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Ezeadichie Onyeka Michael is the Co-Founder of Haelsoft, a Professional Services Company in Nigeria that provides Information and Technology Services for small and big size companies in Nigeria(Africa). He is an Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist with Expertise in Web Technology and Digital Marketing. He has developed & Implemented Digital Marketing Strategies(Campaigns) for top brands across sectors in Finance, Telecommunication, Ecommerce who operate in the African market. His professional experience includes key roles at Google Business Group(Nigeria), Google Women on the Web (Nigeria), Edubridge Consultant and Wild Fusion where he has trained over 500 Entrepreneurs on how to use various Web Technology products to succeed online. Customer centricity, User Experience, Conversion optimization are 3 pronged framework he applies around the often-frenetic world of web analytics to ensure that clients stay competitive in the market. He believes that investing in talent is the key to long term success for brands across Nigeria (Africa).

World Finance Names Access Bank as Best Sustainable Bank 2016

World Finance Names Access Bank as Best Sustainable Bank 2016

Access Bank has won the World Finance Award for the ‘Best Sustainable Bank of the Year 2016’. The award was received by the Bank at the London Stock Exchange in the United Kingdom.

The award focuses on the role of commercial and investment banks in sustainable development examining recent trends in banking and sustainable development, innovative banking practices, and events that have shaped the role of the banking sector in sustainable development.

Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe said, “Winning this award for the third year in a row reinforces our position as a leader in Sustainability in the Nigerian banking industry while validating the Bank’s sustained commitment to responsible business practices”.

“We are proud of the international awards and accolades that we continue to receive in recognition of our leadership position in the banking sector. Global recognition not only reflects our profound understanding of the Nigerian market and its dynamics but also speaks to our ability to better serve our customers”, Wigwe added.

The World Finance Awards was created in 2007 to identify industry leaders, individuals, teams and organisations that represent the benchmark of achievement and best practice in the financial and business world.

Prior to winning this award, Access Bank won ‘won in 3 categories of the EMEA Finance African Banking award in the Pan-African Region: the ‘CEO of the Year’, awarded to Access Bank’s Group Managing Director and CEO, Herbert Wigwe; ‘Best Bank in Nigeria’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’.

The Bank also emerged as ‘Bank of The Year – Nigeria 2016’ at the annual Bank of the Year awards by The Banker magazine, a publication of the Financial Times Group.

Access Bank wins Triple Honours at EMEA Finance Banking Awards

Access Bank wins Triple Honours at EMEA Finance Banking Awards

Access Bank wins Triple Honours at EMEA Finance Banking Awards Foremost African financial institution, Access Bank Plc. has emerged as Nigeria‟s biggest winner at the 2016 EMEA Finance Banking Awards by leading financial publication EMEA Finance Magazine.

Access Bank won in 3 categories awarded to financial institutions in the Pan-African Region: the „CEO of the Year‟, awarded to Access Bank‟s Group Managing Director
and CEO, Herbert Wigwe; „Best Bank in Nigeria‟ and „Corporate Social Responsibility‟. Receiving the award on behalf of the Bank at the annual African Banking Awards
Dinner in London, United Kingdom, Wigwe thanked the staff of Access Bank, acknowledging their support in achieving the goal of not only becoming one of the Top
3 banks in Nigeria, but also for participating in the firm‟s CSR activities that have touched the lives of thousands of Nigerians. Wigwe said, “We are delighted to receive these prestigious awards. It is a testimonial to the hard work we have done in line with our five-year strategy to become the world‟s most respected African Bank.‟‟ “2016 has been a remarkable year for the Bank as we continue to receive both regional and international acclaim.

I am extremely proud to be part of a profitable institution that is committed to delivering sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible and socially relevant. We have reaffirmed our status as innovative industry pioneers equipped to help our customers take tomorrow today,” Wigwe stated. Commenting on Access Bank‟s impressive streak, EMEA Finance CEO Christopher Moore said: “A repeat winner of our Best Bank in Nigeria award, Access Bank has become a Nigerian powerhouse, and one of the premier financial institutions in the country.

Generating steep increases in revenues and profit growth over the past several years is no small feat, particularly with strong negative macroeconomic headwinds.”
The hat-trick comes after two recent big wins at the Business Day Awards where the Bank was named „Bank of the Year‟ and Access Bank‟s Group Managing Director and
Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe was also crowned „Bank CEO of the Year‟. “We are delighted to recognise Wigwe as our CEO of the Year in our African Banking Awards 2016 awards package,” Moore said. “Leadership requires ambition, and Wigwe possesses this quality and much more. His years of dedication and commitment to the development of Access Bank have helped it to attract over 8 million customers, to complete complex and strategically important financings, and to create an international presence,” he added. EMEA Finance is a leading bi-monthly global industry publication that reports on the major financial events and happenings initiated and influenced by the international financial industry active in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Wigwe led Access Bank‟s efforts to incorporate sustainability across all aspects of the bank‟s activities. In doing so, he also moved the entire sector forward, and now all of Nigeria‟s banks, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, have adopted what is known as the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles.

ABOUT ACCESS BANK

Access Bank Plc. is a full service commercial Bank operating through a network of 353 branches and service outlets located in major centres across Nigeria, Sub Saharan
Africa, and the United Kingdom with representative offices in China and the UAE.

Listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1998, the Bank serves its various markets through four business segments: Personal, Business, Commercial and Corporate &
Investment Banking. The Bank has over 830,000 shareholders including several Nigerian and International Institutional Investors and has enjoyed what is arguably
Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in the last twelve years ranking amongst Africa’s top 20 banks by total assets and capital in 2015.

As part of its continued growth strategy, Access Bank is focused on mainstreaming sustainable business practices into its operations. The Bank strives to deliver
sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible and socially relevant.

MMM Nigeria freezes all confirmed accounts as panic, confusion grip Nigerians

MMM Nigeria freezes all confirmed accounts as panic, confusion grip Nigerians

MMM Nigeria- Members of the famous money-doubling scheme, Mavrodi Mundial Moneybox, MMM Nigeria have been thrown into panic and great confusion, Tuesday, following the message from the ponzi scheme freezing all confirmed Mavros, otherwise known as money due for withdrawal for one month. This means, all the accounts of members who are due to be paid after having ‘provided help’ (PH) to another person since the last month have been frozen and hence, have no access to request for payment, known as ‘Get Help’ (GH) until after one month.

All members woke up with the shock message displayed on the screen as soon as they logged into their accounts. Giving reasons for freezing the Mavros, the scheme said it is experiencing heavy workload and want to deal with the attacks coming from the country’s mass media.

It also said it wants to prevent hitches in the coming new year hence, the freezing of the access to requesting for payments even when such person is due for payment. The message read thus: “One-Month Freezing of Confirmed Mavros” “Dear members!” “As usual, in the New Year season the System is experiencing heavy workload. Moreover, it has to deal with the constant frenzy provoked by the authorities in the mass media.” “The things are still going well; the participants feel calm; everyone gets paid – as you can see, there haven’t been any payment delays or other problems yet – but!.. it is better to avoid taking risk.:-)) (Moreover, there are almost three weeks left to the New Year.)” “Hence, on the basis of the above mentioned, from now on all confirmed Mavro will be frozen for a month.” “The reason for this measure is evident. We need to prevent any problems during the New Year season, and then, when everything calms down, this measure will be cancelled. (Which we will definitely do.:-))” “We hope for your understanding, Administration”

Panic quarters and Lamentations: In a whatsapp group, MMM Nexus Solution, members of the ponzi scheme, many who are Guilders, have launched their displeasure over the new development. Many have lamented that they don’t know how to communicate the development to their downliners (Those they persuaded to stake their money in the ponzi scheme). They also argued that this decision of the scheme’s management will trigger the downfall of the scheme. They said most people will hence, be skeptical in staking their money while a good number of them said such decision is selfish and would have been better if it was conveyed to members before now. One of the members with the name, Rosy, said thus: ” This rule is obnoxious, unscrupulous, provocative, insensitive….they did not advise them well, evil prophesy coming to pass.”

