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African Women Entrepreneurs in Covid -19 Era

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Ebere Agozie

In spite of the giant strides Nigerian women have been making in the world of business, a new reality is staring them – along with the rest of humanity – in the face: COVID-19.

The prevalence and astonishingly rapid spread of the virus had the whole world literally hyper-ventilating, wondering what had hit it.

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At first, there was fear that, given the predominantly rural setting of Africa, and given also the fact that awareness about the pandemic has been slow in catching on, the worst was about to happen.

The expected annihilation may not have happened on the scale feared in Africa, but the presence of the coronavirus in the continent has remained a huge cause for concern. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

This is especially so for women whose case is further exacerbated by the very nature of African culture.

Incidentally, many of the recommendations given by health experts as to the required distance between people have of course to do with what makes life pleasurable.

Going by the above observation, one wonders how women will be able to stick to these recommendations, considering the roles they play in the society.

In Africa where there are basically no institutions that take care of the elderly and children with special needs, the challenge of taking care of them is dumped on the door step of women.

Women as care givers do not only take care of the young children at home, feed and bathe them, but also their husbands and their aged ones.

Even as the typical belief or culture of African women revolve around domestic chores, some of these women are also the breadwinners of their homes and so must go out to work to put food on the table.

African women are very enterprising, and this could primarily be put down to the prevalent poverty in the continent and the need to ensure the welfare of their families.

There are those that are involved in subsistence farming, there are others that engage in petty trade and commerce, there is the working class, and there are those that are the corporate world, albeit not many of them in this last category.

There are equally the full-time, stay-at-home housewives, although this class is shrinking by the day as, increasingly, women in Africa perceive the need to get involved in fending for the family.

In this attempt to examine women entrepreneurship in Africa today, we will look closely at the Nigerian situation.

With regard to enterprise, Nigerian women can be spread into four categories.

The first group is the full-time housewives, the stay-at-home housewives. As the name implies, these women simply stay at home to take care of the family, raise the children and generally run the home, while the husbands go out to earn a living.

Most of them are to be found in the northern parts of the country, mainly due to religious constraints since, by reason of their religion, they are not expected to mix very freely with the public, among whom there usually a lot of males.

This set of women is no longer as large as it was in the recent past as the increasingly dire economic conditions faced by most Nigerians make it necessary for more hands to be on deck in providing for the family.

Simply put, staying at home and waiting for the husbands to, as it were, bring home the bacon, is becoming less attractive by the day. It is a luxury that most families can ill afford today.

A second category is the petty traders and the subsistence farmers. This sub group is the most prevalent in our society. They make up the bulk of women in Nigeria and are found in far flung parts.

Nigerian women are so focused, so family-centric, that even when they go to toil in the farm for the family, they would still come home to cook for everyone.

Women farmers may be the predominant group, but one class that seems to be surging recently is those engaged in petty trading.

There is hardly any part of the Nigeria, especially in the lower geographical half of the country, where you do not find women engaging in some form of trading or another.

In most communities it is common to see women displaying their wares just about everywhere you look.

Usually, you see just a few items – confectionaries, food items, soup condiments, and the like. But they know how far revenue from such efforts go in supplementing what the men bring home at the end of the day.

There are also other market settings which are generally dominated by women. These markets vary in size – from just a cluster of a few roughly constructed huts, to extremely large, well-organised and thriving markets that play host to thousands of traders, the majority of them, women.

Enterprising women range from just petty traders, to big time business women whose businesses run into hundreds of millions of naira.

Let us not forget also the working class women that abound in the civil service and in private concerns.

A lot of women have built very successful careers in the public service and they, too, deserve accolades for contributing in steadying the ship of the Nigerian state.

It has actually been proven, over time, that women have shown a rare dedication and conscientiousness in the discharge of their responsibilities, such that are now much sought-after in many organisations.

They have also, by this dint of hard work, succeeded in climbing to the highest reaches of such outfits.

