All That Comes With Social Media

At the opening of the 2017 press week of the Delta State Council of the Nigerian Union Of Journalists, speakers discussed social media and all that comes with it.

Emmanuel Uduaghan, immediate past governor of the state who was the chairman of the occasion was pleased with the opportunity to speak his mind about the theme of the program-“Journalists,Social Media, and Good Governance” which he admitted once being a victim of the menace of social media.

In his opening remarks, which set the tone for the lecture delivered by renowned professor of constitutional law and former Edo State governor, Oserheimen Osunbor, Uduaghan described the social media as a leveler because everyone has access to it, and so provides the forum for everybody to air anything in his mind – the good, the bad and the ugly. “But the result of that is that the ugly seem to be overtaking the bad and the good. So, we have a lot more ugly posts in the social media than posts that are acceptable”, Uduaghan opined. He said while it has the advantage of immediacy, “that speed has its disadvantage because once a wrong information goes into the social media, it’s very difficult to retrieve it”, adding that even when you are able to retrieve it, or correct it, sometimes, not more than 10 percent of the people who read the first message will agree with the corrected message, while 90 percent will still be going on with the wrong message.

Uduaghan was particularity concerned about the situation in Delta State where he allerrged that blackmail has been made a big profession. Getting emotional, Uduaghan said “I am a man of peace; I have managed the state for eight years and I ensured that there was peace in Delta State, and I will not be part of anything that would bring insecurity to Delta State. And if I perceive that my action might bring insecurity to Delta State, I will also say it to the government. I think I have discussed this with the SSG before and advised him, but I have not seen the result of that advise. That is why I am saying it publicly”.

“Great”- The Codename For Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Following the disaster that was the Galaxy Note 7, there were some who were skeptical that Samsung would be releasing a follow-up device, although this has since been put to rest as Samsung has confirmed that they will be releasing a Galaxy Note 8 handset this year. Now thanks to a report from SamMobile, some very early details have been leaked.

According to the report, they are claiming that the upcoming Note 8 has been designated with a codename “Great”, which sounds like Samsung’s way to trying to boost morale and to try and make the Note 8 a great handset that the Note 7 had the potential to be. To be fair our review of the Note 7 found it to be an excellent device, and had it not been for the fire hazard we’re sure that it would have gone on to do very well.

The report also goes on to claim that the model number for the Note 8 will be the SM-N950F, something to keep an eye out for should the handset be only referenced by its model number in future benchmark sightings and whatnot. This model number is said to be for the international unlocked variant, so expect that versions designated for other countries or carriers to be slightly different.

In any case take it with a grain of salt, but we expect that more details about the Note 8 should start trickling out in the near future, although right now we guess the focus is on the upcoming Galaxy S8 which will be officially announced on the 29th of March.

Credit: Ubergizmo

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons Can Connect To Your PC, Mac, And Android

We’ve already learned that the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller can connect to your PC, but YouTube user DreWoof confirmed yesterday it’s also possible to pair Joy-Cons to your other devices via Bluetooth as well.

As the video above shows, because Joy-Cons use Bluetooth to communicate with the Switch, they can also be paired as controllers to other Bluetooth-capable devices. At this stage, each Joy-Con will pair as a single controller, meaning it’s only possible to use one each for two-player games. Using them both as a single controller—as per the Switch in handheld-mode—isn’t supported by default, though it’s possible third-party software or driver updates could be used to solve that problem in the future.

Currently the controllers can be paired to PC, Mac, and Android devices with Bluetooth. Because iOS devices use a different wireless specification, you unfortunately won’t be able to use Joy-Cons to control your iPhone or iPad games any time soon.

In other Nintendo Switch news, the Pro Controller currently appears to be completely sold-out, Nintendo hopes the Switch will tempt you back to Miitomo, and check out our review of Super Bomberman R.

Credit: Gamespot

Snapchat Will Eventually Snap Back To Reality

Despite the fact that the social media boom is coming to an end, Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP), the parent company of Snapchat, had a very successful IPO with the shares rising almost 60% from its issue price of $17. Although the retail investors didn’t get to ride the entire rally-as it opened at around $24-the stock is still up considerably.

Although the social media boom is coming to an end, the stocks in the sector are still trading in bubble territory. The likes of Snap, Twitter, and even Facebook to an extent, are trading at valuations they will struggle to justify in the years to come. You can make a case for Facebook’s valuation given its digital marketing market share, profitability, and remarkable growth. However, as for Snap, I don’t see how the company can justify its current valuation.