Another member lamented thus; ” One of my down lines was supposed to pay 50k today and he has just called me to tell me he isn’t paying again till this is sorted out. Exactly my point. If millions GH in January, how will the system manage that, bearing in mind that this act of suspension of GH this period will discourage many people from joining; who will pay the January GH?” And yet another member lamented thus: “I am a member of NBA Abuja branch, tomorrow, we have a seminar on lottery, gaming, casino, MMM etc hosted by Nat lottery Comm. I have been a strong MMM advocate amongst Abuja lawyers, what do i tell them tomorrow?” Another member said: “I have been an advocate of MMM since I joined in September but this act of shifting the goalpost in the middle of the match is a very useless and stupid one by MMM. I have 3 new down lines whose 50 dollars bonus is supposed to mature on thursday, what do I tell them? I tried so hard to convince them to join mmm. What they could have done is to make all new PH to stay for one month.” However, this member seemed to be very courageous despite the message. He wrote thus: “I was drinking Hollandia yoghurt when someone called me to say that MMM has been frozen. Oboy, the Hollandia started tasting like Alomo. But no shaking….. I dey kanpe.” Recall that a similar ponzi scheme, Ultimate Cycler, crashed last two weeks and up until now, the site is yet to be alive. Although a message displayed on the site said it is undergoing maintenance, a routine it said would only last for about 6 to 12 hours, yet, for two weeks now, the site is still unaccessible.

When accessed, the site initially displayed an error line of code, before displaying ”Error 500” in bold letters, then it proceeded to display another message: “Be right back. We are currently updating the site to give you a more pleasurable experience and will be back online shortly. Our update estimation is to be complete over the next 6 – 12 hours. Thank you, Peter Wolfing. Also read: Fear grips Nigerians in MMM, others as ponzi website, Ultimate Cycler, crashes With the current freezing message from MMM, the fear is that it could tour the line of the crashed Ultimate Cycler. This tends to further give grounds to another school of thought who have it that all ponzi schemes do not last more than one year. In defence of MMM:mmm However, the following is a response message to members by the first Nigerian Guider, Chuddy. “Hi Mavrodians, As we all must have seen in our PO of the news on Mavro frozen for a month.”

“This idea is brought forward to Calm the members down on intending Threat the FG and Mass media has planned on the system. It doesn’t mean that their is no more money in the system because in my PO now as a guider, I have about 2million+ PH orders. And I know it would be like that in most Guiders PO too. So you see!!! Money to pay out the orders wouldn’t be a problem.” “But the Admins needed to apply measures to sustain the growth of the system. In order to fight issues that may arose as a result of Massive PH already this xmas. Issues like * Uploading of Fake POP *non confirmation of orders and the rest.” “So this is the best strategy to put FG to shame. We all need not panic as our money is in safe hands. Check out your Mavros and you see your money is intact both for 30% bonuses and 20% accrued bonuses.” “You can keep PHing if you have the money, though you will definitely not be matched until Mavros are unfrozen. But that will really go a long way for you as your PH made this December will surely be giving you extra 20% after paying out next year. No cause for Alarm. We live to expect a stronger MMM by January 14th, 2017.” “Guider Chuddy.”

And yet, another member wrote thus in defense of MMM: ” “MMM HAS OVER ten(10) SAFTY NETS WHICH WILL NEVER MAKE IT CRASH AND U NEVER NOTICE BUT I WILL MENTION TEN(10) OUT OF THEM.
1, Pause mode 2,
14 days defrost
3, Extension of the getting help hours
4, Seeking help from neighboring country
5, No central account attached
7, Peer to peer system
8, Guider’s efforts
9 PH match hours extension

10, Website upgrades and security” “1, Pause mode This process is applied when the numbers of the people getting help is greater than the people help. The system will pause the GH transactions and allow more PH to come into the system for the duration of 2 and half months, WHICH IN OUR CASE IS JUST ONE (1) MONTH (30 DAYS) then the system will now restart and work perfectly PH means provide help and the GH means get help” “2, 14 days defrost The participants will not be able to withdraw their money until after 14 days when the payments have been confirmed. During this process, more PH would have come into the system therefore there would be pool of cash to pay the old participants. “3, Extension of GH hours this occur when there is a public holidays when the banks are not working therefore, there won’t be transaction and it may cause the problem to the system. The system will now extend the hours of the people who are getting help at that period to allow more People providing help into the system.” “4, Help seeking from neighboring country When there are more GH than PH in a country, MMM will look into the other countries which are doing well and match them together, pending the time that the affected country will be OK.” “6, No central account attached MMM does not have a certain account that we are sending to. MMM doesn’t collect your money.” “7, Peer to peer system Participants pay directly to the bank account of the other participants seeking help.” “8, Guider’s efforts Guiders are the heartbeat of MMM, guiders make sure each and everyone in MMM understand the Ideology of MMM and how it works.” “9, PH match hours extension. When the system finds out that there are more GH than PH, the system will extend the hour of old PH so that to hold down their order matches duration and during this period, the system will allow more new PH to come into the system to get it balanced.” “10, Website upgrades and security MMM spends million of dollars in taking care of their website to cub online fraud in MMM, such as scam and other Threats. Goodmorning Mavroidians.”

Fidelity Bank Goes Live On mCash, Boosts Merchant Business

Fidelity Bank Goes Live On mCash, Boosts Merchant Business • System To Drive CBN’s Financial Inclusion Strategy

As part of renewed efforts to further drive the financial inclusion mandates of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Fidelity Bank Plc, one of the country’s most diversified financial institutions has introduced a new solution which will allow it’s over 200 registered merchants to receive low-value retail payments from customers using their phones. Launched in collaboration with the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and leading telecommunications companies, this electronic payment solution dubbed ‘microCash’ (mCash) rides on Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology to enable merchants and customers conduct transactions instantaneously.

The new initiative was unveiled in the commercial city of Lagos recently by the lead promoter – NIBSS, with the apex financial institution projecting that mCash would facilitate 80 percent financial inclusion in the country by 2020. In keeping with its promise to make financial services easy and accessible to its teeming customers, the Bank integrated mCash into its Instant Banking service *770#. With this integration, customers can now make payments to merchants registered with any participating financial institution. According to the Bank, this new offering will enables merchants to give their customers at least three (3) payment options; Cash, Cards, Mobile Phones.

The launch of the system, the Bank said is a reflection of its relentless pursuit of efficiency, customer service and innovation. Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos recently, Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Fidelity Bank Plc., Gbolahan Joshua pointed out, “mCash is a new path aimed strategically at offering a digital payment system to Bank customers. The launch of this innovative payment service goes to show the power of collaboration in driving success”. Joshua however expressed confidence that the solution (mCash) will provide immense value to Nigerian customers. Commenting on the service, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIBSS, Ade Shonubi noted that the initiative is geared towards creating convenient ways of making payments, further adding that a collaboration between the banking and telecommunications industries was necessary to bring this initiative into fruition.

