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Top Nigerian Fintech Apps to watch in 2018

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Top Nigerian FinTech Apps that are leading the competition
  • Fintech is relatively new in Nigeria but as with all technology driven sectors, it has become a necessity.
  • As we get to understand what the fintech companies offer, we can appreciate their usefulness but there is still much room for improvement.
  • In this article, Nairametrics would examine some fintech apps with the aim of seeing how easy they are to use and sharing users’ complaints, if any.

What exactly is fintech?

It is a platform that is used to support and drive banking and financial services globally. It is an acronym which stands for Financial Technology. The idea behind the creation of fintech is for it to compete with the traditional banking methods and make the end user have a seamless means of transacting business without actually going to the bank. They don’t work independently, as they still leverage on some of the financial institutions.

The Nigerian financial sector, especially the banking sector has evolved over the years. With the emergence of new technologies that have moved the sector forward, it has become more endearing to the average individual who desires to carry out banking transactions with ease, comfort and speed. The truth is that Nigeria has the opportunity to position itself as one of the biggest hubs in the fintech market. The emergence of the fintech niche is redefining the way people do business in Nigeria, as lots of transactions are now being conducted via these channels.

How well has fintech fared in Nigeria?

The market is also expanding, with the likes of Flutterwave, Paga, Paystack leading the way, and the emergence of newer players coming into the sector with more innovative products and services, Nigeria is now at the fore front of Fintech in Africa.

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This has also opened up a huge financial inclusion potential considering that just above 50% of our estimated population of 170 million people have active bank accounts. The cashless policy introduced by the federal government has also created an enabling environment for these fintech companies to blossom. Rapid growth of mobile transactions over the last couple of years has seen figures hit the $143 million mark in 2016 from a paltry $5 million as at 2011. This feat can be attributed to the massive deployment of fintech and the continuous upsurge in the sales of mobile phones in Nigeria.

The low cost workforce behind the fintech market coupled with an amazing window of opportunity created by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN), when they compelled banks to leverage new technologies to boost banking experience of consumers has resulted in making the fintech industry become a juicy financial melting pot with an estimated $180 million in investments to be realized by the end of 2018.

This has no doubt made the financial sector to become vibrant and competitive, with every available platform being used to woo consumers who have been given several options to choose from. The question about what fintech company to patronize is very crucial.

We shall be doing a review of some of the best up and coming fintech companies in Nigeria and what they are offering consumers and how well customers perceive their products.

Know and choose your fintech


CowriePay

This is a payment gateway created to help consumers who cannot afford to pay for goods instantly. With its office located in Victoria Island, Lagos, the app has a standard menu for easy navigation. CowriePay has a working agreement with licensed financial service providers and retail/merchant houses that enables customers to buy products of their choices instantly and pay back later. The platform also has a special feature that enables customers to either send or receive money from anyone nationwide with just an active mobile phone number.

Front Page of Cowrie Pay Website

app

The app solves the persistent problem of consumer financing and allows customers to spread repayments of loans up to a maximum of 12 months. The hassle free loan at the point of sale is the unique selling point of this app, as it affords consumers the opportunity to get loans at low interest rates.

To open an account with CowriePay, all you need to do is supply your  personal data and income information like monthly salary if you are a monthly earner, monthly income and monthly expenses. The name of your bankers, BVN and account number will also be required. To sign up as a member, simply visit the website at www.cowriepay.com and click on Register. For those having challenges, call customer their care.

Complaints

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When we visited the site, we were quite impressed, but observed certain things which created some reservations on its security. Previous users’ details still remain in some fields for other people logging in to see and take advantage of should they chose to. When we tried signing up, we discovered that the fields for mobile numbers were already filled up with someone else’s mobile number. The same thing was observed in the column for bank – GTB was already there.

The app developers need to work on the security of the app to prevent hackers from having access to vital details.


Kudi

Kudi is a Hausa word that means money. It is an app designed to help consumers manage their personal finances on the go. It can be useful for transferring funds and payment of utilities or monthly subscriptions for services like, DStv, Startimes or Gotv. Most importantly, it can send you timely reminders whenever your payments of these recurring bills are due. The unique thing about transactions on Kudi is that they are mostly free, though some transactions do carry fees.

