Lekan Paul

If Africa Is To Reduce Budget Deficits, We Must Increase Revenue Mobilization – Nami, Executive Chairman FIRS

For African countries to reduce their budget deficits, they must work on widening their tax bases, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami has stated.

In a speech delivered during the opening ceremony of the 9th Country Correspondents Meeting and ATAF 1st Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS who also doubles as the African Tax Administration Forum’s Chairman,  explained that African countries must find ways to expand their tax base to fund budget deficits. 

In his remarks, he noted that the informal sector in Africa today constitutes between 21 to 70 percent of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30 to 90 percent of employment in the region.

He went further to state that despite the large size of the informal sector, it remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax.

“… the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. “ he stated. 

He also noted that it was not politically popular to tax the informal sector.

“Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.” The Executive Chairman noted. 

Nami also noted that though it may be argued that the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run, the benefits were worth the effort. He further noted that taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and accountability of the State.

“Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. The chairman noted. 

Read the full excerpt of his speech here: 

BEING  AN ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, ATAF, Mr. Muhammed Nami, AT THE OPENING OF THE 9th COUNTRY CORRESPONDENTS MEETING AND ATAF 1ST EXPERTS MEETING ON TAXATION OF THE INFORMAL SECTOR

ON 4th FEBRUARY 2020 IN ABUJA, NIGERIA

PROTOCOL

  • Board Members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service
  • The Executive Secretary of ATAF, Mr Logan Wort,
  • Coordinating Directors, Directors and Staff of FIRS
  • Directors and Members of staff of ATAF 
  • ATAF Country Correspondents and Experts in Taxation of the Informal sector 
  • Distinguished Guest Speakers
  • Our development partners, the African Development Bank
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I warmly welcome you to this important meeting between the ATAF country correspondents and experts on taxation of the informal sector. I am highly delighted to receive you all to Abuja, the serene capital city of Nigeria. Indeed, this is important to me as it is my very first official assignment as the new Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).I therefore thank you all for responding positively to the invitation to share your time and expertise with us to help solve one of the major challenges facing revenue mobilization on the continent. Your presence is invaluable to us. 

2. The theme of this year’s Country Correspondents Conference is “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa”. This annual gathering of ATAF’s focal persons in members administration affords participants the opportunity to reflect, and exchange views, on the year that has passed and to discuss the activities that form part of the ATAF Workplan for 2020. As a link between Revenue authorities and the Secretariat, ATAF’s Country Correspondents play a crucial role in ensuring that ATAF’s programmes continue to respond to members’ needs. During this meeting, ATAF, in partnership with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), will jointly hold the 1st ATAF Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa. 

3. The meeting is expected to bring together officials from Treasury and Revenue Authorities as well as experts from across Africa to share experiences on practical and effective ways of taxing the informal sector. The objective of the meeting is to assist the ATAF Secretariat to develop, among other products, a comprehensive handbook with practical guidelines to ATAF member countries on how to tax the informal sector. 

5. As at 2017, Africa’s Tax to GDP ratio averaged around 17%. This marks an improvement over time. However this ratio is the lowest in the world and it has resulted in budgetary deficits in most countries in Africa.  It is therefore necessary to reduce and eventually eliminate these deficits if Africa is to meet its development needs.  The low tax to GDP ratio has been attributed to, among other things, low tax capacities and tax inefficiencies. This is made worse by tax avoidance, tax evasion and a large informal sector. 

6. It is estimated that the informal sector in Africa constitutes between 21% – 70% of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30-90% of employment in the region. Yet despite its large size, the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.  In Malawi, for instance, the law provides for withholding tax on imported goods at a rate of 3% but the tax is yet to be implemented due to perceived political consequences (AfDB, 2018).

7. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it may be argued that taxing the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run. However, the benefits are worth the effort. Bringing the businesses into the tax net will instil a tax- paying culture in the businesses, thereby ensuring tax compliance when the businesses expand. Taxing the informal sector is also critical because it will ensure that there is a perception of fairness in the tax system. Those who operate in the formal sector deem it unfair to have to pay taxes while those in the informal sector do not. This impacts their tax morale and can result in low tax compliance among those in the formal sector. Furthermore, in some instances, enterprises within the informal sector create unfair competition for those operating in the formal sector. As a result, this reduces the income generated by the formal firms and also reduces the taxes paid.

8. Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. Paying taxes is likely to promote responsiveness by the state to the needs of the informal sector in a bid to encourage voluntary compliance. It is also likely to encourage collective action, collective political engagement and bargaining by the informal sector.

If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so. That is why recently, the President of Nigeria, Muhammed Buhari, signed the 2019  Finance Act.  The 2019 Finance Act seeks to create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria especially for the small scale businesses in the country. The Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million naira and below from charging Value Added Tax (VAT) which has now been increased from 5% to 7.5%. However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the  Nigeria economy, in the long run.

9. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is from this background that ATAF seeks to use this event to create a platform for discussion across Africa, as we seek effective ways of taxing the informal sector.Given the diverse skills and experiences represented in this room I cannot imagine a better audience to come up with solutions to the challenges. I am therefore, confident that the discussions that would be held during this workshop will result in solutions as to tax the informal sector in order to build an African model of informal sector taxation.   

10.As you brainstorm over this important tax matter, I will not neglect to urge you all to also make out time to visit the several places of interest which Abuja offers and enjoy the warm hospitality for which Nigeria is renowned. It is now my privilege to declare the 2020 ATAF Country Correspondents Conference and the Informal Sector Workshop open.   I wish you all successful and fruitful discussions. 

11. God bless you all.

Muhammad Nami

Executive Chairman FIRS, Nigeria

ATAF Chairman.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Finance Act Would Create An Environment For Ease Of Doing Business In Nigeria – Nami, Executive Chairman FIRS

The Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami has said that the recently signed 2019 Finance Act would create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria.

He said this in his opening address of the 9th Country Correspondents Meeting And ATAF 1st Experts Meeting On Taxation of the Informal Sector today in Abuja.

Nami explained that the Finance Act would help the ease of doing business especially for small businesses, noting that “the Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million Naira and below from charging Valued Added Tax …”

He went further to add that “However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the Nigerian economy, in the long run.”

Read the full speech of the Executive Chairman below: 

BEING  AN ADDRESS BY THE CHAIRMAN, ATAF, Mr. Muhammed Nami, AT THE OPENING OF THE 9th COUNTRY CORRESPONDENTS MEETING AND ATAF 1ST EXPERTS MEETING ON TAXATION OF THE INFORMAL SECTOR

ON 4th FEBRUARY 2020 IN ABUJA, NIGERIA

PROTOCOL

  • Board Members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service
  • The Executive Secretary of ATAF, Mr Logan Wort,
  • Coordinating Directors, Directors and Staff of FIRS
  • Directors and Members of staff of ATAF 
  • ATAF Country Correspondents and Experts in Taxation of the Informal sector 
  • Distinguished Guest Speakers
  • Our development partners, the African Development Bank
  • Distinguished guests
  • Ladies and gentlemen,

1. I warmly welcome you to this important meeting between the ATAF country correspondents and experts on taxation of the informal sector. I am highly delighted to receive you all to Abuja, the serene capital city of Nigeria. Indeed, this is important to me as it is my very first official assignment as the new Chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).I therefore thank you all for responding positively to the invitation to share your time and expertise with us to help solve one of the major challenges facing revenue mobilization on the continent. Your presence is invaluable to us. 

2. The theme of this year’s Country Correspondents Conference is “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa”. This annual gathering of ATAF’s focal persons in members administration affords participants the opportunity to reflect, and exchange views, on the year that has passed and to discuss the activities that form part of the ATAF Workplan for 2020. As a link between Revenue authorities and the Secretariat, ATAF’s Country Correspondents play a crucial role in ensuring that ATAF’s programmes continue to respond to members’ needs. During this meeting, ATAF, in partnership with the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), will jointly hold the 1st ATAF Experts Meeting on Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa. 

3. The meeting is expected to bring together officials from Treasury and Revenue Authorities as well as experts from across Africa to share experiences on practical and effective ways of taxing the informal sector. The objective of the meeting is to assist the ATAF Secretariat to develop, among other products, a comprehensive handbook with practical guidelines to ATAF member countries on how to tax the informal sector. 

5. As at 2017, Africa’s Tax to GDP ratio averaged around 17%. This marks an improvement over time. However this ratio is the lowest in the world and it has resulted in budgetary deficits in most countries in Africa.  It is therefore necessary to reduce and eventually eliminate these deficits if Africa is to meet its development needs.  The low tax to GDP ratio has been attributed to, among other things, low tax capacities and tax inefficiencies. This is made worse by tax avoidance, tax evasion and a large informal sector. 

6. It is estimated that the informal sector in Africa constitutes between 21% – 70% of the GDP of African countries and accounts for between 30-90% of employment in the region. Yet despite its large size, the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes.  In Malawi, for instance, the law provides for withholding tax on imported goods at a rate of 3% but the tax is yet to be implemented due to perceived political consequences (AfDB, 2018).

7. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it may be argued that taxing the informal sector may yield low returns in the short run. However, the benefits are worth the effort. Bringing the businesses into the tax net will instil a tax- paying culture in the businesses, thereby ensuring tax compliance when the businesses expand. Taxing the informal sector is also critical because it will ensure that there is a perception of fairness in the tax system. Those who operate in the formal sector deem it unfair to have to pay taxes while those in the informal sector do not. This impacts their tax morale and can result in low tax compliance among those in the formal sector. Furthermore, in some instances, enterprises within the informal sector create unfair competition for those operating in the formal sector. As a result, this reduces the income generated by the formal firms and also reduces the taxes paid.

