Africa’s first-ever investment mobile application (app) which allows users to purchase Treasury Bills (T-Bills) directly from their smartphones has recorded a combined figure of over 70,000 downloads on Apple App Store and Google Play Store in less than 10 months of its entry into the market. The app, known as i-Invest, was swiftly embraced by investors who had been yearning for a fast and convenient means to access investment products in a secure manner using technology. The fast pace of innovation in the FinTech space is indeed helping to make life easy for the customer. Today, millions of customers are able to perform most of their banking transactions from the comfort of their homes.
A 36 years old teacher, Mr. Remi Oduntan, who could not hide his excitement at the discovery of the i-invest app last month said, “I have been conducting most, if not all, of my banking transactions through the app that I downloaded on my android phone many years ago.
The only reason why I still visit the banking hall occasionally is in respect of my investments in treasury bills. “You can, therefore, imagine my surprise upon learning that I can also engage in my favourite form of investment in treasury bills from the convenience of my home or from anywhere else as soon as the app is downloaded on my smartphone. So, with the i-invest app, I guess visits to the banking hall by me will now be nearly non-existent except for the purpose of renewing debit cards.”
The i-invest app which is supported on both Android and iOS platforms aims to encourage users to build a savings and investment culture. It provides access to an array of T-bill investments that assists investors to match their investment maturities to their need. Developed by Parthian Partners, a pan-African inter-brokerage services firm, in partnership with Sterling Bank Plc, the i-invest app provides a level playing ground for investors regardless of status or category.
So, equal opportunities exist for working-class or retiring people and pensioners as well as experienced and institutional investors to save money and improve their money market portfolios through T-bills. In addition to the low risk profile of Treasury bill investments, the capacity of the i-invest app to bring such opportunity to the mobile devices of everyone who is interested in it makes it quite attractive to potential investors. It also eliminates the entry barriers posed by exorbitant minimum investment amounts typically in millions which existed before the introduction of the platform. With the i-invest app, anyone with a minimum of a N100,000 is free to invest in T-bills.
Once the i-invest app is downloaded for free, the first step is to register using a valid identification number, BVN and a valid phone number. The app is available to every Nigerian that has a BVN number as well as a smart mobile device. Remarkably, the i-invest app enjoys support at the highest levels and is currently under the purview of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In addition, all securities purchased on the platform is held in safe custody by a licensed securities custodian which in effect protects investments made by clients. Users are also able to know the exact state of affairs with their investments at all times. All that is needed is for the user to log in and view the details. The app interface is certainly user-friendly and self-explanatory.
Fresh $16.5bn projects halt Nigeria’s oil investment drought
Shell, Total fund projects, strengthen Nigerian Content implementation
he investment drought rocking Nigeria’s oil industry over the years has been halted with fresh $16.5 billion spending marked for deepwater projects in the country, New Telegraph has learnt.
The projects, being championed by two major oil producers – Royal Dutch Shell and French Total – data collated by our correspondent showed, also revealed diminishing influence and investments by IOCs in the onshore and shallow water oil blocs.
While Shell has advanced plans for investments of about $16 billion on Bonga South West Aparo project, Total has already invested $500 million on Ikike Field Development Project.
Confirming the investments, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, (NCDMB), said that the project would gulp at least $500 million.
The project, a document of NCDMB sighted by this newspaper showed, is expected to deepen Nigerian Content implementation, create huge work opportunities for local service companies and thousands of employment prospects for qualified young Nigerians.
Quoting the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Simbi Wabote, the document stated: “Ikike field is also expected to add 32000 bopd at Plateau to Nigeria’s oil production.”
The project deal was signed recently by Wabote and the Senior Vice President, Total E&P Africa, Nicolas Terraz.
As a sequel to the endorsement, NCDMB issued the Nigerian Content Compliance Certificate (NCCC) for the Ikike field development to Total E and P.
The issuance of the NCCC marks the conclusion of the technical and commercial evaluations on the Ikike project by NCDMB, National Petroleum Investment and Management Service (NAPIMS) and Total.
NCCC paves the way for the commencement of the execution phase of the project.
The Ikike field is located in the OML 99 license offshore Nigeria, with Total being the operator with a 40 per cent stake. The project is expected to be developed as a tie-back to Amenam (five wells) platform.
The Senior Vice President, E&P Africa, Nicolas Terraz, who signed the NCCCs on behalf of NNPC/TEPNG JV expressed appreciation for the co-operation and support of NCDMB throughout the tendering phases of the Ikike project, which culminated in the endorsement and issuance of the NCCCs in record time.
He noted that with the signing of the NCCCs for the entire four packages of the project prior to the formal award of contracts, TEPNG, through Ikike Project, has demonstrated utmost level of compliance to the provisions of the NOGICD Act 2010 and thus set an exemplary record to be emulated by subsequent projects of similar nature.
The four contract packages endorsed by NCDMB include Construction and Commissioning of Jacket and Topside; Subsea, Umbilicals, Risers and Flowlines; Brownfield Modification and Integration Works and Instrumentation Controls and Safety Systems.
The Executive Secretary NCDMB, Wabote commended Total for reaching the milestone, which according to him, is coming after the conclusion of the Egina Deepwater Project, which recorded landmark Nigerian Content accomplishments.
“Total Ikike Project in Nigeria has officially kicked off; it is one of the projects we talked about during the 2019 Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair. They have also started working on the Preowei Project,” he said.
