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Op-Ed

Reverse missionaries and the migration of wealth from state to church

While Christianity is rising in Africa, there is a major decline in countries that are originally Christian according to a survey

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“We thank God” has become a popular phrase on the lips of Africans, whether it is in appreciation for the end of a day or a major win at an award show. For whatever reason, good or bad, God is always thanked.

Africans are very religious people; this is no news. Africans take pride in their religion; this no secret.

The growth of both Christianity and Islam in the next 41 years will be concentrated within sub-Saharan Africa. A new Pew research center report posits that by 2060, 4-in-10 Christians are expected to live in most of the African countries, with Nigeria, D.R. Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya topping the list.

One of the factors for this growth in religious demography is Africa’s increasing population, projected at 1.3 billion more people by 2050.  Children inducted into the religion of their parents are likely to continue in this religion, thereby, increasing the number of those professing these faiths.

Historically, Christianity was introduced to Africa through Christian missionaries alongside colonialism. In conversations about colonialism, Christianity is rarely, if ever, mentioned. It has been accepted by many Africans as the best product of colonialism. It has been adopted and repurposed for the African, feverish prayer sessions and singsong praise worship. This evolution of African Christianity was made even stronger by the adoption of ‘Pentecostalism’. Many of these churches which have grown into empires providing institutions in education, health and even security where many African governments have fallen short.

While Christianity is rising in Africa, there is a major decline in countries that are originally Christian according to a survey conducted last year. In the United Kingdom, only 14 percent of Britons identify as members of the Church of England. This has inspired a need for reverse missionaries.

Reverse missionaries are Christians who have chosen to take Christianity back to Europe with hopes to restore the gospel to the origin nations. A story on Quartz Africa tells of Reuben Ekeme Inwe, a reverse missionary whose wife had a dream of him preaching to a large crowd as he often does in Lagos, Nigeria but this time, the faces in the audience were white and he was covered in snow. This dream inspired Reuben and his wife in their mission to spread the gospel and convert white British ‘unbelievers’.

In a larger scale of reverse missionaries, some Nigerian churches now have extensions in Europe, with some of the most popular mega churches in the United Kingdom. The exportation of African-style Christianity has become another form of reverse missionary.

However, how favourable has the massive growth of religion served the African continent?

A UK news journal, The Independent, published an article saying that researches have observed that the poorest nations tend to be highly religious. As many African countries are religious and poor, one could surmise that religion is a major cause for Africa’s poor economic state.

On the other hand, a research paper published on VOX contributes to the idea that religious beliefs have a positive influence on the individual, which in turn enhances economic performance, while an increase in religious attendance has a negative impact on the economy, shifting resources to the religious sector.

Africa’s mega pastors come to mind. Large Christian congregations spend percentages of their income in their churches, trusting these churches to provide for them in areas of social security and welfare more than they trust their governments. Many African countries are unable to recover Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from their working population as they give most, if not all of it to the church; in the end, creating super rich pastors and poorer nations.

It is valuable to believe in our religion. The belief in religion forms character and economic growth. Nevertheless, it should not take away our responsibility as citizens of our countries to hold our governments to account. Africans should offer loyalty to the State, just as much as we have to religion.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central’s editorial stance.

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Op-Ed

Gold: Positioned to thrive in low-interest-rate environment

Rising concerns surrounding the health of the global economy is another one of the engines that will help drive Gold prices

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Gold: Positioned to thrive in low-interest-rate environment

The investment case for Gold is set to remain robust as speculation mounts that major central banks will ease monetary policy in an effort to counter a global economic downturn.

The yellow metal shone with extreme intensity during the second quarter of 2019, rallying roughly 9 per cent to levels not seen above $1,435 in over six years, thanks to an environment that included ongoing global growth concerns, geo-politics, trade tensions and Dollar weakness.

Weak macro data, which reflects downward revisions in global growth over the past 12 months, is prompting a handful of central banks including the European Central Bank (ECB), Federal Reserve (Fed) and Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to signal a willingness to ease monetary policy and increase economic stimulus to support growth.

In a low-interest-rate environment filled with chronic uncertainty, Gold can climb another 5 per cent over the course of Q3 – claiming the title as one of the high flyers among safe-haven assets, in competition with the Yen. 

Will Gold’s fortunes hang on the Fed’s actions?

Will Gold’s fortunes hang on the Fed’s actions?

