Monday 14 October 2013

Are you addicted to money?

"I have heard of so many types of addiction but addiction to money is a new one."

When we think of addictions, few of us think of money as a habit-forming substance. However, it is completely possible to become addicted to money.
And it’s not just about becoming addicted to spending money.
“Like with other resources that have mixed uses — for example food and sex — money is a resource that we both need for functioning and one we use to help soothe ourselves,” says Alicia Clark, , a Licensed clinical psychologist.
When you start using money to deal with your problems, or when you become dependent on money for thrills, it becomes too easy to let things get out of control.
Two kinds of financial addictions
“Money is vulnerable to misuse, as it is hard to avoid the duality of purpose,” says Clark. “Like with food, sex, and alcohol, people can misuse money and become addicted to the thrill of spending or the thrill of saving.”
I find it interesting that Clark points out that saving can be an addiction. Often, when we think of financial addictions, we think of spending. It’s easy to point to a shopping addiction and say that it’s a problem. After all, spending money to escape troubles is a recognized issue.
But what about miserly behavior? According to Clark, that can also be a financial addiction. The thrill associated with saving money can have a darker side. You might not buy the things you need, or you might deny help to others — even though you have the means to provide relief. Hoarding your money isn’t always the healthy choice.
How to tell if you have a problem
The real problem isn’t that you spend or you save. The real problem is that you use these actions as crutches. If you feel bad every time you spend money, because you’re addicted to the thrill you get from saving, that’s not exactly a healthy money attitude — especially if you can afford to spend a little bit in order to improve your family’s quality of life.
Likewise, it’s problematic if you seek solace from your cares and worries on a shopping trip. Spending can make you feel good for a little while, but if you’re already having money problems, spending more isn’t going to put you ahead.
Ask yourself if you’re basing your happiness, in some way, on the way you interact with your money. If your happiness depends too much on spending money, or on seeing your bank account grow to no real purpose, you might have a financial addiction that needs to be addressed.
“Money is a resource that you have to manage much like your time, your energy, and your attention,” Clark points out. Don’t pin all your happiness on it, and don’t use your financial actions as a way to escape the other problems in your life.
Instead, consider how you can use your money to benefit you, your family, and others, now and in the future. Create a plan around your whole life goals and use money as a resource, and you’ll be less likely to fall into habits that might be classified as addictions.

