The past few weeks have no doubt been challenging for corporate persons and business establishments, as Coronavirus bites harder on a global scale. Many are being forced to engage in work-from-home situations, as business centres and companies have shut their doors to customers in the bid to help authorities curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As at Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Microsoft Teams’ number of daily active users increased to 44 million, compared to the 20 million active users it had in November last year (2019).
Similarly, Slack added 7,000 customers between Sunday, February 1, and March 18, 2020, compared to 5,000 new customers it added in its 2019 Q1.
Company management teams and their employees across the world, are now settling for Microsoft Teams and Slack, as social distancing becomes needful to control the spread of the infectious disease.
In terms of data usage, telecom operators are also making a killing, as people consume more data when working remotely than when working with wifi in the office.
The work-from-home arrangement, which is particularly for employees whose work can be done remotely, has contributed to the stiff competition between Microsoft Teams and Slack. This is as both digital platforms jostle to gain admirable market share while amassing more users from workplaces across all industries.
Coronavirus and remote working
Despite the widely-accepted belief that physical presence in a work station is paramount to the survival of a business, companies and business owners have been left with no choice but to allow their staff members operate remotely.
As businesses are moving their offices online, it may not be erroneous to assert that the work-from-home policy is one of the upshots of COVID-19 on the society at large.
While uncertainty surrounds the lifespan of the disease spread, in Nigeria, for example, some companies that are yet to ask their employees to work remotely, have been called out on social media. One of these companies is the media company, Opera.
A Twitter user, @Zeekahthegreat, on Saturday, March 21, called out Opera Nigeria, accusing the management of the company of failing to allow their staff members operate remotely, in spite of the severity of coronavirus.
Her tweets read partly, “They have over 400 customer care staff including foreign Chinese nationals all choked up together working in a hall all at a time. The FG has placed a ban on large gatherings, so why is the government not looking into companies like this and their work conditions.
“I am concerned especially for my younger sister who works here. My mom suffered to raise 3 kids on her own without help from anyone, she is not about to lose a child. They are not being checked at the entry point every morning, the entire staff share just 5 female restrooms, and 3 for the males.
“I need for us to tag the necessary authorities to have the OPay team let their staff work from home till this whole Coronavirus thing blows away. Money will never be more important than life.”
This social media user’s plight is the case of other Nigerians, who have expressed concerns directly and indirectly, on the need for companies and employers to embark on remote operations. Thus, for companies where remote work is possible, communications, social events, conferences, and meetings, will now be via either Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Telecom providers such as MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile are likely to increase the costs of their data, as many companies and self-employed individuals have proceeded to observe the sit-at-home policy.
It is common knowledge that the internet is basic for this policy to thrive amid the COVID-19 spread, which is gradually crippling the Nigerian economy. Without the internet, workflow is expected to be disruptive, which will pose serious threats to business entities in any given context.
Just like Economics asserts, when demand is high, surge is imminent. This assertion has become imperative for acknowledgement, as data usage among telecommunication consumers keeps increasing.
Meanwhile, telcos under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) had earlier disclosed that they had held meetings with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and the federal and state governments.
The meeting, according to ALTON, was to discuss how best to ensure hitch-free telecoms services for internet users, at least, till the infectious disease spread becomes a thing of the past.
FG to begin online registration, monitoring of petrol stations, depots
The DPR has stated that it will commence the remote monitoring, registration, and accreditation of all petroleum products depots.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has revealed that it plans to automate and begin remote monitoring, registration, and accreditation of petroleum products depots, retail outlets, and the entire downstream oil and gas industry, with the launch of the newly established Downstream Remote Monitoring Systems (DRMS).
While disclosing a statement in Abuja, the Head, Public Affairs of the DPR, Paul Osu, pointed out that the newly established Downstream Remote Monitoring Systems is expected to take off on December 1, 2020, after the launch in Abuja.
According to a report by Vanguard, Osu explained that the DRMS is a web-based solution designed to provide intelligent regulatory and inventory management system for petroleum products supply and distribution from depot to retail outlets and also as a regulatory tool to monitor retail outlets and depot activities.
