Angst In Kenya Over Losing Businesses To Nigerians

July 26, 2020
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There is palpable tension in Kenya over what its citizens consider a hostile takeover of their businesses by Nigerians.
The anxiety is coming on the heels of an
alarming article written by a professor at the University of Nairobi, XN Iraki, published in one of Kenya’s largest newspapers, The Standard, lamenting how Nigerian banks like UBA and GTB have gained “a foothold” in the country.
Ikari raised the alarm that Nigerians are not only coming but “have already arrived” to take over the levers of the Kenyan economy.

He said the entry of Nigerian lenders into
the Kenyan market was well planned, noting that Access was not the first Nigerian bank to get a foothold in Kenya.
“Guaranty Trust (GT) and UBA already have a presence here,” the Kenyan professor said, adding that many Nigerians marrying Kenyan
women was another grand strategy to get into the country’s market.

“Why is the buyout so significant to the
banking sector and the Kenyan economy? Why didn’t we notice it? Is that the last Nigerian purchase? First, the entry of Nigerian lenders into the Kenyan market was well planned. It
started by softening the Kenyan mind with Nigerian churches and Afrosinema movies.

That changed the hardened image of Nigerians as corrupt and happy-go-lucky—an outdated image,” Iraki wrote, hinting at Nigeria’s perceived posturing to become the continent’s superpower.
He said Access Bank is capitalised to the
tune of $18 billion, with 36 million customers on three continents compared to Kenya’s biggest bank by capitalisation or customers.

“How will local banks compete with such a
big bank? Will it list on the Nairobi Securities Exchange to give Kenyans a chance for ownership? What else will Nigerians go for after our banks? Are banks their Trojan horse into our economy?” Iraki queried rhetorically.
He further argued that financial services
remain the best conveyor to Nigeria’s
superpower status.

“Oil needs a countervailing force. By
making their banks global, Nigerians – like the British and Americans before them – will leverage onto other sectors. They can control industries, institutions, sectors – and politics indirectly. I am sure you will not see an American, Briton or Nigerian as a cashier in a bank. But who decides how the profits will
be shared?” He added.
According to him, Access Bank’s entry into the Kenyan market was more likely to disrupt the banking industry further.
“The demand for more bank capitalisation by the Central Bank of Kenya and investment in fintech were the first disruptors. We can’t
discount COVID-19 for now.”

But following the development, Nigerian
experts have reacted, saying Kenya, which is the largest economy in East Africa should be optimistic about Nigerians making inroads into its economy instead becoming apprehensive.

President of Trade Union Congress (TUC),
Comrade Quadri Olaleye, said it was a good development if Nigerians were dominating Kenya’s economy.

He said, “It is good news if truly Nigeria
is dominating Kenya’s economy. When the AfCFTA was signed by the federal government last year; one of our fears as a trade movement was how the country is going to cope because we are a consuming nation. Oil contributes
over 80 per cent to the national budget, while non- oil sector contributes about 20 per cent.

“The outbreak of coronavirus saw the fall in the price of crude. News had it that Nigeria had vessels on the sea waiting for buyers. Today I doubt if the price of a barrel of crude is far below the benchmark used for the 2020
national budget,” he said.

According to him, Kenya was not known to be one of the buyers of the country’s crude oil. “Therefore, if Nigeria is dominating, it means we are gradually exploring the option of the non-oil sector. It is a plus but what is the population of Kenya?”

He further noted that Kenya is too small for Nigeria to begin to celebrate her domination.

“Kenya will not give us the breakthrough
and forex we need to boost our economy.
Nigeria has over 200million population and must dominate the whole of Africa, and at least two countries each in all the continent of the world to break even,” he added.

In his reaction, the national president,
Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS),
Barrister Ken Ukaoha, commended Nigerians for hard work.

He stated: “Rather than condemning
Nigerians, Kenyan people should try to
understudy and learn the innovative and
enterprising spirit in Nigerians. N

are not lazy people, they are smart in the right direction and ready to create a way out of a dry place.

“So, Kenyan people should try to adopt the way the Dubai government converted that country that has no natural endowment into a fantastic tourist country.

“They are only being envious of Nigerians. Even in South Africa, and other African countries they always envy Nigerians because of the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in them.

“If they are accusing Nigerians, then,
what will they say of Chinese people that are everywhere? Nigerian people are moulders, Nigerians are builders; they help to mould and build economies of all the countries they find themselves in. Have you ever heard from
Nigerians that Chinese and other nationals have taken over their business?

“The sky of business development is too
wide that any interested entrepreneur can tap into it without disturbing others. Kenyan people should desist from envying Nigerians”.