- BD

Franchising law in Nigeria

The International Franchise Association defines a franchise as “the agreement or license between two legally independent parties which gives: a person or group of people (franchisee) the right to market a product or service using the trademark or trade name of another business (franchisor); the franchisee the right to market a product or service using the operating methods of the franchisor; the franchisee the obligation to pay the franchisor fees for these rights; the franchisor the obligation to provide rights and support to franchisees.”For franchisors and prospective franchisees interested in operating in Nigeria the question is what is the legal and regulatory framework for franchising in Nigeria? Does Nigeria have a franchise-specific legislation?  What laws affect franchising in Nigeria? Which agency or agencies regulate franchising in the country? Is the offer and sale of franchises regulated in Nigeria? Is the legal and regulatory framework for franchising in Nigeria adequate and sound?
No Franchise-Specific Legislation
Nigeria does not have a franchise-specific legislation. In this respect, Nigeria is different from countries like Malaysia (The Franchise Act of 1998), Romania (Franchise Law No. 79/1998) and Sweden (The Swedish Franchise Disclosure Act of 2006) that have franchise-specific laws. Because Nigeria does not have a franchise-specific legislation there are few franchise-specific obligations that the franchisor or the franchise must fulfill at the pre-contractual, contractual, or post-contractual stage. This means that:
• There is definition of “a franchise” in statute law in Nigeria;
• There is no specific mandatory legal regulation of pre-sale disclosure;
• No law creates a requirement that must be met before a franchisor can offer a franchise in Nigeria;
• No law regulates the offer and sale of franchise in Nigeria;
• Nigeria law does not stipulate what information the franchisor must disclose before the franchise agreement is signed and/or consideration is received;
• There is no specific law regulating the on-going relationship between franchisors and franchisees once the franchise agreement is signed and comes into effect;and
• No government agency is specially designated to regulate the offer and sale of franchise although certain technology transfer agreements must be registered with the National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion(NOTAP).
Laws Affecting Franchising in Nigeria
Just because Nigeria does not have a franchise-specific law does not mean that the franchise business model is not regulated in Nigeria. There are numerous laws in Nigeria that affect franchising. In the absence of a franchise-specific law, the offer and sale of a franchise in Nigeria is subject to the general commercial laws and practices in Nigeria. Although franchising falls first and foremost within the purview of commercial/Contract laws in Nigeria, laws that affect franchising go well beyond the domain of commercial law/Contract law. To understand the legal and regulatory framework for franchising in Nigeria, one must delve into the laws that address a host of issues including: the forms of business entity that can be used by franchisors, the formation of business entities in Nigeria, restrictions that apply to foreign investment and foreign investors, the tax system in Nigeria and how it applies to individuals and business entities, and labor and employment law issues. A long list of laws affects franchising including: Company Law, Intellectual Property Law, Tax Law, Labor Law, and Employment Law. When the franchisor is a foreign entity, several other areas of law apply including Immigration Law, Foreign Investment Law, Foreign Exchange Law and Money Laundering Law. In countries where they exist, Competition Law, Fair Dealing Law, and Consumer Protection Law will also apply. Overall, in Nigeria, franchising arrangements are affected byat least one or more of thefollowing laws:
1. The Companies and Allied Matters Act Cap. 59 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990as amended, now on Act cap C20 Laws of federation of Nigeria;
2. The Patents & Design Act 1970 (Cap 344, Laws of  the  Federation of Nigeria 1990);
3. The Trademark Act 1965 (Cap 436, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990);
4. The Copyright Act 1988 (Cap 68, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990);
5.National Office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP)Act No.70 of 1979 (Cap 268 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990). To register a technology transfer agreement NOTAP requires evidence of registration of intellectual property e.g. trademark, patent, know-how.
6. Investment and Securities Act  2007 (repealed the Investment and Securities Act No. 45 of 1999);
7. The Immigration Act Cap. 171 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990;
8. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act (Decree No. 16 of 1995), now Cap. N117 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria;
9. The Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Decree No. 17 of 1995;
10. The Industrial Inspectorate Act Cap. 180 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990; and
11. Consumer Protection Council Act of 1992, Decree 66 of 1992. Chapter C25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
Agencies that Regulate Franchising in Nigeria
 In some countries, a special agency regulates franchising and implements franchise-specific laws and regulations. This is not the case in Nigeria. In Nigeria, there is no specially-designated franchise agency. No agency regulates what information the franchisor discloses to prospective franchisees or reviews the franchise agreement for fairness. No agency is mandated to step in if it is found that the franchisor engaged in deceptive practices in connection with the offer and sale of franchises. However, the activities of a number of agencies affect franchising arrangements in Nigeria. Depending on whether the franchisor is a foreign or local entity and depending on whether there the Franchisor already has a presence in Nigeria, the following agencies will become relevant.
• The Registrar of Trademarks, Patents and Industrial Design, Federal Ministry of Commerce (administers, the trademarks, patents and industrial design legislations);
• The Nigerian Copyright Commission which is under  the Federation Ministry of Culture (administers Nigeria’s  copyright legislation);
• TheNational Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (overseas the registration of technology licensing agreements);
• Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (overseas foreign investment in Nigeria and implements the Investment Promotion Act);
• The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria (responsible for regulating the formation and management of companies in Nigeria); and
• The Securities and Exchange Commission Nigeria (agency mandated to regulate and develop the Nigerian capital market).
Depending on the type of service or product that a particular franchise offers, other agencies are likely to be involved as well. For example, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health, was established pursuant Decree No. 15 of 1993 as amended, with the mandate to inter alia regulate and control the importation, exportation, manufacture, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled water and chemicals. The Consumer Protection Council was established pursuant to the Consumer Protection Council Act of 1992 with wide ranging powers and functions. Amongst its functions, is that of providing speedy redress to consumers’ complaints through negotiation, mediation and conciliation. It is also the responsibility of the Consumer Protection Council to “seek ways and means of removing or eliminating from the market hazardous products and causing offenders to replace such products with safer and more appropriate alternatives.” Other potentially relevant agencies include the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), the Nigerian Communications Commission, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NigerianExport Processing Zones Authority, theFederal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Industry and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Franchising, Technology Transfer and
 Franchise agreements typically involve the licensing of intellectual property (IP) to the franchisee. Trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and even patents and know-how may be transferred under a franchising agreement. The NOTAP Act mandates that all agreements for the transfer of foreign technology to Nigerian parties must be registered with NOTAP. NOTAP Act is triggered whenever there is an agreement having effect in Nigeria for the transfer of foreign technology to Nigerian parties.  Every such contract or agreement shall be so registrable if its purpose or intent is in the opinion of NOTAP, wholly or partially, for or in connection with any of the following purposes: the use of trademarks; the right to use patented inventions; the supply of technical expertise in the form of the preparation of plans, diagrams, operating manuals or any other form of technical assistance of any description whatsoever; the supply of basic or detailed engineering; the supply of machinery and plant, and the provision of operating staff or managerial assistance and the training of personnel. Because franchising agreements involve at the very least the use of trademarks, franchising agreements inevitably trigger registration with NOTAP.
An Agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST), NOTAP was established by Decree No. 70 of 1979, amended by Decree No. 82 of 1992 (hereinafter NOTAP Act cap 268 LFN 1994.).For Franchisors and prospective franchisees knowledge of the Revised Guidelines on Acquisition of Foreign TechnologyUnder NOIP Act Cap 268 LFN (as amended by decree no. 82 of 1992)[hereinafter “The Guidelines”] is important.The Guidelines is an updated version of an earlier guideline published in 2002 entitled ‘Revised Guidelines on Acquisition of Foreign Technology under Decree No 70 of 1979 (As amended by Decree No 82 of 1992).’ The stated goals of the Guidelines are: to “ensure the effective assimilation and diffusion of foreign technology within a specific time-frame at fair and equitable contractual terms;” to “create better understanding in the implementation and interpretation of the NOTAP Act to enhance the capabilities of Nigerians;” to “Improve the quality of agreements submitted to the office in order to facilitate their evaluation and registration within the shortest time;” and to “Serve as a guide in the drafting of technology transfer agreements by Nigerian parties.”
Gaps in Nigeria’s Legal Framework for 
There are noticeable gaps in Nigeria’s legal framework for franchising. A complete inventory of these gaps is beyond the scope of this article. One noticeable gapin the legal and regulatory framework for franchising in Nigeria is in the areas of competition law. Simply put, there is no competition law operating in Nigeria. No statute in Nigeria deals specifically with competition law issues. Anti-competitive practices, abuse of dominant position by enterprises, and combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which cause or are likely to cause adverse effect on competition within Nigeria are not fully regulated. Although efforts to regulate anti-competitive practices can be found in the provisions of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 (the “ISA”) and the Rules and Regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) made pursuant to the ISA (the “SEC Rules”), this is far short of what obtains in most countries and what is anticipated in the draft Federal Competition Bill (the “Bill”).This is a problem given that in dealing with franchisees, franchisors often have and exercise market power. Competitive abuse can occur in franchising and several provisions in franchising agreements can have anti-competitive effects. Examples are: exclusivity clauses, restrictions on sources from which the franchisee may purchase goods or lease services, and the fixing of minimum prices for the resale of goods.  It is important that laws are in place to ensure and maintain competitive discipline in franchising. Many other jurisdictions have well-developed and up-to-date competition law rules including:
• The European Union: Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 of 20 April 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices);
• China: The Anti-Unfair Competition Law (promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and effective as of 1 December 1993) and the Anti-Monopoly Law (promulgated by the National People’s Congress and effective as of 1 August 2008);
• Canada: The Competition Act;
• Brazil: Law No. 12529/2011 (the Antitrust Law);
• Australia: The Competition and Consumer Act of 2010  (Act No. 51 of 1974 as amended);
• India: The Competition Act, 2002 as amended by  the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007;
• Malaysia: The Competition Act 2010 (came into force 1 January 2012); and
• Romania: Romanian Competition Law No. 21/1996.
Nigeria does not have a franchise-specific legislation and no government agency specifically regulates offering and selling franchises. However many laws in Nigeria affect franchising arrangements directly and indirectly.  To fully understand the legal framework for franchising in Nigeria, one must go beyond the black letter law and look at how the courts in Nigeria have shaped franchising rules in the country. Does Nigeria need a franchise-specific legislation? Is Nigeria’s law on franchising adequate? These questions are addressed in the next issue.

