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Covid-19: How Nigerians used media during the lockdown

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Ejiro Obodo

It took less than two weeks of lockdown for major newspapers in Nigeria to reduce the number of pages they publish daily from 48 to 32.

Our research at Caritas Communications had indicated that that would happen. In the first few days of lockdown, we asked Nigerians through an online survey if they were still purchasing newspapers, 91% of respondents said, No.

Reasons adduced for the change ranged from the logistics challenges occasioned by the lock down, to the fear that newspapers could be carrying “more than news.” We note that these fear has largely been allayed as Nigeria gradually emerges from lockdown.

During the lockdown, our research identified discern-able patterns in media consumption. For media and public relations consultants, it is worthy to note that there was a systematic shift from print media consumption to digital/electronic media consumption. (Interestingly, television and radio were very critical in the media consumption mix during the period.)

Not that this pattern is new, but the magnitude of the shift should suggest to media and public relations consultants that there is no going back on the contraction of revenue models built on print advertising.

Drawn from across Nigeria, 98% of those we surveyed are between the 21-45 age bracket and though young, constitute a major part of the media consumption market in the country. It is instructive to note that 84% of them relied on social media platforms (including Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube) for news and updates during the lockdown.

Interestingly, television was the major source of news and information for 61% of those surveyed, while newspapers (in print format) served only 11%. But 30% of them pointed to newspaper websites as their major source of news and updates.

During the lockdown, two things drove respondents to particular media platforms: Ease of access and Brevity. Therefore, while a disproportionate number of respondents pointed to social media platforms like Twitter as source of news and information, what was revealed in the analysis is that the news which was consumed on Twitter and other social media platforms was provided by the same newspapers which millions of Nigerians had marooned.

Sadly, Twitter and other social media platforms were being rewarded, even though they do not have newsrooms in Nigeria.

Also Read: Talkwalker reveals the world’s and region’s most loved brands

Based on the research, radio and word-of-mouth were also deemed veritable sources of news and updates during the lockdown, 28% of respondents, mostly older citizens were tenaciously inclined to radio.

In the period, we observed that there was voracious consumption of television and YouTube. Which is understandable. Social distancing and a compulsory lockdown did not mean that millions of Nigerians stopped craving entertainment, intimacy and fellowship.

Forty-six percent of those survey indicated that they watched more television during the lockdown than before. Twenty-nine percent spent an average of 2-3 hours watching television daily, while 26 percent spent between 3-6 hours watching television daily.

Their content of choice ranged from News (74%), Foreign Movies (42%), Nigerian Movies (38%), Documentaries (28%), Religious programs, Telenovelas, accounted for less viewership and time.

The media, advertisers and public relations consultants must take these changes to heart as many organisations have elected to continue their work-from-home regimes.

Based on the foregoing, it is easy to conclude that there has been a shift in marketing budgets from Above-the-line, print and experiential, to public relations that is entrenched in electronic platforms.

Esther Abu

Smart marketers who are interested in meeting upper and middle class consumers quickly will track them online. However, because a large portion of Nigeria’s population is still not sited around the global-digital-camp-fire, radio and television will remain potent platforms to reach millions, especially the older generations.

In the next few months, we expect that working from home will continue in various forms. And because of this, advertising spend will gravitate more towards digital media. Therefore, digital skills will become more imperative for successful public relations consultants and marketers.

Public relations consultancies will be compelled to develop competencies in digital marketing and content creation or risk the consequences of not innovating.

We also expect smart newspapers to broaden their advertising horizons. It is time to broaden the advertising mix on the shelves to include adverts that are only on the PDF versions of newspapers. In other words, a newspaper can print 32 pages (including adverts), but have a PDF version of 36 pages. The extra pages should cater for adverts that are strictly on the PDF version.

With the reality of Covid-19, the media remains a fluid environment. As changes continue to take place, newspapers and content creators should critically consider models that will enable them generate more revenues from their content. Otherwise, social media platforms will in a sense continue to reap bountifully from where they have not sown. 

