Posts tagged as: nigerian

Nigeria: Okafor – Digital APPs Will Enhance Security in Transport

interviewBy Emma Okonji

Operations Manager, Taxify, Uche Okafor, in an interview with journalists, allayed fears about the perceived insecurity around the e-hailing technology app, among other issues. Excerpts:

The introduction of e-hailing services in Lagos, where people could share ride, is perceived by many as a threat to security issues. What is your view about the perceived threat?

The term e-hailing or ride-hailing, is a technology app that is used by transport companies to enhance ride sharing. The service is already operational in some advance countries. The sharing economy in its purest essence thrives on trust. With e-hailing, it is important for operators to continuously put security measures in place to improve reliability and encourage the culture of trust. Being an e-hailing app that connects riders to reliable rides, a top priority of ours, is ensuring that everyone that uses our platform feels secure. We do this by ensuring that all our driver-partners are required to undergo a vehicle inspection, present a valid driver’s licence and undergo direct training that assesses emotional intelligence before they are deemed fit to drive on the platform.

Additionally, trust-building features that reveal the driver-partners photo, name, vehicle type and registration as well as each driver’s star rating is available on the Taxify app such that riders know who their driver is before getting in the car and can instantly compare the driver-partner information on the app against what is standing in front of them. Also, both driver-partner and riders have multiple support channels on Taxify. Because digital media go through the lifeblood of e-hailing, there is an additional feature in-app that gives riders the option to share their active trip status with friends and family, so everyone you permit can track your trip in real time. Anonymous feedback after every trip is also a security feature that allows you to rate the driver and leave comments on the quality of the ride experience.

What other security measures has Taxify put in place to address security issues?

Presently, we are rolling out Taxify Cover, a unique insurance initiative by Taxify Nigeria in partnership with AIICO Insurance Plc and facilitated by AutoGenius. The cover adds an extra layer of security by providing bespoke insurance to protect Taxify users on all Taxify trips. The Taxify Cover aims at insuring all drivers in the event of any incident that may occur while using the Taxify app. This cover also extends to riders on Taxify trips. In addition to all these, we are continuously working on developing new tech powered features to ensure safety of riders and driver-partners.

What are the survival chances of these e-hailing or ride-hailing apps in the Nigerian society with regards to unstable internet access?

The e-hailing sector currently makes up about two per cent of urban transportation in most cities around the world, meaning that there is still a lot of market potential for it. For Taxify, it is not so much about survival as it is about growth and becoming a strong alternative to public transportation and personal cars. We are seeing that smartphone penetration in Nigeria is on the rise, driven by the availability of cheaper smartphones and an increased appetite for mobile internet. The mobile network ecosystem as a whole is improving and consumers now have more options. Importantly, the Taxify app is built to require less data from our riders.

What plan has Taxify adopted to help ease the transportation problems in Lagos?

Lagos is moving towards attaining the mega city status. It is such an exciting market given the evolving taxi ecosystem. Taxify believes that ride hailing has the potential to ease up a lot of transportation tension in Lagos. Lagosians want to move around their cities fast and comfortably without the added hassle of manually seeking out a ride. Also, we see that people are showing a preference for using Taxify to avoid spending time and money in traffic and on parking.

Improved transportation has been linked to accelerated economic development, as one vehicle servicing the transportation needs of up to 50 residents would lead to reduced traffic bottlenecks and a saner city.

The rise of kidnappings and ritual killings in the country may pose threat to ride-sharing. What is your view on this?

One thing that is true is that Nigerians are naturally intuitive people, which means that as a country, we recognise a good deal when we see one. Ride-sharing is a simple way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and increase the number of people moving around in each car. This means reduced traffic congestion, more affordable fares and decreased automobile emissions.

If you look closely at the transportation space in Nigeria, you will find that ride-sharing is already fairly popular informally. It’s not strange to see, for example, independent car owners at bus stops picking up people going their way in exchange for a fee. Tech powered ride sharing solutions give better structure, quality control and security to the existing ride-sharing model operational in Nigeria.

How is the company coping with challenges arising from the increased competition in a city like Lagos with over 20 million people?

The city of Lagos holds massive potential given the size of the population and that over a million rides happen on a daily basis. Ultimately, we aim to change the way that people move within the city, create jobs and transform the transportation ecosystem. Competition is good and we believe there is room for several players in the ride-sharing economy. We believe that Taxify can effectively contribute to healthy competition by improving the quality of service, motivating driver-partners and offering affordable prices to Lagosians.

