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Using Courier Business for what it is not

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Courier service as an organized professional system of receiving items, packages, messages or documents is guided by variables such as security, speed and trust.
In recent time the courier business in Nigeria has suffered credibility problem as a result of using the system for other illegal businesses other than what it is actually supposed to be.
The proliferation of players in the industry has in no small measure contributed to the nefarious activities in the industry.
In view of the proliferation and by provisions of Section 45 cap 127 Laws of the Federal republic of Nigeria 2004( December 41 of 1992) of Nigerian Postal System as amended , the federal government of Nigeria in 1981 promulgated a decree that empowered the Nigerian Postal Service (Nipost) the regulator of the  postal and courier industry . This development gave birth to the Courier Regulatory Department (CRD) about eight years ago. The body has been working with other government agencies to ensure that nobody brings for shipment a sheep for a ram.
The birth of CRD as the ombudsman of the sector has recorded some fit in the war to curtail the activities of illegal operators but this war cannot be said to have been won as   companies that are not duly licensed by the regulatory body still wrangle their way into the business and do all sorts of dirty deals in the system. Because they don’t care if their operational licenses are withdrawn if they are implicated in any dirty deal, as they don’t have any license, illegal courier operators do their businesses with impunity. The Courier Regulatory Department has been battling to reduce their activities but as diehards, they keep on resurfacing after each successful attempt has been made by the CRD to arrest some of them. Even at that, the department has not been well positioned to battle the monster. With the lean resources at CRD’s disposal, when the body relies on Nipost for its subventions, CRD leadership has said that it lacks the capacity to combat the menace effectively and have a winning result. The body supervises the activities of courier operators nationwide and there is need that it has offices in every state of the federation  for effective monitoring instead of concentrating in Lagos alone and visits other areas only when it becomes inevitable so to do.
Another dimension is that drug barons connive with their agents in courier companies to traffic in drugs through postal networks. Since security reports revealed the enormity of the post and courier serving as pipeline for fraudulent activities, Nipost re-strategised collaborating  with other agencies like the Serious  Organized Crime Agency (Soca) of Britain and the Postal Inspectorate Unit of the United States Postal service which led to the seizure  of more than 4000 scam letters and parcels meant for shipment abroad and contained various fake international currencies running into billions of naira. The same period (October-Dec 2007), Nipost also intercepted the shipment of more than 2,500 fake international passports to various countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and others.
NDLEA collaboration has also led to the interception of hard drugs with some courier companies and it has created a specialize unit called Postal Intelligence Assignment (PIA) now known as Special Investigation assignment. Information from NDLEA revealed that between 2006 and the end of 2007, the body arrested 12,631 suspects with a total seizure of 418829.84kg of hard drugs some of which were routed through the courier companies.
The efforts of the SIA   have equally nipped in the bud various attempts by internet scammers to use courier services to swindle innocent people of their hard earned money. The agency has intercepted several fake international passports, 419 documents such as fake cheques, money orders and certificates while it handed suspects over to EFCC for prosecution.
Given that NDLEA has recorded some progress in the effort, it is still faced with a lot of challenges. One of the major challenges is the inability of some courier companies to adhere to operational standards. CRD should be empowered for it to be able to enforce discipline in the industry .

 


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E-Financial

CBN Investigates 55 Companies over Forex Infractions

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Amidst sustained pressures on Nigeria’s official foreign exchange resources, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has opened investigations into foreign exchange transactions of 55 companies and individuals.

The apex bank linked them to foreign exchange deals outside the official Investors & Exporters (I&E) window.

CBN Investigates 55 Companies over Forex Infractions

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

The I&E window was created by the CBN as the legitimate platform for buying and selling of foreign currencies.

Some of the major corporate organisations in the list include Stallion Nigeria Limited, a conglomerate involved in several sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The list also includes Nigeria’s leading electronic payment company, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, as well as a leading global shipping line, CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited.

Other big names in the list include Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited, Steel Force Far East Limited, Auto Petroleum Company Limited, Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil & Marine Limited, Haitch & Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, and Promasidor Nigeria Limited.


