Nigerian passengers flying into the country are complaining bitterly about the series of obstacles they have had to face while undertaking the government enforced COVID-19 tests on arrival from other countries.
Some of the passengers have alleged cases of duplicated charges for the COVID-19 tests yet they end up not being tested as the designated labs cannot be found. Even when found, some of the labs are beyond reach. In one video seen by Nairametrics, the passenger claims the lab was only located in Abuja despite being told that it was nationwide.
Others have lamented about being forced to run multiple tests, at the threat of being barred from leaving the country for failure to take these tests. Passengers have also alleged that the entire process is looking like an elaborate scam designed to extort Nigerians and frustrate travelers who are eager to reconnect with their families.
Recall that Nairametrics reported last month that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced rules about COVID-19 PCR testing before entering the country.
“It is mandatory for intending travellers to carry-out a COVID-19 PCR test at least 96 hours before travel to Nigeria,” the NCDC said.
The NCDC also said that the NCAA had notified airlines that passengers to Nigeria who couldn’t pay for the test online could still board flights, as long as they had COVID-19 PCR negative test results.
National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, announced last month that:
“To enable early detection and reduce the risk of further transmission based on data and our current laboratory capacity, all incoming travelers must be tested by a certified private laboratory after 7 days of returning to the country.”
In a video seen by Nairametrics, which was shot by a visibly irritated journalist a few moments after arriving the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the journalist protested that despite doing a free test in London, he was still forced to pay N48,000.00 and was given nothing but a piece of paper, and told to go to a clinic that could only be found in Abuja after he was told that the clinic had branches nationwide.
He said, “I wanna (sic) change what is happening; people cannot go 16 hours on a flight and arrive to fill forms, are we goats?”
A Syrian national, filling forms alongside the protesting Nigerian, said that he had passed through 3 different airports before arriving in Abuja, but only at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport was he told to stand in long queues and fill forms.
The journalist stated that the NCDC portal was not working, and he registered his displeasure saying, “I arrived Nigeria and there was a long queue of people waiting to pay money for COVID-19 tests. Is the one I did in London not enough? Are Nigerian hospitals better than London hospitals… I had to pay N48 thousand and I was given a [piece of] paper and told to go to an Ahab Clinic. I was told the clinic has branches, but they only have a branch in Abuja.
“What it means is that I have to leave my hometown to Abuja and go back to Lagos for my flight. The government is sitting down waiting for passengers in order to extort them.
“The government plants its people there (airport) to extort them.”
Another video of a frustrated passenger seen on the Brekete Family Radio Show decried the poor delivery services at the clinics and the multiple orders to pay the sum of N42,750.00 or else he would be barred from leaving the country back to Sweden. The passenger flew in from Sweden only to be frustrated as he seek to return.
He said he was given the option of paying online or paying when he arrived at the airport. On arrival, he was debited the sum of N42,750 through a POS transaction, and given a lab to collate his result. However, the addresses of the labs couldn’t even be found on Google Maps.
He disclosed that he later found the lab after asking for directions. While at the lab, he was told that his results were sent to a centre in Lagos to be processed, but the next day, the lab told him and other passengers on the same flight that their names were not on the systems and that they had to pay another N42,750 for another test result.
What this means
Despite the NCDC’s orders that passengers flying into Nigeria can conduct COVID-19 tests at least 96 hours before entering Nigeria, the Nigerian Government still expects passengers who have conducted tests to pay hefty sums for tests that should be done for free.
Also, with the directive that passengers must conduct local tests in accredited private clinic facilities, passengers are being given very poor service by the labs, as it is obvious that some of the labs don’t have the capacity to run the tests, while charging passengers multiple times to conduct tests after misplacing their results.
BREAKING: Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala proposed as new DG of WTO
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is proposed to emerged the new DG of the World Trade Organisation.
Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonji-Iweala, is proposed to emerge the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
According to media reports, sources from the European Union said she got the nod for the job ahead of her South Korean rival, Ms. Yoo Myung-hee, by a wide margin.
Okonjo-Iweala’s victory is expected to be announced formally by the WTO later today.
How Evolve Credit aims to cover the credit gap in Africa – Akan Nelson
Akan Nelson, co-founder of Evolve Credit, talks about how loans have become accessible via the online market place.
