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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.  

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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’shousehold. 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.  

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“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.  

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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. 

Technology Ceremonies 

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.  

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“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.  

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AderonkeAdebamibola, 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.

READ MORE: Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi tests positive for COVID-19

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.  

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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. 

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Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via [email protected]

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Business Half Hour

BHH Podcast: What 2020 holds for SMEs (2) – Ugodre

Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.

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BHH, Podcast, WAVE, entrepreneurs, business, Nigerian, concept, business, ethics, Goal, Setting, Actualization, Greymate Care, Chika Madubuko,, business ethics Femi Adeyemo, BHH Podcast, Fundall, Swift Medispark, Ugo Nwokoro, technology in healthcare, EazyHire, Data Science, Yvonne Alozie, Gitgirl, Verifi, CAMA and taxes for SMEs, Tayo Lekan-Agbaje, Dclutterng, Business half hour, BHH Podcast, Oluyomi Ojo, Taiwo Obasan, Nigerian shoes business

Business Half Hour (BHH) is a weekly podcast targeted at Startups and Entrepreneurs, who are redefining the Nigerian business scene through innovation.

In this episode of #BHH, Ugodre gave an insight into how business climate would be for SMEs and an overall outlook on the global and national economy. Enjoy!

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Business News

Ikeja Electric, GRA Ikeja residents sign contract to deliver 20 hours daily power supply 

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Ikeja Electric (IE) announced it has signed a Power Purchase Agreement with residents of Ikeja GRA to deliver “up to 24 hours of supply daily”. The company tweeted this on Friday revealing that it is in line with the company’s Bilateral Power Agreement.

However, the company representatives explain that it is a minimum of 20 hours of power supply for residents of the association. Ikeja GRA includes streets like Oduduwa, Isaac John, Joel Ogunaike, Fani Kayode, etc.

In its previous Power Purchase deal with Magodo Residents, it stated that “with the agreement, IE will provide the residents with electricity supply beyond the existing standards, with guaranteed performance levels. In addition, there will also be access to dedicated Customer Care and Technical teams for prompt resolution of queries and/or technical issues within the estate.” 

Also, the Chief Operating Officer, IE, Mrs. Folake Soetan expressed confidence in the success of the trend-setting agreement, which she noted was in line with the Federal Government’s willing seller, willing buyer policy. 

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What this means: The Power Purchase Agreement suggests residents of the Ikeja GRA will enjoy a steady power supply when compared to non-residents. However, they will have to pay tariffs much higher than is provided for in MYTO. Residents in Magodo who currently enjoy a similar arrangement informed Nairametrics that they pay higher tariffs but have enjoyed regular power supply and often go days without a power cut. 

They also explain that even when the power cuts they get messages from Ikeja Electric explaining why the power was cut and indicating when it will return. We understand Ikeja Electric still relies on the grid to deliver this power as such power cuts will still be expected in the transmission and distribution end.

Backstory: In August, Ikeja Electric announced it signed a similar power purchase agreement with residents of Magodo, providing them a power supply of up to 20 hours daily. Residents of Magodo, have enjoyed steady power since then and are thought to be paying about N47 per kilowatt-hour of power compared to the MYTO tariff which is N23.10 for residential customers.

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Sources with knowledge of the transaction indicate Ikeja Electric is likely to extend this arrangement to other estates within Lagos, in a move that disrupts the power sector dynamics. Residents in the Eko Franchise area seeking regular power supply have also demanded a similar deal and are ready to pay for a tariff that is higher than the MYTO approved tariff for general customers.

It is however not clear if the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC has approved this arrangement.

 

 

 

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Blurb

Evolution of Nigerian banks in 59-years 

Did you know that the first indigenous bank in Nigeria, Industrial and Commercial Bank only survived for fifteen months?

