Saturday, February 22, 2014

Celebrate [Positive] Change and Keep Growing

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.”― Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

SNAGHTML557adfI woke up this morning and quiet unusually, asking myself: what can I do better in the coming weeks/months to make me more effective? Am I serving my family, place of work and community effectively as I should? And how am I responding to development challenges and things that seem to challenge my thought patterns? And then the ultimate questions followed: Am I changing (for the better) or am I still clinging to my comfort zone? Am I growing, developing or just adding the number? What do I need to change or respond positively to today?

Such questions will most certainly come from the mind of people who have decided to commit themselves to a worthy course; individuals who are determined to ensure they monitor their progress in life and especially in a new year as they set to achieve their goals in a realistic perspective. But the answers didn’t come straight away. I asked myself another critical question: why do I so resist change sometimes even though I know its for my personal benefit? A follow up question to that is why do we all generally resist change despite realizing that if we continue in our current state we are bound to fail?

According to Anna Dornier, one word explains it all – COMFORT. “People like to live in their comfort zones. Change is uncomfortable – most of the time. You have to make new connections in your brain and you have to use willpower at first before you can make any change permanent or at least long lasting.”

“One thing I’ve learned throughout the years of setting goals and the process of achieving them is that we have to be COMFORTABLY UNCOMFORTABLE. This means always challenging ourselves to step out of our comfort zones, taking our game to the next level, and being comfortable there. This means never being satisfied with good enough. This means always thinking, “What can I do better?” or wondering, “How can I improve?””

People that changed the course of human history radically first started by becoming uncomfortable with the way things were going. Despite the fact that it will be a change that promotes equality for all, William Wilberforce struggled for 20years with his fellow parliamentarians in passing the Act that led to abolition of slave trade. take a few second to imagine life today without telephone or internet [Imagine how long it will take to deliver a letter. People would put a message into a little container on a carrier pigeon's leg. The bird would fly to the person receiving the message. Fast backward to 1870s and early 1990s when although the telephone came with certain initial challenges like hundreds of telephone wires becoming common in large cities, critics who resisted the use of telephone further claimed that the cellphone microwaves could beam through human heads thereby damaging nerves.

Another critical factor in making that critical change for the better is by setting up a right change support system. Many people fail to make lasting changes because they hang out with the wrong people. I once heard that we are the average of 10 people we surround ourselves with.

As much as this is about setting ourselves up for overall effectiveness, its touches briefly on accepting some changes we witness in our lives. For example wrinkles on our face, ears and nose grown larger, hair suddenly begin to recede leading to baldness. As Lao Tzu once said: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow”

I am hoping that like me, some of you reading this will respond positively to changes as they confront us. I personally have to respond having travelled so far from my home country in Nigeria and now settled in Canada, I recognise everyday, the need to constantly appreciate changing cultures, environment, society etc that will ultimately make me a better person overall.

Let me conclude by retorting that its also a spiritual process as God doesn’t want us to conform but that we are constantly changing (Romans 12:2).

So keep trusting, keep believing, keep changing for the better and never give up!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everyday is Our Valentine!

Not too surprised to see long queues at flower stores and high orders placed on special cakes…but I am grateful that I have a wife and we keep reminding ourselves that everyday is our valentine…

Imagine how much lives can be touched, how much souls can be won for good and how much progress we can make if we take everyday as a valentine…to share and to love.

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Even distance apart should not matter: Channon (my wife) is of Jamaican descent born in Canada. Myself, a Nigeria. And everyday we making it real. True love should not be restricted by geographical boundaries, neither should cultural barriers be an hindrance. We hope our world will see through this window someday and know valentine shouldn't be a one-off thing. Its should be a lifestyle.

Map picture

If we learn to invest in our relationships everyday, maybe our love-life will take a different shape and our world would be a better place…it starts with having a relationship with God.

We invite you to receive Jesus into your life so you can know and share true love.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Remittance and Other External Financial Flows to Africa

In 2012, for the first time, remittances became the largest external financial source to Africa, ahead of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Other Development Assistance (ODA). 

According to African Economic Outlook, (2013) more than 30million Africans (about 3% of its population) are living outside of their home country, remitting 11% of global remittances in 2012, compared to 8% in 2001. Nigeria receives between 30% and 60% of remittance in the African region(Orozco, 2003).The World Bank (2012) reported that the top recipients of officially recorded remittances for 2012 are India($70 billion), China ($66 billion), the Philippines and Mexico ($24 billion each), and Nigeria ($21 billion).

Remittances are mostly sent to Africa through informal channels; hand carried during visits to home countries and households, sent through transport companies or delivered through other informal channels largely due to limited access to and the high cost of formal financial (banking) services relative to average per capita incomes in African countries (Pendleton and others 2006; Bracking and Sachikonye 2008; Tevera and Chikanda 2009). According to International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, 2009) large share of remittances from outside Africa is channeled through a few large international money transfer agencies, who in sole partnership with African banks and post offices.

Irving,Mohapatra, and Ratha (2010) found that almost 70% of central banks in Sub-Saharan Africa cited high costs as the most important factor inhibiting the use of formal remittance channels. Innovative options such as mobile money transfer are getting popular but adoption of these has been limited mostly to domestic money transfers, largely because of concerns about money laundering and terrorist financing. These technologies have the potential to vastly improve access to both remittances and broader financial services, including low-cost savings and credit products, for African migrants and remittance recipients.

Remittance receiving households in Africa usually save remittance money in some type of financial institution rather than put it under the mattress. These steady stream of remittances receipt can be used as a factor in evaluating the credit worthiness of recipients for microloans, consumer loans, and small business loans (for example, to purchase agricultural equipment [Ratha, 2007]). Not only has a number of research found that bulk of remittances are used for consumption or investment in human capital (education, health, better nutrition), data from a multiple surveys and story-telling evidences indicate remittance has been found to provide initial capital to starting a business thereby stimulating entrepreneurship (De Haan et al., 2000;De Haan, 2000 Dermendzhieva, 2011; Cortes, 2007).

Identifying these poverty-eradicating and sustainable development potentials of remittance, World Bank recently initiated a global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), which is aimed at facilitating multidisciplinary debate and discussion on migration issues, developing policy options, and assisting sending and receiving countries implement pilot policies. While KNOMAD is on one hand, there is growing debate on how to use remittance in sustaning development in Africa through financial market linkages examples are the diaspora bond, collateral securitization, among others.

So what are your experiences with remittance as an African in diaspora? Do you feel the cost of sending money to Africa is too high? What are your suggestions on making remittance work for sustainable development in Africa? Do you have anything to share with our team on remittance in Africa in General?

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