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How to Survive the Last Week of January on a Budget

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January is renowned for being a month of extremely slow days, mounting bills and a long, grinding wait for pay-day. This is often the case for folks in paid employment.

However, the difficulties that traditionally accompany the month of January impact entrepreneurs or those in business as well. Usually, discretionary or disposable income is often limited and tightly guarded, with many potential customers trying to wade through to the end of the month after the customary lavish spending that trailed the previous year-end festivities.

With the current fuel scarcity plaguing most parts of Nigeria burning deeper holes in the pockets of the average Nigerian, there is a common consensus among many to see the back of January. Beating the sapa occasioned with the January season often requires a certain level of skill and wits. It is better to stroll into February (the month of love) with a meagre balance or even broke than to enter it on your knees with a crushing bundle of debts on your back.

Here are a few ways you can see out the last week of the month in flying colours on a tight budget, courtesy Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce company.

1 Make Garri Your Friend

Just kidding, but then you might want to invest a little of your scarce resources on food or foodstuffs that are not so expensive but last for a long time. Food items like Garri, Bread, Beans, and the like, as they allow for varieties, would definitely come in handy if you are the type that cooks their own meals.

2 Substitute

We know our help comes from God, but at times like this, you might like to forego your normal routine and go with more budget-friendly options. Instead of ordering an Uber or a ride to work as you’ll typically do, you may have to wake up earlier and commute via public transport. You can also substitute your expensive beverage for a 3-in-1 coffee or tea; instead of buying that pricey loaf of bread, you could opt for a biscuit instead.

3 Spend more time with friends and family members

The famous saying “The more, the merrier” has never been more beneficial. When things are tight, the best exit route is to be with people who could help lighten the load. With friends, you could share your resources and make the best out of the situation.

4 Be Content

This last week of January, beating sapa entails being content with yourself. In fact, phrases like YOLO or “If I perish, I perish” would do you more harm than good. Avoid frivolities, get only the necessities, understand that all fingers are not equal, and be content with what you have. Mr. James’ brokenness could be your average level, so no matter where you find yourself, cut your coat according to your cloth.

5 Look out for Cheaper deals

Most importantly, a major element to seeing yourself through January smiling is to be alert to juicy offers or the best deals. There is always an advantage to it, that satisfaction that comes from walking away with a sweet deal on a purchase. This is one of the reasons you must embrace Konga when it comes to shopping for all your items this period. In fact, the ongoing Konga Jara promotion remains your best bet. It is an open secret today that most items are cheaper at Konga and you also enjoy the benefit of guaranteed quality and swift delivery.

In summary, if you’re able to stick to the points mentioned above, you’re well on your way to surviving these last 77 days of January, while leaving many of your peers wondering how you managed to pull through in such brilliant fashion.

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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Cultivating a Culture of Excellence: AstraZeneca’s Commitment to Innovation and Positive Workplace Environment

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In Bryanston, South Africa, a group of passionate scientists and healthcare professionals gather at AstraZeneca’s South African office. The purpose; to advance groundbreaking health tech innovations aimed at improving health outcomes across the world. For many of these individuals, AstraZeneca is more than just a workplace; it’s a second home where their ideas are refined, their voices are heard, and their potential is realised, all feeding into a culture of excellence and a commitment to innovation.

AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company, is known for its dedication to scientific excellence and breakthrough innovations. Beyond research and scientific development, the company places a strong emphasis on fostering a workplace culture that prioritises the well-being and satisfaction of its employees. By cultivating an environment where everyone feels valued, empowered, and inspired to reach their full potential, AstraZeneca is driving positive change within the company and across the healthcare landscape.

The journey to create this culture of excellence starts with the company’s leaders, who set the tone for a vibrant and inclusive workplace. By focusing on employee satisfaction, diversity, and well-being, AstraZeneca’s leadership has laid the foundation for a dynamic work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration. This commitment to a positive workplace culture supports the company’s business objectives and leads to meaningful contributions to society and a significant impact on the world of medicine.

Prioritising Employee Well-being and Satisfaction

AstraZeneca’s approach to employee well-being is rooted in creating a safe and energising work environment, going beyond standard health benefits and safety measures. The company strives to create a workplace where employees feel cared for and supported, enabling them to bring their best selves to work every day by providing the right training, equipment, and support to ensure employees feel secure and healthy at work. Initiatives such as Wellness Days, health-related webinars, and driver safety training for field force members help promote overall well-being. Additionally, AstraZeneca places a strong emphasis on fostering an inclusive and supportive culture through programmes like the Pulse Task Force and iCAN Programme, which enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.

One memorable moment that showcases the company’s commitment to its employees occurred during a global health crisis. As many companies struggled to adapt, AstraZeneca quickly implemented initiatives such as remote work policies and virtual health resources to ensure the safety and well-being of its workforce. These efforts protected employees and strengthened their trust in the company, further solidifying AstraZeneca’s reputation as a top employer.