Credit: Ejiro Obodo is manager, Communications Strategy & Research, Esther Abu is Senior Executive, Client Services, they work with PR Consultancy, Caritas Communications

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Paxful in strategic partnership with global cryptocurrency exchange OKEx

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Paxful Co-Founders Artur Schaback and Ray Youssef

The partnership offers more bitcoin payment options for users in developing regions as P2P trade surges in South Africa and Nigeria

Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace that aims to bring financial inclusion and access to the underbanked and unbanked in developing countries, has joined forces with OKEx, one of the world’s largest and most diverse cryptocurrency spot and derivatives exchanges.

The strategic partnership will offer several payment methods for new and existing OKEx users to buy bitcoin with over 160 fiat currencies through Paxful’s Kiosk. Users will have access to in-demand payment methods such as bank transfer, gift cards, online wallets, and many more. Overall, the partnership will integrate over 100 million users allowing them the freedom to utilize Paxful’s existing infrastructure and payment options while enjoying the benefits of OKEx’s advanced technology and diversified product suite.

“To help grow the crypto community, industry businesses are increasingly collaborating to uplift each other in providing more options for their users. We admire OKEx’s work and know that our values and strategy are aligned. With this partnership, not only do we open new opportunities for customers on both platforms and increase functionality, but we jointly contribute towards strengthening the overall ecosystem and help make crypto more accessible as a real-world payment method by expanding to different geographic markets,” commented Ray Youssef, CEO, and co-founder of Paxful.

As a result of the new integration, Paxful and OKEx provide easier access to the global cryptocurrency market specifically in the regions of South Africa, and Nigeria, but also in Kenya, Vietnam, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand, UK, India, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Korea, Germany, France, Japan, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

“We’re delighted to partner with Paxful and share very similar goals about onboarding more people to cryptocurrency. Through this partnership, we can reach more users in developing regions using Paxful’s existing infrastructure and payment options and give them exposure to the benefits of OKEx’s advanced technology and diversified product suite. This is a great step forward for us and the crypto space in general,” said Jay Hao, CEO of OKEx.

Removing borders and limitations

With an unbanked population of more than 60%, Africa is a major focus for both Paxful and OKEx. In addition, the continent is also spearheading cryptocurrency adoption around the globe with key drivers being high inflation rates, weak national currencies, inadequate financial infrastructures, and growing economic uncertainty stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. All these conditions are combined with a growing population that is largely young and digital-oriented.

As bitcoin offers more convenient, and fast alternatives for financial transactions, use, and ownership of the cryptocurrency are significantly increasing amongst African consumers.

“Aside from being a decentralized, efficient, and a borderless payment method, one of the most striking features of bitcoin is that it’s considered to be an excellent means of preserving wealth in many countries, especially in uncertain times. It’s often compared to precious metals, specifically gold, in terms of storing value,” Youssef added.

A recent report identifies that bitcoin is of keen interest to many in Africa. Kenya topped the list with 94.7% of all cryptocurrency-related searches attributed to bitcoin, while Nigeria and South Africa had high percentages of 89.4% and 89%, respectively.

Also Read: Viero: A SaaS Platform Enabling Entrepreneurs Create Food Delivery App Without Code In 60 Seconds

Nigeria and South Africa increasing trade volumes

Nigeria and South Africa are emerging as key hubs of the crypto economy on the continent. Nigeria’s use of bitcoin has surged exponentially with recent statistics showing that between May and June this year, the country recorded more than $35 million (R604 136 750) in peer-to-peer bitcoin trades, while rival South Africa saw a transactional value of $7 million (R120 827 350).

The surge in trade volume is attributed to various elements, including uncertainty in the ‘traditional’ economy, increasing education about the crypto-economy, and the emergence of various virtual currency marketplaces in Africa yielding more income-generating opportunities through bitcoin.

For South Africa, Africa’s most advanced economy: overall, the year-on-year increase in trading volume for bitcoin currently stands at 994%. The trading volume for bitcoin was approximately $14 483.48 (R250 000) for the week of June 22, 2019, compared to the trading volume of almost $434 504.27 (R7.5 million) recorded for the same period this year, equating to a year-on-year increase of more than 2800% trading volume for the week.