Our belief is that happier drivers translate to happier customers and as such we treat our driver-partners better so that they can in turn offer high quality service to customers. Our commission is 15 per cent (compared to competitions 20-25 per cent), so Taxify’s driver-partners earn significantly more than with other competitors.

In what ways are you managing the downsides from the execution of your strategies to become the dominant operator in Nigeria?

Our underlying strategy is to treat driver-partners better so that they can offer high quality service to customers. We take a lower commission which means more money in the driver-partners pockets. We do all this while still delivering affordable and quality ride experiences to our riders. Lagosians understand this ecosystem and appreciate it. Ultimately, we cannot rule out the risk of lower priced alternatives penetrating the market but what has separated us and would continue to separate us is that on our platform, riders benefit and drivers benefit. We are opening up more jobs and empowering more people in Lagos and riders are getting better value for their naira.

Do you see a trend of Taxify drivers offering their services to rival operators and vice versa as detrimental in future?

A key selling point for e-hailing in the eyes of driver-partners is that they become entrepreneurs almost instantly. Driver-partners are their own bosses and can choose to operate on as many e-hailing platforms as they want.

What we have noticed, however, is that a lot of driver-partners show strong preference for driving and earning on the Taxify platform as their earning potential is significantly higher with Taxify, given that we take a lower commission and are always giving back to our driver-partners in the form of bonuses. The earning potential, flexibility and choice that Taxify offers is also very appealing to part-time driver partners who choose Taxify as a great source of extra-income as they know that even if they have as little as a spare hour, they can just go online and offer a few trips.

Charges by Taxify are relatively higher when compared to that of its biggest competitor. Why is this so?

This is because of the -40 per cent campaign competition that is currently running. Taxify entered the Nigerian market to increase democratisation in the e-hailing space, we have always been the e-hailing app that offers better value for money.

What is interesting is that the last few months that competition has run this campaign have shown that lower fares do not automatically equal better ride experiences. Although more riders may make initial requests on competing platforms, fewer drivers are available as the drivers do not believe the fares on competing platforms factor in the current economic conditions and rising cost of vehicle maintenance.

Taxify now has the shortest ETAs of any e-hailing app in Nigeria, meaning that riders do not have to wait long periods for their rides to arrive or make cancellations because drivers are refusing to show up, ultimately resulting in great experiences for both our riders and drivers.

Drivers on Taxify are happy going online to deliver safe, convenient and affordable rides as they believe they are getting their efforts worth on our platform. Riders also enjoy affordable and reliable rides on Taxify. It’s a win win situation.

Nigeria: NCC Set to Woo Foreign Investors At ITU Telecom World 2017

By Emma Okonji

Given the contribution of telecommunications to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which stood at N1.549 trillion in the second quarter of 2017, representing 6.68 per cent increase, up from the N1.452 trillion it contributed in the first quarter of the year, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said that the telecoms sector has all it takes to attract quality foreign investment into the country.

To that end, the Commission said it would use the opportunity of the ITU Telecoms World 2017, taking place in Busan, South Korea, from September 25-28, to further showcase the potential of Nigeria’s telecoms sector, with a view to attracting more foreign investment to the sector.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who is passionate about deepening the country’s broadband penetration as enshrined in the country’s Five-year National Broadband Plan (2013-2018), said NCC would use the event to also woo investors to invest in Nigeria’s broadband plan.

He noted that the broadband penetration in the country currently stands at 21 per cent, as Nigeria is inching toward 30 per cent penetration next year, which is in line with its national broadband target.

With less than one month to go, organisers of ITU Telecom World 2017, said the stage was set for global ICT leaders to hold conversations and debates on topics spanning the role of data in smart digital transformation, 5G, achieving meaningful digital inclusion and more.

According to the organisers, the forum would feature smart innovation in the exhibition, with over 500 exhibitors to showcase latest Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) solutions and services that will shape the next generation of global leaders and digital experts.

The NCC is billed to host the Nigeria Investment Session at the forum, where it will further showcase the abounding opportunities for investment in the country, providing a platform for interactions between representatives of the Nigerian government, key industry players in Nigeria’s ICT and telecom sector, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and innovators, and investors.