8. Taxing the informal sector may also be a way of promoting good governance and political accountability of the State because tax strengthens the social contract between the citizens and the government. Thus, informal businesses that contribute to tax revenues are likely to assert their rights to receive certain services from government, thereby ensuring national development and  accountability. Paying taxes is likely to promote responsiveness by the state to the needs of the informal sector in a bid to encourage voluntary compliance. It is also likely to encourage collective action, collective political engagement and bargaining by the informal sector.

If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so. That is why recently, the President of Nigeria, Muhammed Buhari, signed the 2019  Finance Act.  The 2019 Finance Act seeks to create an environment for ease of doing business in Nigeria especially for the small scale businesses in the country. The Act exempts businesses with annual turnover of 25 million naira and below from charging Value Added Tax (VAT) which has now been increased from 5% to 7.5%. However, these businesses would eventually enter the tax net through continuous assessments. This Act is expected to impact positively on the small businesses as well as the  Nigeria economy, in the long run.

9. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is from this background that ATAF seeks to use this event to create a platform for discussion across Africa, as we seek effective ways of taxing the informal sector.Given the diverse skills and experiences represented in this room I cannot imagine a better audience to come up with solutions to the challenges. I am therefore, confident that the discussions that would be held during this workshop will result in solutions as to tax the informal sector in order to build an African model of informal sector taxation.   

10.As you brainstorm over this important tax matter, I will not neglect to urge you all to also make out time to visit the several places of interest which Abuja offers and enjoy the warm hospitality for which Nigeria is renowned. It is now my privilege to declare the 2020 ATAF Country Correspondents Conference and the Informal Sector Workshop open.   I wish you all successful and fruitful discussions. 

11. God bless you all.

Muhammad Nami

Executive Chairman FIRS, Nigeria

ATAF Chairman.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

AMAC Commences e-Registration Of Businesses To Improve IGR

The Abuja Municipal Area Council Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu ‘Candido’ has announced plans to raise Billions of Naira to improve service delivery in AMAC through improved internally generated revenue made possible by technology.

Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, ‘Candido’, today, while opening a two day training course for revenue officers, themed “AMAC 2020: Open For Business”, at Bolingo Hotel Abuja, on the use of the AMAC Survey App which these revenue officers, also known as enumerators, would use to gather data of businesses operating within the Area Council, stated that his agenda was to exponentially raise the revenue of AMAC to provide funds for the execution of key infrastructure projects.

Describing the e-registration as a revolutionary model, the chairman also noted that with the AMAC online business directory, incidences of double taxation would be eradicated and businessmen would have ease of paying their taxes.

“The AMAC IGR Enumeration effort will be instrumental in fostering a climate where businesses can thrive, as we build the AMAC Online Business Directory. It will also help eradicate double taxation and streamline the burdensome process of paying bills by our esteemed residents.”

“We envision that the current economic challenges in the country provide a unique opportunity to create an inclusive, participatory, bottom-up approach to governance that will stimulate economic growth. As we look to a future where the strength of the local government will be drawn from ideas and partnerships with civil society organisations, schools, businesses and individuals we’d like to start by building a relevant database.” He stated.

He further explained the model which is the first of its kind would transform the way revenue is generated at the local government levels through a clean database, and thus foster development, adding that for citizens to enjoy the dividends of democracy, they must contribute to government’s purse so that government can be able to carry out its obligations.

“With the AMAC IGR Enumeration effort, we want to set the pace in efficiency in local government revenue collection and accountability, and to leverage on all statutory revenue sources.

“The delivery of any kind of development can only be achieved with the use of and efficient revenue database. In the era of improved and efficient delivery of the dividends of democracy it is imperative that AMAC raises her a-game towards maximising her revenue base. When we improve our revenue base, particularly our efforts at collecting internal revenue, there is more that we can do.” Alhaji Adamu noted.

While commending the revenue officers, who he described as “trailblazers”, Alhaji Adamu assured residents and businessmen within AMAC that the exercise would not be an attempt to dislodge or displace anyone, but rather to build a database of businesses within the AMAC, that will “assist the AMAC to do more in areas of completing our ongoing projects and development.”

Simi Fajemirokun, the Principal Partner of Acropolis, the consultants handling the training, stated that the creation of an AMAC Online Business Directory was a major move towards making local governments more autonomous, functional and able to carry out development without begging the State Governments.

The developmental politician explained that this model would work first with collecting data, then collecting revenue, with development as the underpinning motive.

“Without data, government purses will remain poor in the midst of abundance. Plus the matter of collecting revenue works hand-in-hand with development. This is the tripod on which this initiative is standing on. Government needs funds to be able to carry out its projects. But government must create a platform that ensures that those who are being taxed, are the right people, and paying the right amount, not more, not less.” She explained.