Marketplaces all over the world have moved online, and the same goes for the credit market. Things have moved from the times when one had to spend days visiting several banks and licensed lenders in search of suitable credit facilities, to the digital times where a mobile device provides all of that information and more within a short time. Among those pushing the envelope in the credit space in Africa is Evolve Credit, a tech startup that is well on its way to becoming a key player.
Speaking during the weekly Nairametrics Business Half Hour on Classic FM, Akan Nelson, co-founder and CEO of Evolve Credit, explains that the business idea was birthed out of the realization that Africans needed an online marketplace where they could explore their best loan options, just like they did when shopping online.
Evolve Credit provides potential borrowers data to compare loan options, interest rates, repayment options, and other terms before deciding on the loan which best suits their needs, and then applying for it right away.
“I realized quite early that there was a gap and an opportunity in Nigeria’s credit space and I wanted to play there,” Akan recounted.
Even though about 36% of adults in Nigeria have access to some kind of savings or payment products, only about 5.5% of Nigerian adults have access to loan facilities – a gap that needs attention.
Together with his co-founder, Daniel Osineye, Nelson built a lending app that allows people access loans at the Point of Sales (POS), and the process of running this business opened their eyes to an even bigger problem in the space. As the customer care agent, Nelson realized that when people had their loan applications, they immediately started asking for other loan options or other lenders.
Obviously, they cared less about what institution availed them the loan, and more about the credit option and accompanying terms. While trying to provide answers to their questions, Daniel realized that there was an information gap to be filled at the point of decision. Potential borrowers needed to understand the terms, the rates and other conditions attached, in order to make the right credit decisions and avoid getting locked in debt longer than planned.
Evolve Credit thus evolved as a central point where people could get all the information needed on loans, right from their phones. It features loan products from hundreds of licensed lenders in the country, thereby providing a level playing field upon which they can all compete.
“There are literally thousands of licensed lenders like the commercial banks, the microfinance banks, the finance houses, and the individual money lenders, and many of them have products that are better suited for many Nigerians than the ones we all hear on the radio, but they are not digitized so they cannot compete with a loan provider that is all over our mobile devices.
“Evolve Credit provides the kind of technology on the backend that enables an offline lender, microfinance bank, finance house or individual money lender to essentially become a fintech overnight and automate every single step in the lending process – from receiving the loan applications, to ascertaining credit-worthiness, managing the loan portfolio, automating the payments disbursement and collection process – and this helps to actually facilitate a completely online loan application, from the market place to the lender,” Nelson explained in the show.
After filling out a 3-minute form, the intending borrower can compare and review available options, send in an application within 10 minutes and receive feedback within 24 hours.
How the money flows
Evolve Credit works with a double-pronged revenue model. On the one hand, it provides feature software and tech facilities to lenders for a monthly subscription fee. On the other hand, it gets to charge a commission fee every time a loan application sent to the lender is approved, either based on a fixed fee or some revenue–sharing formula.
“To be specific, we leave that to them to decide which best suits their business needs. We are very flexible and we like to put our borrowers and our lenders first,” he said.
The idea that the process of applying for, receiving and paying back credit facilities can be done completely online, totally eliminates paper from the process.
“It is a brand new category in Nigeria and our expectation is that in a few years, people should be able to access credit facilities from their phones, right from their homes, using the app, website or the USSD options and without interacting with a single human being,” Nelson said.
Although some similar businesses have gone defunct in the past, Nelson is positive that Evolve Credit has learned from the mistakes of those companies and will be around for much longer, bringing value to the decision making process of getting a credit facility in Nigeria, and by extension Africa.
Within 5 months of operation, the company is still running a lean structure with less than 10 staff, all working remotely. After commencing operations in May 2020, both founders bootstrapped the venture for a short while, trying to engage investors. “It happened very slowly at the start and then very quickly at the end. We were able to raise a couple hundred thousand dollars to allow us get things off the ground,” he said.
Giving all the competing lenders a level playing field to operate in means that customers can now get better rates and loan terms, as each institution tries to outdo the other while competing on different terms.
“By making the market more transparent for borrowers, we should begin to see the emergence of new and more progressive kinds of financial products, since lenders will now have to compete on more subtle things,” Akan stated.
#EndSARS: Why Twitter topped Facebook during police brutality protests that went viral
Despite Facebook having over half of Nigeria’s social media users, why was Twitter able to top in the championing of the #EndSARS protests?
