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How Telcos Can Rebuild Nigeria in Wake of COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effect on all social and economic sectors. In just three months, the pandemic has left tears, sweats and blood on the people and the economy.

How Telcos Can Rebuild Nigeria in Wake of COVID-19

For Nigeria, the pandemic is an eye opener and a rude welcome to a new normal- knowledge economy.

Lagos state relies heavily on knowledge economy and that accounts for the success it is recoding in the fight against COVID-19.

Apart from the ingenuities by Lagos and a few other states, Nigeria’s overall response to COVID-19 has been less than satisfactory.

The new phases of recovery; and thriving- will be defining for the country; and as seen in this crisis, telecommunications are playing role in retaining any semblance of normalcy.

In recovery stage, telcos will also help manage the transition out of COVID-19 related stagnation as well as provide a resilient national infrastructure to stimulate GDP growth.

ABI Research, global tech market advisory firm, in its new whitepaper, “Telcos As a National Growth Accelerator”, identified several strategies that governments can utilize to invest in stimulating growth by strengthening the Telco position.

Locally, experts said Nigeria must leverage on the disruption to create a knowledge based economy.

To do this Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer at ABI Research, said that, “it could be argued that telcos could play a pivotal role in countries being able to rebound from the financial and productivity shock coming from COVID-19.”

ABI Research found that telcos have been invaluable in enabling some semblance of societal continuation during lockdowns due to COVID-19.

“In a very tactical way, they have enabled governments to track, trace, and manage the spread of the virus, communicate effectively and directly with people, and keep supporting society in a virtual, but valuable way. Without the investment and operational diligence of many telcos, the impact of COVID-19 would have been far deeper and more profoundly felt in all economies.” Carlaw stated.

For Olusola Teniola, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), the biggest recovery for Nigeria will be by the careful and full implementation of all recommendations in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-25.

“Secondly, for there to be an immediate impact, government needs to kickstart the e-Gov digital migration, which means the immediate development of e-systems in all the MDAs and web-portals in different languages (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa as a minimum) with voice assistance for the physically challenged. This will refocus and redeploy government spending on creating jobs on the supply side for the youth and demand from the citizens interacting with the systems to fulfil different needs.” He added.

According to him, underpinning all this is the massive employment and retraining of our citizens to become more productive whether from home, office or in business centers in malls.

Also, Mohammed Rudman, managing director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) said telcos could aid the recovery efforts through cost effective innovative data bundle for young entrepreneurs as well as lower bandwidth cost that will offer more data at lower cost.

“Telcos should ensure that their traffic is localised, that will help to reduce cost for them,” he added.

Nodding in agreement, Muyiwa Ogungboye, managing director / chief executive officer, eStream Networks, said that Nigerians now appreciate telecommunications service as important in the economy with the lockdown.

He urged telcos to improve on the quality of service and ensure robust network that will accommodate new discovery of the new normal to be driven by ICT.

Looking to the future, Carlaw concluded by saying that “They (telcos) will be key in enabling a new digital society. Beyond the obvious conclusions that we are likely to see, including more remote working, more virtual meetings, and more virtual teams (all of which will be enabled thanks to the connectivity supplied by telcos), a raft of new solutions could accelerate GDP growth and all will require a robust level of support from the telco community,”

 

 


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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AfriTech 2020: Sanofi Selects 11 Start-Ups For Online Finale On June 11

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Following the cancellation of the 2020 edition of Viva Technology, Sanofi will maintain its four AfricaTech Challenges by organizing an online pitch day on June 11, 2020.

The objective is to continue Sanofi’s commitment to encourage innovation in Africa, improve access to healthcare and transform the health ecosystem throughout the continent.

For this 3rd edition, Sanofi has received 268 applications (compared to 222 last year) from 34 countries. 11 finalists were selected, based on five criteria: project maturity, early results, relevance of the solution, market potential and business model, as well as the skills and expertise of the team.

These are the four challenges and the 11 selected startups: Challenge #1: How to support patients with a digital health book in order to access information and make decision?

  • Bypa-ss (Egypt) is digitizing healthcare information exchange through its platform HealthTag that allows patients to get their diagnosis, latest check-ups, medical scans as well as test results.
  • Keeplyna (Tunisia) is an eHealth platform for telemedicine. It offers a free digital medical book to all African citizens and includes all health information of all family members.
  • EYONE (Senegal) offers a shared medical file. Patients have their medical records in real time everywhere and are connected to 35 online health professionals that have partnered with the startup.

Challenge #2: How to help healthcare systems leapfrog from manual to smart logistics solutions at point of care?

  • Doctor 4 Africa (India) is an integrated online platform offering a digital health solution in African countries. It connects patients to health care professionals in underserved communities where there is a shortage of specialists, so they can receive affordable quality care.
  • Mobilhealth International (Nigeria) is Africa’s first fully integrated telehealth electronic medical records and video app. Its mission is to use telemedicine to provide people in developing countries with access to quality healthcare services in the most cost and time effective way, anytime, anywhere.

Challenge #3: How to improve financing and impact of innovative health solutions in Africa?

  • SOSO CARE (Nigeria) is a low-cost digital tool enabling 100 million Nigerians to access health insurance and care in 1,170 clinics.
  • MamaPrime (Kenya) is a health fintech company that enables mothers and their families to prepay for their prenatal & postnatal care and child wellness services in installments throughout their pregnancy.
  • JokkoSanté (Senegal) is a digital payment platform that secures the use of money intended for health, with a new payment method. It can also be used to manage drug traceability and online prescriptions.

