John Obaro, managing director, SystemSpecs at a Workshop on Remita Pension for Pension Fund Administrators and Pension Fund Custodians in Lagos spoke on Remita Pension, a world class electronic courier service that rides on e-Payment platforms to deliver funds to bank accounts and associated schedules to relevant bodies in pre-specified formats. Excerpts:
About the Workshop
Essentially, it is a forum to create awareness on the Pension Industry Solution, a solution that can assist employers to fulfill their regulatory obligations of remitting contributory pensions on monthly basis to their respective PFAs. So we are meeting with key players in the industry- the PFCs and the PFAs to show them the capabilities of the solution. The solution assists employers to upload their schedules and effect e-payment such that their diverse PFAs are able to receive electronic schedules on real time basis.
PFAs & PFCs Blaming Regulators for not making Money
I do not think it is an issue of blaming regulators as such. The process in place for employers to fulfill their regulatory obligations has hitherto been cumbersome and when it is difficult to fulfill a law, even when the will is there, you may still have operational challenges and that is the kind of thing going on in the pension industry. It is a cumbersome process for a typical employer to deal with 5-10 PFAs. Employees leave the organization, so every month they need to re-compute how much pension should be paid on each employee, what should go to each PFA, that can easily become a nightmare so you find many organizations now having to set up desks or units to follow up because of the operational challenge. That is part of issues leading to PFAs not getting as many contributors as they would love on their platforms. That is one of the reasons we came up with a solution like this to make life easier for the employer who can upload all his schedules at once. There is no reason to break them to any structure, it goes to different PFAs, irrespective of the PFCs managing them and the PFAs and PFCs are able to see only the things that relate to them.
These are some of the symptoms of the current operational process. It is a fall out because the system itself wouldn’t work so you would always have things that create a kind of problem and that is where Remita comes in. It is no more simple for you to send a schedule that does not balance with the payment you want to make because it is the system after it accepts the schedules from the employer that re-computes the total contributory pension to be paid by that organization. The organization is debited for this sum and the various PFAs are credited in their accounts with the various PFCs. Immediately the payment is confirmed as successful, the PFAs and the PFCs immediately see schedules of those who have paid.
Relationship with Banks
Remita is an e-payment solution and what we have done is only to extend the features of the e-payment and translate it to business to make life operationally easier for organizations. As an e-payment solution, what it means is that we have relationship with the banks so for any employer using the platform, he would have filled an application form with the bank. It is actually the bank that will enable the organization on the Remita platform such that when transactions come from the Remita platform, the banks are able to recognize and respect that instruction. So the bank effects the debit and we move it on to the other banks and the bank then credits the beneficiary.
History of Remita Pension Solution
It was developed in 2005, the early days of the pension reform. That was when we started working on this solution and we’ve always had our eyes on the pension industry. The solution is about five years old, that is Remita but this is the first time when we have are focusing and bringing out the operational convenience for employers and PFAs. Remita is basically a payment engine. As a payment engine, we focus more on getting payments right, building relationships with all the banks so that they can respect instructions coming in from bank platforms and then of course our core area which has always been human manager payroll had moved our clients unto the platform, then we went into vendors and contractor payments and now we are focusing on the pension industry. Several organizations have been using it for pension payments. What we are discussing with the PFAs and PFCs is that we are now focusing on the pension aspect of Remita because the issue of funds not matching schedules has become a major crisis in the industry and since this is one of the core areas of strength of Remita, of course it is time for us to push it.
Encomiums for TD Africa as Nigeria Prepares for Tech Experience Centre Launch
A number of globally renowned Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the technology space have commended TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s leading technology, lifestyle and solutions distributor for successfully birthing the continent’s first Tech Experience Centre.
The commendations come ahead of the October 1st launch of the centre located in the high-rise Yudala Heights on 13 Idowu Martins, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Equally important, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami is expected in Lagos to commission the Centre, with the Lagos State Governor, BabajideSanwo-Olu, alongside a number of other high profile dignitaries, expected in attendance. The event will be streamed live to millions across the world from 5pm.
In a chat with newsmen, Chidalu Ekeh, head of the Tech Experience Centre, stated that aside reducing the decision making cycle for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), as well as other technology consumers, the Centre will also serve as a training centre for young Nigerians on latest technology.
“We are creating a path in this country where state-of-the-art technology will be accessible to CEOs, CIOs, CTOs and others technology consumers, so that they can make prompt decisions without leaving the country,” Chidalu said.
“What we have on board is a tech genius area where our customers will be able to take advantage of the partnerships that we have with the various OEMs on board.
“The Centre will afford young Nigerians the opportunity to receive world-class training on the latest technology.”
Also speaking on the reason for mobilising other tech giants to bring the massive project to life, Mrs. Gozy Ijogun, managing director (Sales) TD Africa, explained that the centre is aimed at adding value to the technology space in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.
Ijogun said: “I am sure everyone is wondering what TD Africa is doing with the Tech Experience Centre. At TD Africa, we consider ourselves value added distributors.
“We are not just here to buy and sell. We add value to the economy. For that reason, we came up with the Tech Experience Centre so that Africans can experience technology the way it should be in this part of the world.
