While Nigerian shoppers have been stockpiling essential goods and food, sex toy sellers in Lagos and Abuja say their sales have also shot up.

Findings by PREMIUM TIMES have shown that in most online stores where sex toys are sold, the items are either in short supply or sold out.

A cross-section of sex toy sellers told this newspaper on Wednesday that sales began to pick up two weeks before President Muhammadu Buhari announced the 14-day lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the nation’s capital, Abuja.

They also said they are overwhelmed by the demand for their products amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

“The pandemic has been challenging generally but it has not affected the sex toy market. Pre lockdown in Lagos and Abuja, the weekend before it started, sales really skyrocketed. I was getting orders, left right and centre,” said Lami, owner of Sextoysnaij.

“It felt like people knew there was going to be a lockdown and they had to be ready. The lockdown started on Tuesday, on that day and Wednesday, I had just four orders. By Thursday, sales increased again. I sold out on half of my stock. My vibrators and wands were sold out.

“It went above average and beyond.”

Hannah Jonathan, a sex toy store owner popularly known as Soulspice the Sex goddess, said she exhausted her supplies as early as 10.00 a.m. two weeks ago.

Ms Jonathan also said she has witnessed an over 50 per cent increase in sales since the lockdown was enforced, a development, she said, she never saw coming.

Before the lockdown came into full effect, the sex toy retailer said she ships out an average of about 100 sex toys to online customers in Lagos, Abuja, Port-Harcourt, Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan, Delta, Edo and Akwa-Ibom States. She said in Lagos State alone, the orders were triple the amount that she ships outside the state weekly.

“The boom in sex toy sales is a good one for us because Nigerians don’t rest. Most low and middle-class citizens don’t even go on vacation, so this has been the best time for us all,” she noted.

“A lot of people now have better sex lives now because they have time to explore and be adventurous with one another. The lockdown has helped reduce stress, which is a major problem, – and this would boost people’s libido as well as boost fertility in women.”

Married couples too

The sex toy merchants sampled by this newspaper admitted that in particular, the demand for sex games and toys by couples has spiked.

“It makes me happy that Nigerians are satisfying their urges at this difficult time when people feel vulnerable,” said Mathew Okon, co-owner of Hot Pleasurz, an Abuja-based sex toy shop.

“I’m happy that many marriages will be strengthened at a time like this because hopefully, they are having more sex while side chics are left lonely.

The Sexgoddes also said she has recorded an increase in patronage by married couples, especially men who live far away from their wives. She said patronage has risen more than fourfold since mid-March compared with the same period before the lockdown.

“Trust me, married people buy from us more. Men buy for their wives, especially when those who are not always home to sexually please their wives,” she said.

“Couples have also been making good use of the opportunity of the lockdown to spice up their sex lives and rediscover their bodies. Apart from toys suitable for single people and couples that live apart, couples have also been purchasing sex toys to help make their sexual relationships more interesting.”

Ms Lami of Sextoynaij also said her patrons outside of Nigeria are mostly married women.

“There’s a particular state, I don’t want to be specific, only one of my customers there is single,” she noted.

Another sex toy seller, Adeola Badmus, owner of Sextoy9ja said she has also experienced a very high increase in sales in the past weeks. She ascribed the boost in sales to two factors.

“The first thing is people being alone right now, especially the single ones that can’t have access to their significant others, so they resort to more self-love(Masturbation).

Secondly, because we have a strong presence online and people spend more time online now, more people have been seeing our social media pages and reaching out to get these toys.”

Ms Badmus added that people (men) order more of female toys in recent times, specifically 80 per cent of her clients.

She said there has been a balance in the gender of people who order her products. According to her, most of her male clients buy female sex toys for their female friends and wives because people are more open to using sex toys.

The Sexgoddes also added that a lot of sex toys are actually designed for couples and not singles. According to her, people, religion, culture, and traditional beliefs have made it impossible for most Nigerian couples to accept themMs Badmus said one of the sex toys designed for married couples is the finger vibrator.

She said, “Men can use this by wearing it on their fingertips and gently caress her breasts, clitoris, and labia. It can also be used to stimulate her G-spot and do body massage.

“There are others like the wand and clitoral massagers that allow the woman to pleasure herself while the man pumps in using a sex position that allows the couple to look into each other’s eyes.”