These women, however, are among the few who were privileged to have been highly educated and exposed to opportunities that got them to where they are today, leaving the majority of the non educated petty entrepreneurs to struggle daily to make ends meet.

Some of such women are Hajiya Bola Shagaya, an oil and real estate magnate, Uju Ifejika, and arguably the most prominent of them all, 65 year old Folorunsho Alakija, who found her fame and fortune in the oil and fashion industries.

Nigeria is truly blessed, not only in terms of her abundant natural resources, but also (with her large population) in terms of her huge human resources.

And a truly heart-warming proportion of this is made up of women.

All told however, the problem of Covid-19 has impacted rather heavily on Nigerian women, especially the rural dwellers, and just made their efforts to make ends meet more onerous.

It is therefore unimaginable that social distancing could be practiced here by majority of Nigerian women entrepreneurs.

Some of the women are stuck with men, some of who actually think that the coronavirus is an excuse by the governments to siphon public funds.

These men will always demand for sex from their women, even when they are sick, and of course there are also the factors of culture and religion, and so to them, #Social Distancing is not applicable.

Sometimes culture and religion give the women no chance of objecting and they are therefore forced to succumb to their husband’s advances, which sometimes come in the form of commands.

While #Social Distancing is part of prescribed ways of curbing the spread of #COVID-19, it is nonetheless going to be very difficult for some women trying to go about their lives to stay healthy while still carrying the burden of the people around them.

Most women interviewed lamented that their religions and culture have put much burden on them as women.

This has caused many of them to cast around for excuses on the back of indoctrination, almost amounting to brainwashing.

Hajia Fatima Muhammad, a Civil Servant jokingly asked, ‘how can I observe social distancing when my husband will not keep away from me?’

Her religious and cultural beliefs made her feel that women are not supposed to have a say in such matters.

“If he gets infected and still wants to sleep with me, what do I do since I cannot say ‘no’ to him”?

When asked why she would not deny her husband sex until after the pandemic is over to focus on her business she said: “My religion and culture forbid that’’.

Mfon Effiong, a business woman angrily responded, I am a nursing mother, how do I breastfeed my baby?

“I heard more men are infected than women, and more women survive than men even though we still sleep with them and exchange bodily fluids.

“Besides God has seen the burden we carry as women and has thus given us strong systems. I will not be infected in Jesus name,’’ she declared.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the incompatibility of social distancing and the desire to drive women entrepreneurship in Nigeria, and indeed other African settings, is a quandary to most African societies.

There is no easy way out of this predicament and the real or perceived inequality in the society does not help matters, either.

It is therefore clear that the government organs responsible for public education, have their work cut out for them.

More than anything else, there is an urgent need for a much more aggressive grassroots education to let them know that it is about their health, and that of everyone around them.

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria, especially among women, will be the better for it.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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AfCFTA: Spotlighting The Emergence Of One African Market

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By Joshua Olomu

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with its secretariat in Accra Ghana, is a free trade area with 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations as participating members.

It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement brokered by the AU, and was signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

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The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The AfCFTA initially seeks to reduce trade barriers between the different pillars of the African Economic Community, and eventually use these regional organisations as building blocks for the ultimate goal of an Africa-wide customs union. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The free -trade area was expected to come into effect after 22 of the signing countries ratified the agreement which occurred in April 2019 when The Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify it.

It came into force on May 30, 2019, as the required 22 countries threshold had deposited their instruments of ratification.

As of August this year, there are 54 signatories, of which at least 30 have ratified and 28 have deposited their instruments of ratification.

On August 18, 2020, AfCFTA Secretariat was commissioned and handed over to the AU by the President of Ghana His Excellency Nana  Akuffo Addo.

The Secretariat, an autonomous body within the AU system, will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement, with Mr. Wamkele  Mene, a South African, as its first Secretary-General.

The Secretary General is expected to provide leadership and technical support for AfCFTA Secretariat, management of its day-to-day activities and the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, among other functions.

Although the Secretariat has independent legal personality, it is expected to work closely with the AU Commission and receive its budget from the AU.

