A food processor, Mrs Adeola Balogun, co-founder, LimLim Foods, has urged the Federal Government to promote freeze-dried fruit to reduce food loss and wastage in the country.
Balogun told the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Lagos that the demand for freeze dried fruits was huge and on the increase in the country.
She noted that there was a huge opportunity in the country’s food and processing sector if government could create a conducive environment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to thrive.
Balogun said that freeze dried fruit would help prevent food loss and ensure food security of all fruits grown locally in Nigeria.
According to her, freeze-dried fruit is a process of keeping the nutrient and product structure of a fruit intact using technology.
“When put in water, no one can tell the difference between the fresh fruit and the dehydrated fruit,” she said.
According to her, Nigerian has a huge market for the processed fruit and vegetables.
Balogun added that the company had deployed latest world-class technology to process the fruits.
“The technology we are using is different, it’s best in class, it’s world-class and our products can compete with international products.
“We cannot even meet the demand, customers pay ahead and we now schedule them for delivery day.
“All fruits and vegetables grown in Nigeria can be freeze dry,” she said.
Balogun said that the minimum shelf life of fruits was two years.
She added that the product would be available in supermarkets by September for the general public.
Balogun urged parents to patronise freeze-dried fruits for their children and wards to increase for healthy living.
“The whole idea is to help prevent loss and ensure food security of all fruits grown locally in Nigeria from pineapple, banana, mangoes and strawberry.
“Any fruit grown in Nigeria, we are able to process them and turn them into value added products.
“The fruits are good for children as an alternative to fresh fruits because when children take fresh fruits to school you are not sure of how they will handle them.
“The freezer-dried fruits comes out like biscuits, so the kids don’t know they are actually taking fruits.
It’s flaky like biscuit so its good for children and fantastic for children.
“There is a difference between dehydrated fruits and freeze dried fruits; we are the first company in Nigeria to process freeze dry fruit in Nigeria locally.
“Our freeze dried fruit take like 70 per cent of the moisture in the best in class technology that keeps the structure and nutrient intact.
“I encourage Nigerians to patronise it, it’s not too expensive but it’s also cheaper than treating your children for dysentery, cholera or diarrhea and the likes.
“I will advise Nigerians to embrace it when you see them in the market.
It will be out in supermarkets by September by God’s grace.
“We tried to sell in retail before but we are not too comfortable with our packaging, so now we are rebranding.
“We are coming out as a big brand by September,” she said.
Prof. Job Nmadu, professor of Econometrics, on Thursday blamed the rising cost of food items, on the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Nmadu, Dean, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, Federal University of Technology, Minna, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
The Dean also blamed the strike for the collapse of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He called for an amicable resolution of the impasse between the Federal Government and ASUU to enable students and lecturers go back to school.
“One factor contributing to increased prices of food items in Nigeria today is the ASUU strike.
“People might think it is just students and lecturers that are suffering it but it is affecting everyone particularly communities around our schools that make a living from them.
“These businesses have shut down for the past six months that ASUU embarked on strike and it is not funny at all.
“Unfortunately, some of these businesses might never pick up again, contributing to more collapse of SMEs, which is not good for national development,” he said.
Nmadu said high cost of production and forces of demand and supply also contributed to the rising cost of food items and business collapse.
“A lot of small scale businesses have closed down because of high cost of production, about a month ago, we were told that over 40 bakeries closed down in the FCT because of rising cost.
“That means that if we are looking at supply of bread alone, there has been reduction in supply and prices will go up because people will scramble for the few supply,” he said.
The don further blamed the current exchange rate which he described as a disturbing trend, on Nigeria industries depended on raw materials from other countries.
Nmadu also President, Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists (NAAE), said government needed to be particular on the country’s economic indices, Fiscal and Monetary policies among others.
“It is a complex situation but we must start from somewhere to salvage our small scale industries, which contribute greatly to Gross Domestic Product growth.
“So, we have to ensure that prices do not rise and we have to tackle other factors like insecurity, which has prevented many farmers from going to farm,” he said.
