If there is one thing the recent pandemic has revealed, it’s that Nigeria’s healthcare sector is in dire need of an intervention. The healthcare sector’s challenges and opportunities are well documented. However, it has been largely ignored by the government, despite its significance to economic growth and wealth creation.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought this matter to the fore, with government scrambling to curtail an escalating situation. There are challenges with logistics, technology, hospitals, and quarantine centers, finding enough healthcare workers, and more importantly, carrying out testing at a scale. The shortcomings of the government are laid bare for all to see.
Conversely, there have been several private-sector innovators, albeit on a small scale, doing their bit to solve the myriad of challenges facing the industry. These are young and energetic disruptive innovators leveraging on technology to improve healthcare delivery in the country.
On this week’s Founders Profile, we profile some of these young innovators and entrepreneurs who are disrupting the health care sector in Nigeria. Despite being upstarts, they are perhaps laying the foundation for what a vibrant private sector driven health care sector should be. All that is required is adequate funding and government support via market-friendly policies.
Michael Osahon- Founder, Meditell
If you are the kind of person who forgets to take medications when due, then Meditell is for you.
Meditell is a robust, user-friendly platform which schedules reminders for patients and their caregivers, to ensure adherence to medication schedules. By using mobile phones. ‘Meditext’ and ‘Medicall’ set reminders for drug administration.
Straight out of NYSC, where he served as a secondary school teacher in Ijebu-Ode, Michael Osahon founded Meditell. He is a computer science graduate from Covenant University. Besides Meditell, Osahon has employed his product development skills to develop business applications for Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers and GTBank.
Among other things, he is a Senior Software Engineer with Ernst and Young.
Vivian Nwakah- Founder/CEO, Medsaf
Many people have died from consuming fake or substandard drugs. But how do medical institutions decipher the right sources for quality medications at fair prices?
Medsaf aims to give hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies access to high-quality medication from manufacturers at affordable costs, thereby reducing incidences of complications arising from fake or substandard drugs administered to patients. It is supposed to serve as a one-stop-shop for safe medications in Africa, helping health facilities to buy authentic drugs with ease.
At that point, Vivian decided that a solution was needed. There had to be a way to ensure that health facilities managed their supplied inventories and purchased products from reputable global sources and production companies.
CEO and founder of Medsaf, Vivian Nwakah, was born and raised in the United States of America, though she schooled in other countries including Paris and China. She once recounted how she conceived the idea of Medsaf after losing her friend to fake medications during a 3-month internship in Nigeria.
“It was a moment of great sadness but I was also filled with shame. I was coming from the U.S where I was born and raised, and I had worked in healthcare agencies. There, it was about keeping elderly patients, even in their 80s and 90s alive with quality healthcare, but here, someone my age had died due to fake malaria pill,” she recalled.
Oddly, from her research, she got to understand that global manufacturers were afraid of sending their products to Nigeria because they did not want their brands compromised by counterfeits. This reluctance on their part gave counterfeit producers a lot of room to operate.
Vivian stayed back after her internship, determined to solve this problem. She quit her job in 2016 and pooled her savings. In January 2017, Medsaf was launched.
Medsaf stands as a middleman, verifying producers and manufacturers before listing their medications, and also verifying health facilities before allowing them to make any purchase. This ensures protection from both ends, leaving the end consumer better for it.
Olaniyi Ralph- Founder GenRx
Olaniyi Ralph was still a 400 level pharmacy student at the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2014 when he had an epiphany. Having learned the devastating results of wrong drug combinations, interactions, and consumption of expired drugs, he designed an app, GenRx, which had the ability to detect and alert pharmacy owners about drugs nearing their expiration dates, drugs about to be sold in overdose, and wrong drug combinations.
He went on to co-found AGC Nigeria which became the platform to launch GenRx – a POS application designed to help pharmacies and hospitals manage their drug inventories and accounts.
This all-in-one software thus improves efficiency in sales processing and safety in dispensing medications. It also automatically calculates customers’ payments and balances, keeps daily records of items sold, salespersons on duty, and manages product reorders, ensuring that they do not run out of stock.