Dr. Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile
 LL.B. (Nigeria), LL.M. (London), LL.M. (Harvard), S.J.D. (Harvard)

Mobile connection to reach 8.1 billion by 2018

According to Ovum’s figures global mobile connections will grow from 6.5 billion in 2012 to reach 8.1 billion by 2018, while annual mobile service revenues will rise from $968billion to $1.1 trillion. However, global service revenues will contract in 2018 for the first time in the history of the mobile industry, declining from 2017 levels by 1 percent or $7.8billion.
As such, over the next five years, innovation in services, tariffs, business models, network operations, and partnerships will be key revenue-generating strategies.
Sara Kaufman, analyst for Industry, Communications and Broadband at Ovum and author of the report, said, “Growth will continue to slow in most markets around the world. When you compare connection and revenue CAGRs, it
is clear that mobile operators are facing a new reality: they must do much more with much less. Consolidation will help to alleviate some market pressures and is inevitable in many markets. But the need for revenue stabilization is becoming paramount for a sustainable future.”
According to Kaufman, operators in developed markets face particularly challenging times. Connections in Western Europe will grow by a CAGR of less than 1 percent, while revenues will decline at a CAGR of 1.48 percent.
Several other developed markets will see year-on-year revenue declines in 2018, including the US, which will begin to show signs of its maturity.
Much of the revenue decline will be driven by falling ARPU, which will continue to decline across all markets by a 2.7 percent global CAGR between 2012 and 2018. The greatest decline will be in the Middle East, where ARPU will fall by a 2.5 percent CAGR. However, Kaufman noted, “ARPU cannot fall indefinitely.
In markets with very low ARPU, it will reach a floor and then stabilise.” Despite the global trend, some growth opportunities will still exist, particularly in Africa, where revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.2 percent throughout the forecast. No other region in the world will see revenue growth at a CAGR above 3 percent during the forecast period.
Select markets in Asia-Pacific and South & Central America will also drive growth over the next five years. Africa will also have the fastest-growing connections, increasing at a CAGR of 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2018, and ending the period with just over 1 billion connections. Growth in Asia-Pacific will slow, but this region will remain the biggest contributor of new connections, driven largely by China, India and Indonesia.
Connections in this region will total 4.2 billion in 2018 and will account for 57 percent of net additions globally through the forecast period.
Author: Ben Uzor Jr

Making money from babies Why orphanage ‘business’ thrives in South-East

" Evil in the name of business, what won't people do for money?"

The arrests of owners of illegal foster homes who engage in sale of babies to those who need them for one reason or the other has brought to the fore the continuous trend of the criminal act. Jude Ossai reports on why selling of babies has continued to flourish in the South-East.
UNTIL recently, it was a sacrilege in Igboland for someone to be involved in baby sale, especially after the abolition of slave trade. Babies are regarded as free gifts from God. This is expressed in an Igbo saying ‘anaghi ere nwa na ahia, nwa bu Onyinyechukwu’. Thus, they are not expected to be put on sale. 

However, the tradition of the past seems to have been jettisoned for the new trend which has pervaded many states in Nigeria, especially the South-Eastern part. These days, babies are sold and bought as one buys candy from a confectioner’s store. What remains to be seen is a situation whereby a shop or building would have ‘babies for sale’ written boldly on it.

