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REVIEW: The best mobile banking apps in Nigeria in May 2022

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The digital revolution is changing every human endeavour. For the banking sector, it is either they go digital or die, hence, it is not surprising that all Nigerian banks today have their mobile apps to drive digital banking.

With these apps, many bank customers no longer need to visit a banking hall to perform financial transactions. Directly from the apps, bank customers can make transfers and pay bills of any kind and also make complaints. Some of these apps come with upgraded features that allow users to request ATM cards and chequebooks.

However, customer experience on these apps is anything but perfect. While the apps meet customers’ expectations in some areas, they are faltering in many other areas. With regular updates, the banks are trying to address some of the issues and concerns being raised by the users of their apps.

Nairametrics has continually reviewed these banking apps to ensure that they meet up to expectations of customers. In keeping with this tradition, we are reviewing them again to see which ones have stepped up their games and those that have not.

First, what are the customers looking for in a bank app? The customers want the ease of access to their fund; the convenience of sending money or performing transactions at the comfort of their homes or offices; the ability to monitor their expenditure without visiting the bank; and ease of doing business, especially for business owners.

Are these apps meeting these expectations? Here’s what we have found about some of the banking apps we reviewed:

Access Bank (AccessMore)

Aside from its stylish and beautiful design, the AccessMore app, which is an upgrade of the regular Access Bank Mobile app, has a lovely user interface to complement its easy navigation menu.

Its features include quick account opening, personalized theme and colour scheme, single click to all favourite features, self QR generation for intra-bank transfers, scan QR for payments, investment services and PayDay Loan.

Interestingly, the app also allows Dubai Visa applications and the purchase of movie tickets. It also provides simplified foreign currency transfer service, airtime top-up and utility bills payments, cheque services (new cheque book request, stop and confirm cheque), and card services (new debit card request, card block and unblock).

The app comes with a unique fingerprint authentication as an added security feature. Users of this app do not need a token to perform online transactions. The mobile app also provides a live chat feature that enables customers to get help at any point when they encounter difficulties. It is a stress-free app that makes the customer feel at home. For example, one can order a fresh chequebook via the app without going physically to the bank.

Users’ complaints

One of the frequent complaints has to do with the slow speed of the app, especially on phones with low RAM (2GB and less). Some customers also complained of glitches with the fingerprint and difficulty logging in.

  • Summary: Over 1 million downloads, 88% positive reviews and a negative review of 12% from a total of 105,000 users of the app.

Ecobank Mobile app

The revamped and enhanced Ecobank Mobile app makes it super easy to bank on the go 24/7. The app allows users to manage their everyday banking needs anywhere anytime directly from their mobile device.

The app is very useful for interbank transfers, airtime top-ups, statement viewing, and payment of internet and cable TV subscriptions. Users can also get help from the Ecobank mobile app in all 33 African countries where Ecobank is present.

Log-in is made simple, as a customer just has to input his/her mobile number and password to gain access. Response time for users is extremely fast and the app has a unique payment system for merchants who deploy the scanning of barcodes or QR Code.

Users’ complaints

The app is very heavy at 73MB which is inconvenient for those with small storage sizes. Many customers said they are finding it difficult to sign up after downloading the app, while some of those already using the app complained of difficulty in logging in.

  • Summary: Over 1 million downloads, 39% positive reviews and 61% of negative reviews from 37,700 users of the app.

FCMB (FCMB New Mobile)

The new FCMB mobile app is all you need for all your personal and business financial services. It is fast, convenient and very secure. It is also packed with simple-to-use features and an interesting layout for easy navigation.

The app allows the bank’s customers to manage their FCMB personal and business accounts as well as their cards in real-time, anywhere and anytime!

It has a simple yet lovely interface that requires just a phone number and password for logging into the app. New users can easily sign up within a few minutes and start enjoying the numerous features that come with the app. Besides the usual inter and intra-bank transfers, the app can be used for the payment of bills, top-up of airtime, fund transfer and internet subscription.