Speaking in the same vein, Seun Omotosho, Head of Mobile Financial Services for Etisalat Nigeria, the nation’s fourth largest Mobile Network Operator (MNO) with over 18 million active subscribers, congratulated NIBSS for the successful launch of the service. “At Etisalat Nigeria, we are excited about this solution and all of us have heard about what is happening in East Africa with MPESA and co and we strongly believe this is going to rival this.

“We are going the direction of payment because we believe payment is what will drive inclusion. This solution is simple and addresses what customers need.” On his part, the Director, Banking and Payment, CBN Mr. Dipo Fatokun, described the solution as another effort by the apex bank to boost financial inclusion and meet its Payment Systems Vision 2020. Fatokun who was represented by a Principal Manager at the CBN, Mr. Joe Ogbogu said: “We endorse this because it would take our payment system to the next level. Nigeria is at the top pendulum of payment system in the whole world. Because of this, various countries come to understudy our payment system and this is one product I hope they would understudy in the near future.

“Another reason for this endorsement is that it is going to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria. We have challenges of acceptance of Point of Service (PoS) transactions because they don’t get instant value for their services some cases the next. With this product, merchants get instant value which is indeed a big plus.”

Fidelity Bank Grows Deposits to N795.6bn In Nine Month

Fidelity Bank Grows Deposits to N795.6bn In Nine Month

Fidelity Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s highly diversified financial institutions has announced its Unaudited Results, for the 9 months ended 30 September 2016, disclosing that the Bank’s deposit base grew to N795.6 billion in spite of the current economic turmoil. This represents a 3.4 percent increase from N769.6 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2015 Financial Year (FY). According to the lender, the devaluation of the Naira accounted for N53.6 billion of its deposit growth. This result was contained in a statement issued by the Bank and made available in Lagos yesterday. The Bank’s gross earnings also rose to N110.3 billion from N107 billion, representing a growth of 3.0 percent in the period under review.

Commenting on the financial results, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo pointed out that the Bank’s performance was indeed reflective of the recessionary environment characterized by lower government revenues, rising inflation, lower consumer disposable income, significantly tougher operating environment in all sectors and the impact of these headwinds on asset quality and foreign trade transactions. According to the Fidelity boss, “We continued with the disciplined execution of our medium term strategy and recorded decent growth on some key operational metrics while moderating the impact of the headwinds above on other financial indices.”

The unaudited financial statement also stated that Profit before Tax (PBT) decreased by 28.7 percent to N9.8 billion from N13.8 billion in the period under review. Giving cogent explanations for the relatively poor performance in this regard, the Fidelity helmsman noted that PBT declined largely due to “a 102.0 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) growth in impairment charge (N4.0bn) driven significantly by increased provisions made in the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2016 (N4.1 billion and N3.2 billion respectively) due to the impact of the devaluation of the local currency (naira) on our trade finance portfolio and some critical sectors affected by the weaker macroeconomic indices.”

He further added that a 95.7 percent YoY (N1.3bn) decline in dividend income on equity investments as well as a 8.9 percent YoY growth in operating expense were also responsible for the decline in profit. According to him, growth in operating expenses was driven essentially by increased technology and advert costs. On a Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ) basis, he stated that gross earnings grew by 10.7 percent to N39.9bn driven by a 22.6 percent growth in Interest Income. “The Interest Income growth was largely driven by 25.6 percent (N5.4bn) growth in Interest Income on Loans while Interest Income on Liquid Assets increased by 13.5 percent (N0.9 billion) for the quarter”, Okonkwo said.

On a QoQ basis, the report stated that NIM increased to 7.0 percent from 6.5 percent in H1 2016 as the increase in the Bank’s average yield on earning assets (0.8 percent) outpaced the growth of its funding cost (0.4 percent). “The increased yields on earning assets was driven by the re-pricing of the loan book and higher yields on liquid assets. Deposits grew by 3.4 percent (N26.0bn) from Dec 2015…” he explained. Low cost deposits, according to Okonkwo currently accounts for 78.4 percent of total deposits, adding that savings deposits grew by 20.4 percent from December 2015 as the Bank continued to implement its retail banking strategy which is being driven by its electronic products and channels.

“We have crossed the half a million customer base on subscribers to our flagship Instant Banking product:*770# (Mobile Phone USSD Technology) and we will be launching payment services to merchants using our Instant Banking product (*770#) in Q4, 2016”, Okonkwo disclosed. Risk assets grew by 26.1 percent (N150.8bn) from Dec 2015 with the devaluation of the naira accounting for 20.4 percent (N118.2bn) of our loan growth. Foreign currency loans now constitute 45.3 percent of total loans up from 40.4 percent in Dec 2015 due to the currency devaluation. The organic loan growth of 5.6 percent was principally driven by on-lending facilities to the public sector. Cost of risk increased to 1.5 percent in 9M 2016 due to the N7.2bn impairment charge taken in Q2 and Q3 2016.

“We have continued to take a very prudent view of the impact of the currency devaluation, tougher operating environment and declining consumer disposable income on selected sectors of our loan portfolio. “NPL ratio increased to 4.5 percent largely due the macro-economic weakness which has negatively impacted on our asset quality metrics. “We are still focused on keeping our NPL ratio below 5.0 percent in this very challenging operating environment. Our other regulatory ratios (Liquidity Ratio / CAR) remained above the set thresholds, though Capital Adequacy Ratio improved from 16.4 percent in Q2 2016 to 16.8 percent in Q3, 2016, we expect CAR to revert to 18 percent+ once we adjust for the excess non-distributable reserves (N23bn) in our 2016FY audited accounts.”

The Bank’s key objectives for the 2016 Financial Year (FY) remains: redesigning its systems and processes to enhance service delivery, cost optimization initiatives to moderate expenses in a rising inflation environment, proactive risk management, increased customer adoption/migration to our digital platforms and increasing our retail banking market share”.

Fidelity Bank Declares N110.3Bn Gross Earnings in Nine Months

Despite the country’s raging economic downturn precipitated by the free-fall in global oil prices, Fidelity Bank Plc, one of the country’s highly diversified financial institutions recorded gross earnings of N110.3 billion in its unaudited financial results for nine months ended September 30, 2016. The Bank’s gross earnings rose to N110.3 billion from N107 billion, representing a growth of 3.0 percent. This result is contained in a statement issued by the Bank and made available in Lagos yesterday. Fidelity also said that it grew its deposit base by 3.4 percent to N795.6 billion from N769.6 billion in 2015 Financial Year (FY). According to the lender, the devaluation of the Naira accounted for N53.6 billion of its deposit growth.

Commenting on the financial results, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo pointed out that the Bank’s performance was indeed reflective of the recessionary environment characterized by lower government revenues, rising inflation, lower consumer disposable income, significantly tougher operating environment in all sectors and the impact of these headwinds on asset quality and foreign trade transactions. According to the Fidelity boss, “We continued with the disciplined execution of our medium term strategy and recorded decent growth on some key operational metrics while moderating the impact of the headwinds above on other financial indices.”