The anomaly has taken a dangerous dimension that it has raised concern among the people generally, as couples have also joined in the business of selling even their unborn babies!

The origin of baby sale cannot be traced, though it had been going on for ages, especially since the advent of the Europeans who brought education and foreign religion which was a departure from the traditional way of worshipping God. 

It was the Europeans that gave Africans the idea of a foster home where unwanted babies could be procured for people who either could not have children of their own or who, for the love of humanity, procure such children with the aim of helping the them survive and get integrated into the larger society.

No doubt, the Europeans who brought the idea of foster homes and orphanages might have meant well but these days, the culture seems to have been bastardised by criminally-minded citizens who now trade in children in the guise of rendering humanitarian service to the society.

Almost on a monthly basis, different news media are filled with stories of babies that are sold to either childless couples or ritualists who buy babies with the ulterior motive to amass wealth through unorthodox means, with the connivance of native doctors who make charms and talisman for them.

Sunday Tribune observed recently that illegal foster homes had been sprouting in the South-East. Normally, abandoned children are kept in government-approved motherless babies homes. But it has almost turned to a convention that some couples who have fertility problems would patronise baby factories illegally instead of going to the approved homes for legal adoption of orphans as their own children.

In July 21, 2013, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Enugu State Command, burst an illegal foster home at Coal Camp, Ogbete Enugu, Enugu State.  A 74-year-old man, Dr. Ben Agbo and a lady that helped him run an orphanage known as Moonlight Maternity Home, 61 Agbani Road by Abagana Street, Coal Camp, were arrested. 

When the officials of the Civil Defence Corps, who were acting on a tip-off, raided the home, a three-day-old baby was about being sold for N20, 000.  That was the money the mother of the child would get from the maternity home, after which the baby could be sold for hundreds of thousands of Naira.

Also recently, the police discovered many baby factories in almost all the states of the South-East and rescued some teenagers who were kept in the homes for baby making.

Speaking to reporters recently in Enugu State, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amarizu said that police detectives rescued six pregnant teenagers who were forcefully taken away from their homes to a suspected baby-making centre in the state.

Amarizu stated that the anti-kidnapping unit of the command rescued the young girls from the centre located at No 7, Anyansi Lane Ogui, Enugu, after a tip-off.

He disclosed  that the young girls identified as Chioma Eze, Amarachi Okoro, Gloria Okoye, Uzoamaka Lawrence, Nneji Faith and Akpan Juliana were allegedly smuggled out of their guardians’ homes and kept in a place that is hidden until they would give birth to babies which would be sold out to people they have negotiated with.

The Enugu Police image maker stated that three persons were arrested in connection with the incident, adding that their names were Lami Lasu, Isha Musa and Anthony Chigbo.

Amaraizu further stated that investigations into the incident had commenced. Surprisingly, few hours after the discovery, operatives of the command arrested one Marcel Agu and his wife Calista Agu for allegedly stealing a 12-day-old male child.

It was gathered that the suspects allegedly stole the baby from his mother, identified as Chika Nwokolo, after she was delivered of the child. The suspects stole the baby from an unnamed maternity home along Ebony Paint Road, Akwunanaw.

Confirming the incident, Amaraizu stated that two suspects, Mrs Nebo Stella and Patrick Ugwu, had been arrested in connection with the alleged crime, disclosing that the suspects were now helping the police in its investigations.

Within the same period, the law enforcement agents in Enugu also arrested a middle-aged man who identified himself as Ozo Ben Akpudache from Ogui Eke in Udi Local Government Area of the state for allegedly operating a baby factory.

The command’s public relations officer, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrest, had said that the illegal centre accommodated pregnant teenage girls until they were delivered of their babies.

The suspect, he disclosed, was arrested by operatives of 9th Mile Division of Enugu State Police Command at his Ogui Eke residence, adding that the suspect had a three-room apartment where he kept young pregnant girls.

“It was gathered that the suspect’s house was raided following a tip and in the course of the raid, six young pregnant girls who gave their names as Chika Nwankwo, Ogochukwu Amadi, Amarachi Sunday, Ugwu Nnenna, Maryann Ani and Ogbu Precious were rescued from those apartments in the residence.

“One of the pregnant girls, Ugwu Nnenna, narrated her ordeal and how she found herself in the apartment. She pointed out that it was frustration that took her to the place and a promise by the operator of the place that she would stay there to deliver the baby and that after the delivery, some undisclosed amount would be given to her to take care of herself.

She also confessed that she was linked with the place by someone but regretted her action.

According to the PPRO, the alleged owner of the business, Mr. Ozo Ben Akpudache, in his reaction, had stated that he had been in the business for the past five years.

The Enugu Police Spokesman further added that the suspect confirmed that the business was geared towards helping those who might have been without a child for many years and want one or more.

“The arrested suspect further revealed that the deliveries were carried out by him in one of the rooms in his apartment where a traditional labour room was seen, but maintained that he was not a medical doctor but plied his profession traditionally. The rescued girls are helping the operatives in their investigation”. Amaraizu said.

The story of baby factory is the same in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo states, as the police and security operatives had equally discovered illegal foster homes in these states.

For instance, in Imo State, security operatives rescued about 17 pregnant teenage girls from a house where they were kept to make babies, as well as 11 babies, during a raid.

The girls were said to have claimed, after their rescue, that they were fed once a day and were not allowed to leave the home. Also, the girls claimed that a 23-year-old man, who was heavily fed always, impregnated them.

