In Other Updates from Africa: Here’s the true cost of the proposed ‘universal basic income’ that could lessen inequality

By Korir Isaac / August 30, 2018 | 12:26 pm



Africa Economy

Sometimes people think that to get rid of poverty, lessen inequality and provide financial stability in a world of precarious work, everyone should be given enough money to ensure basic sustenance. This is the deceptively simple solution proposed by advocates of universal basic income (UBI).

Just transfer enough money to everyone, every month, to guarantee a basic livelihood. The policy is universal and unconditional (you get it no matter who you are or what you do).

This means no bulky bureaucracy to administer the program or onerous reporting requirements on the poor. Nor do you have to wait to file paperwork to benefit: whether you lose your job, decide to strike out on a new career path or take time away from work to care for a family member, the money is already there.

But the UBI movement has a major problem: both critics and even many supporters don’t understand how much the program would really cost.

To calculate the cost, most people just multiply the size of the monthly income (say, 1,000 dollars) by the population (it’s universal, after all) and – voilà – a number that seems impossibly expensive.

But this is not how much UBI costs. The real cost – the amount of money that actually needs to be taken from someone and redistributed to someone else – is just a small fraction of these estimates.

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Why Can’t the Old People in Nigeria’s Cities Take Public Transport?

As urbanization is spreading across Africa at great speeds, projections suggest that more than half of the total population will live in urban areas by 2050. Urbanization in Nigeria is happening at a particularly astonishing rate.

The population density of urban dwellers in Nigeria is growing at an annual rate of 50 per square kilometer and it’s expected to rise to 450.9 per square kilometer by 2050.

These urban dwellers include a large number of people over the age of 60. The number of old people on the continent is expected to rise to 67 million by 2025, up from an estimated 43 million in 2010. Nigeria will experience an exponential increase in the number of older people.

These developments call for a new urbanization agenda. Majority of the old people in urban spaces in Nigeria suffer from homelessness, abuse, neglect, and destitution. The situation is further compounded by the absence of social protection policies that can reduce vulnerability in old age.

Old people in Nigeria’s cities can’t even rely on public transport. The urban renewal has led to the phasing out of the popular Molue buses while pedestrian bridges are built in a way that makes access challenging to physically challenged and older people with mobility problems. Access to safe public transportation system is one of the indicators of age-friendly cities and communities.

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Are governments doing enough to help their citizens deal with cybersecurity?

All over the globe, cybercriminals are extremely active – and, unfortunately, also very successful. In Africa, too, businesses are losing billions to cybercrime.

A quick Internet search shows that governments in the Southern African Development Community aren’t really prioritizing cybersecurity.

Botswana doesn’t name cybersecurity as one of its national priorities. Nor does Mozambique. Zambia’s 2018 budget doesn’t mention cybersecurity; nor does Namibia’s. Yet African countries are not immune to cybercrime, as recent reports from Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique show.

South Africa appears to be especially vulnerable. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation ranks the country sixth and seventh on its different types of cybercrime predator list. The global WannaCry malware attack of May 2017 hit South Africa harder than any other African country.

It has been estimated that South African companies on average lose R36 million when they fall victim to an attack. Small businesses will often not be able to sustain such heavy losses and could stop trading after an attack.

South Africa published a national cybersecurity policy framework in 2012. But it’s not obvious what measures have been put in place to help private individuals to become more resilient to cybercrime. This is important because, as big businesses become more proficient in repelling cyber-attacks, criminals are turning their attention to small businesses and individual home users.

When it comes to the individual citizen, whose responsibility is it to guard against cybercrime? Research we’ve conducted suggests that governments have a crucial role to play. They need to support individual citizens, as well as businesses, in a more practical and proactive way, to manage this society risk.

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About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious, and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a nose for anticipated and spontaneous news. He may not say it, but he sure can make one hell of a story.

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