The unaudited financial statement also stated that Profit before Tax (PBT) decreased by 28.7 percent to N9.8 billion from N13.8 billion in the period under review. Giving cogent explanations for the relatively poor performance in this regard, the Fidelity helmsman noted that PBT declined largely due to “a 102.0 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) growth in impairment charge (N4.0bn) driven significantly by increased provisions made in the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2016 (N4.1 billion and N3.2 billion respectively) due to the impact of the devaluation of the local currency (naira) on our trade finance portfolio and some critical sectors affected by the weaker macroeconomic indices.”

He further added that a 95.7 percent YoY (N1.3bn) decline in dividend income on equity investments as well as a 8.9 percent YoY growth in operating expense were also responsible for the decline in profit. According to him, growth in operating expenses was driven essentially by increased technology and advert costs. On a Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ) basis, he stated that gross earnings grew by 10.7 percent to N39.9bn driven by a 22.6 percent growth in Interest Income. “The Interest Income growth was largely driven by 25.6 percent (N5.4bn) growth in Interest Income on Loans while Interest Income on Liquid Assets increased by 13.5 percent (N0.9 billion) for the quarter”, Okonkwo said.

On a QoQ basis, the report stated that NIM increased to 7.0 percent from 6.5 percent in H1 2016 as the increase in the Bank’s average yield on earning assets (0.8 percent) outpaced the growth of its funding cost (0.4 percent). “The increased yields on earning assets was driven by the re-pricing of the loan book and higher yields on liquid assets. Deposits grew by 3.4 percent (N26.0bn) from Dec 2015…” he explained. Low cost deposits, according to Okonkwo currently accounts for 78.4 percent of total deposits, adding that savings deposits grew by 20.4 percent from December 2015 as the Bank continued to implement its retail banking strategy which is being driven by its electronic products and channels.

“We have crossed the half a million customer base on subscribers to our flagship Instant Banking product:*770# (Mobile Phone USSD Technology) and we will be launching payment services to merchants using our Instant Banking product (*770#) in Q4, 2016”, Okonkwo disclosed. Risk assets grew by 26.1 percent (N150.8bn) from Dec 2015 with the devaluation of the naira accounting for 20.4 percent (N118.2bn) of our loan growth. Foreign currency loans now constitute 45.3 percent of total loans up from 40.4 percent in Dec 2015 due to the currency devaluation. The organic loan growth of 5.6 percent was principally driven by on-lending facilities to the public sector. Cost of risk increased to 1.5 percent in 9M 2016 due to the N7.2bn impairment charge taken in Q2 and Q3 2016.

“We have continued to take a very prudent view of the impact of the currency devaluation, tougher operating environment and declining consumer disposable income on selected sectors of our loan portfolio. “NPL ratio increased to 4.5 percent largely due the macro-economic weakness which has negatively impacted on our asset quality metrics. “We are still focused on keeping our NPL ratio below 5.0 percent in this very challenging operating environment. Our other regulatory ratios (Liquidity Ratio / CAR) remained above the set thresholds, though Capital Adequacy Ratio improved from 16.4 percent in Q2 2016 to 16.8 percent in Q3, 2016, we expect CAR to revert to 18 percent+ once we adjust for the excess non-distributable reserves (N23bn) in our 2016FY audited accounts.”

The Bank’s key objectives for the 2016 Financial Year (FY) remains: redesigning its systems and processes to enhance service delivery, cost optimization initiatives to moderate expenses in a rising inflation environment, proactive risk management, increased customer adoption/migration to our digital platforms and increasing our retail banking market share”.

Fidelity Bank appoints Mohammed Balarabe as Acting Managing Director/CEO

Fidelity Bank appoints Mohammed Balarabe as Acting Managing Director/CEO

The Board of Directors of Fidelity Bank has appointed Alhaji Mohammed Lawal Balarabe, the Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive with immediate effect subject to regulatory approval. Until his appointment, he was the Executive Director, North, Fidelity Bank Plc.

An erudite banker with over 24 years’ experience in Corporate, Commercial and Retail Banking; Balarabe has worked in various capacities in Nigeria’s Financial Services Industry where he acquired strong Strategic Management, Leadership and People Skills.

Balarabe holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Finance from Nothingham Trent University, United Kingdom (UK), as well as Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Finance from the University of Lagos (UNILAG). He has attended several Executive Education programs at Columbia University Business School, INSEAD; Said Business School, University of Oxford; Kellogg School of Management, amongst others.

A licensed member of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) since 1992. Balarabe served as Executive Director of Oceanic Bank Plc, pursuant to an appointment by the Central of Nigeria (CBN).

He was also a General Manager in United Bank for Africa (UBA) and had been the General Manager & Chief Executive of Newdevco Finance Services Company Limited before his appointment to the Board in April 2012.

Fidelity Bank’s Approach To Supporting SMEs in Nigeria , West Africa

The Fidelity SME Forum is a weekly radio programme organized by Fidelity Bank Plc to educate, inform, advise and inspire budding entrepreneurs in Nigeria with knowledge and expertise that will enable them build sustainable and successful businesses. The interactive radio programme features subject matter experts and model entrepreneurs as guests on a weekly basis to share their insight and unique success stories. In this interview, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc., Nnamdi Okonkwo gives valuable insights into Fidelity Bank’s Unique Approach to Supporting SMEs in Nigeria. Excerpts.

Question 1: To set the context for this interview, through your distinguished banking career spanning decades, you are currently heading one of the leading banks in Nigeria. Where is Fidelity Bank today? What is your plan for SMEs in 2016?

Answer: Thank you very much, I would like to say happy New Year to our listeners and the numerous customers – three million of them that are listening this morning. First of all, I would like to say that Fidelity Bank is 27 years old. In all of those years, we had two CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) before me. So, I am the third CEO of Fidelity Bank. And just to go back to history, the bank started as a merchant bank. But, we have since transformed into a full scale commercial bank acquiring two other banks in the process to give birth to the enlarged Fidelity Bank. We have an asset base of N1.2 trillion, which approximates about $6 billion.
We currently have three million customers and 223 branches nationwide. Fidelity Bank is regarded as one of the most stable banks in terms of management and Capital Adequacy Ratio.

Interestingly, a lot of people are of the view that banking SMEs is a risky business. Of course, banks are in business to take risks, but we have taken a different approach to supporting SMEs. We set up the Managed SME Division to provide one-on-one advisory, access to market for our customers, and to guide aspiring entrepreneurs that are just clueless about how to run a business. Our goal is to build requisite capacity in order to create the Aliko Dangotes’ of tomorrow.
Quite a number of established entrepreneurs have been on this programme to share their unique experiences of doing business in Nigeria. Now, we are embarking on a number of activities to make sure that aspiring SMEs get a handhold from people who are highly experienced in this area. In 2016, we are going to keep on doing what we have always done. We are going to push the boundaries of innovation as we intensify support for small businesses in Nigeria. Recall, we have a national conference on SMEs. What do we do at this conference? First of all, apart from knowledge sharing, we bring individuals that started businesses from nothing, and rose to the pinnacle of success.