Emadoye: Nigeria should float education bank
Mr. James Emadoye is the immediate past President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) and Chief Executive Officer, BSSL Technology Limited. In this interview with SAMSON AKINTARO, he speaks on software and local content development issues in Nigeria, among others. Excerpts:
How would you rate your tenure as the President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON)?
As you are already aware, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria is an advocacy group and an arm of the Nigeria Computer Society, which is also the umbrella body of the profession that is regulated by the Computer Practitioner Registration Council of Nigeria. So, that puts it in right perspective.
So, if you’re looking at my tenure as President of ISPON, when I took over from Pious Okigbo Jnr., I said it that all I was going to do is to crisscross this country to make people aware that Nigerian children; your children and my children, can write software that Nigerians will use. To tell Nigerians that there is no need for us buying foreign products, be it software or any other thing and to re-emphasize it that this country cannot develop so long as our urge for foreign goods is at the level that it has been. And I am very sure and satisfied that I did it.
And I brought this news to virtually everybody in the land. Like an old woman who is dancing to music and nobody’s clapping, I could shake my head that I achieved that. I’m very sure that Dr Yele Okeremi will continue the gospel.
But let’s look at it, we are a country of nearly 200 million people and we are told that 40 per cent of this population is between the age bracket of 15 and 54 years. So, why on earth should Nigeria have problem with poverty? Why should we suffer? Why should we be hungry when we have youths that should be able to work?
So, tell me it’s like you have 10 sons, that is 10 men, in your house, when it is time for harvest, you go to the house of the man that has just one son to buy your needs. I’m just trying to bring it to you the way I see Nigeria. When I went to Abuja once and I was told that one of the major software that is being used by the federal government of Nigeria is from a country called Estonia, I just shook my head because the country called Estonia is a country with just 1.3 million people. Not up to Ilupeju talk more of Surulere.
So, I need you to think about it. How will you feel if you have 10 sons in your house and during the time of harvest or when you are in need you have to go to the man that has one son or that doesn’t even have a child to look for food to eat? Don’t you think you need to re-evaluate yourself?
We need to think and we need to take it very seriously. Something affected me so much recently. We were at a function where we were giving pre-inauguration dinner to the Vice President of the country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and he told us a story that no Nigerians should sit on the fence, we should all come to contribute to nation building.
He told us a story of something that happened many years back, while he was a lecturer at the University of Lagos. He said three Sudanese students came to Nigeria and later on they became Justices of the Supreme Court of their country. But when the war broke out, they lost everything, to the extent that when he went there as a United Nation worker, he saw the Supreme Court justices on a queue with bowl begging for food that was being distributed.
Since that day, I have been thinking about this story and I could just tell you something; Jerry Gana used to say it in those days that if you’re a manager, manage well, if you are a commissioner commission well. If you are a Governor, govern well, if you’re a minister, minister, well; if you are a president, president well. What I am saying is that we all must be serious about our Nigeria; otherwise, at the rate of unemployment in the street, at the rate of frustration that is in the street, we just pray that nothing so serious happens to this country.
So, all the people that think that the only way to make money is to travel abroad, buy something for $1 million and come to Nigeria to sell it for N2 billion should stop it. What is the essence of sending your children to school if you will not be able to put them to work? What is the essence of finishing University and all you now do is to think of how to go to Canada; how to go to all the countries? Why can’t we make this country a country of choice; a country that other people want to come to? It is for you to think about.
That’s quite deep. Do you think the country’s leaders are thinking in this direction?
It is not only the leaders. Yes, I agree that the leaders are important, they direct, they lead, but the followers too are even more important. You can see what happens in other countries; when the followers say no, we will not take this, the leaders listen. Yes, we need leaders that have focus, that can direct us and make us realize the right things, but we also need good followers.
With the emergence of some indigenous software companies that are doing well like Systemspecs and the likes, there has been increase in number of innovation hubs across the country trying to groom new innovators. How do you see these initiatives?
Well, creation of hubs are good and relevant. We have some good software that has already been made; there are more on the street. The major problem is patronage. Now, I need you to understand this and everybody needs to understand this; there is no good software until it is put to use.
As a matter of fact, there is no software until it is put to use. You must have followed the story of Microsoft. When the software is released, then they listened to reports of users. They listened to feedbacks and then they do what are called patches, revisions and review to correct the software. No software is perfect until it is put to use. You would have remembered the story of the flights that took off and then software crashed it.
Now, when those who developed the software tested it, they would have thought that it was perfect, but they may not have tested that practical usage, where the pilot was battling to tip the plane up and the software was forcing it down. That is software. When it is developed, it has to be put to use and it has to go through the process of being fully used before you can say that the software is good or is working. The major problem we have in Nigeria is patronage. Now, this country is one of the first countries globally that started banking software. This country is one of the first countries that put its banking software on Oracle. So, if Nigeria were to be one of the countries that developed in the right pattern, we are supposed to be the destination for banking software.
But today we go to India and other countries. You know what those countries have done? When they build their products, they ensure that their country, their citizens and their corporations use it and perfect it. Once it is used and is perfected, they now start shipping out. When you develop software in those hubs and Nigerian companies, the Nigerian government refused to patronise you or your governor or your Commissioner travels to one workshop or seminar in Dubai and say oh, I saw one software and I bought it, how do you develop the local software industry?