The general objectives of the AfCFTA agreement  is to create a single market for goods and services, deepens the economic integration of the Africa continent and  establish a liberalised market through multiple rounds of negotiations.

Among other objectives, the free trade area is expected to pave the way for creating a customs union and grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.

It is geared towards achieving competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market and to encourage industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security.

The AfCFTA is set to be implemented in phases, and some of the future phases are still under negotiation.

 Some areas of  the agreement were found on trade protocols, dispute settlement procedures, customs cooperation, trade facilitation and rules of origin, which covers goods and services liberalisation.

 There was also agreement to reduce tariffs on 90 percent of all goods, and each nation is permitted to exclude 3 percent of goods from this agreement.

However, as trading among countries is expected to commence on January 1,2021, economic experts, industry watchers and players have continued to express concerns if the continent was really prepared  for  ‘One Africa Trade.’

They noted that although it was envisioned that the free trade area will lead to increased competition, innovation and prosperity for Africa, countries should beware of anything that would undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

They expressed concern if the agreement adequately envisaged anti-competitive practices such as dumping, as surge in imports will likely threaten output, jobs and investment in the manufacturing sector and local infant industries.

However, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( ECA) said  that AfCFTA  will  harmonise investment rules between its member countries and the rest of the world in order to create equal opportunity.

Mr Stephen Karingi, Director for Regional Integration at the ECA, said that investment protocol  and   regulations  that would provide level playing field for members were being put in place.

Karingi said :“The AfCFTA is a very deep and broad agreement that is not just focusing on trade in goods and trade in services.

 “It is looking at those issues that would make this regional integration functional through competition policy, intellectual property rights, investment protocol and also e-commerce.”

The AfCFTA, Secretary-General, Mr. Wamkele  Mene, said Africa was open for business and mutually beneficial investment thereby creating decent jobs and improving livelihoods.

According to him, the AfCFTA should not be perceived to be benefiting only a handful of relatively industrialised countries in Africa but all African businesses.

He therefore emphasised the need to empower women and young people in Africa as they often face significant challenges when attempting to benefit from trade agreements.

He said: “I therefore intend to take concrete steps to ensure that women and young Africans are at the heart of implementation of the AfCFTA.

“In due course, I will announce specific measures that can be put in place to enable women, young Africans and SMEs, to benefit from the AfCFTA to achieve the objective of inclusive benefits of the AfCFTA.”

Nigeria, the largest market in Africa, with a population of over 200 million people, was among the last nations to sign the agreement on July 7, 2019 at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on ACFTA, and on November 11, 2020 its Federal Executive council approved its ratification.

At that time, the Nigerian government said its non-participation was a delay and not a withdrawal, as it was consulting with local businesses in order to ensure private sector buy-in to the agreement.

However, following the signing of the AfCFTA agreement, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the constitution of a National Action Committee.(NAC) on its implementation.

Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment,   is the Chairman of the NAC,with  Mr Francis Anatogu, the Senior Special Assistant to the  President on Public Sector as its Secretary.

The mandate of the NAC is to coordinate relevant MDA’s and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report, including projects, policies and programmes.

As AU member countries look forward to starting the ‘One African Market’ on January 1, 2021, it is expected   that the continent becomes an investment hub and bring even prosperity in the long term.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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You won’t believe the reaction I got when I cried out, read on…

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Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
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You won’t believe the reaction I got when I cried out last week that my late ex-wife is haunting me with court orders. The reaction I got from my late estrange wife,s father, Alhaji Idris Yusuf, Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.

will surprise you!

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Sarat Ojoma Yusuf, the elder sister of my late ex-wife had led court official and a policeman with a truck to my house to pack my properties executing a court order on which bear her late sister Hafsat Urane Yusuf’s name. I had interrogated the rationale behind Sarat Ojoma Yusuf’s right at this material point in time to execute such judgment.