Over time, it has been improved to manage salaries and expenditures, and generate profit and loss statements of accounts. It now possesses an in-built calculator with three memory banks that can be used during on-going transactions. It can be configured to suit any pharmacy’s needs.
Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder of Lifebank
LifeBank was started in May 2012 as One Percent Project or One Percent Blood Donation Enlightenment Foundation. The target was to end blood shortage in Nigeria by enlightening people on the importance to overcome their fears, prejudices, and myths, and donate blood for anyone in need.
In 2016, it became Lifebank, a business set up to improve access to blood transfusions in Nigeria. A personal experience during her first child-birth drove her to build this dream, so that people would no longer have to suffer complications from delayed blood donations.
Since then, Lifebank has helped deliver hundreds of thousand of pints of blood to patients in Nigeria, and has now extended to other medical products like oxygen, vaccines, and blood products.
Tubosun is a graduate fellow from the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and also a fellow with the Global Health Corps.
She had carried out millennium village projects in rural areas in Africa, under the United Nations Development Programme and Millennium Promise, and also worked briefly with Fairview Health Services in Minnesota, after graduating from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Adeloye Olanrewaju- Founder of Safermom & Babymigo
Adeloye has a Bachelor’s degree in Human physiology from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. He was observing the one-year compulsory national service in 2015 at the Ekiti State Primary Healthcare Board when he noticed a problem he had first seen during his internship.
“I realized mothers and babies weren’t getting the psychological, social, and mental support they needed. Nigeria presently contributes 13-15% of global maternal and child deaths yearly. Out of the 7.2 million birth rates recorded yearly (Unicef 2014 Estimate), we lose 260,000 newborns annually. Unfortunately, most cases are preventable when there’s increased access to basic health services,” he later explained.
Safermom was developed as a mobile service for pregnant and nursing mothers of 0-3-year old babies, to access health information and make informed health decisions. This is achieved through voice calls, mobile SMS, helplines, and a mobile app. It also helps mothers track milestones in pregnancy and nursing, including vaccination dates, and shares prevention tips, and home remedies. Mothers can also dial a short code to access vital health information, government schemes, and important announcements in their local languages, and request tricycles or ambulances.
This innovation earned Adeloye an award from Her Majesty, the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace for his works in improving mother and child health in Sub-Sahara Africa. He’s also a St Gallen Leader of Tomorrow, TEEP fellow, International Action Youth Net fellow, and Leap Africa Social Innovator fellow, among others.
In 2015, SaferMom was listed among the top 6 startups in Africa, scooping $50,000 USD in the Impact category of Facebook’s Internet.org competition.
Two years after, Adeloye launched Babymigo, a community for the new generation of young parents to find trusted information in local African contexts, get their questions answered, and connect with nearby moms and experts.
(READ MORE: Tech Roundup S02E16)
Adereti Francis- Founder Redbank
In a country where countless lives have been lost due to the non-availability of blood, the importance of Redbank can hardly be exaggerated.
Adereti Francis (Business Lead and developer) founded Redbank, a startup that connects hospitals and patients to the nearest blood banks, in 2014. He had support from co-founders, Adeyanju Toluwanimi (Operations Lead), and Ojediran Tunde (Technical Lead). The goal, they said, was to save more lives by helping Nigerians find blood fast and safely.
Francis Adereti got his first degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and later obtained an MBA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His work experience cuts across Huawei Technologies, iQube labs, and Microsoft, among others.
This varied experience geared him towards product innovation, product management, business operations, and strategy, all of which came in handy when Redbank was founded.
Redbank has a network of blood banks and hospitals on its radar, helping patients and their families to find the needed blood types closest to their locations, within a short time. Compared to the traditional way of calling several blood banks to find a match, this is a great leap, which has saved the lives of people in emergencies such as accidents, surgeries, and childbirth.
To ensure that all levels of Nigerians are catered to, they have phone lines and SMS services so that people who do not have access to the internet can still reach them.
