Unlike some of his predecessors, Nigeria’s mild-mannered president is not renowned for wielding a big stick. So it was something of a surprise when Goodluck Jonathan sacked nine ministers on Wednesday.

It was his first big cabinet shake-up since he was elected more than two years ago, and came just 11 days after a splinter group broke away from the ruling PDP party, partly in protest at Jonathan’s intention to seek another term. Continue reading »

It’s a busy time for Nigerian finance ministry officials. This week they celebrated the launch of eurobonds worth $1bn. On Monday they’re off to China to sign off on $3bn of loans from the government in Beijing.

What’s with all the borrowing? In a word: infrastructure. Continue reading »

It’s one of the great paradoxes of Nigeria. The country is Africa’s biggest oil producer, yet it relies on imported mostly on imported fuel, which it spends billions of dollars subsidising each year.

Time for the country’s richest man to step in. Continue reading »

Welcome to the new hub

Start-up airlines have revolutionised air travel in Ghana over the past 18 months. Fares on domestic routes have fallen by up to 75 per cent. Passenger numbers on the main route from the capital Accra to the second city Kumasi have increased fivefold.

Now, two of the new domestic carriers are hoping to spread their wings throughout west Africa, where economies are growing fast but the aviation networks remain so poor that some experts call it “the last frontier” of air travelContinue reading »

Fixing Nigeria’s power woes through privatisation was never going to easy. Staying employed while trying to do so seems equally challenging.

First to fall was Barth Nnaji (right), the power minister who had been credited with moving forward the privatisation process but was pressured to resign in August due a conflict of interest. On Tuesday he was followed out the door by Bolanle Onogorowa (left), head of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the agency that oversees the sell-off of government assets. Continue reading »

A strong market rally and improved regulation could tempt up to 20 companies to list on the $54bn Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2013, according to its chief executive officer Oscar Onyema.

The NSE has struggled since a crash in 2008 wiped more than two-thirds off the value of the All-Share Index and damaged investor confidence. Since 2009 there have been only a handful of small listings, compared to 88 between 2006 and 2008.

But in the year to date, the All-Share Index is up 28 per cent – and so is corporate sentiment about coming to market. Continue reading »

What a difference a political hat makes. Around 20 years ago, Vince Cable as a company economist angered Nigeria’s military rulers by pointing out corruption – but got away with it.

Returning to Nigeria as British business secretary to foster links, he chose somewhat safer topics, discussing areas for improvement for both countries. Continue reading »

It’s a big day on Tuesday for investment banker Uche Orji and, potentially, for Nigeria’s future fiscal stability, too. Orji, who has worked at JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and most recently UBS, in New York, starts on Tuesday as CEO of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

His job will be to establish and manage the country’s proposed $1bn sovereign wealth fund, which is meant to safeguard some oil revenue for later use. Given the many billions of petrodollars squandered or stolen by senior officials in recent decades, few dispute that the SWF is a good idea. But it has not been welcomed by all. Continue reading »

And then there were two. A fortnight after Air Nigeria folded, and three months after Dana Air was grounded following a crash in Lagos that killed 153 passengers and crew, Nigeria’s biggest airline Arik Air suspended all domestic flights on Thursday “until further notice”.

Thousands of people were left stranded at airports across the country. The only commercial carriers left in the sky are Aero, which has a dozen or so planes, and IRS, with six aircraft and a website that inspires little confidence. This in Africa’s most populous country, with distant commercial, political and oil industry capitals, and an unfriendly road network that makes flying the only option for businesspeople. Continue reading »

What does Nigeria export? Oil, you say, and right you are. The latest annual report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that in 2011 the country exported oil and gas worth $90.1bn. The good news is that this was an increase of 21 per cent from 2010, thanks mainly to a jump in the global oil price. Close to a third of the oil went to the US.

The bad news comes when you ask: but what else, besides the black stuff? The answer: not very much. Continue reading »

More bad news for Oleg Deripaska. As a huge lawsuit brought by a fellow Russian oligarch against him began in London, the billionaire chief executive of Rusal would have received word from Nigeria that his company’s investment there is in peril.

The supreme court in Abuja ruled on Friday that Rusal should be stripped of ownership of the former state-owned Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon). Continue reading »

With 160m people, Nigeria is a big pond. It has a few very big fish. And it has a whale. Aliko Dangote’s net worth is more than $11bn and his food and cement companies make up a third of the value of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. But as striking as Dangote’s wealth is his influence. Continue reading »

In a five-star hotel in Ikoyi, the smartest part of Lagos, a few hundred suits tuck into sausages and egg over breakfast. The love flows. Peter Grauer, special guest and Bloomberg chairman, tells them how impressed he is with Nigeria. The head of the Nigerian stock exchange expresses his fondness for Grauer’s terminals.

Nigeria is rising, all seem to agree. There’s a problem though. As Arunma Oteh, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission points out, when people think of Nigeria today, the thing that springs to mind is not opportunity but insecurity. Continue reading »

Nigerians know all about Aliko Dangote. They eat his noodles, drink his juice, sweeten their tea with his sugar and build their homes with his cement. But when Dangote (pictured) started expanding his empire into other Africa countries he found his name did not carry the same recognition.

“We would go somewhere to invest $400m or $500m, and people thought ‘Those Nigerians have come with their tricks again’,” he told the FT in an interview last week. Continue reading »

For lessons in how not to build investor confidence, look no further than Abuja. A public hearing into the inability of the capital markets to recover strongly from the 2008-09 stock market crash began in the capital last week – a good thing, one might think.

Instead, the sessions quickly degenerated into a damaging confrontation between chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets, Herman Hembe, and the director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh (pictured), who traded accusations of bribery on live televisionContinue reading »