I remember the post I made in 2014 about needing help with my marketing. And other posts about how running my own business was starving me and how my non-outgoing nature was working against me in business.

Fast forward to today and I am now the one giving people marketing advice. I am now thriving and the very nature that was against me has been my biggest strength. The roadblocks I faced have made me better in the end.

I do a lot of online transactions, dollar denominated. I always managed to overcome the roadblock by the banks. The process wasn't fun and some people would have just cursed Buhari/Emefiele and given up. But mine has led me to be an expert user of PayPal, Payoneer and Bitcoin.

Last week, I reviewed how much I spend on watching movies at the Cinemas. Plus the popcorn they cross-sell you and the overpriced coke. Now, I am switching to Netflix and Hulu. I have found a way to overcome Hulu's geo-restriction and I have also found a permanently working way to access the richer Netflix USA content (USA gets way more interesting movies and TV series than other countries). 

I now have the hardcopy of my book published to the USA market on Amazon and have already made some sales without advertising. It's just now that I am trying to publish it here for the Nigerian market. I still make monthly income from the kindle version, especially the rental service revenue share. I originally was planning to use book publishers but when they slammed me their bills I decided to learn how myself and do everything myself. Total cost was just the less than $10 I paid for the online course I took and the $10 I paid for the book cover design. I have recouped the amount multiple times over.

Yesterday, I facilitated another Financial Modelling class. Feedback was great. I never let my engineering background be a roadblock to my providing services for the financial industry. I have read more finance books than engineering books and have done financial projects for different clients within and outside Nigeria.

When I come across a roadblock, I focus more on what is on the other side and if I want it enough I work hard at overcoming the roadblock. In the end I get two benefits: I get what is on the other side and I also get better.

42.75 Mbps download speed
24.05 Mbps upload speed
Unlimited internet for one month costs just N10,000 (for now).
Two days unlimited internet? N1,000 (for now).
One week unlimited internet? N3,000 (for now).

No speed cap/limit. You get all the available bandwidth 24/7 and the speed beats that of all the other networks I have used -- from Swift to Smile to Spectranet to Glo to MTN.

How do you get on the Ntel bandwagon?

Coverage is currently just Lagos and Abuja. You can check out the list of Ntel stores for the one closest to you here -- 
The extra cool thing is that you select the number you want. I requested for a number pattern that is same as my current MTN line, just that the 0806 became 0804, the rest were the same.

Since getting it last week Tuesday, I have yet to go somewhere in Lagos where they've got no network coverage. From Abule-Egba to Ikoyi, good coverage.

I also got the line cheap. More like free, only had to recharge with N1,000 during activation, which you can use for cheap voice calls or the super cheap internet plan.

The only issue to bother about is your phone. It has to support 4G. And you have to be sure, or better test first, as many phones say they support 4G but don't really do. I use a 4G modem with mine.

Nigeria has experienced both boom and bust in the last ten years. The rise of foreign direct investment and the capital markets in 2006 to 2007 before a sudden crash the capital markets is yet to recover from. Also the increased volatility of the crude oil price has created years of abundance and years of famine for the nation. All the while government have been making different policies to steady the nation on a smooth path of growth. This is an analysis of those policies.
Below is a table of the economic indicators for Nigeria over the past seven years and a forecast for the next two years (2016 and 2017).
Table 1: Economic indicators for Nigeria
Economic Indicator
Economic Activity
Real GDP (YoY%)
CPI (YoY%)
Unemployment (%)

External Balance
Curr. Acct. (% of GDP)
Fiscal Balance
Budget (% of GDP)

Interest Rates
Central Bank Rate (%)

3-Month Rate (%)


Exchange Rates
Source: Bloomberg Terminal (2016)
In the last seven years (2009 to 2015), the economy has experienced drastic, rollercoaster-like, changes in every important economic indicator. The GDP growth has gone up and come down. The inflation rate had a range of over 5% from lowest of 8.1% in 2013 to 13.8% in 2010. The unemployment rate has been swinging up and down. The current account balance has fluctuated widely from a surplus of 5.1% of GDP to a deficit of -2.4% of GDP. The central bank interest rate has doubled within the seven-year period and over a range of 6%. And the exchange rate has also fluctuated badly from 149.50 Naira to a US Dollar in 2009 to 199.30 Naira to a US Dollar in 2015. It is currently 316.50 Naira to a US Dollar (21 October 2016), way beyond analysts estimates.
And what policies did the government embark on at the different difficult periods of the economy?
To properly answer that question, it is best to break the last seven years into the distinct economic periods they represent:
·         Period A – 2009 to 2010. This is the period Nigeria got caught in the global financial crisis.
·         Period B – 2011 to 2013. This is a period of relative stability and prosperity as crude oil price soared and political tensions dropped.
·         Period C – 2014 to 2015. This period is marked by a huge drop in crude oil price that hit the economy harder than expected.
Below are graphs of the economic indicators across these three distinct periods.
Figure 1: Real GDP Growth over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)