Users’ complaints

The complaints are similar to those for other mobile apps. Most users complained of receiving “Wrong PIN “error messages whenever they wanted to log in even when the PINs were correctly entered. Another significant drawback of the app is the fact that it keeps crashing during the new user registration process. Customers who change their phones and download the app once again have observed that they had issues with the app not working.

  • Summary: Over 1 million downloads, 68% positive reviews and 32% negative reviews from 12,900 users of the app.

Sterling Bank (OneBank app)

The Sterling Bank OneBank app is a 100% digital banking app that offers its customer the ability to register and bank instantly; make payments, invest, get advisory, borrow money, and lifestyle services.

Although the interface looks clumsy due to its array of features, the app is delivering comfort and convenience to its users in many ways. It allows the customers to create a wallet account instantly with their mobile number. The biometric feature on the app allows users to log in with fingerprints, saving them the stress of storing many passwords.

Customers can also instantly create their virtual card for online shopping and decide the card’s usage and expiry. The One Transfer feature of the app allows the customers to receive money instantly from OneBank users once they scan their OneBank QR using their OneBank app.

Just like other apps, it allows payment for airline tickets, cable & internet subscriptions, electricity bills, and perform QR code for merchant payments as well as airtime purchase.

Users’ complaints

Customers of the bank are complaining about the inability to view receipts after transactions on the app. Some say the app has too many functionalities, thus making navigation difficult on the app.

  • Summary: Over 1 million downloads, 68% positive reviews and 32% negative reviews from 12,900 users of the app.

Fidelity Bank

Fidelity’s mobile app has moved from obscurity to become one of the most-downloaded banking apps in the country. The app has an attractive interface and simple design which gives a lot of room for consideration. The upgraded app lets you stay in control of your finances. Manage your transactions, accounts and cards securely and easily anywhere. The App allows you to perform transactions and manage your bank account(s) from your mobile device. It is secure and very simple to use.

The 31MB app comes with customized biometric/fingerprint authentication for easy and safe login operation. Users will have the opportunity to view all their accounts within the app. The app comes with a personalized profile feature, with the provision to upload your profile picture. You can manage beneficiaries for fund transfers, payment of bills and airtime top-up. Payments of PHCN, Gotv and DStv subscriptions are also possible via the app. One can easily generate account statement within minutes.

Users’ complaints

The users are complaining about difficulties in logging in to the app. Fingerprints are not recognised and login details are not recognised, for many users. The users are frustrated with log-in problem, some ended up being blocked from the app after several attempts to log in. There are also complaints about the app crashing in the middle of transactions.

  • Summary: Over 1 million downloads 86% positive reviews and 14% negative reviews from 27,568 users of the app.

First Bank (FirstMobile)

The First bank mobile app which is popularly called FirstMobile ranks among the best in Nigeria. A peep into the FirstMobile app revealed interesting features, which are likeable and user-friendly.

First of all, a first-time user is given a 5-digit mPIN while registering. This PIN is needed for logging into the app, before you can carry out any mobile transactions. You also need to input a 4-digit transaction PIN which is used for completing any transfer or payment transactions. It is the only app that allows the transfer of a maximum of one million Naira without the use of a hardware token.

It has a nice user interface which can be used for not just interbank transfers, but also intra-bank transfers. It can be used for purchasing airtime and paying for DSTV, Startimes, Gotv and PHCN bills. It can generate statements of account instantly and even bring back records of transactions up to 2 months back. The transaction successful receipt is beautifully designed and on the account setting, one can easily change his/her mPIN, change his/her nickname, synchronize your token to the app, change transaction PIN and carry out other operations.

Users’ complaints

Some customers are complaining about ads popping up on the app, even after they had selected the option to stop ads. Some are also having issues with the ability to download transaction receipts, while a number of the say the app lags while opening. For other users, the issue with the app is their inability to retrieve saved beneficiaries at the point of transactions.

  • Summary: A total of 5 million downloads, 47% positive reviews and a 47% negative reviews from 52,770 users of the app.

GTBank (GTWorld)

The GTB’s GTWorld mobile app has a beautiful orange background design that makes it enticing and cool for the user to navigate and experience the unique features that the app brings. Log in is simple, as it requires just your internet banking ID and password.