Prior to the raid, security operatives discovered an orphanage home in Umuozuo, Osisioma Local Government Area, Abia State.  At the illegal foster home, about 32 pregnant ladies were found and it was gathered that their babies were to be sold upon delivery.

These examples are just few cases of babies who are being sold that were made public through the media. 

The ugly and unacceptable business is going on everywhere in the South-East, with those who knew about it keeping sealed lips.

Governments are not oblivious of this fact that babies are being sold.  The government of Imo State recently took the bull by the horn and declared that only the religious organisations would be allowed to operate foster and orphanage homes so that child adoption and fostering would be streamlined.

The Enugu State, government is equally aware of the foster homes and illegal maternity homes where babies are sold and bought.  A source at the Ministry of Gender Affairs who spoke under anonymity said although child adoption is done, it is alien to Igbo culture.

According to him, instead of having abandoned babies consequently leading to child beggars, the authorities had invariably recognised some organisations to run foster homes.

The Enugu State Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Ndidi Chukwu, could not talk on the state of baby factory in the state or foster homes and child adoption in the state, as she told Sunday Tribune on phone that she was on leave.

A source however said that staff of the Gender Ministry has been warned not to speak with journalists about baby factories, child fostering and adoption, because powerful people in government and in the business world were allegedly involved in the business.

But does the sale of babies have any implication for Igbo culture?

The answer is that it is alien to Igbo culture.  A traditional title holder in Ojebe Ogene area of Udi in Enugu State, Chief Clement Oforma said that in his community, childless couples don’t adopt babies.  What they do, he said, is that a man could adopt his brother’s or sister’s child to be his heir when he dies with the consent of the parents of the child. According to Chief Oforma, the idea of buying a baby and bringing him or her to a family is alien to their culture.

Mr. Hilary Ezeugwu, a native of Opi, in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, say baby sale or adoption is alien to the tradition of his people. Mr. Ezeugwu said the issue of having an heir is not a problem. “What the Opi people do is, if a man dies without having a child to succeed him, whatever he has goes to his next of kin and even if all the members of kindred dies, his property would be inherited by anybody in his village who is related to him either closely or remotely.

An elderly man in Umuahia, Abia State, Chief Fred Okpara noted that civilization had done a lot to Igbo culture.  According to him, if not because people now buy babies, “all these illegal homes we read about on papers everyday will not be happening.

“In my place, if a couple dies without having a child, his possessions belong to his brothers and sisters who inherit it the way they chose.  The man’s property can belong to any of his relations, but to buy a baby and bring it into our family was unheard of.  It is an abomination”, he stated.

Mrs. Agnes Ugwu from Orba in Udenu Local Government area of Enugu State said, “if anybody adopts a child in Orba, the adopted child will not participate in sharing communal land but only inherit the personal land that belongs to the person that adopted him or her.”  She said no matter how rich the adopted child might be, he cannot be a traditional ruler in their place because the person would be regarded as an outcast, which is called Osu  in some parts of Igboland.

In order to preserve the Igbo culture, Mrs. Ugwu opined that child adoption as it is practised now should be discontinued so that all those foster homes would disappear.

“To solve the issue of unwanted pregnancies and unwanted babies, if a girl becomes pregnant out of wedlock, the child belongs to the parents of the girl who rear him or her as their own blood.  If however the person that impregnated her will not own up to the pregnancy or owns up to the pregnancy but refuses to marry the girl he impregnated, the child will be owned by her parents and that closes the matter”, she added.

Further checks revealed that the prevalence of foster homes and orphanages have not solved the problem of unwanted pregnancies neither has it solved the issue of abandoned babies which the alleged perpetrators had claimed to be their reason for embarking on the unholy act.

This is because girls are now aware that if they become pregnant in their father’s house, they now have a place to go and deliver their babies and even make money out of it.

Apparently, illegal homes are thriving because the girls get monetary compensation for becoming pregnant and disposing of the babies afterwards for cash ranging from N20,000 to N30,000, whereas owners of the foster homes sell their babies for up to N500,000 to would-be childless couples in need of children they could call their own.

One might ask if there is any virtue in running the orphanages and foster homes.  To the like Chief Oforma, foster homes have helped in reducing the gory sight of seeing babies being abandoned to die, meaning that whatever that has a disadvantage must have an advantage.

“The sale of babies under whatever guise, no doubt may have helped some couples who would have been derided by the society for not being able to have babies which are so much cherished in Igboland till this day.  If people don’t find out that the child is adopted or purchased, the couple that adopted the child would live happily all the days of their lives.

“However, whether there is virtue in running foster homes or not, sale of babies is anathema and alien to Igbo culture and should be discouraged so that the Igbo nation is not seen by the outside world as a race that indulge in the sale of human beings”, he added.
  •  by  Jude Ossai - Enugu Tribune

Development: What Africa can learn from medieval Europe

"Came across this article and I think it will make a great read. I don't agree completely with the analysts but they do have a point."


