Stories by Chinenye Anuforo
Traders from different parts of Lagos State have lamented the epileptic power supply in recent time.
The traders in a random interview with Daily Sun stated that business activities had been paralysed, following incessant power failure by the Electricity Distribution Companies in the state.
According to them, the companies still bring outrageous bills at the end of each month despite despite their poor service delivery. They said: “The monthly bill does not tally with the service we get from the power distribution company.”
Traders dealing on perishable goods and liquor are mostly affected as they either purchase ice-blocks, go to cold-rooms or buy fuel and diesel to power their generators for their business.
“It is embarrassing and an act of fraud that after spending money to buy fuel and power our plants to do our business, the so-called men of the electricity company will come and demand payment for electricity bill they did not supply. That is day time robbery, fraud and an act that is condemnable by all right thinking citizens of this country,” one of the respondents said.
Mr. Onwuka Ukaegbu, the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, World-Link Commercial Textile and also Onwuka’s Properties Limited lamented that he had to shut down his plastic industry because of incessant power supply. Hear him: “70 per cent of Nigeria’s problems would be solved if the government will fix the power sector. Without steady power supply, this country will remain import-dependent because production cannot thrive without electricity. My efforts to sustain my factory without steady power supply collapsed because at a point, I realised I could not afford to power my generators any longer due to the cost of diesel. I spent close to N50,000 on diesel every week; this is excluding other expenses.
“I still want to go back to start again if the issue of power is addressed but the present government is not helping matters. Everything has gone to worst since this regime assumed office. I urge them to do something very soon.”
Corroborating, a liquor seller, Madam Queen Okon, said her customers don’t patronise her again because of the power failure. “There are no customers because the few that came had to leave because they wanted chilled drinks and my generator cannot carry my two fridges that contain the drinks.”
Stanbic IBTC Bank partners Google to drive digital inclusion in Nigeria
Stanbic IBTC Bank, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc., and technology company, Google, have sealed a collaboration that will enable youths and operators in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector in Nigeria to acquire digital skills for economic advancement.
The thrust of the collaboration, according to the parties, is to facilitate capacity building for SMEs in Nigeria, help entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses, support digital education initiatives geared towards job creation as well as address the key challenges that SMEs face in growing their businesses. Specifically, participants will be trained on the benefits, skills and value of Digital Marketing.
By organising the capacity building sessions in different parts of the country, the partners hope to build a critical mass of businesses through increased adoption of digital technology and enhance their contribution to economic development. The training session which kicked-off in Lagos and Kaduna on July 19, 2016 will subsequently hold in seven other states across the country. The initiative aims to digitally empower about 1000 SMEs in one year.
Head, SME Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Obinnia Ukachukwu, stated that as diversification of Nigeria’s economy returns to the front burner, it has become imperative to highlight the role of digital technology on empowering the youth and stimulating growth of SMEs.
Ukachukwu said the collaboration fits into the institution’s goal of fostering economic empowerment through strategic interventions that enable individuals and businesses realise their aspirations. He said it was in pursuit of this objective that the Stanbic IBTC Bank organises several capacity-building initiatives spanning various sectors of the economy, transport and logistics, trade and finance, in an ongoing basis to support individuals and businesses.
“The SME segment is pivotal to the economic growth and development of any nation and Nigeria should not be an exception. This belief underlines our conviction that the collaboration with Google will expose the youth and SME operators to modern and innovative marketing, financial, and management skills using digital technology, which will help them to achieve success in their endeavours,” Ukachukwu, said. He added: “We are quite pleased to partner with Google on this strategic initiative. Our ultimate goal is to cause, in the long term, an exponential growth in the digital technology space, knowing that this is the path to the future, with the youth and SMEs as the main anchors,” he stated.
Stanbic IBTC Bank’s commitment to the growth of the SME segment, Ukachukwu said, could be deciphered through the various digital banking products and support from the bank’s stable. For instance, the bank had launched an internet banking offering specifically for SMEs as well as SME BizDirect, a personalised digital banking platform. “The SME BizDirect is a multi-channel virtual business centre that avails the SME operator a personalised channel through which to engage the bank when the need arises. To help clients improve operations, we believe a migration to digital banking will reduce the challenges faced by customers and help them run more efficient businesses,” he added.
Head of Digital Education, Google Africa, Bunmi Banjo, said, “we’re happy to be collaborating with Stanbic IBTC Bank to provide free digital trainings to local entrepreneurs. With over 97 million online subscribers, Nigeria continues to be one of the highest online populations in the world. And this presents big opportunities for the Small and Medium Business sector. We believe that when these SMEs have the right digital skills, they can better leverage the internet to grow their businesses, create more jobs and boost economic growth in Nigeria.”
The collaboration also entails further trainings focused on general digital skills for proprietors of SMEs who are between 18 and 35 years of age. The curriculum will address such issues as e-payment and online banking; using digital platforms to grow businesses; and hiring and retaining third parties.
Mozoba emerges Alaba Amalgamated President
…Assures members of conducive business environment
To ensure that Alaba International Market has a united body and one voice fighting its course, Mr. Emeka Mozoba has been elected as the new President of Alaba Amalgamated.
Alaba Amalgamated is an association uniting the 13 different associations in the market.
Mozoba, who is also the Chairman, Fancy and Furniture Dealers Association (FFDA), during the official announcement of his election, as the new president, assured traders of favourable business environment, as his administration would ensure peace and unity in the market.
He said: “Any society without peace does not progress. Progress only thrives where there is peace and unity. Members are here to make progress and do their businesses in good and peaceful atmosphere and tranquility.
“I will ensure that total peace reigns in the market community for the progress of our members. How will I do this? I will embark on constant meetings with the sectional leaders of the market, line representatives and tax forces of various sections, the elders and the security authorities. This is to nip in the bud anything that will bring quarrel in the market between members.”
Mozoba also promised his members that during his tenure as the President of the market, he would eradicate the unwelcome practices of touts.
“It is disheartening when we, the leaders of the market, see the kind of embarrassment, harassment and intimidation being given to our members and customers by touts in this market.
“To this end, I will create a parent tax force for the market that will be well equipped and registered with the appropriate authority such that their activities will curb the menace of these touts in this market.”
He hinted that his administration would ensure regular dialogue with the appropriate authorities to look into the roads leading to the market, adding that an international market as Alaba International Market ought to have good road networks to attract customers.
The new President lamented that the present state of power supply in the country was not encouraging as it is affecting business adversely, stating that his administration would embark on alternative source of power in the market.
“I will set up a committee, and urgently too, to provide solar energy system that will provide light 24 hours in the market and its environs,” he assured.
On issue of piracy, he stressed that his administration would not tolerate piracy of any kind and adulteration and faking of goods and items sold in the market.
“Those whose stock in trade are these criminal activities should better relocate to another market far from this environment as my government will not give them breathing space.
“I will fight these with all my strength to ensure total eradication of these evil acts. A committee will be set up to assist me in doing this within few days,” he warned.