Kudi Pay Website Front Page

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The site also has a 24/7 Chatbox feature where one can always find a customer care staff to chat with for resolving any issue. We also observed that the site security is top notch, as it deployed the latest PCI-DSS end-to-end security gateway, which guaranteed safety of users’ data and funds. It is a very light app of 2.57MB and seems to be the smallest fintech app in the market. Kudi does not however generate receipt for transactions, as the ‘download receipt’ function is only available on the Facebook app. The app presently enjoys a minimal popularity rating on the Google Play store where it has been downloaded just 1000 times with barely 18 reviews by users.

The registration process is very simple as all you need to do is visit the website at www.kudi.ai and chat up using Messenger, Skype, Telegram or normal browser.


Piggybank.ng

Founded in 2016, the Piggybank.ng app is becoming so popular among Nigerians that an amazing 10,000 downloads have been recorded via Google Play store while 116 users have written reviews about their experiences using the app. This fintech app is connected directly to commercial banks in Nigeria. In essence, they don’t work independently, as they leverage banking platforms.

The app enables the average user to regularly make piecemeal savings. Each user account is under the custody of UBA Nigeria PLC who is the official partner bank affiliated to it. The app’s concept is similar to the idea of having a little piggy bank at home where kids drop little coins given to them as gifts on daily, weekly or monthly bases. It is a way of teaching them sound investment habits even at early childhood. After a certain duration, the safe is usually broken and the money inside is used to pay for the child’s educational needs or buy special items.

Piggy bank Website Home Page

app

Furthermore, the app utilizes the concept of automatic savings, knowing that the mind-set of the average Nigerians is not disposed to saving. It does this via its automatic savings feature. It also combines discipline and flexibility to enable the user to achieve his/her financial target.

Getting started is quite easy, as all that is required is to create a free account with your full names, email address and mobile phone number. A password will then be sent to your email. Once you login into the app, you need to set your withdrawal account and also set an auto save option. Then Piggybank.ng will automatically use your debit card details to transfer money to your set Piggybank account based on your specific auto save instructions. There are limits of savings depending on the option you choose. Daily savings limits are from N50 to N25, 000, while weekly saving limits are from N500 to N100, 000. The highest limit of savings, which is the monthly savings, is between N3000 and N500, 000.

Note: It must be emphasized here that only 4 free withdrawals are allowed on chosen dates within a year; subsequent withdrawals will attract penalties.

Complaints

On the flip side, most customers complained that the auto save option does not work. A recent update made on the app caused lots of challenges for users as regards to login and inability to update withdrawal account.


KiaKia

The KiaKia app creates real time access to capital on the go. It is an app that deploys the peer to peer mechanism and it is 100% online. The app creates a unique platform that links those in need of affordable loans to those individuals or corporate bodies that can lend out at flexible rates. KiaKia plays the role of a 3rd party agent and collects a small fee for creating the link for such transactions to be completed. When we visited the app, we saw a well-structured and beautifully designed website containing the entire basic menu a first time user will need.

KiaKia website front page

As soon as we logged in,we were welcomed by a chat bot called Mr K then we clicked the ‘chat with me’ button to begin. Once in the chat room, you are asked to provide your email. You have the option to select ‘borrower’ if you want to register and get access to loan facility or ‘lender’ if you want to register and give loans. Loan disbursement on KiaKia usually takes less than 3 hours to be completed for those who have had their loan applications approved. With a total download of just 100 and 3 users’ reviews, the app does not enjoy much patronage.

Complaints

Some of the challenges associated with the app are tied to the registration process and inability to login due to network issues and application downtime. It however has huge potentials yet to be unleashed.


ALAT.NG

This state-of-the art fintech app is immensely popular among Nigerians as is evident from the number of downloads on Google Play store which presently stands at a whopping 100,000 download. The Alat platform prides itself as Nigeria’s first digital bank.

