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New Business Culture COVID-19 is Forcing on Consumers and Businesses




By Princewill Ekwujuru

As countries are continuously caught in-between the hard decision of easing lockdowns in bid to open up socio-economic activities and flattening the Coronavirus infection curve, the sad reality the world may live with for the rest of human existence is the disclosure that the pandemic may never be eradicated.

READ ALSO : X-Raying Jumia’s Road To Africa’s E-Commerce Dominance

According to the World Health Organisation, trying to predict when the virus would disappear is a mirage even if a vaccine is found, WHO emergencies director, Dr Mike Ryan, warned at a virtual media briefing. 
“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” he warned, stating that HIV/AIDS, measles and other diseases have not gone despite the development of more than 100 potent vaccines. 
WHO epidemiologist, Maria van Kerkhove, spoke in like manner: “We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic.” In the past, the Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, had stated it was still possible to control the virus but with effort.
A group of Chinese viral and medical researchers further buttressed this fear, saying the Coronavirus will not be eradicated. With China still recording asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 every day despite bringing its epidemic under control, the disclosure by the scientists has added to the growing consensus around the world that the pathogen may return like SARS and other flu. 
According to Jin Qi, director, Institute of Pathogen Biology at China’s top medical research institute, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, “This is very likely to be an epidemic that co-exists with humans for a long time, becomes seasonal and is sustained within human bodies.” 
To discerning minds, the stark reality is that COVID-19 may have unwittingly become a permanent part of our daily lives. If this is the case, the wisdom that the global health body and experts have passed to African countries, in particular, is for government and the people to do everything possible to contain and control community transmission of the virus. 
In Nigeria for instance, this advice appears too important to be ignored in view of our health facilities and frontline medical personnel are already over-stretched amidst the escalating rate of confirmed cases and fatalities daily. Two, the weight of the socio-economic cost of Coronavirus on our fragile national economy including the subnational economies and the general wellbeing of the majority of Nigerians are crushing. 
There have also been reported massive job losses as a result of generally low productivity across key sectors including aviation, hospitality, manufacturing and the all-important agriculture. People’s purchasing power has also been adversely impacted. Experts including economists, investment and policy analysts have raised concerns that more negatives could result unless balanced actions are taken to contain the spread of the virus, which is a major threat to the economy. 
Instructively, the paradox that we face is that the entire world is indeed in a battle against securing the future – the continued existence of humanity – from a ravaging pandemic that has become a global common enemy. And the picture of stark realities painted by WHO and experts is quite worrisome as Dr Tedros warned that there was no guaranteed way of easing restrictions without triggering a second wave of infections.
“Many countries would like to get out of the different measures, but our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible,” he stated. Dr Ryan even sounded it louder: “There is some magical thinking going on that lockdowns work perfectly and that unlocking lockdowns will go great. Both are fraught with dangers.”
Be that as it may, the hard choice that we have to make is between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea, and the obvious less risky option here is the commonsense adoption of physical and social distancing as a new normal. This is critical because contact with infected persons is the potent channel for transmission of the virus. 
Also, the fact that asymptomatic carriers can spread the virus undetected makes it inevitable for government and businesses to discourage, and if possible, enforce stricter measures that ensure total elimination of physical and social distancing for everyone. But, this may not be feasible as likely breach of fundamental human rights could pose a hurdle. 
As the government is set to freeze socio-economic activities and everyone in on the set-go for a blast again, the critical action that we must take is the adoption of a new culture by individuals (consumers of goods and services) and businesses (as producers). Underling, this action is our embrace of a new culture that promotes self-discipline and consciousness to discourage large gatherings in any form, and ultimately produce the expected positive outcome: flattening person-to-person transmission of COVID-19.