It seems like Snap’s owners have exploited a market that is hungry for a fresh high-profile IPO by cashing out almost $1 billion in shares. At current levels, Snap is clearly overvalued, and the slowdown in Snapchat’s user growth rate will make it further difficult for the company to grow into its valuation. However, as mentioned above, Snap can continue trading at irrational on account of its strong revenue growth and path to profitability.

The company’s ability to justify its current price, or move higher, largely depends on its ability to monetize its core user base. Thus, I think investors should keep close tabs on the company’s monetization efforts and make their decision accordingly. However, as of now, I think investors should watch the stock from the sidelines and wait for a significant irrational move, in either direction, before taking a long or short position.

Silicon Sahara: Africa’s Tech Gold Rush

Africa is on the verge of something big. This seems to be a quiet, cautious consensus in some investment communities. The past year has been peppered with stories of tech startup hubs emerging across the continent, from Lagos to Kigali to Agadir. The model of American tech entrepreneurship looks to be slowly sparking a renaissance in the Silicon Sahara.

As the gaze of America’s VCs begins to settle on African entrepreneurs, many open questions are left unanswered. Will Africa play host to the tech world’s next gold rush? Can these markets stay stable enough to grow the next billion-dollar Internet companies? Does Africa have what it takes to emulate Silicon Valley? The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Big things are ahead for African tech.

But to understand the rising star for Africa, you first must understand why the road to Africa goes through China.

The running of the bulls: China’s economic rollercoaster
The Chinese credit crunch and the crash of the Shanghai Composite should have come as a surprise to no one… with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Chinese economy grew at a consistently monstrous rate of between 8 percent and 16 percent, year over year (only dipping to 7 percent following the global financial crisis). This happened mainly because the west began to outsource and offshore its traditional manufacturing in favor of less expensive Chinese producers.

The Chinese middle class made exceptional gains as a result, and grew tremendously during this period as manufacturing generated new wealth for the emerging agrarian economy. It seemed inevitable that the party would end at some point — where the roulette wheel would stop though, was anyone’s guess.

A credit crunch, a cooling growth rate and underwater construction loans all flew in the face of a stable, harmonious China.

The first warning signs came in 2013 and 2014 as reports began to trickle out about Chinese “ghost cities.”

Developers were running deep in debt from loans originated mostly by government municipalities, which the developers had taken out to build the audacious mega cities that would house the next wave of the urbanized Chinese middle class. There was only problem: The next wave didn’t come.

As the defaults from construction started to trickle upward, it likely became clear to the People’s Bank of China that growth may be slowing for the first time in a few decades. Meanwhile, the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, Europe, were slowly but steadily recovering from their recessions.

Harmony and stability are values central to the policies of Chinese President Xi Jinping — and to the communal ethos of China as a whole — and are lauded much the same way Americans praise liberty and equality. A credit crunch, a cooling growth rate and underwater construction loans all flew in the face of a stable, harmonious China, and threatened the newly minted middle class, looking for returns on its capital. So the CCP guided retail investors to a new asset class: public equities on the Shanghai Composite.

From mid-2014 to mid-2015, the Chinese stock market was an investing barn burner, more than doubling in value in less than a year. It looked like the CCP had solved the problem of what to do with the glut of wealth held by its middle class — until the market crashed spectacularly in June 2015.

Again, the warning signs were there. Companies like Shanghai Duolun Industry rebranded themselves as “technology” companies and made outlandish claims that just their domain names alone were worth hundreds of millions. I made a brash — and admittedly uninformed — bet against the Shanghai Composite. A few bearish investors and I got lucky; many millions of Chinese did not.

Now, as the Chinese stock market enters its third bear market — marked by sustained losses of more than 20 percent — in less than half a year, Chinese retail investors are again looking for a promising asset class to park their investments.

So why does this matter for Africa? While China was reaping the windfall of massive growth and dealing with the investment challenges of a “free” market within its borders for the first time, it was quietly scaling up its investment outside the country, as well.

The tale of the Chinese patron and the African builder
War, hunger, malaria, tribalism, Ebola and crushing poverty… these are the common western images conjured up at the mention of Sub-Saharan Africa. Since the end of the last world war, those headlines have been sadly reflective of the condition of some unstable African republics. Driven by motives ranging from charity to profit to a renewed “white man’s burden,” the western world has during the past half century poured money into the African continent to combat these ills.

