Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, for trade promotion within the African continent. The SMARTAfCFTA Portal, which has the capacity to provide information like trade indicators, market trends, custom tariffs, trade agreements, rules of origin, market access requirements of relevant jurisdictions, export potentials, export diversification indicators and contact details of business partners in target markets and other trade-related information about Africa, will help to unlock the vast opportunities for trade on the African continent.
The MoU was signed by the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu and the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, during the 8th Annual Edition of the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar on Non-Oil Export themed “Nigerian Non-Oil Export Industry: The Present, The Future”, held on Wednesday, August 8, 2023, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos and virtually.
Speaking on the partnership with AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “This collaboration aims to unlock the vast opportunities presented by AfCFTA not only for Nigeria’s economic prosperity but also for advancing trade across African countries”.
Dr. Onyeagwu noted the key role that the annual Zenith Bank Trade Seminar plays in deepening the conversation on promoting non-oil export in Nigeria by bringing together non-oil export practitioners and relevant government agencies to interact and explore the opportunities and proffer solutions to the challenges of non-oil export in the country, noting that previous editions’ outcomes have found expression and influenced policy initiatives. For instance, the extension of the period of repatriation of Non-Oil Export proceeds from 90 days to 180 days, and the policy mandating shippers not to carry export without a Nigeria Export Proceeds (NXP) Form Number were recommendations from previous seminars. Also, the need to incentivise exporters to repatriate their export proceeds through the official channels and the recommendation to create export terminals across various export hubs in the country were also from past seminars. Also, previous editions recommended having Export Desks in commercial banks, which has now been instituted.
In his keynote address at the Zenith Bank International Trade Seminar, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene, thanked the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, CFR, for partnering with the AfCFTA for the development of the SMARTAfCFTA Portal. In his words: “Zenith Bank was the first bank to say “we want to partner with you”. We went to see the Founder and Chairman, and he said that Zenith Bank wants to make a contribution to digitise trade in Africa. And so the portal was not my idea, it was not our idea at the AfCTA Secretariat, it was Zenith Bank that stepped up and said, ‘this has to be done!’. So I want to thank you very much, GMD for this collaboration.”
In his goodwill message, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, the Deputy Governor of Economic Policy representing the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, commended Zenith Bank for leading Nigeria’s non-oil export promotion advocacy. He bemoaned the 1.2 per cent non-oil export to total GDP ratio and emphasised the need for concerted efforts to boost non-oil exports in Nigeria.
Zenith Bank launched the Non-Oil Export Seminar in 2016 as an initiative to deepen the discourse on promoting the non-oil export business in Nigeria. The 2023 International Trade Seminar also featured a goodwill message from the Secretary of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo. There were also two-panel discussions, with the first panel discussion titled: “Nigeria Non-Oil Export Industry – Growth Opportunities”, while the second panel discussion was titled: “Harnessing the Opportunities in Service Export”.
Trade minister, Uzoka-Anite launches NATEP, targets 50 Million jobs for youths
The minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite has launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP) in a bid to position Nigeria as a talent export hub designed to create not less than one million jobs in the next five years.
The Minister performed the launching on behalf of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York, United States of America.
In her opening remarks at the launch of the initiative at the Microsoft office in NewYork, the minister highlighted the need to ensure Nigeria takes the lead in exporting global talents that are doing well across the world which will also drive a huge investment in training and also attracting more investment in talent exportation.
According to her, the initiative is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda to diversify the Nigerian economy, create sustainability opportunities and generate about 50 million jobs for the youths over time.
“NATEP is an initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service export, talent sourcing and talent export.
“As part of our strategy towards achieving this, President Bola Tinubu whose agenda is job creation, we have initiated a National Talent Export Programme (NATEP) for Nigeria, which targets the creation of one million jobs across Nigeria with a target of five years in line with the theme of this year’s UNGA, which is rebuilding trust and igniting global solidarity, accelerating action on the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all”, the minister said.
Uzoka-Anite further informed the large gathering comprising of world leaders and other giant tech companies across the globe like; Amazon, World Economic Forum, Microsoft group, Flour Mills Nigeria, Meta, Google and a host of others, that the global talent sourcing industry is valued at $620 billion as at 2020 and industry pundit have forecasted it will be valued at about $904 billion by 2027.
“Nigeria can supply top talents for the global service export and outsourcing business. With over 1.7 million graduates from higher education institutions entering the workforce annually, this will reduce the burden of unemployment and over-dependence on the government for jobs”, she explained.