These unique individuals share their experience, inspire young people and upcoming SMEs for future purpose. If you listen to the life stories of some of these people, how many failures they had, before they came up, it actually helps people to begin to put the SME business in proper perspective. We extended this programme to the regions. We have had one in the South-west and South-east region respectively. On the 28 of January, we will be in Kano to hold another SME conference.
Interestingly, we are changing the slant of the national conference. We will focus on the creative industry. As a bank, we believe that narrowing down to specific industry verticals, will provide better perspectives in terms of creating a closer knit group of people who share common aspirations and challenges.
Question 2: In Naira and Kobo what is the size of the Bank’s SME Business Portfolio?
Answer: Okay when you see the advert that says: ‘Supporting 500,000 SMEs in a year – it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it’. That somebody is Fidelity. Between now and when we did the advert, SMEs customer numbers have grown to about 600,000. How do you measure this? It is by the number of accounts, by the size of deposits. We currently have about N120 billion in SME deposits since we started focusing on SMEs. And in terms of loans, we have extended loans of N60 billion to the SMEs segment.

Question 3: Fantastic. So you put your money where your mouth is and it is beyond just getting SMEs as customers. You are investing in giving them loans which is fabulous. A lot of listeners have heard about the CBN SME facilities, and clearly Fidelity is taking advantage of the fund to support SMEs. Can you tell the listeners how they can engage Fidelity to tap into this opportunity?

Answer: Quite a number of Nigerians are aware that CBN, Fidelity Bank, Bank of Industry (BoI) all support SMEs. But, not a lot of people actually bother to get detailed information. Only recently, an old school mate of mine sent me a message, telling me about his younger sister who is an SME somewhere in Port Harcourt. He said the sister in question would like to borrow. My Friend said he was well aware that Fidelity supports SMEs, but wanted to know how to go about it? I told him, ‘better ask her to call me so that I can channel her appropriately’.
She called and she said I am into fashion business, and I want to borrow. I asked, do you bank with us. She said yes I bank with you. So just give me the account name so that I can take a look at it. It turns out that it is savings account. It turned out that she just runs a savings account. So, there is really no separation between the personal account and the business account, typical of SMEs. She does not also realize that you need to have some kind of business records and get organized to prepare yourself for borrowing. Despite publicity and enlightenment campaigns by Central Bank and other financial institutions, a lot of people do not even seem to understand how the SMEs fund works.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) set up a N220 billion fund to support SMEs. And it is pretty simple, why did they do this? They wanted to provide an avenue for SMEs to borrow at 9 percent maximum rate, and it even has a stretched tenure up to 5 years. But, you would also realize that women by culture are excluded from financial access. In view of this, CBN set aside 60 percent of this fund for women entrepreneurs. Those who understand it have taken advantage of this provision. We are currently one of the top two leading Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the disbursement of the CBN MSME Development Fund.
We have accessed N1.3 billion of this fund. We have given out the CBN MSME loans to about 70 of our customers. When we had the first disbursement, we made a song and dance of it to say Fidelity disburses the first batch of CBN SMEs loans to three customers. You need to hear the inspiring stories of these customers.
Just before Christmas, one of them has cycled out the loan, repaid, and returned the money to the CBN. That is the success story that stakeholders in the financial services industry want to hear. This is not one of those schemes where people think it is a national cake. This is why they have to passed them through institutions that have the framework like the Central Bank and commercial banks like Fidelity Bank. So, I am just advising customers, these loans are available. But then, you have to prepare your business to be able to access it. You don’t just wake up and walk into a bank and say CBN is giving loans, I want my own. That is actually why CBN is not channeling this through some social welfare programme.
And the information is actually very simple, and for those who are not sure of how to get it, if you don’t want to go to CBN website, you go to Fidelity Bank website. And it doesn’t have to be Fidelity, just to be honest. Wherever you bank, just ask them. But not all banks are playing with the same intensity like Fidelity and one or two other banks are playing, but the information is out there and it is real.

Question 4: That is phenomenal and very encouraging because not only are you committed to working through these issues with your customers, you are continually holding their hands, and I like your emphasis on women, 60% of the funding is committed to women and I am beginning to wonder and I think the message you are giving out to SMEs is that they have to have a track record and that they have to be committed and they have to show that they can repay. The confidence that you have is that they can repay and that they can get the first loan, and hopefully a second and the third loans based on their success so thank you very much.
Just to push forward, the new-year poses several challenges for SMEs and the SMEs listening and all of them are worried about the currency issues, they are worried about inflation, they are worried about a lot of issues, how can they adapt to tackle these issues in 2016 and how can the banks help them and from a financial services perspective to be strong and to excel and to flourish in 2016?

Answer: Actually, it was a tough year last year, it is going to be even tougher. Let’s face it, if price of oil drops from $110 down to the $30s today with prospect that it is going to drop further, you just realize that what is happening today is a result of what we did to ourselves as a country in the past. The oil economy just made a lot of people lazy, and what you see is that they started importing every single thing even those things that we can produce here. Why for instance should we be importing frozen chicken, some smuggled through the borders, some through the ports? Some of these are preserved with dangerous chemicals-formaldehyde. How long does it take from the time you buy a day old chick to feeding them to mature to broilers for chicken or layers for eggs? But everybody would rather spend on importation because we just have the foreign exchange to play around with.

Today the reality for SMEs is going to be tough. If you are an SME or you are dependent on imports, conventional wisdom is that you begin to look inwards. Now, how do businesses succeed? I think the number one thing is that you have to first identify a need and then provide the service that fills the need. The huge population of Nigeria is a positive for us, there will always be consumption. If you cast your mind back to around 1984, when we had a serious economic downturn, in the days of essential commodities when people used to queue behind trucks to get milk, soap and other essentials, what happened? A lot of people started producing Soya milk, others started making soaps locally, yet others started small scale poultries and families could address their food and basic needs and still had some money for things like school fees. Somebody produces soya milk in Benue, transports it to Lagos and we began to have substitutes for imported milk. These are just few examples. Rather than depending on imported cornflakes at the time, even though we have companies like Nasco in Jos, we began to consume local ones. What I am trying to say is that this country is blessed abundantly especially agriculture wise and mineral resources. Look, if you take oil palm plantation, there are improved varieties today that could start producing in two and half years. I am not advertising for anybody, but engage with certain companies worked with a certain company like Presco. If you go to Benin, they produce everything about the oil Palm and nothing is a waste – from the palm frond, palm oil, the palm kernel to the shell. From biogas, this company produces 7.5 megawatts of electricity. They supply the entire village electricity free of charge, yet they flare gas that can produce another 2.5 megawatt. This is local production.

Imagine therefore, if you have out growers who also produce oil palm and supply to this big corporate, they will be making money better than what they will do from just buying and selling imported products. I just gave these examples to say people must go back to basics, there are opportunities here let us identify them and use them and not continue to depend on imports.

Question 5: Fantastic. So look outward, look inward and tap into opportunities that exist in every single sector. Now, we are getting quite a few tweets from your customers and potential customers of Fidelity Bank who want to know how they can take advantage of the opportunities you have for the SMEs. One tweet wants to know if you also give loans to new startups and at what rate?

Answer: Of course, we give loans to new startups if not nobody is going to start them. But, new startups have to package themselves rightly. We created a division called Managed SMEs to help them position themselves to access this facility. If you go to our offices, especially at Adeyemo Alakija in Victoria Island, they would go through what you have and help you put your business in readiness, give you tips on how you can prepare yourselves to borrow. So, it is not like a startup walks in and says I want ten million or one million naira and you give him. You have to hand-hold and teach him how to prepare his business. I gave an example earlier of a startup that wants to borrow.

