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e-Business Will Drive the Industry in the Future-Ibekwe

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Information and Communications Technology (ICT) development has constituted a restriction on one side to courier business but the same ICT is actually throwing up a major opportunity of the future for the industry. Mike Chukwuemeka Ibekwe, chief executive officer of Suvex Delivery Service and financial secretary, Association of Nigerian Courier Operators (Anco) disclosed this to Nigeria Communications Week in his office recently. Ibekwe says the real future of the industry in Nigeria is e-business which is already being practiced abroad where someone can stay in his bedroom and order what he wants from anywhere. In this process, Ibekwe says the shop doesn’t deliver these items but the courier. "That is the business of the future and that is what will determine or drive the industry in the future. That aspect of the market is grossly underdeveloped in Nigeria but time will come when the market in Nigeria will be e-driven", Ibekwe predicted.

To improve the services of the courier industry, Ibekwe says it will take the will power of the government to fast track action on the postal reform bill believing that once that bill is passed into law and the commission set up that the commission will then be able to define standard and ethics of the profession as well as measure operators and those that don’t measure up to those standards as he suggested, may be given a time frame either to measure up or fold up or join with some others. In addition, there is need for public enlightenment as Ibekwe expects that customers should also know what his or her rights are to courier service as well as recognize his responsibilities too.

Ibekwe emphasizes the need for training in the courier industry arguing that courier is a peculiar industry where there is no university or institution that offers courier as a course underlying the fact that the industry is vague to some extent. Therefore, to get the real quality and service according to Ibekwe, the industry has to come up with clear cut training programmes and packages, processes and procedures, standards and expectations which each organization will be involved in. Ibekwe says Suvex Delivey Service which provides domestic and international courier services, haulage, consultancy, in-house mail management has its own customized approach to doing business which the company does not compromise no matter what. He defines Suvex Courier as a company that observes honesty, integrity, character, relationship, value for money and respect for their customers as the core values of the organization especially this time around when there are a lot of sharp practices in the industry. "People don’t honour promises or honour their words but we go to any extent to keep our promise", Ibekwe said.

Ibekwe identifies the customer as the king and the reason for the existence of Suvex Delivery Service even as he says that it is a sacrilege for the organization to do anything against their clients and that the firm goes any mile to ensure customer satisfaction. Professional and efficient delivery of service within the budget of the customer is some of the selling points of the organization. Ibekwe believes it is one thing to deliver service and another for the service to fall within the budget of what the customer can afford.

He talks of Anco as a young organization that is still coming up compared to most of other trade groups. He says the biggest challenge in the organizations is trying to mobilize people who don’t believe in themselves not to talk of believing in an organization. Ibekwe says the truth of the matter is that the courier industry cannot get to its zenith without a proper organization and that that is what Anco is trying to do with the help and support of the Courier Regulatory Department (CRD). According to him, the association is looking forward particularly when the industry will be sanitized, when it will have a legal frame work that properly defines what should be and what shouldn’t. "You have an independent umpire there setting the standard and a professional organization that understands, believes and is willing to take all it has into the industry. We will then have a room to operate. That is the future we are looking at but right now Anco is using moral persuasion and every means possible to convince, mobilize, encourage and galvanize the multitude of people that are licensed to operate courier in the country," Ibekwe said.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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How and Why 95 Per Cent of SMEs Die- Elumelu

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Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings

Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, has said multiple taxations and levies kill 95 percent of small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria.

 

Elumelu made this statement while speaking at the Lagos Business School Alumni Association 2017 Alumni Day in Lagos.

 

He said five percent of the small businesses that survived after one year was a big disincentive to the nation in terms of employment creation.

 

The entrepreneur said multiple business regulation, multiple taxation and inconsistent government policies affect SMEs competitiveness and their ability to attract capital in their investment climate.

 

He said despite the multiple taxation, Nigeria remains the lowest in the world with 10 percent tax contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).

 

“It seems we have a big problem, because, with high taxation and multiple levies, it is expected we should have very high tax revenue,’’ he said.

 

He said the government should find out the reason for the discrepancy between desired growth and development.

 

He urged the government to create a more conducive environment that would encourage survival of SMEs in order to reduce the unemployment rate.

 

“Government doesn’t create jobs, it is the right enabling environment for SMEs that create jobs.”

 

He urged the government to streamline all taxation and levies across the three tiers of government to avoid the collapse of SMEs.

 

Taiwo Oyedele, head of tax and corporate advisory services, PwC Nigeria, called for the amendment of the constitution to ensure coordination among the three tiers of government and their agencies.

 

Oyedele said the multiplicity of government agencies with the same work function was becoming worrisome.

 

“You don’t need tax incentives for people to do business, we just need to remove the disincentives,” he said.

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ePayment Stakeholders’ Seek Review of Policy on PoS to Boost Growth

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Worried by slow pace of growth in the use of Point of Sale terminal (PoS) as a means of payment in the country, stakeholders have called on Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)to review its policy direction in that ecosystem.

 

This is coming as Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed fluctuations in the figure of registered and deployed terminals between August and October this year.

 

According to a report released by NIBSS the industry Payments Terminal Service Aggregator (PTSA), the number of deployed  terminals increased in August to 141, 531 and dropped to 140, 448 in September and increased again in October to 145, 350.

 

Also, same was noticed on the number of registered terminal with August recording 173, 815 and came down to 169, 318 in September while October witnessed increase to 176, 185.

 

Sarafadeen Fasasi, president, Association of Mobile Money Agents in Nigeria, attributed this slow growth to a number of factors which includes lack of support to drive the business.

 

“Support I mean is providing financial backing for transactions on the PoS just the way ATMs are loaded with cash for withdrawals. Today, there are no facility for PoS agency business by the banks which is the major determinant of success or failure of PoS innovation,” he said.