What investors need to watch as the second half of the trading year gets underway are the actions of the Federal Reserve. Will the US central bank confirm market expectations and cut interest rates as early as July? If it fails to do so, Gold risks rapidly surrendering its second-quarter surge.

Essentially, if the Fed sits on its hands beyond July, profits will be taken from the table on the $120+ rally that transpired in Gold throughout June. 

Unfavourable global conditions to keep Gold in fashion

Rising concerns surrounding the health of the global economy is another one of the engines that will help drive Gold prices.

Although a sense of optimism has returned after the Trump-Xi Jinping meeting at G20 ended in a trade truce on tariffs, it does not change the reality that global growth is decelerating.

The World Bank recently downgraded it’s 2019 world growth forecast to 2.6 per cent from 2.9 per cent and if the recent disappointing PMI releases across the manufacturing sectors in Europe, China and the United States are anything to go by, global growth is moving towards the lower bound of 2 per cent as the decade draws to a close.

Warning signals over potential cracks in the largest economy in the world, indications of tepid growth in the EU, disappointing data from China’s manufacturing sector and lacklustre growth in the United Kingdom amid Brexit-induced uncertainties are likely to sweeten appetite for safe-haven assets. 

It’s all about central bank stimulus and lower yields 

In the longer term, Gold should also find support from lower treasury yields, especially if the 10-year treasury dips below 2 per cent again as persistent growth fears and trade developments result in lower interest rates across the globe.

While the outlook for the precious metal points to the upside, potential roadblocks on the horizon include easing trade tensions and signs of global growth stabilizing. Both outcomes would pose a challenge to buyers.

What do higher Gold prices mean for African markets?

What do higher Gold prices mean for African markets?

Gold-producing nations on the continent, like South Africa and Ghana will certainly benefit from higher prices.

Economic conditions in Africa’s most industrialised economy remain unfavourable thanks to a tornado of domestic and external risks. Economic growth contracted by 3.2 per cent during the first quarter of 2019 thanks to a sharp decline in manufacturing, agriculture and mining.

Given how Gold remains one of South Africa’s most valuable exports, rising Gold prices have the potential to stimulate growth – especially when factoring in how exports account for roughly 30 per cent of GDP.

Economic growth in Ghana remains robust with GDP expanding 6.7 per cent during the first quarter of 2019. With Ghana claiming the title of Africa’s top Gold producer, higher prices will be supportive of the mining sector which expanded 20.9 per cent in Q1.

When adding to the fact that roughly 5.7 per cent of Ghana’s GDP and 40 per cent of gross foreign earnings are acquired from the mining sector, Gold’s bullish outlook brightens Ghana’s growth prospects.

Gold bulls to dream big and reach for the stars 

Taking a look at the technical picture, Gold remains firmly bullish on the monthly charts as there have been consistent higher highs and higher lows.

Prices have scope to push higher on the monthly charts should $1360 prove to be reliable support.

For as long as bulls are able to defend $1360, there should be enough confidence to challenge $1430 and $1500 – a level not seen since April 2013. Alternatively, a decline back below $1360 will most likely swing open the doors towards $1324 and $1300, respectively.

This bullish setup becomes invalidated if prices find comfort below $1300.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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Op-Ed

Remembering Abdirahman Osman: Reformer and Friend

People close to Mogadishu’s slain mayor said he never complained about the huge burden of getting the city back on its feet.

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Abdirahman Omar Osman, spokesperson of the President of Somalia addresses the Somali media during a visit by the African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC), on it's first visit to the Somali capital Mogadishu, with the President of Somalia in 2013.

Abdirahman left his family in London to answer the call to rebuild Somalia several years ago. He did so at great personal risk and in spite of the fact that he was leaving a comfortable life and a good job to take on a position in Mogadishu with no salary and immense danger.

He told me that he did so because he believed that there was hope for Somalia, that there was work to be done and that the biggest chunk of that work had to be done by Somalis themselves.

Everyone knew Abdirahman by his nickname, Engineer Yarisow. In Somalia, virtually everyone has a nickname; it’s an affectionate way that Somalis relate to each other. Never mind the nicknames can be as rude as they are hilarious: they are often based on one’s physical shortcomings. If you have a big nose, for instance, your nickname in Somalia will likely be ‘fat nose’ or something along those lines.