Built on the back of the bank’s customer-centric digital strategy, GTWorld also features biometric authentication, such as facial recognition and fingerprint, which recognizes a customer and adapts to how and when they want to bank. The Mobile banking app also features a seamless switch to GAPS Lite, the online banking platform for small businesses which offers a flexible and secure channel to make payments and collections anywhere in the world.

Once you successfully log in to the app, you can view all your accounts (savings, current, fixed deposit, domiciliary) and carry out other transactions like fund transfers, buying airtimes, and checking the daily history of transactions.

Users’ complaints

One of the users’ complaints is that the latest update to the app has made interbank transfers extremely difficult. They also complained that the app sometimes shows that a transaction has failed and then when tried again, the customer is debited twice.

For others, the issue they have with the app is the repeated crashes they experience, even when they had tried all remedies like clearing cache and uninstalling and reinstalling the app several times.

  • Summary: A total of 1 million downloads, 68% positive reviews and 25% negative reviews from a total of 19,662 users of the app.

Polaris Bank (VULTe app)

The digital mobile banking app of Polaris Bank is called VULTe. The app looks simple and there’s nothing much in terms of aesthetics in the design. However, the app offers easy, fast, and reliable solutions designed not only to meet your banking needs but to ultimately improve the quality of your life.

It comes with unique features and benefits and enables on-boarded customers to carry out their banking transactions including account opening, bill payments, intra-bank and inter-bank transfers, balance enquiry, airtime recharge and quick loans on-the-go.

On-boarded customers are also able to access the Bank’s  PayDay Loan called Salary Advance on both mobile and web digital platforms where eligibility will be displayed to the customer within the VULTe application.

Users’ complaints

On the other hand, app users have complained about difficulties encountered during log in, as it usually fails. Users are also expressing frustration that they have to deal with several crashes while on the app. As with most apps reviewed, Polaris’ VULTe comes with numerous glitches that have precipitated users to clamour for the older version which is more stable and robust.

  • Summary: 500,000 downloads, 63% positive reviews and 32% negative reviews from 5,366 users of the app.

Stanbic IBTC Bank

The Stanbic IBTC mobile app is linked to a Stanbic IBTC debit card and usually requires a 3-digit installation code (*909#) to complete the installation of the app on any IOS or Android device. The app is useful for the payment for goods and services, school fees, bank transfers, airtime purchases even when one is outside the country and payment for internet and cable TV subscription.

It is connected to your savings/current account wallet, pension and mutual fund accounts as well as other linked accounts. At log-in, one can easily view his/her available account balance, ledger balance and all listed accounts. Users can also view their most recent transactions.

The app has the ability to manage financial portfolios with ease. One can also send money to people without bank accounts. A voucher will be sent via SMS to the beneficiary for withdrawal at any Stanbic IBTC ATMs.

Users’ complaints

One common complaint among the users of this app is their inability to download or screenshot transaction receipts. This often put them in a tight corner whenever they need to send evidence of payment to the recipient. Some also experience difficulty in logging in, while others are unhappy with the slow loading process of the app.  Again, the recently updated version comes with bugs that wipe off saved beneficiaries of users.

  • Summary: 1 million downloads, 56% positive reviews, 35% negative reviews from a total of 10,600 users of the app.

UBA Mobile Banking App (New)

The new UBA mobile banking app helps you to easily make money transfers, buy airtime and pay bills. The app has different features that not only ensure that your financial transactions are easier and more enjoyable to carry out but those also work to make sure you stress less.

One of the unique features of UBA Mobile app is the Saving Goal, which allows you to you create a saving goal (for rent, school fees, wedding, utilities, emergency, car purchase etc.) which will allow you separately save a certain amount of money at a comfortable pace.

The app’s card control feature also allows you to secure your account if you misplace or lost your card. With this, you can restrict the card across different channels: ATM, WEB, POS. The new mobile app ensures that you have the option to protect your money by providing the option to block, lock, freeze or cancel your card at any time.