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Broadcasting

OurTv Secures LaLiga Broadcasting Rights for Nigeria

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OurTV, a DTH free TV broadcast satellite service provider, has secured broadcast rights for Laliga matches in Nigeria.

OurTv Secures LaLiga Broadcasting Rights for Nigeria

OurTV will broadcast Laliga Santander matches live on its Sports Channel 120.

Commenting on the development, Olushola Peters, Head of Marketing of OurTV, said: “This is one major milestone for OurTv and we want to thank our esteemed users, who have always believed and supported us. We value your input and suggestions as it is a core culture in OurTv to listen and please our viewers as much as we can.”

OurTv is a Direct-To-Home (DTH) TV broadcast satellite service with onetime payment of set-up boxes that offers over 18 unique and exciting channels with the use of homegrown services.


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NAVSA: NITDA Changes Existing Reality in Agricultural  Sector

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By Lukman Oladokun

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” —Buckminster Fuller

We live in a time of digital transformation and it is driving change in all areas. The ubiquitous nature of ICT in revolutionising every human endeavour has made its adaptation also in agriculture universally popular. Developed nations are achieving food sustainability due to early adoption of ICT in their farming processes.

In a report to the G20 Agricultural Deputies in 2017 on Information and Communication Technology in Agriculture by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, (FAO), by 2050, the world population is expected to surpass 9 billion and for the world to meet the attendant increase in food demand, agricultural production will need to increase by 60 percent from its current level in order to meet the additional global food need. Application of ICT to collect and share timely and accurate information on weather, inputs, markets and prices to the stakeholders in agricultural value chain would play a significant role to meet the global food demand.

In Nigeria, with a population of about 200 million and 48.84 percent of the population in agricultural sector which provides employment for about 30 percent of the population, the importance of adoption of ICT to farming techniques cannot be over-emphasized. It is in recognition of the importance of sustainable food systems for food security and growth and the need to provide targeted information to every farmer that necessitated the federal government of Nigeria to mandate NITDA “to improve food production and security” and also “to ensure that the entire citizenry is empowered with Information Technologies through the development of critical mass of IT proficient and globally competitive manpower”.

The Agency has swung into action to actualize these mandates through many initiatives. As far back as the beginning of the millennium, the Agency entered into partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, (UNECA) to produce the Nigeria ICT4D document which details the roles ICT could play in rejuvenating 12 critical sectors of the economy, with agriculture taking a prime of place.

As part of the efforts to help farmers in Nigeria adopt more efficient and sustainable production methods and reduce the burden of labour-intensive tasks and manage their farms better to help build a more resilient, sustainable and productive food system, the Agency in 2019 initiated a value addition process for agriculture named National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA), an ecosystem-driven digital platform envisioned for the transformation of the agricultural sector in Nigeria. It is envisaged that the programme would assist the farmers and other stakeholders in agricultural ecosystem to navigate the journey across sector value-chain which involves farm production and management of their produce.

The main thrust of the programme is the integration of digital technologies and innovations to improve productivity and income of farmers and other ecosystem players in a bid to reposition agriculture as a viable business that has the potential of attracting the youthful population in the country.

At the launch of the pilot phase of the program in Jigawa State, one of the states that have comparative advantage in agriculture, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami observed that “the way agriculture is practiced needs to be modernised and transformed in such a manner as to encourage young talents to set up agriculture enterprises and position agriculture as a major means of economic diversification and growth, thereby increasing its contributions to the nation’s GDP.“

An in-depth analysis of the programme reveals it is aimed at helping the administration of President MuhammaduBuhari achieve  two of the three cardinal objectives of the administration by transforming the economy and fighting insecurity.

The pilot started with 130 farmers who were “adopted” into the programme. Expectedly, the initiative would give rise to new agricultural business models and opportunities that would stimulate huge potential in job and wealth creations with attendant effect of playing a major role in the diversification and shift from monolithic economy the nation is known for.

