Friday, 30 March 2012

As Walmart and Co. Besiege Nigeria's Shores

Straight to the matter at hand, one perspective at a time...

Will the entrance of global retail firms into the Nigerian market aid in the tracking of consumer spending? Possibly, but the figures might be distorted as socio-economic inequality continues a northward trend in Africa's most populous state. Contrary to popular belief, I posit that a financially free middle class is being suppressed from emerging; in its place, a CREDIT driven middle class will emerge. As this section of private sector debt increases, any hopes of restoring a savings culture (whether under the mattress or in bonds and equities) will be extinguished. The dynamics leading to the emergence of this class of individuals will be x-rayed in a later post.

Will the prospectively high importation activities of these giant retailers put downward pressure on the Nigerian naira? Most certainly, in the medium to long term, all other metrics remaining constant. Through a cancerous combination of failed policies and widespread corruption, the manufacturing sector has remained dormant for the better part of the existence of the Nigerian state. If the government collects less in taxes than a retailer's activities cost the government (by the selling of the naira), what net economic benefit does the Nigerian state derive? If the Nigerian manufacturing sector were alive and well, the resources would, to a greater extent, be kept within the system. The CBN will have a greater workload as the western traders arrive. 

On a lighter note, the health and pharmaceuticals sector may see an upsurge in revenues from the sales of dietary supplements and other related drugs as the consumption of processed foods and the like outpace their more natural sources. So the need to fill in the nutritional gap cannot be overstated. The concept created by the illusory observance of an emerging, 'financially free' middle class so busy they might not have time to pay religious attention to their nutritional requirements will engender this revenue surge. 

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