Nigeria: Ikeazor Urges Businesses to Build Digital Capacity

5 June 2020

Businesses in Nigeria have been advised to invest in digital capabilities as one of the critical strategies to survive post-COVID-19.

Former Managing Director, Keystone Bank Limited, Mr.Philip Ikeazor, who is currently a Director at Tideway Advisory Limited, gave this advice during a webinar on the effects of COVID-19 on business operation, organised by the Nigerian chapter of University of Buckingham Alumni Association.

According to him, the transition to contactless operations has gained currency during this crisis, hence businesses must take proactive steps to remain in business after the crisis.

"Healthcare is a classic case; in the UK, less than 1 per cent of medication consultations were recorded in 2019 but under the lockdown, 100 per cent of consultations are occurring remotely," he said.

"There is already a big shift to digital and online channels by banks. Online banking rose by 90 per cent during the crisis in the UK, while in Nigeria, electronic bills payment rose by 36.6 per cent during the lockdown."

Ikeazor, added that educational institutions globally have also embraced remote learning, adding that car manufacturers in Asia have developed virtual showrooms.

He said businesses in the country would also need to improve their risk management capabilities as vulnerabilities would continue to exist in the operating environment. "Organisations that have a proactive and structured approach to risk management will always stay ahead of the curve as the next crisis emerges. Risk management approaches must be seen from an enterprise-wide perspective with the capacity to absorb uncertainty, fine-tune key risk indicators, and incorporate the lessons learnt from the pandemic into the operating model," he advised.

He said the businesses also need to adopt, "a through-cycle mindset that focuses on the long-term after reassessing your competitive advantage while shoring up the balance sheet and capacity in the short term."

This, he said, would be decisive for businesses in capturing significant value and out-perform peers post-COVID 19.

While commending the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for coming up with several initiatives aimed at cushioning the effects of the pandemic on businesses, Ikeazor urged manufacturers and SMEs to improve their corporate governance practice to benefit from the apex bank's intervention fund.

"Local manufacturers companies and SMEs must improve corporate governance by preparing and auditing their financial documents, have their filing, company shareholding, and directors in order at CAC, prepare good business plans with professionals and all these will enable them to access the loans and CBN intervention funds through their banks, the funds are available at five per cent interest rate which is very good to run a profitable business," he added.

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