Arguably, previous government’s initiatives aimed at putting the agricultural sector on a pedestal to ensure food sufficiency could not be said to have been successful largely due to dispassionate mind-set of Nigerian youths who do not see a viable future in venturing into agricultural businesses.

This is occasioned by the retention of the old-fashion agricultural practices; inadequate provision of credit facilities, market to sell farm produce and other challenges.

Nowadays, with digital technologies making incursion into every human endeavour, coupled with relatively-large technological-savvy youths, a good articulated programme like NAVSA would proffer solutions to those challenges.

In his remarks at the closing of the two weeks long training on how the youths can use digital tools for agricultural purposes, the DG NITDA Mallam Kashifu InuwaAbdullahi maintained that the agricultural sector remains one of the critical sectors of the economy that can leverage digital innovations to create jobs, wealth and build a vibrant digital economy for Nigerians.

He however, decried the position of the sector in the usage of technological tools as dismal, adding that “agriculture remains one of the least digitised sectors in Nigeria despite its potential as one of the most veritable sectors for economic diversification.”

The twin challenge of meeting the domestic food requirement for attainment of a food sufficient nation and production of quality produce required for domestic and international market which are occasioned by inadequate access to appropriate information almost in real-time; inadequate entrepreneurship ideas and poor knowledge of agricultural value chain opportunities for existing and emerging Agricprenuers would eventually be  things of the past with the proper implementation and adoption of the programme. These will be achieved by providing information to stakeholders through the introduction of digital technologies and innovation across agriculture value chain in transformative manner.

In mitigating these challenges, the project focuses on adoption of “radical rethink” and collaborative approach between the public and private sectors that operate across the value chain. To achieve this, a proposed strategy which requires consensus building and connecting ecosystem players towards a shared vision has been identified.  NITDA, using NAVSA, intends to collaborate with 22 industry players, with each player entering into agreement or signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on expected roles it will perform.

The ecosystem includes farmers; Federal, State and Local Governments; input suppliers and produce off-takers; mobile/telecommunications service providers; Banks; FinTech; smart solutions service providers; renewable energy service providers; investors; development partners; agriculture platforms; startup businesses, agriculture experts and extension workers among others. The values these partners would bring to the success of the programme is alluded to at the closing ceremony of the training at Dutse,Jigawa State by the State Governor, His Excellency Mohammed Badaru. He confirmed that NITDA has partnered with telecoms operator, (MTN) and has developed a special package for smart farmers which comes with 4G SIM cards with a one year internet data subscription. Other add-ons to the digital tools include certified seeds, smart water pumps machines, fertilizers and other items.

He stated further that “NAVSA created a wallet scheme with seed capital of N200,000 for each smart farmer. Both the state government and NITDA contributed half of the amount each. The wallet scheme is designed to domicile money for proper projects execution whereas JASCO will serve as farm inputs service provider.

In ensuring that funds for the project are not used for other purposes rather than what it meant for, the project is designed in a way that all transactions are required to go through the platform with the aid of the digital wallet. Funds are not allowed to exchange hands and the only way a farmer could access the fund is through request on the platform to a NAVSA-registered input supplier.  In making it a self-sustaining venture, it is also designed in such a manner that allows smart farmers to plough 75 percent of their profits back to the open wallet where it can be cashed out and the remaining balance of 25 percent goes into a restricted wallet to increase the investment capital.

This laudable initiative intends to create 6 million jobs in the next 10 years. This may look so ambitious but the strategies put in place to accomplish the aspiration are well tailored with articulated Key Performance Indicators that provide clear guidelines for it. The strategy is targeted at adopting farmers in all 36 States and 774 LGAs in the country, support and equip them with skills and resources that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations in food sufficiency, security and exportation.

It has now become imperative more than ever before to adopt the use of technology to combat hunger and promote sustainable agricultural practices that are attractive to youths. Digital technologies and innovations are at the heart of managing agriculture value chain from seedling to off-take. And these are that targets of NAVSA going forward.

 


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