Together with OIC countries and our partners, ITFC has identified specific challenges and constraints to a more robust growth and competitivenessTASHKENT, Uzbekistan, September 2, 2021/APO Group/ --
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) (www.ITFC-idb.org) organized its first event to bring together partner institutions from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Region on the sidelines of the 2021 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Annual Meetings held in the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
The event was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan, H.E. Mr. Sardor Umurzakov, and IsDB President and Chairman of the IsDB Group H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser.
Hosted by ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, the high-profile event witnessed the presence of ranking officials and senior officers from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade as well as the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Government officials and ITFC partner banks in the CIS region, as well as Trade Support Institutions and Regional Bodies.
IsDB President and Chairman of IsDB Group, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, in his keynote address, meantime, emphasized on the key role the Islamic Development Bank Group is playing in supporting its member countries to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through its Strategic Preparedness and Response Package (SPRP) under the “3Rs” Framework: ‘Respond, Restore, and Restart’ tracks. Dr. Al Jasser added: “During our four decades of engagement, the IsDB Group has played an important role in supporting several economic and social sectors regionally. Total financing provided by IsDB Group to CIS member countries amounts to US$ 6.4 billion, to support key sectors and development projects - in education, health, energy, transportation, and rural development. In the area of trade, ITFC, being IsDB Group’s catalyst for trade, takes the leading role in the region with approved financing exceeding US$ 1.2 billion. These interventions have supported funding for the private sector, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the critical sectors of agriculture and food security.”
Complementing the message, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol emphasized on the important role ITFC partners played in supporting the member countries in the CIS region. “Together with OIC countries and our partners, ITFC has identified specific challenges and constraints to a more robust growth and competitiveness. Among them are issues related to access to trade finance by SMEs and trade related capacity development. We, at ITFC, intend to do much more in these two areas to support the region’s sustainable development.”
Building on the successful development interventions in the region marking US$ 1.2 billion of trade financing, the event showcased ITFC’s Trade Solutions provided to support the private sector, mainly SMEs, for the procurement of equipment and raw material in addition to financing and developing the import and export of strategic commodities and essential goods. ITFC also announced new Trade Development initiatives, like the CIS Trade Development Program.
During the ceremony, ITFC also recognized the efforts of its partners in addition to signing agreements including a financing facility of US$ 15 million with Joint-Stock Commercial Bank, Trustbank in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, Technical Assessment Agreements extending integrated Trade Solutions for Turonbank and Agro Bank in Uzbekistan to support their adoption of IFRS were signed along with an MoU, which aims at extending technical assistance for the Uzbek Export Promotion Agency to enhance its key exporting sectors.
The Corporation has offered extensive support activities in Uzbekistan since 2018 through the approval of US$ 211 million in financing for 13 operations and conducted several rounds of capacity building activities benefitting 150 experts from the public and private sectors. It has channeled its financing to SMEs via eight local Banks and supported the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the State Fund for Agricultural Support.
Eng. Hani Sonbol concluded: “ITFC's vision is to become a leading provider of trade solutions to its member countries while continuing to offer support as they look to overcome challenges imposed by the pandemic. This commitment to restore economic growth in the post-COVID era is best demonstrated by our COVID-19 Response Strategy for which ITFC provided US$ 1.1 billion of trade financing.”
By Evangeline Opara
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has charged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to embrace modern packaging of their products to make required impact on both domestic and export markets.
The Executive Director of NEPC, Mr Segun Awolowo, gave the charge at the Capacity Building programme for SMEs held in Owerri on Tuesday.
The programme had the theme, “Strengthening Technological Skills of SMEs to Produce for Export.”
Awolowo, who was represented by Mr Anthony Ajuruchi, NEPC Chief Trade Promotion Officer, said that production of agricultural products had gone beyond mere assembling of the products.
He said that SMEs were recognised globally as instruments for economic growth, development and poverty reduction and provides employment to a large number of citizens in a given economy.
As such, he said, there was need for a well-planned intervention to raise the technological skills of the SMEs in a way that those involved in agro production and development could produce high produce for export through the use of affordable and new technologies.