Featuring a line-up of panelists playing key roles across the industry in Nigeria from government, regulatory bodies and indigenous and foreign companies, the discussions at the forum, which will be led by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, will highlight progress in meeting the goals of the National Broadband Plan, strategies to deepen connectivity and flagship programmes to drive ICT development in Nigeria.

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Nigeria: Top Five Banks Account for 47% of Industry’s Impaired Credits

The performance of the Nigerian banking industry is largely dependent on the macroeconomic environment, as well as the performance of the top five banks, a report has stated.

The Banking Industry report by Agusto & Co. obtained wednesday also showed that about 47 per cent of the banking industry’s impaired loans are collectively held by the top five banks.

The top five banks in Nigeria are Zenith Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, FirstBank Nigeria Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, and Access Bank.

According to the report, the impaired loans were mainly in the oil & gas, transport & communication sectors, accounting for 37 per cent and 11 per cent respectively of the industry’s total classified loans.

In the oil & gas space, also disclosed in the banking sector report, the top five banks accounted for 60 per cent of the loans disbursed to this sector, “which heightens concentration risks.”

A breakdown of the oil and gas sector loan disbursement showed that the top five banks granted over 66 per cent of the banking industry’s total exposure to the upstream; 64 per cent of total exposure to the midstream and 73 per cent of the total loans granted to the downstream.

“On an average, each of the top five banks have disbursed over N500 billion to the oil & gas sector. This makes them vulnerable to the financial performance of this sector which has been enfeebled by global circumstances.

“Of the impaired loans to oil & gas sector (about 37%), the top five banks account for 77 per cent of these impaired loans. These loans largely granted in foreign currencies were further exacerbated by the volatility of the domestic currency.

“There have been arguments that given the sheer size of the top five banks’ loan book, they will continue to account for a sizeable chunk of the banking industry’s impaired loans especially in periods of weak macroeconomic fundamentals,” the report stated.

The top five banks also account for 57 per cent of the industry’s total assets.

The last two years saw intense weakening of the macroeconomic fundamentals against the backdrop of lower crude oil prices – Nigeria’s major revenue source – and the unorthodox demand management in the foreign exchange market.

“However we believe that these industry leaders need to strengthen risk management framework particularly in the areas of concentration risk, early warning signals and enhanced oversight governance.

“The undue concentration to oil and gas could become the Achilles heel for the top five banks. Crude oil, like most other tradable commodities has boom and bust cycles which are quite difficult to predict,” the report stated.

According to Agusto & Co, to mitigate risks in the industry, Nigerian banks will need to adopt time tested values.

“In December 1863, Hugh Mc Cullock, then Comptroller of the currency and later Secretary of the Treasury in the US, addressed a letter to all national banks. In the letter he said, “distribute your loans rather than concentrate them in a few hands,” the report stated.

It warned that concentration risks in oil and gas (downstream) and margins trading (equities) led to the 2008/2009 banking crisis in Nigeria which led to the nationalisation of some of the most vulnerable institutions and the bailout of the industry.

Africa: Africa Will Become the Food Basket of the World — Dangote

Photo: allafrica.com

Aliko Dangote is putting billions into the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

In a packed room at the headquarters of global law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC high level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly converse on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.

Both leaders underscored the ongoing movement to diversify African economies. In the case of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, Dangote stated “we should pray that oil prices remain low. This helps wean us off the dependency on revenues from petroleum. We must take oil to be the icing on the cake. We already have the cake,” he added.

In addition to agriculture Dangote cited Nigeria’s vast mineral resources and gas as well and the need to manufacture more goods locally for domestic consumption. Both he and President Kagame cited continued need for heavy investments in education and connected the need for young people to be well trained for the jobs of tomorrow.

Dangote predicted that “five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria.”

Dangote’s fortune which stems from cement, sugar, and other household commodities has expanded into fertilizer and other processed high-value goods. “Technology of course helps us a lot and our factories are state of the art with the use of robotics but we shouldn’t be overly tech oriented to create wealth,” he told investors.

Mr. Dangote who is often cited as one of the most inspiring business leaders in the world today and a model for young entrepreneurs offered advice to Americans who tend to rely on outdated news and wrong perceptions of Africa, “Don’t be lazy. Go there and find the real story for yourself. Things have changed.”

Dangote noted the Rwanda success story where he has business interests as an example of positive change, good governance and leadership, and where corruption has been cured. He cited a personal experience of offering a $100 US tip for services at the Kigali Airport to staff who refused to take money for work they were paid to do. President Kagame was praised for delivering the environment for growth he promised. “There is nothing African about corruption,” the Rwandan president added.