So, these are the challenges, we just must have a total change of orientation. And that change of orientation has to go deep, deep to the extent that you should be able to say in Nigeria that there is a national day every week. In fact, two days every week should be declared National Day and that National Day is just for you to wear Nigerian made dresses, Ankara, and eat Nigerian made food; rice, jollof rice, nothing like Chinese rice. All hotels in those two days of National Day should use bedspread, tablecloth, and even curtains that are made with Ankara.
Let us start building a consciousness that we are Nigerians; this is our home, this is our place, nobody is going to develop it for us, we’ve got to develop it ourselves. If we declare those two days, every week, National Day, you will find out that that programme alone will take several thousands of people from the street because you will have to get Nigerians to sew those curtains, to sew this sort of dresses we are wearing, use it to make suit or whatever.
Two days every week, Nigerian National Day, call it dressing, food, whatever it is, let us be Nigerians. Forget about ties, it belongs to the British, forget about suits, they belong to Europe, wherever. Let me tie my clothes to the office on those two days of national days. I must get a Nigerian to sew them, isn’t it? You must get a Nigerian to sew your own. So, we will be creating economic activities by producing our needs. And the moment you start that, you will find out after some time some people will not even go back to the foreign style of doing things. It will just become part of them. And you will find out that we will be moving forward.
How would you rate National Information Development Agency (NITDA) in efforts to promote local contents in ICT?
Well, NITDA as you are aware, is the Development Agency established to develop the information technology sector in Nigeria, but like you know, anything government, it comes with power and money. And that is it. Sometimes the focus may then be a little bit blurry. But I’ll tell you the current young man who heads that agency, Dr Isa Pantami, has done very well. And that is also expected because he’s a young man and because he’s also a computer scientist. But we expect that a lot more be done. Already, he has started the ICT Clearinghouse in Nigeria now, which is a very noble programme.
But I must warn; Nigerians are very deceiving people. Sometimes, when you read memos that are written to justify acquisition of software, if you don’t have the benefit of hindsight, you may not even understand it. A memo for the acquisition of an ERP, which we have, which other companies have, will be written and described as special software for one engineering process to convince them that they need to import it. So, NITDA is doing very well, NOTAP is also doing very well. The procurement agency, they are trying to wake up. I mean, the institutional environment has fully been created. They need to work more to restore the dignity of Nigerians. They need to sponsor more software engineering academy. And in sponsoring this academy, they shouldn’t do it alone, it should be Public Private Participation (PPP). That is, very soon, we’re going to set up an academy here to train candidates who are just coming out of youth service. You pick like 10 or 20 from each of the batches and you train them. So, NITDA needs to key into such programmes because when NITDA has to establish the hub itself and all that, to establish it is easy, but to sustain it is a problem. This is one of the problems that I have seen in the land.
I’ve travelled to so many universities, you will see a lot of visa dishes, a lot of computers and all that established, but they are no longer working because of the sustainability that is not considered during the project conception. So NITDA really need to invest more in the existing companies. The focus at the moment seems to be what they call startups. Yeah, the startups are very very good because out of 10 startups, if we are lucky, one might just come up. But NITDA needs to get itself involved in the existing software companies and encourage them to set up the sort of academy that I have described. And you will see that more people will be coming out.
In the last administration, we had what we called the Sure-P programme and it was very good because I think in this organisation we had nearly 10 and all those 10 that we trained under the Sure-P programme are all gainfully employed. And I think we still have about three of them or four that we retain in BSSL. So these are the programmes that are expected, not just establishing hubs.
Yes, the hubs are good, but then when you want to establish them, it would be preferable you go to the university and establish them jointly with the universities so that after being funded, the university can take over the management. And talking about the universities, I am an advocate of paid education, because we cannot continue at the current level where at the federal University’s you pay less than N30,000 per session and all the Vice Chancellors, Senate members are flying to Abuja, every day, first of all, to the ministry, when budget is being prepared, then to the National Assembly to lobby for their budget. Then after the budgets have been approved, they start travelling to the ministry to lobby for releases. How can they concentrate on the job that they’re supposed to be doing when a VC is travelling to Abuja virtually every week?
I believe that if we set up an education bank or use the existing bank, and try to send allocation that is currently being made to each of the universities to the banks and ask Nigerians who cannot pay for the school fees, which should be around N300, 000 or N400,000 to apply to the bank for a loan, a loan, not for a gift. I think we have taken too much of a free freebies in Nigeria, everything free. Such a loan of maybe N400,000 per annum, once it is approved, will be sent to the school straight, not given to you as the student. Then if you are so indigent that you cannot take care of yourself, another 200,000 loan for you. So, let’s say a student for a four years course will take N600,000 loan in a year. So, you finish your degree with N2.4 million loan. Now, you will only start paying once you’re out of school and you can earn N100,000 and above and you are allowed to pay for 15 years 20 years. This is how the educational system overseas are run, even in the UK, US and in other places.
Not for us to every university VC to the apron string of National Assembly. So, what you have taken as loan for your degree is N2.4 million and you are allowed to pay for 15 years upward. But you only start paying when you can earn N100, 000 and above. You know the benefit of that? It will make our youths to become more disciplined and more serious with life.
Do you know another benefit? It will bring up business activities that will provide jobs both in the universities and outside. You know the other thing that will happen by the time the program runs for about four to five years?
Government will need not even make any budgetary allocation to the universities again. What government will now start to do is to build chairs, develop some buildings and all that. They will no longer be paying for overheads.
You will see the universities running smoothly; they will be able to finance their laboratory, they will be able to buy what they need to buy, they will not have issue of oversight; National Assembly demanding money or not. Not only that, parents will also now start trying to pay for their children.
