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Tuesday 15th June, 2021

Business

Vulnerable Households In Yobe State To Benefit From Mercy Corps, MoMo Agent Partnership

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Mercy Corps’ ‘Building Resilience in Complex Crisis (BRICC)’ programme funded by the European Union, has signed a new partnership with Y’ello Digital Financial Services (owners of the MoMo Agent Network), a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria, to efficiently deliver automated cash transfers and provide an avenue for programme participants with or without bank accounts to receive funds.

MTN said in a statement that this partnership will kick-start the use of MoMo Agent in the distribution of conditional and unconditional cash transfers to 14,270 households in Damaturu and Potiskum LGAs in Yobe state.

The European Union is funding Mercy Corps to implement an array of early recovery interventions across North-East Nigeria which involves cash assistance to vulnerable households and young people to help restore and improve livelihoods, making them more resilient to conflict and climate shock and stress.

COVID-19 has aggravated the impact of the conflict in the state, affecting market opportunities and increasing unemployment.

Of the participants that will be given cash transfers, 1,570 youths will receive funds to help them start a business after undergoing vocational training like automobile repairs, agribusiness, fashion designing, food business, and phone repairs, among others.

Dez Byamukama, BRICC Programme Director, Mercy Corps said, “The major goal of the BRICC programme is to build the resilience of communities, by providing them with the capacity and resources to respond to shocks and stresses, which have been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cash supports beneficiaries to respond to their basic needs and survive economic hardship, Automated cash transfer also reduces the cost and security risks associated with the transfer and direct distribution of cash.”

The presence of MoMo agents in communities where BRICC is implemented means faster and more efficient means of delivering cash transfers without participants having to wait in long queues.

With an agent base of over 150,000 across the country, MoMo Agents provide safe, fast, and easy access to financial services for customers through their widespread presence and reliable service.

This partnership with Mercy Corps provides a unique opportunity to extend these benefits to the most vulnerable families in Yobe State and other conflict-affected states in the North East.

Commenting on the collaboration, Usoro Usoro, Chief Executive Officer, Y’ello Digital Financial Services said his organisation is committed to ensuring that every Nigerian is able to seamlessly access financial services for their personal and business needs.

“To do this, we constantly seek partnerships to support the financial inclusion strategy of the federal government. We are truly excited about this arrangement with Mercy Corps and the possibilities.

“With over 150,000 agents spread across the country, we are poised to deliver easy and fast cash transfers to beneficiaries of the programme in Yobe State and other locations within the country where required,” he stated.

EU Head of Cooperation, Tassin-Pelzer Cecile, also commended the initiative, noting that cash transfers are often more efficient and effective than other forms of aid.

She said: “Cash provides beneficiaries with the means and flexibility to decide and prioritise their recovery. In many contexts, cash assistance allows more aid to reach the beneficiaries directly. It also supports local markets and economy, laying the foundations for communities’ recovery and resilience.

“Cash transfers are effective in addressing negative coping strategies such as poor diets or debts. It is very important that Mercy Corps continues to work with the government to strengthen the State Social registry of the most vulnerable linking beneficiaries with the social protection programme.”

 

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BANKING

Access Bank Officially Launches Operations In South Africa

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Mr. Herbert Wigwe, CEO, Access Bank Plc

Access Bank Plc officially launched in South Africa on Monday and took another step in furthering its footprint across the African continent.

Access Bank chief executive Herbert Wigwe said in a statement that the Southern African Development Community represented the strongest economy in Africa, according to a report in IOL.

The Nigeria-listed Access Bank is a leading full-service commercial bank operating through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 12 countries and 31 million customers.

It employs 28,000 people in its operations in Nigeria and has subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, with a branch in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and representative offices in China, Lebanon and India.

Following a merger with Diamond Bank in March 2019, Access Bank, with more than 900,000 shareholders, became one of Africa’s largest retail banks by retail customer base.

Wigwe said the opening in South Africa meant Access Bank SA was now firmly seated in one of the principal geographical areas apart from Nigeria, in terms of the size of the economy.

Highlighting Access Bank’s presence in Zambia, he said the opening of the South African subsidiary cemented the bank’s commitment to sub-Saharan Africa as a portal for banking opportunities across the continent.

Access Bank SA chief executive, Bennie van Rooy said Monday was “an exciting event for the South African banking industry”, and the provision of sustainable support to existing customers while appealing to new clients with a business presence across Africa.

“As part of the robust Access Bank family, the South African operations look forward to contributing meaningfully to the achievements and ambitions of the group. In offering a full suite of financial service products to a market we understand in-depth, Access Bank SA is delighted to grow the family footprint.”

Wigwe said the group’s focus was on building relationships, as a partner in businesses and in the communities it served. “It’s vital that our banking solutions give clients the advantage they need to grow sustainably, with access to smart solutions that help them reach greater goals.”

“With its transactional account and online banking, commercial and asset finance, offshore investments and foreign exchange requirements or deposit solutions, Access Bank put the power of choice in clients’ hands,” he said.