The session was moderated by Rosa Whitaker, former US Trade Representative and author of the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act), whose business consultancy is credited for helping both African governments and US companies develop commerce.

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Runtown, Sheebah to Shoot Video in Kigali

By Donata Kiiza

Nigerian artiste Runtown and Ugandan queen of dancehall Sheebah Karungi are expected in Kigali this week ahead of the highly anticipated “Runtown Kigali Experience” on September 23 at Amahoro Stadium’s main parking lot in Remera.

The concert will also feature performances by talented local artistes Bruce Melodie, Charly and Nina, Active, and Emprah Jahboy.

After the show, the two singers will shoot the video for their latest collaboration- Weekend. The tune, which is in Luganda and English, has a blend of Nigerian and Ugandan touch, and is the first musical project the duo has worked on together.

The song’s official audio was released in August this year, and it is already enjoying massive airplay on various music stations in Uganda. It was recorded and produced by producer Nessim at Badi music studio in Kampala.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of I Factory Africa, Collin Mugabo, who is bringing Runtown and Sheebah in Kigali, the artistes chose to shoot their music video in Rwanda because of its beautiful natural scenery and weather. Runtown, born Douglas Jack Agu is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and producer. His popular songs include Mad Over You, For Life, Lagos To Kampala and Money Bag. Sheebah Karungi, 28, is a Ugandan recording artiste, dancer and actress. After quitting Obsessions, a dance group she joined in 2006, she rose to fame upon the release of her hit single titled Ice Cream. She is a common figure on the local music stage, having graced several concerts in the country.

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Nigeria: Nurses to Join Other Health Workers in Shutting Down Hospitals Thursday

By Senator Iroegbu

Abuja — The nurses and midwives in federal health institutions across the country are set to abide by the decision of the Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) to embark on industrial action tomorrow if the federal government fails to accede to its demands at the expiration of the ultimatum given to the government by midnight today.

Rising from a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja tuesday, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), as a bonafide collaborator with JOHESU, called on its members in federal health institutions which include teaching hospitals, research centres and federal medical centres to down tools and stay away from hospitals and other health facilities nationwide on the order of the umbrella body.

The National President of NANNM, Abdulrafiu Adeniji, while briefing journalists on the development said: “By yesterday’s expiration of our ultimatum, all federal health institutions will remain closed.”

By extension, he said: “All states and local government health institutions are hereby put on red alert. If nothing is done after one week that the strike might have commenced, they should also go on strike”, adding that the only language that the Nigerian government understands is the strike.”

According to him, the meeting, which had in attendance members of the national executive council of the association, representatives of the chairmen’s forum, executives of NANNM in federal institutions as well as state executive officers, was “occasioned by the looming crisis in the nation’s health sector with a view to review the situation and come up with resolutions.”

Stressing that the federal government has taken the association for a ride, the president vehemently said NANNM was not satisfied with the condition of healthcare infrastructure in the country and as a result, asked the government to implement the report of the December 2016 Inter-Ministerial Committee in which contains the solution to industrial crisis in the health sector.

The association, therefore, called on the government to expedite action of the proposed gazetting of a well-deserved scheme of service for nurses and midwives who have to bear the pains and brunt of remaining on the same salary scale for long, while it also asked for the commencement of the scheme of Internship for nurses and midwives. “If this is not done, it will demotivate nurses and other health workers.”

Other resolutions reached at the meeting he said, the association condemned in entirety the non-inclusion of nurses in the position of decision-making by the Federal Ministry of Health and federal health institutions, saying such position of Directorate cadre should be created for nurses and such be filled with qualified candidates.

Adeniji blamed the festering of quackery in the health sector especially the nursing profession on the inability of the government to recruit more nurses to fill existing vacancies and to fill the job deficit gap.

He said out of about 170,000 licensed nurses and midwives turned out by training institutions across the country, only about 22,000 are gainfully employed in federal institutions, while a majority of Nigerian trained nurses and midwives work outside the shores of the country.

While charging non-governmental organisations and faith-based organisations to desist from engaging non-qualified nurses for health related campaigns and programmes, he said, “there must be a red alert on the issue of quackery. We must join hands together to ensure that quackery is reduced to the barest minimum.”