He said, “Other features of the application include retail outlets accreditation and re-registration, nationwide automated product inventory management, retail outlets coordinate recording for mapping purposes and transactions management and report generation of dealers nationwide.
“The establishment of DRMS is another strategic initiative of DPR to continue to create opportunities and enable business in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.”
It can be recalled that the DPR had a few months ago, launched the National Production Monitoring System (NPMS), another online platform to assist the oil and gas regulator accurately monitor national crude oil production and exports, through the provision of a system for direct and independent acquisition of production data from oil and gas facilities in Nigeria
This is to ensure timely and accurate reporting of production figures and export data. This is also expected to guard against the crude oil theft that is prevalent in Nigeria’s upstream oil sector or reported cases of crude oil that is sold but unaccounted for.
The NPMS is an initiative that is developed as a replacement for the current paper-based report and ensures ready production reporting to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and other agencies.
Era of backlog of unsettled claims is over – NAICOM boss
NAICOM has stated that it will monitor and sanction insurance companies who fail to settle claims as at when due.
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) is out to seriously sanction any insurance companies with huge unsettled claims.
This disclosure was made by the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr. Sunday Thomas, at the on-going 2020 Insurance Directors’ Conference, jointly organized by NAICOM and the College of Insurance & Financial Management (CIFM), held at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos.
Mr. Thomas reiterated the need for the operators, post-pandemic, to appropriately strengthen their human and financial capital for effective participation in big-ticket risks to take advantage of the obvious gains of the domestication policy in the Nigeria Content Development Act 2010.
In his words, Mr. Thomas stated, “More businesses especially in the oil and gas and the Aviation sectors are now being reinsured abroad. Of more concern is the declining participation of life companies in the annuity business, which is the emerging business for our industry.
“These are the areas where the industry can impose itself on the economy through the control of funds for national development. The industry must invest handsomely in technology, one of our key drivers for developing the market.
“The Institutions should be prepared to digitalize their processes, procedures, and systems, in order to make their operations seamless and real-time. The Commission is investing heavily in automating its processes and expects nothing less from the insurance institutions. An industry Information Technology Guideline has been issued for the operators and the Commission requires your support and cooperation for effective compliance.”
Why this matters
Prompt settlement of claims should be a top priority for the insurance operators in achieving an excellent and responsive customer service experience. Settlement of claims has been a serious nightmare for quite a number of customers, resulting to the abysmally low insurance culture in Nigeria.
Customers are more likely to patronize the insurance companies that are prompt in claims settlement and by extension improve the industry penetration in the market.
Total credit to the economy rose to N19.54trillion – CBN Governor
The CBN revealed during the MPC meeting that the total credit to the economy rose to N19.54tn as of the end of November 13.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed during the Monetary Policy Committee meeting that the total credit to the economy rose to N19.54tn as of the end of November 13.
According to him, the aggregate domestic credit grew by 7.6% in October 2020 compared with 7.35% Month-on-Month in September.
In his words, “Total gross credit by the banking industry stood at N19.54tn as at 13th November 2020 compared with N19.33tn at end-August 2020, an increase of N290.13bn. When compared with N15.56tn at the commencement of the LDR policy in May 2019, total gross credit increased by N3.97tn.”
According to Emefiele, the composition of the loans are N738bn to Manufacturing, General commerce N874bn, Agric and forestry N301bn, Construction N291bn, ICT (N231bn), etc.
In the month of October 2020, he stated that 86.23% of the total loans granted to over one million customers by banks were at interest rates considerably below 20% per annum.
The MPC was quite optimistic and favorably disposed about the future impact of the disbursements from agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme of the sum of N92.90bn to 24,702 beneficiaries; Anchor Borrowers Program – N164.91bn disbursed to 954,279 beneficiaries; and COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility to household and SMEs, with the sum of N149.21bn to 316,869 beneficiaries.