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Meet new Interswitch Chairman; British business mogul, Kenneth Olisa

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Kenneth Olisa has been appointed as the new Chairman of the leading Africa-focused integrated digital payments and commerce company, Interswitch. He was preceded by Adedotun Sulaiman, MFR.


Interswitch, a prominent leader in the payments platform in Nigeria was founded in 2002 and has been active across the entire payments value chain currently processing over 4 billion transactions yearly valued at $38 billion. Interswitch owns and operates the country’s principal domestic debit card scheme, Verve, as well as serves as a third-party transaction processor for many of Nigeria’s largest banks.

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On this appointment, Mitchell Elegbe, the founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, said;

“Ken’s inspiring business leadership, vast experience and professional expertise will be great assets to Interswitch as he comes on board as Chairman at a defining phase in our journey of transformation and international expansion. We are delighted to welcome him on board, in succession to the visionary and highly successful tenure of Adedotun Sulaiman, who as country CEO of Accenture, played a key role in the formative years of our company and upon assuming the role of Chairman, oversaw the successful transition of Interswitch to private equity ownership”.

Kenneth Olisa commented, “Interswitch is a shining example of financial technology entrepreneurialism at its best. Unlike many of its global competitors, Interswitch is not only a fast growing and powerful innovator, it is also profitable. This is a testament to the skill and drive of its founder – Mitch Elegbe – and I am delighted to be joining him and his team. As the son of a Nigerian father I am particularly honoured to have been elected to fill the shoes of my distinguished predecessor – Mr Sulaiman – whose steady hand has helped steer Interswitch’s journey so far. They are big shoes to fill.”

Interswitch has garnered business growth in recent years because of the digital payments evolution the company provides. It offers several B2B services to major sectors in the country including hospitals, telecommunications companies and utilities, government entities, and operates Quickteller which is a leading B2C bill payments platform in Nigeria.

Based on estimates from McKinsey & Company, Interswitch occupies a leading position in the emerging marketplace, especially in debit cards, which comprise 99% of all cards in Nigeria. Interswitch also operates in Kenya, Uganda and Gambia.

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His Background

  • At IBM he held various posts before joining Wang Laboratoriesn 1981. Following a period as Marketing Director for Europe, VP of US Marketing and then of Worldwide Marketing based in Boston, he was appointed Senior VP and General Manager of Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME) located in Brussels.
  • Olisa led the team which restored the EAME operation to profitability, following which he launched an unsuccessful management buyout resulting in his departure in 1992.
  • Olisa then founded Interregnum, the technology merchant bank, leading it through its early growth, its entry into and exit from a joint venture with BDO Stoy Hayward, the AIM IPO in 2000, and the tricky years that followed the collapse of the dotcom boom. At Interregnum he worked at the forefront of the entrepreneur/technology growth cycle that began in the mid-1990s.
  • He was also a principal advisor to, and director of, uDate.com, which became one of the UK’s few large scale dotcom successes when it was sold to Barry Diller’s USA Interactive in 2003. Olisa retired from Interregnum in 2006 and now runs Restoration Partners, an independent boutique technology merchant bank and architects of the Virtual Technology Cluster model.

Olisa’s Board Experience

  • Olisa has considerable public company board-level experience on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the first British-born black man to serve on the Board of a major UK public company (Reuters) and is currently a non-executive director of Thomson Reuters (where he is a member of the Audit Committee), and also a non-executive director of the Institute of directors.
  • He was a Director and Chairman of the Remuneration Committee of Canada’s largest independent software developer, Open Text Corporation. More recently, he served as a non-executive director of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) from 2007. He also serves on the boards of, or is an adviser to, several privately held and innovative companies including the UK’s leading corporate governance advisor Independent Audit. Olisa is also Chairman of the Thebes Group and Shaw Trust.
  • In 2009, The Sunday Times, named him Not for Profit Non-Executive Director of the year, and in 2016 he was voted number one in the Powerlist’s Top 10 most influential British black people.
  • In 2015, Her Majesty the Queen appointed him Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.
    Sixty-six years old Olisa was born of a Nigerian father and a British mother, and a native of Nottingham, Olisa’s technology career commenced in the 1970s at IBM after he won a scholarship while an undergraduate at Cambridge University where he studied Natural Sciences and then Social, Political and Management Sciences at Fitzwilliam College.
  • He possesses an unwavering reputation with a career in business and technology.