You will discover that once this program is established, only those who are really indigent in the real world of indigent will apply for that loan. Then, you will have a country that is moving forward. Then you will see strike becoming something of the past. Have you heard any of the private universities going on strike? No. Then the university will be able to pay for their services because their income comes as at when due.
Well, that’s a serious one. The question is will the government give it a thought?
I have already submitted memo to government on this and I have also made a presentation on it last year when there was an education summit at the State House. It is just something that we need to do, we cannot continue this way where our children learn for less than four months in a year because of strike and all that. We need to have this to be able to compete tomorrow in this information age, in the fourth industrial revolution that we are talking about. And as you already know, the fourth industrial revolution is not going to be physical work, it is going to be the usage of your knowledge.
Zenith Bank unveils ‘Style by Zenith 2.0’
Z enith Bank Plc has announced the launch of “Style by Zenith 2.0”, the second edition of its flagship lifestyle fair dedicated to intentionally celebrating the ‘small’ things that make ‘big’ differences in our lives.
First launched in 2018, the “Style by Zenith” initiative according to a statement, was created with the objective of supporting and creating value for customers by focusing on various aspects of their lifestyle.
The lender said that this year’s, “Style by Zenith 2.0”: “takes things up a notch with the theme, “Style the Life you Desire”, aimed at encouraging Nigerians to live their best lives and be extraordinary. The platform seeks to inspire people to be authentic, while showing them that with ordinary talent and extraordinary effort they can thrive and make a real change in this world.”
Speaking on the rationale behind the initiative, the Executive Director of Zenith Bank Plc., Dr. Temitope Fasoranti said that: “Banking, for Zenith Bank means going that extra mile to be present in the lives of our customers. Driven by a culture of excellence and providing cutting edge solutions, the bank is championing this cause to enable individuals and businesses to grow wealth.”
He added: “Beyond providing financial solutions, Zenith Bank Plc seeks to be a reliable partner to her customers, ensuring that they excel on every front. With “Style by Zenith 2.0”, the bank continues in her commitment to empowering individuals and entrepreneurs by celebrating real talents. We will be helping people do what they know how to do best and repositioning them for greater levels of success in their various endeavours.”
According to the press release, this year’s programme includes an interesting line up of activities all culminating in the 3-day Lifestyle Fair taking place at the end of 2019.
It will be kicked off with Fitness Walks held in conjunction with Mass Medical Missions, a non-profit organization, and Venus Medicare Ltd, a leading Health Management Organisation in the country.
According to the statement, the Fitness Walk will serve as a platform to promote Mission Pink Cruise – a project of Mass Medical Missions supported by Zenith Bank, aimed at taking holistic cancer prevention and health promotion to various communities across the country using Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC) nicknamed Pink Cruises, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Scheduled to hold in August, these Fitness Walks and Cancer Screening exercises will hold in five cities across Nigeria – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Onitsha. Interested individuals are invited to register their participation by visiting the Zenith Bank website at www.zenithbank.com/style.
Aside the fitness walks across the country, there will be other activities such as conferences, online engagements, and a special event for models that builds on the masterclass held last year, not forgetting the special play arcade and activities designed for children at the fair.
The variety of events and activities lined up also come with free medical check-ups like free eye, dental and cancer tests, amongst other special promotions both online and at the events leading to the final crescendo which is the 3-Day Lifestyle Fair.
In addition, Fashion One, the leading global fashion and lifestyle channel will again be working with Zenith Bank on the initiative.
PSN lauds Fidelity Bank on healthcare support
F idelity Bank Plc has received accolades for its unwavering support for the healthcare value chain in Nigeria.
The Board of Fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) made the commendation at the Society’s Annual Dinner & Award Night in Lagos, when the bank won the Excellence Award in Healthcare Value Chain in Nigeria.
Receiving the award on behalf of the bank, Executive Director, Lagos & Southwest, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nneka Onyeali- Ikpe, thanked the organisers for recognising the contributions of the bank to the sector.
Specifically, she said that the award was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the board, management and staff of the bank in making financial services easier and accessible to customers, thus changing the face of banking in Nigeria.
“Fidelity Bank is perhaps one of the few banks in the country that supports the pharmaceutical industry. Our Fidelity Pharmacy Support Facility supports eligible pharmacists to meet working capital needs by helping them purchase stock,” she said.
While restating the bank’s commitment to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, Onyeali-Ikpe promised that the bank would continue to explore new areas of opportunities in the healthcare value chain with a view to building a virile and sustainable industry.
Speaking in the same vein, the Registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Elijah Mohammed, commended the bank for its support to the industry’s growth and development.
“Fidelity Bank has done very well in terms of service delivery,” Mohammed said.
The PSN Award of Excellence is not only bestowed on deserving corporate organisations for their contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria but also in appreciation of their efforts towards harnessing the great potential inherent in the country.
The bank was honoured alongside other public and private organisations such as Air Peace, Beloxxi, Bank of Industry (BoI), amongst others.
Cadbury posts N670m HY’ ==2019 PAT
Cadbury Nigeria Plc has posted net earnings of N669.93 million for the half year ended June 30, 2019, which translates to 258 per cent growth, when compared to N423.767 million loss realised in 2018.
According to a report obtained from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the company also announced revenue of N19.454 billion for the six months. This represents an increase of 11 per cent growth over N17.4554 billion revenue reported within the same period in 2018.
