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Leverage Technology To Enhance Productivity, NBCC, Bank CEOs Advise Businesses

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The Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and top bank chief executives have charged businesses to leverage technology to improve productivity and positively impact the nation’s economy.
They spoke at the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) maiden conference and exhibition with the theme: “Fast Tracking Productivity- Leveraging Technology” on Tuesday in Lagos.
Mrs Bisi Adeyemi, President, NBCC, stressed the imperative of technology in driving productivity, especially in view of the current realities propelled by COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that the conference, whiah would be biannual, afforded businesses the opportunity to showcase their brands and foster new partnerships.
“These businesses would also develop foreign market opportunities, which aligns with our cardinal objectives,” she said.
Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Group, said that technology had entered an era of digitalisation.
Adeduntan, represented by Mr Ini Ebong, Executive Director, Treasury and International Banking, First Bank, said new technologies were powering and providing attractive basis for business growth, innovation and differentiation.
He noted that increasingly, both large and small businesses were leveraging modern technology to become agile and grow more efficiently.
The CEO said that technology was powering business development in various ways, leading to enhanced business growth and profitability.
Adeduntan projected that the rise of frontier technologies promised to further impact and transform the dynamics of business.
“Organisations are leveraging technology to future proof their business through investments in talents, embracing e-commerce option and using analytics to draw insights.
“Businesses that will remain sustainable must have digital and online presence by creating e-commerce stores which may complement brick-and-mortar points of sale.
“Businesses will also need to leverage digital ecosystem partnerships to remain competitive,” he said.
Mr Lamin Manjang, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, said that the opportunities that had come with the adoption of digitalisation in the financial sector were enormous.
Manjang was represented by Head, Digital Banking and Financial Inclusion, Mr Adeyinka Shorungbe.
He said that following the adoption of digitalisation, total retail account base grew by 200 per cent in two years and its revenue base for retail business increased by 300 per cent.
“Technology now allows us to acquire customers in all states, with an average of 9,000 new accounts opened monthly.
“Also, the bank’s digital penetration is at 87 per cent, with increased efficiency, speed and quality, yet reduced cost,” he said.
Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BoI) said that the bank would continue to play its role in fast tracking productivity through its various funding and advisory facilities.
Pitan, represented by Mr Simon Aranonu, Executive Director, Large Enterprises, Bank of Industry, said that Nigeria, like many countries around the world, was not immune to the economic headwinds presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, he said, made it essential for all non-oil sectors, particularly manufacturing, to boost productivity, create employment opportunities, and enable Nigeria to be more self sufficient (less import dependent).
He described the manufacturing sector as the gateway to industrialisation through substantial forward and backward linkages with other sectors, providing a wealth of opportunities for suppliers, distributors and retailers.
He stressed that with the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Nigeria must build its manufacturing sector towards it becoming the manufacturing hub for West Africa and the rest of Africa.
Pitan revealed that the BoI had successfully raised about $3.8bn from the international market in the last four years with some of the meetings and roadshows held virtually, leveraging technology.
“BOI supports projects with potential developmental impact and the capability to generate considerable multiplier effects such as job creation, import substitution and poverty alleviation.
“All of which would have significant positive effects on the socio-economic condition of Nigerians, particularly in light of recent challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“BoI also sponsors Corporate Social Responsibility activities that provide technology solutions to businesses such as innovation hub across all states in Nigeria,” he said.