 

He decried lack of structure on ground to resolve issues arising from PoS transactions.

 

“If customer’s account is debited without ATM paying, the individual will go to the bank and fill form for reversal, but in PoS transactions there is no such thing which has pushed customers to resolve to holding on to PoS attendant to ensure that the issue is sorted out. As at today, all issues arising from ATM, switching, PoS, online among others, are under NIBSS which does not have the capacity to coup with these issues,” he said.

 

He however, urged CBN to review her policy on PoS for it to witness the desired growth, such review he said could come in creating a unit to address issues arising from PoS transactions.

 

“If the policy is reviewed it will build trust and confidence in the use of the platform for payment. More so, PoS fixed charge is high at .075, this means that customer is charged N750 on N100,000 transaction compared to N65 charged on withdrawal outside of customer’s bank ATM,” he added.

 

Onajite Regha, executive secretary/CEO, E-Payment Providers Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN)said: “So far, E-PPAN in its advocacy nature has taken steps ahead to break the barrier of this poor adoption. We are looking into capturing the lower part of the pyramid with the mobile payments awareness which will see more people included financially and thereby increase the adoption of the Cashless policy.”

 

“We are also open to discussions on advocacy and sensitization from financial bodies who have products and services to render in the pursuit of the success of this policy. From time to time we carry out sensitization, financial literacy and education programme and we partner with stakeholders to expose the benefits of electronic payments to consumers across the strata”.

 

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Farmcrowdy Launches Mobile App for Agritech in Nigeria

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Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmcrowdy

Farmcrowdy, Nigeria’s first and leading digital agriculture platform has introduced a new category of funding small scale farming in Africa by allowing Nigerians to venture and sponsor agriculture; and launched of its first app for Android, iOS and Windows mobile devices.

 

Techstars Atlanta alumnus, Farmcrowdy is reshaping the way in which people participate in farming and food production, through using their online platform to source funds from sponsors, whose money is used to secure land, plant crops and meet the funding needs of boosting food production with small scale farmers. Farm Sponsors can expect to see returns after harvest of 6-25% between a 3-9 month period, depending on what farm type they choose.

 

Since the launch of its website 12 months ago, Farmcrowdy has recorded close to 1,000 unique farm sponsors, aggregated a combined 4,000 acres of farmland in Nigeria for farming purpose and grown over 150,000 organic chickens to date.

 

Having worked with close to 2,000 small scale farmers in Nigeria already, the vast majority of Farmcrowdy sponsors are based in Nigeria, whilst 10% are located in the US and UK.

 

With another 6,000 Farm Followers visiting their website every week, the launch of the Farmcrowdy mobile app will provide a more accessible platform for agriculture enthusiasts to experience, learn and appreciate agriculture practice first-hand. Farmcrowdy currently provides regular updates, images and videos from the farmers as they work on the sponsored farms, providing an opportunity for their sponsors and farm followers to digitally track the journey of their sponsored farm through regular updates.

 

Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmcrowdy said “We have launched the Farmcrowdy app to provide an accessible, real-time platform for people on the go, who do not want to miss out on empowering their own communities. In the past month alone, we have witnessed over 500 farm units of poultry – 25,000 chicks – sell out in a few hours to engage farmers who would have found it difficult accessing loans in the banks; so it’s super fast-paced. People are equally excited about creating impact in the lives of our farmers while earning a decent return. Nigeria is a mobile-first society and we had feedback from our sponsors who said they wanted improved access to our farms. They spoke, we listened, and we have now built a platform that suits Nigerians’ preferred means of doing business. – a mobile app. We expect that with this move, we would continue to stay at forefront of innovation in Agritech across Nigeria and scale our activities into more states in Nigeria while attracting more farm followers and sponsors to engage our farmers”.

 

“By effectively placing farms in the pockets of Nigerians globally, we are collectively impacting national food production and food security. This is our way of creating impact and return model for everyone sponsoring small scale farmers with Farmcrowdy”.

 

Currently operating in eight states across Nigeria, farm sponsors can choose to sponsor a variety of farm types including cassava, maize, rice, soya beans and poultry (broiler chickens for meat); with cycles lasting between 3 to 9 months depending on the farm. Farm sponsorships start from N96,000 [$270], and Farmcrowdy coordinates pre-arranged buyers to sell the farm harvest when the cycle is complete. The farm profit from the harvest is then split between the sponsors who receive 40% of the harvest profits plus their original sponsorship, while the farmers receive returns of 40% and Farmcrowdy gains 20% of the profits.

 

More than 80% of farmers in Nigeria operate on a small-scale level and it is currently estimated that 38 million of them are unbankable. Farmcrowdy, through pairing farmers with sponsors to effectively manage the farming cycle with training in smart farming techniques, supply of equipment and technical support, has over the last 12 months, ushered close to 2,000 small scale farmers into the financial ecosystem, making them financially inclusive.

 

The app, which is now available for download in Google Playstore, with Apple and Microsoft following suit soon, will through an accessible information feed and push notifications, allow users to view available farms, follow existing farms, provide ease of communication with farm account officers and allow the facilitation of easy feedback and comments.

 

Onyeka Akumah added, “This app provides a safe and reliable platform for agriculture enthusiasts to participate in this growing sector from a knowledge stand-point to making informed decisions about exploring opportunities in farming. So, we are looking forward to partnering with more Nigerians locally and globally as we continue to work towards building this community model for Nigerians to empower Nigerian farmers, produce Nigerian food and boost food production in the region while impacting positively on farmers lives and families. This kind of community model will be scaled into other regions as keep learning and improving our processes with the application of technology”.

 

 

 

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