The training scheduled for the 28th and 29th of January, 2020, has over 80 attendees and would make use of the AMAC Survey App that would locate businesses, business size, the sectors which they operate, their location, revenue base among others.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Julius Berger Releases Progress Report For Second Niger Bridge

Julius Berger, the German construction firm has released its occasional report on the progress of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge. The contract for the construction of the 1.6km long bridge and 10.3 kilometre highway also includes the construction of the Owerri Interchange and Toll Station.

The company was awarded the contract in July 2018 with work commencing in September 2018 with a projected contract period of 3 and a half years.

The report, titled Second River Niger Bridge: Progress Report January 10th 2020, states that approximately 30.12% of construction work has been completed.

1,235 persons are so far engaged on site by Julius Berger.

Find below snapshots of the Report and progress photographs as well:

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Cleaning the Augean stable at FIRS, By Kayode Rahman Ogunlana

In the recent change of leadership at the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS,  the present and the more rational question that should occupy our minds in the aftermath of Babatunde Fowler’s exit is, the antecedents and thereby, the capacity of Malam Muhammadu M. Nami, the Executive Chairman to deliver on the job. In other words, is President Buhari putting a square peg in a square hole in picking Malam Muhammadu Nami from among the horde that jostled and lobbied for the coveted office? From a cursory look at his curricular vitae and what transpired as he resumed recently, the picture depicted is that of a man eminently capable.

Born in April 1968, Muhamnad Nami is clearly coming on the job with much more than the vivacity, energy and drive required to cope with the rigors of the tasks of his new assignment. With a childhood rooted and wrought in the agrarian village of Nami in Agaie local government area of Niger state,  it tells much  of his innate sturdy and Spartan character traits of intelligence, perseverance, determination and vision to have gone the mileage to the point that he was found suitable for his latest  appointment. He is widely reckoned with as a renowned, thoroughbred consultant in matters of auditing and taxation.

While announcing his appointment, the Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu crisply  encapsulated Muhammad Nami as a man with highly rated qualifications and licenses from reputable professional bodies with, “practical work experience in auditing, tax management and advisory management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing and services in the private and public sectors as well as nonprofit organisations.” By virtue of his educational qualifications and professional practice, Muhammad Nami is today, either a fellow or a member of several professional bodies. For instance, he is a Fellow of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN; the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigation Professionals of Nigeria, CIFIPN and, the Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria, DRPN. He is as well, an Associate Member of the Nigeria Institute of Management and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN.

Beginning from 1993 when he  embarked on his chosen career in taxation and auditing as a trainee, Muhammad Nami has largely worked in the private sector, progressively as an employee, a partner in joint ventures, CEO of his own firms and as a consultant to individuals, corporate entities,  nongovernmental, local and international organizations as well as government Ministries and several public sector departments and  agencies.

In obvious recognition of his towering professional stature and reputation as a diligent Auditor of impeccable moral rectitude, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him between 2017 and 2018, to serve as a member of the adhoc Presidential Committee on Audit of Recoveries made by government Agencies pursuant to the anti corruption campaign. Among others, the committee was mandated to carry out an audit of all recoveries made by the MDAs, provide a data base and inventory for all recoveries; establish a viable template or, an enduring framework to make for accountability in respect of future recoveries. The nearest that he came to formally working in the public sector,  Nami was said to have made very critical contributions to  the success of the presidential committee’s assignment.  His outstanding performance in that one year stint may have further highlighted the latent and untapped capacity of the self effacing professional and, as it has turned out, recommending him for the latest national assignment.

As it is, Mohammed  Nami is coming on the saddle at the FIRS at a time that the agency is, practically, in the eye of the storm. There is for instance, the widespread allegations of gross acts of financial improprieties by members of its previous management with  the attendant negative public perception of the place as a cesspool of heist.  This may of course appear as the least of the tasks at hand, but it is yet one that must be given urgent  and particular attention. It may well turn out that he will have to first and foremost begin his assignment at the FIRS by engaging in the odious task of cleansing the Augean stable.

The recent changes at the nation’s foremost tax collection institution and which resulted in the appointment of Nami arose from its ever declining quantum of revenue generation to the national coffers. At a time the government embarked on a vicarious, spirited and frenzied policy of diversification of its sources of revenue away from oil, much is understandably expected from the FIRS. Unfortunately, the revenue generation through the Agency has been cascading downward, consistently failing to deliver on set targets in recent years.

The displeasure of the government was manifested in the query issued Mr.Fowler in April this year by the President’s Chief of Staff and of course non-renewal of his tenure.