Users’ complaints

There are a few complaints from the app users like the app displaying network errors and bugs that keep logging users out of the app. Some users wished they still had the old UBA app because the new app sometimes shows transaction failure even when it a transaction is successful. Transaction on the new app doesn’t update immediately unlike the old app.

  • Summary: The app has 1 million downloads, 47% positive reviews, and 43% negative reviews from a total of 12,205 users of the app.

Union bank (UnionMobile)

Union Bank, one of the oldest traditional banks in Nigeria has blended into the digital banking revolution by opening a series of digital banking channels for its customers. Today, the bank’s mobile app, UnionMobile, stands among one of the most-downloaded bank apps in Nigeria as customers continue to embrace convenient and easy banking through apps.

Like other banks’ mobile apps, the UnionMobile app has some unique features, which include ATM/Branch locator, Instant account statement, Weather forecast, Manage and save beneficiaries, and Personalised profile where one can upload his/her profile picture.

The app also operates a card-less withdrawal system, where a beneficiary can make withdrawals from any of Union bank ATMs without the use of a debit card. This can be done after linking your debit card details to your profile.

The latest updates enhanced the features of the app to include payment of utility bills such as DSTV, GOTV, PHCN, etc. It also enables users to buy airtime and data bundles on the app.

Aside from these features, the app looks pleasant to the eyes with its bright blue colour design and a simple-looking interface.

Users’ complaints

Despite its great features, some users are not enjoying the app due to one issue or another. Most complaints of the users centre on their inability to log in after updating the app. In fact, many customers said they would wish the bank never updated the app as they now struggle to use the app after updating. For some, registering on the app has become a problem as they keep getting error messages each time they attempt to log in. For these sets of people, the app has been unhelpful and frustrating.

  • Summary: 1 million-plus downloads, 60% positive reviews, 40% negative reviews from a total of 12,584 users.

Unity Bank (Unity Mobile)

The growth of the bank has stalled over the years and it is a miracle that they have a mobile app called Unity mobile. The app has a simple look and contains the usual features as with other apps: ATM/Branch locator, instant mobile top-up, fund transfer, payment for utility bills cable TV. One unique aspect of the app’s airtime top-up feature is that its link is strategically designed at the bottom of the app and you can use it to top up without actually logging into the app.

Users’ complaints

The app has some downsides with so many users complaining of their inability to access the app as it keeps showing network errors, while they are able to use other apps on the same network. Some are also having issues with money received not reflecting on the app.

  • Summary: 100,000 downloads, 74% positive reviews, 13% negative reviews from a total of 1,921 users of the app.

Wema (Wema ALAT)

Wema Bank’s digital banking app, ALAT, ALAT, offers customers fully digital banking experience. All that is required of you to open and run an ALAT bank account is a device that is connected to the internet and some means of identification.

To sign up for ALAT you would have to enter your phone number, your Bank Verification Number (BVN), your date of birth, and the One Time Password that would be sent to your registered BVN phone number. Once you have done that, you would be asked to confirm if some details, which include your full name, gender, and date of birth, belong to you.

Like other banking applications, users can transfer money to and from their ALAT account, purchase airtime and data and make other bill payments. However, ALAT application also comes with some features that are rather unique. These include transfers and bill payments schedule, ATM card requests and control from a mobile phone, and “Goals”, which allows users to earn a 10% interest per year on any amount saved.

Users’ complaints

Despite its great features, the app also has some drawbacks, that have been the basis of complaints by users. The colour template in the app makes it difficult to see texts correctly. The pink, oxblood texts aren’t clearly visible unless you increase the brightness level on the phone. Then there are also too many “error” messages and bugs.

For other users, signing up for a new account is hectic, many have had to go through several failed attempts before they could succeed, which could be frustrating.

  • Summary: 1 million downloads, 62% positive reviews, 31% negative reviews from a total of 25,138 users of the app.

Zenith Bank (Zenith Bank Mobile)

Zenith Bank Mobile is one of the most-downloaded banking apps in Nigeria today with over 5 million downloads on Google Play Store.

