Beware of China’s new Colonialism 

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America is slowly awakening to the growing menace of China’s plans for economic supremacy.

In 2013 Chinese President Xi Jingping launched an international investment program that became known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Under a new mantra to connect the global economy, China began investing heavily in foreign infrastructure projects in over 60 countries that account for 60 percent of the world population and 30 percent of global gross domestic product.

 

From 2013 to 2018 China made an estimated nearly $614 billion worth of investments in countries participating in BRI. Morgan Stanley predicts China’s overall expense from BRI could reach $1.3 trillion over the next decade.

 

President Xi considers BRI an opportunity to share China’s model for economic growth with the developing world. Geopolitical rivals are concerned BRI investment programs will deepen China’s political influence and military expansion.
Is BRI a lifeline for the developing world, or economic imperialism?
In Africa, it is clear that China’s campaign of foreign investment is a new form of colonialism. The continent, where I live and work, is ground zero.

 

When BRI launched in 2013, it prioritized regional development projects in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. Italy became the first major industrialized nation in the Group of Seven to join BRI, despite opposition from the U.S. and the European Union.

 

U.S. officials are right to be concerned about the expansion of an infrastructure network that leaves crippling debt, faulty construction and project mismanagement in its wake.

 

The Center for Global Development published a study of 23 countries participating in BRI and found 10 to 15 are in danger of debt distress. Other high-profile cases in Sri Lanka and Pakistan are examples where BRI projects left the local governments in … Read More...

The game is the game

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Liverpool lost the league by 2 points from 7 point lead. Manchester City won its 2nd successive Premier League title. But this post is not about politics.

What motivates footballers on the pitch to put in a good performance for their country? If a team does well and fights to come back from 2 goals down in the quarter final to win 3–2, what motivated them to put in such a performance? The easy answer that ‘makes sense’ is to say they love their country and that love pushed them to deliver such a performance.

But not really. Here’s one of the most important things I learned reading The Righteous Mind last year:

In September 1941, William McNeil was drafted into the US Army. He spent several months in basic training, which consisted mostly of marching around the drill field in close formation with a few dozen other men. At first McNeil thought the marching was just a way to pass the time, because his base had no weapons with which to train. But after a few weeks, when his unit began to synchronize well, he began to experience an altered state of consciousness:

Words are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in collective ritual.

McNeil fought in World War II and later became a distinguished historian. His research led him to the conclusion that the key innovation of Greek, Roman, and later European armies was the sort of synchronous drilling and marching the army had forced him to do years before. He hypothesized that the process … Read More...

Universal health coverage in Nigeria: What else apart from funding is required?

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When the citizens of a country are healthy, it shows in the growth and wealth of that nation. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is critical to wealth creation, social equity and social inclusion. In Nigeria, as elsewhere, there are building blocks for achieving UHC other than financing only and these include adequate human resources and adequate facilities that are fully provided with essential drugs and equipment. This piece in no particular order addresses additional funding options, governance and people & infrastructure dimensions of achieving UHC in our country.

The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) commenced operations officially in 2005. It is generally believed that ongoing review of the enabling legislation of NHIS to make contributions compulsory rather than optional will cause national coverage to increase and hence enlarge the pool of health insurance funds. All true but it will take time and how much will be left after payments for services rendered to beneficiaries.

Given the level of penetration already achieved in telecommunications, is it impossible to levy an amount of NGN100 per month per capita for every active line in Nigeria? At 80% penetration, that translates to about US$533 million per annum. (One of the mobile network operators offers health cover for a prepaid weekly fee of NGN250 that gives access to any of 6,000 health facilities in Nigeria twice a month and maximum of seven times a year). This amount could be dedicated to retooling Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) across the country.

If the taxation of mobile use is not attractive, then it may be time to consider a sugar tax on sugary drinks. Alternative funding sources are important because over the coming years, Nigeria due to its improving economic performance would become ineligible for a range of external health financing grants. The … Read More...

Business strategy is not about war: It’s about love!

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Of all the metaphors used to describe business strategy, ‘war’ is the most pervasive. Business strategy is mostly visualised as war against competitors, ‘battles’ for market share, ‘invasion’ of virgin territories with advertising campaigns etc. Many companies have a sales ‘force’ team and market ‘intelligence’ personnel (spies). One of the most influential books, in business strategy circles, is actually an ancient 5th century Chinese military treatise ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu.

Michael Porter at Harvard University 40 years ago launched the modern strategy revolution in business management. In 1979, as an associate professor at Harvard Business School, his landmark article ‘How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy’ was published in the Harvard Business Review. It is hard to overestimate the influence of Porter’s article on the teaching and research of business strategy and its influence on business practice. Porter’s article was about ‘forces’ to be overcome. His article begins with this sentence: “The essence of strategy formulation is coping with competition.” Porter’s article is about five forces governing competition in an industry: 1. Threat of new entrants; 2. Bargaining power of customers; 3. Threat of substitute products or services; 4. Bargaining power of suppliers; 5. Rivalry among competitors. Porter’s Five Forces Model, let’s call this paradigm the ‘Harvard School of Strategy’. It is interesting to see customers as one of the ‘forces’ to be overcome in this model.

At the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT), ArnoldoHax, a professor of management, established a different (and much lesser known) paradigm for business strategy formulation.ArnoldoHax believes that the customer should be at the centre of business strategy, not a competitor or a force to be overcome. This paradigm is called the Delta Model. The Delta Model represents change, it is an innovative approach to business strategy. Developed at MIT, … Read More...

Unruly security operatives and hapless compatriots

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The subject of inapt behaviour among Nigeria’s security operatives has been a recurrent one. Scores of Nigerians have been sent to early graves, no thanks to the dastardly activities of some of some wild security operatives. A few years ago, in Agege, Lagos, a female secondary school student was brutally murdered by a trigger-happy security operative in a most bizarre circumstance. It was such a gory sight. Imagine the pain, emotional and mental damage done to the parents of the dead student, who must have toiled over her.

Also, in November 2008, a certain Miss Uzoma Okere was brutalized by armed naval ratings in a rather dehumanizing manner as she was stripped naked in full glare of the public for daring to fight for her right. If not for the intervention of the Lagos State Government in the court of law that secured judgment in favour of Uzoma Okere who awarded the sum of N100, 000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) damages against the defendants, she would have suffered in vain, as it is always the case. The case is a land mark vindication of the rights of an innocent Nigerian against recurring assaults on innocent citizens by security operatives.
More worrisome is the fact that the dangerous trend has continued unabated. For instance, from January to April, 2019, in Lagos State alone, about four incidents of misuse of firearms which have resulted in extra-judicial killings of young citizens of this country and injury to others were recorded. More bothersome is that two of these incidents occurred almost simultaneously.
It is difficult to understand why some of our security operatives behave the way they do. It is ironic that they take pleasure in brutalizing the very people whom they are paid and trained to protect. The police … Read More...