We teach them what to do. Like the young lady I talked about, I said to her, you first of all have to start keeping proper records. Let me even see your business plan, where do you want to go with this business. We help them and when they are mature to the borrowing stage then we can make finance available.
Question 6: Okay, that’s very good. Another tweet says with the CBN capital controls and the issues of card usage overseas how is Fidelity Bank helping its customers especially those in the Diaspora access their funds overseas?
Answer: Well, we sympathize with all of us for what has happened. The CBN simply does not produce dollars. Nigeria earns dollars and has to have foreign reserve. If you deplete all the reserves, you don’t exist as a country. The capital controls are actually necessary, however, I don’t just want to talk about Fidelity. What the industry has done is to regulate behavior to say, let us channel the scarce foreign exchange we have to essentials, to real sector that will add value to the economy. Okay if your child is in school abroad you are not going to say come home. If you listen to what the President said, we can’t abandon our children who are out there, so the Central Bank is actually looking at ways of helping to make sure that those kids don’t get stranded, and for us at Fidelity, we also have to comply with what the regulation says, but in doing that, let us really think about it, if they say you cannot withdraw more than three hundred dollars cash overseas, what do you need so much cash for?

In those days when the dollar was in abundance, people could use their ATM cards to pay for as much as a hundred and fifty thousand dollars but you know we began to see abuses. Somebody goes abroad, uses his card to purchase cars, and ships them here, some of them don’t even pay duties and they try to beat that. So we have to begin to actually put these things into perspective. Why would somebody travel to China and use multiple ATM cards to game the system? So the controls are just to make sure that we conserve foreign exchange for the good of all of us. Now for Fidelity, what we have done is to continue to monitor, as times change. Recently, we announced a reduction on how much you can use.

Some institutions based on what they have also seen, have stopped allowing their cards to be used in certain parts of the world where they have seen abuses. I think the overriding principle is the national interest and welfare of Nigeria so we will continue to assist our customers but still within the regulatory limit.

Question 7: We have another question here that talks about financial principles for an SME. If you are an SME and you are trying to access a loan, what are some of the financial principles that you as a banker will look out for? And another question says that I have been operating for six months being on franchise and I want to expand, how can Fidelity help me? So I think a lot questions are coming on loans, expansion and tapping on the great resources that Fidelity has to offer.

Answer: First and foremost, for you to start a business you have to ask yourself questions. What is the attraction, why am I going into this business, am I keeping up with the Joneses? There are risks associated with businesses. So in terms of finance, you ask yourself how much do I have, there must be something called owners’ equity in a business. Do you even have something to start with? You must save up, you must prepare, then you start small, you must understand the risks in any venture you are going into on financial perspective if not you lose the little you have.
The other question is from someone who has been operating under another company and now wants to borrow because he wants to expand. Excellent. How to go about it is to show the records of what you have done in the last six months to one year or even a longer track record, to show what the objective of the business is, to show a clear understanding of the business, to provide enough information. The banker-Customer relationship is like Doctor-Patient relationship. If you show your banker that you have experience in the business or what you intend to achieve, the bank can then provide financial advisory, we can then guide you, we can then tell you for instance, do you even realize that in this line of business the risk is higher, there is regulatory risk. Let us say you are into pharmaceuticals, do you realize that there are standards? We tell them about NAFDAC requirements and something like that.
That is where a bank like Fidelity with a Managed SME unit comes in. Now, you cannot prescribe the same medication for every ailment. So, for this particular customer for instance we need to get a deeper insight into his business to give the right advice. If for instance I walk into a doctor’s office and I am running a high temperature, he cannot just start treating malaria, he has to conduct tests. This is the reason why we have created an avenue for interaction with customers. This customer can walk into Fidelity Bank and ask for ‘Managed SME’. They will guide him or her from the point of view of benefit of information that he has provided.

Question 8: As you think about the future, this question says that he likes what Fidelity, as a forward thinking bank is doing for SMEs, and asks how you intend to sustain it? I know you are planning an E-commerce platform, you are doing a lot around there, SME cluster programme. Just round up with your future plans.

Answer: Thank you very much, actually, if you remember, I said one of the key strong points of Fidelity is stability in management. I did not start the SME business in Fidelity. My predecessor did and he did a good job of laying the foundation. If I have become the CEO as the third CEO of the bank, if I had come in and I have a different mind-set, then I would probably have jettisoned SMEs, but that is not the case. By the time my tenure is up and I leave Fidelity, we would have built the kind of institution that whoever succeeds me will also continue with what we are doing and taking it to a higher level. And this is very important.
Up to the board level, we are passionate about SMEs. So if for instance Fidelity is interviewing to hire a new CEO and he or she doesn’t believe in SMEs, the chances are that he or she will not get that job. That is how serious Fidelity takes corporate strategic focus and Corporate Governance because our our mission says that we want to make financial service easy and accessible to our customers. So if somebody has a different agenda that has no congruence to the institutional dream, then we have issues. So based on that principle alone, I am sure we will continue. You talked about E-commerce site, there are E-commerce sites all over the place, but you see a bank with three million customers, what does E-commerce do, it gives access to the market, it provides opportunities to project your products as well as see those of others.
But if you have three million customers and six hundred thousand SMEs, and some of these SMEs wouldn’t have gone on any E-commerce website anyway. So providing market access exposes them to countless number of counterparties globally. That’s the power of e-commerce especially now that life styles have changed significantly and millions of people would rather shop online. So our customers will suddenly discover they are raking in more revenues at reduced cost of sales. All these will ensure business sustainability.

Fidelity Bank supports educational development, renovates Obalende Police Children School

Fidelity Bank supports educational development, renovates Obalende Police Children School

Fidelity Bank Plc, one of the country’s top 10 lenders in terms of Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) has handed over a renovated, fully furnished block of classrooms to the Management of Obalende Police Children School (PCS), Lagos State. The renovation project, the financial institution said, is a clear demonstration of its unwavering support towards the protection of child rights, particularly as it relates to access to qualitative education. According to the lender, the decision to embark on the project is borne out of a deep-seated realisation that the education remains critical to driving socio-economic development in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

The project was initiated and partly funded by security guards Bank-wide in fulfillment of the objectives of the Fidelity Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy which rests on a tripod: The Environment, Education and Health. Amidst the country’s harsh economic conditions occasioned by the free-fall in international oil prices, security guards at Fidelity Bank Plc., under the auspices of the Fidelity Helping Hands Program (FHHP) pulled resources – funds, talents and time – together to repair and fully equip the classrooms. To bring the project to fruition, the guards however received additional funding from the bank in consonance with its CSR strategy.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony in Lagos at the weekend, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, promised to renovate the two buildings beside the renovated block in order to provide a conducive learning environment for children. Alluding to the need for greater private sector participation in the development of Nigeria’s future leaders, Okonkwo announced that the Bank would donate a generating set to power the school’s Computer Laboratory given the nation’s poor electricity supply. He further explained that the renovation project was indeed special as it coincided with Children’s Day celebration.

Through FHHP, the Fidelity boss pointed out that the Bank had commissioned quite a number of such impactful projects across all the geo-political zones. “We strive to reinforce strong, healthy Community Relations by identifying with host communities in activities that are most relevant to them and also strives to play a leading role by identifying with and seeking solutions to the problems of the society”, Okonkwo noted. The Bank Chief Executive stated: “This place was dilapidated. Through the FHHP, the classrooms were renovated. What we do under our CSR programme is to encourage our staff to participate in social responsibility wherever we do business.