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The story got wide media attention that dozens of media houses and online platforms relayed. push({}); One of the medium that broadcasted the story is operanews.com among others. In fact, Regent Africa Media had a robust insight of the story https://regentafricamedia.org/help-my-dead-ex-wife-still-hunts-me-with-court-orders-abuja-journalist-cries-out/.

Since then, I have waited for official statement from Sarat Ojoma Yusuf’s camp or even the Alhaji Idris Yusuf’s family as to the event and a peak into my offence that warrant unabated oppression and victimisation of me. Every efforts by Journalists to get them talking as at the time of writing this piece met brick walls.

However, Alhaji Idris Yusuf shared the story by operanews.com on his Facebook social media wall and captioned it:

“Those mocking the bereavement of others should be prepared and know that no living beings shall escape death.

“May Allah continue vindicate the just and torment every evil doers.

And any child that denies the parents from sleeping shall never have peace…”

Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.

I am surprised at the comment and I inquired as follows, that:

  • Who is the child and who is the parents here?
  • Who is the just and who is the evil doers here?, and
  • Who is mocking the bereavement of others here?

I am still calling on the general public to PLEASE help me inquire, WHAT IS MY REAL OFFENCE TO WARRANT UNABATED VICTIMISATION AND OPPRESSION FROM Alhaji Idris Yusuf’s Family. I demand for answers in clear terms.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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Comrade Alexander Ogbu: A Tribute

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Comrade Alexander Ogbu, a journalist and labour activist, was also the quintessential and deep writer. One of the best we, in the NIHA, have ever come across.

Until his death, Ogbu was the National Administrative Secretary of National Automobile Technician Association (NATA) in Abuja.

As a professional journalist, he was the pioneer Editor of the African Herald Express, where he held sway from 2009 to 2012.

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He also worked with Business Day Newspaper briefly, as well as the National Encomium Newspaper.

His journalism experience, which was done with panache and dogged professionalism, made him one of the bright lights of Regents African, an online medium, Atlantic Post, Informavores and many others with critical articles on burning national and international issues. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Ogbu’s prowess in media operations is not limited to news print only, he featured on TV and radio programs to contribute immensely on imperative matters of national importance.

Comrade Alex, as he was fondly called by colleagues, friends and admirers, possessed such a great wealth of knowledge in the media industry that prompted him to establish Onwaters Media Consult, which offered practical and professional services for individuals, groups and companies in need of media consultancy.

This afforded him the opportunities to serve as Associate Managing Editor with the following Magazine:

Job Digest, Commerce Magazine, The Commune, and many others.

His passion for the alleviation of the plight of the working class and subsequent labour activist’s role, lured him to join the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) where he served fulltime as Organizing Secretary for two years after which he returned from Lagos in late 2008.

Alex Ogbu

Comrade Alex was a man of many parts and uncommon energy. His activism knew no bounds as he tasked himself with the founding of Generation for Change Africa Innitiative (GFCAl) in the year 2015 along side his lovely wife and close associates.

Ogbu’s in-depth knowledge in the social reconstruction of the working class made him to write a classic book entitled: “ln The Struggle” in 2014.

The book exposes his reader to the admiration of what cogent struggles means to every living being.

As the year 2019 was closing, Comrade Alex was part of a like-minded group of individuals who worked as the Editorial Team of Nigeria Humanitarian Action Journal. He served as the Secretary of NIHA Journal Council.

His wealth of experience and skills in the field of journalism and research combined to chart a worthy path for the council. His noble contributions and galvanizing acumen saw to the successful completion of the task before the council in its determination to birth the maiden Journal.

As a journalist, Ogbu was very versatile such that his intelligent and excellent contributions were sources of pride then and even now in remembrance.

This unbeatable record together with the enormous support of other distinguished members gave the solid impetus that prepared the international Journal for presentation to the public.

Also before his death, Ogbu and some of his close associates were about going to the press with a new magazine, “TechNovation” before his untimely death.

Alex is survived by his wife, daughter and family.

We your friends and family celebrate a life of service and commitment to the growth of Nigeria and its people.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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