 

Olisa and Queen Elizabeth of England, alongside with Prince William

  • He was also appointed by Her Majesty the Queen of England as the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London in 2015.
  • In 2016, Ken Olisa was named the most influential black Briton on the Powerlist, this is the annual list of the 100 most powerful people of African and African Caribbean heritage in Britain.

Compiled by Chacha Wabara & Chris Pemu

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Chacha Wabara-Ogbobine is a Legal practitioner with over 9years post call experience. A research Consultant, professional writer and a blogger at heart,owner of four thriving websites with well over 10years of experience. Totally in love with keeping fit and coaching weight loss enthusiasts. I love my quiet time, being with my kids, watching TV series for hours on end.

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Air Peace to evacuate stranded Indians from Lagos to Kerala

A list of the passengers to be attended to has already been given and the flight shall depart Lagos on May 30, 2020, to Cochin Airport, Kerala.

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Air Peace signs deal with Brazillian aerospace company , Air Peace suspends flight operations over COVID-19

The management of Air Peace Nigeria has been contacted by the Indian High Commission in Nigeria to undertake the evacuation of stranded Indian nationals to Kerala, India. This was disclosed by the airline via its Twitter handle.

The airline explained that a list of passengers that would be attended to have been released and it has started reaching out to the Indians on Saturday.

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It stated, “A list of the passengers to be attended to has already been given to us and we have commenced reaching out to them. The flight shall depart Lagos on May 30, 2020, to Cochin Airport, Kerala.”

The flight is not free anyway. According to the airline, payments are expected immediately and they are Economy is $1.300 and Business class is tag $1,700. “You are equally allowed to pay in Naira at N460/$,” it added.

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However, some Indians in Nigeria has reacted with mixed feelings to the development on Twitter. While some were ready to join the flight back home, others called for the refund of ticket fare booked a week ago.

READ ALSO: Hope rises as Emefiele set to meet MTN, 4 banks today.

For instance, Jayant Khamesra requested for the refund ticket fare of N568, 100, which he paid for a flight from Lagos to Delhi.

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He said, “Please refund ticket fare P47812 LAGOS to DELHI. No show by Air Peace and it is been 1 week now, there has been no refund or confirmation of the same. Reference ALHN79 amount N568,100. I am sure a good world-class carrier like Air Peace won’t delay refunds purposely. Please act fast.

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Companies

Revenues of top African firms to drop by 10% amid COVID- PwC

In the meantime, CFOs are prioritising strategies aimed at protecting/keeping their customers and clients safe. They plan to make the best of the current situation by adopting various necessary strategies.

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COVID-19

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) of top African companies are expecting their companies’ revenue to decline significantly in 2020, no thanks to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is according to a new study that was released by PwC Africa earlier this week, a copy of which was emailed to Nairametrics.

The Details: Focus on the Revenue crisis

According to the report, which was titled PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, the African CFOs, who were surveyed indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their business. About 89% of the respondents also believed that their companies’ revenues and profits would decline by 10% and 9%, respectively.

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These findings are coming just about the same time business leaders across the continent and beyond are beginning to adjust to the new normal caused by the pandemic. At the moment, company executives (including the CFOs), would have to make some tough decisions that will determine how they emerge from this difficult economic time. A part of the report said:

“As they manage their process, business leaders including the CFOs we’ve interviewed will be faced with a series of decisions that will have a wide-reaching impact: on their own financial future; on the well-being of their employees, customers and other stakeholders; and on the wellbeing of the society at large.”