Talk about a problem that solves it all!
Redbank also harmonised the databases of hospitals and health clinics, especially those whose records are still in the ‘paper era.’
The target is to build a donor database so that proper records can prevent people from donating when they are not eligible to make donations, and save their lives with these ‘electronic reminders.’ It also has outreaches on several media to recruit more donors and ensure an adequate supply of all blood groups.
Charles Onu- Founder, Ubenwa
If you were told that a baby’s cries could communicate as clearly as words, your first reaction might have been, “Impossible!” but not anymore.
Ubenwa, literally translated, means baby’s cry in Igbo language. It is an application that captures a baby’s cry, translates it and makes a prognosis on what the problem could be. The result could be as simple as hunger, sleep, pain, or an early symptom of a life-long disability such as cerebral palsy, deafness, and paralysis. Even birth asphyxia, which is the third-highest cause of infant mortality, can be detected early enough to prevent any damage to the child’s brain or infant death.
Ultimately, the aim is to provide optimal care for babies and address early health challenges within the first two years of a child’s life. But how accurate can this be?
According to Onu, the Artificial Intelligence solution app has achieved over 95% prediction accuracy in trials with nearly 1,400 pre-recorded baby cries.
This innovation has won several awards, including the WHO Top 30 Africa Health Innovators in March 2019.
Charles has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering, and MSc and Ph.D. in Computer Science – Machine Learning from McGill University. He is a fellow of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation.
(READ MORE: TechRoundUp Season 2 Episode 15)
Ola Orekunrin Brown- Founder, Flying Doctors Nigeria
Ola Orekunrin, is a medical doctor and helicopter pilot. She started the Flying Doctors Nigeria (FDN) as a young 21-year-old graduate.
Just like Nwakah’s Medsafe, FDN was spurred by personal experience, when Ola lost her younger sister due to a delay in finding an air ambulance service in Nigeria. Similarly, Ola was born and bred out of the shores of Nigeria, in the United Kindom to be precise, though she occasionally visited relatives in the country.
FDN is a medical emergency service that specialises in making air ambulance services, medico-logistics services, remote site medical solutions services, medical infrastructural development, and medical training services available in critical areas of need.
Flying Doctors is the first ambulance company in West Africa and boasts of 20 charter aircraft in good condition, with services that are cheaper than ground ambulance services.
Ola has, since then, taken certificate courses in Accounting and Economics at IESE and the University of Michigan respectively, to help her better manage the FDN. She has also obtained an MSc in Finance and Economic Policy.
Hote: Are there any notable names we may have missed? Kindly send an email to the author or to [email protected] Also feel free to drop a comment.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 5th of July 2020, 544 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths were recorded in Nigeria bringing the total confirmed cases recorded in the country to 28,711.
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria touched a new milestone as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 28,711 confirmed cases.
On the 5th of July 2020, 544 new confirmed cases and 11 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,933 samples across the country.
To date, 28,711 cases have been confirmed, 11,665 cases have been discharged and 645 deaths have been recorded in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 151,121 tests have been carried out as of July 5th, 2020 compared to 148,188 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 5th July 2020
- Total Number of Cases – 28,711
- Total Number Discharged – 11,665
- Total Deaths – 645
- Total Tests Carried out – 151,121
According to the NCDC, the 544 new cases were reported from 19 states- Lagos (199), Ebonyi (65),Oyo (47), Ondo (46), Ogun (31), Edo (30), FCT (28), Katsina (25), Plateau (15), Bayelsa (11), Kaduna (10), Adamawa (10), Akwa Ibom (8), Gombe (7), Kano (4), Taraba (3), Rivers (2), Abia (2), Ekiti (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 11,244, followed by Abuja (2,181), Oyo (1,513), Edo (1,383), Kano (1,268), Delta (1,227) Rivers (1,183), Ogun (1,005), Kaduna (865), Katsina (604), Borno (528), Gombe (520), Bauchi (516), Ebonyi (503), Ondo (456), Plateau (436), Abia (385), Enugu (372), Imo (352), Jigawa (318).