With its beautiful white and red interface background, the app requires users to input their account number and 6-digit passwords, before they can log in to their profiles on the app. Cheque and card requests, funds transfers, self-transfer, airtime purchases, payment of bills, payment for hotel lodging and branch locator are some of the main features of the app.

Users’ complaints

To most users, however, the app is not user-friendly due to the stress they encounter while trying to log in to the app as first-time users. Registration requires OTP for completion which could take a while to be sent. The app’s option of sending bank statements to third-party keeps failing with error message, “unable to retrieve transaction details”.

  • Summary: A total of 5 million downloads, 41% positive reviews and 47% negative reviews from a total of 34,866 users of the app.

Bottomline

  • Looking at all the apps, there is no doubt that they are all designed to make banking easier and more comfortable for the users. However, the experience for each of the users differs based on several factors, which include the network quality, the type of phones, and the configuration of the phones being used to access the apps.
  • With these factors, the experience cannot be smooth for all the users and that is reflected in the mix of positive and negative rating of the apps by the users, depending on their experience.
  • Again, one constant factor for most of the apps is that each update brings up fresh issues that leave the users wishing they were never updated.
  • Above all, every app usually has bugs which tend to create problems for the end-user, but the ultimate test of an effective app is the wider acceptability, popularity, user coverage and overall functionality within its customer base.

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 Analysing the demands of Nigerian SMEs to achieve global competitiveness 

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Growing globalisation presents Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the globe with an unprecedented opportunity to extend market reach, enhance performance, and potentially upscale to larger companies. Thanks to global interconnectedness, a small family-run business in a remote part of China can manufacture shirts and export worldwide. This is the case for most Chinese SMEs. In 2020 they accounted for 68% of Chinese exports, according to estimates by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In Nigeria, the reality is different for most small and medium-sized businesses. 

In its latest report, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) reported that only 7.7% of business enterprises surveyed exported their goods or services. Of this crop of businesses, 95.3% of exports value less than 10 million Naira ($23,300). This export data highlights the gross under-representation of Nigerian SMEs in international trade despite contributing to nearly half of the domestic GDP when combined with micro-scale businesses. 

The exclusion of Nigerian SMEs from global trade matters because the success of small and medium-scale businesses will directly translate to the enhanced global competitiveness of the Nigerian economy. China and India, both highly populated developing countries, have risen to prominence on the back of value-creation by entrepreneurs in SMEs. 

Furthermore, there is only so much value that can be created within a geographical market; however, expansion to other regions can create new demand and opportunities. Take, for instance, the $93 billion global oil palm industry where Nigeria has a market share of less than 5% despite having abundant natural and human resources to potentially produce and supply oil palm as well as derivatives. We lose out on the multi-fold values that could have been derived from processing and exporting to the vast global market if our agricultural commodities are only consumed within the country and our SMEs fail to break into the global markets. 

There is a plethora of reasons why less than a handful of SMEs in Nigeria are engaged in exports; most of the bottlenecks are behind the borders and overlap with challenges already identified by small and medium business operators. In the 2021 SMEDAN report, 92.4% of surveyed businesses believed the biggest challenge to enterprise development was the lack of finance.  

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The availability of funding is critical for the day-to-day operation of businesses as well as financing business expansion in the long term. Due to high-interest rates, high rates of informality, poor documentation culture, lack of sufficient cash flow, and weak macroeconomic conditions, many SMEs are unable to obtain loans from most financial institutions. Where obtaining a loan is possible, for example from a micro-finance bank, the volume is too little to make a meaningful impact while the volume of loans disbursed by government programs is good but could be better. As a result, 48% of SMEs depend on family and friends, while 15% rely on credit facilities, 8% on trade credit, 6% on co-operatives, and 6% on grants based on PwC MSME Survey 2020.  

Yet, engaging in exports is a capital-intensive venture because of the need to produce goods that meet international standards, as well as investments that need to be put into securing authorization (from Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, NAFDAC, CBN, etc.) for exports and facilitating the logistics.  

