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(Opinion) Simple Ways of Ensuring Business Continuity During COVID-19

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By Segun McMedal,

The first quarter of the year 2020 was very unusual– it was the period the world stood still; one we can never forget no thanks to COVID-19 –described as a pandemic threatening the survival of humanity. The impact of the virus is unprecedented in world history. But governments and partners are working assiduously together to stop its transmission and keep children and their families safe through isolation and social distancing.

 

And to ensure containment, development partners and governments directed that all social and economic activities should be locked downin all the affected nation-states including Nigeria.

 

It is pointless to say that we are living in a very challenging time, socially, professionally and economically. The current restrictions mean that the business environment is very toughaltering business models for almost all the industry and professions. While some industries (tourism, aviation, and financial services) are on a life support presently, it is a boom period for others (telecoms, healthcare and medical supply, retail and food processing).

 

So, how best should businesses respond to survive the onslaught? The best approach is to adapt and make the best use of the situation. The other option isto do nothing and perish. But you don’t want to experience that, do you? This is the time to task your brains to dosome lateral thinking to generate new ideas which are the stuff of change and progress in every field from science to art, from politics to personal happiness.

 

There are three kinds of people as are companies: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder what happened. This challenging time opens a window of opportunity for people who are ready to make things happen to remain in business.

 

This is one of the best times for businesses to step up to the plate and help their customers in navigating this crisis period. This is the time to deepen your business’s positioning in the minds of stakeholders to be relevant during and post COVID-19 crisis. Below are simple ways of ensuring business continuity in this special period:

 

  1. Work Remotely(part of putting people’ssafety first) –This style allowsworkers to execute their duties outside of the traditional office environment. Instead of commuting to the office each morningof weekdays to work from a designated desk, remote employees can perform their assignments wherever they please.

 

All you need is a computer or smartphone plus accessto the internet to become a remote worker. The internet givesyou access to cloud-based applications which allows you to do everything in or outside the office. Virtual employees can work anytime of the day as they wish to stay in touch with their stakeholders all over the world thanks to the internet.

 

Working remotely help you to complete your duties on your own schedules which can result in higher engagement rates and increased productivity levels as well, if well managed, according to Harvard Business Review.

 

But you must learn a new approach to adapt to working remotely. Here’s how, (courtesy of CMC Connect Limited):

  1. Create a Dedicated workspace – away from distractions
  2. Start Your Day Early – Waking up late will disorganize your day
  3. Prepare for Work! – Take a shower, change your clothes
  4. Create a to-do-list: Write down the task to be achieved for the day
  5. Stay Focused: Avoid distractions by setting boundaries, help your loved ones understand that you’re not on a holiday
  6. Take breaks, stretch your legs
  7. Communicate! Respond to calls, emails, messaging apps, video calls etc.
  8. Celebrate Your Wins: Go over the day’s tasks and tick off those you were able to deliver
  9. Review the day’s achievements with your line manager and teammates
  10. Working from home (WFH), is only effective when you are in constant communication with line managers and teammates.

 

  1. Embrace Collaborative Business–In collaborative business, companies coordinate withothercompanies to maximize their efficiency and profitability. Collaborative business is used by companies to team up with competitors and suppliers for efficiency, and it can also be used as a sales strategy to capture more market share.

 

A food vendor and transportercan partner to deliver provisions to homes. Technology consulting firms can partner with a professional body to deliver webinars to their members.

 

  1. Maintain/Increase your Marketing Budget – In challenging times, many businesses cut down their marketing budget though unbeknownst to them it’s to the detriment of the business. Lean periods are the times businesses needs to market more because consumers are restless and looking to make changes in their buying decisions. You need to help them find your products and services easily.

 

This is the best time to increase your investment in public relations. Almost all the industry and profession have something to say to the virus to navigate the COVID-19 era. Credential experts in medicine, law, finance, HR, technology, media, supply chain management etc. can leverage radio and TV news talk programs to position their brands, and reach more people than they have in years, according to Nielsen. This is one of the times when knowledge or professionalism counts to provide relevant information to customers to manage the crisis.

 

Brands should constantly update their online profiles – websites and social media handles as the authentic sources of information. Hotlines should be activated as well. Efforts in social listening, media scanning and keyword monitoring should be doubled to quickly respond to any untoward rumour.

 

  1. Protect Business Cash Flow – Cash is the lifeblood of every business to take care of overheads and keep business healthy. But the harder times get, the harder it can be to keep the cash flowing in. Free cash-flow, equity and debt financing are the best sources of working capital. However, these options may not be available for all businesses in challenging times.