In the light of the above, the salient but pertinent ingredient in the mandate being given to  Muhammad Nami is that he is expected to turn the fortunes of FIRS around by urgently reinvigorating its revenue generating profile. With an unprecedented federal budget of N10.59 trillion Naira and an ambitious policy of funding it substantially from revenues generated from non oil revenue sources, which translates in other words,  into increased taxation,  the assignment of  Nami cannot be regarded as a tea party.

Various prognoses, remedial measures and suggestions have been advanced for enhancing revenue generation. There has been for example, the view that the country needs to enthrone a more robust regime of taxation based on the fact that a great number of taxable individuals and corporate citizens are currently either being under taxed or, are completely outside the tax net. Those with this view, go on comparative peer group analyses of taxation in Nigeria and other countries in Africa often with the conclusion that we have a very lax, or liberal tax administration.

We can therefore foresee the Federal Inland  Revenue Service under Muhammad Nami having to engage in the expansion of the tax net. A logical, sensible and inevitable panacea in the superior and long-term social and economic wellbeing of the country as it has been argued by exponents of such a paradigm shift, there is yet on the other hand, the strong imperative of taking cognizance of counter opinions. This, in a nutshell is the demand that caution should be exercised to guard against increased taxation giving rise to increased pauperization of the mass of citizens. Related, is the opinion that an unbridled taxation drive has the potential of scarring away prospective investors and of crippling existing industries, ventures and services.

As he steps into his new station, Muhammad Nami is being challenged to unleash the entire gamut of his experience, expertise and management skills. Unlike the usual trend in such high profile appointments, Nami is not known to be coming either on the crest of partisan political considerations and interest groups or, under the wings of a god father. He is expected therefore, to go about his assignment as a thoroughbred professional without the inhibitions and digressions of extraneous forces and interests. History beckons on Muhammad Nami, the otherwise village boy from Nami.

Kayode Rahman Ogunlana is a Lagos based public affairs analyst.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Chain Reactions, St. Ives Partner in #SmearMyWoman Campaign to Fight Cervical Cancer

In further demonstration of commitment to Corporate Social Investment, Chain Reactions Nigeria, a leading public relations and integrated communication consulting firm, is partnering with St. Ives, a leading multi-specialist hospital to reduce the scourge of cervical cancer in the country. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

Chain Reactions is commemorating the Cervical Cancer Awareness/Prevention Month with an initiative titled, ‘A Smear in Time Saves My Woman.’ The initiative is infused with an awareness campaign tagged #SmearMyWoman, and an activation part: “100% Cervical FREE” that will deliver Free Cervical Screening to 100 less privileged girls and women who otherwise might not be able to afford the test. This is to enable early discovery and treatment of the disease.

Speaking about the campaign, Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, said: “Women are gatekeepers of life. They contribute to every part of our lives as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues offering support to men and the family. At Chain Reactions Nigeria, we celebrate our women, which is why all of us male executives are championing this cause to share their experience, to empathise with women who are going through cervical cancer. Truth is, whatever affects the women in our lives, affects every one of us”

Females from the age of 14 to 65, especially when they become sexually active, can contract the disease. This puts over 50 million Nigerian women at risk of cervical cancer, which remains the number one cause of all cancer deaths in Nigeria among women of reproductive age (15 – 44).

Globally, cervical cancer kills 720 women daily; that is one woman every two minutes. In Nigeria, out of the 14,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer, about 30 of them die from the disease on daily basis, totalling over 10’000 daily.

Strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is the major cause of cervical cancer. 95% of cervical cancer diagnosis is attributed to lack of knowledge and failure to undergo pap smear screening, hence, the reason for Chain Reactions Nigeria partnering with the St. Ives Healthcare group.

More details about the #SmearMyWoman campaign and 100% cervical free screening initiative, can be found at www.smearmywoman.comChain Reactions, St. Ives Partner in #SmearMyWoman Campaign to Fight Cervical Cancer

In further demonstration of commitment to Corporate Social Investment, Chain Reactions Nigeria, a leading public relations and integrated communication consulting firm, is partnering with St. Ives, a leading multi-specialist hospital to reduce the scourge of cervical cancer in the country. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix which is the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina.

Chain Reactions is commemorating the Cervical Cancer Awareness/Prevention Month with an initiative titled, ‘A Smear in Time Saves My Woman.’ The initiative is infused with an awareness campaign tagged #SmearMyWoman, and an activation part: “100% Cervical FREE” that will deliver Free Cervical Screening to 100 less privileged girls and women who otherwise might not be able to afford the test. This is to enable early discovery and treatment of the disease.

Speaking about the campaign, Managing Director/Chief Strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, said: “Women are gatekeepers of life. They contribute to every part of our lives as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, friends and colleagues offering support to men and the family. At Chain Reactions Nigeria, we celebrate our women, which is why all of us male executives are championing this cause to share their experience, to empathise with women who are going through cervical cancer. Truth is, whatever affects the women in our lives, affects every one of us”

Females from the age of 14 to 65, especially when they become sexually active, can contract the disease. This puts over 50 million Nigerian women at risk of cervical cancer, which remains the number one cause of all cancer deaths in Nigeria among women of reproductive age (15 – 44).

