the absence of an alternative system for funding political parties and campaigns, a transparent petroleum revenues account means you're killing the funding for one party.  Many are focused on the idea that the reforms would dilute the power of the individual who holds the Minister of Power portfolio.  But clearly you can't be Minister of Power forever, so there must be a higher reason, right?    
At any rate, I would advocate that we favour light over darkness.  Let's not cover up the cover-ups.  Let us instead work through the issues and find ways to truly make Nigeria progress and prosper.
Current Battlepoints: Finalize the petroleum industry laws so that the players know what's up. 

Power, again: What the hell is happening in Lekki?  On the one hand, they probably demand a lot of power per person.  On the other hand, why are they not getting improved power supply in Lekki of all places?  My guess is that high corruption is taking place to ensure that Lekki residents continue to spend on generators and fuel.  Somebody needs to be fired, but who?
What we want

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2 Days to Be Counted..VOTE FOR WENNOVATION

You have two days to vote

Wennovation Hub is 1 of 11 Finalists at the Ashoka/SAP Power of Change Competition. We hope you're rooting for us!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pie Gates and Flog Lance

Remember Pie Gates?
It's this little video-game from the nineties where you click to smack Bill Gates in the face with a pie - splat!  Proven stress reliever... 
Screenshot of the classic Pie Bill Gates game from
Then he started to give his money away through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Nowadays, everybody loves Bill.
It is important to be nice, not just rich, I think.  

Meanwhile, some dude named Lance Armstrong has built a stellar career as a doping cyclist.  Now that he's been exposed, he has to give up all his Tour de France titles.
I propose a video-game to vent our anger at cheating assholes like him.  Call it Flog Lance

Meanwhile, here is a modern version of pie gates, lol, in case you've moved on from Windows 95.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Privatizing electric power generating companies

The preferred bidders for the five state power plants are : 
Transnational Corp. for the 947- megawatt Ughelli power station.
China Machinery Engineering Corp. (leading a group of companies) for the Sapele plant.
Amperion Power Distribution Ltd. for the Geregu plant.
Mainstream Energy Solutions Ltd. the Kainji hydro plant.
North-South Power Co. Ltd. for the Shiroro hydro power plant.
Kainji Dam

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is selling majority stakes in power plants.
The country will also let private investors buy as much as 70 percent of 11 distribution companies spun out of the former state-owned utility NEPA/PHCN.

Read More at Bloomberg - Nigeria names winning bidders for five state power plants.
More photographs of Kainji hydroelectric power site at skyscrapercity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

YouWIN is back

The previous installment of Federal Government grants program YouWIN yielded 1,200 big winners of N1m - N10m. Winners included the six winners of the presidential award (one from each zone):

Bimlack Jimon (NE), a graduate of geology with 1,000 palm trees and 26 employees. 
Robinson Omorogiuwa (SE) is a school proprietor with 49 personnel and hopes to use the grant to build more class rooms. 
Mbetobong Umoefih (SS) with 14 workers and an annual turnover of N7 million, 

Muritala Osuolale Bello (SW) has an IT company, Afrigold, with five employees and plans to employ 100 more. 
Mohammed Aminu (NW) has eight members of staff and hopes to employ 80 more in a computer-training business 
Gbenga Akin Makinde (NC) also into IT and hopes to increase his staff strength from 32 to 120.  

Source: 13 April 2012 - Jonathan says era of Godfathers in appointments is over

This time, YouWIN is women-only. Applications close on OCTOBER 14, this is the deadline for you to apply online with your business plan and other information.
What is YouWIN - Nigeria Grants
 Start planning now, and you could get grant money to grow as a Nigerian entrepreneur.  Here are some business ideas.  Good luck. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dead airline

Air Nigeria was beautiful, but now it has fainted like Virgin Nigeria before it.

Air Nigeria
But what beautiful design on the aircraft, it made my heart soar to see it in the sky above the expressway in Ikeja, Lagos.  The company management has suspended all flights and operations, and the picturesque eagle may fly no more.  Well, there may yet be a rescue. 
Previously, Richard Branson (Founder/CEO of Virgin) dumped the Virgin Nigeria effort.  Was it not a lovely dream?  The cool simplicity of the Virgin brand, serving the coolest, blackest market in the world.  It failed, and Richard Branson said Never Again would he attempt to do business in Nigeria because of the greed of the politicians.
Now, Jimoh Ibrahim (CEO of AirNigeria) blames "staff disloyalty and weak business environment" for the asphyxiation of his company.
Tell me about staff disloyalty!
A few years ago flying Virgin, I had to fend off this weasly porter at the luggage check-in counter.  He was desperate to let me carry luggage over the allowed weight.  He would discount the fee, you understand?  Jeez, I don't want to pay you.  I want to pay the AIRLINE, idiot!  And he had actually doubled the excess luggage weight in the first place.  Really, this employee was ruining the company that was trying to feed him.
Someone observed that this was why planes around here would sometimes "fall from the sky."  

