Social Lender, a fintech company and OCP Africa, one of the largest fertilizer companies in Africa have provided over 100,000 smallholder farmers have got personalised financial services.
This is part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in the rural communities during the Covid-19 crisis. More than 60 per cent of smallholder farmers in Nigeria do not have Bank Verification Number (BVN) and are currently unbanked or under-banked.
To alleviate this problem, Social Lender has collaborated with OCP Africa to bring financial services to Nigerians especially those in the value chain. Millions of smallholder farmers lack BVN. It is one of many indicators of the absence of financial inclusion. This has led to a lack of economic inclusion and poverty among these farmers and other stakeholders.
The country manager, OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria, Caleb Usoh said that the aim of the partnership “is to ensure financial inclusion of a larger percentage of smallholder farmers in the country through BVN registrations and financial literacy training.”
According to him, the collaborative effort will alleviate their sufferings and help them to improve their lives. He added that the collaboration with Social Lender would help to prepare the farmers to gain access to competitive financial services provided by top institutions in Nigeria and beyond, and help improve their livelihood.
The partnership would allow Social Lender the opportunity to leverage OCP Africa’s existing 51 retail input distribution hubs called the One Stop Shop, which is spread across rural farming communities in Nigeria.
Social Lender would provide several services to the farmers which include a series of financial literacy training, financial inclusion through the creation of BVN accounts, mobile money and credit profiling as well as helping the farmers to obtain small scale loans.
The chief executive officer of Social Lender, Faith Adesemowo reiterated the importance of the partnership by inviting other organisations interested in serving the huge market segment to collaborate with Social Lender. She informed that her company “is currently building a low cost distribution infrastructure” model needed to serve the unbanked and under banked.
“We are building an innovative solution to serve this market effectively. The Social Reputation score is our main asset. For the offline market, we have started with a pilot in 2018 with CGAP, a division of the World Bank. Working with EFINA, we have scaled to six states including two Northern states. With OCP Africa partnership, we will add 31 locations and cover 14 states,” she said.
Adesemowo said the company is a fintech that works across all industries. “We have just chosen to have a strategic focus in agriculture due to the fact that a large number of the financially excluded are a part of this demography. Social Lender may someday become a full agritech but for now, we are fintech working in agriculture”, she said.
The chief operating officer of Social Lender, Mudiaga Ogboru said that partnership with OCP has further unlocked the value in the agricultural value chain, as more farmers have gained access to formal financial service like agro-loans, equipment leasing financing, fertilizer on credit, quality seeds and other agro-necessity.
“We are building a network for trust, credit and much more. For us, financial literary is the bedrock for financial inclusion and economic inclusion. We have built a robust financial literacy curriculum that is sufficiently equipped and digestible to the farmers because it is communicated in a language that is most comfortable for the farmers,” he said.
Many farmers have already benefitted from the partnership. One of them, Jibril Mansur, from Kaduna, lauded the initiative. He has joined the financial ecosystem programme because it was brought to his community.
Hajiya Aisha, another beneficiary from Kano expressed how the opportunity has changed her life. She is currently gradually being upgraded from an unbanked customer with no bank account, BVN, and access to credit into the formal financial system. “This is a level 10 on Social Lender’s digital financial inclusion journey”, Ogboru explained.
Ogboru said the partnership was launched as part of the OCP Africa Covid-19 palliative intervention which was implemented in 32 locations across 12 states in Nigeria.
Nigerian Telcos Deploy 53,460 3G, 4G BTSs, 55,725km Optic Cables—Danbatta
The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said that third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) deployment in Nigeria has increased from 30,000 to 53,460 in the last five years.
Prof. Umar Danbatta who disclosed this stated that fibre optic transmission cables expanded from 47,000km to 54,725km in the same period, resulting in improved broadband/telecoms service delivery to Nigerians.
He stated this at a briefing for the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu, on the functions and regulatory activities of the Commission in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the comprehensive briefing, the EVC spoke on NCC’s enabling laws, its mandates, structure, implementation approach of its mandates and methodology, key focus and targets, scorecards, the new soon-to-be-unveiled Strategic Management Vision (SVP), NCC’s contributions to the economy, various regulatory frameworks aimed at improving service delivery, challenges confronting the sector and proposed solutions, among others.
According to him, the effective regulatory regime put in place by the leadership of the Commission has resulted in increased deployment of infrastructure by telecoms operators, which in turn, helped to improve broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.
“The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers,” he said, adding that the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are also expected to add 38,296km to optic fibre cables when they commence fully operations.