Figure 2: Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) rate over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)

Figure 3: Unemployment rate over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)
Figure 4: Central Bank rate over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)

Figure 5: Current Account Balance over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)

 Figure 6: Crude Oil Price over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Federal Reserve Bank)

Figure 7: Exchange Rate over the past seven years

Source: Author (data from Bloomberg)

Period A: 2009 to 2010
When the global financial crisis started fully across the developed countries in 2008 from the domino effect of the subprime mortgage loan and derivatives crisis in USA in 2007, the government in Nigeria believed Nigeria was immune to the crisis as there were no complex securities or derivatives market in Nigeria that is linked to the USA market. Unfortunately, this reason for inaction underestimated how globally linked the financial world is. Over 70% of investors in the Nigerian stock exchange were institutional investors and a significant portion of the funds they managed were from foreign investors. Soon these foreign investors started pulling out their investments in the Nigerian market mostly to rebalance their portfolios and take advantage of depressed asset values in the developed countries. This opened the pathway for the financial crisis flood to enter Nigeria. The already depressed stock market, correcting itself from the unreasonable high valuations of 2007, was further depressed. The banks came under intense stress as assets value dropped nationwide and their non-performing loans ballooned. Commodity prices dropped, especially crude oil and this led to drop in government revenue and put pressure on government spending.
The government went on an expansionary fiscal policy. The central bank also dropped rates to 6% to stimulate bank lending to businesses and grow economic activities, mitigating the effect of the drop in economic activities. And it worked. Inflation was kept in check and the real GDP even grew.

Period B: 2011 to 2013
This was a period of prosperity for Nigeria. The oil price soared to over 100 US dollars per barrel leading to a big increase in government revenue and government spending. In other to prevent increase in inflation, the central bank raised rates from 6% to 12%. With the increase in foreign exchange income, the exchange rate was stable and the Naira strengthened slightly. Unemployment rate was low. However, the government spent all the windfall from the crude oil sales and the foreign reserve shrank rather than grow during the prosperity period.

Period C: 2014 to 2015
This was a much more trying period for Nigeria than even the 2009 to 2010 period. Crude oil price dropped from above 100 US dollars to below 50 US dollars. The subsequent drop in government revenue and foreign exchange earning was worsened by an inadequate foreign reserve. The economy had grown a lot during the previous years and import has also grown, so when the value of crude oil export dropped, there was an unprecedented pressure on the foreign reserve. Central bank’s immediate response was to reduce the official foreign exchange demand by severely limiting access. The initial result was an unofficial market with dollar rate close to double that of the official rate. The government became confused trying different contrasting policies one after another. In the end it settled for a contractionary monetary policy and an expansionary fiscal policy, and the result has been an economy in limbo.

Bloomberg Terminal (2016). Country Guide: Nigeria Economy. Lagos: Bloomberg Media
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (2016). Crude Oil Prices: Brent - Europe (DCOILBRENTEU). [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2016]
Ovadia, J. (2013). Measurement And Implementation Of Local Content In Nigeria – A Framework For Working With Stakeholders To Increase The Effectiveness Of Local Content Monitoring And Development. Lagos: FOSTER.
The informal sector is generally regarded as the part of a nation’s economy that is not taxed nor regulated by government. In October 2015, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity reported that the informal sector in Nigeria contributes about 60 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs about 90 percent of the nation’s workforce. Nigeria will hugely benefit from bringing mainstream that informal sector – regulating it, taxing it and, ultimately, turning it into part of the formal sector.
According to a World Bank report analyzing the informal economy across the world and using data from 162 countries over a span of a decade, the informal economy contributes an average of 17.2 percent to the global GDP. But the difference across countries are huge with developed countries having as low as 5 percent to 12 percent and developing countries having as high as 50 percent to 70 percent.
Figure 1: Size of the Informal Sector across the world (Targetmap, 2016)