Essentially, brick and mortar shopping in places such as malls, supermarkets, open stalls and markets tops the list of platforms that encourage large gatherings of people with the potential to increase COVID-19 community transmission. The other is brick and mortar banking halls and other physical locations where people handle cash payment or transactions, which is also a common practice in our traditional open markets. 
If the government is desirous of enforcing people’s compliance with the WHO-established protocol on physical and social distancing as well as motivating people to take personal responsibility that can reduce the spread of Coronavirus in the country, it is important that the people’s culture and business culture that requires physical contact must start giving way to more digitally innovative ways of doing things. 
Part of the drastic measures being recommended to the government to reduce community transmission is to tame the monster from the source – curtailing person-to-person contact. This need again brings to the fore the role of e-Commerce and supply/logistics operators like Jumia and others to continue to be the key drivers of social distancing and business continuity for MSMEs as they did during the weeklong lockdowns. 
Jumia, in particular, bolstered safe distancing through JumiaPay that enabled consumers to make online purchases, orders and payment for goods without any physical contact with anyone. Through Jumia contactless delivery, its agents and riders in personal protective equipment delivered those essentials such as groceries, water, toiletries and pharmaceuticals to people who were observing lockdowns in their homes under strict set safety protocol. 
Jumia marketplace and logistics also effectively bridged the supply and logistics gap occasioned by movement restrictions and surge in demand for essentials during the lockdowns. The company provided an efficient distribution channel for brands and sellers at a time when offline channels were disrupted while helping consumers to keep safe and many MSMEs staying afloat. 
It would be recalled that, during lockdowns and partial shutdowns across Nigeria, there was a significant shift in consumer behaviour from traditional retailing and payment to online transactions, thanks to e-Commerce operators like Jumia. Through Jumia innovative partnership with manufacturers of household essentials, a number of MSMEs also moved online. Significant adoption of e-payment transactions enabled by JumiaPay also buoyed the economy. 
Jumia in its first-quarter 2020 financials underscored the potential of e-Commerce and logistics/supply operators to reflate the economy by reporting that e-payment/digital payment adoption opportunities can increase demand for brands, put essentials in the hands of more people while they are keeping safe and maintaining social distancing, and also help sellers to sell more and faster especially through Jumia digital omnichannel. 
It disclosed further that more brands and sellers were eager to join the Jumia marketplace by Jumia cross-border. Strong demand from offline convenience retailers to join the Jumia on-demand platform and increasing advertisers’ interest for online channels were also reported as consumption shifted towards online.
“We believe the COVID-19 pandemic proves that e-Commerce has a key role to play in helping consumers safely access essential goods and providing an efficient distribution channel for brands and sellers, at a time when offline channels are disrupted. We are more than ever confident about the relevance of Jumia and the gradual adoption of e-Commerce by both consumers and sellers,” Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Jumia, said.
Retrospecting the 2003 SARS epidemic, the survival of e-Commerce giant Alibaba was initially threatened due to lack of understanding of the role of e-Commerce as a lifeline in any humanitarian crisis. But not perturbed, the company’s development team worked from its founder Jack Ma’s apartment and innovated a consumer-facing e-commerce platform, which boosted home delivery of essentials to millions of people amidst increased online demand for those quarantined at home. The Chinese government soon recognised Alibaba’s intervention as a watershed moment for the country. 
All of these are proofs that, as we unlock the economy for full activities, the imperative of full adoption of technology is now more relevant in our fast-changing world. Digital transformation, of which e-Commerce operation is a major pillar, is now more fundamental. With the disruptions brought by Coronavirus, and giving the warnings by WHO and experts that the virus may never be eradicated, embracing a new reality and outlook on the future, though it might seem painful initially, is critical.
For us to consolidate the gains of measures taken so far to contain and case-manage COVID-19 infections, adoption of and adaptability to online marketplace by producers and service providers, increased online shopping experience and online payments culture are important behavioural changes and new realities that individuals and businesses must come to terms with. Doing so is our best less risky option to stem community transmission and mitigate the adverse socio-economic impact of this damaging virus.  

Ayomide O

I am Paschal Ogechi Obi Chikero . I have written and published three books , I wrote Festus Keyamo's biography- Lion In Isolation .I have been a Reality TV show Producer/Creator, an Actor and Film Script Writer.

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Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse




Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse

Leading Cement manufacturer, Dangote Cement Plc, on Wednesday launched the Dangote Articulated Truck Driving School in a move aimed at inculcating safe driving culture in its drivers so as to stem the tide of road crashes.

The opening of the school in partnership with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Company management reasoned, would also make the drivers become better road users.

The Academy, which was officially commissioned by Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr. Boboye Olayemi Oyeyemi, was characterized as historic and unique.

The new Academy for truck drivers, according to the Corps Marshal, is a significant step forward that will benefit not only the Dangote Group but Nigeria as a whole.

The country’s top road safety official hailed Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of the Dangote Group, for taking “a big step” towards reducing truck accidents.

He said: “This is what we’ve been waiting for. You made it. I have observed that Dangote has done a lot to address truck crashes and I must commend them for this.”

He extolled the conglomerate for leading other companies on this path, saying the new school will play a key part in the country’s efforts to make roads safer.

He said he had suggested such a school long ago, adding that he is happy that the school has come to fruition.

In his remarks, the National Director, Logistics of the Dangote Cement (Transport section) Mr. Juan Carlos Rincon, said the new school is an expression of the determination of the company to bring to halt the incidences of auto crash in the country.

Speaking also Executive Secretary National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Professor Idris Bugaje who was represented by Engr S.M. Yusuf, said the NBTE will partner with the Dangote Cement Plc for a successful accreditation and takeoff of the new school.