For more information or to access the Paxful Kiosk on OKEx, users can visit the OKEx website

Source: Paxful

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Hospitality & Tourism

African Hotel pipeline resilient despite unprecedented challenges

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HTI Consulting CEO Wayne Troughtong

Acknowledged as one of the African continent’s leading hospitality investment experts, Wayne Troughton of HTI Consulting shared unique insights in the firm’s first ‘Virtual Hotel Club’ held in early July, a dynamic and informal Pan-African digital platform that saw 295 registrations across 15 countries.

Data was gathered from a survey that covered 14 regional and international operators active in the African hotel space (41 hotel brands and 219 projects currently under development). These included the likes of Hilton Worldwide, Marriot International, Radisson Hotel Group and Accor Hotels, amongst others.

Development sentiment largely positive

According to Troughton, whilst the African hospitality industry is facing unprecedented challenges and obstacles in light of the global pandemic, he noted that development sentiment remains optimistic amongst the majority(57%) of hotel owners as reported by operators on the continent.

“Despite closures and significant performance declines, long-term investment fundamentals for the Sub-Saharan region remain positive despite significant short to mid-term challenges currently impacting the sector,” he said.

“Of a total 219 hotel projects currently In Sub Saharan African pipeline a large proportion (68%) of these projects are proceeding as planned, with only 18% currently on hold for a limited period,and 13% on hold indefinitely.” he stated.

“Concerns amongst hotel owners are, of course, still apparent and, for several, a ‘wait and see’ approach relates to factors such as uncertainty around travel ban lifts in various markets, how to restore guest confidence, and the impact of Covid-19 on hotel valuations. However, the optimism displayed by many owners generally relates to understanding of the sector and adoption of a longer-term outlook,”he explained.

Outlook geared to opening doors

Despite the current environment, construction related businesses in several countries resumed activity as early as possible after lockdowns eased,commented Troughton.

“Encouragingly, this has resulted in 21 projects (representing 2946 hotel rooms in 15 African countries) still expected to open in 2020, with 52% of projects expecting short-term delays of 3 -6 months,” he said. “Longer term delays (9-12 mths or 12 mth+) are typically being seen on those projects that were in earlier (or planning) phases of development,” he stated.

“These delays can generally be attributed to uncertainty around how long travel lockdowns will continue. However, around 30% of projects under construction don’t expect COVID-19 to cause any delays to their ongoing development,” he said.

Hotel owners are clearly taking a long-term investment outlook and are expecting COVID-19 to be largely neutralised prior to their hotels opening. This relates particularly to those in the early stages of planning.

Angola – Luanda (Image by: Kirsten Hill)

Development pipeline remains healthy

Of the overall Sub Saharan Africa Development pipeline there are 219 branded hotels (representing 33 698 hotel rooms) across 38 markets.

“East Africa remains the region with the strongest hotel pipeline, followed by West and then Southern Africa. East Africa has 88 branded hotels currently in the pipeline, West Africa sees 84 branded hotels in its pipeline with Southern Africa sitting on 47 hotels,” stated Troughton.

Of the 21 hotels total projects expected to open doors in 2020, East Africa (40% of total supply), will see 1,134 rooms come on board, with the top cities being Antananarivo (22%), Dar es Salaam (20%) and Addis Ababa (20%).

West Africa (47% of total supply) sees 719 rooms planned to enter in 2020 across major cities including Accra (28%), Bamako (28%) and Cape Verde (24%).

Southern Africa (23% of total development pipeline) sees 963 rooms planned to enter in 2020, with South Africa – Johannesburg (71%) and Durban (21%) – seeing the predominance of activity, followed by Zambia.

Over the past three months HTI Consulting has engaged in numerous discussions with hotel owners who, Troughton states, have navigated different cycles during COVID-19 from survival (as hotels closed) to cost containment, defining hygiene safety protocols, staffing plans and ultimately, reopening strategies.

As several economies slowly start to open, so too have many hospitality businesses who are remaining positive and committed to the industry and demonstrating the determination necessary to over coming current adversities.         

Doing the deals

“Despite pressured economic environments and tough decisions, many hotel operators have, been able to successfully conclude and sign deals with owners during the lockdown period. A total of 15 new hotel deals were concluded by 7 operators in 8 countries, from the period March – June,” stated Troughton of HTI Consulting.

