CoronaVirus Header- Image credit: furma.edu
In early 2015, one of the most adorable personalities in the world, Bill Gates held a session on TED about “The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready”. This was immediately after the world survived the outbreak of Ebola. He explained how we reacted to the epidemic with detailed statistics but also stated that despite our efforts the world was far from being ready for another epidemic or a pandemic!
Fast forward to the year 2020: COVID-19 has become a flame without a fire that has engulfed the entire world and brought us all to a standstill, with “compulsory holidays” being declared in most countries and no logical end in sight to the pandemic! If Bill Gates were a religious leader, the entire world would have become his congregation by now and of course, with plenty prophet offerings!
According to Wikipedia, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally with common symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of smell and abdominal pain. The time from exposure to the manifestation of symptoms is typically around five days, but may range from two to fourteen days. As of 10 April 2020, more than 1.6 million cases had been reported in more than 200 countries and territories, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths!
The virus is mainly spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced during coughing, sneezing, or talking. While these droplets are produced when breathing out, they usually fall to the ground or surfaces rather than being infectious over large distances. People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. The virus can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Coronavirus is most contagious during the first three days after onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.
The Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Environment
The emergence of the mighty COVID-19 has definitely altered lifestyle on a global scale. The business environment has now become more challenged especially as no one knows how long the pandemic would last. But even in the current challenging reality, further opportunities have been created for some industries that now are enjoying tremendous cashflow despite the suffering of the world.
Imagine what the current situation would have been without access to information communication technology. Imagine what it would have been without online platforms for e-commerce, trainings and financial services.
Definitely, the financial industry has helped tremendously to stabilise the economy from collapsing through their various payment channels such as Internet Banking, Point of Sales (PoS) Terminals, Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), Mobile Banking Application and USSD. This management of the demand and supply flow is steadying various economies of the world and preventing another global economic recession.
In complementing the efforts of the financial industry, fintech companies are deploying innovative solutions for greater convenience in the performance of electronic payment transactions. Of late, one of such innovation is Paylink, a payment solution for anyone to receive money INSTANTLY into their bank account from anyone, anywhere, anytime! This particular payment solution has become the delight of SMEs, crowd funder, social entrepreneurs, religious organisations, individuals and others at this time of restricted movements and social distancing.
The Biggest Business Losers
For industries that the pandemic negatively affected, the list is almost unending. But to kick-start discussions, here are the possible top losers:
This industry is one of the most capital intensive in the world and its operational cost is not a joke! The nature of the business involves continuous maintenance, high taxation, increasing operational and administrative costs which are the reason most airline operators utilise debt financing or are currently in huge debt with only bailout or liquidation as options.The outbreak of COVID-19 has complicated the struggling cashflow (revenue) of the airlines with several operators finding it difficult to survive!
- Small & Medium Enterprises
SMEs have been the backbone of many economies as their activities have created employment opportunities and facilitated daily livelihood of many. However, with the lockdown, most SMEs have struggled to adjust as closure of business premises and markets has reduced patronage and sales. Although once business operations resume, it might be a slow start for them, but their recovery will definitely be short term.
- Religious Organisations
Their major sources of income are donations and contributions of members and followers in terms of voluntary and mandatory giving through their various beliefs and principles. Many of such leaders have become richer than organisations in the real business world!
Definitely, they were shocked that such an outbreak could turn their worship centres into ghost sites with many of them now embracing and adopting technology to reach to their members. As their members are also affected financially, the impact would reach the religious organisation. However, their recovery could be medium term as they would need time to convince their members to continue in belief and obedience of the doctrinal principles of giving!
They were one of major cashcows before the COVID-19 with several shows, albums and events for brand visibility and definitely more money. The industry has produced more celebrities and overnight millionaires with little or no knowledge of wealth or fame management!
The belief is that all you need is just to have a talent and the world would be at your feet.But the reality is that the industry is a Red Ocean with several people struggling for the same audience. At the moment, it is even difficult because the lockdown and social distancing measures have put shows and events on hold.
Regardless, the industry would still continue to survive through innovation that can create a new path to Blue Ocean within the medium term but definitely not in the short term!
- Transportation & their Unions
It was necessary to specifically separate this from Aviation Industry and combine it with unions especially if you are from this part of the world where National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is a major stakeholder in the affairs of the state. Outsiders think its members are illiterates but majority of its leaders have their family abroad and their children schooling overseas. Yet, we think they are not that smart but they milk money through extortion and harassment of motorists.
However, since governments across several states have ordered a lockdown to limit the spread of the pandemic, it has been very challenging for the transport operators and their unruly unions to eke a living. But once this period phases out, their business would resume as usual and their recovery will definitely be a short term!
Top Business Gainers and Next Emerging Opportunities!