“No other distributor can do this. TD Africa is here to add value to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.”
The Centre, housed within an impressive eight-floor edifice, will play host to tech giants, such as Cisco, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, HP, Schneider Electric, Zinox, Philips, Samsung, Apple and Bosch, among others.
“The structure also houses a cutting-edge gaming arena, lifestyle and smart home area, café, training centre, conference rooms and expansive office spaces, among others.
Olakunle Oloruntimehin, general manager, Cisco, West Africa, expressed delight with the concept behind the Tech Experience Centre, adding that it would be a great opportunity to offer latest technologies to consumers under the same roof with other tech giants.
“It is a good opportunity to collaborate with TD Africa and other OEMs under one roof. Technology is being democratised and it is important that people come together to take this outcome forward.
“Cisco is excited not only to partner with TD Africa but also to work with other OEMs under one space to make this work,” Oloruntimehin said.
Chioma Iwuchukwu-Nweke, country manager (Nigeria), Philips, also expressed excitement with the expected launch of the project. She revealed that Philips would delight tech customers at the Centre with latest health-driven home appliances.
Nweke said: “This is a dramatisation of the phrase ‘think global, act local.’ This is what TD Africa is doing with the Tech Experience Centre, by bringing lots of multinationals in the technology space in one place so that customers will experience latest technology.
“Before now, people always take technology to be something they have to travel outside the country to experience.
“We are sure that the Centre is going to change this narrative, especially at this time when the thought of travelling is a little bit scary for a lot of people. For us at Philips, customers should expect total innovative home appliances.”
On her part, Vivian Mike-Eze, marketing communication manager, Schneider Electric, commended the vision behind the initiative.
She urged tech consumers to be ready for an immersive experience with smart home concepts at the Tech Experience Centre.
“There has not been such a centre that gathers all the tech giants together in one place here in Nigeria. So, TD Africa has really set a precedent.
“I believe that people visiting the Tech Experience Centre expect to experience technology. In Nigeria, there is really a market for advanced technology that has been ignored for too long.
“This vision by TD Africa to bring the latest technology and get customers to experience it live is a fantastic opportunity to tap into. Because of the Centre, customers do not need to travel to the US or UK to actually see latest technology.
“Schneider Electric promises customers home automation, using the smart phone concept, when they walk into the Tech Experience Centre.
“This involves having the ability to control the temperature and ambience in their homes, with just a voice command. It is easy to talk about it, but there is no better idea than experiencing it by testing the controls and seeing it live.”
In addition, Microsoft Senior Partner, Specialist-Modern Work, Josh Adekeye, appreciated TD Africa, noting that the Centre will promote customer immersive experience. He promised that Microsoft would always support the Centre, which will reduce the burden for Microsoft to fly its customers to other countries to see its latest technological rollouts.
Adekeye said: “For us at Microsoft, when we heard about the Tech Experience Centre, we knew that it was something we needed to participate in. Before now, we usually fly our customers to Microsoft Technology Centre either in Dubai or in the US.
“However, when this opportunity came, we indicated interest and supported TD Africa to achieve it. We will always support the Centre. The beauty of technology is in seeing it.
“What Microsoft brings to the table is customer immersive experience. It means the customer will see the technology, feel the impact and make their decision easily and quickly.”
Lending his voice, Managing Director, Samsung (Nigeria), CadenChiyeon Yu hailed TD Africa for galvanising other tech giants to bring the Tech Experience Centre to life, adding that the Centre will afford Samsung a great opportunity to expose customers to its latest offerings in Internet of Things (IOT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other innovations shaping the global tech ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Ayokunmi Solesi, Country Manager (Nigeria), Bosch, described the Centre as a huge landmark on the African continent, adding that Bosch was ready to bring modern kitchen appliances to the delight of customers at the Centre.
Solesi said: “This is live experience. When you see big OEMs like Bosch, Schneider Electric, Samsung, Cisco, Microsoft, among others coming under a platform, you will realise that something great is about to be born.
“This is a huge landmark, not just in Nigeria, but also in Africa. For us at Bosch, this is a very commendable initiative,” Solesi said.
The Tech Experience Centre is an ambitious project, the first of its kind in Africa, to house global technology giants under one roof, with the aim of making latest and cutting-edge technology easily accessible to Nigerians and other nationals.
Experts and economic watchers have hailed the expected launch of the centre as a major development that will shore up Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology space, while also boosting the nation’s economy.
FG Mulls Zero Charge Policy for Educational Websites
Federal government is considering a new national policy for zero rates on educational websites to allow consumption of content without charges to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on learning, according to Isa Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Pantami stated this while delivering an address at a webinar organised by Lead Inspire Network in Abuja over the weekend.
The theme of the webinar was Enhancing Virtual Learning and the Challenges of Internet Penetration in Nigeria.
Mr Pantami, represented by Mr Usman Gambo, director, Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said the policy would contain appropriate incentives for mobile network operators and internet service providers.
The minister agreed that sufficient access to the internet was essential for the development of an informative society and that the Nigerian government was also working to increase the broadband penetration from its current level.