Cadbury Nigeria posted net earnings of N506 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2019, which translates to 2200 per cent growth, when compared to N22 million recorded in the first quarter of last year.
The company reported a revenue of N9.283 billion for the three months ended March 31, 2019. This represents an increase of 12.7 per cent over N8.235billion revenue reported within the same period in 2018.
The company also recorded gross profit of N2.375billion, representing an increase of 32 per cent over the N1.799 billion, which was reported for the same period in 2018.
Shareholders of Cadbury Nigeria recently approved a dividend of N471 million recommended by the board of directors for the 2018 financial year.
The dividend, which translates to 25 kobo per share, was in line with the company’s current efforts to create more value for investors.
Chairman, Cadbury Nigeria, Mr. Atedo Peterside, made this known at the company’s 54th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos over the weekend.
Attributing the company’s positive growth in the year under review to success of its cost-cutting measures, effective marketing strategy, and superlative performance of its various brands, he assured that Cadbury Nigeria would continue to sustain its dividend policy.
He added: “We relaunched our iconic cocoa beverage drink, Bournvita, with a new improved taste, last year in line with consumers’ tastes and preferences. Feedback from consumers indicates that the new Bournvita has gained wide acceptance.
“Cadbury Hot Chocolate 3-in-1 brand, our treat portfolio, recorded substantial growth, driven by its unique offering, while our gum and candy brands also recorded success in their respective categories. In addition, we sustained our current price competitiveness, and increased our Route-to-Market coverage/footprint in 2018.”
Shareholders at the AGM applauded the company for increasing its dividend payment from 16 kobo in 2017 to 25 kobo in 2018. They charged Cadbury Nigeria to continue to evolve ways of consolidating on the performance of its brands, while exploring other options including local manufacture of Hot Chocolate 3 in 1, which is currently imported from Ghana, to create more jobs locally.
They also commended Mondelez International and the Board of Directors of Cadbury Nigeria for the appointment of Mrs. Oyeyimika Adeboye as the first female managing director of the company, effective April 1,2019. In their various remarks, the shareholders said the appointment had restored confidence in the ability of Nigerians to lead multinationals.
SEC warns dealing clerks against market infractions
ewly qualified authorised dealing clerks of the Nigerian Stock Exchange have been warned that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not tolerate infractions as steps are being taken to ensure that regulatory oversight is more effective, investor protection advanced, and systemic risk is mitigated. The inductees were advised to abide by the highest principled standard expected in their profession.
Speaking at their induction ceremony in Lagos, Acting Director General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, also enjoined them to maintain the integrity of their profession and imbibe culture of compliance to rules and regulations and transparency as they carry out their activities in the market.
Uduk, who was represented by the Director, Lagos Zonal Office of SEC, Mr. Stephen Falomo, described as a welcome development the induction ceremony for the deserving freshly qualified professionals, who have, by their exemplary performance during their Automated Trading System (ATS) training at the Nigerian Stock Exchange, secured their place in the stock broking profession.
She said: “This ceremony marks the final point at which the inductees become full fledged dealing members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, a position of great trust; because now you will be handling investments for individual and corporate investors and this you must do with utmost care and highest standards of integrity and ethical practice to forestall any breach of trust.
“You must also be determined to bring positive changes into the market as you launch your careers and challenge the status quo in the areas of capacity building and innovativeness, while bringing fresh and innovative ideas into product development, as well as efficiency in service delivery to the investors.
Uduk said the use of ICT has been fully integrated into financial services and as such financial technology (Fintech) and regulatory technology (Regtech) are trending, having been embraced by both the operators and the investors as ways to further enhance the growth and expansion of business in addition to regulatory and compliance issues.
She, therefore, urged the newly inducted members to ensure that they all get grounded on the relevant technological advancement necessary to ensure that they can cope with the pace in today’s market, while staying ahead of perpetrators of cyber crimes, who may attempt to compromise the market.
According to her, “let me congratulate all inductees here today. Your qualification and admission to practice as members of the stock exchange is indeed a great achievement, which will equally be of benefit to the capital market as a whole. I therefore welcome you to the brokerage community on behalf of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I wish to also acknowledge the roles of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for their unyielding commitment to ensuring the continued growth of the market by producing young, dynamic and professional stockbrokers, who are admitted as authorized dealing clerks. As you all know, continuous capacity building in our financial market is a very important part of the capital market development.”
She expressed the hope that NSE and CIS would keep on innovating for the benefit of the market and investors alike, as a means of deepening the capital market and positioning it as a catalyst for economic growth and development of the country.
According to her, “we at the SEC are conscious of our dual mandates of regulating and developing the Nigerian capital market for the continued and consistent growth of the Nigerian economy, which is why we have been pushing the initiatives that include the E-dividend Management Mandate System, Direct Cash Settlement and Multiple Application Regularisation Initiatives, so as to properly educate your clients and increase the level of awareness in our market.”
New executive secretary for NHIS
National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) has appointed Prof. Mohammed Sambo as its executive secretary.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment.
He is a Professor of Community Medicine, an expert in epidemiology and a renowned researcher.
Sambo was appointed as the 11th Executive Secretary of the scheme.
Until his appointment, Sambo was a senior lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Honeywell: Bottom-line recedes on high operational costs
The real sector of the economy has continued to battle with operational challenges. Chris Ugwu writes that the increasing cost of operations has impacted negatively on the profit margin of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.
