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Interview: Developing Economies Need A Fair Energy Transition Strategy – Chairman, Stanbic IBTC

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Interview: Developing Economies Need A Fair Energy Transition Strategy – Chairman, Stanbic IBTC

Olushola Okunlade Writes

What is your view of the financial industry since 2021 began?

The financial industry has played a vital role in the global economic recovery since the novel COVID-19 adverse impact in 2020. The Nigerian financial sector, particularly the banking industry, has been exceptionally responsive to the challenges in the domestic environment. The resilience of the Nigerian financial sector is undoubtedly reassuring, and the Central Bank of Nigeria has been supportive in various aspects. However, due to the fragile economy, high inflation rate, Naira devaluation, and an intensely competitive business environment, the financial sector grapples with harsh macroeconomic conditions.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) have become of increasing interest among companies in the last couple of years. How is Stanbic IBTC promoting and adopting this concept?

At Stanbic IBTC, we are well onboard the ESG paradigm. We recognise that our core business activities must support and contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth. We have thus adopted SEE (Social, Environmental and Economic) Impacts as one of our strategic value drivers. The SEE value driver requires us to think differently about the broader ESG impacts of our business activities, both direct and indirect impacts.  

In operationalising the SEE value driver, we seek to identify and explore opportunities to provide financial solutions, products, and services that help address social, economic, and environmental challenges. This also requires that we work with our clients, service providers, and other stakeholders to promote positive SEE outcomes while minimising negative SEE impacts.   

There have been various calls for the adoption of green energy, especially among corporate organisations. Recently, Stanbic IBTC held its Sustainability Week, where the need for zero-emission was discussed. How important is green energy to sustainable development in Nigeria, and what can other corporates, for example, major financial institutions do to drive this principle? 

For development in Nigeria to be sustainable, there must be an appropriate balance to ensure the environment and society are not negatively affected by economic activities, both today and in the future. We acknowledge that the economy and society are wholly owned subsidiaries of the environment; hence we must strive to ensure that the environment remains stable to support economic and social activities.  

Green energy (Solar, Wind, Hydro, etc.) thus presents an opportunity to pursue economic development while ensuring minimal adverse impacts on the environment. Green energy is devoid of carbon emissions (unlike fossil fuel energy sources) which harms the environment and is one of the major contributors to climate change. Corporates, including financial institutions, can gradually shift to cleaner energy sources for their operations. Also, financial institutions can help advance this shift by facilitating funding (in line with their risk appetites), which will be necessary to achieve growth in the green energy space. 

However, the journey to a green energy world has only just begun. As you saw at COP26 (Conference of Parties 26), the world is attempting to obtain the commitment of Nation States to the Net-zero emission world. Progress is being made, but it is slow, and there are contentious positions. At this stage, most developing economies do not have the technology for green energy. Neither can they afford the cost of green energy if they are to continue providing for their people and societies and improving their standard of living. The developed world, which is disproportionally responsible, on both gross and per capita basis, for the bulk of carbon emission into the atmosphere, is unwilling to drastically cut their energy consumption, as they wish to maintain the standard of living of their people. Therefore, there is a need for a just energy transition strategy that is fair to all and affordable to all.

How has your organisation been able to reduce its carbon footprint, especially in the banking halls and areas where staff members interface with customers?

Building Environmental Resilience is one of our four Sustainability pillars in Stanbic IBTC. This pillar demonstrates our focus on environmental footprint management. In line with this, we have implemented and continued to expand on programs to reduce our carbon footprints. The key areas include:  

– Reduction of energy consumption in our office locations using energy-efficient fittings; retrofitting our office locations to maximise cooling and reduce energy wastage; the Switch-off and Unplug (SOUP) initiative after working hours. 

– Adoption of cleaner energy sources across our office locations. We installed solar energy solutions across over one-fourth of our branch locations. In addition, we have adopted the use of natural gas (which is cleaner than diesel and petrol) for our energy consumption at our Idejo and Walter Carrington Crescent head office campuses.  

– We also have the Go-Green program across some branch locations to reduce energy and paper consumption and improve water efficiency.  