Shortage of sex toys

However, despite the boost in sales, the lockdown has also affected the sex toy business in Nigeria negatively, as sellers have been unable to bring in new toys because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

The Sexgoddes, who said she ships her sex toys from China and the United States, lamented the shortage of sex toys, not only at her store but in other sex toy shops as well.

Sex experts in Denmark say the sales of sex toys in the country have more than doubled after Danes were told to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus.

Source: Nigeria: Sex Toy Sellers Record Boom in Sales

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Africa: crisis a once in a decade opportunity

By Rob Eloff, managing partner, Lateral Capital

As one of our portfolio CEOs in Kenya said this week: “It would be a shame to let a crisis go to waste.”

Valuable companies will emerge from Africa irrespective of the Covid-19 pandemic because innovation happens in a backdrop of scarcity in normal times. It will pay to continue to focus on frontier markets while the world is melting down because this innovation is likely to continue at more attractive valuations, with the potential to deliver greater impact than elsewhere.

Funding will slow down, in Asia venture funding slowed ~30% for two consecutive years after the ’02 SARS epidemic and in Latin America funding was down 50% following the 2015 Zika virus outbreak. In the years that followed these crises, the world got to know Alibaba, JD.Com and Nubank.

In Africa technology emerges as a response to everyday challenges

Well known examples include Kenya’s M-Pesa, Africa’s decentralised renewable energy revolution and the prevalence of remote learning in Nigeria.

In his upcoming book “Out Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley“, author and friend of Lateral, Alex Lazarow reminds us how companies operate and scale in markets without economic stability or a supportive startup ecosystem.

“Start-ups operating amid conditions of relative scarcity, where capital and talent are hard to come by and economic shocks are more likely to occur, face unique pressures. Yet many have become superstars in their own right. Their formula involves a more balanced approach to growth, a focus on solutions to real problems, and investment in their workforce for the long term. These ‘frontier innovators’ hold important lessons for companies of all sizes and in all locations – including Silicon Valley itself.”

Africa breeds anti-fragility

In the African context, key tenets of survival include:


Products and services that solve essential problems vs cyclical trends
  • Measuring profitability from the outset rather than a singular focus on growth
  • Enabling legacy infrastructure to work better, rather than simply focusing on disruption
  •  
  • At this strange moment in history, we look to the technology community in Africa for leadership through innovation.
  •  
  • This week we learned of the Nairobi and Lagos technology community responses to Covid-19.
  • Portfolio company Koko Networks has re-calibrated its supply chain which spans across India and Kenya to convert ethanol for cooking fuel to sanitation products as part of a large scale collaboration to avert a humanitarian crisis in Kenya’s urban centres. 4G Capital is also part of the response via its working capital products to essential services for SMEs during the lockdown. Meanwhile portfolio company Lynk, which matches informal workers to demand for their products and services is working to match its B2B team with services delivery challenges. As we know, unless you solve for the poorest of the poor, transmission is a given.
  •  
  • Lagos based Medsaf has been a leading provider of first response supplies to pharmacies and hospitals.
  • Aside from our existing portfolio companies, a founder that we are following closely in Nigeria has a clear response to Covid19. Lifebank founder and CEO Temi Giwa-Tubosun has launched a national Quip register for critical healthcare infrastructure to fight Covid-19 across 200 Nigerian hospitals. Lifebank is then connecting suppliers and technicians to get functioning hardware to where it is needed most.
  •  
  • In Ghana, digital diagnostics company Redbird has launched its Covid-19 self check and resources app which will also cover Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and the US.
  • In South Africa, Epione.net is leading the charge with its primary care logistics platform response.
  •  
  • A Kauffman report titled ‘Is This The Black Swan Moment To Solve Big Problems?’ reminds us that:
  • 95% of the jobs created in the US over the past 20 years were from companies less than five years of age. Arguably this skew will be even more notable in frontier markets when we look back at 2020.
  • VC fund vintages during adverse economic periods tend to outperform. We have written extensively about why a different model to traditional VC makes sense for Africa, but the valuation discount that we are already seeing this quarter cannot be ignored. What happened in more mature emerging markets historically that led to a crisis being a catalyst?
  •  
  • SARS forced Alibaba and JD.Com online
  •  
  • The ’02 epidemic directly contributed to the birth and scale up of Chinese e-commerce. How?
  •  
  • In a look back to how SARS contributed to the birth of e-commerce in China, this post reminds us that:
  •  
  • “In 2003 e-commerce was just starting to emerge in China. After all, not many people had access to the internet. Alibaba was primarily a B2B platform, connecting US buyers with Chinese suppliers. JD.com was a chain of small electronics shops that launched an online e-commerce site…
  •  
  • “Alibaba was a four-year-old company that focused on B2B e-commerce, matching American procurement teams with Chinese suppliers. An Alibaba employee caught SARS when she was sent to attend the Canton Fair in May 2003. Alibaba’s 500+ employees were quarantined at home for twelve days and required to work from home.
  •  
  • “Many countries around the world issued travel warnings for businessmen travelling to China, and thus many turned to Alibaba’s online business to source Chinese goods. Starting in March 2003, Alibaba’s B2B e-commerce business added 4,000 new members and 9,000 listings each day, a 3-5x increase over the pre-SARS rate.”