The real sector of the economy has continued to battle with operational challenges and that the increasing cost of operations has impacted negatively on the profit margin of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. Chris Ugwu writes
With fiscal and monetary headwinds leading to marked reduction in domestic output, manufacturers have continued to groan under pressure of increased cost of operations.
Also, insecurity, infrastructural deficit, particularly poor electricity supply and bad road network have continued to hit hard on manufacturers, at times forcing some of them to fold up.
Given headwinds such as slim consumer wallets, most consumer goods companies in Nigerian have continue to find it difficult to weather the storm.
One of the companies adversely affected is Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, which has seen continuous drop in earnings.
The company, which ended the year 2018 with a marginal growth, finished all quarters of the year unimpressive with sustained decline in net earnings to what market watchers majorly attributed to weak consumer demands, stiffer competition and lack of accessibility to key markets in some parts of the country, coupled with increased costs.
The share price, which closed at N1.49 per share in August 2018, has recorded a drop in growth that when the closing bell rang on Friday, the company’s share price stood at N1.01, representing a decrease of 48 kobo or 32.21 per cent year to date.
Honeywell had recorded a profit after tax of N4.426 billion for the financial year end 2018 as against after tax profit of N4.30 billion a year earlier, representing a marginal growth of three per cent.
The company in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, however, reported a profit before tax of N4,872 billion from a profit before tax of N5,469 billion.
The board recommended a dividend of N476 million, which is six kobo per share and the same paid last year.
The firm released its financial results for the first quarter ended June 30, 2018, posting N17.7 billion revenue from net sales of flour, semolina, wheat meal, pasta and instant noodles products.
This represents a three per cent decline from the N18 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2017.
Further analysis of the result shows that cost of goods sold increased by 0.78 per cent, relative to same period last year, following rising prices of wheat; a major raw material input that contributed to a decline in gross profit from N3.8 billion to N3.2 billion.
Cost of sales stood at N14.546 billion from N14433 billion recorded a year earlier. Operating profit was about N1 billion after netting off selling and administration costs in the period.
However, the company was able to manage its finance cost, which declined N892 million for the quarter from N1.3 billion in the equivalent quarter of the previous year.
Consequently, a reduced profit before tax of N127 million was recorded as N804 million in 2017, accounting for a drop of 84 per cent. Profit after tax equally dropped to N102 million from N643 million the previous year, representing a decline of 84 per cent.
Honeywell Flour Plc recorded a profit after tax of N223 million for the half year ended September 30, 2018 as against after tax profit of N2.214 billion a year earlier, representing a decline of 90 per cent.
The company in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange equally reported a profit before tax of N253 million from a profit before tax of N2.768 billion, accounting for a decrease of 91 per cent.
Revenue dropped by seven per cent to N36.222 billion in 2018 from N39.131 billion in 2017.
Cost of sales stood at N29.747 billion during the period under review, from N29.966 billion in 2017.
Honeywell Flour ended with a profit after tax of N143 million for the third quarter ended December 31, 2019 as against after tax profit of N2.782 billion a year earlier, representing a decline of 95 per cent.
The company in a filing with the Nigerian Stock Exchange equally reported a profit before tax of N173 million from a profit before tax of N3.477 billion, accounting for a decrease of 95 per cent.
Revenue rose marginally by one per cent to N56.076 billion in 2018 from N54.645 billion in 2017.
Cost of sales stood at N45.641 billion during the period under review, from N42.006 billion in 2017.
Honeywell closed the full year ended March 2019 with a wide margin of decline. The company’s profit after tax declined by 98 per cent from N4.426 billion in 2018 to N68.368 million in 2019.
Profit before tax stood at N607.791 million from N4.872 billion recorded in 2018, accounting for a drop of 88 per cent.
Revenue, however, grew by four per cent to N74.409 billion in 2019 from N71.476 billion in 2018, but cost of sales grew by 13.48 per cent to N62.899 billion in 2019 from N55.423 billion in 2018.
Selling and distribution expenses stood at N6.017 billion in 2019 from N4.718 billion in 2018, accounting for a growth of 27.53 per cent while administrative expenses equally rose by 12.96 per cent from N2.059 billion in 2018 to N2.326 billion during the period under review.
Following the plunge in profit, the board of directors of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc did not recommend payment of dividend for the year. The board stated that it did not recommend dividend payment in order to conserve funds. It had distributed 6.0 kobo per share as cash dividend to shareholders for the business year ended March 31, 2018.
Honeywell Flour Mills, which operates two factories in Apapa and Ikeja, had blamed traffic gridlock at Apapa for increased costs and slowdown in business activities. It noted that selling and distribution costs had grown in line with increased volume and increased cost associated with transporting finished goods out of its plant at Tin Can-Island Port, Apapa, where there has been constant traffic gridlock.
According to reports, Wahab Mustapha, analysts at Cordros Capital, was quoted as saying that the companies are currently operating in an intense competitive environment and “are still suffering from huge importation of some commodities like sugar and flour with the impact resulting in general price decline.”
“Consumers are yet to recover from the over 60 per cent depreciation in the value of the naira over a period of two years. Secondly, inflation level has also doubled. So, the impact of the decreased wealth is impacting consumers’ purchasing power,” he added.
However, as the companies continue to struggle with declining earnings and thinning profit margins market, watchers said that the outlook of the sector remains positive on the back of a gradual recovery in the economy.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, Oba Otudeko, said that the company was extremely focused on its main priority, which is consistent delivery of profitable top line growth through high capacity utilisation rates.