Feedback indicates these deals were close to fruition prior to the COVID crisis, with owners showing strong sentiment to continue with the projects. Further feedback from operators indicates these deals were also typically signed in primary African cities such as Abidjan, Accra, Lagos and Durban that boasted strong and diverse hospitality markets prior to the crisis. These locations are also likely to recover at a quicker rate than secondary nodes, believes Troughton. 

“Select operators who indicated that no deals were signed during this period pointed out that opportunities remain rife and that new enquiries are continuing to come through,” he said,

“It is anticipated that a lag will occur, with new owners typically being more cautious and awaiting to see how recovery unfolds,” he said. “Concerns have also been raised by owners around access to finance going forward as well as the willingness of the banks and financial institutions to fund hospitality projects at this point in time,” he continued.

“Whilst we haven’t seen any distressed sales at this point, with banks largely keeping hotels afloat, this may well change depending on the time frames we’re looking at to a return to ‘new normal’ as well as the potential resurgence of the virus in certain areas. The next 2 – 3 months will prove to be crucial, as many hospitality businesses do not have plans in place to ensure sustainability post this period.”

Opportunity sees operators doing it differently

“In several instances, feedback from large operators indicates a distinct shift towards conversions over greenfield development going forward, with a more flexible approach to the renovations and PIP costs.”

“Some operators are viewing this time as an opportunity to finalise forward planning during lockdown,” said Troughton “In several instances they have been able to take advantage of government support during this period in order to ensure they are able to streamline and accelerate internal approval processes, create more flexibility around brand stance, enhance their ability to pitch their products correctly to the local market and offer greater value and affordable experiences along with analysing fee structures over a select period.”

Also Read: Africa Rising: Why Project Managers Are Critical to Africa’s Future

“Whilst lockdowns have placed many hospitality businesses and investors in a stalemate position over the past few months, we’ve noticed a positive change over the past few weeks as more as more hospitality businesses resume activities and we see a significant uptick in the commissioning of hospitality advisory assignments,” noted Troughton.

Future Outlook

“It is reasonable to assume that a more cautious approach will be taken by hotel owners and investors in evaluating their investment strategy,” he said.

“Independent hotel owners mayindeed find it more difficult than the larger international brands to weather this current scenario. This too because branded hotels, and their new highly publicised hygiene protocols, may make for a more secure market and therefore allow them to see a more effective bounce-back and recovery.”

Hilton Addis Ababa (Image by: Kirsten Hill)

“Additionally those markets that are strongest in the area of domestic business travel (and then domestic leisure) should be amongst the first to recover.Indeed, focusing on the local market is what helped Asia recover from the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s.”

“For those owners and operators taking the the time to understand the changing markets we are facing, and willing to adapt to drive new demand, the medium to long-term outlook remains good,” stressed Troughton. “At HTI Consulting we continue to believe in the tourism potential in the region and strongly encourage further support from governments and brand managers to allow owners to minimise further losses and support recovery,”

“Despite current challenges and the overall uncertainty that trouble us all, there will be better times ahead and the travel market will eventually emerge stronger and more resilient. As governments slowly roll back travel restrictions and prepare to reopen society, the future winners are those that build a future based on a strong risk mitigation approach and display flexibility and innovation,” he concluded.

Released by: Kirsten Hill for HTI Consulting

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CEO Corner

Vodacom Business Appoints Valentine Chime As MD

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Vodacom Business Nigeria MD, Valentine Chime

 The board of Vodacom Business Africa (Nigeria) Limited has appointed Valentine Chime in the role of Managing Director for its operations.

Valentine joins the Company from Aruwa Capital, a private equity company investing across West Africa. Prior to this, he was at Kaizen Venture Partners, a private equity company focused on distressed assets. He has held various C-suite positions in a number of portfolio companies in different sectors.

As MD, Valentine will drive the Company’s vision of becoming Africa’s leading cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next-generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud. The Company will be hosting an Artificial Intelligence Virtual Conference at the end of the month to showcase its innovative solutions.

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“Vodacom Business Africa (Nigeria) Limited is well-known and very respected in the industry, and I look forward to taking up this mission. Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and we are perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions. I look forward to building on this and growing the business.” said Valentine.

Issued By: Onyinye Ago

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