It is a wholly digital platform that saves the user the stress of going into the banking hall for transactions. It makes all banking services available for the user thus differentiating it from the normal mobile apps being used by most banks in Nigeria. It works on web, IOS and Android devices, and is promoted by WEMA bank.

Alat

One can open an account with them within minutes by uploading a passport photograph, a picture of your finger print, picture of your signature on plain white paper, ID card and a recent utility bill. These documents can be uploaded via an interface on the app. Once your account is approved, an email will be sent to you within minutes. You need to confirm if your details are inputted correctly. Set password and choose security question.

Upon opening your account, it will remain in a restricted mode pending when you provide additional information like valid ID card and a recent utility bill. An Alat team official usually goes out to verify your actual residence, so ensure that you don’t upload a dubious document. As soon as the physical verification is done, your account will move from restricted mode to active. This will also be noticed in the colour change from yellow to green.

Funding of your Alat account is done by direct debit from your Wema bank account or via debit card from any other Nigerian bank. The app is 100% secured and is very popular among students and business men/women in Nigeria.

The menu on alat.ng website is simple and easy to navigate with a beautiful user interface to complement. There are specific services and products on offer via the platform. This includes the ability to order an ATM card, which will be personally delivered to you. You activate the ATM card on the app and start using instantly. One good feature we observed while checking the app was that one is automatically logged out if inactive for few minutes. The most amazing feature on the app remains the Goal feature, which allows the user to plan towards achieving certain goals via the app. Once activated, automatic savings will be initiated either on a daily, weekly or monthly term depending on the option you select.

Complaints

The app doesn’t come without its fair share of complaints. Users complained about the difficulty in creating a new account. Others complained about experiencing crashes while trying to upload utility bills. A few users shared the frustrating experience of having difficulty in upgrading to normal accounts. Some who changed their phones and installed the app afresh also discovered that they couldn’t login again. There was also the daunting experience of Alat officials not coming to do physical verification even for months after upload of documents.


ChatPay

This is more of a social media savvy fintech application which enables users to carry out banking transactions from selected social media platforms like Twitter, Telegram, Messenger, Wechat and Skype. It is promoted by Sterling bank, one of Nigeria’s commercial banks with innovative products and services. With an enviable download stat of 10,000 on Google Play store, the app is quite popular and useful.

Chatpay website home page

It performs functions which are common with banks’ mobile apps like funds transfers, bill payments, account mini statement provision, ATM locator, and purchase of airtime. You must have an active mobile number to start the process of registration on the platform. Secondly, you have to select the social media you wish to use and search for the social media icon on ChatPay and follow.

You then select and open a new direct message window with ChatPay and type the keyword “CHATPAY” then send. A reply highlighting the products and services they render will be sent to you. Just select your preference and you are good to go.

Complaints

There was the serious complaint of funds getting stuck in transit during transfer. Unfortunately, all efforts to get refunds proved impossible. Some users also complained of non-responsive icons for adding card details on the app. A particular user complained about how he transferred N10, 000 and N30, 000 was debited from his account. Efforts to get refunds were impossible after calling and sending several mails. Payment for DSTV subscription was made by a user and his account was debited, but the transaction was not successful.  Delay in delivering OTP was also a major complaint among users.


KongaPay

This is one of the oldest and safest fintech companies in Nigeria with a secured payment platform that has seen its popularity soar over the years. It is useful for payment of goods and services online. The good thing about KongaPay is that it can be used for shopping both locally and internationally and it’s affiliated with major banks in Nigeria.

Mode of payment is via Master card, Verve Card and Visa Card. It links up with your debit cards for seamless transfers and payments. The platform doesn’t require tokens for fund transfers; you simply make transfers via your mobile phone only. BVN details are however required to maintain integrity of transactions between parties on the platform.

Kongapay website front page

As a seller on KongaPay, you can receive money through your mobile number without even owning a bank account. The site’s https feature which is synonymous with top sites helps it to be secured against fraud and hackers.

With an impressive number of 10,000 downloads and features that include zero charges on all transactions, the app is a real contender for fintech best app of the year. There is the added advantage of getting a refund via KongaPay if your order doesn’t exactly meet your expectation.