Kwara state has recorded 269 cases, Bayelsa (245), Nasarawa (225), Osun (165), Sokoto (153), Niger (122), Akwa Ibom (112), Adamawa (99), Benue (97), Kebbi (84), Zamfara (76), Anambra (73), Yobe (61), Ekiti (44), Taraba (22), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020.
|Date||Confirmed case||New cases||Total deaths||New deaths||Total recovery||Active cases||Critical cases|
|July 5, 2020||28711||544||645||11||11665||16401||7|
|July 4, 2020||28167||603||634||6||11462||16071||7|
|July 3, 2020||27564||454||628||12||11069||15867||7|
|July 2, 2020||27110||626||616||13||10801||15693||7|
|July 1, 2020||26484||790||603||13||10152||15729||7|
|June 30, 2020||25694||561||590||17||9746||15358||7|
|June 29, 2020||25133||566||573||8||9402||15158||7|
|June 28, 2020||24867||490||565||7||9007||14995||7|
|June 27, 2020||24077||779||558||4||8625||14894||7|
|June 26, 2020||23298||684||554||5||8253||14491||7|
|June 25, 2020||22614||594||549||7||7822||14243||7|
|June 24, 2020||22020||649||542||9||7613||13865||7|
|June 23, 2020||21371||452||533||8||7338||13500||7|
|June 22, 2020||20919||675||525||7||7109||13285||7|
|June 21, 2020||20242||436||518||12||6879||12847||7|
|June 20, 2020||19808||661||506||19||6718||12584||7|
|June 19, 2020||19147||667||487||12||6581||12079||7|
|June 18, 2020||18480||745||475||6||6307||11698||7|
|June 17, 2020||17735||587||469||14||5967||11299||7|
|June 16, 2020||17148||490||455||31||5623||11070||7|
|June 15, 2020||16658||573||424||4||5349||10885||7|
|June 14, 2020||16085||403||420||13||5220||10445||7|
|June 13, 2020||15682||501||407||8||5101||10174||7|
|June 12, 2020||15181||627||399||12||4891||9891||7|
|June 11, 2020||14554||681||387||5||4494||9673||7|
|June 10, 2020||13873||409||382||17||4351||9140||7|
|June 9, 2020||13464||663||365||4||4206||8893||7|
|June 8, 2020||12801||315||361||7||4040||8400||7|
|June 7, 2020||12486||260||354||12||3959||8173||7|
|June 6, 2020||12233||389||342||9||3826||8065||7|
|June 5, 2020||11844||328||333||10||3696||7815||7|
|June 4, 2020||11516||350||323||8||3535||7646||7|
|June 3, 2020||11166||348||315||1||3329||7522||7|
|June 2, 2020||10819||241||314||15||3239||7266||7|
|June 1, 2020||10578||416||299||12||3122||7157||9|
|May 31, 2020||10162||307||287||14||3007||6868||7|
|May 30, 2020||9855||553||273||12||2856||6726||7|
|May 29, 2020||9302||387||261||2||2697||6344||7|
|May 28, 2020||8915||182||259||5||2592||6064||7|
|May 27, 2020||8733||389||254||5||2501||5978||7|
|May 26, 2020||8344||276||249||16||2385||5710||7|
|May 25, 2020||8068||229||233||7||2311||5524||7|
|May 24, 2020||7839||313||226||5||2263||5360||7|
|May 23, 2020||7526||265||221||0||2174||5131||7|
|May 22, 2020||7261||245||221||10||2007||5033||7|
|May 21, 2020||7016||339||211||11||1907||4898||7|
|May 20, 2020||6677||284||200||8||1840||4637||7|
|May 19, 2020||6401||226||192||1||1734||4475||7|
|May 18, 2020||6175||216||191||9||1644||4340||7|
|May 17, 2020||5959||388||182||6||1594||4183||7|
|May 16, 2020||5621||176||176||5||1472||3973||7|
|May 15, 2020||5445||288||171||3||1320||3954||4|
|May 14, 2020||5162||193||168||3||1180||3815||4|
|May 13, 2020||4971||184||164||6||1070||3737||4|
|May 12, 2020||4787||146||158||6||959||3670||4|
|May 11, 2020||4641||242||152||10||902||3589||4|
|May 10, 2020||4399||248||142||17||778||3479||4|
|May 9, 2020||4151||239||127||11||745||3278||4|
|May 8, 2020||3912||386||118||10||679||3115||4|
|May 7, 2020||3526||381||108||4||601||2818||4|