He noted that broadband penetration currently stands at 40.2 per cent and the plan is to make it 70 per cent by 2025.
“This is the target we set for ourselves in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan.
“It will be of great benefit to the education sector and we would focus more on enabling appropriate contents, infrastructure, capabilities for learning and teaching,” he said.
He added that few agencies under the ministry had established digital centres, capacity training centres, e-accessibility centres, school knowledge centres, e-Libraries, ICT Hubs and innovation parks across the country to propel broadband penetration.
“In just one year, we have deployed over 200 of these centres across the country and they are mostly situated in rural areas, equipped with at least 25 computers, back-up power supply and free internet service.
“In addition to providing free internet services, the centres also serve as innovation hubs and learning centres for the local community,” Mr Pantami said.
He said that NITDA had issued Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access to regulate government approach to deepen internet penetration and bridge the digital divide.
On his part, Umar Danbata, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), stated that COVID-19 had created a new level for education that required a new approach.
Represented by Mr Henry Nkemadu, a Director with the commission, Danbata acknowledged that high cost of Right of Way (RoW), multiple taxation, operating expenses and economic downturn had affected internet penetration but reiterated that government was putting measures in place to ease the challenges.
Mr Sope Afolayan, co-founder, Lead Inspire Network, said the event was aimed at providing equal access to children at all levels and redirect the thinking of policymakers on the need to see the acquisition of education beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Tech Experience Centre will Boost Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Profile, Says Cisco Boss
The establishment of the Tech Experience Centre, an unprecedented technology project set for launch in Lagos, will deliver excellent social, commercial and economic opportunities that will potentially create wealth for Nigeria.
The foregoing represents the thoughts of Olakunle Oloruntimehin, general manager, West Africa, Cisco.
Equally important, Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT and networking, is one of the global tech giants that will be represented in the centre, a development which Oloruntimehin remains confident will generate innumerable positive outcomes for the Nigerian economy.
The Tech Experience Centre is set for launch on Thursday, October 1, 2020, the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary.
‘‘Nigeria can expect Cisco to leverage this centre as part of our ongoing efforts in this region and globally to accelerate an inclusive future for all. Cisco people, technology and related resources delivered at this centre can be expected to ensure the interventions that will predictably deliver social, commercial and economic outcomes for Nigeria and the West Africa region.
“Our focus on partnerships and collaboration will include the space for SMME support, building a community that can be leveraged to improve the wealth of Nigeria,’’ he said.
In addition, Oloruntimehin has expressed delight with the presence of Cisco among other globally renowned tech brands in the centre.
Specifically, he referenced the multiplier effect the Tech Experience Centre will have in encouraging local IT participation and the chance to have Nigeria’s voice heard in the global technology race.
‘‘Cisco is particularly pleased to be collaborating with other stakeholders in the Tech Experience Centre project.
“The Tech Experience Centre provides the ideal platform for collaboration amongst global technology players in a melting pot of sorts.
“The outcome of this should provide for local IT and technology industry participation and the incentives required to leverage the visible talent and opportunity potential in Nigeria. Innovation is global and the centre provides the interventions for Nigeria’s contribution.
‘‘Also, the democratization of technology outcomes should rank high as one of the impacts that this centre will deliver and by extension the provision of access to the evolving global technology landscape.
“My belief remains that access to education and the Internet, including the inherent opportunities for knowledge sharing, collaboration and innovation are the two most important equalizers in life.’’
Further, the Cisco executive has urged visitors to the Tech Experience Centre to look forward to enriching innovations and partnerships; even as he lauded TD Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa’s foremost technology, lifestyle and solutions distributor for spearheading the ambitious project.
‘‘At the centre, we expect our partners, customers and participation from our social responsibility collaboration e.g. Cisco Network academy. We expect to use the centre as a part of the showcase for our technology solutions, while we remain deliberate about building a relevant community of SMME that can compete at the global stage.
“Our traditional and emerging partners would also be welcome to the centre to collaborate with Cisco and other stakeholders in key areas like Devnet/DevOps, software engineering etc.
‘‘We focus on partnerships and collaboration. We are a company that has a proven track record off the back of a successful global partner program over the years. This approach is consistent in the way we continue to partner with TD Africa, to provide market development and penetration where required in the region for Cisco technology.
TD Africa is showing palpable intent with the launch of this Tech Experience Centre and I will encourage them to stay bold and continue to push the boundaries for technology in the region,’’ he concluded.
The Tech Experience Centre is widely expected to bridge the gap to cutting-edge technology for millions of Nigerians.
The centre, the first of its kind in Africa, located within the prestigious Yudala Heights on Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island will be flagged off by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, who is expected in Lagos for the official commissioning by 5pm.
The Tech Centre is widely expected to boost Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology race and shore up the country’s march to technology independence.
For the first time, Nigeria will play host to the latest global technologies including those not normally available in Africa, offering all classes of visitors a first-hand experience of new gadgets, solutions and infrastructure that would have previously required a visit abroad, thereby saving corporate organizations, government establishments and individuals money or scarce foreign exchange expended on these trips.
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