The NEPC boss said that capacity building for SMEs in the Agro Value Chain was a perfect action towards increasing the production and processing of high quality agricultural products in Nigeria through strengthened technological skills of the SMEs in the agro public-sector.
Awolowo said the resource persons, as experts in relevant areas of concern would prepare the participants as desired to make a paradigm shift from old practices of agriculture and urged the participants to embrace the training with determination and zeal.
He called on relevant government agencies such as the ministries of agriculture, commerce and industry, women and youth development, technology and incubation centre (TIC) and others in the state to assist the SMEs accordingly to sustain the gains of the training.
He said the NEPC would continue to assist the SMEs through her product development efforts in line with its mandate.
“It is my expectation that the MSME exporters and potential exporters avail themselves of this opportunities to be mainstreamed into high quality cultures in production and processing.
“Participants are also advised to visit NEPC website for further information of our activities,” he said .
Mr Nnadosie Udensi, National President, Ogbono (Irvingia) Commodity Value Chain, said the absence of extension workers was the bane of agro-based business.
He said that Nigeria’s population was growing with agriculture as the only way she could meet up with the population growth.
Udensi said that there should be a change from the previous way of farming and processing to a more acceptable and modern way where the country could export its products to be acceptable internationally.
Mr Hypolite Uzoka, President of Imo Cooperative Federation, who represented the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, said the programme was timely as the Nigerian economy had been overstretched through dependence on oil hence the need for diversification.
He said that the state was doing everything possible to encourage people from the rural communities and agro-based SMEs to participate in programmes aimed at rebranding the country and its products through agriculture.
Earlier, Mrs Felicia Agbahia, Head of NEPC in Imo, represented by Mrs Olivia Ukaegbu, an Assistant Chief Trade Promotion Officer, expressed appreciation to NEPC for bringing the training programme to Owerri.
She advised the participants to take the programme seriously and apply what they learnt in their various businesses for growth of agriculture in Nigeria and Imo in particular.
Highlight of the programme was the presentation of equipment support to some agro SME value chain operators for cashew, cassava, palm oil, palm kernel, ogbono and honey products.
About 200 participants drawn from various organisations and agro based businesses in the state attended the programme. (NAN)(NAN)
By Emmanuella Anoka
The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has expressed readiness to canvass for adoption of “export business accelerator programme’’ to integrate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) scheme.
Prof. Adesoji Adesugba, NEPZA’s Managing Director, said this while delivering a keynote address during the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day Symposium held virtually.
Adesugba, in a statement on Wednesday by Mr Martins Odeh, Head, Corporate Communications, NEPZA said the programme would be for greater good of the country’s business environment.
“With more than 60 million Nigerians engaged in SMEs, the Federal Government will do good to consider the adoption of programmes similar to Kenya’s, to boost growth for these smaller companies.
“The management of NEPZA is willing to canvass the support and approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, for definite and sustainable initiatives for development of national economy through the robust participation of the SMEs.
“In line with our plans to develop sectorial SEZs for different industries such as Medical SEZ, Agro-allied, Textile, etc, we seek collaboration.
“We may seek a strategic alliance with Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to develop a joint SEZ programme for SMEs.
“We can draw a good example from Kenya, where SMEs have been deliberately integrated into the SEZ scheme through the “export business accelerator programme”.
SMEs are allowed to take up smaller spaces in incubator buildings located within SEZs,” NEPZA boss said.
He said a new SEZs model could be developed to allow the SMEs undertake ancillary activities within the established zones.
Adesugba said with consequences of COVID-19, there is no better time to seek for geniuses and ideas that could help transform common loss to sustainable gains in all fields of human endeavour especially in health and economic sectors among others.
According to him, one of the strategies to be adopted for export and industrial decentralisation is increasing exports of manufactured goods through the promotion of economic zones with fiscal and financial incentives to industrial production.
Adesugba reiterated that the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure the sustenance of the zones scheme could not be doubted.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s special attention to the scheme rose from his conviction that the scheme had capacity to speed up the country’s industrialisation process.
“The national objectives for the adoption of the export processing zones scheme include promotion of job and wealth creation; foreign direct investment and technology transfer.