What Africa can learn from medieval Europe

OVER the last few decades, Africa’s failure to achieve rapid growth has puzzled economists. GDP statistics clearly show that African economies have failed to converge with Europe's since the Second World War. While GDP per capita in constant terms almost quintupled in Western Europe between 1950 and 2008, it only doubled in Africa in the same period. Some African countries have not simply failed to catch up with Europe but have fallen behind in absolute terms. GDP per capita in countries like the Central African Republic, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have fallen over this same period.
Many scholars still blame the continent’s economic woes on the legacy of western colonialism. But a new paper* by Stephen Broadberry and Leigh Gardner, both at the London School of Economics, seeks to find a new answer to this old question by comparing trends in contemporary Africa to Europe’s development experience over the last 800 years.
Africa’s failure to develop, they argue, should not be seen as the exception, but as the historical norm. Africa’s growth trends since 1950—overall stagnation with periods of growth and decline—appear incredibly similar, both in terms of patterns and level, to those of pre-modern Europe. It took European countries until the 1800s to exceed Africa’s current per capita output. Humanity all over the world, for the vast majority of its history, has experienced periods of growth followed by reversals which have limited increases in per capita income.
Although Africa went through periods of economic growth in the 1950s, 1960s, late-1980s and the 2000s, these growth spurts were off-set by “growth reversals” in the 1970s, early-1980s and the 1990s, when GDP fell. Similar patterns can be seen in pre-modern economic history, when falling per capita GDP figures in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries wiped out earlier gains.
The question that Mr Broadberry and Ms Gardner then ask is how did Europe escape from these growth reversals. They see institutional factors—most notably the introduction of democracy and the development of state capacity for growth— as the threshold conditions met in Europe, but that have generally not been in Africa.
For instance, as Douglass North and Barry Weingast have argued, constitutional reforms after the Glorious Revolution of 1689 enabled these conditions to be met in Britain, producing growth in the eighteenth century that was never reversed. Increased parliamentary control over the executive and a “credible commitment” to pay back the public debt encouraged public and private investment which, they say, produced sustainable growth.
Europe’s wider economic “take-off” in the nineteenth century can be seen in a similar light. The creation of strong and stable states in nineteenth-century Europe enabled investment in canals and railways, which increased growth rates there. The development of professional civil services and judiciaries, where promotion was based on merit rather than corruption, also helped too. These types of reforms contributed towards creating “open access” societies where all groups of the population have equal opportunity to access state services, such as the courts system to enforce property rights.
Mr Broadberry and Ms Gardner argue that failure to fulfill these threshold conditions in most African countries have resulted in them being trapped in the cyclical pattern of growth reversals seen over the last 60 years. They argue policy makers should encourage both democratization as well as the expansion of "state capacity" in order to escape from the threat growth reversals still pose to Africa's current phase of growth.
But perhaps other lessons could be learned from this sort of economic history as well, aside from the importance of good institutions for growth. Social conditions could also be important in explaining development. Both modern Africa and medieval Europe suffered growth reversals after long-lasting epidemics: after HIV/AIDS hit Africa and after bubonic plague spread into Europe. Perhaps higher expenditure on healthcare and preventative measures against future epidemics could boost growth. And as growth took off in Europe after the invention of the printing press and the spread of mass literacy, higher spending on education may matter too.
New explanations of underdevelopment are putting increasing stress on sociological factors as well. “Pro-poor policies”, which boost economic aspirations, might also be an effective way of kick starting economic growth in third-world countries. Theories like these may go some of the way to explaining why growth took off fastest in north-west Europe where the destruction of feudal structures that prevented social mobility occurred first.
How far institutions were involved in these complex processes is a moot point. What is clear is that Europe's pre-modern economic history has much to say about development in third world countries today—but institutions may only proove to be one part of a bigger picture.
- CR London

African governance, Too many dinosaurs

African governance

Too many dinosaurs

The survival of ancient tyrants spoils Africa’s record of improving democracy

BETWEEN independence from colonial rule in the early 1960s and the end of the cold war in 1991, not a single African ruler was peacefully ousted at the ballot box, except in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. But since Mathieu Kérékou of Benin and Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda bowed out graciously in 1991, at least 30 African leaders or ruling parties have let their countries’ voters kick them out. Multiparty systems in Africa now far outnumber single-party ones. This contrasts strikingly with the Arab world, where so far almost no incumbent-ejecting elections have taken place anywhere.
Yet Africa still harbours too many dinosaurs whose time ought to have passed. Half of the world’s 30 or so longest-serving rulers are African. Some, such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, now nearing 34 years in charge, started with genuine popular consent. So did Yoweri Museveni, pictured with Mr Mugabe, who has run Uganda since 1986, but like Mr Mugabe is now loth to let go (see article). Several other old-timers have been in charge even longer. Teodoro Nguema of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea pushed out his even ghastlier uncle in 1979. Angola’s José Eduardo Dos Santos became president, on a supposedly Marxist ticket, in the same year. Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity, has presided over Sudan since 1989. None of these grim figures would still be in charge if his people had more freedom.
The continent’s biggest democracies, South Africa and Nigeria, have not lately been a compelling advertisement for representative government. South Africa, ruled by the African National Congress since 1994, is in danger of becoming a de facto one-party state. Nigeria’s politics is so corrupt that it gives the D-word a bad name. In both countries large majorities of people still live in penury, despite the rise of billionaires at the top.
In the short term at least, autocracy does not seem to hamper economic growth. Some anti-democrats—Ethiopia’s late ruler, the authoritarian Meles Zenawi, is a favourite example—have seen their economies grow faster than those of more democratic neighbours. The increasingly ruthless Paul Kagame has made Rwandans a lot better off. Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea and Angola are among the fastest-growing countries in the world.
The price of autocracy
Yet Mr Mugabe has pauperised a once-rich country, and some of the least-free countries are also the most economically backward. Most of the 300 or so desperate refugees who drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa on October 3rd were from Somalia and Eritrea, Africa’s worst performers in political participation and human rights, according to the Mo Ibrahim index of African governance. As the index has repeatedly shown, countries that do well in political participation and human rights also tend to do well in economic development. And democracy is the best guarantor of peace, which is the best foundation for growth.
Western countries and NGOs give succour to protesters and lessons in institution-building, which is good, but they are losing their leverage. As China provides more grants, loans and trade deals with no tiresome strings attached, aid from the West that is conditional on more democracy and respect for human rights is less alluring to African rulers. So it is, increasingly, up to the African people to demand more of a say in the way their countries are run. For many, earning a living is too much of a struggle to think about politics. But Africans are changing, as computers and mobile phones allow them to argue and complain. Dinosaurs beware: the question is not whether they will demand better government, but when.