A brief history of Air Nigeria (Source: , September 14, 2012)
AirNigeria Virgin Airlines

Air Nigeria History

Air Nigeria, (formerly Virgin Nigeria) was established in 2004 when the Federal Government of Nigeria and Virgin Atlantic Airways signed a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding (MMU) that gave birth to the airline. Air Nigeria, then trading as Virgin Nigeria Airways started operating on 28th June, 2005 with flights to London Heathrow, Johannesburg as well as regional and domestic flights using Airbus A340-300 and A320-200 aircrafts. The airline quickly endeared itself in the minds of consumers as a result of its excellent customer service delivery and safety standards (being the first West African carrier listed on IOSA directory).
Air Nigeria currently operates domestic and regional flights that cut across 16 locations in Nigeria and in the West and Central African region. From its operational base at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, Air Nigeria operates to  Owerri, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Abuja, Kano and Sokoto on the domestic routes while it also operates to Brazzaville, Accra, Douala, Dakar, Monrovia, Cotonou, Banjul, Libreville, Sao Tome and Abidjan with further plans to extend services to more African destinations, Europe, Asia and America. Air Nigeria is currently pursuing its new focus and vision to dominate the domestic and regional markets.
Following the airlines’ acquisition by Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim of the NICON Group in April 2010, the airline is vigorously pursuing its vision of being the leading African airline with exceptional travel experience as well as making Lagos, a major hub in the sub-Saharan region.  Air Nigeria has within a space of five months, progressively embarked on an ambitious plan of fleet growth that now accounts for the actualization of its short term plan of having 10 aircrafts in its fleet before the end of 2010.
The airline is 100% e-ticketing compliant across her network and is the first Nigerian airline and first in West Africa to be listed on the IOSA Directory as it adheres strictly to the International Civil Aviations Organization’s safety regulations and standards. Its registration on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry places it at par with the best airlines in the world having shown its commitment and demonstration to airline safety standards
Air Nigeria since inception, has always been in the vanguard of constantly reviewing its product offering to meet the demands of passengers. It offers a frequent flyer programme known as eagleflier® that seeks to reward passenger loyalty.
Air Nigeria continually strives to offer its passengers a unique customer experience from the point of first contact and on until they disembark from their flights. Both English and French speaking passengers’ needs are catered for as Air Nigeria’s crew are well trained to handle such needs.
That's all for now. Next up, I may comment on the new notes (controversy over 5000naira bill), and more exciting, a rush of funds to the stock market. Read, Share, and consider writing your thoughts - it's a group blog after all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Back to reality?

Could the internet Honeymoon be ending?

Internet, Please don't die on me.

Oh, there's some life
Today's internet adventure.  Well, August was a good month.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beauty is...

August 2012 in Nigeria: Internet heaven
Fast internet, even at 5pm on a Tuesday.

What is beauty to you?  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spend it!

The other day, FashionTV was on and on about de Grisogono.  It's a luxury brand for fashion jewelry, heavy on goods for the rich and aspirational.  Their parties and PR material are fun to watch.  Enjoy.

FashionTV just now played Oliver Twist, by Nigerian musician D'Banj.  All I have to say is follow your dream.  D'Banj is doing that.

If you are not (yet) in dG spending mode, it's cool:  last week I took my old watches to a shop down the street and got cool new straps and batteries.  Way to bring them back to new, improved, life.  It's like being my own watch designer :)

Obviously, Nigeria is doing design right, with big and growing international fashion shows sharing our stuff to the world.  Not that we need the world's approval.  Nigerians are just that fashionable.

Who loves FashionTV? (and why)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Every Saturday at 1pm

Business Hour is on Classic FM 97.3 (Nigeria) and also live online at every Saturday at 1pm local time.