“The objectives also include foreign exchange earnings and backward integration/ linkages. The government and NEPZA are fully committed to achieving this onerous mission.
“Since inception many other zones have been established. As of December 2020, a total number of 43 zones has been established and now at different stages of development and operation,” the NEPZA managing director said.
The Chief Executive Officer further said that the SEZs variant allowed for a more comprehensive and all-inclusive economic zone model.
According to him, it is now possible to have an SEZ where all kinds of economic activities can take place but not limited to manufacturing, processing, trading, services, educational, health and other kind of ancillary business activities.
“The choice of the theme for this year, IP and SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market, is not only timely, but also reflective of the global aspirations for every available solution to the various challenges facing the global communities’’, he said.(NAN)(NAN)
Some financial experts say the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) ecosystem may not meet the requirements of Nigeria’s capital market for funding, but requires peculiar funding mechanisms.
The experts, who spoke at an SME financial services webinar organised by the FMDQ in collaboration with NASD and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Thursday in Lagos, said that SMEs play a significant role in the nation’s economy.
The webinar was themed: Private Equity: A Bridge or an Albatross? Role of the Capital Market.
Mr Bola Ajomale, Chief Executive Officer, NASD Plc, reacting to a poll conducted during the webinar, said that about 39 per cent of SMEs attending wanted funding of between N1 million to N10 million, which did not meet up to private equity funding.
He said that the results from the poll suggested that there was urgent need to put structures in place that would allow regulators and financial experts meet such demands.
“Private equity looks at bigger companies and large transactions that will help scale up a company from one size to another.
“From the poll just conducted, 39 per cent of SMEs attending need between N1 million and N10 million to grow their businesses.
“That will not attract private equity, instead, it calls for other structures or strategy to be in place that would allow us meet this kind of demand.
“There should be a central bridge for investors and issuers where investors look out for liquidity, price discovery and transparency, SMEs are more of capital, trust and visibility,” he said.
Ajomale said that SMEs should take seriously registration of their businesses, documentation of their stories and join a trade group.
Dr Nicky Okoye, Chief Executive Officer, Nick Okoye Organisation and Anabel Group, said that the capital market should be looking at alternative funding, especially inventory funding.
Okoye said that there were SMEs who might seem not to meet up with the requirements of the capital market to get listed but have assets and inventory worth N10 million.
He said that while inventory funding was popular in countries like the United States of America, it was not so in Nigeria.
“This is the time for alternative funding activities, if we really want to impact SME growth in Nigeria. Maybe we have been doing that wrongly. Look at industry based SME funding strategies like in the transport industry.
“Inventory funding is not popular in Nigeria, SME might not qualify for the type of funding in the capital market because for an SME to get listed in the NSE, you have to bring a consolidated balance sheet, board of directors and all of that, that can be too much for an SME.
“Then imagine an SME has an inventory of N10 million or a N100 million; rather than look at the structure, let us start looking at the assets of the business and that could be a new type of funding that will support SMEs.
“Also, service forward funding where an SME gets funding from both the capital and money market to execute a contract with a listed company. Also, the value chain intellegence funding will also help,” he said.
Okoye said it was time for a capital market strategy to deal with SMEs.
Mr Bola Onadele, Chief Executive Officer, FMDQ Group said that 90 per cent of Nigerian businesses were SMEs, contributing 48 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and highest employer of labour.
Onadele, who was represented by Oye Onwuka, Team Lead, FMDQ Private Market, said that the SMEs sector should not be neglected.
He said that the FMDQ’s role was to find ways to support the SMEs sector.
According to Onadele, the solution to the SMEs sector lies in the private market.
He said: “Private market is relatively new in Nigeria and just evolving. We hope that in the next one to two years, we want to be the leading organisation of this particular market.
“We conducted an investigation and saw insights and challenges facing this particular market from growth and funding.
“Most business owners want to hold on to the business and that affects availability of capital,” he said.
Mr Jude Chiemeka, Divisional Head, NSE Trading Business said that SMEs play a role in mitigating the problem of imbalance in the balance of payment accounts through its export promotion.
Chiemeka said that SMEs accounted for about 7.2 per cent of goods and services exported out of Nigeria in 2019.
