02 May 2022

Nigeria: The minimum wage – 30,000 Naira/72 USD – is not sufficient to buy “basic foodstuffs for the healthy living of an adult in a month, let alone an entire family” which would require 40,980 Naira/98 USD for one adult (at January 2022 prices). Compliance is a problem. “Even the Nigeria Labour Congress, the umbrella body of labour unions, is yet to fully implement the minimum wage for its own staff”. Workers have to reduce food purchases or buy food of lesser quality to make ends meet. Many can only afford one meal a day. And prices – not only for food but also for school fees and school books etc. – are continuing to rise. Many take on extra work. Still, poverty is increasing – from 39.1% in 2018 to 40% in 2020 and 42.6% and 2021. For 2022 the forecast is 44%.

Nigeria: “Only 17 percent of Nigerian workers hold jobs that pay enough to get them out of poverty.” And it is getting worse: inflation stood at 15.9% in March, food inflation at 17.2%. To cope, people are taking on extra work and reduce expenditures on essential services like health, electricity, and transportation. If in need of cash, many become victims to predatory lenders who lend at excessive rates. To ease food supply constraints and sustainably lower cost of food, the government needs to improve conditions for agricultural production – keeping in mind that “the key to food security lies with small producers” (as shown by India, the article’s author says). With income in the agricultural sector increasing, their demand will increase and the whole economy will benefit.

Tunisia: President Kaïs Saïed says he will establish a committee to rewrite the constitution within days. Will this be to concentrate more power in his hands?
BBC Africa Latest Updates 02 May 2022. 8:40

Cocoa/Ghana: Area covered by forest has been dramatically reduced, But “(c)ocoa farming requires tropical forestland. This is limited (…). So when the land is exhausted, farmers would benefit from diversifying to products like rubber and palm oil.” But this is against the interests of the chocolate industry multinationals and they try to prevent such diversification. With no new forestland available, replanting necessitates 260 days of labour per hectare – compared to only 74 days for planting using slash and burn – so child labour is increasingly used to keep costs low. While cocoa planters have become poorer, Ghana’s cocoa marketing board, COCOBOD has intervened to keep the planters going without loss of income – but it is acting in the interest of the cocoa industry, not in the planters’ interest. “The way forward is to switch from cocoa to crops that do not require forestland (new or exhausted), extra fertilisers or more labour”, for example rubber.

Agriculture: The idea that all youths are moving out of agriculture and that only old people are left behind to work in agriculture is wrong as proven by the article’s authors’ research in Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria and Tanzania. Agriculture is still “the single largest employer of rural youth”. But what is missing “is a critical mass of skilled young Africans with access to finance and know-how to drive productivity growth in farming and related value chains”.

Congo-Kinshasa/small-scale mining: Overall, “mining policy has tended to constrain rather than encourage artisanal and small-scale mining. Instead, priority has been given to large-scale industrial mining.” But according to the article’s author’s research in South Kivu, artisanal and small-scale mining is more mechanised and more sophisticated than generally assumed and contributes significantly to economic development. Thus governments should support artisanal and small-scale rather than large-scale mining.

South Africa/informal work & youths: 63% of 15 to 24 year olds are jobless and many of them have never had a formal job. But these youths are by no means inactive, rather, they “use a wide range of economic strategies and practices to acquire an income” like “car wash ventures, fixing people’s cars as informal mechanics, and renting back rooms or shacks”n street-side gambling, and many more. An important function of such informal work, self-employment or “hustling” is the establishing of social networks – a potential source of mutual aid that can prove essential for survival under precarious conditions. The relationship between members of such networks can be characterised as “flexible reciprocity” – “those who currently have money, or are employed in some form, help those who are without” and such networks provide informal “insurance”. But membership in such networks comes at a cost, “relations are embedded within complex power dynamics that can reproduce forms of social differentiation and inequality” and just about everyone would prefer a formal sector job to informal insecurity.

Ethiopia: Security forces have used tear gas against Muslim crowds gathered in Addis Ababa’s main stadium to celebrate the end of Ramadan after “violence broke out” and “property had been damaged”. Tensions between Muslims and Christians are rife across the country after 20 Muslims attending a funeral were killed in Gondar (Amhara region/north-west of the country).
BBC Africa Latest Updates 02 May 2022. 12:17

01 May 2022

Ghana: With almost 40% of Ghanaians of 15 and above using mobile money platforms, the e-levy, a 1.5% tax on all electronic transactions above 100 cedi ($13) which comes into force today Sunday, does not go down well with the general public. It is thought that the e-levy “will hit low-income workers and small businesses the hardest, as they rely heavily on mobile money transactions”. People seem already to have started turning back to cash. But the government – which is trying to “widen the tax base” – says they will eventually return to electronic payment. Ghana’s tax-to-GDP ratio stands at 13%, lower than the West African average of 18% and far lower than European countries’ ratios of 35-45% with the US in between at about 25%. By means of the e-levy, the government hopes to raise 920m USD this financial year. Economists think there are other ways of raising more tax money that would be more effective and less disruptive – e.g. by reworking corporate income tax, personal income tax and/or VAT.