An economic expert, Dr. Ibraheem
Saka Ominiwe, said Nigerians taking
over businesses in Kenya was a very good development.

Ominiwe said Kenyans should be happy
that it was an African country that has
taken over their businesses and not foreign countries.

He, however, cautioned the federal
government to be wary of indigenisation
laws in Kenya, as the country might enact laws to take over those businesses owned by Nigerians.

Also, a serving immigration officer in South Africa who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sunday on condition of anonymity said it was true that Nigerians were taking over businesses in Kenya.

Digital manager, Kenya Broadcasting
Corporation, Jared Ombui, said Nigerians
buying Kenyan banks means there is
confidence in the Kenyan economy.
“An attractive market is good for all.
Bad apples are found in every community.

Nigerians are not unique… I think the
positives of African people outweigh a few
behavioural mistakes,” Ombui said.
PMB Seeks More Participation As
Diaspora Remittances Inflow Hits $25bn
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari
has urged Nigerians in the Diaspora to actively
participate in the country’s Post-COVID-19
economic recovery efforts.
In a video message to commemorate this
year’s Diaspora Day, observed on July 25
of every year, President Buhari appealed to
his compatriots, whose home remittances
exceeded $25 billion annually in three years,
not to abandon their fatherland in the wake
of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, ”Over the past three years,
Nigerians in the diaspora have brought in over
$25 billion annually as home remittances to
the Nigerian economy through official and
non-formal channels.
”This is about 6.0% of our annual GDP and
upwards of 80% of our annual budget. This
has impacted on livelihoods of Nigerians
in terms of education, health, housing and
estate development, industry, trade and
investments, agriculture and technology/
skills transfer.
”In terms of diaspora home remittances,
Nigeria is rated as number one in sub-Saharan
Africa and this is still growing especially with
the advocacy and mobilization programmes of
the newly established Nigerians in Diaspora
Commission (NiDCOM).
”Nigerians in Diaspora are also known to be
engaged in skill transfer in ICT and industry.
They are also active in our universities
as lecturers, and in carrying out medical
missions.
”It is, therefore, my sincere hope that even
with the depressed economy under stress in
the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
Nigerians in the Diaspora will rise up to the
occasion of not abandoning their country of
origin, but be active in our Post-COVID-19
economic recovery efforts”.
President Buhari told participants from
Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and
Oceania at the webinar event that his threepoint agenda for the Nigerians in Diaspora
remains the same and particularly relevant on
the auspicious occasion.
Reiterating the agenda, the Nigerian leader
said, ”You are our Ambassadors-at-large by
your behaviour and character in your host
countries. Whatever legitimate endeavour
you choose, you must excel and be the best.
Do not forget home, Nigeria, by giving back
and engaging in its development.”
The president also commended the support
and contributions of Nigerians in the
Diaspora to the socio-economic development
of Nigeria, recounting fond memories of his
several interactions with them at town hall
meetings.
While congratulating them on this year’s
celebration, President Buhari said the Federal
Government set aside July 25 of every year to
celebrate Nigerians in Diaspora estimated to
be over 17 million.
According to him, “the Day is also to
facilitate networking among the Diaspora
with the Ministries, Departments and
Agencies, the Government, the Diaspora
State Focal Point Officers and other private
and Civil Society Organization participants in
the implementation of a practical framework
for the effective engagement of the Diaspora
for national development.”
Speaking on the theme of this year’s
celebration, “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for National Development in a COVID-19 Era”, the Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM, Hon.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the focus of the
2020 celebration is indicative of the mandate of NiDCOM as well as what the agency has accomplished since its creation.
She stated: “Since its establishment a year ago, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has a lot to celebrate. This is because the passion and consistency that saw to the establishment of the commission have been maintained and sustained.

“The activities we have executed, those
ongoing, and the ones that are yet to take off are all definitive, of the theme. Our interaction today is expected to mobilize you to key into some of the programmes and chart improved or better ways on how to achieve them,” she said. On Diaspora voting, Dabiri-Erewa announced that the Commission was working with the National Assembly to make it a reality.

Among other initiatives, she said NiDCOM is partnering with the OPS WASH – the umbrella body for private engagement to support the declaration to end open defecation in Nigeria by 2024.
“We plan to mobilize millions of  Nigerians in the Diaspora to fund a toilet per household.

A global project will soon be launched and we look forward to all Nigerians in the Diaspora to participate in this most needed project,” she said.

In his remarks, the minister of State,
Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada said the Ministry would continue to stress the importance of engaging with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the state, national and international levels in advocating the Diaspora potentials in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

The minister thanked members of the
Diaspora who have donated to the COVID-19 response, especially those that were channeled to the grassroots through the states.

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