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The survival of the 21st century Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSME) has been said to largely depend on the adoption and adaptation of digital technologies, hence, the call on entrepreneurs by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to embrace it to increase productivity and profitability of their businesses.

The NITDA’s Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, expressed this view as a keynote speaker at the 10th edition of Abuja Enterprise Agency’s Business 360 Clinics with the theme “Technology Utilisation and Innovation: Its Effect on SME Profitability and Productivity.

The NITDA’s boss who was represented at the event by the Acting National Coordinator, Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation,(ONDI), Mr Yakubu Musa, said the effective utilisation of technology by SMEs will result in improved efficiency, and invariably leads to higher productivity. So, productivity increases when SMEs focuses on progress, rather than perfection.

He maintained that there is a significant impact on the economic survival of the nation if technology is embraced.

He said, “Technology utilisation exerts a significant impact on the economic survival of nations, particularly, in today’s high-technology market where technological innovations are rapid and disruptive.

This has become the gains derived from the adoption and adaptation of existing technologies while also investing in the creation of new technologies to ensure sustained growth in Nigeria’s SMEs.

While acknowledging that technological progress allows for efficient production of superior goods and services by SME, Kashifu noted that it remains the drivers of global economic growth. ”They play a major role in the economies of all the countries in the world by their contribution to national economic growth and employment. SMEs contribute greatly to job creation and overall economic growth,” he added.

The DG informed that NITDA has undertaken several collaborative initiatives and programmes that are positively impacting on Nigeria’s SME.

He listed some of the collaborations to include partnership with Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), on Digital Marketing for SMEs, Gender Techpreneurship Workshop for Women, partnership with the AEA on Digital Innovation Training for 300 secondary school students in the Federal Capital Territory, and many more.

Earlier in his welcome address, the AEA Chief Executive Officer, Malam Shehu Abdulquadir, described the theme as very apt because it hinged on technological adaptation towards the profitability of SMEs because the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought a lot of distribution which has made technological adaptation compelling.

He stated further that the program was aimed at supporting the recovery of SMEs from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that, supporting SMEs after the pandemic would help them gain their traction back.

He revealed that the Agency has disbursed N200 million to 850 SMEs in Abuja and by next month, it is expected to disburse other tranches of 3.5 million USD to over 2,500 SMEs.

He said beneficiaries of the first tranches have retired the grant disbursed by the Agency from the World Bank assuring that “we are going to get more people from diverse stakeholders across all the six councils in the FCT to benefit from it.

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NiMet And NIRSAL Plc To Collaborate And Boost Agricultural Productivity In Nigeria




The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc) have announced that they will collaborate on several projects to boost agricultural productivity in Nigeria.

This followed a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, 14th February, 2024, at NIRSAL Plc’s headquarters, between the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NiMet, Professor Charles Anosike, and the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIRSAL, Abbas Umar Masanawa, OON.

While speaking at the meeting, Professor Anosike said; “The urgency of climate action requires that critical stakeholders collaborate, invest in preparedness and ensure that smallholder farmers are protected by early warnings of climate disaster. NiMet is keen on exploring opportunities for both NiMet and NIRSAL to partner in de-risking agriculture. With the work that NiMet does and the data it generates on a daily basis, this will help farmers to plan effectively and efficiently”.

Concluding, Professor Anosike said; “Climate change impacts greatly on farming activities and agricultural yield, hence the need for data-driven farming operations. This will help to de-risk the agricultural value chain”.

While welcoming the NiMet team led by Professor Anosike to NIRSAL, the Managing Director/CEO, Abbas Umar Masanawa, OON, said that NiMet has done well over the years not only in the aviation sector but also in the other economic sectors including agriculture. “The DG/CEO of NiMet, Professor Charles Anosike and his team have been doing very well not only in aviation but in agriculture as well. NIRSAL is interested in collaborating with them to support small holder farmers for increased productivity. This is in line with NIRSAL’s mandate”.