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Another area in SMEs that needs intervention to improve their development, and in turn, global participation is the provision of infrastructure. Per the SMEDAN report, 20.9% consider the paucity of the quality physical infrastructure to be a critical challenge. The problem of infrastructure extends across the entire chain of value businesses rely on. Epileptic power supply means shorter production hours, high operating costs when generating sets (industrial or residential) are employed, or even high capital expenditure to procure alternative power sources. After scaling the issues of power supply, SMEs face obstacles imposed by poor transportation networks. For SMEs involved in exports, goods can be stuck for months at the port and end up in poor form by the time they arrive at their destination. 

Another area of demand for SMEs and similar businesses is vocational and entrepreneurship training. From the SMEDAN report, 20.8% of surveyed businesses rated gaps in vocational and business skills as the main constraint on enterprise development. Often overlooked, entrepreneurship and management skills are a bedrock of SMEs’ success. Programs on vocation and entrepreneurship will help business owners and operators learn essential business skills such as financial and risk management, strategy, sourcing business capital, taxation, human resource management, and so on. This training will also help businesses formalise and position themselves for better opportunities in the market.  

Other pressing demands of SMEs are the need for workspaces, consistent government policies, and access to research & development. Concerning government policies, some of the pain points of businesses are the multiplicity of taxes, demolition of properties, high fuel prices, customs duties, a ban on particular raw materials importation, and trade permits.  

The government would need to improve accessibility to capital to improve the situation for SMEs. Several state and private funding initiatives such as FGN Special Intervention Fund for MSMEs, National Enterprise Development Programme, the YouWIN Connect Nigeria program, The Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), and Lagos State Entrepreneurs Trust Fund (LSETF) already exist amongst others. Improving access would involve creating more specialised funds for women entrepreneurs, and training SMEs on how to keep records and apply for existing credit and grants.  

There are no shortcuts to solving the problem of infrastructure for SMEs, but one quick win is expanding opportunities for export-oriented SMEs to participate more in Free Trade Zones (FTZs). FTZ, as defined by Mondaq, is any location where goods can be shipped, handled, manufactured, reconfigured, and re-exported without the involvement of customs agencies. These zones have a tendency to have better infrastructure and streamlined processes that allow a smoother flow of goods.  

On vocational and entrepreneurial training, a partnership by local and foreign experts in the private sector with the government in organising workshops, seminars, boot camps, and similar programs for SME owners and operators will go a long way. Through tax incentives consulting firms like the Big 4s can be encouraged to organise training for SMEs in areas like digitalisation, taxation, financial records keeping, and business strategy. This idea can be extended to the areas of research and development. Asides from private and public research institutes, academia can be a viable partner to pair SMEs with so that new products and technology can be developed. 

To conclude, it is paramount to drive home the point that SMEs hold so much potential to enhance growth and development for Nigeria, as is the case for many developing countries. The limitation faced by SMEs in global market participation is therefore an important issue for national development that must be addressed by all stakeholders.  

About the author:

 Connect with Nnamdi Okoh on Instagram @nnamdiokoh, Twitter @Lord_nnamz and LinkedIn @Nnamdi Okoh. Learn more about Terminal Africa’s service offerings at www.terminal.africa.

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Lagos seals 42 health facilities across the state

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The Lagos State Government, through the Health Facilities Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) has sealed a total of 42 health facilities out of about 1040 visited between January and September 2022. 

This was made known by the executive secretary of HEFAMAA, Dr. Abiola Idowu, in Ikeja while reviewing the activities of the agency in the nine-month period. 

Sealed for non-compliance with regulatory standards: Idowu said the facilities were sealed for non-compliance with regulatory standards, adding that other infractions committed include non-registration of facilities and lack of qualified medical personnel, as well as the illegal training of auxiliary nurses.  

She disclosed that in the same period, 170 facilities across the state were inspected for registration, while about 157 closure notices were issued. 

Idowu explained that the key areas monitoring officers focus on during monitoring and inspection exercises of health facilities are: the qualification of personnel, operation processes of the facility, the environment, and the standard of equipment. 

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On HEFAMAA’s monitoring activities, the executive secretary explained that the aim of the franchise is to improve the effectiveness of the monitoring exercise so that all the health facilities in the state can be monitored at least twice a year as the law stipulates. 