You also get a 5% discount on every airtime purchase, DStv and Gotv subscription payments are available on the app. The app is based on 3 cardinal philosophies – comfort, simplicity and security. There is no need for users to get bothered about how to fund their wallets as the app is affiliated to all major banks in the country.

Complaints

Some users complained about the customer care number not being functional. A particular customer complained about how his fund was withheld and the system kept responding “insufficient funds”. It is also not possible to purchase goods worth over N10, 000 on Konga using the app. Recent upgrade of the app resulted in frequent crashing and unnecessary debiting of accounts even when products and services paid for were not implemented.


M-NAIRA

This app is an amazing platform that provides funds transfer services to clients and links with all Nigerian bank accounts, mobile wallets and other receiving payment providers for instantaneous remittance services. Funds transfer on the app is seamless and also in real time either through debit or credit card to any Nigerian bank or mobile wallet. It is useful for receiving money from friends and family members abroad at very low costs. The beauty of the app is that you can track your transfers on the go.

One can also buy airtime, pay bills, pay for internet and cable TV subscriptions with ease. There are minimum and maximum amounts that can be paid via the app. The minimum amount is N100, while the maximum amount is defined by the platform. Charges on transfer are defined by your bank. Transfers from any country to any Nigerian bank via the app usually take about 30 seconds. The app developers claim that the app is the fastest secure way to send money home directly to any bank account in Nigeria.

M-Naira website front page

When we checked the site, we observed that it had its own exchange rate configured within the system. What it means is that the exchange rate is bound to fluctuate depending on the dollar exchange. For example as at when WE checked the exchange rate on January 17, 2018, 10USD=1992NGN at the rate of 1USD to 355NGN.

The app is connected to all mobile money providers and all types of billers nationwide. As per security, the platform implements additional security for your payment through the usage of safe tokens.

After registering your email address, a message with an activation code will be sent to you. Enter the activation code correctly on the website to secure your account. Registration on the website is free. All you need to do is visit www.mnaira.co and enter required personal details.

Complaint

WE observed that it could take a while for the site to load. Also interesting to note that they do not have a functional website.


Conclusion

Apparently, fintech startups are on the way to doing great things in Nigeria. Their apps are useful tools which financial transactions in this age a bit easier; though, they still have a long way to go as seen in the complaints shared.

Article was written by Chacha Wabara with help from Anna Urieto, Chris Pemu, Mudeerat Olawunmi and Ugo Obi-chukwu.

Nairametrics Research team tracks, collates, maintains and manages a rich database of macro-economic and micro-economic data from Nigeria and Africa. Our analysts share some of the data collated on Nairametrics, using formats such as docs, tables and charts etc. The team also publishes research based analysis as articles on a regular basis.

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 11th of August 2020, 423 new confirmed cases and 6 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increase as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 47,290 confirmed cases.

On the 11th of August 2020, 423 new confirmed cases and 6 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,355 samples across the country.

To date, 47,290 cases have been confirmed, 33,609 cases have been discharged and 956 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 319,851 tests have been carried out as of August 11th, 2020 compared to 317,496 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 11th August 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 47,290
  • Total Number Discharged – 33,609
  • Total Deaths – 956
  • Total Tests Carried out – 319,851

According to the NCDC, the 423 new cases were reported from 22 states- Lagos (117), FCT (40), Ondo (35), Rivers (28), Osun (24), Benue (21), Abia (19), Ogun (19), Ebonyi (18), Delta (17), Kwara (17), Kaduna (15), Anambra (14), Ekiti (11), Kano (9), Imo (6), Gombe (4), Oyo (3), Taraba (3), Bauchi (1), Edo (1) and Nasarawa (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 16,074, followed by Abuja (4,525), Oyo (2,890), Edo (2,399), Rivers (1,972), Kano (1,643), Kaduna (1,628), Delta (1,613), Plateau (1,584), Ogun (1,497), Ondo (1,324), Enugu (914), Ebonyi (888), Kwara (882), Katsina (746), Borno (690), Abia (663), Osun (652), Gombe (635),  and Bauchi (578).