“We look forward to the opportunities that present themselves with opening doors for individuals and businesses, and growing possibilities as we go,” said Wigwe.

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Helium Health, Nigerian Health Tech Startup Launches In Kenya

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Lagos-based e-health startup, Helium Health has launched its operations in Kenya, partnering with three local providers, including Philips Healthcare Technologies to integrate new services, including an EMR to serve the entire East African market.

Launched in 2016, Helium Health is the largest Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Hospital Management Information (HMI) Systems provider in West Africa.

The startup was founded by three entrepreneurs, Adegoke Olobusi, Tito Ovia and Dimeji Sofowora, with a shared passion for solving the practical problems that they identified within the Nigerian health sector using technology.

“We have been planning to expand into Kenya’s thriving health tech sector since last year, so we’re very excited to be hitting the ground running in 2021, already working with three new local partners to help improve efficiencies and provide a better service to patients.

“We believe there is a great opportunity to harness cutting-edge technology to help improve the way healthcare data is gathered and managed across Africa, so partnering with like-minded healthcare providers and facilities in Kenya are an excellent fit for us.” Tito Ovia, the co-founder, said.

Jean Kyula, Country Manager for Helium Health Kenya and formerly a National Health Service (NHS) doctor in the UK added, “We are confident that we can play a major role in supporting both Kenya’s public and private healthcare sectors.

“We are delighted to announce that we are open for business, already working with three new partners in Nairobi, and rolling out in Uganda and Liberia. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of technology in healthcare, and the need to keep building better systems, develop more remote access solutions, and improve efficiencies in our healthcare sector, so we’re looking forward to working with more partners, doctors, hospitals and clinics as we move forward.” Jean said.

In May 2020, Helium Health successfully closed a US$10 million Series A funding round (the largest fundraising of any software as a service (SaaS) healthcare provider in Africa) to scale. It later announced that it will be expanding in both existing and new markets, launching operations in East, North and Francophone West Africa.

Helium Health has already partnered with facilities in Uganda and Liberia onboarding their 90-plus users early in 2021 and is now extending its services to facilities in Nairobi.

Helium Health offers a full suite of products covering the complete healthcare value chain, from Electronic Medical Records (EMR), and Hospital Management Information (HMI) Systems, to credit and telemedicine products.

Over 300 healthcare providers and 5,000 health professionals in Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana currently use Helium Health’s technology, allowing healthcare facilities to accept payments and issue invoices with ease, access quick funding, and hold televisits with their patients, making it easier for patients to get diagnosed from their homes.

In 2020, Helium Health won the IFC Tech Emerge award, an award that matches innovative health tech startups with leading healthcare providers across Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to implement pilot projects and build long-term partnerships.

Helium Health will pilot its technology in the East African market.

 

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Business

BoICT Lecture 2021 Focuses On 5G as New Frontier For Superior Service Delivery

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This year’s Beacon of Information and Communications Technology (BoICT) awards/lecture series scheduled for July 24, will be exploring 5G as a new frontier for superior service delivery in the telecommunications space.

The BoICT Distinguished Lecture Series, now in its 12th year, is widely regarded as the most prestigious annual event available in the ICT industry in Nigeria.

This year’s theme: “5G: Exploring New Frontiers for Superior Service Delivery” leans heavily on the buzz around 5G- which if harnessed to its fullest potential, will feed the accelerated rise of the Internet of Things, enabling a smarter and more connected world.

Mr. Ken Nwogbo, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief, Communication Week Media Limited, the organisers of the lecture, said that the choice of the theme is based on the need to address the conspiracy theory against the technology as well as explore enormous benefits of the 5G in delivering quality telecommunications services.

“The lecture is followed by the awards ceremony which rewards best practices and recognizes outstanding contributions to the growth of the ICT sector.

“The awards are free and awardees are chosen by readers of Nigeria CommunicationsWeek through a transparent voting process,” Nwogbo said.

He noted that the voting platform has already opened and business leaders and readers are implored to cast their votes via this link. http://webthinkers.net/poll/polls.html

The Beacon of Information and Communication Technology (BoICT) awards series, is widely regarded as the most prestigious annual event available in the ICT industry in Nigeria.

It is designed to explore efforts to put Nigeria on the global Information and Communications Technologies map.

The lecture series, however, is reserved for distinguished achievers in the ICT sector.

Past Keynote lecturers include Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, then EVC, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC); Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, former Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Dr. Jean Luc Fort, CEO at OR System France and a specialist in Counterparty Risk; and Professor Chris Nwagboso, Chairman, Knowledge Factory International, United Kingdom.

Others are Uche Orji, managing director/chief executive officer, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA); Biodun Omoniyi, Managing Director/CEO, VDT Communications; Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director, Rack Centre Limited; and Peter Adedayo Arogundade, managing director and chief executive officer, Sidmach Technologies Nigeria Limited.

They also include John Obaro, CEO and founder of Systemspecs, Dr. Isa Pantami, former DG, NITDA; and Dr. Obadare Peter Adewale, co-founder and COO, of Digital Encode Limited among others.

 

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