- Leaders

Don’t Let Them Steal Your Inventions

" We live in a time where people want to work less and earn much, stealing other peoples ideas is a quick way for a lazy man to get rich quick. Learn to protect you ideas".

On March 18, 2010, an Apple engineer left what looked like an iPhone 3 in a German beer garden in Redwood City, California.  Another patron later picked it up from a barstool.  The next morning, the phone didn’t work (having been disabled remotely) but the finder realized the device looked a bit odd.  It had a camera in the front and the exterior felt different.  He was able to remove the exterior, revealing a shiny prototype for the new iPhone 4 – a product Apple wasn’t intending to announce for months.
Up until that March evening, Apple had been notoriously successful at concealing its new designs.  Like clockwork, it would wait until just before unveiling a new product design to file a corresponding design patent application.  For instance, Apple filed applications for the original iPhone only four days before it was announced in 2007; for the original iPod in 2001, the filing was one day before release.
The finder of the iPhone 4 tried calling Apple to return the phone, but no one called him back.  About a month later, he sold the device to a website, which disassembled it, took pictures, and posted them on the Internet.  By that time, Apple might have assumed the prototype was simply lost.  But after the photos were posted, its lawyers jumped into action.  That same day, Apple sent a letter to the website asking for its property back and filed a design patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Filed at 11:55 pm that night, U.S. Design Patent D627,778 eventually issued covering the design of the iPhone 4.  All’s well that ends well.
Had this story played out in the past few weeks, it might not have had the same happy ending.  On September 16, 2011, the America Invents Act (AIA), a major modification to the Patent Act, was signed into law – a modification that makes the kind of “public disclosure” the iPhone 4 experienced a real impediment to an inventor’s securing a patent.
Prior to the AIA, the United States had a one-year grace period for all activities, including sale, use, and public disclosure.  In other words, a design could be shown, used, or sold and the inventor could still secure patent rights, provided that the application was filed within one year of the disclosure.  (Even outside that one-year period, exceptions could apply if an inventor displayed a design before that time  for experimental purposes.)  This grace period is why Apple was still able to secure rights in the iPhone 4 and, importantly, also preserve rights in foreign countries.
As part of the AIA, on March 16, 2013, the United States adopted a first-inventor-to-file regime. Under this regime, a public disclosure (including publication, sale, or public use of a complete product design without filing for a design patent protection beforehand) will constitute a dedication of that design to the public, including competitors.  The AIA includes a limited one-year grace period for certain disclosures by the inventor or obtained from the inventor; however, the exact boundaries of this grace period are uncertain and the federal courts will take many years to define them.
If the iPhone 4 scenario occurred today, under the new AIA, there would be many questions with unknown answers.  For instance, did the finder or the website “obtain” the design from the inventor at Apple?  Or does the fact that the engineer lost the prototype in public somehow break the disclosure chain back to the inventor?  Perhaps the attempt to disguise the design means that some “experimental use” exception should apply?
At the application stage, such decisions will be in the hands of the PTO examiner.  It will be the patent applicant’s burden to prove that the grace period should apply and that a patent should issue despite a public disclosure.  It’s worth noting that appeals from an adverse decision by the examiner can take as much as four years.  Thus a company could be forced to decide whether it should risk investing in a design that it may not own and anyone could use.  Should a patent be granted and these types of disclosures come to light later, an accused infringer would surely raise similar issues in litigation.  Uncertainties could drag on for years.
While it may seem unfair, unauthorized public disclosures have destroyed patent rights in the past.  The PTO has invalidated design patents based on photographs taken without permission.  Automobile trade magazines have a long history of covertly photographing new car designs on the test track and publishing the photos.  In 2010, the PTO found a Ford design patent for a truck grille was obvious (and thus not patentable) in view of a poorly-lit, partially obstructed view from a spy photo published in a trade magazine.
Spy photos and lost prototypes are only the tip of the iceberg.  Typically, the launch of a new product design includes market research, independent testing, previews to select retailers and journalists, and discussions with suppliers about how to manufacture the proposed design.  While some of these activities may be protectable under confidentiality agreements, in light of the AIA, this area of the law is far from clear.
Companies who rely on innovative product design to separate themselves from their competitors must effectively manage these risks.  It is understandable that some are reluctant to file for a design patent application while a design may not be final, opting instead for market research or testing to be completed.  It may seem unnecessary to spend money to patent designs that might not be used in a final product.  But waiting to patent until a design is “tweaked” may create more problems than it solves.
Under the AIA, if a design is released to the public (and not later patented), then the public design could be used to deny a patent to the later “tweaked” design.  (When the tweaked design is not “different enough,” the PTO may deem it as an obvious variant over the original design.)  But a company’s own pending designs cannot be used against it, if the new designs are filed before the pending designs are published, currently when the design patent issues.
In the post-AIA world, the best practice is to follow Apple’s standard procedure and apply for a design patent before any type of release outside the company.  And if you’re considering releasing more than one possible design, file design applications on all of them in order to avoid creating problems later.  The additional upfront costs will be negligible compared to the costs – and time, and angst – of replacing an unprotected design later on.