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Association  Tasks Politicians On Internet Market 

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The Global System for Mobile telecommunications Association (GSMA) has warned that market imbalances between network operators and online service providers could stall growth in several sectors of the internet-based economy, and called on politicians to urgently address the issue.
In its GSMA 2022 Internet Value Chain report, the trade association noted factors including asymmetric regulation and restrictions, sector-specific taxes, and spectrum costs are squeezing the business models of infrastructure providers whilst allowing big tech to thrive.
The body noted that those in charge of setting laws and regulations must consider the interdependence of online services and other growth sectors on the underlying infrastructure investment.
In a recent statement obtained online by the Press, its Chairman, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, said “growing recognition of this issue by policymakers is important, especially as the Internet-based economy expands across all sectors over the next decade”.
The report encouraged  decision makers to consider the full landscape of taxation and regulation.
It also advised   companies investing in infrastructure  to build and upgrade the networks, which underpin online services.
The study found revenue across the internet value chain doubled in five years, from $3.3 trillion in 2015 to $6.7 trillion in 2020, noting that much of this growth comes from online services, revenue from which increased 19 per cent per year in 2020.
However, the return on investment in infrastructure for network operators was far lower, at between six per cent and 11 per cent.
The GSMA noted that operators are receiving less than 10 per cent returns on capital because of pressure to invest up to 20 per cent of revenue in capex.
The body  further revealed that the Internet continues to grow at a pace in terms of users, services and, most of all, traffic.
It stressed that the growth was relentless, adding that there is much more to go.
“The number of people with access to the internet has reached 4.6 billion in 2020 (via either fixed or mobile networks), an increase of 44 per cent since 2015 and a yearly growth rate of 7.5 per cent.

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MTN Begins PSaB  Services In Nigeria

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MTN Nigeria’s fintech subsidiary, MoMo Payment Service Bank (MoMo PSB) Limited,  has formally commenced PSB operations sequel to the recent approval of the service by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Network provider said, this follows a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, which was in commemoration of the launch of its  GSM operations on May 16, 2001 and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019.
It described the listing as  key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities.
Also, in a stock market statement, Airtel Africa announced that its subsidiary, SmartCash PSB, had started providing services through selected retail outlets with plans to expand across Nigeria in the coming months.
Airtel Africa secured a full Payment Service Bank licence from the CBN through its subsidiary in April, having received an in-principle approval in 2021.
MTN informed that a market activation took place recently at Oke-Arin market in Marina, Lagos, where traders were shown how to open a MoMo wallet, by simply dialing *671# on any network.
It also hinted that the system allows subscribers the opportunity to  send money to any mobile phone in the country as well as buy airtime/data and as well,  pay bills.
The telecommunications firm said in addition to delivering a wide range of digitised payment services aimed at removing the friction from everyday payment by digitising cash payment, MoMo wallets in the future will also enable account holders to receive inbound remittance from any country in the world.
With an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitised partnership infrastructure, MTN claimed that MoMo PSB is poised to enable millions of unbanked and underserved Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.
Chief Executive Officer  of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola,  said the company was grateful to the CBN for its  support and guidance through the process.
Toriola noted that it was an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in its  mission to support the delivery of financial services to everyone in the country.
In his reaction, the MoMo PSB CEO, Usoro Usoro, noted that providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians was  essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and the digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Usoro said his firm was looking forward to playing its  part, saying that it was excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.
According to Airtel Africa, the licence allows it to deliver what it described at the time as a full suite of mobile money services.
Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, pledged to revolutionise financial services in Nigeria and drive inclusion.

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FG Increases Call Rate By 9%

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The Federal Government has placed a new tax on phone calls in Nigeria, saying it is to enhance funding for free healthcare for the Vulnerable Group in the country
It would be recalled that telecommunication companies had made moves to increase the price of its services as a result of an unfavourable operating climate.
In the National Health Insurance Authority Bill 2021 signed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, last week, section 26 of the act provides that the source of money for the Vulnerable Group Fund includes telecommunications tax, not less than one kobo per second of GSM calls.
“Section 26 of this new law imposes a telecommunications tax of not less than 1kobo per second on GSM calls. With call rates at about 11kobo per second, this translates to a 9 per cent tax on GSM calls,” it said.
Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Taiwo Oyedele,  noted that Section 26 of the  new law imposes  telecommunications tax of not less than 1kobo per second on GSM calls.
With call rates at about 11kobo per second,  Oyedele said that it stood for  about nine  per cent tax on  GSM calls.

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