Similarities and differences to Africa

Africa’s company formation, technology deployment and funding are on track with 2013-2014 South East Asia as outlined in our end of year report. The key differences between the regions remain large scale adoption of e-commerce due to disposable income and last-mile infrastructure constraints, and fragmented regulatory environments. The rails to solve for some of these gaps have started to emerge with technology facilitating cross border payments, regional and continent-wide economic integration and savvy founders now focusing on last-mile logistics.

SARS drove Chinese suppliers and consumers online. That is not going to happen the same way in Africa as we have seen with Jumia‘s struggle to scale. Mobile app-based commerce for specific needs is however starting to scale as we have seen with Lynk’s products and services on its Uber-like trust platform. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly which aspects of this crisis will bring down costs and behavioural barriers to a migration to online scale in Africa, but here are a few speculative guesses:

De-monetisation could accelerate as countries outside of the East African Community, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire realise that mobile money is not a luxury. Blockchain applications could finally take off with the to decreased friction they provide for consumer wallets when the value of local currency savings fall off a cliff in times of crisis.

Multiplier effects from co-operation between ventures that can plug and play via APIs to leverage each other’s platforms.

Renewable energy that is interoperable between central and microgrids. In Nigeria remote work is impossible when the average Lagosian can rely on only 45 minutes of a 60W lightbulb daily from the central grid.

Once in a decade opportunity

Critical infrastructure needs are similar across Africa’s cities. A forced migration online (Zoom, e-everything) likely brings boundaries, barriers and costs lower and leads to a hustle and innovation gear shift that is already incredibly exciting.

In sub-Saharan Africa there is already an element of “business as usual” for innovators with stretched resources and daily challenges. There will be pain, funding will become scarcer and macro-economic developments command a repricing of all assets, but for the engaged investor that is willing to roll up their sleeves and be part of the solutions demanded by the world’s fastest growing and youngest continent the opportunity to generate once in a decade returns and impact comes with high correlation and alignment.

Source: Africa: crisis a once in a decade opportunity

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NJ: Ayuk: Underneath Coronavirus panic lies opportunity for African oil producers

NJ Ayuk

Sometimes it is easy to forget how interconnected human lives across the globe have become. Perhaps we no longer talk as much about globalisation as we used to in the 1990s because it is no longer an issue to be discussed or protested against, it is simply the reality that surrounds us. And there is no cruder evidence of that than the Coronavirus.

Despite the fact that the virus hasn’t yet affected African nations in any way as seriously as other regions of the world, a fact the World Health Organisation is still unable to explain, forecasts already indicated that just through reduced demand for African exports, the virus was expected to wipe at least $4 billion in revenue from the continent’s economy. Most of that was simply because China in particular, and Asia and Europe in general, were reducing oil and gas consumption dramatically as transport and economic activities came to a standstill in light of the epidemic that already forced several dozens of millions of people to be put under quarantine.

Last week, news reports indicated that oil traders in Africa were unable to find buyers for fifty-five Nigerian oil cargoes as global demand crashed. By last Friday morning, the virus had wiped the equivalent of $5 trillion in value from the global stock markets. That’s two and a half times the GDP of the whole African continent.

And all that was before OPEC+’s Friday meeting in Vienna. Wasn’t that one surprising?

I believe it is safe to say that few people could have expected this outcome. After all, for the last three and a half years, the world, and the oil industry in particular, had learned to trust the alliance of OPEC countries with Russia and other oil producers to work together to stabilise the markets and guarantee a sustainable price for the barrel of crude.