Masanawa said that collaborating with NiMet is critical as the focus will be on increasing primary production. “This will be beneficial to all as the farmers are the ones that are most vulnerable. We are also happy that NiMeT downscales its weather and climate data and information in different local Nigerian languages for wider reach and understanding”.

“A technical committee will be set up for the benefit of Nigerians and small holder farmers, drawn from experts from NiMet and NIRSAL to operationalize quickly the various areas of interest including but not limited to training, data sharing, setting up weather stations etc”, Masanawa concluded.

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AfCFTA: NCDMB Advocates Database of Skills, Uniform Standards for Goods, Services




As plans to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) continue to unfold, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has advocated the removal of visa restrictions among African nations, the creation of a database of available skills, and the simplification of cross border deployment of labour.

The Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Felix Omatsola Ogbe made these recommendations in the keynote address he delivered on Monday in Lagos at the Nigerian Local Content AfCFTA Energy Summit organised by the Board in partnership with the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN).

Represented by the Director of Corporate Services, NCDMB, Dr. Ama Ikuru, the Executive Secretary harped on the need to unlock barriers that are inhibiting free intra-Africa trade and advised African leaders to create unified codes and standards for goods and services, reform the services sector, and enhance trade facilitation programmes.

He assured that the NCDMB will continue to partner with stakeholders such as PETAN, the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), and other continental and regional bodies to position Nigerian oil service providers to take advantage of the big market opportunities that AfCFTA offers.

In his contribution, the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, NCDMB, Mr, Abdulmalik Halilu urged oil-producing countries to specialise in different manufacturing and service areas of the oil and gas industry and develop their competencies to the right specifications, so they can trade among themselves.

Citing an example with the manufacturing of complex equipment where the critical components are produced by different original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and assembled at a designated factory, Halilu explained that such a model will ensure that each African country develops a competitive advantage and can contribute effectively to the African oil and gas industry.

He mentioned that Nigeria had already completed two Oil and Gas Parks where manufactured components or services can be assembled at competitive costs. He stressed the need for close collaboration among African oil-producing countries as well as between African OEMs to enable the success of AfCFTA.

He listed other critical factors as trade liberalisation, uniform standards, measurements, and enforcement tools.
The Secretary General of the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO), Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, while making his comments, advocated for synergy among African countries, hinting that no African oil-producing country can provide the financial, technological, and marketing resources that it needs to be self-sufficient. He added that “if resources are pooled together, African countries can go far”.

He advised Nigerian oil and gas companies to be diplomatic when engaging their counterparts from other African countries and to coopt other nationals when planning to operate in foreign jurisdictions.

He said: “You need to have diverse shareholding and include nationals from other countries when you move to other African countries to operate. Do not create the impression that you want to dominate.”

The APPO Scribe announced that the African Energy Bank will start operations in 2024 and would have $5bn capitalization and the 18 member nations of APPO have started paying up their shareholding, which is $83m per country. He affirmed that the African Energy Bank would be a veritable platform to fund oil and gas projects within the continent and mitigate the withdrawal of international financiers because of the clamour for renewable energy.

He also confirmed that APPO was working to establish international research centres of excellence in different regions of the continent, which would cater to the research needs of oil companies operating in Africa and curb their dependence on international research centres for research solutions.

He stated that APPO is working to enhance the market for African oil and gas resources and ensure that crude oil and gas resources that are produced in Africa get consumed within the African continent. This is important because of the threat of energy transition, which is expected to substantially shrink the demand for crude oil and gas resources internationally, he said.

Another important and related action is the construction of a continent-wide pipeline system that could convey crude oil, refined products, and gas across different countries of the continent, he said.

Speaking at a panel session at the summit, the Director of Finance and Personnel Development, NCDMB, Dr. Obinna Ofili expressed worry over the financing prospects of some key initiatives of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). He equally observed that the ongoing geopolitical conflicts were affecting the inflow of international funding into the African oil and gas industry.