|May 6, 2020||3145||195||104||5||534||2507||1|
|May 5, 2020||2950||148||99||5||481||2370||4|
|May 4, 2020||2802||245||94||6||417||2291||2|
|May 3, 2020||2558||170||88||2||400||2070||2|
|May 2, 2020||2388||220||86||17||351||1952||2|
|May 1, 2020||2170||238||69||10||351||1751||2|
|April 30, 2020||1932||204||59||7||317||1556||2|
|April 29, 2020||1728||196||52||7||307||1369||2|
|April 28, 2020||1532||195||45||4||255||1232||2|
|April 27, 2020||1337||64||41||0||255||994||2|
|April 26, 2020||1273||91||41||5||239||994||2|
|April 25, 2020||1182||87||36||3||222||925||2|
|April 24, 2020||1095||114||33||1||208||855||2|
|April 23, 2020||981||108||32||3||197||753||2|
|April 22, 2020||873||91||29||3||197||648||2|
|April 21, 2020||782||117||26||3||197||560||2|
|April 20, 2020||665||38||23||1||188||466||2|
|April 19, 2020||627||86||22||2||170||436||2|
|April 18, 2020||541||48||20||2||166||356||2|
|April 17, 2020||493||51||18||4||159||317||2|
|April 16, 2020||442||35||13||1||152||277||2|
|April 15, 2020||407||34||12||1||128||267||2|
|April 14, 2020||373||30||11||1||99||263||2|
|April 13, 2020||343||20||10||0||91||242||2|
|April 12, 2020||323||5||10||0||85||228||2|
|April 11, 2020||318||13||10||3||70||238||2|
|April 10, 2020||305||17||7||0||58||240||2|
|April 9, 2020||288||14||7||1||51||230||2|
|April 8, 2020||274||22||6||0||44||226||2|
|April 7, 2020||254||16||6||1||44||204||2|
|April 6, 2020||238||6||5||0||35||198||2|
|April 5, 2020||232||18||5||1||33||194||2|
|April 4, 2020||214||5||4||0||25||185||0|
|April 3, 2020||209||25||4||2||25||180||0|
|April 2, 2020||184||10||2||0||20||162||0|
|April 1, 2020||174||35||2||0||9||163||0|
|March 31, 2020||139||8||2||0||9||128||0|
|March 30, 2020||131||20||2||1||8||121||0|
|March 29, 2020||111||22||1||0||3||107||0|
|March 28, 2020||89||19||1||0||3||85||0|
|March 27, 2020||70||5||1||0||3||66||0|
|March 26, 2020||65||14||1||0||2||62||0|
|March 25, 2020||51||7||1||0||2||48||0|
|March 24, 2020||44||4||1||0||2||41||0|
|March 23, 2020||40||10||1||1||2||37||0|
|March 22, 2020||30||8||0||0||2||28||0|
|March 21, 2020||22||10||0||0||1||21||0|
|March 20, 2020||12||4||0||0||1||11||0|
|March 19, 2020||8||0||0||0||1||7||0|
|March 18, 2020||8||5||0||0||1||7||0|
|March 17, 2020||3||1||0||0||0||3||0|
|March 16, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 15, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 14, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 13, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 12, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 11, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 10, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 9, 2020||2||1||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 8, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 7, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 6, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 5, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 4, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 3, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 2, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 1, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|February 29, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|February 28, 2020||1||1||0||0||0||1||0|
COVID -19 saving Nigerians millions in wedding and burial costs
As long as the pandemic persists, the ‘new normal’ is for ceremonies to remain subdued.