 

In such cases, there are alternative cash-flow management strategies that businesses can use to ease the strain on their working capital such asrequesting for a deposit; cutting or delaying expenses; financing purchase orders; and selling invoices.

 

  1. Communication – Create and maintain an open line of communication relevant to your stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, creditors and government regulators to maintain ongoing engagement and support. These stakeholders require different messaging and media, it is essential to keep them informed.

 

  1. Maximize Government Financial Support Policies–the Central Bank of Nigeria announced several financial intervention policies to support households and companies in mitigating the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the affected families and enterprises nationwide. This include:

 

  1. The credit relief of $136.6M and additional N50billion facility through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank for households, small and medium-sized enterprises, airline service providers, hotels, and health care merchants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

  1. The apex bank dropped interest rates on all its intervention funds from 9 percent to 5 percent per annum for one-year effective March 1, 2020.

 

  1. Unspecified credit support for pharmaceutical companies intending to expand or establish their own drug manufacturing plants in Nigeria as well as to hospital and health care practitioners who intend to build or expand to world class standards.

 

  1. Forbearance to big businesses by granting banks leave to consider the temporary restructuring of the tenure and loan terms for businesses and households most affected by the outbreak, particularly the oil and gas, agriculture and manufacturing.

 

Your organisationmust step up to the plate and toadapting to the current realities. As you already know, this is the era that businesses must demonstrate their nimbleness by quickly and effectively responding to the demands of change while continually delivering high performance.

 

SegunMcmedal, leading business communications and public affairs advisor, lives in Lagos.

 


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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.

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FG Mulls Renewable Energy for Improved Power Supply

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, has said that the federal government plans to diversify the country’s energy supply sources to include renewable energy towards accelerating socio-economic development.

FG Mulls Renewable Energy for Improved Power Supply

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology

Onu stated this when he declared open the forum on ‘Scaling-up interconnected mini-grids development in Nigeria’, ‎organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-GEF) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, in Abuja.

He said that renewable energy will help the nation meet its electricity needs in a functional and sustainable manner, adding that it will also improve the quality of life in the country.

‎“Nigeria is endowed with substantial energy resources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas; renewables such as hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, waves and tides, as well as biomass.

‎‎“The challenge before us, has always been on how to efficiently transform these resources into adequate and reliable energy for national development using our enormous capacity in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship”, he said.

The minister explained that since the inception of the present administration in 2015, electronic power generation capacity had increased at an annual rate of about 390 megawatts per year.

He, however, said that while this is commendable, it could not adequately meet the needs of the country’s population and sustain the desired level of economic development.

Onu further observed that Nigeria’s desire to industrialise cannot be realised without adequate power supply.

He stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that homes, offices, factories, schools, hospitals and laboratories in the country have adequate, reliable and affordable electricity supply.

“Renewable energy could meet Nigeria’s energy needs in the area of job creation and improved standard of living in rural areas,” he said.

He added that the development of solar photo-voltaic (Pv) in the country triggered by increase in demand for rural water supply, lighting, health services and micro-enterprise needs to be regulated to stimulate private sector participation.


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ROAM Africa Reports Over 2,400 Candidates Applying for One Role as Jobs Stiffens

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ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the leading digital classifieds group in Sub-Saharan Africa, has released figures that highlight the current state of the jobs market in Africa, with one standard role attracting 2,417 applications.

Analysing 69,511 jobs listings from January 2019 to August 2020 across 5 African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), ROAM Africa’s data sheds more light on the challenges facing both job seekers and employers in the African jobs market.

The standard job listing that attracted 2,417 applications was for a Receptionist/Admin Assistant in Kenya while another listing for call centre agents and team leaders attracted 2,283 applicants.

Similar is observed also for other markets: In Ghana, 2,299 people applied for an Administrative Assistant role and 2,265 people in Tanzania applied for a Sales Representative role.

In Nigeria, the highest number of applications for a single role was 2,095 and it was for a Sales Representative role.

According to ROAM Africa’s data, Kenya contributed the highest amount of new job listings in 2019 with 33%. Nigeria was in second place with 31% and Uganda was in third place with 17%. However, so far in 2020, Nigeria is leading the way with 40% of new job listings, with Kenya in second place with 28% and Uganda in third place with 13%.

A closer look at ROAM Africa’s data reveals that, apart from Nigeria, there was a drop in overall job listings across all job levels during the last months.

However, there was an increase in graduate trainee and ‘no experience’ roles in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana from May to July 2020, which offers some hope for new entrants into the jobs market.

Interestingly, recruitment agencies contributed the most roles, with 16% of overall jobs, closely followed by IT and Telecoms with 15% and Advertising media and communications with 12%.