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Q1 2020, Disrupting Nigerian banks, Evolution of Nigerian banks in 59-years , GTB, UBA, Zenith, Access Banks’ salary advance loans, Can a company operate without a website in 2019? , Banks refund N3.09 billion to customers over claims on excess charges, fraud, others  , Bank CEOs applaud NCC’s decision to suspend USSD charges, GTBank, Zenith, Access, FBN, 10 others spend over N8 billion on CSR, Banking: Evolving trends in the bankers’ market, GTBank, Access, FBNH, Standard Chartered wrestle over women entrepreneurs , GTBank, Access Bank, Zenith, FBN, 16 others disburse CBN’s N610.4 billion to farmers , Credit to government declines, as Credit to private sector hits N25.8 trillion, Banking sector NPLs down, loans up, Non-Performing Loans in Agriculture, construction, others rose to N143.76 billion, Asset seizure: Banks begins recovery of N6.125 trillion borrowed to the oil sector, Customer Experience: GTB, FCMB, Citibank, others emerge best banks in 2019, Nigeria’s top 5 banks spent more than N40 billion on adverts in 2019, Nigerian banks face risky future over low oil prices, coronavirus, Testing the financial strength of Nigerian banks

Did you know that the first indigenous bank in Nigeria, Industrial and Commercial Bank only survived for fifteen months before it went into liquidation? ICB was established in 1929, at a period when financial inclusion wasn’t extended to Nigerians and Nigerian business owners lacked equal access to credit as the colonial rulers.

But thanks to mismanagement, accounting incompetence, and embezzlement, ICB went into liquidation one year and four months after it began operation. Its exit from the financial market at the time opened the door for another Nigerian-owned bank in 1931, Mercantile Bank.

Mercantile Bank replaced ICB, serving as an offshoot of the latter, as most of its directors were reportedly from ICB. And just like ICB, Mercantile Bank went into liquidation, though voluntarily. However, it lasted for six years with branches in Lagos and Aba.

Prior to Industrial Commercial Bank

Before ICB, the Nigerian banking industry was saturated with foreign-owned lenders. It was the period of colonial rule, pre-independence.

The first bank that was set up in Nigeria was the African Banking Corporation, which later handed its operations in Lagos to British Bank of West Africa (now known as First Bank of Nigeria). All these happened within two years1892 to 1894. The purpose of the bank was to achieve the financial aims of the colonial government at the time.

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Asides the aforementioned colonial banks, the colonial era also ushered in the likes of Barclays Bank (Union Bank) which was formed by Anglo-Egyptian Bank and National Bank of South Africa in 1925, and British and French Bank for Commerce and Industry (United Bank for Africa) in 1949.

[READ MORE: Central Banks move to aggregate investments in green bonds]

Demand for Nigerian-owned banks

The colonial banks, as stated earlier, were established to meet the financial objectives of the colonial government objectives with adverse effects on Nigerians and indigenous businesses.

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Nigerian business owners were restricted from obtaining credit facilities, as access was limited to foreigners only. This financial exclusion fuelled the need for a Nigerian bank that catered to the financial needs of Nigerians. So, despite ICB not surviving beyond fifteen months, the drive to establish a financial institution with Nigerians as its business focus continued. Within three years, two banks were established again, Nigerian Farmers and Commercial Bank in 1947 and the Nnamdi Azikwe-owned African Continental Bank.

The quick succession of these indigenous banks raised concerns, resulting in the creation of the G.D. Paton commission to research on the banking business in Nigeria. This led to the establishment of the Banking Ordinance Act in 1952 which required that all prospective lenders must obtain licenses before establishment.

The Banking Ordinance Act began the era of regulation in the Nigerian Banking Industry. It was this step that also led to the establishment of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 1959, one year before Nigeria’s independence.

Influx of indigenous banks

Rather than limit the number of banks that entered the Nigerian banking industry, the regulated period ushered in more banks than the pre-regulated era.

Numerous banks sprouted after the Independence. The banking sector proved that the excess of something isn’t always progressive and too many competitors can drag the growth of the market.

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A saturated banking industry became unbearable as the number of merchant bank branches significantly grew from 26 in 1985 to 144 in 1994, while commercial bank branches increased from 1,297 to 2,541 during the same period.

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This led to financial distress among the Nigerian banks between 1992 and 1994, as the hundreds and thousands of lenders had only a handful of customers to serve. Besides the market size problem, the banking industry was also struggling with mismanagement.