It was a sunny Saturday in May and like it had been for the better part of 8 weeks, the new normal was in force in Nosa’s household. The lockdown induced COVID-19 meant that all the hustle and bustle of giving attention to side hustles on weekends had all evaporated. Now he spent more time with his kids watching TV and playing video games. Whilst he has had to endure multiple weekends of lost revenue, staying indoors meant that his personal finance was still intact. But things would change dramatically this weekend.
Nosa got a call that he had just lost his aged mother to a brief illness. He had been battling with a terminal illness for years, but things seemed to be under control so her death came as a surprise. Even as he grappled with the thought of losing his mother, Nosa knew that he had to start making preparations for the expenses that are bound to come with burials in an African setting.
Thanks to the pandemic, and rules that came with it, Nosa ended up spending much less than he would have for his mother’s burial with most of the funds going towards mortuary expenses, transport and the direct cost of the actual burial itself.
READ ALSO: Post COVID-19: The Challenges Ahead
“This COVID-19 is bad but it has saved me millions of naira that I would have spent in this burial,” he remarked.
“I wanted to give my mom a befitting burial but these are hard times and I may have borrowed money just to fund this. But with COVID-19 and social distancing in place I did not have to do any of this,” Nosa informs our reporter.
Nosa’s gains translate to massive losses for a whole chain of service providers in the event management industry. Similar occurrences over the last few months have resulted in the loss of revenue for such businesses.
Events in Nigeria often cost anywhere between half a million naira to over N100 million depending on the financial muscle of those spending. Burials, weddings, naming ceremonies and birthday parties, make a burgeoning industry that spans several sectors of the economy.
From mortuaries to casket makers, event planners, event Halls rentals, professional mourners, caterers, confectionaries, party rentals, photographers, video editors, tailors, newspapers , etc, its an entire value chain of businesses that provide one service or the other for this industry.
Each of these events cost millions of naira to organize hosting as many people as the budget can support. According to a CNN article quoting a report from TNS Global, Nigerians spend as much as $9,460 for a wedding ceremony. The report also indicates the party industry could be worth as high as $17 million based on statistics in 2017.
The math can be easily deducted. Assuming 50,000 ceremonies every weekend at an average cost of N1 million that is a N50 billion per weekend or N2.7 trillion ($6.75 billion) per annum. GDP data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicates sectors that support the ceremonies market in Nigeria, telecoms, transportation, Arts and Entertainment is worth a combined N18.4 trillion.
Chuks, a Partner at a top consulting firm in Nigeria admits were it not for the pandemic his wedding could have cost him about N15 million personally and another N20 million spent by family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers. He is in his forties and his wedding had been much anticipated. He went ahead with his wedding last weekend with less than a dozen people in attendance and over 140 others logging on via Zoom. He claims while he ended up not spending millions on food, drinks, wedding halls and other logistic costs, he still achieved his goal of getting married.
Necessity they say is the mother of invention and has millions stay locked in their homes, they have resorted to apps such as Zoom, Instagram Live, Microsoft Teams to hold virtual events. These days Zoom themed parties now have their own rules and conventions. Friends from all parts of the world log in with each person taking turns to say nice things about the celebrants. Games are conducted to spice up the event and stories told by the celebrant. Music is also played by the Zoom host with participants dancing and having fun.
“It is like watching a live movie and also being part of it as the audience and participant” a wedding planner informed Nairametrics. Whilst one cannot underrate the connection physical socializing brings, virtual meetings are gradually becoming a lifestyle and the longer social distancing continues its cultural significance will only continue to increase.
Aderonke Adebamibola, CEO of Unik Ushering Agency, an Event management firm, confirmed to Nairametrics that business has really slowed down in the last few months. “Even though the NCDC has now given rules to guide weddings and other events, the budget now is way less than it used to be due to the cap on numbers of guests” she explained.