But over the past decade, driven by its meteoric economic growth, China has quietly but steadily increased its foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa. In the five years from 2003 to 2008 alone, Chinese investment in Africa shot up by a CAGR of 105 percent, from $75 million in 2003 to $5.5 billion in 2008. The same went for imports and exports between the two, which grew from $10 billion in 2003 to more than $50 billion in 2008.

Why is China investing so much in Africa?
Unlike the west’s investment, China’s ravenous appetite for African labor and resources is not tied to countries with good governance. The only two criteria for Chinese investment in the continent appear to be stability and profitability. This has allowed China, which still only accounts for 3 percent of the FDI in Africa, to grab the lion’s share in some of its larger FDI recipient markets, such as Sudan, Congo DR and Nigeria, all of which score low in world democracy rankings. Zimbabwe, long a thorn in the side of the western world, recently made the yuan its official currency, effectively making it an economic vassal state of China.

Yet this new spate of FDI leaves one big question unanswered in the west: Why is China investing so much in Africa? Conventional wisdom holds that Chinese investors want to make a play for African resources — such as mining — as fuel to power China’s mighty manufacturing sector. However, the data tell a different story: China is slowly moving its industrial and services sectors to Africa. Indeed, 38 percent of African FDI has gone to manufacturing and construction, and another 20 percent to finance and business services.

So why does this matter for Africa? In all likelihood, it means that over the last two decades, as the Chinese middle class grew and became richer, and as western standards for factory labor became more strict, Chinese goods slowly became more expensive. As evidence, China has consistently devalued the yuan in recent years in order to keep its exports cheap. But at some point, prices will catch up with producers, and China will need to find cheaper factories for its companies to be competitive. Enter Africa.

Chinese FDI in Africa shows no sign of slowing, even as it goes through a credit crunch and a run on its stock market. If it continues at this rate, Africa could become the new world’s factory in the next 10-20 years, and the African middle class could find itself yanked out of agrarian poverty just as quickly as China’s over the last 20 years. And why wouldn’t Chinese investment continue? Relative to the boom and bust of the Chinese debt and equity markets, African FDI has looked remarkably stable.

As long as China, like the Medicis of Renaissance Italy, continues to be a patron of Africa’s enterprising manufacturers and builders, both will profit, and the African middle class will grow.

From blue collar to white collar to v-neck: Africa’s road ahead
Silicon Valley is boring and oversaturated with capital. At least, that seems to be the conclusion some of its largest investors came to as they looked longingly west. Over the past few years, Sequoia, Matrix, Tiger Global Management and other VC and PE firms have been embroiled in a land grab for Chinese Internet startups. They’ve been met with equally fierce competition from Chinese investors, such as Tencent and Alibaba. China is seen as the “market to conquer” for mega-startups such as Uber or WhatsApp.

All this offshore investment activity has been driven by two factors: an increasingly crowded VC and PE market for American tech and the new stability and wealth of emerging economies like China and Brazil (another big focus of American VCs). The rise of China’s middle class led to a mature, stable business environment that encouraged entrepreneurs like Alibaba’s Jack Ma to found startups and reap their fortunes.

Over the next 20 years, Africa will walk down the same path. As more and more manufacturing and services companies look to increasingly stable African economies in which to offshore their operations, the African middle class will grow. And as the middle class grows and business environments become increasingly wealthy and stable, entrepreneurs will emerge in Africa’s nascent tech startup scene.

It’s important to note here the alluring temptation to over-homogenize Africa. The western world tends to think of Africa as a cohesive unit, while countries as close to each other as Egypt and Rwanda are in reality as diverse as Luxembourg is from Turkey. Some will welcome the tech scene; many will not.

But early signs are encouraging. Literacy and education rates are skyrocketing. Studies are coming out on entrepreneurship as the best driver of growth on the continent. The Rwandan government just announced a $100 million venture fund for local tech entrepreneurs. Djibouti is modernizing rapidly with an eye toward becoming East Africa’s Singapore. Mobile phones still have yet to reach their potential. And The World Bank says that Africa is “poised to become the next great investment destination.”

It’s tempting to patronize a bit and characterize these entrepreneurs as “African solutions for African problems,” seeing them only as incubators for social enterprise. Western ears tend to hear about these startups and call up pictures of mosquito nets, clean water, cheap lighting and malaria vaccines. Yet these companies will compete for the same markets to distribute the same products as western ones, with new tactics.