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Imo State has recorded 485 cases, Benue (430), Nasarawa (371), Bayelsa (346),  Jigawa (322), Akwa Ibom (235), Niger (226), Ekiti (193), Adamawa (185), Anambra (156), Sokoto (154),  Kebbi (90), Taraba (78),  Zamfara (77), Cross River (73), Yobe (67), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

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. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

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READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

DateConfirmed caseNew casesTotal deathsNew deathsTotal recoveryActive casesCritical cases
August 11, 202047290423956633609127257
August 10, 202046867290950533346125717
August 9, 202046577437945333186124467
August 8, 202046140453942633044121547
August 7, 202045687443936632637121147
August 6, 202045244354930332430118847
August 5, 2020448904579271732165117987
August 4, 2020444333049101431851116727
August 3, 202044129288896820663225707
August 2, 202043841304888520308226457
August 1, 202043537386883420287225677
July 31, 202043151462879119565227077
July 30, 202042689481878519270225417
July 29, 202042208404873519004223317
July 28, 202041804624868818764221727
July 27, 202041180648860218203221177
July 26, 202040532555858217374223007
July 25, 2020399774388561116948221737
July 24, 2020395395918451216559221357
July 23, 2020389486048332016061220547
July 22, 202038344543813815815217167
July 21, 202037801576805415677213197
July 20, 2020372255628011215333210917
July 19, 2020366635567891115105207697
July 18, 202036107653778614938203917
July 17, 202035454600772314633200497
July 16, 202034854595769914292197937
July 15, 202034259643760613999195007
July 14, 2020336164637541013792190707
July 13, 202033153595744413671187387
July 12, 2020325585717401613447183717
July 11, 2020319876647241513103181607
July 10, 2020313235757092012795178197
July 9, 202030748499689512546175137
July 8, 2020302494606841512373171927
July 7, 2020297895036691512108170127
July 6, 202029286575654911828168047
July 5, 2020287115446451111665164017
July 4, 202028167603634611462160717
July 3, 2020275644546281211069158677
July 2, 2020271106266161310801156937
July 1, 2020264847906031310152157297
June 30, 202025694561590179746153587
June 29, 20202513356657389402151587
June 28, 20202486749056579007149957
June 27, 20202407777955848625148947
June 26, 20202329868455458253144917
June 25, 20202261459454977822142437
June 24, 20202202064954297613138657
June 23, 20202137145253387338135007
June 22, 20202091967552577109132857
June 21, 202020242436518126879128477
June 20, 202019808661506196718125847
June 19, 202019147667487126581120797
June 18, 20201848074547566307116987
June 17, 202017735587469145967112997
June 16, 202017148490455315623110707
June 15, 20201665857342445349108857
June 14, 202016085403420135220104457
June 13, 20201568250140785101101747
June 12, 20201518162739912489198917
June 11, 2020145546813875449496737
June 10, 20201387340938217435191407
June 9, 2020134646633654420688937
June 8, 2020128013153617404084007
June 7, 20201248626035412395981737
June 6, 2020122333893429382680657
June 5, 20201184432833310369678157
June 4, 2020115163503238353576467
June 3, 2020111663483151332975227
June 2, 20201081924131415323972667
June 1, 20201057841629912312271579
May 31, 20201016230728714300768687
May 30, 2020985555327312285667267
May 29, 202093023872612269763447
May 28, 202089151822595259260647
May 27, 202087333892545250159787
May 26, 2020834427624916238557107
May 25, 202080682292337231155247
May 24, 202078393132265226353607
May 23, 202075262652210217451317
May 22, 2020726124522110200750337
May 21, 2020701633921111190748987
May 20, 202066772842008184046377
May 19, 202064012261921173444757
May 18, 202061752161919164443407
May 17, 202059593881826159441837
May 16, 202056211761765147239737
May 15, 202054452881713132039544
May 14, 202051621931683118038154
May 13, 202049711841646107037374
May 12, 20204787146158695936704
May 11, 202046412421521090235894
May 10, 202043992481421777834794
May 9, 202041512391271174532784
May 8, 202039123861181067931154
May 7, 20203526381108460128184
May 6, 20203145195104553425071
May 5, 2020295014899548123704
May 4, 2020280224594641722912
May 3, 2020255817088240020702
May 2, 20202388220861735119522
May 1, 20202170238691035117512
April 30, 2020193220459731715562
April 29, 2020172819652730713692
April 28, 2020153219545425512322
April 27, 20201337644102559942
April 26, 20201273914152399942
April 25, 20201182873632229252
April 24, 202010951143312088552
April 23, 20209811083231977532
April 22, 2020873912931976482
April 21, 20207821172631975602
April 20, 2020665382311884662
April 19, 2020627862221704362
April 18, 2020541482021663562
April 17, 2020493511841593172
April 16, 2020442351311522772
April 15, 2020407341211282672
April 14, 202037330111992632
April 13, 202034320100912422
April 12, 20203235100852282
April 11, 202031813103702382
April 10, 20203051770582402
April 9, 20202881471512302
April 8, 20202742260442262
April 7, 20202541661442042
April 6, 2020238650351982
April 5, 20202321851331942
April 4, 2020214540251850
April 3, 20202092542251800
April 2, 20201841020201620
April 1, 2020174352091630
March 31, 202013982091280
March 30, 2020131202181210
March 29, 2020111221031070
March 28, 20208919103850
March 27, 2020705103660
March 26, 20206514102620
March 25, 2020517102480
March 24, 2020444102410
March 23, 20204010112370
March 22, 2020308002280
March 21, 20202210001210
March 20, 2020124001110
March 19, 20208000170
March 18, 20208500170
March 17, 20203100030
March 16, 20202000020
March 15, 20202000020
March 14, 20202000020
March 13, 20202000020
March 12, 20202000020
March 11, 20202000020
March 10, 20202000020
March 9, 20202100020
March 8, 20201000010
March 7, 20201000010
March 6, 20201000010
March 5, 20201000010
March 4, 20201000010
March 3, 20201000010
March 2, 20201000010
March 1, 20201000010
February 29, 20201000010
February 28, 20201100010