“So, staff members in different locations in the country, identify laudable projects and voluntarily contribute money, and then the bank funds the balance”, he further added. In her response, Mrs. Moninuola Gbadegesin, Zonal Head, Police Children School, Lagos & Ogun States, thanked the Bank for the kind gesture, saying that discussion for the renovation commenced just before she assumed the position as the zonal head.

Commercial banks not friendly to agribusiness — NAGB

Commercial banks not friendly to agribusiness — NAGB

Deposit Money Banks do not lend to farmers at affordable rates because they are not in tune with agricultural demand across the country, the Nigerian Agribusiness Group has said.

According to the NAGB, commercial banks in Nigeria have a different approach when it comes to lending money for agriculture and should not be forced to lend to farmers at low-interest rates.

The National President of the NABG, Mr. Sani Dangote, said instead of forcing the DMBs to lend to farmers, the Federal Government should strengthen its Bank of Agriculture and recapitalise the institution in order to effectively serve the sector.

Dangote, who spoke at the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the group in Abuja, explained that based on the way the DMBs were structured, it would be difficult for them to lend effectively to farmers.

According to him, the banks should be left to fund the importation of heavy equipment and other similar inputs where they could get back their money within six months to one year.

“That is where their expertise is and I think we should leave them. Trying to bring them into agriculture will be a failure because their mindset is not in tune with farming and processing. So, there is no need forcing a marriage between the two. It won’t work,” Dangote said.

He said the NABG had emphasised the need for the government to recapitalise the BOA and make it a specialised bank for the sector to provide funding for agricultural produce on a long, medium and short-term basis.

He said the Bank of Industry should also be strengthened to work with the BOA in the aspect of processing agricultural produce.

Dangote said the group had also proposed that the government should segment funding of the sector to low, medium and high-risk areas.

He explained that high-risk areas would include the primary production of agricultural produce; medium would include agro processing, while low-risk would deal with the importation of fertiliser or agricultural equipment.

The NABG president also proffered measures through which the government could affectively tackle smuggling.

He said, “Government should look at areas where the country has local capacity and incentivise them. Once this is done, smuggling will become more difficult because there is local capacity. And within few months or a year, the locally produced products will have considerable edge over imported ones and then the issue of smuggling will fizzle out.”

Dangote observed that government did not lack ideas, rather it lacked the will to execute ideas, adding that the private sector was the execution arm.

“So, if the government can come with the right policies that are suitable to stakeholders and the private sector, it will be able to achieve its goals,” he said.

Government spends N753.6b capital votes without evidence of implementation

Government spends N753.6b capital votes without evidence of implementation

Seven months into the implementation of the 2016 fiscal plan, the Budget Office of the Federation, and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning are yet to furnish the nation with how the sum of N753.633 billion, released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was deployed, and for what projected.

The implementation of, particularly capital votes of the 2016 spending plan, which commenced in earnest in May this year when the Appropriation Bill was signed into law, is expected to continue till May 2017 as the Presidency had sought, and obtained the approval of the National Assembly to extend the implementation to achieve a full year cycle of implementation.
The Guardian at the weekend exclusively obtained the breakdown of the capital votes releases to MDAs as at the end of October this year, which was the last time funds were released to them.

However, there is no implementation report so far to indicate the projects and the level of their implementation, as it is always the case.

Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice [Censoj], a non-governmental agency with focus on equitable distribution of the nation’s commonwealth, Mr. Eze Onykpere, described the development as “absurd and a contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Law 2007.’’
According to Eze, “This is unacceptable and goes a long way to show the lack of capacity and the level of dereliction that the team, which our affairs are consigned in their hands are made of. It’s a serious matter because they are violating the 2007 fiscal Responsibility Law, which demands that the financial activities of every quarter must be published and widely circulated in both print, electronic media as well as hoisted on their websites. It’s a serious infraction,” he insisted.

Eze added that the implication of the lack of transparency in spending so much sums funds in the absence of an implementation report is a veritable platform for corruption to fester, just as he called on the National Assembly to get serious with its oversight functions to check the drift.

A table of the 2016 budget disbursements from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) indicates that of the amount released so far, the Ministry of Works, Housing and Power received the lion share, totaling N209.246 billion, out of the N422.964 billion votes approved in the budget.

The other MDAs that got funding include : Defence Ministry, N69.512b; Transport Ministry, N30.540b; Agriculture Ministry, N29.578b; Ministry of Water Resources, N25.201b; Ministry of Interior, N21.210b; Ministry of Health, N18.472b; Education Ministry, N16.743b; Ministry of Niger Delta, N8.161b, while the Ministry of Science and Technology got N6.681b. Ministries of Mines and Steel and that of Petroleum, got the sum of N3.360b and N2.413 billion respectively.

The rest MDAs shared a consolidated sum of N312.511b.

The Ministry of Budget and National Planning, was not forthcoming with reasons for the absence of an implementation report.

Spokesman of the minister, Mr. James Akpandem, told The Guardian that: “What you should do is take the figures released and matched them with ministries and projects indicated against them. That would give you a more convincing answer than relying on my response, which may be seen as “ throwing” figures around the releases..”

Active users in Nigeria’s telecoms industry increase to 153.5m

Active users in Nigeria’s telecoms industry increase to 153.5m

The active users of telecommunications services in the country stand at 153.51 million in October, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

The telecommunications industry regulator made this known in its Monthly Subscriber/Operator Data, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.

It said that the active telecommunications services customers increased by 214,572 in October, as against the figure in September which stood at 153,299,535.

According to the data, 153,086,710 of the 153,514,107 active numbers subscribed to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network services.
The GSM operators’ active customers increased by 249,713 from 152,836,997 subscribers recorded in September.

The reports stated that of the GSM operators, MTN had 60,982,487 users in October, which increased by 423,918, against 60,558,569 recorded in September.

Globacom figure increased in October by 150,280, giving a total of 37,117,992 customers as against 36,967,712 in September.

Airtel had 32,775,916 subscribers in the month under review, which were same users recorded in September.

Etisalat, however, recorded a reduction in customers by 324,485, giving a customer base of 22,210,315 as against 22,534,800 users in September.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operators had 244,477 active users in October, showing a decrease of 31,827 from 276,304 customers they had in September.

Between the two surviving CDMA service providers, Visafone’s customers reduced to 240,017, as it lost 31,827 users in September to record 271,844, while Multi-Links maintained 4,460 customers in September.

The monthly subscriber/operator data showed that the Fixed Wireless network’s (landline) consumers decreased to 26,942 in October, as they lost 3,774 customers from their record of 30,716 in September.

Also between the two Fixed Wireless operators, Visafone had 26,514 subscribers in October, losing 3,774 users from the September record of 30,288; while Multi-Links maintained its September record of 428 customers.

It also revealed that the Fixed Wired operators (landline) subscriber base reduced by 2,752, giving a total of 124,812 users in October, as against 127,564 recorded in September.

In the Fixed Wired arena, MTN Fixed took a decline move from 8,591 in September to 5,842 in October, thereby reducing by 2,749 users, Glo Fixed had 12,514 users in October, adding 11 customers to the September record of 12,503.

IpNX network moved from 2,587 subscriber base in September to 2,539, reducing its customers by 48 in October.

It said that 21st Century network had 103,917 customers in October, recording an increase of 34 users to its September record of 103,883.

The report also showed that Smile Communications, the only operator on the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) network had 31,166 active users in October, as it added 3,212 customers to its September subscriber base of 27,954.