While some will definitely find it hard to recover immediately after normalcy returns, a few will reach huge opportunities as the “Next Cashcow Industries” They include:
- Food & Beverages
The demand in consumption will increasing as people would put survival as a priority – and access to market will increase demand for food items.
There will be a change in culture and attitude in some areas such as work pattern, education, commerce and access to information, with more preference for online channels which in return would increase demand for data.
With many current loans going bad due to collapsed businesses and loss of jobs, the lending business would be receive huge patronage by people looking to start all over again.
- Logistics and Distribution
Commerce and demand for commodities across locations as a result of the impact of current situation and fear of the unknown would create an increasing need for logistics and distribution of commodities.
People will be desperate for quicker ways of making money and lottery would give hope even when such people might end worse off.
So, while we can’t change the reality of the challenges that would arise from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can at least apply wisdom to prepare towards joining the “Cashcows” when the season changes for good!
The next season is just around the corner! Are you Ready?
Oluwaseun Adesanya: An international consultant with great wealth of experience across several countries with special interest in fintech, financial inclusion, insurance, innovation, financial services, strategy, social impact, business transformation and technology. He is currently, the Group Head, Strategy & Innovation of SystemSpecs, leading financial technology and human capital management firm.
CreditFins, Egypt’s first Credit Card management platform, closes a pre-seed funding round
CreditFins, a Credit Card management and financial wellness startup and the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA), closed a pre-seed round of investment led by Flat6Labs, AUC Angels, and TA Telecom Holding. Other Angel Investors with backgrounds in technology and investment participated in the funding, which CreditFins is deploying towards developing the product and acquiring users.
“Credit Fins has developed a cutting-edge financial technology solution to alleviate bank customers’ financial struggles, kicking off in Egypt and expanding to new markets. Add to that their solid founding team who continue to grow their business, is a sure recipe for success. Flat6labs is proud to be part of their success journey.” said Albert Malaty, Managing Director of Flat6Labs Cairo Seed Program.
CreditFins helps users repay their Credit Card debt while saving money. It is a cheaper, more convenient solution for debt repayment through fixed, lower monthly installments as part of a plan that can be easily tracked. CreditFins’ customers save 20-50% of the interest they would have paid with their bank.
“CreditFins stood out amongst their cohort because of a clear strength in the team. The diversity in their experience, and their resourceful approach to addressing the problem they’ve identified, was apparent to investors. We look forward to witnessing the growth and pivots they will go through in their mission to empower their user base through enhanced financial tools.” said Mariam Kamel, Manager of AUC Angels.
As total outstanding credit card debt in Egypt stood at more than $2 billion as of 2019, CreditFins is on a mission to grant its customers financial freedom. CreditFins is aware that falling into the vicious debt cycle is due to inaccessibility of information and lack of awareness, a gap the startup seeks to fill.
The startup is actively working to launch “CreditFins Alpha” card, introducing more features to its solution, as it strives to make its credit card management platform more compelling and to widen its customer base.
“Credit card debt is a moving target that’s hard to settle. At CreditFins, we work with our customers to settle the debt they have in a faster and cheaper way, along with providing them with financial information and empowering them with the right tools to be financially liberated” said Sherif Radi, co-founder and CEO of CreditFins.
The company is founded by a team with extensive experience in innovation and product building. Co-Founder and CEO Sherif Radi has over 17 years of experience in innovation strategy. As former CEO of TA Telecom, his work focused on innovation, customer-centric solutions, and building new products. Co-founder and CPO, Gamal Sadek, is a tech-entrepreneur with over 11 years of experience in entrepreneurship, during which he co-directed the Founder Institute chapter in Egypt and co-founded Bey2ollak, Egypt’s number one mobile app for crowdsourcing traffic information used by over 1.3 million commuters in Egypt.
Co-founder and CCO Norhan El Sakkout, was previously an investment associate at LimeVest Partners and Beltone Private Equity, having worked at Endeavor Egypt on accelerating high-impact SMEs, then at TA Telecom; she brings the know-how in investment, finance and business continuity.
João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, The President of the Republic of Angola To Speak At The Angola and Turkey Business Forum
João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, The President of the Republic of Angola (Image: Claudia Padayachy)
The President of the Republic of Angola, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, will give the inaugural speech at the Angola-Turkey Business Forum, to be held at the Ato Congresium Conference Center in Ankara, Turkey, today, 28 July 2021, at 9:00 am local time.
President Lourenço, who will address the Turkish business community, will take this opportunity to highlight Angola’s economic potential and the opportunities that the country offers. He will also discuss his government’s commitment to economic growth and development through the private sector as well as the multiple initiatives that have been adopted to improve the business environment.