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Business

BEWARE: Harmful products are on your local store shelves!

Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming a product.

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Time was when the seal on a product bearing a NAFDAC registration number was considered the ultimate seal of authentication. Nowadays, not only are substandard and adulterated products dragging the market share with genuine products, some of them now falsify the NAFDAC seal of approval – registration number.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently advised consumers to beware of some products with fake registration numbers being sold in stores and outlets. The agency advised Nigerians to always examine a product thoroughly (particularly food, drugs, medical devices, or packaged water) before purchasing. Consumers are to look out for the manufacture and expiry date before consuming.

READ MORE: Unilever could be living out its lifecycle to a rebound

The agency’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr Jimoh Abubakar, while speaking during a recent interview said: “examine the content of the product, the seal of authority or the approved registration number from NAFDAC which is sacrosanct; NAFDAC registration number is not just a number, it is not plate number of a vehicle.

“The number is a rigorous scientific elaboration of a product through our laboratory analysis and through certain compendium references, and after all these by NAFDAC, a product will then be certified for safety, efficacy and wholesomeness”.

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In summary, the registration number from NAFDAC is a confirmation to consumers that the product (content and processes) has been examined and is now certified fit for human consumption. The certification process ensures first that good manufacturing practice has been followed, in the right location and environment, and with the right contents, before the product can be labelled.

READ ALSO: IPMAN orders fuel marketers to sell fuel at old rate until new directive from PPPRA

A recent experience

I purchased a multi-vitamin from an online store recently, and the product was delivered four days later. I was about to break the seal and consume when I noticed there was a slight difference in the name.

I  examined the packet closely and discovered that even though the product had been packaged in exactly the same orange-coloured package, the name was different and the details showed that it was manufactured somewhere in Lagos state (the expected product was supposed to be manufactured in the USA).

I wanted to return it outright but then I convinced myself on the need to patronise locally made brands as well if it could give me the same results. I typed the registration number into the NAFDAC verify page and this was the result; “Warning! This product is fake. – report product”.