“The threats facing SMEs include access to finance, insecurity, government policies, multiple taxation, power supply and foreign exchange rates.
“According to PriceWaterCorporation (PWC) estimates, Nigeria’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) financial gap was at N617 billion as at end of 2019,” he said.
Chiemeka said that the NSE would continue to draw out strategies that would support SMEs’ growth and development.
Mr Paul Calvey, Partner, Oliver Wyman, South Africa, said that SMEs lifecycle spans five main stages with business priorities and financing needs changing at each step.
Calvey said different funding solutions are required as an SME grows in size and complexity over time.
He said the stages were founding stage, development stage, established stage, maturity company and IPO.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that participants at the webinar were mainly business owners, regulators and financial players in the sector.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle
ENSG urges intending SMEs to take advantage of free business registration
By Maureen Ojinaka
Enugu, Nov. 4, 2020 (NAN) Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has urged intending Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) entrepreneurs and start-ups to take advantage of the ongoing free business name registration in the state.
Mr Louis Amoke, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Enugu State Governor on Media disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Enugu on Wednesday.
“His Excellency, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi through the Enugu SME Agency is offering the state residents the chance to get access to free business name registration recently approved under the Medium, Small and Micro Entrepreneurs (MSME) Survival Fund.
“The state has 6,606 slots to fill in the MSME Survival Fund.
“If you own a small business in Enugu or intend to start one immediately and you want your business registered for free; you must fulfill the following criteria:
“Three possible names you will like your business to be called, two passports photographs, your phone number, email address and an Identity Card or any means of identification,’’ Amoke said.
He said that the intending SME entrepreneurs/start-ups could register through the link: http://www.enugusme.en.gov.ng/cacgrant or come to Enugu SME Centre located at number 2, Market Garden by SME Bus-stop, Opposite Ebeano Tunnel to register.
“For further inquiry, you can call the following numbers: 09042439495, 08084998224 and 08089344768,’’ the governor’s aide added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved 250,000 Medium, Small and Micro Entrepreneurs (MSME) to register their business names free-of-charge with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Maureen Atuonwu
To address unemployment in the country, a business consultant, Mr Nerus Ekezie, has urged the Federal Government to intensify investment in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and industrial sector.
Ekezie, who is a former Director of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday.
“The federal government should intensify investments in the SME sector in order to get the young ones occupied.
“ Empowering the teeming youths through SMEs could curb most societal unrest.
“ It will ensure the youths contribute more to national development because of their significant number to the country’s demography,” he told NAN.
Both schemes are at the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package also known as the NESP being implemented by the Federal Government.
It is borne out of the Federal Government’s commitment to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.
Initiatives under the project include the Artisans and Transport Grants under which electricians, mechanics, plumbers, painters, taxi drivers and other artisans are being empowered with grants.
The Federal Government has also offered free business registration for 250,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide under its recently launched Survival Fund Scheme.
Meanwhile, Ekezie also urged the federal government to invest more in agriculture for the youths to harness the sector’s value chains.
He also suggested that government should boost the nation’s industrial output, due to the sector’s importance to development.
“Enhancing the industrial sector will develop the economy and accelerate job openings.
“The issues of agitations among young people in recent times will subside in no distant future,” he said.
NAN reports that PricewaterhouseCoopers says Nigeria’s unemployment rate may rise to 30 per cent by the last quarter of 2020 amid slow economic growth.
Analysts at PwC led by the Partner and Chief Economist, Dr Andrew Nevin, noted that an estimated real Gross Domestic Product of about N280,000 was required to absorb a single employed person from Q2 2020 to Q4 2020 due to the economic effects of COVID-19.
Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Oluwole Sogunle
The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), Ebonyi State University Chapter, has urged the State government to prioritise University Education to improve the system.
Dr Ikechukwu Igwenyi, Chairman of the Union in the School, gave the advice in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abakaliki.
Igwenyi, reacting to the proscription, said Labour issues are in the exclusive list and so no Governor could proscribe a National Union duly registered and given a charter to operate.
