Following are two possibly hopeful recent news items coming out of Nigeria. Both can contribute materially to consumer activity in the country.
The first comes from a story in The Daily Independent (Lagos) announcing the launch of Nigeria's first naira (the national currency) credit card.
The issuing bank is one of Africa's largest with operations in several neighboring countries. Citing the issuing bank as its source, the Independent said that the credit card would not only begin to change Nigerian consumers' love of carrying cash, but it would protect them from the high incidence of robbery in the country.
Also, the card is expected to increase consumer spending by 0.5 percent.
A bank executive quoted in the Independent story said the new credit card would, "improve the lifestyle of the average Nigerian, and significantly alter electronic payment system in the country."
The second item of good news comes from This Day (Lagos) in, ironically, an October 30, 2006 critique of Nigeria's infrastructure. The story reported that 71 percent of the country's 2006 road building budget was actually being spent on road building projects. This Day also said that the road building budget for 2007 would increase 110 percent.
The story complained about Nigeria's infrastructure generally with special ire directed at the electric energy sector.
While there is a general consensus that Nigeria's current federal government is well intentioned and far sighted, many of Nigeria's problems may not be subject to federal government control.
One of the worst problems the country faces is corruption. There has been some progress at the national level, but almost none locally. A separate November 6, 2006 This Day story said that in the recently released Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Nigeria was no longer part of the top 10 worst countries. A check of the list revealed, however, that it was still in the top 20 with a 2.2 rating. TI's ratings range from 1.8 (worst--Haiti) to 9.6 (best-with Finland, Iceland and New Zealand tied at number one). Nigeria is tied with several other...