The main reasons the informal sector exists are because people are trying to avoid government regulation, trying to avoid paying tax, unable to gain employment in the formal sector and are affected by poor government policies that make starting formal businesses very difficult.
In a research by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2002, the informal sector can be broadly split into two main categories:
1.       People engaging in survival activities that fall outside the regulated and taxed formal sector, and
2.       People engaged in illegal activities/businesses and are avoiding government regulation
Figure 2: The two broad categories of the informal sector

It is no coincidence that developed countries have much smaller informal sector compared to the developing countries. They have over time, with supporting public policies, enable people to legally start businesses, they have institutions set up specifically to support small businesses and integrate them into the formal sector, and they have well established and enforced regulations that prevent people from engaging in illegal business activities. The result has been increased tax revenue, growth of small businesses into global brands that employ more people and prevent them from engaging in illegal business activities, and accurate economic data for public planning as informal sector are never accurately measured.
For Nigeria to progress economically and be able to come up with effective data driven public policies, there is an urgent need to transition the informal sector into the formal sector. This can be achieved via four main strategies:
1.       Supporting small businesses by simplifying the process of business registration, tax registration and tax payment.
2.       Establishing institutions that support, fund and advise small businesses like most other developed countries have.
3.       Giving tax incentives to registered small businesses instead of already big established conglomerates like Dangote Group.
4.       Prosecuting illegal businesses to protect the legal ones from unfair competition that may disincentivize them from being registered and coming under government regulation
Currently, the process of registering one’s business with the appropriate bodies – Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), State and Federal Tax bodies – is anything but simple. On paper it is simple. First, confirm from CAC that the name you want to use for your business is available and then reserve it. For sole proprietorship businesses you go to the nearest CAC office, fill and submit the business registration forms. For partnership and Limited Liability companies, you first get a lawyer who might double as your company secretary and he/she handles form filling at the CAC office. Technically, this should be an easy process but the reality is that it is only the name reservation part that often goes on smoothly. I have spent many days at the CAC office in Yaba, Lagos, interviewing entrepreneurs and lawyers trying to register all those three types of businesses. The CAC office opening hours are 10:00am to 3:00pm. Everything is paper and pen based. There are no clear guidelines for the first timer, especially the sole proprietors. And worst of all, if you don’t have a friend among the staff keeping a special eye on your registration request for you, there is no guaranteed date for your company registration to be complete. I have seen people wait for months to get feedback on their registration process, and that is after putting up with the often terrible customer service the CAC staff provides. All these make people unwilling to register their businesses except they will need to deal with clients who require that their businesses be registered. The result is that most small businesses, especially ones who operate a business-to-consumer (B2C) model and the consumers don’t care if the business is registered or not, do not bother to register their businesses. Registering with the Federal Inland Revenue Service and State Inland Revenue Services also require equally cumbersome processes. The government should smoothen this processes so as to encourage entrepreneurs to start and register their businesses from the day one.
The United States of America has SBA (Small Business Administration) department that assist small businesses with funding, counselling and other supports. Australia has SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation). South Africa has SEDA (Small Enterprise Development Agency). Canada has CSBFP (Canada Small Business Financing Program). We have MSME Development fund administered by the CBN. We have SMEDAN. But they are not operating optimally.
Many countries give incentives to small businesses to ease the starting phase. The United Kingdom has reduced tax burdens on small business and through its Department for Business Innovation and Skills made incentives worth £10,000 available yearly to small businesses. Nigeria does not have any incentives for small businesses. Now, when the business environment is very tough for small businesses, is a perfect time to provide such incentives.
Lastly, businesses operating illegally are not often prosecuted in Nigeria and take market share away from the registered and legally operating ones. The result is that more people are encouraged to ignore standards and regulations, set up business that operates unethically and illegally to save cost and maximize revenue rather. The trend should be halted.
If the government in Nigeria can put in place these four strategies, the informal sector will transition into the formal sector with immediate benefits like increased tax revenue and better economic data for the government.
Dangote Cement is the biggest listed company in Nigeria and the only Nigerian company in the Forbes Global 2000 list which ranks the top 2,000 publicly traded companies in the world (Forbes, 2016). Its rise has been a phenomenal one. It began as a cement trading company in 1981 (Dangote, 2016) and gradually integrated backwards till it disrupted the entire cement industry in Nigeria, gaining 68% market share as of December 2015 (Bloomberg, 2016).
The cement industry in Nigeria had been dominated by WAPCO (West African Portland Cement Company) since the 1960s till the sudden rise of Dangote cement. Dangote cement listed in the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2010 and since then has grown to become the biggest listed company on the exchange. Lafarge Africa now owns WAPCO and four other cement companies in Nigeria, yet their combined market share in Nigeria do not reach that of Dangote Cement.
How did a fully indigenous company oust dominant multinational industry leaders and grow to become a global giant? The answer is partly in the numbers. Aliko Dangote, the founder of Dangote Cement, no doubt, had a big ambition but he also played the numbers right. All the while WAPCO, the former industry leader, had been standing at the gate of opportunities; the cement market was split between local cement and imported cement, and the economic growth from the 1990s grew the entire market for cement. Aliko Dangote was in the middle of it all as a trader and saw the opportunities WAPCO was not taking. He saw the potential for growth and squeezing out the foreign competition and decided to go for it by integrating backwards into cement manufacturing.
The company’s financials for the last 8 years show a company on an aggressive expansion mission. The long-term loans have gone up from 49 billion Naira in 2009 to over 200 billion Naira in 2015 while the closest competition and previous industry leader, WAPCO, has had very little debt until recently (in 2015) when it had to fight back by acquiring a smaller competitor and expand production capacity.
Table 1: Revenue and Long-term loans of Dangote Cement and WAPCO from 2008 to 2015
Dangote Cement
WAPCO Nigeria
Dangote Revenue
Dangote Long-term loan
WAPCO Revenue
WAPCO Long-term loan
Source: Bloomberg (2016)