Globally, cervical cancer kills 720 women daily; that is one woman every two minutes. In Nigeria, out of the 14,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer, about 30 of them die from the disease on daily basis, totalling over 10’000 daily.

Strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, is the major cause of cervical cancer. 95% of cervical cancer diagnosis is attributed to lack of knowledge and failure to undergo pap smear screening, hence, the reason for Chain Reactions Nigeria partnering with the St. Ives Healthcare group.

More details about the #SmearMyWoman campaign and 100% cervical free screening initiative, can be found at www.smearmywoman.com

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

AHI Trains 60 Girls Leaders In Lagos

Acknowledging the role and importance of adolescent girls in achieving inclusive and sustainable development is crucial to ensuring progress especially in all issues affecting them directly such as their education, health, human rights and dignity.

As part of effort in amplifying girls’ voices, Action Health Incorporated (AHI) with support from Rise Up trained sixty (60) girl leaders ages 13-18 from across Lagos State on leadership and public advocacy during a 5 Days’ workshop held in Lagos. 

The training was focused on strengthening the capacity of the girls on evidence-based advocacy, media engagement, storytelling, public dialogues to raise discourse and demand for change on girls’ issues in Lagos State.

Speaking about the training, Funso Bukoye, Programme officer AHI, said that over times; girls’ voices have been clamp down especially on issues that concern them. But this training has raised a new generation of girls that will speak up for themselves and other girls in their communities.

Following this training, these girls are expected to engage decision-makers and policy-makers at multiple levels on girls’ issues in Lagos State.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Alleged Conviction Of DSP Ovie Omo-Agege By Court In The USA

Over the past few days, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege visited the United States of America and Canada for personal and official reasons respectively, holding aloft the beacon of progressive ideology and an agenda for improving Nigeria’s image internationally.

On the contrary, an unscrupulous band of mischief makers at home calling itself a ‘youth group’ purportedly led by one Solomon Adodo is seeking to mislead gullible people with lies and propaganda by calling for the immediate resignation of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, over a spurious and malicious allegation of a conviction by a Californian court.

Ordinarily, we would have ignored this latest effort by political jobbers to drag the name of the Distinguished Senator into disrepute.

However, in a political environment like ours where silence could be misinterpreted as consent and evidence of guilt, we make haste to dismiss the entire allegation as not only unfounded and illogical; it is the residue of the warped imaginations and misleading rumour peddled without conviction some years back.

While the distinguished Senator remains completely unperturbed by the nattering nabobs of negativity and their faceless sponsors, it remains clear that this is another feeble round of mere shadow- chasing that ultimately amounts to nothing.

For the umpteenth time, we would like to reiterate the fact that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was cleared of all charges in the said case and he was never a convict in the USA as being alleged; till date, he travels freely to and within the country without any hint of harassment.

We publish herewith details of our response to the same spurious allegation on September 25, 2018: “To this extent, by way of ‘fair commentary’ only, we will speak to the non-existent criminal conviction knowing that the matter is now in court and therefore subjudice. We will meet the blackmailer in court.

The fact is, at a point in his brilliant and bright legal career in California, USA, Senator Omo-Agege (then a young attorney) was alleged to have broken the law in California but in the end, he was found not guilty.

“Accordingly, he was declared innocent by the honourables Lance A. Ito (who presided over the popular O.J. Simpson murder trial case) and G. Magnera of the Court of California, County of Los Angeles. Omo-Agege had to fight hard for his innocence and God vindicated him against the expectations of evil men like the most sadistic blackmailer in the world.

“Today, he remains an active member in good standing at the State of California Bar Association – an impossibility if a valid and subsisting conviction were hanging on him. These are verifiable public facts and truths.”

We state, without any equivocation, that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege is committed to his mandate and would not be distracted by the antics of disgruntled and defeated politicians hiding behind a so-called ‘youth group’ without any meaningful antecedent, seeking to stir up confusion through mere mischief and without facts.

Let it be put on record that while his media office has been strictly instructed not to descend into the gutter to play their piggery games of petty mischief, the Senator has nothing to hide and he would continue with his passionate desire and populist dynamism, towards making Nigeria a better nation for future generations.

Signed:

Yomi Odunuga,
Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Deputy President of the Senate.

13-01-2020

End.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

Alaafin of Oyo Confers ‘Akosin Of Yorubaland’ Chieftancy Title On Habeeb Okunola

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba (Dr.) Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, has conferred the chieftancy title Akosin of Yorubaland on Habeeb Okunola, MD/CEO TILT Group of Companies Limited.


