We didn't see this coming 😲

Nigeria's crypto ban, Kenya's lending troubles, Vaccination in Africa

Good day,

You’ve probably heard of it, but we’d say it anyway. Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s path has been cleared to become the leader of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) after the other contender South Korea’s Yoo quit. It’d be the first time an African woman would lead the WTO. 🥳️


We didn’t see this coming

Nigeria is a country where you can expect the unexpected to happen regularly.

Yesterday, the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered banks and other financial institutions to stop all forms of cryptocurrency exchanges from a Nigerian account. 

What this doesn’t mean: That the use of Cryptocurrencies is banned in Nigeria.

What this means

The new regulation instructs banks to close accounts of firms and individuals operating in crypto exchanges. This means that people who trade in cryptocurrencies will not be able to use a card from a Nigerian bank or any other financial institution in the country for any transactions on a crypto exchange. 

It is not the first time:

In 2018, CBN stated that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, etc and Exchanges such as NairaEx are not licensed or regulated by the CBN. This means that these currencies are not legal tender in the country, making them illegal to trade via Nigerian financial platform. 

Last December, CBN also banned all domestic currency transfers of foreign remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs). This means that people who receive foreign currencies in their local account are no longer eligible to do so. 

Crypto regulation across Africa

Nigeria is not the first African country to regulate cryptocurrencies.  A 2018 Financial Law in Algeria, prohibits the purchase, sale, use, and possession of virtual currency. Simply put, cryptocurrencies are banned under the Algerian law.  This is the same case as Libya and Morocco.

In South Africa, a certain trading platform, Mirror Trading International, made away with crypto belonging to customers so  the government decided, ‘you know what, let's even regulate this thing.’

A way out for local traders: Black market crypto.  Philip, a crypto trader in Nigeria, says he will go back to the way it was before fintech platforms like Flutterwave and the rest came in the picture. “People can sell bitcoin directly to me and I will pay to their bank accounts. Then I will send coins to my Chinese vendor who then pays me with naira in return.”

In nutshell: Virtual currencies are still legal in Nigeria but trading them through an exchange is no longer allowed. The new regulation has blocked firms that trade them from collecting payments from bank customers. Companies like BuyCoins, Patricia, Yellow Card and individuals will be affected. 

What’d keep our fingers crossed for what would happen next.


Lots of people can’t pay back loans in Kenya 

Close your eyes and think of the someone who is owing you money but has refused to pay.

Have you moved on or you still want your money back?

The story

The number of loan defaulters increased by 45% to 14 million between August 2020 and January 2021 in Kenya.

How we got here

Last April, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) declared a 6-month suspension of CRB listings to ease the pressure on borrowers hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.

Remind me, what’s a CRB listing

First of all, think of a CRB as police for credit. Short for Credit Reference Bureau, it basically analyzes the credit history for individuals and companies to determine their eligibility for a loan.

CRBs usually collect and research individual credit information and sell it for a fee to creditors, so they can make decisions on granting loans.

The Loan rush

After the period of suspension of CRB listing expired in Kenya last October, lenders actually offered a new 90-day grace period for defaulters to start repaying their loans or get listed with CRBs. 

But it was too late at this point because the Kenyan people took more loans than they could repay.

The effect: The number of loan accounts in arrears for more than 90 days had jumped by 45% from 9,673,258 to 14,035,718 between August 2020 and January 2021.

Currently, the number of loan accounts that have defaulted and blacklisted has hit 14 million.

Cause and Effect

One possible cause of this credit issue is the prominence of digital lenders that provide Kenyans will quick loans with high-interest rates. Even at some point last year, the CBK barred 337 unregulated digital mobile lenders from forwarding the names of loan defaulters to CRBs.

Or

It’s simply the COVID effect. People don’t have money to payback.

Looking into the future: Figuring a way out of this would take the combined efforts of the federal government and the Central Bank.


Vaccination in Africa

How’s the administration of COVID-19 vaccine going in Africa?

The response to that question is, “Meh”

Only a few countries like Morocco, South Africa, Guinea, Seychelles, and Mauritius have begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to their citizens. 

In December, Guinea, in West Africa, ordered 55 doses of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine and gave the first doses to 25 officials.

Seychelles was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to start vaccinating its population, using doses of China's Sinopham vaccine. The island of Mauritius also started vaccinating frontline workers on January 26, after India donated 100,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.

In North Africa, Morocco and Algeria also recently began immunization programs. 

On Monday, South Africa got its first million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, with another 500,000 expected later this month. 

Other countries like Kenya, Ghana are on their way.

And Nigeria?  There’s some delay because theFederal Ministry of Health is yet to submit a budget proposal to the National Assembly for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines — over one month after the legislative arm of government asked the ministry to do so. 

How much are we looking at here? On December 22, 2020, The Minister of Health, told the Senate that the Federal Government would need about ₦400bn ($1.5B) to vaccinate 70% of Nigeria’s population. Afterwards, he was asked to submit a budget proposal.

Why the delay? Calculations are still being done. The funds are available, but it’s taking the government some time to decide which vaccines to go for. Beyond the cost of vaccines, it’s also considering the cost of operations.

Looking forward: To speed up the slow pace of vaccination in Africa, the African Union has come up with a plan to help.


Worth reading 📚 

Quote 💭

“I do get asked, quite frequently ‘What’s gonna change in the next 10 years?’ I’m rarely get asked, and it’s probably more important — and I encourage you to think about this — is the question what’s not going to change?

— Jeff Bezos