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.
How to register for FG’s N75 billion MSME survival funds
FG released guidelines to access the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund.
The Federal Government (FG) has released the guidelines to access the N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Support Initiatives, which took effect from September 21, 2020.
The scheme, which is the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan includes the N60 billion MSMEs Survival Fund and the N15 billion Guaranteed Offtake Schemes.
This disclosure was made in an official statement by the Federal Government through a series of tweet posts on its official Twitter handle.
The statement from FG read, “As the portal for the registration of prospective beneficiaries of Survival Fund opens, interested Nigerians in the Payroll Support Scheme are to note that the site will be open from 10 pm Monday, September 21, 2020.”
The statement says that the registration for the payroll support will start with the educational institutions at 10 pm Monday, September 21, 2020, and will be followed by businesses in the hospitality industry by 12am Friday, September 25, 2020.
The portal will also open for other categories of small businesses from 12am, Monday, September 28, 2020. It should be noted that the scheduling of the registration for prospective beneficiaries is to ensure that the process is seamless and hitch-free. The registration of every sector is to continue until Thursday, October 15, 2020.
To register for this initiative, the Federal Government has also provided a portal for entry. Potential beneficiaries are advised to log on to https://survivalfund.ng to complete their registration.
As part of the registration process, the beneficiaries are expected to provide personal registration details, activate their account, register their organization after they have successfully activated their account.
Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Number, Bank Verification Number (BVN), SMEDAN Number, a Tax ID (optional) and the organization’s bank account details will be needed.
Completing the Payroll Support Registration, beneficiaries’ first name, last name, email, mobile number and Password will be required. Also, their Date of Birth, residential address and residential Local Government Area will also be provided.
These 2 MSMEs initiatives namely MSMEs Survival Fund with payroll support track and the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme were introduced by the FG as part of the efforts to support businesses overcome challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MSMEs Survival Fund scheme is a conditional grant to support vulnerable micro and small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in the MSMEs sector. The scheme is expected to save at least 1.3 million jobs across the country and specifically impact on over 35,000 individuals per state.
The scheme will be implemented over an initial period of 3 months and is targeted at employees of MSMEs and self-employed individuals with 45% for female business participation and 5% for special needs participation
The Guaranteed Off Take Stimulus Scheme is expected to perfect and sustain the income of vulnerable micro and small enterprises from the economic disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic through the implementation of various initiatives aimed at boosting the production capacities of small businesses as well as the provision of grants.
The duration is also for an initial period of 3 months and is targeted at micro and small businesses registered in Nigeria.
Registration for #PayrollSupport will start with educational institutions at 10pm on Monday Sept 21, 2020, and will be followed by businesses in the hospitality industry on Friday September 25 beginning from 12am.
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) September 21, 2020
Tony Elumelu named in “Time 100” list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World 2020
The UBA and Transcorp Plc Chair is one of three Nigerians on the list, alongside Tomi Adeyemi and Tunji Funsho.
TIME has named Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognises the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. Mr Elumelu, who is one of only four Africans on the 2020 list, is recognised for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.
Tony Elumelu is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family-owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy and healthcare. He is the Chairman of top pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and is the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking licence in the United States. The bank provides corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally. Elumelu also chairs Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp, whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.
Mr Elumelu is the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries. Since inception, the Foundation has funded just under 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100m commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. Self-funded, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the UNDP, the ICRC and leading European development agencies.
Heirs Holdings, which serves as a corporate role model for African businesses, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation will both celebrate 10 years of impact in November. Their mission continues to be inspired by Mr Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.
The full list of the 2020 TIME100 and tributes appear on time.com/time100.
Rack Centre to create West Africa’s largest data centre in $100m expansion
Rack Centre’s expansion programme will increase capacity to a total net lettable white space of 6000 square metres.
Leading carrier neutral data centre operator in West Africa, Rack Centre, has announced an expansion programme that will increase capacity to a total net lettable white space of 6000 square metres, which will pave way for 13MW of IT power capacity in its Lagos campus.
This was disclosed in a press release by the company, which was seen by Nairametrics.
The expansion is expected to bring carrier neutral scale to West Africa, and this is in response to increasing demand for data centre space from cloud uptake, telecommunication investment and outsourcing of IT facilities by enterprises in the region.
The funding for this expansion will come from a $250m pan-African data centre platform, established by Actis and Convergence Partners, a leading ICT infrastructure investor in Africa.
In addition to the expansion in Rack Centre, the platform is also actively developing additional buy and build opportunities across Africa, to establish a network of carrier neutral data centres aimed at catering to carrier, cloud and hyperscale customers.
Back story: It is noteworthy that on March 2020, in a bid to pave way for the expansion programme, Actis, a London private equity firm, announced an investment in Rack Centre, taking a controlling stake in the business alongside Jagal.
Why this matters
Nigeria is a key entry point for global telecommunications, content, and cloud players seeking access to the region. Despite the potentials of the country; with 138 million internet subscribers, more than any country in Africa or Europe, and the largest population and GDP in Africa, a lack of cost-effective, energy-efficient IT infrastructure, has been a constraint to doing business in the region.
However, in a bid to create unrestricted connectivity between customers, telecommunication carriers, and internet exchange points within its data centres in the region, as a unique scale carrier neutral player, Rack Centre brings global best practice to Nigeria, as the first carrier neutral data centre in the region, to achieve Uptime Institute Tier III Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF).
The global leaders that the platform has engaged include:
- Tim Parsonson, Co-founder, Teraco Data Environments – the largest carrier neutral operator in Africa, who joins the Board as Chairperson on the board.
- Frank Hassett, a veteran of the global data centre industry and previous Vice President of Infrastructure, at Equinix, brings over 1300MW of build and operate experience, to assist with hyperscale expansion.
While speaking on the expansion of capacity, Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Convergence Partners, said; “Africa is at the start of a critical time in its development, as the 4th industrial revolution offers the chance to leapfrog many of Africa’s challenges, and harness the immense potential of its people. Convergence Partners is delighted to partner with Actis in accelerating the growth of high quality data centre infrastructure, an indispensable part of the foundation of this revolution in the region.”
Dr Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director of Rack Centre, emphasized that the group is proud of the quality and scale bar which they have set in the region.
“We are proud of the quality and scale bar we have set in the region and are scaling to be the de-facto digital data hub for West Africa
“Mass adoption of digital working models and content distribution is driving growing investment in the region and Rack Centre offers a world class location to house these IT and telecoms facilities,” Coker said.
Supporting this ambition, engineering consultancy Arup, have been appointed for the project. The leadership status of Arup is uncontested, having designed over 2,000MW of IT capacity for industry-leading tech giants, and co-location providers across the globe.