OPay, a mobile payments startup owned by Norwegian browser firm, Opera, has secured $50 million in funding from three Chinese companies; Sequoia China, IDG Capital, and Source Code Capital, in its move to primarily to grow its digital finance business in Nigeria. With the fund, OPay is expected to support Opera’s growing commercial network in the country, which includes motorcycle ride-hail app, ORide, and a food delivery service portal, OFood. The fund is also poised to position Opera towards becoming a multi-service commercial internet platform in Africa. According to Opera CEO, Yahui Zhou, the geographic expansion of OPay and other services is a key part of the company’s plans, which will be made possible through its product offerings. OPay’s parent company, Opera, experienced a leadership change in 2016 after it was acquired by a consortium of Chinese investors, led by current Opera CEO, Zhou. Barely a year after its establishment, Opay has recorded significant growth in its number of users and transactions. On the payments side, the company has scaled to 40,000 active agents and $5 million in daily transaction volume.
Only a hundred customers of Deposit Money Banks borrowed the sum of ₦7.44 trillion in Q1 2019, representing about 47.43 percent of the ₦15.21 trillion in loans granted to the entire economy during the three months period. 1.88 million customers borrowed the balance of ₦7.76 trillion, which was about 52.57 percent of the entire money borrowed during the period. Customers in the oil and gas sector borrowed the highest amount of ₦4.68 trillion, followed by manufacturing with ₦2.23 trillion, government, commerce, finance and insurance, and power had loan portfolios of ₦1.37 trillion, ₦1.03 trillion, ₦954.6 billion, and ₦682.93 billion respectively. The agriculture sector had a loan portfolio of ₦648.89 billion, construction ₦642.87 billion, information technology ₦607.95 billion, real estate ₦599.39 billion, transportation ₦316.95 billion and capital market ₦227.26 billion. Others were public utilities ₦78.91 billion, education ₦58.4 billion, health ₦36.6 billion, administration and support services ₦23.09 billion, water supply ₦22.6 billion, arts ₦11.34 billion and mining ₦8.9 billion.
A report by the UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative has shown that the number of ‘multidimensionally poor’ Nigerians increased from 86 million to 98 million between 2007 and 2017. The 2019 global Multidimensional Poverty Index said the proportion of people who are multidimensionally poor has remained constant at just over 50 percent over the past decade up to 2017. When compared to the national poverty line which measures income/consumption, a larger proportion of Nigerians, 51 percent, are multidimensionally poor than those that are income poor, 46 percent. The study further said the poorest countries exhibited not just higher incidents of multidimensional poverty, but also higher intensity, with each poor person deprived in more indicators. The World Poverty Clock fact shows that about 86.9 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty, which implies that nearly 50 percent of its estimated 180 million population is very poor. It was reported that as of June 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the most extremely poor people in the world. The UN report said India lifted 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, recording the fastest reductions in the multidimensional poverty index values during the period with strong improvements in areas such as “assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition.”
An investigation by Premium Times shows that road transport workers pay billions of naira to various independent unions in Lagos state as tax and various levies, but that these taxes are never accounted for. Road transport workers told Premium Times about how they have to be strategic in doing their businesses and avoiding paying some of the taxes so they don’t end up working for the unions. ‘Officially’, the transporters pay least ₦3,000 daily “for booking, tickets and annual levy.” However, many of the transport workers said it is almost as though they work to feed the greed of the union officials who never account for what they generate. In 2018, Akinyemi Ashade, finance commissioner for Lagos at the time said that the state generated average monthly revenue of ₦34 billion. However, the actual amount generated by the transport unions in the state remains vague, and the informality of the sector makes accurate data collection difficult. A rough estimate done by the paper showed that a minimum of ₦200 billion is generated annually from these dues, representing about 50 percent of the state’s internally generated revenue in 2018.