He recommended that APPO should develop a financial strategy for its strategic plans and should mobilize funds from different sources, including from international financiers. He also advised other African oil-producing countries to set up a financing programme like the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund), to support the growth of their local supply chain.

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Seplat Energy achieves ISO 26000 endorsement on social responsibility




Seplat Energy Plc, leading Nigerian independent energy company listed on both the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), has achieved the ISO 26000 endorsement, which is a major milestone that reinforces the Company’s commitment to social responsibility. 

The Company’s ISO 26000 journey commenced in September 2021 and was concluded in 2023. The two-year journey culminated in the recognition of Seplat Energy’s efforts to operate in a socially responsible way, respecting society, the environment, and the communities in which it operates. 

Commenting on this feat, the Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Energy Plc, Mr. Roger Brown, said: “We recognise that social responsibility is integral to our business strategy and essential for long-term success. This recognition has intensified our commitment to create value in the communities where we operate through high-impact corporate social initiatives.” 

Mr. Brown commended all the teams and persons within and outside of Seplat Energy that had contributed to the realization of the ISO 26000 feat whilst assuring all stakeholders of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our business. The two-year journey to this certification has been well worth it and it shows our unwavering commitment to sustainability. For us at Seplat Energy, we will continue to set higher standards and continue to work towards their realization.

The Unveiling of the ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Guidance Management Self-Declaration by Seplat Energy was done in conjunction with International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (INCSR), an international team of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CS&R) Consultants and Corporate Human Rights Advocates working to promote best practices in sub-Saharan Africa.

Commenting on the achievement by Seplat Energy, the President/Lead Consultant, INCSR, Mr. Eustace Onuegbu, said: “The ISO 26000 certification is a detailed and meticulous process. It is a strategic management system that cuts across all business functions including business relationships. It therefore reflects the true picture of the company and the hard work put in to achieve it. Seplat Energy is only the second company to achieve this certification.”

In the same vein, the Chief Operating Officer, Seplat Energy, Mr. Samson Ezugworie, reiterated that: “This milestone is a landmark achievement and launches Seplat Energy into the global league of social responsibility. The achievement is a testament to the way we relate with staff in terms of labour practices; it reflects the way we comply with regulations, environmental stewardship and our dealing with stakeholders. Our goal is to sustain the milestone.”

The Director, External Affairs and Social Performance, Seplat Energy, Mrs. Chioma Afe, said: “Social responsibility is part of out strategy; so, getting endorsed further verifies and validates that we truly live our strategy, givenall the work that the company has put in over the years.”

Also commenting, the Managing Director, Seplat West Ltd, Mr. Ayodele Olatunde, explained that: “ISO 26000 certification is a major milestone that serves as an assurance of Seplat Energy’s commitment to sustainable corporate social investment, accountability, ethical behaviour, compliance, respect for stakeholders, our people, governance and labour practices. Seplat will continue to build on this achievement, engage stakeholders and deliver increased value”.

Seplat Energy leadership is highly committed to implementing an effective organisational governance system, and therefore has recognised the principles of social responsibility in line with Clause 4 of ISO 26000 in the decision-making, organisational culture, operations, and all business relationships.

These principles are accountability, transparency, ethical behaviour, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for the rule of law, respect for international norms of behaviour and respect for human rights. Importantly, Seplat Energy has a due diligence approach for addressing the issues of social responsibility.

ISO 26000 SR Guidance Standard requires organisations to integrate social responsibility and sustainability core subjects in all operations and business relationships as well as their sphere of influence. The Company, therefore, recognises ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Guidance Management as a reference document on a holistic approach based on the seven core subjects in Clause 6 of the Guidance Standard – Organizational Governance, Human Rights, Labour Practices, the Environment, Fair Operating Practices, Consumer Issues, and Community Involvement and Development.

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