The regulatory body said that Section 89 Subsection 3(c) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 mandated it to monitor and report the state of telecommunications industry.

“The commission is mandated to provide statistical analyses and identify industry trends with regard to services, tariffs, operators, technology, subscribers, issues of competition and dominance.

“This is with a view to identifying areas where regulatory intervention will be needed.

“The commission regularly conducts studies, surveys and produces reports on the telecommunications industry.

“Therefore, telecommunications operators are obligated, under the terms of the licenses, to provide NCC with such data on a regular basis for analytical review and publishing,’’ NAN quotes the report as saying.

Prosper Otemuyiwa, Nigerian Software Developer

Fire and Community

Prosper Otemuyiwa is a young Nigerian software developer who believes in giving back to the community. The community nicknamed him “Fire” for his exuberant “fire emoji” laden social media posts, which he uses to share some valuable insights on different software development related topics. While Prosper has worked with some software startups from Anakle and Andela to his recent US employer (for whom he works remotely), he has no interest in founding a startup of his own at this time. Prosper seems to be an anomaly in a community where “starting something” has seemed to become a fad.
At 24, if there is a hierarchy of young talented software developers in Nigeria or indeed Africa, Prosper will be at the very top of it. He is a “Google Developer Expert” one of the very few talented technology people Google decides to bestow this honour and he was recently a mentor at the first Google Developer Launchpad Start event in Africa held in Nairobi. He is practically a “legend” on Github, the online global developer code sharing repository and connection platform where he regularly contributes and has achieved global rankings.

Why does he not want to “start something” when there now seems to be a lot of money flowing around as incentive? It is because he believes that he does not have to. He is one of those rare professionals primarily focused on improving their skills, the craft, and community. They are not interested in doing things because of fads; they act based on deep personal convictions. He asks “if everyone is a founder, who will build the software?”. That is a very real question in a community where every person or the other seems to be a technology entrepreneur looking for developers to help them build their ideas.

This year, Mark Zuckerberg paid a surprise visit to Yaba. YCombinator partners came and ate “Jollof Rice” with members of the local investor and entrepreneur community at ccHub’s rooftop. 500 Startups also came to Lagos. It is very easy to conclude that these people all came because of our “brilliant entrepreneurs”, but I believe they came because of our “Brilliant Developers” who are now commanding Global attention for being “World Class”. It is people like Prosper and others like him that have brought this attention.

Prosper is not the only one who has “Fire” inside of him. There are several others. The local developer community started organising itself with small local community events like the “ForLoop” sessions where they networked and shared experience, and it was followed quickly by other activities powered by technology giants like Google. These events have energised the community to share experiences with each other more, and they revealed some incredible talent who would have gone unnoticed. For the first time, the developers have started to become the celebrities and not just the startup founders, as it should be. Collaboration seems to come more naturally to the developer community as they realise that they are fighting for a common purpose — “Global recognition and accreditation”. This collaboration happening in the background is the reason why the local technology community seems to be thriving.

Creating World-Class Developers
When it comes to creating “market ready” developers, our educational institutions are grossly under-equipped. My sister graduated with a second class upper in computer science but still had to learn more to be able to get a job in the market. When Iyinoluwa Aboyeji first came to me with his idea of enabling student learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) I realised that he was on to something. His startup, Fora, had a big vision of transforming Nigerian higher education learning with online content. He went on to co-found Andela as an evolution of Fora.

A couple of years later, I was at the annual Google I/O event in San Francisco, and one of our own, Moyinoluwa Adeyemi of Swifta got featured in the keynote of Udacity founder, Sebastian Thrun. Udacity was founded by Sebastian who was a Stanford University Professor, and it has now become possibly the largest global online learning portal for developers. Sebastian highlighted Moyinoluwa as one of the African developers who had taken advantage of Udacity to become a “WorldClass Android Developer”. Moyinoluwa was still a student at that time, but she had seen the future.

Google supports Udacity and provides many NanoDegree Scholarships to Africans interested in learning how to build applications on its Android platform. Udacity, Udemy, EdX, etc. are platforms that have enabled our local developers to learn and catch up very quickly with the rest of the world. In most cases, the students need no prior knowledge of programming, and the courses have been well designed to achieve learning outcomes.
Udacity has enabled several success stories, and it made me realise that access to the Internet has become the same thing as access to world-class education, at least for software developers. It, however, takes a lot of discipline to complete these courses as the same Internet is full of distractions. Those who complete these online courses have the motivation and discipline to achieve learning outcomes. It is that tenacity that makes them become “World-Class.”

Back to 2016
There is no argument that 2016 has been groundbreaking for Nigerian or even African technology because of the software developers and their community. Passion is winning. Massive investments have been made, innovative ventures launched, and these have been made possible by the fact that our developers have chosen not to be left behind by limitations in infrastructure and education. Twenty something-year-olds are making the difference once again in Nigeria, and this time, they are helping not just to build multi-million Dollar ventures, they are building our future.

Senate laments poor power supply, plans public hearing

Senate laments poor power supply, plans public hearing

Senate President, Bukola Saraki has directed the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy to conduct a public hearing into the declining electricity generation in the country, which currently stands at 3000 megawatts capacity.

Also, the public hearing is expected to verify the claims and counter claims of non-remittance of revenues between Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and Generation Companies (GENCOs) as well as uncover how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disbursed the N213b intervention funds to the power sector.

Saraki, in a statement issued by his Media Office spoke at the weekend during a special stakeholders meeting held to proffer solutions to the worsening electricity generation in the country. He said the public hearing should look at the role of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which serves as board members in the DISCOs and GENCOs, thereby making it difficult for the BPE to effectively supervise and audit the electricity generation and distribution companies.

He lamented the poor state of electricity supply and the consequences of the negative development in the efforts to move Nigeria out of the present economic recession.
Saraki told the stakeholders in the power sector led by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Louis Edozien that the essence of the meeting was to proffer solution to an imminent collapse of the electricity system in the country.

Briefing the meeting, Edozien, lamented that power generation has gone down to 3000MW/H from a 7000MW/H generating capacity, with a 12000MW/H-connected load.

Zoto mobile recharge APP, Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app

Zoto mobile recharge APP, Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app

Zoto, a product of Hedonmark Management Services Limited and Nigeria’s fastest mobile recharge app, has announced that it has become the number one app in Google play store in Nigeria for the shopping category.

With this new development, Zoto has registered a strong presence in the airtime recharge segment in Africa, which was dependent upon physical scratch recharge cards and USSD short codes until now.

 

Zoto mobile recharge APP

 

Vipul Sharma, Founder & CEO, Zoto said “We thank Nigeria for making us the number one mobile recharge app in such a short period of time. We are committed to bringing more innovations to provide reliable and convenient mobile payments solution to our customers.”

The traditional scratch cards and USSD based mobile recharge is a challenge for most Nigerians who value time and convenience.
Zoto App offers customers a convenient way to stay connected and recharge from any network. It allows the customer to save card details in the app and thus helps to eliminate the hassle of entering card details time and again.

“Mobile payments have a massive potential in Nigeria because of the growing smartphone penetration & mobile internet penetration. With 84 million unique subscribers in Nigeria, Zoto offers a disruptive and highly scalable value proposition,” further added Vipul.

Zoto is a mobile money and mobile commerce service licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Zoto is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and SSL 128-bit encryption designed to ensure that all companies that process, store or transmit credit/debit card information maintain a secure environment.