The Minister further noted that NATEP was specially created to arrest the bottleneck facing the talent and service sector export industry, which will enhance competitiveness, and innovation, and drive sustainable development growth, empowerment and training through trade and value chain exchange.
She added: “Nigeria is ready to become a global hub for talent export, as the government is ready to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA) to penetrate the huge continental market and target job opportunities.
“As a country, we have a significant value proposition for regional and global markets for the export of services. We will actively target Greenfield and brownfield job opportunities in the United Kingdom, Europe, China, Canada, the United States of America and a host of other countries”.
The Minister For Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, while addressing participants at the launch disclosed that launching NATEP was timely, adding that to drive the mandate for Nigeria to be positioned as one of the global talent export hubs in Africa and the world will see Nigeria benefit more in terms of generating huge revenue, digitalization of the economy, more robust data protection opportunities and also avert the massive brain drain within the youth demography.
According to him, Nigerians in the diaspora are doing great things in the tech world, adding that it’s time for Nigeria to benefit by making more money and develop other youths to maximize their potentials.
“With a youthful population and over 1.7 million graduates from higher educational institutions joining the workforce each year, Nigeria has the potential to provide high-quality talent for the Global Service export and outsourcing industry. We must first identify them, train them and make the world see the stuff they are made of. We will not only create jobs but also empower them with the basic skills of survival and pass them on to the next generation” Dr Tijani said.
The Disappointing State of Customer Relations Among Instagram Merchants
By Otunba Deoye Otukoya
In today’s digital age Instagram has become an indispensable platform for businesses to connect with customers and promote their products or services. With the increasing popularity of Instagram stores it is essential for merchants to prioritize good customer relations. However a prevalent issue that deserves attention is the lack of professionalism and poor communication exhibited by some Instagram merchants. Many customers have reported incidents where the merchants provide their phone numbers on their timelines but fail to respond adequately or display unpleasant attitudes when contacted. This article aims to shed light on this concerning trend and the implications it has on customers and businesses alike.
1. Accessibility Matters:
One of the fundamental aspects of ensuring good customer relations is the accessibility of the merchant. By voluntarily providing their phone numbers merchants convey the impression of being available and open to customer inquiries. However the reality often falls short of this expectation. Too frequently customers are left frustrated and inconvenienced when their attempts to contact merchants go unanswered for days or are met with dismissive responses. This lack of availability undermines trust and damages the overall customer experience.
2. Unprofessional Attitudes:
Another significant concern is the unprofessional conduct and negative attitudes displayed by certain Instagram merchants when interacting with customers. The success of any business hinges on creating a positive relationship with consumers. However some merchants who put their phone numbers out for public use have been observed to have a lackadaisical approach towards customer engagements. Instances of rude behavior impatience and unhelpfulness have been reported leaving customers feeling disrespected and discouraged from engaging with that particular merchant or even shopping on Instagram altogether.
3. The Ripple Effect:
The ramifications of poor customer relations go beyond individual experiences. When customers have negative encounters with Instagram merchants they are likely to share their frustrations with friends family and online communities. Word-of-mouth plays a crucial role in shaping a merchant’s reputation and negative reviews can quickly spread damaging the business’s credibility. Consequently merchants who fail to prioritize customer relations may find themselves losing potential customers and hindering their long-term growth prospects.
4. A Call for Improvement:
To address this issue it is imperative for Instagram merchants to recognize the significance of good customer relations and take proactive steps to improve their interactions with customers. Some crucial measures include:
a. Prompt Responses: Merchants should aim to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner ideally within 24 hours. This showcases attentiveness and professionalism fostering positive customer relationships.
b. Polite and Respectful Communication: Merchants need to maintain a respectful tone even when faced with challenging or repetitive customer inquiries. Good customer relations require patience and understanding.
c. Training and Empathy: Merchants should invest time in training their customer support staff emphasizing the importance of empathy and effective problem-solving. Understanding the customer’s perspective can go a long way in providing satisfactory resolutions.
d. Feedback and Improvements: Merchants should actively seek feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement. This feedback loop can assist in refining their customer relations strategies and forging stronger connections with their target audience.
The alarming lack of good customer relations displayed by some Instagram merchants is a disheartening trend that affects both customers and businesses. By prioritizing accessibility professionalism and respect in their interactions merchants can foster an environment of trust and loyalty. Overlooking the importance of good customer relations may lead to a decline in sales and reputation. Ultimately developing strong customer relations on Instagram will not only boost customer satisfaction but also drive growth and success for merchants in the long run.
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