Through their decision to cut down oil production to address reduced demand and balance out the effect of the US shale play, all together, they were keeping 1.7 million barrels of oil per day away from the market, a landmark decision of cooperation like we had never seen in history. Perhaps also because of its novelty, of its width and because it was dependent on the will and cooperation of so many, it also fell victim to the infestation this virus has brought.

The Saudi-led consortium of nations was proposing a combined further cut of 1.5 million barrels per day to continue to match the decline in global demand. The Russia-led group was not going to go further than 600,000. The conclusion… no new cuts at all and no renewal of the previous cuts. The OPEC+ alliance that saved the industry from collapse in 2016 has, at least for the moment, come to an end. All bets are off. At the end of April, when the current agreement ends, all restrictions will be lifted and the world is bracing for an oil flood.

The markets have already factored that in, with the Brent and the WTI registering its biggest daily crash since the beginning of the first Gulf War. While oil seems to have rebounded slightly, it will take time to make up for Monday’s 25% crash. That is, if the recovery is anywhere in sight, since Saudi Arabia announced it was ramping up production and selling its oil discounted by as much as $8 per barrel, on a barrel priced at little more than $30.

In all honesty, the situation looks bleak. If Saudi Arabia and Russia do go on having a price war, a $20 barrel is possible, if not probable.

But what does this mean for Africa?

Several African petroleum and energy ministers were in Vienna last Friday, both as members of OPEC and as members of APPO. Shortly before the announcement on the fall of the agreement, they had decided to strengthen cooperation between African oil producers, promote synergies, intra-African trading, and knowledge exchange. Surely, we need that more than ever.

For the moment, however, there is no reason to panic. Surely, things might get worse before they get better, as the world battles this rapidly spreading virus. And surely, some oil-dependent African nations will suffer with reduced revenue. Angola’s state budget, for instance, was designed for an oil price of $55, not $35. But we have survived the oil price crisis of 2014, and we will survive this one too. Further, most African producers have learned from the past experience and have adjusted themselves to respond to price crashes. The progressive economic diversification the continent has witnessed in recent years will also contribute to minimise the impact of this situation. Yes, final investment decisions might be slightly delayed until the situation stabilises, but they will come in due time.

So what’s next?

If 2020 is showing itself challenging for African energy, 2021 will be a year of opportunity, but for that to happen, we have to start adapting now, laying down the policies that will allow us to take advantage of the future opportunities. It is in moments of crisis that true leaders have the opportunity to shine.

While it is difficult to predict the future, there are a few deductions and inductions we can try to make with some certainty.

One, is that neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia want a low oil price and there is a limit to how long they are willing to sustain it. No one gains from it and if anyone has the capacity and funds to sustain it for a longer period of time, it is Saudi Arabia. So, it is not really a price war, since it can’t really be a war if you already know the winner at the head start. Already, Russia has suggested it might be open to negotiate coordinated cuts within OPEC+ during the group’s next meeting in May/June.

What seems likely that will happen, is that the first to suffer from this will be American shale producers. This sector was already finding it hard to finance itself in recent years but continued to unbalance the market with its rapid response times to price fluctuations. These producers are highly leveraged, and it is likely that most will go bust in the present situation. This is something Russia and Saudi Arabia tried to do back in 2015/2016. While it did not succeed at the time, it might have better chances now.

Further, in three months’ time, at the time of the next OPEC+ meeting, the virus situation might also be very different. This week, president Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, in a clear demonstration of a strong response to a rapidly evolving situation that seems to be stabilising. China itself is an extremely leveraged economy and cannot afford to slow down for much longer. It can be expected that demand in the country will start rising again in the foreseeable future. If that happens in a scenario when the US shale sector is no longer able to respond, it might just be that the price will climb higher than it was before the virus, and with Saudi Arabia securing for itself a much larger slice of the global marketplace. Again, things will get worse before they get better, but they will certainly get better.

So, for African nations, this is the time to position ourselves correctly, and that will require close attention to international developments and close cooperation, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities. The African Energy Chamber will be instrumental in that, but so will be the African members of OPEC. The time to show statesmanship and stay close to Saudi Arabia and the decision-making table is now. To grow Africa’s relevance on the international oil stage by showing level-headedness and cooperation in the face of a global crisis. If we take that route, we will come out of this stronger than ever.