The host is Martin Udogie, founder and publisher of BottomLine newsletter.  From his blogger profile, Martin has a degree in business and is a certified professional accountant. He is the founder of BottomLINE, a research and survey-based monthly business and career newsletter. His career spans banking and consulting, beginning with Citibank Nigeria. He later held senior management positions in other banks. At Andersen Consulting, now Accenture, he was a senior strategy consultant delivering various enterprise transformation solutions.
Yeah, that's your host!

(Visit martin.udogie on facebook, @udogie on twitter)
BottomLINE, since the 90s

Previous guests on Business Hour:

Omobola Johnson: former Country Managing Director of Accenture and current Minister of ICT.

Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru: past Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)

Bismarck Rewane: CEO at Financial Derivatives Company, Nigeria

Kayode Fahm: whizkid, former trader at Goldman Sachs, now motivational speaker, classical guitarist and martial artist.

Nwanze Okidegbe: Chief Economic Adviser to the President of Nigeria

Reuben Abati: Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity

Leo Stan Ekeh: Chairman of Zinox Technologies Group

Wale Goodluck: Corporate Services Executive, MTN Nigeria

...did I miss anyone?  

This weekend, a double feature as Steven Evans, CEO Etisalat Nigeria AND Juliet Anammah, Director (Real Sector) Accenture, discuss mobile web etc.   

Friday, July 27, 2012

Change your job without changing your job

Excerpted and edited from Source (Amy Gallo,

Sometimes you know your job just isn't right for you. Maybe you're in the wrong field, don't enjoy the work, feel surrounded by untrustworthy coworkers, or have an incompetent boss.

Most people would tell you to find something that's a better fit. But that may not be possible.

There are many reasons you may not be able to leave: a tough economy, family commitments, or limited opportunities in your field. So what do you do when you're stuck in the wrong job?
Here's how to make the most of an imperfect job situation.  I love these case studies in job redesign: 

Case Study #1: Integrate your interests into the job
Thomas Heffner is an engineer at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, a university-affiliated research center that contracts with the Department of Defense. When Thomas took the job eight years ago, he started off doing purely technical work focusing on radio frequency design and radar analysis. He knew pretty early on that this work wasn't his passion. "So much of what we do is done in isolation. We have classified labs where I might be the only person typing away," he says. About five years into the job, he took on a project manager role, thinking it would allow him to interact more with people. Still most of his tasks — managing schedules, developing contracts, reviewing documentation — involved working alone. Thomas thought about looking for another job, one that suited him better, but he couldn't. He and his wife were having a second child and it wasn't a good time to make a move, especially given the tough job market. Instead, he started taking classes in positive organizational psychology and found ways to integrate this interest into his work. He offered to do presentations on positive organizational scholarship. He first spoke to his own group and then at brown-bag lunches, which were open to everyone in his 5,000-person center. He also approached his company's training and development office about developing a course that uses positive psychology to teach innovation and creativity. The staff in that office encouraged him to create and teach the course. While these new projects are outside of his scope of work, he still does all of the things his project manager role requires. And, he has been able to reduce his administrative workload by delegating certain tasks to his team members who were eager to take them on. "I was able to make room for the things I wanted to do," he says. And it's paid off. "Before I started making changes, my job satisfaction was probably about 3 [on a scale of 1-10]. I'm making small changes; it's nothing earth shattering, but it's now up to a 7." By finding other ways to spend time doing what he enjoys most — learning, teaching others, spending time with people — he believes he can boost that up to an 8 or 9. 

Case Study #2: Start doing the job you want
Nine years ago, when Shammy Khan took a job at a contract manufacturer based in Texas, he knew it wasn't the perfect job for him. The position was in account management and required Shammy to handle routine, day-to-day work related to one of the company's clients. Shammy felt his strengths lied elsewhere. "I was more interested in growing businesses and putting deals together than servicing existing clients," he says. Yet he was spending less than 5% of his time doing that. After a year on the job, he completed a job crafting exercise, which helped him realize that he would be happier focusing more on new customer deals, which he saw others doing full time. He approached his manager and explained why he was the right person to cultivate a potential client in a market — large scale electromechanical integration services — the company had never served. His boss was convinced. Shammy's title and role didn't change but he shifted his attention to developing and acquiring the capabilities needed to win the account. The client is now one of his company's top six customers. Based on that success, Shammy was promoted to vice president and is now focused exclusively on new ventures, strategic markets, and business development.