READ ALSO: Sniper makers should be worried about NAFDAC’s “ban” on the product 

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The scourge of fake registration numbers

In as much as registration numbers are a key differentiator between approved and uncertified products, NAFDAC has admitted that there are fake registration numbers out in the market.

According to Abubakar, the agency is also on the lookout for perpetrators of this deceptive act, even as consumers have been urged to take an extra step in examining a product before consuming it.

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He added that technology had made most things easier now and urged Nigerians to visit NAFDAC’s website to get more information about products.

He noted that some products are listed on the website, especially sachet water, as the agency’s staff strength is not enough to be everywhere or to police the country’s population.

“Public awareness and information are very cardinal for people to help themselves; NAFDAC leverages so much on public sensitisation. So, people must help themselves on the consumption of these products,” he said.

READ ALSO: What You Need To Know About Value Added Tax (VAT) In Nigeria

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Harmful products alert!

Sometime in July, the agency sent out a public alert notifying consumers that the “Pure Tassie Organic Apple and Blackcurrant Juice originating from Australia” had been examined and considered unsafe for consumption, due to unacceptable level of patulin (a mycotoxin) which had exceeded the maximum limit in fruit juice.

The agency’s verdict had also been confirmed by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, before the alert was sent out.

According to the notice, the level of patulin content in the juice is high enough to “induce liver, spleen and kidney damage”, and also toxic to the human immune system, causing nausea, gastrointestinal disturbance and vomiting.

In the alert, NAFDAC implored importers, distributors, retailers and consumers to immediately stop the importation, distribution, sale and consumption of the affected fruit juice, urging them to turn in all current stock of the product to the NAFDAC office, although no mention is made as to compensations for their losses.

A month before this, there was a similar alert from the agency about three cosmetic products namely “Sifu Kunyit Day Cream, Sifu Kunyit Night Cream and JJ Skincare Glowhite Night Cream”.

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The products were confirmed by the agency to contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, betamethasone valerate and mercury, all of which are targeted at lightening the skin and changing the pigmentation.

Given the quantity used in these products, NAFDAC confirmed that they can cause damage to the kidney, get absorbed into the blood circulatory system and increase the risk of skin cancer along with other ailments.

Apart from harm caused to the user of products containing mercury, NAFDAC confirmed that mercury can disrupt the brain development of unborn children when consumed by nursing mothers, and also inhibit brain development of young children.

This time around, the products originated from Malaysia and had been imported into Nigeria. Deducing from the notice, one can see that the product had already been banned by the Malaysian Ministry of Health before ever it was imported to Nigeria.

In April, it was a World Health Organisation (WHO) alert on falsified Chloroquine products in circulation in Africa, all originating from three African Countries are Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger.

Why would people buy banned products?

A trader who spoke to Nairametrics confirmed that it is possible for such products to still be imported despite being banned. Tolani, who manages a warehouse where she sells consumables (snacks and drinks ) in wholesale quantities affirmed that when supplies are being made, the suppliers sometimes introduce new products at ridiculously lower prices.

“Some of these brand names that we know are very expensive and their price continues to increase without regulation. So, sometimes when we make to buy new stocks, the supplier can show us a new and similar product that is even less than half the price of the popular brands we know, so we buy them as well.

“They are all imported products, and people like to try out foreign products so we know for sure that they will buy it from us,” she explained.

She added that there was no way to confirm at such times whether or not the product was original, imitated, safe or harmful since the traders are no experts.

“They are foreign products, and I believe that if they passed through customs officers and entered the market, then they should have been checked there” she added for emphasis.

Any synergy between NCS and NAFDAC

Consuming harmful products is bad enough, but exchanging hard-earned money for things that could be detrimental to one’s health is even worse.

NAFDAC already has to combat imitated or harmful drugs produced locally. Doing same for imported products means they have even more on their plate to deal with. The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is responsible for manning the borders of the country and monitoring what goes in or out, and if unsafe products still find their way into the country, it means that there are gaps that need to be sealed.