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

Source: NJ: Ayuk: Underneath Coronavirus panic lies opportunity for African oil producers

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shutterstock

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has taken the world by surprise. The good news is that tremendous scientific and technological advances have permitted scientists to understand a lot about this virus in a short amount of time.

Within just two months of the first case, the causative virus has been identified, its genetic makeup has been determined, and detection methods have been optimised. Scientists have also found that there is more than one strain circulating.

Despite these rapid advances, there is still significant uncertainty. Scientists don’t yet fully understand its transmission route, although person-to-person transmission, through inhalation of droplets in the air, is the most common mode. Another uncertainty is its low detection rate, especially with mild or asymptomatic cases. A third is how weather could affect transmission.

Currently, Africa has very few cases of COVID-19 compared with most other parts of the world. The highest number of cases has been reported in Egypt (currently 126 cases). It remains unclear why this is so. But the trend has generated several kinds of reactions, such as doubts around the slow spread despite the weak health systems in most of the countries, and some attributing the low spread to a low level of urbanisation.

Other factors being cited include the fact that cases are more recent, giving countries more time to prepare, as well as a lack of testing capability.

There is also speculation that the virus has not spread because it cannot thrive in warmer regions, like much of sub-Saharan Africa.

The environment and respiratory virus transmission

Among the several environmental factors that influence the survival and spread of respiratory viral infections, air temperature plays a crucial role. Cold weather makes the respiratory system sensitive to infections. This is why people tend to suffer from respiratory infections during cold winter months. In tropical climates, influenza and respiratory viruses are transmitted more during the cold rainy seasons.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding its spread, the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be following this pattern.

Other members of the coronavirus family have displayed a certain degree of sensitivity to weather patterns. For instance, cases of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) were 10 times higher in lower temperatures than higher ones.

However, the effect of air temperature is also related to other factors, such as relative humidity as these viruses prefer low humidity.

Also, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus was stable in air at low temperatures which could favour its spread. Despite this, the virus did not observe a seasonal trend but rather occurred sporadically. Other factors, such as animal (camel-to-human) transmission and weakened immune systems, also favoured its spread.

Temperature and SARS-CoV-2

A look at the temperature data of the most affected countries outside China – South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain – shows that the mean monthly temperatures between January and March of 2020 range between 6 and 12 degrees Celsius.

In sub-Saharan Africa, most countries that have recorded cases of COVID-19 – such as South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon and Benin – had mean monthly temperatures of 20 to 32 degrees Celsius in this same period. Meanwhile, Algeria and Egypt – North African countries that have seen cases – had monthly temperatures between 11 and 17 degrees Celsius.

Therefore, previous coronaviruses spread more during the colder winter months. Also, there are marked temperature differences between the most affected (colder) and least affected countries (warmer) in the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this pattern alone cannot fully explain the current low number of cases in affected African countries.

The first reason is that following the onset of the outbreak in December in China, measures were taken to prevent the transportation of the virus to other places outside China. This allowed many countries to prepare for any new cases. Secondly, the cases in the African countries are recent, and the first affected persons have been quarantined. Thirdly, many countries do not have adequate capability to test for the virus.

These factors, together with the higher temperatures, could contribute to the apparent lower spread.

African countries need to prepare more

Now that the virus has made its way into Africa, countries on the continent need to be more prepared for greater action to contain the virus, especially if it follows a seasonal pattern.

For example, the peak circulation of flu in South Africa is in the winter season between April and July. In Senegal, the peak season is in the rainy season, from July to October. Many other African countries experience these peaks during the cold rainy season. This could mean that the preparedness of most African countries may soon be tested when these seasons come, especially as many more countries are confirming imported cases into the continent.

African countries need to strengthen their capacity in terms of identifying new cases. Health-care facilities and personnel need to be well equipped to manage identified cases. The general public needs to be sensitised on how to go about getting medical attention if they suspect any signs or symptoms. Personal and household hygiene practices using detergents, such as bleach, need to be encouraged to prevent possible environmental transmission.

The Conversation

Akebe Luther King Abia is affiliated with the Antimicrobial Research Unit, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also an Aspen New Voices Fellow, Class of 2020.

Source: COVID-19 in Africa: fewer cases so far, and more preparation needed

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