He assured shareholders that the company would remain committed to its vision to build strong market, highly desired and recognisable consumer brands that are well distributed across Nigeria.
The chairman, however, called on the Federal Government to address the challenges associated with roads in and around Tin Can and Apapa ports, which is affecting businesses operating from that axis. He encouraged the Federal Government to allow active participation of the private sector in the development and operation of ports in strategic regions of the country.
Jaiyeola said: “My expectation for the next year of the business is in tandem with our short (one year), medium (one to three years), and long term plan (five years and above).
“In the short term, our focus is to take the business to another pedestal altogether in terms of turnover delivery. The highest turnover the business had posted was our results for the last financial year, which was N72 billion. If you put them in categories, there are businesses that do a $100 million in turnover, some that do less than $250 million, and those that do $250 million and above. The last category is what we want to get to. We are looking at delivering a turnover of nine digits.
“Most importantly, my expectation is also that customers of our brand will continue to derive pleasure and satisfaction on every naira spent on our products and that can only happen if they are happy with the quality of the product. So, I expect, therefore, that the business will continue to deliver products of high quality value that will continue to meet the expectation of consumers.”
As the high cost of operations have adversely affected the real sector, it is important for the company to keep managing its cost base tightly in order to deliver moderate operating margins for growth and profitability.
Harmonisation: Telcos to adopt same code for recharge, balance
To make it easy for subscribers, telecom regulator simplifies services codes through harmonisation
T elecommunications operators in Nigeria will soon be using same short code for same services on different networks, New Telegraph has learnt.
This will be a departure from current system where MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile have different short codes for credit recharge, balance checking, data subscription and other services.
This development is coming on the heels of the conclusion of short codes harmonisation by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The telecoms regulator said implementation of the harmonised code usage will commence soon.
According to a report on the new system sighted by our correspondent, credit recharge on all the networks will now be done with the short code 311, while 322 will be used to check balance across all networks. Unlike current system where each operator has its customer care code, all the operators’ call centres can now be reached through 300. For data plan subscription, the general code will be 312, while 323 will be used to check data balance on all the networks.
Other services with harmonised code include SIM verification 304; stop service 305 and share services through 321.
NCC said implementation of these harmonised codes would lead to significant reduction in the need for telecom subscribers to commit to memory different codes for each network for common network services. The regulator said this would also enhance customer experience across all the networks. Through the harmonisation, the Commission said 84 per cent of 3-digit codes, 98 per cent of 4-digit codes and 99 per cent of 5-digit codes would be free for new allocations after implementation.
The Commission had in June 2017, engaged Molcom Multi Concepts Limited as the project consultant to harmonize all short codes in the industry in Nigeria. The primary objective, the Commission said, was to comprehensively review and harmonise all existing short codes in use in Nigeria and develop a “National Short Code Plan (NSCP)” for the industry.
Having completed the harmonisation, the consultant in its report recommended a seamless migration plan that will ensure gradual phasing out of codes currently in use. According to the Consultant’s recommended migration process, “all old short codes with subsisting validity period will remain valid and active for a period of twenty-four (24) months migration period from the date of official commencement of the harmonized codes.” It added that old short codes (codes currently in use) with subsisting validity period will run in parallel with their new harmonized codes for a period not exceeding 12 months from the date of official commencement of the harmonized codes; provided the new codes is not currently existing as an active short code on any network.
“After harmonisation, existing subscribers on the old short codes will be migrated automatically to the new harmonized short codes without having to deactivate the service/subscribers where impossible,” it said.
The consultant advised NCC to champion pre-harmonisation customer sensitisation and enlightenment campaign on a regulatory footing, to underscore the importance of harmonisation to the industry and the end-users. “This would help lessen the cost implication for customer education/enlightenment on MNOs and VAS providers amongst others. Besides, it would inspire confidence in the industry and would greatly encourage full/active participation of all MNOs and VAS providers alike in pre/post harmonization customer education/enlightenment,” the consultant said in the report.
Speaking on the harmonisation at a recent forum, the Head of Fixed Network at NCC, Tony Ikemefuna, said the regulator had embarked on the exercise to make codes simpler and easier for the subscribers to remember. He said the harmonisation was also to sanitise the short code system and ensure that those used for similar services are also similar.
Speaking on behalf of the VAS providers, the National Coordinator of Wireless Applications Service Providers Association of Nigeria (WASPAN), Mr Chijioke Eze, said the harmonisation would help sanitise the use of numbers in the sector. “The good thing is that we have enough time for the harmonisation and the eventual take off of the new code, which is also to make the subscribers understand that a particular set of numbers are used for particular services,” he said.
Insurance: Technology as elixir to boosting penetration
As technology becomes the bedrock of future industrial development, Nigeria’s insurance sector is struggling with limitations in this regard basically due to financial constraints and inadequate human cxapacity, among others. Sunday Ojeme reports
o doubt, the global industrial race for high technology acquisition is evolving on a daily basis to the knowledge and admiration of wider world.
Beyond the trend of deploying modern application into everyday needs, ambitious industrialists are also peeping into the future not just to remain in business in years to come, but also to be counted among the leaders in their chosen profession.
From the foregoing, being in touch with relevant technological application has become inevitable for forward looking business operators. This also goes for the insurance industry especially in Nigeria where penetration has been sluggish over time.
Even with its huge human and natural resources, Nigeria currently holds the fifth position in insurance ranking in Africa coming behind South Africa, Algeria, Morocco and Kenya.