Now, most events are kept within the premises of family residences, depriving hall rentals, the money they could have made from leasing out their halls. Venue decorators also have much less on their hands to do, as they no longer have to decorate big halls.
According to Adebamibola, every single business in the chain has been affected, from caterers to ushers.
“Now, we even have to convince them to use one or two ushers for their events because they believe they don’t need ushers for 20 or 30 guests. Caterers cannot even cook a half bag of rice now because of the number of guests. This means that they are also paid less for their services, even if they expend the same energy and time” she said.
The new normal in this industry means that the things that used to be prioritized are no longer priorities. Hand sanitisers, face masks and hand washing equipment are now compulsories in events, while the hand-shaking, and hugs that would have characterized such weddings.
Due to the nature of the industry, a large percentage of the staff are kept on contract basis, so the reduction has not really translated into lay-offs. However, the industry revenue has been badly hit. A contract staff with NPU Events, who preferred anonymity, noted that in the last three months, she has only been called twice for events.
Since this forms a major part of her income, it has caused a major dip in her resources. COVID-19 has brought unwanted hardship to the Nigerian economy with small businesses and workers in the informal sector suffering the most.
A recent World Bank report indicates the Nigerian economy might contract by as much as 3% in GDP growth rate this year. This informed government’s latest decision to inject about N2.3 trillion into the economy to spur economic growth. The funds will be targeted at small businesses through non-collateralized low-interest loans. Whilst all these initiatives are geared towards stimulating the economy, the spending power of Nigerians will remain pivotal and as long as the pandemic persists, ceremonies will remain subdued.
Top 10 travel agencies in Nigeria
Whatever the case, everyone needs a travel agency or at least knows someone that does.
Have you ever gone through the rigours of applying for a visa in Nigeria, only to get rejected in the end? Or maybe you had to make a trip and spent hours online trying to book reservations in a good hotel, then ended up getting there and discovering that your reservation didn’t go through.
Perhaps, you have been defrauded by poser travel agents, in your quest to travel abroad. Or maybe the reason you have not planned for a much-desired vacation is because you don’t have the time to attend to all the details.
Whatever the case, everyone needs a travel agency or at least knows someone that does. Even when you know how to get these things done, it cannot compare to having a professional touch. Little things like having someone welcome you at the airport, and ensuring you get checked in at your hotel, can really matter.
And that is why it is necessary to know some reliable travel agencies off the top of your head. In this article, Nairametrics brings you a list of top travel agencies in Nigeria that can take care of your travel needs and attend to all the details.
Owing to the relationships these agencies have built over the years, they can get you incredibly lower airfares, hotel rates and other expenses, much more than you could get on your own. They also ensure that even if you are arriving in a country you have never been, you don’t get stranded.
Nairametrics does not have affiliations with any of these agencies, but the list was drawn from the hundreds of travel agencies in Nigeria, selecting only the top ones which meet the criteria. All of the agencies listed here are registered with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the Corporate Affairs Commission, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, and have built some reputation for themselves over the years.
Each has also cornered a fair size of the Nigerian market share.
Touchdowns Travels Limited
Touchdown Travels Limited is the representative of GlobalStar in Nigeria. Though licensed by IATA since 1993, it only started representing GlobalStar in 2012.
The agency offers services in flight bookings and reservations, as well as in organising tours and travel itineraries.
The agency was established by Mr. Dayo Adeola, who is also its CEO/Managing Director. It is also a member of the National Association of Nigeria Travels Agencies (NANTA), and from having just 2 staff, it has grown to accommodate about 50 staff, firmly etching its name among the top agencies in the industry.
Touchdown is about the top agency in terms of market share and has earned several recognitions from most operating airlines in the country, as well as organisations in the industry.
Headquartered in Lagos, the agency has travel desks (out-posts) manned by its staff, and situated within some bluechip companies. It also has a branch in Abuja.
Quantum Travels also ranks among top travel agencies in the country, and is Nigeria’s representative of BCD Travel, the third largest travel management company in the world.
Its global presence gives the agency the advantage of meeting clients’ travel needs across 97 countries.