According to the EVC, as at November, 2020, active telephony subscribers stood at 208 million with teledensity standing at 108.92 per cent while active Internet subscriptions were 154.9 million and a broadband penetration of 45.07 per cent, among others.
He also talked on various initiatives undertaken by the Commission to ensure consumer protection and empowerment. These, according to him, include the Declaration of 2017 as Year of the Telecom Consumer, introduction of the 622 Toll Free Line for lodging and resolving consumer complaints and the provision of the 112 Emergency number and activation of 19 Emergency Communications Centre (ECCs).
Other such consumer-centric regulatory measures intervention, according to the EVC, include, issuance of various directions to mobile network operators (MNOs) to protect the consumers from being short-changed, ensuring smooth transition of Etisalat to 9Mobile, consumer outreach programmes, introduction and enforcement of mobile number portability (MNP) as well as introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 to check cases of unsolicited text messages.
The EVC disclosed that the number of subscriptions to DND service has hit over 30 million as the service empowers Nigerians to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages.
In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband and its associated technologies, Danbatta said the Commission has positioned itself in government’s drive for a digital Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030) and the Strategic Management Plan (2020 – 2024) of the Commission.
“The Commission will continue to put in its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development. Also, it is our belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, will experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space,” he said.
In his reaction, the Perm Sec commended the leadership of the Commission, acknowledging the upward growth attributed to the effective regulatory regime, the central role NCC is playing in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy as well as the impressive contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic (GDP).
“I want to thank NCC for its contribution to the Nigerian economy so far. I am not exaggerating about the achievements of NCC, in terms of contribution to GDP and how NCC’s effective regulatory role has been helping the economy in so many ways,” he said, adding that NCC leadership also contributed to his success as the Chairman of the World Radio Conference in 2015.
Engr. Daudu urged the Commission on the need for increased collaboration and teamwork with the Ministry, other agencies and industry stakeholders towards achieving the Federal Government’s objective of a digital economy. He also promised to support the Commission in whatever ways possible towards achieving its regulatory mandates.
UK-Nigeria Tech Hub Unveils Virtual Capacity Building Programmes
The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub has launched amongst others two virtual programmes- the Design School Programme for aspiring product designers seeking to start a career in tech and the Future Females Business School programme for early-stage female entrepreneurs with tech-enabled businesses in Nigeria.
The Design School programme will run for two months and will provide an opportunity for 30 aspiring product designers to undergo an intensive training to equip them with necessary digital and product design skills. Application closes on January 25th 2021 and interested persons can apply using this link- http://bit.ly/DufunaDesignSchool
The Future Females Business programme is targeted at providing 100 early-stage female entrepreneurs with tech-enabled business in Nigeria an opportunity to upskill and gain digital skills aimed at bringing their business to life. The programme will run for 3 months and will include 10 modules, masterclasses, coaching sessions and guest features of industry experts in Nigeria. Applications closes on January 25th 2021 and interested persons can apply using this link- https://futurefemales.typeform.com/to/zGzqkKbV
While encouraging interested applicants to apply, the Country Director of the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, Honey Ogundeyi said: “These programmes will help promote gender inclusive economic growth as well as upgrade digital skills in Nigeria thereby developing the tech-ecosystem.”
FG Happy As Telcos Link 48m SIM Cards With NIN
The federal government has lauded Nigeria’s telecommunications operators for linking 47.8 million subscriber identification modules (SIMs) with the national identity number (NIN) in the ongoing exercise.
At an average of three to four SIMs per subscriber, this means many millions will be linked up before the deadline in February 2021. This was disclosed at the end of a review meeting on 18th January 2021 by the Technical Implementation Committee under the Ministerial Task Force.
The committee reported significant progress in the ongoing NIN-SIM linkage exercise. So far, a total of 47.8 million NINs have been collected by the mobile operators.
Reacting to the report, the minister of communications and digital economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, expressed satisfaction with this commendable achievement, saying government appreciates the commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders and citizens and urged them to submit their NINs before 9th February, 2021 deadline.
The minister urged the technical team to fast-track the processes so that the project is delivered soonest. The technical committee drew attention to the App developed by federal government which allows subscribers to link up to a maximum of seven SIMs to their NIN.
The minister concluded by reminding Nigerians to secure and protect their NINs, urging subscribers to desist from selling their NINs or allowing others to use their NINs for registration. “For any action committed with the SIM, good or bad, it will be officially traced and attached to the NIN owner,” the Minister warned.
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