Tweets on the NCS twitter handle shows that much of the organisation’s activities have been centred around the impounding of smuggled bags of rice, kegs of vegetable oil, cartons of spaghetti/macaroni, bags of foreign sugar, cartons of soap, bales of textile materials, parcels of India hemp, NPK fertilisers and vehicles among others.

There is a striking absence of activities around the importation of fake or harmful drugs or other consumables, and all the focus has been on the more lucrative items contained in the import prohibition list such as frozen or live poultry, refined vegetable oils, cocoa butter, bagged cement, etc.

Even though pharmaceutical and consumable items make up 5 out of the 25 item list, it would appear that the list has not been updated recently in line with the recent public alerts from NAFDAC.

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Clearly, consumers will have to take precautions themselves as NAFDAC has advised because the agencies appear to be overwhelmed with the amount of criminal work going on in the space. Thankfully, some products now include a sealed number on the packet which the consumer is meant to text to the unique code and confirm the authenticity. Unfortunately, consumers are often in a hurry and not many are patient enough to wait for the confirmation message.

From creams to drinks, foods, drugs and other things that are used in or on the body, an extra minute for verification might just be the deciding factor at the end of the day.

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Dangote Cement: “Our Pan African operations is performing well”

Dangote Cement also explains that the recent devaluation by the government has not had a negative effect on its finances

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Dangote Cement Plc. appoints Ms. Berlina Moroole as non-Executive Director

Dangote Cement has stated that its Pan African operations performed well in the first half of 2020. This was contained in a message sent to Nairametrics after an inquiry related to the performance of its Pan African operations.

The cement behemoth noted that its African operations contributed positively to its Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA). EBITDA for the Pan African operations was N12 billion even though it ended up posting a loss of after-tax of N17 billion.

READ MORE: Dangote pays 90% of net profits as dividend

“In total, Dangote Cement’s Pan-African business is not dragging the Group down. Pan Africa is contributing net positive Earnings before interest, tax depreciation, and amortisation as shown in note 4 to our interim financial statements. As also shown in that same note, Pan Africa is contributing positively to Profit from operating activities. When you go below the operations profit line and consider the funding the Nigerian business records income for the funding it provided to Pan Africa while Pan Africa picks finance costs for the funding it got from Nigeria and this is intergroup and will eliminate on consolidation.”

Devaluation Boost

The company also explains that the recent devaluation by the government has not had a negative effect on its finances especially as most of its dollar loans to its Pan African Businesses was an exchange rate gain to the Nigerian Parent entity. It also indicates that most of its loans are in Naira.

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“The Nigerian business has dollar investments in Pan-Africa. Owing to the naira devaluation in H1:2020, the Nigerian business gained more naira for its dollar investment. As such, there is an FX gain in the Nigerian business and an FX loss in the Pan-Africa business. Furthermore, our finance cost shall not be materially affected by the devaluation as we have limited dollar debt exposure, with only 14% of our debt in dollars.”

READ ALSO: MTN Nigeria revenues rises to over N100 billion monthly in 2020

Impact of COVID-19

Despite the impact of COVID-19, the company also showed strong performance in its Pan African operations. It claims margins remained strong volumes also increased. According to Dangote Cement, there was volume growth in 5 countries where it currently operates with Senegal as one of the best performing.

“Our Pan-Africa operations performed well in the first half of 2020, with an increase in volumes and revenues, despite the impact of COVID-19. We have reduced our cash cost in 6 of our 9 Pan-African operations this year and recorded a record high EBITDA and EBITDA margin of ₦31.5B and 22% respectively. We had strong volume growth in 5 countries, with Ethiopia and Senegal performing particularly well. In fact, the output at our plant in Senegal continues to exceed its rated capacity.

READ MORE: Lafarge Africa is cutting it all out

“We have a vast opportunity to make West and Central Africa cement independent, and this is why we are deploying our ‘export to import’ strategy. Nigeria has an abundance of quality limestone, while much of West Africa is lacking it. As successfully delivered for Nigeria by Dangote Cement leadership, we are aiming at making Ecowas and CEMAC regions clinker and cement independent and eventually next exporters with Nigeria as the main supplier.”

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