It should be recalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had earlier projected that economic activities in Sub-Saharan Africa would decline by 1.6% in 2020. For crude oil-dependent countries like Nigeria, the IMF projected that the economy would contract by an average of 2.8%.

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READ MORE: Efficient Power: Addressing a Critical Element in Nigeria’s Agro-Industrial Revolution

Will things get back to normal?

According to the report, African CFOs who responded to the survey believed that their companies would eventually get back to normal. In precise terms, 38% of the respondents said their companies would bounce back within three months of the post-COVID-19 era. Unfortunately, nobody knows with certainty when the pandemic would end. This is because there is no cure/vaccine in the meantime, even as the virus continues to spread in parts of Africa.

In the meantime…

CFOs are helping their companies to adopt very strict cost containment strategies. At least, 85% of them said they are effecting cost containment strategies, even as 60% admitted that they are either deferring or completely canceling already planned investments. Others (49%) also noted that their companies are changing their financing plans.

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Focus on CAPEX

The PwC report went further to note that the CFOs, who typically favour cost containment strategies, disclosed that their companies are focusing on slashing most of their costs on capital expenditure (82%). Similarly, they are also cutting costs by reducing their workforce (52%) and operations (36%).

READ ALSO: FG owes DisCos over N500 billion in electricity Subsidy – PwC 

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“CFOs clearly favour a strategy of cost containment and of the 33 African respondents who said their company is pursuing this course of action, the majority are focusing on facilities and general capital expenditure (82%) followed by investment in the workforce (52%) and operations (36%).”

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In the meantime, CFOs said their companies are prioritising the following needs;

  • CFOs are focused on meeting stakeholders’ needs
  • Ensuring proper financial disclosures, especially bearing in mind that measures taken by companies to contain the pandemic have distorted economic activities, a situation that has implications for financial reporting
  • Community focus and social engagement also remain top priorities for many African companies. Recall that many companies in Nigeria rallied (under the aegis of CACOVID) to donate billions to FG in order to facilitate the fight against the virus
  • CFOs are also focusing on devising new supply chain options for their companies, bearing the disruptions that the pandemic had already caused in this regard
  • CFOs are also prioritising strategies aimed at protecting/keeping their customers and clients safe
  • Most importantly, they plan to make the best of the current situation by adopting various necessary strategies

READ ALSO: A New Wave: Where to Invest in H2 2020

You may download and read the full report by clicking here.

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Companies

Newspapers owners slash salaries by 50%, reduce print pagination by 45%

Covid-19 is not sparing the 4th Estate!

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Nigeria has boasted to have the freest and most outspoken press among other African states, though the industry has consistently been the target of harassment by past military dictatorships, and even in some cases, by democratically elected Governors and Presidents. Many journalists have been imprisoned, exiled, and tortured.

As we speak, the industry and practitioners are facing a different kind of torture. This time around, not by any political office holder, but by a looming recession that has befallen the industry. Though the industry had been battling with several hurdles before the advent of Coronavirus, the pandemic is threatening its survival amid other uncertainties.

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The sector, according to some journalists and industry watchers, is currently grappling with several problems, ranging from COVID-19 pandemic, depleted funds due to the lockdown across major cities, loss of revenue due to lower ad sales, looming job loss, and salaries slashed, among others.

The staff of most of the print news platforms are going through bad times. While a lot of them were informed of salary cuts from April 2020 till further notice, some have lost their jobs as their employers embarked on ‘Operation Cut Cost at all Cost’.

The unfortunate thing is that the sack is on-going. What that means is that anyone that was not sacked in April should not be over-confident, as the firms are rolling out more letters of dismissal or slash in staff salaries.

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In separate interviews, some staff of The Nation, BusinessDay, Punch Newspapers, Television Continental (TVC), and Cool FM, among others, lamented over fears of either losing their jobs or suffering more salary cuts. A lot of them told Nairametrics that their managements had told them that it would never be ‘Business as usual’, as no one could tell when the COVID-19 pandemic would be over.