This Forum is part of the official program of President Lourenço’s visit to the Republic of Turkey and is the perfect opportunity to inform the local business community and investors of Angola’s new business environment. Numerous ongoing reforms and support policies for private investment and the diversification of the economy have been put in place.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of AIPEX, António Henriques da Silva, will present the numerous investment opportunities in the Republic of Angola.
Turkey’s Minister of Commerce, Mr. Ahmet, and the President of DEIK, are also expected to present at the Forum.
Around a hundred Angolan and Turkish companies from various sectors are expected to participate in the event.
The Angolan and Turkish business communities will soon enjoy closer ties, with the launch of two direct weekly air connections between Luanda and Ankara through Turkish Airlines.
The Angolan presidential delegation comprises Manuel Nunes Júnior – Minister of State for Economic Coordination, Edeltrudes da Costa – Minister and Cabinet Director of PR, Tete António – Minister of Foreign Affairs, João Ernesto dos Santos – Minister of National Defense and Homeland Veterans, Sérgio dos Santos – Minister of Economy and Planning, Ricardo Viegas de Abreu – Minister of Transport, João Baptista Jorges – Minister of Energy and Water, Manuel Tavares de Almeida – Minister of Public Works and Spatial Planning, Diamantino de Azevedo – Minister of Mineral Resources , Oil and Gas, António Francisco de Assís – Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Victor Fernandes – Minister of Industry and Commerce and Antonio Henriques da Silva – Chairman of the Board of Directors at AIPEX.
Over the last 18 years, Turkey has significantly increased its presence in Africa, going from 12 embassies and investments of around USD 100 million in 2003 to 42 embassies and around USD 6.5 billion in direct investments in 2021.
From 2003 to 2019, Turkey’s trade with Africa increased about five times, and now some 51 African cities are served by Turkish Airlines, which plans to start flights to Angola soon. (Source: issafrica.org and AIPEX).
To date, Angola has registered around USD 200 million in investments of Turkish origin, especially in mining and steel. President João Lourenço’s visit to Turkey will boost economic relations between the two countries and, in the medium term, an increase in Turkish investment in Angola is expected in priority sectors, namely, industry, mining, energy, tourism and transport, in addition to trade, where the two countries already have strong links.
The trade balance between the two countries is unfavourable for Angola, data from the General Tax Administration (AGT) indicate that from 2015 to 2020, Angola’s imports from Turkey was around USD 1,702,737,951.00, while exports from Angola to Turkey in the same period were only 41,960,419.00 USD.
Wärtsilä to modernise power generation at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food company, Flour Mills Nigeria
Wärtsilä will enable leading Nigerian food company to modernise its power generation facilities to meet everyday production needs
The technology group Wärtsilä will supply fuel-flexible dual-fuel engines to extend, improve, and modernise power generation for a captive power plant at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food and agro allied company, Flour Mills Nigeria. The company’s Lagos-based power plant is needed to ensure sufficient capacity and a reliable electricity supply around the clock to meet its food production requirements, and commitments to its customers. The two received orders were booked by Wärtsilä in March and June.
The first order comprises a 9-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF dual-fuel engine generator set and is an extension to the existing generating capacity provided by a similar Wärtsilä engine generator set that has been successfully operating since 2017. The second order comprises a 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 34DF engine generator set and is intended to replace an existing inefficient mono-fuel generating asset in the plant with efficient dual-fuel generating capacity as part of Flour Mills Nigeria’s captive power plant modernisation plans. The Wärtsilä engine generator sets will be delivered during 2021 and are expected to become fully operational in early 2022.
The multi-fuel capability of the Wärtsilä engines, which can switch seamlessly from natural gas to liquid fuel mode while running at full load, facilitates continuous supply of electricity to critical loads in the event of uncertainties in the quality and quantity of the gas supply. In addition to maximising the availability and reliability, this inherent capability provides a valuable hedge against fuel price increases, and lends itself to accommodating future fuel infrastructure developments.
“It is always gratifying to receive repeat orders from a customer, not only because it signifies their satisfaction with our solution, but also because it cements the relationship between our companies. Operational flexibility and efficiency, which are features of the Wärtsilä engines, are becoming key issues in energy production, and are especially relevant for production facilities with a critical need for a reliable electricity supply,” commented Marc Thiriet, Energy Business Director, Africa West.
The Nigerian government’s 30-30-30 vision document for the power sector aims to achieve a capacity of 30,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2030, with at least 30 percent being supplied from renewable energy sources. The selection of fast-starting and stopping Wärtsilä engines means that should the customer have access to solar or wind power in the future, these engine generator sets can provide smart back-up generation to balance the fluctuating supply from renewables.
Wärtsilä has a leading position in supplying flexible power generation to West Africa with 4792 MW of capacity installed, of which 667 MW in Nigeria. Wärtsilä has operated in the country since 2010 and has about 90 employees locally.
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