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Pushing e-Commerce frontiers as COVID-19 enters community transmission stage in Nigeria

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By Ayomide Oriade
As fear heightens over probable backlash of relaxed lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States amidst frightening community transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19), e-Commerce remains the most practical and safest method for curtailing the virus and driving social distancing. 
The relaxation of lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States effective May 4 as announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in his nationwide broadcast on April 27, has unwittingly added a new dimension to the management of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) amidst concerns over rising community transmission.
The President in empathy for business owners, workers and residents, who were overburdened by the heavy economic losses, impacted by the seven-week presidential lockdown imposed since March 29, announced the implementation of a phased relaxation of lockdown with people allowed to commute from 6am to 8pm daily as from May 4.
One biggest contest here is, what happens to social distancing? Observers are of the view that, despite the efficient control of travel history-related cases, the major concern remains how to flatten the worrisome spike in community transmission as almost the entire 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are now in the COVID-19 net. 
Against the backdrop of the partial lifting of lockdown and the aftermath on Abuja; Lagos – due to its high population density and Ogun State because of its proximity to Lagos, worries being expressed stem from the fear that allowing people to move about freely could adversely impact the social distancing protocol and consequently trigger a fresh spike in Coronavirus transmission. 
“Now that businesses, workers and residents can go about their daily chores, a spike in the transmission is inevitable,” a concerned citizen said. 
Nevertheless, the solutions to these challenges are not far to seek. The good news is that rather than taking the dangerous option of mingling with crowds, consumers can take advantage of e-Commerce platforms like Jumia’s e-payment and last-mile delivery capabilities, which are uniquely positioned to be part of Africa’s response strategy to the Coronavirus pandemic. Those that desire to make a purchase of essential and non-essential goods that they were unable to get during the lockdown, can also leverage the services of Jumia to avoid crowded places thereby eliminating or reducing their vulnerability to Coronavirus infection. 
As a pan-African leading e-Commerce company with presence in 11 African countries, Jumia through its integrated technology and data-driven online channels and last-mile infrastructure including a marketplace, logistics and payment platforms, enables customers to make orders online, pay online for goods and get their orders delivered to their offices or homes, thereby staying safe and keeping social distancing. 
Through JumiaPay, the e-Commerce company also encourages digital payments over cash, which can be a conduit for the spread of coronavirus. With its unrivalled network of partnerships with almost 20 Quick Service Restaurants and kitchens, Jumia Food can reach millions of employees in their offices or those that may prefer to continue to work remotely from home. 
Jumia’s innovative ‘contactless delivery’ ensures safe doorstep delivery of orders by its last-mile delivery agents in protective wear without close physical contact with customers thereby reducing person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. 
As a leader, the company has continued to avail customers a positive experience of real-time and convenient online shopping to keep safe distancing before, during and even after the lifting of lockdown. By providing access to affordable basic foods and sanitary essentials on the marketplace platform, Jumia leverages partnership with thousands of vendors like Reckitt Benckiser and others, and is able to maintain fair prices and fight against price gouging. Jumia has waived the commission on specific sanitary products to help consumers get them at the lowest price and to ensure healthy price control. It thus makes a good buy advantage to access essentials from Jumia.   
While reviewing the partial lifting of lockdown on Channels Television 10 o’clock news bulletin monitored in Lagos some days ago, a former director of the Department of State Service, Mike Ejiofor, explained that influx in people’s movement should be expected in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states on Monday, May 4 and some days after. 
According to him, the residents, who have complied with the presidential stay at home order for weeks, would naturally want to do as much as they could to recover the lost ground. While appealing to people not to compromise social distancing as they return to work, he urged the government to strengthen compliance with social distancing.
A public affairs analyst, Mudorck Essien, advised the government to learn from countries that have implemented relaxed lockdown including China, Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Czech Republic and New Zealand by leveraging e-Commerce system to curtail movement and large crowds at physical malls, stores and open market stalls. 
Noting, in particular, our peculiar cultural orientation, he said e-Commerce operators like Jumia and the rest offer cost-efficient options to help safety-conscious consumers limit their movements and avoid overcrowded places like brick-and-mortar malls, stores, shops and open markets. He said it is normal for Nigerians to ride on the emotion of wanting to make a quick purchase of those non-essentials they were unable to buy during the period of lockdown especially as there might be fresh lockdown in the event of a fresh wave of Coronavirus transmission.  
“The fundamentals of COVID-19 have not changed. It’s too dangerous to break the social distancing protocol now because of the high risk of person-to-person transmission. One infected person entering a mall or a store can infect a dozen people. One infected person that enters Idumota, Balogun or Oke-Arin markets to buy textiles or other needs can infect hundreds of more people. It just makes good sense to leverage the e-Commerce system to sustain social distancing. Let people do their purchases through online transactions,” Essien counselled.
A financial analyst, Ayo Ademire, said the return of normal economic activities would automatically trigger an increase in hand-to-hand exchange of physical cash among Nigerians, thus raising the fear of a spike in transmission. To this end, he maintained that a country like Nigeria that seeks to benefit from the huge potentials of the digital economy should begin to optimise the e-Commerce system as the practice is in countries like China, the United States and other developed economies.
“This is the best time to take advantage of e-Commerce operators like Jumia. They can serve the multiple ends of keeping people safe at this critical time as well as promoting the digital economy. Government should encourage e-Commerce players to continue to drive the logistics and supply of goods and also encourage more Nigerians to imbibe digital purchase and payment for goods and services,” he noted.  
To stop COVID-19 transmission, although President Buhari had announced other preventive measures including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, indefinite restriction of inter-state movement except for vehicles carrying essentials including groceries, food, agriculture inputs, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and a ban on social and religious gatherings, regular handwashing with soap and running water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and the wearing of facemasks and hand gloves in public, social distancing remains a critical factor in the fight against the pandemic.

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

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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

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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.

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:

dangote

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

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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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