  • She said, “The Agency is empowered by the Health Sector Reform (HSR) Law 2006 to franchise some of its activities. Section 49 (5) of the law granted the agency the power to select franchise companies to monitor and ensure compliance with the law by health facilities in the state.’’ 

Get acquainted with the law: Dr. Idowu, therefore, advised owners and operators of health facilities to get acquainted with the law and carry out their operations in accordance with it to safeguard the health of the people. 

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She also emphasized the commitment of the state government to sustain the fight against quackery and unprofessional conduct in the system, as well as urged intending operators to ensure proper registration with the agency through its website, hefamaa.lagosstate.gov.ng before commencing operations. 

Going further, she added that existing registered operators should ensure prompt renewal of their certificates to avoid being sanctioned. 

 

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Nigeria produces 13% of global tantalum output – EITI

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The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) said Nigeria produces 13% of the global production of tantalum. 

EITI disclosed this in its 2022 Mission Critical Report which was released on Wednesday, November 2.   

Tantalum is a highly resistant mineral used in manufacturing electronics, especially mobile phones, laptops, and super alloys. 

According to EITI, the mineral will potentially be used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, depending on the technology development and deployment of alternative zero-cobalt batteries.    

In 2021, China recorded imports of tantalum from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone.   

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Nigeria lacks mining data: The report showed that aside from the recorded tantalum production rate, Nigeria rarely had any definite data for 14 of the minerals highlighted in the report. That’s because the country’s solid mineral sector is characterised by artisanal mining and small-scale mining of manganese and tantalum. 

Lack of data discourages investors: The report showed that exploration and mapping of mineral deposits are limited in many EITI-implementing countries, especially African countries like Nigeria. The availability of comprehensive and public geological data determines the ability of resource-rich countries to attract responsible investors and negotiate favourable terms for the country and its people.  

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The importance of open geological data: EITI said access to open geological data is important to support a transition mineral development strategy and to level the playing field in negotiations between governments, companies, and communities. Transparent information can improve the terms of contracts, facilitate mine planning, and ensure that all stakeholders are well informed.  

Profit shifting in Nigerian mining market: In October 2021, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said countries like Nigeria lose $600 million in revenue due to tax rate differences between African countries and offshore affiliates in the same multi-national enterprises’ group.   

The EITI report corroborates what the IMF said. The report said: 

  • “Research on profit shifting in mining across Sub-Saharan Africa indicates that African countries are losing, on average, between $470 million and $730 million per year in corporate income tax from MNE tax avoidance. The baseline estimate – which also includes Sub-Saharan African economies with small mining sectors – suggests a revenue loss of about $600 million, based on tax rate differentials between African countries and offshore affiliates in the same MNE group.”   

What you should know: Tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) is a serious governance challenge for countries pursuing resource revenues from the taxation of multinational enterprises (MNEs).  

  • BEPS occurs when companies shift reporting of profits generated in higher tax jurisdictions to other parts of their business in lower tax or no-tax jurisdictions.  
  • This challenge could become more pronounced in the transition minerals sector given the integrated business structures of many of the MNEs involved in mining, processing, refining, marketing, and trading in transition minerals across multiple jurisdictions.  
  • There are also increasingly powerful global partnerships controlling transition mineral value chains, for example, through the consolidation of mine-to-car business deals by upstream and downstream MNEs.    

Nigeria must take action: Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries need to take intentional steps to maximize their mineral resources, especially in the era of the global energy transition.  

  • During the October 2022 Reuters Impact Climate Conference in London, the president of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Samaila Zubairu said it was time for Africa to rethink the approach to its mining value chain.  
  • According to him, mining is carried out in Africa, and the minerals are exported to Asia where they are processed and exported to other parts of the world. He said that this cannot continue and Africa needs to also process mineral resources so, there is value capture here before exports take place, and Africa can expand its mining capacity.   
  • Zubairu said; “Africa needs to expand its mining capacity, more minerals should be sourced, mined, and processed here on the continent. More investments in adaptation will increase infrastructural capacity.” 

 

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