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Role of FMCG in Tackling Climate Change: The Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer Goods Companies in Nigeria

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By Lovelyn Okafor

I was always attracted by the natural beauty that surrounded me as a little girl growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, the country’s major city at the time. Nigeria possessed a wealth of natural resources, ranging from lush green forests to crystal-clear rivers. However, as I got older, I became more aware of the influence of climate change on my city. The once-green woods were being destroyed at an alarming pace, and the waterways were filling up with rubbish from human activity, particularly plastic pollution. It was then that I saw the crucial role that Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) firms may play in the battle against climate change.

According to the World Bank Groundswell reports, by 2050, Sub-Saharan Africa could see as many as 86 million internal climate migrants (move within their countries’ borders) without urgent global and national climate action to mitigate it. At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, President Buhari pledged that Nigeria will attain NetZero (zero carbon emissions) by 2050.

The challenges facing FMCG companies in Nigeria in tackling climate change are significant. The lack of infrastructure and resources for sustainable production and distribution is a major setback. Nigeria has a recycling rate of less than 10%, with most waste ending up in landfills or oceans. This lack of infrastructure also affects the availability of renewable energy sources, which makes it more difficult for companies to switch to clean energy. Also, the lack of awareness among consumers about the environmental impact of their choices is another significant challenge. Despite these challenges, there are significant opportunities for FMCG companies in Nigeria to address climate change. One opportunity is the growing interest in sustainability among consumers.

As awareness about climate change grows, more consumers are looking for sustainable options. Companies that can provide these options have the potential to gain a competitive advantage and build customer loyalty, especially among the younger generations. We see more millennials and Gen Zs taking responsibility for their purchases throughout the globe.  Inputting the environment as a priority will attract and keep such customers who are persistent in looking into new brands that can provide green products.

Another opportunity is the potential for cost savings. Nigeria has a high cost of energy, which means that switching to renewable energy sources can provide long-term cost benefits. Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12tn (£10.2tn) by 2050, an Oxford University study says.

Additionally, investing in sustainable production and distribution can lead to reduced waste and lower operating costs. Presently, most parts of the world battle with various climate issues, particularly floods in Africa, earthquakes, typhoons, mudslides in Asia, bushfires, and hurricanes in the Americas. This has heightened discussions and adoption of sustainability measures such as the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG among United Nations member states and sundry initiatives by business/corporate organizations.

Apart from working on the SDGs at the governmental level, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods firms are moving quickly to reduce the environmental impact of their operations by manufacturing eco-friendly goods and establishing sustainable supply chains that decrease waste. Unilever Nigeria, for example, has set lofty sustainability goals, such as procuring 100% of its palm oil responsibly by 2023 and going carbon positive by 2030. They have also introduced environmentally friendly goods, such as Sunlight 2-in-1 washing powder, which uses less water and energy than standard washing powders.  Nestle Nigeria is another FMCG firm in Nigeria with a sustainability programme that focuses on waste reduction and energy efficiency. They have also introduced environmentally friendly items, like their Milo refill pack, which eliminates packaging waste.

The measures these FMCG firms undertake in Nigeria serve as a model for others to emulate. It is now up to other FMCG firms to step up and take action to combat climate change. Companies may start by establishing sustainability goals and investing in renewable energy. They may also introduce environmentally aware shoppers to sustainable items.

FMCG firms may enhance infrastructure for sustainable manufacturing and distribution by collaborating with the government and other stakeholders. They may, for example, collaborate with waste management firms to build a recycling infrastructure in Nigeria. They may also collaborate with renewable energy firms to expand the availability of renewable energy in Nigeria.

The role of FMCG companies in tackling climate change is critical in Nigeria. While there are challenges to overcome, such as the lack of infrastructure and consumer demand for sustainable products, there are also significant opportunities, such as cost savings and building customer loyalty. FMCG companies in Nigeria can learn from examples set by other countries and companies and take steps to reduce their environmental impact and provide consumers with more sustainable choices. Working together can create a more sustainable future for Nigeria and the world.

Lovelyn Okafor is a lawyer and a public relations professional. She has over a decade of experience leading and advising businesses across multiple industries on strategy, corporate governance, and regulatory compliance.

She serves on several boards and works actively at the intersection of policy, media relations and business processes and is passionate about youth mentorship and development. Lovelyn has served as a lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) and is currently the Country Head of Newmark Group, Nigeria.

She is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM).


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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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Nigeria’s Public Debt Now N121trn – DMO

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Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt has reached N121.67 trillion within three months.

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The Cable reports that this figure represents an increase of N24.33 trillion or 24.99 percent from the N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Nigeria’s public debt profile consists of the federal and subnational governments’ domestic and external debt stocks — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

According to the DMO, the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“Total domestic debt was N65.65 trillion (USD46.29 billion) while total external debt was N56.02 trillion (USD42.12 billion). Excluding naira exchange rate movements in Q1 2024, only the domestic debt component of total public debt grew from N59.12 trillion on December 31, 2023, to N65.65 trillion on March 31, 2024.