Fostering Innovation in the Workplace

Innovation is a key driver of AstraZeneca’s success, and the company employs various strategies to nurture this culture. Through challenges centred on early screening, diagnosis, and brand promotion, AstraZeneca encourages its teams to think creatively and collaborate effectively. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) simplifies processes and improves efficiencies, enabling innovative approaches to problem-solving.

Unique initiatives like Omni Congress bring virtual hybrid congresses to healthcare professionals (HCPs), providing opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Programmes such as iDevelop focus on emerging tech trends and nurture talent with insights from next-generation technologies. The Africa Innovation Hub further demonstrates AstraZeneca’s commitment to fostering innovation by providing external mentorship and partnerships to drive progress in healthcare systems.

Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

AstraZeneca’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a corporate initiative; it is a fundamental part of the company’s identity. The company’s I&D mission seeks to create an inclusive and equitable environment where all employees feel valued and respected. By embedding DEI into its ways of working, AstraZeneca aims to build a diverse leadership and talent pipeline that supports innovation and excellence.

The company’s focus on inclusion, diversity, and impact helps advance societal change through health equity and clinical trial diversity. AstraZeneca understands that a diverse workforce brings unique perspectives and experiences, which drive innovation and allow the company to better serve its patients and communities. For instance, AstraZeneca’s African Cluster boasts 57% female representation overall, with over 42% females at every career level. This diversity fuels creativity and allows the company to address complex challenges with fresh, inclusive perspectives.

AstraZeneca’s dedication to cultivating a culture of excellence is evident in its commitment to employee well-being, innovation, and DEI. By prioritising these values, the company has become a leader in the biopharmaceutical industry and a role model for others seeking to foster a positive workplace environment. External recognitions such as Top Employer certification in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, as well as BPTW certification in French-speaking Africa, are a testament to the positive strides the company is making in this space. With continuous investment in its employees, AstraZeneca is poised to drive meaningful change in the world of medicine and set a benchmark for others in the industry.

Shelleny Govender-Dhooma

The writer is a Chartered HR Professional with the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP). She serves as the African Cluster HR Director at AstraZeneca and is a member of the Leadership Team, where she provides inspirational leadership and implements best practices and strategies.

 


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Collaboration and investment key to strengthening Africa’s digital payments cybersecurity

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By Omotayo Ogunlade, Chief Technology Officer at Onafriq

As the digital payments landscape in Africa expands, the need for robust cybersecurity measures becomes increasingly urgent. Trust and security are foundational to financial services, and as cybercriminals continue to become more aggressive and sophisticated, addressing any vulnerabilities is key to safeguarding the integrity of Africa’s digital financial ecosystem. In fact, Africa experienced the highest average number of cyberattacks per week per organisation in 2023 with a 23% increase compared to the previous year.

Omotayo Ogunlade, Chief Technology Officer at Onafriq

Africa’s digital financial ecosystem is still maturing, and as digital payments become more integrated across countries, regions, and more interoperable across payment platforms, this increasingly complex environment can introduce new cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

And, as in an interconnected landscape a single weak link can jeopardise the entire network, it is critical that the continent’s financial institutions, governments and decision-makers come together to collectively work towards establishing and maintaining baseline security standards across the industry. This requires building meaningful partnerships with relevant stakeholders, substantial investment and greater harmonisation of regulations and policies across the continent.

The imperative for investment and standardised regulations

Several challenges hinder the attainment of robust cybersecurity in Africa. One of the primary issues is the lag in regulatory frameworks, while a lack of significant investment in security would lead to vulnerabilities within the continent’s financial sector being exploited.

Fortunately, investment in cybersecurity has seen a notable increase over the past five years, reflecting a growing recognition of its importance. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and sophisticated cyber threats has driven firms to allocate more resources towards cybersecurity. And digital payment networks like Onafriq have strengthened their security posture by investing in intelligent tools that predict and proactively address potential threats.

Despite these advancements, there remains a disparity in investment levels across the continent. Ensuring that all financial institutions can meet necessary security standards requires coordinated efforts and substantial capital. This includes investing in state-of-the-art technology and continuous monitoring systems to detect and prevent malicious activities.

Additionally, regulators play a crucial role in setting and enforcing security standards. And yet the pace of regulatory development often falls behind the speed of innovation in the fintech space. Harmonising regulations across different African countries is essential to create a consistent and secure environment for digital payments by adopting best practices and global standards. This is necessary to avoid fragmentation of the digital payments landscape while effective enforcement of these standards is vital to maintaining a secure financial ecosystem.

A need for cybersecurity skills and a security first culture

A truly secure payments environment requires buy-in from every part of the ecosystem’s value chain, including the end user. Not only must financial institutions adopt a security-first approach, embedding robust security measures into every aspect of their operations, but educating users about security practices is just as crucial.

As digital payments become more prevalent, financial institutions must design products with built-in security features and continuously educate users on safe practices. This includes secure PIN usage, recognizing phishing attempts, and safeguarding personal information.