The conferment of the Chieftancy title was reached after the Alaafin consulted the Oyomesi (the King makers and traditional cabinet of the Alaafin), a statement issued by Solomon Adetekunbo,  – Corporate Communications and CSR Manager of TILT Group of Companies Limited, revealed.

It was gathered that after rigorous exploration into the personality and activities of Okunola, who is also the Founder of Habeeb Okunola Foundation, he was found a worthy and thorough bred Yoruba son who is culturally inclined to wear the toga of the Yoruba royalty and traditionally oriented to promote the Chieftancy institution of Yorubaland.


“The Chieftancy title, Akosin of Yorubaland is interpreted as the first person in Yorubaland to perform an extraordinary feat; an illustrious accomplisher/ leader worthy to be celebrated. The prestigious title which is deeply rooted in the  origin of the Old Oyo empire, bestows it’s holder enoromous legitimate authority across all the Yoruba Kingdoms.


“The Akosin of Yorubaland Chief Habeeb Okunola has for a long time remained a frontline business leader of international repute committed to fostering grassroots development in underserved urban-slum and rural communities across Africa,” Adetokunbo said.


He added that “Okunola is a shrewd serial entrepreneur and global philanthropist; whose work and charitable activities across Africa have distinguished him as one of the leading entrepreneurs under 40, in the continent. He sits atop a major conglomerate and financial empire with stakes in real estate, construction, energy, engineering, agriculture, media and technology. 


“He is a certified businessman of international repute, whose experience in conceiving business transactions has given him access to Presidents, Prime Ministers, and leaders of International organisations. 

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

A Letter From President Buhari At New Year

My Dear Compatriots,

NIGERIA’S DECADE

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.
The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.
The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.
The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari
State House,
Abuja.
1st January, 2020

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

RE: Humanitarian Affairs Minister Refuses To Approve School Feeding Program Payment For Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue States

Our attention has been drawn to an Exclusive Story by Sahara Reporters written on the 25th of December, 2019 on the alleged Failure of; The Hon. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to approve payments for school feeding in some states and Npower Stipends for October/November 2019.

It is pertinent to note that the story is unwarranted or unfounded

The Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiyya Farouq, assumed office, she had gone about handling the transition of the affairs of the Social Investment Programmes from the Presidency to the new Ministry, with the support of the programme administrators and the Cluster Heads.

During this period, she has had to receive briefings from the NSIO and the different clusters concerning the implementation and status of the programmes, successes and challenges. Where she needs additional information, she has sought further clarification in a bit to ensure that the implementation process fulfills the intended mandates of the SIPs.

It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments after the presidential instruction of the movement of the SIP. Hence, the need for new procedures and policy guidelines inline with the public service rules needs to be set up in the new ministry unfortunately, these briefings delayed payments.

However the issues and briefings on procedures has been resolved and payment had continued unhindered.

Regarding the delay in the stipends of N-Power volunteers for two months (October and November), the Hounourable Minister, in a Press Conference on the 2nd of December 2019 explained the reason behind the delay, and also pledged that beneficiaries would receive their backlog payments on or before December 20th, 2019. This was done.

These actions clearly indicate that, contrary to what some media houses are putting out, the Honourable Minister is not acting in any inimical manner toward the Programme. She has cleared all request that have to do with payments of vendors and stipends that has reached her table.

The Honorable Minister and the National Social Investments Programme are focused towards using the SIPs as an impactful tool towards actualizing the President’s mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

Signed:
Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed
SSA-P
Social Investments Programme

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]

The Successful Onboarding Of Over 2.5 Million Petty Traders On The Trader Moni Scheme: The Untold Story Of Data, By Ifeayolu Nnaedozie

By making financial services open at moderate expenses to all people and organizations, regardless of total assets and size, financial inclusion aims to deliver answers for the requirements that exclude individuals from participating in the financial sector. You would concur that nations with more profound degrees of financial inclusion have more grounded GDP development rates and lower-income disparity.

According to the EFINA report, Access to Financial Services survey findings released, revealed that 36.8% of the adult population in the country is financially excluded. According to regulators and other key players in the economy, the survey also showed that Nigeria has a chance to achieve the 20% exclusion rate target for adults by 2020. This translates to a population of 36.6 million adult Nigerians who are excluded, with 44.1% male and 55.9% female.

Also, Nigeria had a total adult population of 99.6 million, with 39.8% as the banked population which translates to 39.7 million. The unbanked population is 60.1 million with 71.3% of mobile phone users that are adults among the excluded. From the analysis, 63.3% of the population is financially served with 38.7% in the banked category (39.5 million). This suggests in outright terms, that Nigeria still has a huge unbanked populace, hence the CBN financial inclusion goals.

The patterns and behaviors poor households’ exhibit around financial management sheds light on the complex financial lives they lead to survive on variable low incomes. While the federal government and CBN are focused on access to credit, poor and marginalized groups require access to a full range of financial services to effectively manage their economic lives. Financial inclusion growth tools in a diverse country like Nigeria in recent times must hence be identified as a spectrum of progress, to encapsulate the different dimensions of the populations they have serviced.