Figure 1: Revenue and Long-term loans of Dangote Cement and WAPCO from 2008 to 2015

Source: Bloomberg (2016)
According to Global Cement, an industry publication, Dangote currently has 28% market share of the entire Africa cement industry and is fast catching up with the global leaders like Cemex (the fifth largest global producer of cement) and is already one of the top ten global leaders in the industry.
In Nigeria, Dangote Cement’s infrastructural investment and factories are second in capital expenditure only to those of the major international oil companies operating in Nigeria. Its strategy of aggressive long-term capital investment is its main key to the phenomenal success it has achieved. It has the largest cement factory in the entire sub-Saharan Africa. It currently operates in eight African countries and plans to expand into five more across Africa and Asia. In the last six years it has spent over 810 billion Naira as capital expenditure while it closest competition, WAPCO, has spent only 133 billion Naira on capital expenditure for the same period, which is about one-sixth of Dangote Cement’s.
Table 2: Capital Expenditure of Dangote Cement and WAPCO from 2010 to 2015
Capital Expenditure
Dangote Cement
Source: Bloomberg (2016)

Figure 2: Capital Expenditure of Dangote Cement and WAPCO from 2010 to 2015

Source: Bloomberg (2016)
The rise of Dangote Cement is one built on fundamentals – capital investments and sound planning. For decades leading to the 2000s, Nigeria’s per capital cement consumption was one of the lowest in the continent. The price was prohibitively high for years between 1980 to early 2000s as local production dropped from 3.5 million metric tons to 2.28 million metric tons while import skyrocketed from 0.8 million metric tons to 3.34 million metric tons (Mojekwu et al, 2013). The economy had been growing impressively and construction industry expanded making the market for cement shoot up. And the country is rich in the mineral deposits of limestone, red alluvium and shale required for the manufacture of cement.
The unique combination of a weak local industry, growing construction industry, abundance of raw materials and deep market knowledge provided Dangote Cement the economic incentive to venture aggressively into cement manufacturing despite the huge capital required to break into the industry. And it has paid off. Not only did it rise to the top of the industry, it also became Nigeria’s biggest company and is on its way to becoming a global giant.
Hopefully, more companies will take a cue from Dangote Cement’s strategic rise and exploit the same opportunities that exist in the other industries in the country where local production amid abundant raw materials has lost ground to foreign imports. Industries like agriculture, textile and oil services.

Bloomberg (2016). Bloomberg Terminal.
Bloomberg (2016). Dangote Cement Profit Rises as New Plants Bolster Volumes. [Online] Available at: [Accessed] 26 May 2016
Bloomberg (2016). Bloomberg Terminal.
Dangote (2016). Dangote Group History. [Online] Available at: [Accessed] 26 May 2016
Forbes (2016). The World’s Biggest Public Companies. [Online] Available at: [Accessed] 26 May 2016.
Global Cement (2016). Crunching the numbers at Dangote Cement. [Online] Available at: [Accessed] 26 May 2016.