According to Hyattractions, the following contributed to the bank distress:

  • Many banks created risk assets at incredibly low interest rates with or without collateral or adequate cover.
  • Some banks generated liabilities (deposits) at incredibly high interest rates.
  • Insider abuse manifested in several dimensions (granting of credit to dummy individuals and organisations, high rate of loan repayment default, especially by government parastatals.
  • Managerial incompetence, unbridled rate of bank fraud and forgeries, coupled with the general economic down-turn and adverse macro-economic conditions.
  • Inadequate regulatory and supervisory capacity, all of which led to the distress of many banks during this period.

Banking Reform to the rescue

To prevent the collapse of the Nigerian banking industry and position the banking sector to be competitive globally, the CBN under the leadership of then CBN Governor, Charles Soludo, introduced a reform exercise.

The reform was carried out in 2004 with a one-year deadline. The reform exercise basically sieved the dying banks from the functional ones. It also enabled the banks to shelve their competition to consolidate, in order to meet the stringent requirements of the CBN.

[READ ALSO: Non-Performing loans hit 4-year low as Banks recover N496 billion]

Below were the thirteen requirements of the CBN to banks willing to remain operational after the 2004 reform exercise:

  • Increase in the minimum paid-up capital of banks (unimpaired by loan losses) from #2 billion to #25 billion with a full compliance deadline of 31st December, 2005;
  • Phased withdrawal of public sector funds from banks, starting in July 2004;
  • Consolidation of banking institutions through mergers and acquisition;
  • Adoption of a risk-focus and rule-based regulatory framework;
  • Adoption of zero-tolerance for non-compliance, especially in the area of data/information rendition and reporting;
  • Automating the process for the rendition of returns by banks and other financial institutions through the enhanced electronic Financial Analysis and Surveillance System (e-FASS);
  • Establishment of a hotline, confidential internet address (Governorcenbank.org) for all those wishing to share any confidential information with the Governor of Central Bank on the operations of banks or the financial system;
  • Strict enforcement on the contingency planning framework for systemic bank distress;
  • Establishment of Assets Management Company as an important element of distress resolution;
  • Promotion of the enforcement of dormant laws, especially those relating to the issuance of dud cheques and the laws relating to the vicarious liability of the Boards of Directors of banks in cases of bank failure;
  • Revision and updating of relevant laws, and drafting of new ones relating to effective operations of the banking system;
  • Closer collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) in the establishment of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the enforcement of the anti-money laundering and other economic crime measures;
  • Rehabilitation and effective management of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC) PLC, to meet the security printing needs of Nigeria, including the banking system which constitutes over 90 percent of the NSPMC’s business (Ofanson, Aigbokhaevbolo and Enabulu 2010, Akpan in Mbat 2011, Abdullahi 2007, and Ebong 2006).

What 2004 reform achieved?

The reform saw the number of banks drop rapidly from 89 banks to 25 banks as at December 31, 2005. Some of the banks that survived did that through mergers and acquisition. Today, there are 27 banks in Nigeria.

The reform also resulted in the enhancement of the quality of banks in Nigeria, improved its financial stability and contribution to the economy. Also, the reform increased financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Disruption of the banking industry

Technology advancement has expanded the banking industry globally, and the banking sector in Nigeria hasn’t been left out of the disruption.

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The advancement in technology has come in handy for the CBN, which has a mandate of 80% financial inclusion to beat by 2020. The impact of technology has changed the operating model of every bank in Nigeria.

The future of banking is in the hands of technology, and the CBN is willing to milk it for all of it’s worth. While the banks have adopted technology to cater to the underserved population through USSD codes, website and apps, the CBN’s aim to achieve the 80% financial inclusion has opened new opportunities in the banking sector.

The future of banking is now outside of the banking hall. This is because the financial market has been so divided to different parts, that even telecommunications companies now operate in the banking industry.

[READ FURTHER: CBN makes case for PSBs, cautions Banks, PSBs against demarketing]

The need to visit a bank has now been reduced by Fintechs and the network providers which now offer similar service to banks – and it’s all because of CBNI’s goal to reduce the underbanked population; the same mission that led to the creation of Nigeria’s first bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank.

 

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