Nigeria: Lagos Holds Training for Medical Directors of Hospitals

By Oluwaseyi Adeshina

AS part of the commitment to entrench leadership qualities among health professionals, the Lagos State government recently held a Leadership in management training for Medical Directors of the 26 General Hospitals in the state.

At the opening of the event that was organised in collaboration with the Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) and Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation (HSDF), the State Commissioner of Health Dr Jide Idris, noted that there had been improvements and significant upgrades in the Health System in Lagos in recent times through a comprehensive health reform agenda.

Idris said some of the specific achievements included strong policy direction for health development and the facilitation of relevant regulatory frameworks.

Addressing the big picture, Idris indicated that the goal of the reforms was to improve the quality of care and to ensure that care and healthcare delivery in Lagos State is centred on the patient.

The training was designed and facilitated by the Healthcare leadership academy and its partner organisation, Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation (HSDF), that has been supporting the State government in improving its performance management.

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Nigeria: CBN Threatens to Sanction Erring Banks Over Forex Sales

By Mark Itisbor and Bukola Idowu

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday threatened to sanction any deposit money bank (DMB) that is in breach of its earlier directive on open teller points for retail forex transactions and electronic display boards in all their branches.

Part of the directive made by the CBN on March 3, 2017 was that the banks should show rates of all trading currencies in their banking halls.

This is even as the apex bank sustained its intervention in the various sectors of the inter-bank Foreign Exchange market with the injection of $545 million.

A circular issued by the apex bank warned that the CBN would mete out stiff regulatory sanctions to banks that fail to comply fully with the directive by October 13, 2017.

The circular signed by the director, Banking Supervision, Ahmad Abdullahi, stressed that the bank will bar erring DMBs from all future CBN foreign exchange interventions.

Recall that the CBN had directed banks and authorized dealers to open a teller point for retail FX transactions (PTA/BTA and SME), including buying and selling in all locations in order to ensure access to foreign exchange by their customers and other users without any hindrance.

The March 2017 circular also directed DMBs to have electronic display boards in all their branches showing rates of all trading currencies, which it urged customers to insist on in processing their foreign exchange transactions for invisibles and the SMEs window.

While noting that the objective was aimed at creating awareness among members of the public regarding the availability of such facilities in branches of the banks at clearly disclosed prices, the CBN frowned at the banks for not fully complying with its directives.

Accordingly, the CBN has given the erring banks a four-week period expiring on October 13, 2017 to fully comply with its directives or face regulatory sanctions, which it noted include, but not limited to, being barred from all future CBN foreign exchange interventions.

Meanwhile, giving a breakdown of the Bank’s latest forex injection, its acting director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) received the largest intervention of $285 million.

Other components of the released figures include the $100 million offered for wholesale SMIS, $90 million for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) window and $70 million for invisibles such as Basic Travel Allowances, tuition fees and medical payments.

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Nigeria: WHO Urges Govt to Tackle Challenges Facing Polio Eradication

By Doyin Ojosipe

Abuja — As Nigeria celebrates 13 months without Polio outbreaks, the World Health Organisation(WHO) yesterday urged the federal government to tackle issues threatening the total eradication of the disease in the country.

Speaking at the 34th Expert Review Committee (ERC) in Abuja, WHO Country Representative, Wondimagegnehu Alemo noted that lack of access to some of the local government areas in Borno State is one of the reasons polio cases still arise in the country.

Wondi said although it is good to celebrate 13 months without polio, the Nigerian government needs to put in more efforts towards totally eradicating the virus.

He further added that quality surveillance is a crucial part that needs attention, to help detect any polio virus circulation.

In the same vein, the chairman of the ERC, Prof Oyewale Tomori pointed out that celebrating one year of no polio virus is not an achievement but a wakeup call noting that the country had once marked two years with no traces of the disease until it was later detected.

Tomori therefore advised that more efforts be exacted into eradicating the virus.

Speaking earlier, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, (NPHCDA) Faisal Shuaib said there is a need to put in more work to access trapped populations.

Faisal also pleaded with the committee and development partners to lay more emphasis on routine immunization and systems strengthening.

In his goodwill message, the representative of the Centre for Disease Control, CDC Mabesh Swaminatha assured the gathering of the centre’s commitment to the goal of eradicating polio.

He also urged all partners to support Primary HealthCare Centres, stating that polio is one out of all diseases that need attention.

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