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the N7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the government’s revenue to enhance debt sustainability.”

On June 13, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion. In May, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said the federal government has secured a $500m World Bank loan to boost electricity distribution in the country.

Prior to this, the federal government had received $750 million from the World Bank for humanitarian and social reforms and $1.5 billion for its economic stabilisation plan.


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Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

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Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has declined to renew the license of On Digital Media, the operator behind StarSat, the South African branch of StarTimes Media.

Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

The decision, communicated in a letter to On Digital Media, mandates the company to cease operations by September 18, 2024, leaving the reasons for this decision and the steps required to secure a new license unclear.

Despite the shutdown order, Debbie Wu, CEO,  StarSat assured that the company will not be closing its operations anytime soon and is actively liaising with Icasa to find a resolution.

“We can assure you and the public that On Digital Media/StarSat will not be closing its operations anytime soon” Debbie Wu, CEO, On Digital Media.

“There’s been no notice to staff and StarTimes is still selling StarSat decoders to new customers,” an insider told TVwithThinus.

Reports that Icasa hadn’t renewed StarSat’s licence surfaced in early June 2024.

Icasa claimed it had sent a letter in mid-March to Wu and Ronald Reddy, general manager for legal, risk, and compliance, On Digital Media indicating it may issue a statement to inform subscribers, content providers, and financial stakeholders about the shutdown.

“Take note that Icasa may publish a notice on its website and/or in the Government Gazette advising affected subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the winding up of ODM’s broadcasting services“, the regulator said.

Icasa clarified that it does not have the mandate to consider transfer or renewal applications for expired licenses and instructed On Digital Media to share its plan for notifying subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the service cessation.

Wu stated that the company is exploring all regulatory and legal issues surrounding its licensing and reiterated that StarSat will continue its operations for the foreseeable future.

“Should such an event materialise, which we doubt will happen, we will respect our obligation in terms of the law to notify all interested parties,” Debbie Wu said, according to TVwithThinus.

 


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Climate Action Africa Reinforces Africa’s Urgency for Climate Change @CAAF24 Event in Lagos

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Climate Action Africa Forum 24 (CAAF24) held in Lagos, Nigeria marked a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change, organized by Climate Action Africa (CAA), a leading environmental advocate in Africa. CAAF24 aims to galvanize action and underscore the urgent need for climate action across industries and communities across Africa.

The event, held at the prestigious Landmark Center, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders including government officials, business leaders, academics, civil society representatives and the media.

The theme of this year’s forum, “Green Economies, Brighter Futures,” highlights the imperative for immediate and collective action in mitigating the effects of climate change in Africa and achieving global sustainability goals.

“CAAF24 serves as a critical platform for dialogue and collaboration,” said Grace Oluchi Mbah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CAA.

“With the event, we aim to increase education and awareness on climate change, showcase innovations and projects driving Africa to a sustainable future, and more actively contribute to the expansion of Africa’s green economy.”

The program featured addresses from Her Excellency, Madame Ramatoulaye Diallo Ndiaye, Former Minister of Culture Mali and Founder and CEO of the Great Green Wall of Africa (GGWoA) Foundation who was the special keynote speaker.

There were breakout sessions for panel discussions and workshops that focused on key issues such as the potential of forests and carbon credits, climate financing, Nigeria’s carbon market activation, mobilizing private capital for climate-positive investments in Africa, building resilient and livable African Cities and more. Sessions were designed to encourage interactive participation and exchange of ideas among participants from diverse backgrounds and sectors.

In addition to formal sessions, CAAF24 included networking opportunities and showcased the selection of outstanding innovations from over 800 registerations through the Deal Room, a platform that connected high-impact climate innovators in Africa with potential investors seeking to accelerate sustainable solutions.

Other highlights at CAAF24 were the audacious launch of the Billion Trees for Africa Initiative as part of CAA’s community programs and the unveiling of the Pan-African Green Economy Program (PAGE), a partnership with IDEA AFRICA and the Founder Institute that seeks to grow a new generation of 5,000 green innovators across Africa by 2035.

The selection of Omoniyi Praise (1st position), Treasure Nwosu (2nd position) and Alabi Abimbola (3rd position) as winners for the Climate Champion Quest organised by STEAM Funfest also stood out at CAAF24.

As Africa faces increasingly severe climate impacts, CAAF24 is a platform that is committed to unifying the participation of diverse stakeholders in advancing and achieving climate action in Africa. By reinforcing the urgency of climate change through meaningful dialogue and collaboration, CAAF24 inspires concrete steps towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.


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