Some candidates have also reported applying for more than 20 jobs a day for multiple months and only getting to the interview stage on a handful of occasions. This is why ROAM Africa’s jobs platforms Jobberman (Ghana and Nigeria) and BrighterMonday (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) are focused on matching technology.

The company’s technology helps employers to identify and score the right candidates faster. Suitable candidates are made visible to prospective employers, and helped across the finish line by providing data driven career development tools and training programmes.

Job seekers using the platforms can expect to improve their CV, gain interview tips and sign-up for online training courses designed to bridge the gap between education and employment.

Commenting on the data, Clemens Weitz, CEO of ROAM Africa said, “The high ratio of applications per job listing really highlights how challenging the jobs market is for employers and job seekers.  Both employers and job seekers are struggling to connect with the right opportunities and more needs to be done to address this.

“Employers must rethink their hiring strategies and clearly define what they are looking for, based on data and insights. Job seekers must also invest in personal development that will make it easier for them to stand out in such a crowded and competitive market.”

Weitz also added that, “We believe that Africa’s greatest asset is its people and their entrepreneurial spirit. With the expected growth in the continent’s population, we must begin to put structures in place that will make it easier for African businesses to make the most of this resource.”

According to Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa’s Jobs platforms, “With the current state of the jobs market, Africans cannot afford to continue with the antiquated recruitment processes that are commonplace in many organisations.

We must prioritise a digital approach to recruitment, which brings transparency to Africa’s labour market while connecting people to work opportunities that will improve their livelihood.

We must also embrace objectivity in the recruitment process by incorporating innovation that makes it easier to fairly and consistently sort for the best candidates. This will ensure that only qualified candidates are applying for roles and employers get an accurate picture of jobseekers’ capabilities. A win-win for both job seekers and employers.”

“Our data highlights both the challenge and opportunity that come with the African jobs market. We must address the challenge of rampant unemployment but also embrace the opportunity to transform how recruitment is done. By doing this, we will not only be addressing the current problems but also future-proofing our businesses and organizations for generations to come.”


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FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model

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National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has pledged to give necessary support to TStv Africa as the indigenous digital satellite TV service begins full operation with pay per view model on October 1, 2020.

FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model

Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, made the promise on Monday in Abuja when the management team of TStv paid him an official visit.

The visit was to inform him of the company‘s readiness to commence full operation across the country on October 1.

TStv Africa is a wholly-owned Nigerian innovative multi-channel outfit which had promised to operate a pay per view model for the benefit of Nigerians.

Idachaba said: “We promise on our side that we will continue to support you.

“At this time, I think that the major issue confronting the PayTv sector is the area of giving Nigerians option of deregulating purchasing capacity in terms of pay as you go concept.

“We believe this will give you the visibility if you remain committed to the idea.

“We welcome that option and wish that it serves as a stimulant and as a progressive index for other pay-TV operators to adopt.

“Some of them have come up with a lot of excuses why pay per view is difficult and why it is not doable.

“We want you to be the galvaniser to prove the naysayers wrong that this is doable in the interest of Nigerians.

“Once you begin and you make a success of it through increased subscription base, we are sure that others will be drawn into it as it happened in the telecommunication sector.”

Idachaba said the NBC is committed to promoting local participation in the nation’s broadcasting industry, especially in the pay-TV sector, to create jobs and provide diversity for Nigerians.

He acknowledged the challenges TStv had faced over the years and encouraged the company to remain focused.

“We are aware that it has been very challenging for you.

“All over the world dominant players will always want to remain in a dominant position.

” Those who want to survive will also have to take the courage to do so,” he said.

The Acting Director-General, however, admonished the firm to refrain from any activity that would give Nigeria a bad name.

“If you are acquiring rights, you must make sure that your rights are legitimately acquired.

“You must make sure you follow the rules of engagement strictly, study the broadcasting code strictly to have a robust future ahead of you,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Echefu Bright, managing director and CEO of TStv, said they were at the NBC to seek the commission’s support to have a peaceful roll out on October 1.

He said the outfit also visited the NBC to officially present samples of its decoders to the commission and thank the management for its support.

Bright gave an assurance that the novel pay per view concept was sacrosanct.

“The model is what we have experimented and implemented and it works and we have done everything we need to do for it Nigerians to benefit.

“Beyond that, we have enough boxes on ground that will cover the entire country,” he said.

Bright also gave an assurance that with the Oct.1 roll out, every part of the country would be covered.

“We currently have a dealership in virtually every state in Nigeria and as I speak to you now our goods are already with them for October 1 rollout. The coverage from day one will be across Nigeria,”

On sports products, he said the firm has Laliga as well as the FA Cup and  Euro Cup 2021 rights.

 


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