THE TRADER MONI PROGRAM
Armed with the knowledge that millions of Nigerians, at the base of the economic pyramid lacked access to credit facilities in 2016, the Federal Government initiated the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP). Also, in the quest to support the 20 million petty traders in Nigeria who are in dire need of capital to expand but are unable to access loans to trade, the government introduced TraderMoni, one of three microcredit products of GEEP.

The TraderMoni scheme is a collateral-free loan program which allows petty traders the opportunity to access an initial capital of N10,000 which upon successful repayment, grows into an interest-free credit up to the sum of N300000.

According to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the 23rd Convocation Ceremony of the Lagos State University, LASU – “A greater challenge was when we started our TraderMoni microcredit loans to reach two million petty traders across the country. We didn’t look beyond young Nigerian innovators. He added that the first challenge was on how to enumerate two million petty traders; we got two Nigerian technology based companies MobileForms and Generating Demand Management Group (GDM). MobileForms was founded barely three years ago by two young Nigerian graduates, Damilola Ayorinde and Oluwatomi Ayorinde.

The company has created a platform that enables businesses and governments to crowdsource data from across the African Continent. These young Nigerian entrepreneurs delivered the largest Social Investment Programs of their kind in Africa faultlessly.” The primary problem was the accessibility to the petty traders by way of properly documenting their biodata being that the petty traders had limited education, hence there was not enough information about them or financial history.

With the MobileForms application, an electronic form application that functions on a smartphone or tablet device, which enables users to collect data using mobile devices, CrowdForce enabled the creation of digital identities to over 2 million petty traders across Nigeria under the federal government’s TraderMoni project by employing over 100,000 agents in all 774 local governments in Nigeria to carry out its market research activities.

On the TraderMoni project, CrowdForce facilitated services like digital lending, loan disbursement, and recovery. Mobile Forms was developed by a team of engineers at CrowdForce with a very simple goal; to empower youths, retailers and business owners with opportunities to make extra income to improve their lives. Youths are empowered to work as agents in enumerating retailers who become beneficiaries of government and NGO initiatives like TraderMoni. Business owners are armed with the data to test the market by way of researching product-market fit, the purchasing power of the target market and so on.

According to Uzoma Nwagba, the Chief Operating Officer of GEEP, the operation of the program does not mirror its target demographics. He stressed that “the more illiterate or unsophisticated our beneficiaries are, the more sophisticated our operation has to be. All the complexity must be absorbed by us and taken out of the trader’s experience. We have a highly technology-driven program.” Agents who use the Mobile Forms initiative on the field confess that it makes it easier for them to seamlessly register, gather information and on-board the TraderMoni beneficiaries.”


“MobileForms, thank you for the payment today… for me, the traders’ payment is much more important to me because that’s why I did the enumeration for them. I want them to benefit like the previous social investment programs,” Emmanuel Oluwafemi?, an agent with CrowdForce, said.

This was affirmed by Coleman Damilola?, another agent on the CrowdForce platform who had been out of a job for a couple of months, his joy was evident as he declared “special thanks to Mobile Forms Limited, a job of one month earned me an N135100 salary.”

Although massive strides have been taken in the race for financial inclusion, there remains more to be done. For example, during the TraderMoni enumeration scheme, data on 2.5 million traders were captured and only a minuscule 16,000 had functional Bank Verification Numbers (an 11-digit number that uniquely identifies every customer across the Nigeria Banking industry using biometric details).

The Central Bank of Nigeria has a financial inclusion strategy that targets above 500,000 financial access points as well as a financial exclusion rate 0f 20% in Nigeria by 2020. Currently, many financial servicing companies are serving this market and Crowdforce is not left out as they also have a solution for this, called Payforce.

MOBILE MONEY
The lack of access to formal banking in the mass market in Africa has opened the door for technology driven companies to build successful mobile payment services. Capitalizing on the phenomenal number of agents under Crowdforce, the company developed Payforce to actively deploy mobile banking services to tap the demand from the large unbanked population in Nigeria. There is strong evidence that their services have improved access to formal financial services in Nigeria. Crowdforce’s PayForce Agent Network helps banks and Fintech start-ups with the right network to scale, render digital services and capture digital identities via local merchant stores. It enables people to digitally send and receive money, and by creating simple financial access for the unbanked and the underserved population across Nigeria. Payforce has records of over N2billion daily transactions with 687active agents spread across Nigeria. As a CBN licensed Super-agent Company, Crowdforce aims to cover more places in Africa.

The importance of data goes way beyond decision-making and optimization. It goes as far as impacting the inclusivity and journey that Nigerian economy will take.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter" counters=0 style="button"]