In the case of The Nation, findings revealed that the medium is currently serving some staff across departments letters of disengagement. Already, over 100 out of about 500 workers (across Nigeria) have been sacked and still counting.

One of the medium’s managers, who claimed anonymity, told Nairametrics that the management told employees that the exercise would continue until the company stabilized, a time which no one can tell for now. That is not all, The Nation has also slashed salaries of everyone earning over N60,000 by 50%.

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He said, “It started when the company reduced the pages of the Newspaper from 48 to 32 pages and the excuse then was that it was due to the lockdown, which crashed the readership of the newspaper. Another notice followed that a certain percentage of the staff strength would be reduced.

“As if that was not enough, we got another notice that salaries would be cut by 50%, which was the final straw. We got confused because we had thought if people are sacked, there wont be a pay cut. This is indeed a bad time for the industry and for us here because if more people are sacked, few of us left would have to do their jobs with less pay.”

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For Punch, one of the reputable and widely read newspapers in Nigeria, this is indeed a trying period. After exploring other options like slashing pages of the dailies from 62 to 32 (depending on the numbers of advertisement), the Ademola Osinubi led-management also took a COVID-19 induced decision and informed its staff beforehand. Here is an excerpt of the memo Osinubi sent to all staff:

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This pandemic has dealt with our business telling and severe blows. Our circulation and advertisement revenues dipped dangerously, compounding the operational and revenue challenges birthed by the migration of a majority of print newspaper readers and adverts to digital platforms.

“I am not at liberty to disclose all of the measures that the management has taken so far. But the ones that could be made public include an immediate reduction in print pagination; staff furloughing to comply with government and expert advisories on social distancing; the temporary shutdown of the sports newspaper; and significant financial reengineering.

“All projections point at a bleak and uncertain future for the media industry and the economy. Notwithstanding, the company’s commitment to the welfare of its staff remains cardinal, hence, the decision to pay 100% salaries in the month of April and fulfil all annual leave obligations, despite the dip in revenues. All staff, including our colleagues, asked to stay away from work in April, have been paid their full salaries.”

But does that mean the workers should not expect full salaries in the month of May?

“Considering the fact on the ground and the body movement of the board, full salaries may not be paid in May and some people, especially in the newsroom, would be forced to resign.

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“The management has started from the Sports desk and would soon move to other desks. The idea is to concentrate more on the online version of the platform and start a significant financial re-engineering,” a source in the company told Nairametrics.

The Nation and Punch Newspapers are not the only firms that have either slashed salaries or dismissed staff. While Tribune Newspaper reduced pages from 46 to 32, and slashed salaries between 10 and 35% depending on the level of the staff, BusinessDay also reduced the pages of its Monday editions, which is its major product, from 65 to 32, and New Telegraph dropped pages from 48 to 32 among others.

In the broadcast sub-sector of the industry, the workers of AIM Group, owners of Nigeria Info, Cool FM, Wazobia and Arewa, have to swallow the bitter pills too.

While trying to ensure that the majority of its staff are retained, the group had no choice but to let some of the staff embark on unpaid leave.

The Head, Human Resources of the Group, Oyinkan Adeniyi, in an internal memo seen by Nairametrics,  said:

The Management of AIM Group has had to weigh a lot of options that can be taken during this trying times to minimize the negative impact the pandemic has had on our operations, ensure the majority of our staff are retained while still meeting up with financial obligations to you our highly esteemed employees, suppliers and other stakeholders.

“We have reached a very difficult position of placing all staff who are currently at home, not working since the commencement and who will not be working now that skeletal services will be commencing on a Furlough (unpaid leave) until things normalize. This means that while staff who are home now and not working remain our staff, they will not be paid salaries for the period not worked and until they are recalled back to the office.”

How long it will take the media organizations to rebound, and re-engage their employees to work optimally, depends on how early the nation survives COVID-19 or how soon the Federal Government offers bail-out to operators in the industry. Though, the bail-out option may be a tall order, stakeholders are optimistic that the industry may soon be out of the woods.

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