Challenge #4 - Sanofi Espoir Foundation: How to improve maternal and neonatal health in sub-Saharan Africa?

  • Teheca (Ouganda) connects new and expectant mothers to qualified nurses for at home post-natal checkups and supports by using low cost and low-tech solutions. The accessibility increase to post-natal cares aims a timely identification and a referral of life-threatening complications during post-natal period.
  • The University Agency Innovation (Cameroun) is a hub of scientific, technological and enterprise-based innovations. Its spin-off AUI Techno designs and produces an interactive infant incubator connectable to doctors’ smartphones, in order to reduce the neonatal mortality rate.
  • Natal Cares (Nigeria) is an integrated solution providing healthcare, medical monitoring and emergency services to at-risk pregnant women and nursing mothers belonging to disconnected rural communities.

At the 2020 AfricaTech live virtual pitch, these startups will compete in their respective challenge categories before an online audience and a jury made up of global professionals, investors and thought leaders in technology and healthcare.

Folake Odediran, Sanofi’s General Manager, General Medicines, Nigeria & Ghana and Country Lead, Nigeria, commenting on the upcoming live pitch, said: “The AfricaTech initiative is in line with our purpose of empowering lives. We are so far impressed with the progress of the 2020 Challenge and are happy for all the finalists who have made it this far.

“We are even more excited that three of them emerged from our Nigeria-Ghana affiliate and we hope that the best techpreneurs win”.

After Viva Technology 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the selected startups will now be invited to pitch their solutions at 2:00pm CET (Paris time) on June 11, 2020, during a special Sanofi Africatech day by video conference.

The live virtual event will be hosted by Sanofi Africa zone and will comprise of four pitch sessions, each of 30 – 45 minutes duration. Attendance is open to external audiences through prior registration.


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Nigeria Week Ahead: PMI’s, Trade Balance and NFP in Focus 

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,

In a move that caught many by surprise, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pulled the trigger on lower interest rates for the first time since March 2019.

The decision, which was in line with the strategy adopted by many central banks may stimulate economic growth ahead of a potential economic recession triggered by lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. Although Africa’s largest economy was able to expand 1.87% during the first quarter of 2020, fears remain elevated over the economy descending into a recession this year.

On the bright side, markets remain hopeful that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is over with economies reopening across the globe. While economic data is expected to paint a gloomy picture over the coming months, there is a strong sense of hope that stability will return by 2021. It now becomes a question of whether the CBN and government exhausted all their tools to mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus to economic growth and stability.

On the data front, the manufacturing PMI sank to 42.4 in May which was its steepest pace of contraction in manufacturing activity since August 2016. Non-manufacturing plunged to 25.3 during the same month, pointing to the sharpest monthly contraction in services since July 2014. Confidence over the economy may be shaken in the near term as economic data paints a very gloomy picture. Investors will direct their attention towards the latest trade balance figures on Wednesday and inflation data next week.

Outside of Nigeria, there will be a strong focus on the possible OPEC meeting, European Central Bank policy meeting and US jobs report on Friday. Given how Oil accounts for a handsome chunk of Nigeria’s export earnings and government revenues, the outcome of the OPEC meeting and potential impacts it will have on Oil prices will be felt in Nigeria. Other key themes driving global sentiment will revolve around US-China trade tensions, Brexit and lingering concerns over slowing global growth.

 


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Top 4 Business Tools You Need for Effective Remote Working

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With social distancing measures likely to remain strictly in place for the foreseeable future as we seek to contain the spread of Covid-19, remote working is having its moment.

“For many of us, remote working is rapidly becoming normal,” says Andrew Bourne, Zoho’s Country Manager for the African region. “This means we need a set of business tools that makes it as easy as possible to keep connecting and collaborating with clients and colleagues.”

Cloud-based software solutions enable you to work wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection and computer, the trick is in selecting the one that will allow you to continue working for as long as needed, and not just fulfill your immediate needs. “It’s about assessing your requirements and taking the time to select tools that not just meet those needs, but also work well together to achieve a streamlined workflow,” Bourne stresses.

Here are some things to consider when selecting tools to support your remote working environment:

Unrestricted communication: Without face-to-face interactions and in-person collaboration, you’ll want to make sure your communication tools are up to the job of calls, video conferencing and instant messaging. In emerging markets especially, consideration should be given to the bandwidth requirements of any video conferencing tools you use. While line speeds and data caps have improved significantly over the years, nothing kills collaboration as fast as a bad connection.

A cloud-based office suite: “Anyone who has ever tried to do remote work on a traditional office suite knows how difficult it can be,” says Bourne. “The version control alone can be a nightmare.” A cloud-based office suite makes collaborating seamless and effortless and dramatically reduces the back and forth needed to get things done.

Project management: Central to successful remote working is ensuring the whole team is on the same page. Find a project management tool that helps you manage budgets, timelines, resources and quality with a calendar, Gantt chart, time tracking, and functionality. A project management tool with automation capabilities saves time on routine tasks. A drag-and-drop interface is useful for making automations easier to visualise.

Shared workspace: “A shared, centralised cloud-based workspace is the remote version of an office,” Bourne says. A cloud-based shared drive serves as a space where teams can easily share and store files, making these easily accessible to anyone, anywhere. Pay particular attention to the search functionality. You want a tool that can filter and search smartly and quickly.

 

It’s important that the tools you use for these also work well together in order to avoid duplication of data and efforts, which is why it’s preferable to go for integrated suites instead of standalone apps.

 


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