Let’s talk about fairness
He who comes to equity must come with clean clean hands, or something like that
Welcome to the 94 people who joined us since Friday; what a weekend! If you haven’t already subscribed, c’mon now, do it for world peace.
This week, I’m sending out our super cool t-shirts to three people who referred the most people to the newsletter - one person referred 27 people! Another person also made a really close guess about the number of words in Friday’s newsletter, will also get a shirt. Now, let's get into today’s newsletter.
Before Covid-19, there were a million panels on the future of work, and how remote work was the way. All your favourite people spoke on those panels at some point or the other, and they made bold recommendations about how working from home was the future. With no skin in the game, the realm of remote work was so theoretical that we didn’t really disagree about it. As my people say, "who use mouth learn motor no dey get accident."
Fast forward to the present, and the Covid-19 induced switch to WFH hasn't been the seamless transition those panels imagined. On Friday, our conversation about Nigerian developers taking multiple jobs really took off. Today, a Wall Street Street Journal article showed that the trend of remote workers holding multiple full-time jobs is a global phenomenon.
Here's an excerpt from the article I found amusing:
“It’s two jobs for one,” says a 29-year-old software engineer who has been working simultaneously for a media company and an events company since June. He estimates he was logging three to 10 hours of actual work a week back when he held down one job. “The rest of it is just attending meetings and pretending to look busy.”
Back home, there are aspects to the conversation that are critical. Nigerian workers are choosing to work for foreign companies thanks to the remote work wave, and for them, it's an opportunity to earn $$ and expand their experience. On the surface, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved. Employees can earn more than local companies can offer and for the foreign companies hiring them, it offers a discount on what they'll pay for home grown talent.
But as the outsourcing model continues, many concerns are coming to the surface. One senior developer told me this week that while foreign companies generally pay better than local companies, a good number of them also offer poor deals. "A foreign company offered me €15 per hour. They told me it was good because I didn't have to deal with Lagos traffic. While that offer was about ₦500,000 at the time, it was a poor offer," he said. "But I don't blame them, it's Nigerians that make them think that these things are possible."
But the conversation about fairness goes beyond salaries. As jobs go global and remote work makes talent easy to find regardless of where they are, we need to start talking beyond the basic pay package. Nigerian tech workers interested in foreign gigs should pay more attention to their legal employee status and details of their compensation. For instance, you're either a full-time staff or a contract worker, and depending on this status you could qualify for stock options, healthcare insurance and other benefits. If you're based in Nigeria, earning dollars, but unconcerned about your employment status, you're opening yourself to exploitation on the global market. While Nigeria's cost of living is lower than the US, that doesn't mean you should earn ridiculously low wages, and worse, lose out on proper employee status and benefits.
That said, it feels like today’s theme is building on earlier conversations, so let’s do a catch up with Nigeria’s Central Bank and their interesting decision to ban the sale of $$ to BDCs.
Meffy’s big move a.k.a you can’t cheat your way out of your problems
Last week, Godwin “how dare you teach me my job” Emefiele, a.k.a Meffy turned 60. Despite his obvious failures as CBN governor — inflation in Nigeria was 17.75% in June - banks fell over themselves with centrespread advertising to wish him a happy birthday. At the birthday party which Sahara Reporters say was held in Jamaica, a lot of Bank CEO’s were reportedly in attendance.
There’s no doubt that Meffy patted their backs for falling in line with the policy to step up and hold the forte in the absence of BDCs, which the CBN no longer sells $$ to. In a week, the banks were told to create apps where customers could request for $$ and the general public was told that if the banks didn’t give them $$, they could report to the CBN on a dedicated hotline. The parallel market, which I, and many other people predicted would go haywire, stabilized instead. The first round goes to Meffy.
The second act may be harder to pull off, as some of the biggest companies cannot get forex at official rates. Last week, MTN Nigeria finally got forex for the $280 million it owed to the MTN Group for over a year — there was no word on how it was able to get those greenbacks or at what rate. But Unilever Nigeria shed some light on what it costs big companies to source forex.
According to Bloomberg, “Nigeria Unilever Nigeria Plc is being compelled to buy dollars above the market rate because rationing of foreign-exchange by the West African nation’s central bank has caused a shortage of the U.S. currency. The local unit of Unilever Plc bought the greenback from money changers and lenders at between 440 to 450 naira on an average in the first-half of the year, Adesola Sotande-Peters, finance director at the company, said at an investor conference call in Lagos. That compares with 410.72 naira to a dollar at 7:28 a.m. in Lagos on Friday.”
Why didn’t Unilever call the CBN hotline? Beyond that bit of snark, this is just another pointer that you can't cheat your way out of a simple demand and supply problem. If the CBN tells the banks that $1 = N413, it’s a farce if most people can’t buy it at said price. As I said three weeks ago, “the real problem is that we are not creating policies that attract $$$ that come in through foreign investments. And until we do, there’s no short-term fix for where we have found ourselves.”
Until that happens, ordinary Nigerians will continue discussing what FX rates are, when what we should be concerned about is the inflation rate and then my personal favorite, the food inflation rate. The NBS report on those figures comes out tomorrow — if you’d like to see a special Monday afternoon newsletter on those figures and what they mean, pile into the comments and let me know. 50 comments and I’d certainly do it — okay, 40 comments, last price.
That’s enough reporting for one day.
There’s no “what I’m reading” section on Sundays, so instead, I’ll plug a few newsletters and publications I read on a weekly basis. There’s GetAfrica, which I really love for its super easy style, Afrobeats Intelligence when I’m looking to get past the Wizkid vs Davido arguments on my timeline to really know the facts, and Samora Kariuki’s Frontier Fintech newsletter.
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See you on Monday if those comments come in, or on Friday!
All designs in this newsletter are by Tega Anighoro, check him out on Twitter @__thetega
*Abubakar Idris also contributed to today’s newsletter; he’s on Twitter @iatalkspace