It is mostly known for corporate travel management, but its services extend to others such as passport and visa arrangements, flight and hotel reservations, as well as providing rentals for transportation.
This agency also has a fair size of the Nigerian market share, ranking among the top five highest in terms of monthly ticket bookings.
Wakanow was launched as the first online travel agency in 2008. Its founder, Obinna Ekezie, a former professional basketball player, led the company till 2019 when Adebayo Adedeji was appointed CEO.
With IATA code 59-211806, and NANTA code ZTN/NANTA/LOS/08-821, the company did not waste time in capturing a significant market share, and at some point, was reported to own about 10% of the market share. Currently, it has the third highest flight bookings in the country.
The agency offers travel consulting, hotel reservations, bespoke travel packages, flight booking, visa assistance, travel financing, etc. The company also offers credit facilities with flexible travel payment plans, where the customer can pay 25% upfront, and structure the rest of the payments.
The regular discounts and reward packages have also contributed to attracting more customers to the company. Recently, a little reward package was introduced, where customers are rewarded for referring new customers to the company.
The agency recently introduced a new video selling product, where clients can schedule a visual tour of their potential destination with a Wakanow agent.
To encourage travels after the pandemic, the company has introduced more deferred payment options called “Travel now, pay later”.
FlinchGlow Travels was founded in 2002 by Mr. Bankole Bernard, the current NANTA president who still runs the agency as CEO.
As a partner with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), FlinchGlow offers some of the best services in the tourism industry, although it also serves clients with personal and business travel needs.
FlinchGlow also takes pride in its ability to secure good hotel rates at choice destinations, and plan tours for its clients. It ranks among the top five in terms of market share and sells a considerable volume of tickets monthly.
Dees Travels and Tours Limited
Dees Travels and Tour Limited was founded in 2000 and registered with IATA in the same year. Apart from booking both local and international flights, it handles travel arrangements for individual and group tours, visa procurement, travel insurance, hotel reservations across countries, chauffeur/car hire, and airport protocol services.
According to data from airline operators, the agency is 5th highest in terms of market share and tickets sold on a monthly base.
Business Travel Management Limited
This agency is a member of the GHI Assets Ltd group, and has several names under it including Emirates holidays, Sky logistics ltd, Rwandair and HRG Nigeria. It was incorporated in 1998 and it was also accredited by IATA. It specializes in comprehensive travel management, logistics for business, corporate service and corporate travel management.
The agency is IATA certified, and registered with other regulatory agencies. With the names under the group, BTM Limited has claimed its own share of the Nigerian travel market as well.
Travelstart another leading online travel agency with operations spread across Africa, and headquartered in Cape Town.
Customers can utilise the online platform to book flights across all African countries and other continents as well, and also get their itinerary all planned for a vacation or business trip. Apart from flight reservations, the agency also handles car rentals and hotel reservations tailored to the traveller’s budget.
Travelstart also handles visa processing and travel insurance. It was founded in Sweden by Stephan Ekbergh, but has since extended operations to Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Egypt, Kenya, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and even Turkey, where it trades under the brand name Geziko.
Travelstart has also captured its share of the Nigerian market, leveraging on its international network and brand recognition across the continent.
Rewards Travels and Tours Limited
Rewards Travels and Tours has over the last two decades earned its space in the industry. Its services include travel consultancy, travel itinerary management, tourism and planning corporate travels.
It was founded in 1999, and now has a network of branches across major cities in Nigeria, with established partners in the global tourism industry. the agency gives hotel booking services, car hires, cruises and charters across several countries.
It is IATA accredited, giving clients access to international and local airlines.
City Travels and Tours
City Travels and Tours is one of the travel agencies you want to consider if the purpose of your travel is largely tourism. The company offers tourism services, reservations and bookings, vacations, cruises, consultation, destination and accommodation decisions.
The agency is registered with IATA, as well as NANTA, and has a commendable network with critical stakeholders in the tourism industry across the continent. City Travels and Tours is often ranked among the top 10 among over 1500 registered travel agencies in the country.