Here are some tips and tricks before you change your job:
Madam, by Tosin Otitoju
Look at yourself
Whether or not you are satisfied with your job often has to do with your disposition... it's worth asking: Are you just the kind of person who tends to be dissatisfied? This understanding may not make you like your job better, but may make you think twice before you look for a new position.

Find meaning
... looking at your job responsibilities through a different lens. For example, if your position involves menial tasks, try to remember they are stepping stones to a longer term goal and you won't be doing them forever. Or, if you are in a field that is emotionally taxing, like nursing or social work, remind yourself that while  you are tired at the end of the day, you are helping others...

Alter what you do
If you can't change your perspective, you may be able to shift your job responsibilities. And you don't necessarily have to transfer departments or get a promotion to do it... redesign your job to better fit your motives, strengths, and passions. "Some people make radical moves; others make small changes" in how they delegate or schedule their day, Wrzesniewski says. While the former might require approval from your manager, the latter often doesn't. For example, if your most enjoyable task is talking with clients, but you feel buried in paperwork, you might decide to always speak with clients in the morning, so you're energized to get through the drudge work for the rest of the day. Or you might save talking with your clients until the end of the day as a reward.

Change who you interact with
If it's not the work you dislike but the people you work with, you may be able to change that too. Wrzesniewski says she has seen people successfully alter who they interact with on a daily basis to increase job satisfaction. Focus on forging relationships that give you energy, rather than sapping it. Seek out people who can help you do your job better...

Resist complaining
When you're in the wrong job, it can be tempting to moan about it to others. But it's not advisable. "Complaining about your job is a recipe for trouble. You never know how the complaints may be shared with others in the organization," says Spreitzer. Plus you may drag others down with you. If you are unhappy, it's better to focus on what you can change not grumble about what you can't.

Keep options open
The improvements you make to your job situation may make things more tolerable, but you should always be open to the next thing. "You can improve your job but you can also be on the lookout for new opportunities," says Speitzer. Be sure your resume (e.g. your LinkedIn profile) is up to date and that you are continually meeting people in the field you want to be in.

Don't Like Your Job? Change It (Without Quitting), by Amy Gallo ( Harvard Business Review )

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Internet hell

Is this internet connectivity signal dead or alive? 
MTN in Nigeria sucks so bad. 
Past week paid for, with not one minute of usable signal (including overnight), and not only is my money gone, additional money has vamoosed from the SIM card as well.  MTN steals "credit" for fun.

What's strange is that it sustained rates over 1000kb/s on a recent Sunday evening in Lagos Island - completely baffling pleasant surprise. 
On my usual location on Lagos Mainland, MTN internet is dead. 
In Ogun State, dead. 
So I migrated to the island, still dead. 

I tried this arbitrage scam: use a blackberry internet plan on your modem, browse without a data limit - very funny.  I just found a more promising one here. 
I try to unsubscribe for the future: text NO to 21600 - no way. 
And they stole an additional N1000. 

Using a different product right now.  But Ah'll be back!
FOOD, WATER, and INTERNET, are (wo)man's three basic needs. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preserve your eyes while using a blackberry/mobile phone

It's nice to be connected to the internet via Blackberry, but the devices are ugly in my opinion.  Most cell phones are flat and ugly.  And there's the pesky ergonomics to deal with.

Here are some tips I learned:
  • When reading on the internet, check the settings in your browser for "Column view" which may reformat the page so you can read in large font and without scrolling side to side. 
  • When reading from a pdf or image file, the print is often small and/or blurry.  Try the options for "View text" and it may display the text in a nice column of text (again, no side-to-side)
Some easy things to try also:
  • In your internet settings, change the default font size to something comfortable for you.
  • Download a second browser (like Opera) for your device.  It may have better functionality than your native browser.  At any rate, it's nice to have two browsers, then you can use both simultaneously as I always do.  
Save your poor wrist and fingers:
  • Leave that scroll-button and use the SPACE key to go down one page at a time.You'd be surprised how many people scroll line-by-line instead of skipping down page-by-page. 
  • On standard laptop and desktop screens, don't put your mouse over the scroll button and click on it a thousand times; jump by clicking the space between scroll bar and scroll button. 
What to do about eye-strain?
The backlight on my phone screen is far too powerful.  To improve the situation, I usually to keep some other light on in the room when I'm working, or hold the phone/screen at an angle (not easy). 
Ideally, I could place a screen / filter over the original screen?
What do you think?
Is there such a filter for sale, or should I just tape the thing with cellotape/cellophane???

Previously on UpNaira