by Christopher Foley and Elizabeth Ferrill HBR

Random Musings on Obalende

" Obalende never lost its swag"

                                            Obalende Lagos,

Ezinwanne Ejimofor writes on the popular Obalende neighbourhood in Lagos, from its past to the present
A first time visitor to Obalende will be greeted by the cacophony of noise emanating from different directions, especially from traders and transporters, all drawing the attention of passers-by to patronise their goods and services.
All these happen on some of the streets in Obalende to be précised. Yes, Hawley, Okesuna, Foresythe Streets have become a place with human activities in its boisterous form. On these streets, everyone is busy, running up and down, moving from one shop to another, in search of a particular product. The middlemen have suddenly turned Hawley, Okesuna and Foresythe Streets into a haven where they seek their own pay from those not too familiar with trading activities on the streets. So the middlemen are service providers. The streets are almost turning into a mini-market where all kinds of vehicle spare parts are being sold.  Hence, these streets are daily filled with people with interest in trading activities around vehicle spare parts.
Indeed, due to the kind of transactions that goes on there daily, you would think that the area is a market square, if you are a first-time visitor to the area. But Hawley, Okesuna and Foresythe Streets are not. They are residential areas. However, the resident of the area have come to live with the situation they found themselves. Afterwards, most residents have also become parts of the merchants since it is convenient for them to get whatever they want at their doorsteps. For some, it takes just a mere peep out of the window and the message is delivered with a deal sealed.
Obalende had the distinction of being the seat of Government until 1991, when the capital was moved to Abuja. It’s also the heart of the Lagos Island city centre. Obalende which literarily means ‘the King has requested that I should stay here,’could be said to be the birth place of Nigeria police, just as it was a veritable platform for which the present Nigeria Army had its roots. When the French were relentless in their expansionist quest for some of the territories in possession of the British, Lord Lugard, who was then an agent of the Royal Nigeria Company, proposed and indeed formed the West Africa Frontier Force, with Obalende serving as a base.  Not only that. Obalende was hotbed of political activities during the First Republic where politicians met and connected as they canvassed for votes.
Now, all that has changed. A resident who has lived in Obalende for many years, Mrs. Ogechi Uzor said: “it is no longer a new thing to us, because we have accustomed our lives to the changing environment. The noise is deafening, but it doesn’t hurt. From morning till night we sleep and wake up with noise coming from different directions. That is what Obalende has become and everyone knows it.”
Miss chizoba Akpan, who moved into the neighbourhood a few months ago said Obalende has all the attraction being in the centre. “It is a place that you can turn around and find whatever you need. So I am not bothered about the noise. It’s normal for a community such as Obalende.”
So majority of the people are now aware that vehicle spare parts are sold within Obalende neigbourhood and they throng the place regularly. The vehicle spare parts merchants of Obalende deal in all kinds of spare parts, so it is easier for them to attract a large patronage. In their fortunes, the food vendors and other petty traders also share, with brisk business going on there every moment.
These vehicle spare parts merchants surely know how to access their customers and they do it with the ability of a sprinter. They often run as if something is pursuing them. To be sure, someone who is prone to fear may  find himself joining in the race to nowhere, especially if the person is a first-time visitor not knowing the merchants’ eyes are set on a moving car whose owner will soon patronise them. True, Obalende vehicle spare parts merchants will drag their customers as if they are dragging a bag of money in an atmosphere that is often polluted by fumes from the cars on the streets.
The used vehicle spare parts in Obalende are from China, Japan and Germany. But a merchant, Godwin Udoh said: “Where you get your goods depends largely on the choice of your country and in particular your relationship with someone there who can help you with importation handling.”
Obed Kingsley, an undergraduate who is providing support to his brother’s business in one of the shops told THISDAY that dealing in vehicle spare parts is one of the profitable businesses around.
He said: “My brother has been dealing in vehicle spare parts business for many years now and it has given him money to take care of his family and other dependents.”
Sources told THISDAY that the vehicle spare parts merchants prefer Hawley, Okesuna and Foresythe Streets as trading points because of accessibility and affordability of the shops in the neighbourhood.
“Why we are trading on these streets is because the streets are not in a hiding place. They are in a good sight and also close to the market, where people can easily see us. Buying a shop in the market is more expensive. The price of a shop here cannot be compared to the shop in the market,” the source said.
Before now, Obalende was one of the attractions in Lagos. It was popular for its ‘suya’ such that the name (Obalende Suya) was found in places like London and a part of United States.
In the past, sanitary condition of Obalende was good because the military ensured that people fumigated their compounds to prevent diseases.
In a way, all seem to have faded away with the exit of the seat of Government to Abuja. Perhaps where residents feel the impact most over the years has been in the area of security. But Lagos State government seems to be playing its part in restoration efforts for Obalende to remain.
- ThisDay

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