Abdirahman was a great man of summary stature, his nickname, therefore, was naturally ‘short man’ – Yarisow. He was an important man whose door was always open to those who came looking for him, particularly those in the media industry. He was kind, committed and deeply respectful to everyone. He was our friend.

We last met while he was still the Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism. We had coffee in his office and we talked about the editorial I penned on his behalf for the EU-AMISOM Special Edition Magazine. We joked about having arosto at a Somali restaurant in Harrow, near where his family lived and where I had some relatives.

He went on to become the Mayor of Mogadishu and the Governor of the Banadiir region. It was in this capacity that he breathed his last, having been targeted by religious extremists. Eng Yarisow always knew that the rebuilding of Somalia would require sacrifice and would come at great cost to many. He knew that the toll for a new Somalia would be high. He has paid it at the highest price: with his life.

Rest well aboowe. Your work and your name is indelibly carved in the hearts of your people, your family, friends, colleagues and all who knew you. May Allah grant you the highest place in Janna. Amin.

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Op-Ed

Will oil prices help or harm Nigeria’s economy in Q3?

Global Oil prices looked tired, exhausted and ready for an early summer break during the second quarter of 2019

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Will oil prices help or harm Nigeria’s economy in Q3?

Global Oil prices looked tired, exhausted and ready for an early summer break during the second quarter of 2019 as global growth fears overshadowed supply disruptions and ongoing OPEC supply cuts. At the time of writing, Oil prices remain shaky and vulnerable despite OPEC+ latest decision to extend production cuts until March 2020.

The crucial question is whether Oil prices will ever recover and trade back towards the $70+ levels. That depends less on geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and more on whether the US and China can reach a trade deal, settling disputes over tariffs and opening the door to continued global growth.

In this case, it’s likely that Oil prices will be injected with a renewed sense of confidence on the back of boosted global growth expectations and demand for Oil. But what if the current circumstances persist and the US-China trade disputes continue throughout the second half of 2019? 

Taking each scenario one-by-one, starting with the upside for Oil prices, Nigeria’s economy could benefit considerably if a US-China trade deal is reached and global growth expectations become brighter. The manufacturing sectors in the US and China are the Oil-gobbling engines which drive demand for international Oil suppliers.

China is the world’s top crude Oil consumer, importing more than 50 per cent of its consumption, part of which comes from Nigeria. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Nigeria exported ₦23.5 billion worth of crude Oil to China and remains a major trading partner to the Asian giant. It’s likely that if China’s economy roars back to life, Nigeria’s growth would see more long-term support, benefiting foreign exchange reserves and the naira.

Although unlikely, if a trade deal were to be announced early in the quarter, it’s possible the nation’s 2019 budget would also see ample support from increased Oil revenues from China. This argument doesn’t apply to the US which has considerably reduced its crude Oil imports from Nigeria as it heads towards energy independence, relying instead on domestic production to meet its own needs.  

If you take the negative outlook on Oil, it’s more likely the rise in Oil prices is a temporary result of supply shortage fears and the prevalent trend in Q3 will be downward pressure from concerns over a global recession. In this unfavorable scenario, the world’s two largest economies do not reach a trade deal in the third quarter and aggregate demand for Oil continues falling as it tracks economic weaknesses in China and the US.

As demand for Oil is whittled away, Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves may be negatively impacted, along with the Naira, the 2019 budget, and most importantly GDP growth.

In terms of the national budget sheet, expenses like the petrol subsidy may take the limelight as they drag on revenues, overshadowing growth and threatening fiscal stability. 

There’s another factor we haven’t talked about so far but it’s significant in terms of Oil market economics. Oil sales are denominated in US Dollars. Recently, the currency has weakened against its rivals, meaning that Oil is more affordable and possibly giving traders an incentive to snap up contracts at current levels before they rise further.

If the Dollar bears have their way and the currency keeps declining, Oil price benchmarks could see further support in the third quarter. The impact of a weaker USD might not be as strong as a US-China trade deal, but it could feed positively into Nigeria’s Oil revenues and go some way to counter possible losses from ongoing global recession fears. 

To sum up, Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, currency, growth, and budget will face headwinds should trade disputes persist.

However, provided the USD keeps weakening, there’s scope for support from higher Oil prices based on bargain hunting. There’s always the possibility that the US and China could decide on a trade deal, if this happens sooner than later, Nigeria’s economy would benefit accordingly. 

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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