In his remarks, the Bajana of Obajana HRH Oba Idowu Isenibi said he was optimistic that the school will help address auto crashes in the country, even as he described the President of the Dangote Group Aliko Dangote as a “rescuer and God sent to their communities that should be emulated by other investors in the country.

Speaking in the same vein, the Olu of Akpata Oba Frederick Balogun urged other investors to emulate the company.

Both the Dangote Cement Transport and the FRSC signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) on how to cooperate to ensure that the school is a success.

In the same vein, Dangote Cement organized thorough block molding training for block makers in both Kano and Katstina states respectively. This, according to the company is to ensure that the blocks moulded for building constructions are strong, reliable, and durable, noting that some block makers do not really know how to make strong and reliable blocks.

The Coordinator of the programme, Mr. Johnson Olaniyi, said the workshop would give the block molders and allied product manufacturers the opportunity to once again build capacity and adhere to global best practices.

Mr. Olaniyi said the Dangote Cement Plc is desirous of reversing the trend of collapse building through the capacity building of block manufacturers.

Meanwhile, government representatives, quality regulators, cement dealers, block makers, and end-users have come to an accord that Africa’s cement giant produces the best quality of cement on the continent.

The stakeholders who attended the meeting also said the ongoing nationwide workshop and sensitization of block manufacturers will help check the menace of collapsed buildings in the country.

Speaking at the workshop in Kano, representatives of the Kano State Government Alhaji Muhammad Garba Kwall said that Dangote Cement Plc is not only the biggest company but produces the best quality in Africa.

He described the company as socially responsible and that’s why it is giving back to society through the sensitization workshop and creating various platforms for educating end users to mitigate the incessant incidences of collapse building in the country.

Speaking, Regional Director, Kano Directorate, Standard Organization of Nigeria(SON), Mr. Albert Wilberforce urged block molders to patronize the quality cement produced by the Dangote Cement Plc, adding that the SON was partnering with the company and ensuring that only quality cement are produced by the company.

In the same vein, The Kano State Coordinator (II) of SON Engr Hauwa M. Husseini urged the block moulders to comply with standard practice in order to prevent the menace of collapse buildings in the country.

Speaking also, Regional Sales Director for Northwest  Aliyu Dan Aliyu urged participants to be ambassadors by telling their customers about the quality of the cement.

He said: A customer who wants to build a house, doesn’t know the quality or type of cement to use. It is the responsibility of the builder to advise him on the desired cement to use for quality building.

Safe driving: FRSC commissions Dangote truck driving school…Dangote also trains block makers in Kano, Katsina to prevent building collapse

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Restates Commitment to FG’s Backward Integration policy …Rewards Shareholders with N12.147bn Dividend




Dangote Sugar Refinery Restates Commitment to FG’s Backward Integration policy ...Rewards Shareholders with N12.147bn Dividend

Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc has restated its commitment to the achievement of Sugar Backward integration projects, describing it as the best thing that happened to the sector.

Speaking to shareholders at the 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Dangote Sugar Plc, in Lagos the Chairman of the Company, Aliko Dangote, said that despite the harsh operating environment, the board and management were not deterred in the pursuit of sustainable growth for the company and demonstrated resilience by continued implementation of its strategic objectives during the year, 2021.

The dividend pay-out of N12.147 billion for the year was unanimously approved by the shareholders.  The dividend represents N1.00 per share.

The Company under review posted a Group turnover of N276 billion, being 29 percent increase over N214 billion in the comparative year. Profit before tax of N34.021 billion, profit after tax of N22.052 billion. Group EBITDA decreased to N46.5 billion with an EBITDA margin of 18 percent.

According to Dangote, the Company’s performance during the year under review is commendable amidst the challenges and the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities. “We furthered the implementation of process optimisation, cost savings, and product promotion strategies with the launch of our new brand identity and the pursuit of the Dangote Sugar Backward integration master plan”

He further stated that the Board and Management will continue to implement strategic actions to sustain and surpass this performance while engaging with all stakeholders in the sector and its communities to ensure the realisation of the objectives of the Company.

On the company’s backward integration project, Dangote chairman emphasised that the goal of Dangote Sugar Backward Integration Projects Master plan remains the achievement of 1.5 million MT annually from locally grown sugar cane in support of the quest for sugar sufficiency in the country by the federal government.

He added that this will be achieved in addition to the extended value chain benefits that will be derived from the projects including thousands of jobs that will be generated in the sector from these projects.