Nigerian youths had been protesting for over 2 weeks, calling for an end to police brutality with the #EndSARS hashtag on numerous social media channels among which Twitter topped.
Nigeria has a median age of 17.9, and the Nigerian youths used their tech-savvy influence to draw international attention to the brutality on protesters. This escalated after reports of the Lekki shooting which has drawn widespread condemnation from international figures such as Rihanna, Kanye West, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Lewis Hamilton, Pope Francis, and many others.
The #EndSARS movement dates back to 2017, when Nigerian youths used the hashtag to share their experiences on violence and assault perpetrated by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). However, the movement only revived in early October, after a video emerged of police officers thought to be members of the SARS unit, allegedly killing an unarmed young man.
This prompted Nigerian youths to troop to Twitter, calling on the Federal Government to dissolve the notorious police unit and effect police reform, with the hashtag, #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality, and many others. The hashtag trended continuously on Twitter as Nigerian youths aired their pains and experiences online.
As at the end of August 2020 and according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), subscriptions to broadband or high-speed internet services in Nigeria had increased significantly to a peak of 82.7 million. However, despite Facebook having over half of Nigeria’s social media usage, it has not had the pull of Twitter in championing the social justice causes. Why is that?
Which social media platform has more Nigerians?
According to Emmanuel Dan-Awoh, SEO Analyst at Nairametrics, Twitter only commands 21% usage of Nigeria’s 82 million internet subscribers. Facebook is leading with 55.94% while Instagram and Youtube are at 5.02% and 3.72% respectively.
“The platforms are built for certain types of communication and psychological states,” Dan-Awoh says.
For Nairametrics, which social media platform provides the most news leads?
The #EndSARS protesters had a unifying motto that they had “no leaders,”. This was seen in the decentralized nature of the protests across the country due to the fast-moving nature of news spread mainly on social media platforms.
For Nairametrics, Twitter accounts for the most news leads from social media platforms despite more Nigerians using Facebook on a daily basis.
“Twitter is by far the most useful social media platform for Nairametrics accounting for more than 90% of page views and visits,” Dan-Awoh says.
Young Nigerians are consuming information larger than ever before, thanks to the internet, with Twitter being the main platform for news sharing despite having only 21% of Internet users in Nigeria. It’s no wonder that most of the Nigerian youths who championed the #EndSARS protests are also in the same demographic that consume news on Nairametrics.
Where does the Nigerian government communicate more?
Dan-Awoh says, the Federal government still communicates with Nigerians through traditional media, however, the usage of technology to pass information to citizens is growing, which can be witnessed through the popularity of media aides on Twitter including Bashir Ahmaad, Tolu Ogunlesi, and others.
“Official communication still leans more towards traditional media, but the use of social media by government agencies is growing while the use of traditional media is stagnating,” Dan-Awoh says.
“Nigerians get the bulk of their news from social media channels and from google discover app” he adds.
(READ MORE:#ENDSARS Protests: Why this is different)
So why Twitter?
“Twitter is the most effective channel for social movements because relationships on the platform are not personalized to fit with the real-life connections of its users,” Dan-Awoh says.
He added that Twitter isn’t for very personal connections compared to Facebook, and also gives its users more powers to control what goes on their news feed through the democratization and localization of trending topics, this gives users more information on their surroundings.
“The feed isn’t dictated by personal interests or contacts to the same extent as other platforms. The user also has more control over his Twitter feed due to the democratization of popular topics.
“ Twitter achieved this through Its trending vertical where the most popular topics within a locality are ranked. This serves to draw more people into a digital version of marketplace chatter. This enables the platform to be better suited for the nurturing of a herd mentality within the society. This is why Twitter as a platform is more socially and politically significant than its counterparts,” Dan-Awoh adds.
Despite more Nigerians on Facebook, the Twitter platform makes the localization of news easier to share through its trending platforms, which gives young Nigerians a “concert view” perception on growing issues in the country. With a young population eager for information, it’s no wonder that News Media gets a lot of their leads from Twitter compared to Facebook as the news would be better shared on Twitter.
The increasing popularity of government media aides, especially on Twitter is a sign that we may be heading to a new way of government communication with citizens through the internet.
However, Facebook should not be ignored in this as more Nigerians are now aware of how changes can be brought to social justice and may use whatever platform where they are heard to discuss vital issues.