For a country with the largest population in the continent, the report obviously undermines the potential that the industry has failed to exploit.
Apart from other factors that have been identified as being responsible for the slow growth, the inability of bulk of the industry operators to connect with modern technology has also been listed as big disadvantage to the future development of the sector.
Troubled by the experience, the industry at this year’s Insurance Industry Consultative Council (IICC) conference in Abuja focused on technology.
The confab provided an opportunity for the Chairman of the council, Eddie Efekoha, to put out some salient questions bordering on the subject matter.
According to him, “as operators, we must begin now and not later to address our minds to the following questions: How do we maximize the use of the additional capital to generate superior returns to investors? How does technology help the industry to deliver superior service and deepen insurance penetration?
“How do we develop a data pool that supports improved pricing of risks underwritten and innovative products driven by consumer insights? What do we do to develop and attract the right skills and talents that can match the fast pace of technology revolution?
“How do we harness the values inherent in partnering with other industries like telecoms and banks to deepen insurance penetration? How do we partner with various arms of government like the NPF, Customs, Fire Service to ensure compulsory insurances are enforced? Above all, how can we cooperate better than we currently do for the good of all stakeholders?”
Sometime ago, a topnotch member of PWC Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Nevin, had reminded the local underwriters of the need to start thinking ahead as the future of the industry would only favour technology savvy investors.
He said: “By 2030, banks will be invisible. Asset management will be almost completely customized. Insurance will become co-creation on risk and not loss mitigation. Create your ethical issues. There will be massive change in insurance as insurance companies will work with individuals to reduce the level of risks due to accumulation of data.
“Ninety per cent of transactions would be via mobile, 99.99 per cent transaction would be electronic. People will own their own data. If you are not the best in analytic, you are not in business.”
Developments in the past years have revealed that the underwriters have been very eager to grow the sector to an enviable height over the years. The efforts have, however, been frustrated by circumstances within and outside their control.
The outcome of this is reflected annually on the gross premium income of the sector, which currently stands at N400 billion going by recent revelation by the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA).
Factors responsible for the shortcomings are quite obvious. While some of the operators have taken capacity development and adoption of certain technology as priorities, public apathy and non-payment of premium by government that is considered as the biggest client, has grossly affected the finances of the operators.
This challenge appears not to be giving up, as the current shape of the economy is also making it difficult for operators in the industry to be in tune with technology, especially software that will drive their programmes and sustain them in future.
Put succinctly in an earlier chat with New Telegraph, the Chief Executive Officer of ATB Techsoft, a multiple business software solution provider, Abiodun Atobatele, said the current downturn having drastically affected the premium and general business of underwriting business had tactically put a halt to the acquisition of modern software that will simplify, enhance operation and boost penetration.
Nevin’s account is similar to that of insurance head at Wipro in South Africa, Jaqueline Van Eeden, who observed that technology ‘disruption’ in the traditional ways of doing things has become necessary for maintaining pace in a fast changing, always-on and connected world.
According to her, there are typically four main aspects of insurance: product design, pricing and underwriting, distribution and admin, and claims management. This model has been the same for decades and, despite of the increase in product complexity, the insurance business is essentially relying on policy premium income and asset management to function.
However, the rise of disruptive technologies is changing this model, and insurance companies are forced to change from product centric model to customer centric approach.
She said: “Quick, easy, instant, flexible insurance is very attractive to the African market. An example of such an initiative is currently being investigated by a South African insurer who is moving into the Nigerian market.
“Insurers are moving towards customised, usage based, real time coverage models and moving away from risk based underwriting approach to risk management approach. From the beginning insurance companies have captured lot of data and advancements in big data and analytics helping insurers in right risk selection, enabling more accuracy than ever before.
“Legacy interaction methods and distribution channels using call centres and one-on-one visits are being replaced anywhere any-time response to customers is taking top priority. The ‘virtual technology’ is providing easier and instantaneous ways for clients and insurers to obtain and update information, even enabling seamless and accurate billing via mobile applications.
“There are several trends currently disrupting the insurance industry across the globe, many of which are either technology related or technology driven, which are enabling insurance companies to remain relevant and competitive. African insurance companies are following suit and embracing many of these global trends in the face of a challenging and complex market environment.
“Some of the key trends that have been identified are an increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) by insurance companies, the use of Big Data to improve claims processing, an increasing demand on cyber insurance, the emergence of Peer-to-Peer insurance, and a growing focus on mobile applications for interaction between insurers and their customers.”
She said that today’s customer used the Internet to source quotes and research insurance companies to check for the best deals, yet research shows that most insurance purchases are still happening telephonically or through in-person interaction.
“Insurers are coming around to the fact that customers prefer online interaction and are realising the need to adapt their systems accordingly. We will be seeing the progressive simplification of legacy systems to remove the barriers that hinder them from offering a consistent and seamless customer experience.
On his part, Atobatele, whose Ultisure software has become inevitable for forward looking underwriters, said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved with this solution we are releasing to the market, which stands its own amongst any currently in the market. This solution is a result of seven years of dedication, hard work, research and investment.
“What we have done is to offer software solutions of higher standard and functionality to the market as against what most organisations are purchasing offshore and at a much lower cost. This means Nigerian organisations do not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to procure software abroad.”
No doubt, the role of technology in getting things done seamlessly coupled with its cost cutting affinity has become a compelling factor to drive Nigerian insurance sector into being part of the future and to enable it catch up with its global counterparts.
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