According to him, “We are just a branch of ASUU and National body of the Union is very much aware of the situation in Ebonyi,” the Chairman explained.
Igwenyi, an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biochemistry, claimed that workers in the university are being owed four months of salaries.
He urged political office holders to avoid issues that could cause the collapse of public educational institutions.
He called on the staff of the University to remain resolute until government meets their demands.
NAN also recalls that Dr Onyebuchi Chima, the State Commissioner for Education, said in a recent statement that the State Governor had approved the release of N500 million for the payment of staff salaries.
According to the statement, the state Governor also approved single-digit N300 million loan to the University for the commencement of Small- and Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) businesses to boost the Institution’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Edited By: Gregg Mmaduakolam/Vincent Obi
Lagos, Oct. 15 Mr Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC), has reaffirmed the commitment of the Commission to ensuring accelerated licensing of new spectrum that would usher in new technologies.
Danbatta said that the technologies, inclusive of 5G, broadband satellite services , high altitude platform services, and others would address the dearth of infrastructure and services.
“We will create additional areas of investments with the opening of new spectrum, especially for broadband deployment in both urban and rural areas, and facilitate fibre deployment through initiatives such as the infocomm.
“NCC is committed to the provision of infrastructure, transparency and ease of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.
Danbatta, represented by Mr Babagana Digima, Head, Digital Economy Department, NCC, added that some operators had reported an increase in data usage and volume of calls.
This had in turn raised the demands for better network connectivity and improved internet coverage, especially in the rural areas, he said.
Danbatta said that the telecommunications industry was committed to the delivery of better service and internet infrastructure that would provide quality service and experience as well as address customers’ complaints.
“Some of the complaints raised by the customers during the pandemic were attributed to poor mobile network signals’ absorption and low internet speed.
“The immense contribution of the telecommunications industry during this pandemic is undoubtable because it has managed to keep people connected ,informed, entertained and enlightened about the disease which has helped in curtailing its spread.
“Governments worldwide, especially in developing countries like ours, have since recognised the need for telecommunications’ infrastructure.
“The pandemic has laid bare the urgency of such interventions,” he said.
Also, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, the Managing Director of Airtel, advocated support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to engender economic recovery in the post COVID-19 era.
Ogunsanya, in his presentation, said that the SMEs were most hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Airtel had created incentives and discounts for them to support their businesses.
This, he said, was the company’s ultimate objective to reduce the digital divide between those who have access to internet and those who do not.
According to him, access to the internet is key and imperative because it acts as a leveler that provides information opportunities to small and big businesses alike.
Ogunsanya said that contrary to conventional thinking, the telecommunications industry recorded a decline in its revenue in the first month after the lockdown.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Muhammadu Buhari announced a total lockdown in Lagos State, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory in March 2020 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Ogunsanya said that the pandemic had transformed the conventional ways of carrying out businesses, with online engagements becoming more popular.
“The impact has been huge on social and economic activities but we thank the authorities for creating a good environment for the virus to be contained very quickly.
“The telecoms industry is not isolated from the main economy and you can see the impact on the five key areas of the GDP.
“There was an initial reduction in consumer spending on telecoms services and products and a rise in the demands for data services at the initial stage of the lockdown.
“We got a decline in the second quarter and a lot of pressure is being put on us to increase capital expenditure as a result of increased back haul requirements,” he said.
Ogunsanya urged telecommunications industries to live up to their key responsibility of creating the right access either through mobile broadband, fibre or wireless connectivity to improve the future trend of businesses in the country.
“We need both fibre and wireless because it’s slightly more difficult to leave fibre but easier to spread the wireless access.
“We have seen a shift from coverage and capacity to customer experience, but data requires a lot of bandwidth.
“We’re focusing more on the kind of experience we’re giving our customers,” he said.
Also, Bisi Adeyemi, the Deputy President of NBCC, stressed the importance of the telecommunications industry on small businesses due to the evidence of more reliance on data and voice connectivity.
“People across the world have had to rely on technology to deal with the new realities of working from home.
“It has,therefore, become necessary to evaluate the impact of the industry on creating an enabling business environment and economic growth,” she said.
Edired by Peter Dada