For example, Onafriq exemplifies this approach by ensuring that security is a priority from the design stage. By securing networks, protecting sensitive data, and conducting regular third-party audits, we have been able to maintain a strong security record. This proactive stance is essential for preventing breaches and ensuring customer trust.

More than this, there is a growing need to build the cybersecurity capacity needed to sustain the digital payments landscape. Africa faces a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, which hampers the ability to address emerging threats effectively. In fact, a cybersecurity assessment conducted by the African Union Commission and the United Nations Development Programme found that African countries had a cybersecurity competence of 0.21 out of 1 with more than 70% of African nations requiring additional cybersecurity infrastructure.

Financial institutions and governments must invest in training programs, internships, and continuous education to develop a skilled workforce capable of managing cybersecurity challenges. But, retaining talent within Africa also remains a significant issue. Many trained professionals seek opportunities abroad, exacerbating the skills gap. Addressing this requires creating conducive environments that offer competitive opportunities and career growth within the continent.

Cybersecurity is a cornerstone of Africa’s digital payments landscape. To achieve a secure and resilient financial sector, Africa must invest in robust cybersecurity infrastructure, foster regulatory harmonisation, and prioritise collaborative efforts among financial institutions. By addressing these challenges, Africa can build a secure digital payments ecosystem that supports economic growth and instils trust among users.


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Oriental News 2024 Summit: Muda Yusuf to Lead Discussion on Nigeria’s Path to Green Economy Transition 

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Dr. Muda Yusuf, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Center for The Promotion of Private Enterprise, CPPE, would drive discussion on Nigeria’s policy direction to establishing pathway towards economic recovery in line with global green economy initiative.

Muda Yusuf

Muda Yusuf

Yusuf, a renowned economist and former Director General, DG, of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, is the chairman of the 3rd National Conference being put together by Oriental News Nigeria, coming up on July 25th, 2024, at Radisson Blue GRA Ikeja, Lagos by 9am.

In recent years, economies all around the world have been experiencing a protracted slowdown driven by structural, global, and cyclical factors. Economic strategies that have been implemented to tackle recession and achieve rapid economic development have endangered sustainable growth by contributing to environmental degradation, global warming, and other negative repercussions.

Changing the paradigm to a green economy will boost natural capital stocks, safeguard the environment, and ensure social justice by providing practical tools and approaches to achieve sustainable growth while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

A transition to a green economy, however, faces challenges such as a lack of an appropriate policy framework, inadequate capital expenditure, varying levels of development, and resource endowments.

Therefore, for green sustainable development, newer business models, strategic changes and innovation in the use of resources, responsible and cleaner business practices, and green technologies are needed.

Above issues will form part of discussion to be spearheaded by Yusuf, who will further highlight challenges and how to accelerate the process.

Also, the Ag. Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, MD/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, Abba Abubakar Aliyu, will be addressing key energy professionals and other government officials on the Agency’s current drive towards delivering clean and reliable electricity across Nigeria.

Aliyu, who has confirmed his participation at the conference will take audience through World Bank approved Nigeria Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up (DARES) project

At the event also, the Director General, D-G of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Dr. Emomotimi Agama, would be x-raying key policies and options available in the country’s drive to strengthen her national economy while aligning with global push towards promoting green economy.

All of these will be the high point at the 3rd National Conference.

Oriental News Nigeria a leading digital media platform would gather key policy makers, Government and non-Governmental Organisations, industry experts in Nigeria’s financial sector to the conference which revolves around Nigeria’s Green Economy Initiative.

The theme of the 2024 Conference: ” Green Economy, Sustainable Growth and Infrastructure Transformation” considers various options available for Nigeria to sustain economic development and growth.

Sub-themes of the conference include, Green Finance, marketing, and supply chain, Strategies and Policies for a green economy, Renewable energy and Ecosystem for a green economy and Digital economy Entrepreneurship.

Agama, who has confirmed his attendance, expressed the belief that opportunities in terms of green economy are linked to the enormous possibilities for sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, ecotourism, and coastal development.

Also, other stakeholders have highlighted that Nigeria’s commitment to harnessing its natural resource potential could make the country a pioneer in promoting green economy development, hence the choice of the theme of the conference.

The conference is segmented into two main broad areas, with the opening programme to address the key thematic topic through the guest speakers intervention and chairmans remarks with comments from participants which centers around the conference theme.

The second segment is round-table discussion through wider engagement by select professionals to discuss the main theme and sub-themes of the conference.

The conference will draw together and engage researchers, eminent practitioners, and policymakers from across the country who will form part of the plenary (Round-Table) session that will deliberate on the latest findings on practices and policies for a green economy and sustainable growth through strategic change and identify priorities for action by stakeholders to pursue the most promising policies and practices.

The conference will also serve as a venue where academic peers may exchange information, share experiences, collaborate, and develop management answers to pressing business issues.


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