Here are three big stories from Africa’s business and policy landscape you (probably) didn’t miss but should keep in mind this week:

Nigeria’s main labor unions Nationwide strike

Last week, Nigerian workers launched a nationwide strike protesting the government’s failure to implement a new minimum wage that reflects the rising cost of living. The strike, called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), saw widespread compliance across various sectors, with workers in key industries like power and aviation halting operations.

Union representatives cited weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with the government as the catalyst for the strike. They proposed a new monthly minimum wage of  N250,000 (about $370), arguing that government policies have led to a significant increase in living costs. The government, however, offered a much lower increase, proposing a new minimum wage of around N60,00 (about $49) up from the current N30,000 ($20). The unions refused. Further negotiations between the unions and a Nigerian senate committee failed to reach an agreement.We’ve been incredibly patient,stated NLC spokesperson Benson Upah.No government has enjoyed such understanding from its workers. Yet, despite our patience, this administration seems unwilling to address our concerns. Although the government condemned the strike as unnecessary and illegal, the unions commenced the strike on Monday.

The strike had a significant impact on daily life across Nigeria. The national electrical grid was shut down. Flights across the country were grounded as airports remained closed due to the strike action. The Domestic Airports Cargo Agents Association estimates financial losses of around N7 billion due to the suspension of cargo operations during the initial days of the strike. After two days, the unions agreed to suspend the strike to allow for negotiations with the Federal Government of Nigeria. The labor leaders gave today, Monday the 10th of June as the deadline for the conclusion of talks on the new minimum wage.

Rwanda plans to launch digital currency by 2026

Rwanda is leaping towards a cashless future with plans to launch its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) within the next two years. This digital alternative to cash promises to offer Rwandans a safe, convenient, and free way to conduct transactions. One of the key drivers for this initiative is financial inclusion. The Rwandan government aims to empower the unbanked population by providing them with a secure and accessible means to participate in the formal economy. Witnessing countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa explore CBDCs further strengthens Rwanda’s resolve to embrace this innovative technology.

Rwanda is taking a meticulous approach to implementing its CBDC. Back in November 2023, was when its central bank first announced its development. In May 2024, a comprehensive feasibility study was launched to assess the potential benefits, risks, and practicalities of a retail CBDC. This collaborative effort, involving the Ministry of Finance, ICT, and Innovation, identified numerous opportunities for Rwanda to adopt a national digital currency. Public trust is paramount for the success of any CBDC.

Following the ongoing public consultation process, a proof-of-concept phase will commence within the next four weeks. This pilot program will rigorously test the technology, design, and transaction speed of the CBDC on a small scale. Additionally, a six-month international test will assess its effectiveness in facilitating cross-border payments. Once these trials are complete, individuals and businesses will be integrated into a larger-scale testing phase. Rwanda is also exploring the possibility of developing a CBDC that can be used offline. This ensures everyone can benefit from the digital currency, even in areas with unreliable power or limited internet connectivity.

MultiChoice Nigeria appeals ₦150 million fine

MultiChoice Nigeria is contesting a recent ruling by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) in Abuja. The company plans to appeal the decision, claiming the tribunalbreached their right to a fair hearing.This follows a ₦150 million fine levied against MultiChoice Nigeria for defying a court order that temporarily blocked them from raising prices for their DStv and GOtv packages. The tribunal, led by Thomas Okosu, also mandated the company to provide Nigerian subscribers with a free month of service on both platforms.

The issue began when Barrister Festus Onifade filed a motion challenging MultiChoice’s attempt to increase subscription fees with only eight days’ notice. He argued that a longer notification period, specifically one month, was necessary. The CCPT agreed with Onifade and issued a restraining order, preventing the price hike until the lawsuit’s resolution.

Despite the restraining order, MultiChoice reportedly moved forward with the planned price increase. This alleged violation of the court order triggered Onifade’s lawsuit, seeking ₦1 billion in compensation for MultiChoice’sdeliberate disobedience.The tribunal, chaired by Saratu Shafii, ultimately ruled in Onifade’s favor, imposing the aforementioned fine and free subscription requirement. However, MultiChoice argues that the CCPT lacked jurisdiction in this case, citing a legal challenge filed by their representative, Moyosore J. Onibanjo. Onibanjo contended that price regulation falls under the authority of the Nigerian president and not the CCPT.

Onifade’s argument centered on the insufficient notice period for the price increase, not the price increase itself. This distinction, according to MultiChoice, falls within the CCPT’s purview, hence their claim of a fair hearing violation. The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), also named in the lawsuit, distanced themselves from the dispute, stating they would abide by the tribunal’s decision.

ICYMI: Market roundup

  • Nigeria’s equities market went downwards over a 5-day trading week, with the NGX All-Share Index appreciating by 1.73% to close at 99,221.14 points. The top gainers were R T Briscoe Plc. (25.00%), Oando Plc. (23.73%), Eterna Plc (22.45%), Deap Capita Management Plc (20.00%), and Red Star Express Plc (15.73%). The top decliners were Unity Bank plc (-21.57%), Sovereign Trust Insurance (-13.64%), Transnational Corporation Plc (-11.21%), Sunu Assurance Nigeria plc, (-10.85%), and Prestige Assurance Plc. (-10.71%).
  • The naira closed the week at ₦1483.99/$1 on Friday at the investor’s and Exporters’ window.
  • Brent crude closed the week at $79.52. While the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude closed at $75.53.
  • The global cryptocurrency market cap stood at $ 2.54 trillion, as of 7 am Monday, the 10th of June. Bitcoin stood at $69,573.11, a 1.32%, increase over the week, Ethereum decreased by 3.46% to trade at $3,686.58, while Binance coin increased by 8.63% over the week, to trade at $664.71
  • Last week, The European Investment Bank (EIB) invested €25 million, ($27.18 million) into Amethis Fund III, a pan-African fund providing private equity growth capital to medium-sized companies. 
  • While, YoLa Fresh, a startup that directly connects smallholder farmers with traditional retailers of fruits and vegetables in Morocco, secured $7 million in pre-Series A funding. 

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