He pointed out that despite the challenges faced in the year 2021, Dangote Sugar Numan Operations rehabilitation and expansion efforts of the factory and field are advancing, saying “The community tissues that came up were effectively managed, and we have continued to advance so far without any major disruptions.”

He also noted that “In 2021, our commitment to building a sustainable business remained on track with the principles of good corporate governance. We imbibed best practices, environmental and impact management in the day-today running of our business.”

He assured of the company’s commitment to the achievement of Sugar Backward integration projects, which is the future of the industry in Nigeria, saying this will keep us on our sustained growth path and we will continue to deliver and improve our quality service while delivering value to all stakeholders.

Also, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive officer of Dangote Sugar, Mr. Ravindra Singhvi said that “We remained ahead of the pack in implementation of the National Sugar backward Integration Development Master Plan.”

He however said that the situation at the Lau/Tau project is still the same, “we continue to remain hopeful that the Taraba State government will resolve the lingering issues with the communities, while we focus on the development of other brown and green field project sites…Steady progress is now being made as we continue the rehabilitation and expansion project at Dangote Sugar, Numan, and development activities at the Nasarawa Sugar Company Limited, Tunga.”

Singhvi stated that the Company remains resolute and committed to ensuring a sustainable future for its business while assuring the shareholders of better days ahead.

The shareholders commended the Company’s performance for the year under review. A shareholder, Mrs. Bisi Bakare, commended the company for the food fortification award received for the year under review and the bountiful dividend paid.

Another shareholder, Mr Patrick Ajudua, also expressed satisfaction with dividends declared particularly at a time like this with the various environmental operating challenges.

He charged the management to improve upon the capacity utilisation of the plant to be better positioned to meet local and export needs.





L-R: Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; and Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022


L-R: Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Temitope Hassan; Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; and Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022


L-R: Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Abdu Dantata; Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Temitope Hassan; Chairman, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Aliko Dangote; Group Managing Director/CEO, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Ravindra Singhvi; Non-Executive Director, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Olakunle Alake, at the 16th Annual General Meeting of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc held in Lagos on June 15, 2022


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Diesel Price Might Hit N1,500 Per Liter In Two Weeks – Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association




Diesel Price Might Hit N1,500 Per Liter In Two Weeks - Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association

The Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association has revealed that the price of diesel might hit N1,500 per litre in two weeks.

NAIJA NEWS NG reports that the association said this will happen if nothing is done to curtail the challenges importers of diesel are facing .

Bennett Korie, the National President of the Association, told newsmen in Abuja that about 75 per cent of filling stations across the country are currently out of business .

He said this is due to their inability to purchase diesel required to power their tankers and transport Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, to their various outlets.
He added that the solution to the problem is for the Buhari led government to increase the price of petrol to reduce the huge foreign exchange used in PMS imports.

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“If you go round now you will see that about 75 per cent of filling stations in Nigeria have gone out of business. There is no diesel to take fuel to their stations. All of them are going down.

And it is not that the fuel is not there, but the cost of bringing it to the stations is too high. We know that the crisis between Ukraine and Russia has contributed badly, but the government has to do something fast, otherwise we are going to buy diesel in the next two weeks at N1000 to N1500/litre.”


On what can be done to the address the situation, Korie said

“The only way out, if you want to know, is that they (the government) should increase the price of fuel a little to reduce the money spent on PMS subsidy.

I know Nigerians will not be happy to hear this, but this is the only solution. They should increase the price of fuel a little so that the savings will enable the Central Bank of Nigeria to have enough foreign exchange.

You and I know that we import everything now in Nigeria. Diesel is an imported product and it is fully deregulated. So the importers are not getting dollars at the official CBN rate to import diesel. Everybody is going to the black market to get dollars to import their products and so you expect the price of diesel to be high.”


Korie suggested that the Federal government needs to reduce the rate at which it spends foreign exchange on PMS imports as it will help other businessmen who import diesel to bring in products at low prices.


“So you need to increase fuel price a little in order to ensure that the dollars spent in importing petrol is reduced and there will be enough forex for importers of diesel and this will cut down the price of diesel.”he said


Speaking further, he said

“The reason why you are having scarcity of petroleum products particularly in Abuja is as a result of the high cost of diesel. The price of diesel today in the market is N850/litre. You will also agree with me that the money being paid as bridging claims to transporters is not enough.

The price is N850/litre and you are giving your driver 1,200 litres from Lagos to Abuja, if you do the calculation you will find out that the landing cost (for transporting the fuel) is about N40/litre.

So if you add that to PMS, buying at the depot price and selling here, it is too high. So if your cost of bringing it in is at N40/litre and you bought it at N155/litre, when you add this you will get N195/litre. But you are to sell at N165/litre. So who will do that kind of business? It is already a loss-making business.”

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