Besides reducing our carbon generation, we have recently also adopted Tree Planting programs to help us with carbon sequestration. So far, we have facilitated the planting of over 300 trees, and this number will grow significantly in the coming years.   

What measures has Stanbic IBTC as a group taken to combat climate change? 

We acknowledge the need for urgency in halting climate change, and Stanbic IBTC is contributing its quota to addressing this issue. In addition to the programs discussed earlier (aimed at reducing carbon footprints from our operations), we are also working with vendors and customers to provide solutions that can help address climate change issues. This is reflected in one of our seven focus SEE Impact Areas – Climate Change and Sustainable Finance – where the Group seeks to provide financial solutions to support climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.  

We also continue to advance awareness around climate change amongst the general public; leveraging our social media platforms and webinars, for instance, the recently concluded Net Zero Webinar. Similarly, our parent company, the Standard Bank Group hosted a Climate Summit in partnership with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. We continue to take awareness communication initiatives by sharing practical tips that people can adopt to help address climate change.  

We know that marketing and advertising is very necessary to any business – yours inclusive. What plans are in place to adopt sustainable advertising models which help the environment and move away from traditional advertising?

As an organisation, we have begun practicing sustainability marketing. One of the ways we have done this is drastically reducing our investment in traditional print media advertising and up-weighting investment in digital advertising. We have also instituted Sustainability Saturdays, where we educate the general populace across digital platforms on all issues about sustainability, highlighting what we, as a company, have invested in socially and our environmental impacts in the areas we operate. These are embedded in our marketing strategy. Another way we practice sustainable advertising is by ensuring that our marketing is consumer-oriented. Our engagements with our customers are innovatively value-adding to the customers. Lastly, our solutions, products, and services are useful to all strata of society. 

How well will you say Nigerian businesses and corporate organisations are doing in terms of protecting the environment?

I would say there is growing awareness amongst Nigerian businesses on the need to protect the environment. Some organisations are genuinely adopting measures to manage their environmental footprints in line with their commitments and or regulatory requirements. 

However, we are barely scratching the surface as a lot of work still needs to be done to develop appropriate regulations and enforce existing regulations to ensure compliance with environmental best practices and standards. Also, a lot still needs to be done in collaboration amongst stakeholders (regulators, NGOs, corporates, communities) to advance environmental protection in Nigeria.  

In your opinion, how has the pandemic affected the adoption of sustainable environmental practices? 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a potent reminder of the need for businesses to adopt sustainable practices that can help minimise disruptions to business arising from such black-swan events. It was interesting to note how organisations quickly adopted sustainable environmental practices such as using digital conferencing systems and reducing business travel, which is a key contributor to global emissions.  Therefore, in my opinion, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of sustainable environmental practices. 

Interview: Developing Economies Need A Fair Energy Transition Strategy – Chairman, Stanbic IBTC
BASIL OMIYI.

As a company that is big on CSI projects, how do you contribute to ensuring your host communities benefit from sustainable environmental practices?

As a socially responsible organisation, we develop initiatives to impact the communities in which we operate. Over the years, we have donated several water borehole projects to our host communities as part of our role in improving the standard of living of these communities. Access to clean water is part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and we deliberately chose solar energy to power these water sources. Being an SDG-oriented organisation, another reason we have opted for high-quality solar-powered borehole machines is to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

We also have embarked on tree planting activities as part of our CSI initiatives; which we have been able to sustain due to our partnership with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF). As part of our 30th-anniversary activities in 2019, we planted 30 trees at Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC), an urban jungle in the heart of Lagos. We further planted 30 trees in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.  We have also encouraged staff to participate in tree planting activities through their departmental CSI initiatives. This is one of the practical methods we have taken towards reducing carbon footprints and achieving net-zero emissions.

What can be done differently in the financial sector in Nigeria to ensure more people begin to pay attention to issues that affect the planet? 

I believe that the societal influence of the financial sector in driving positive changes has not been fully harnessed. On one hand, the public perception of the financial sector needs to be improved such that it claims its rightful place in society and get the public assured that it functions for the greater benefit of society. The industry is expected to lead by example by continuously improving sustainability drives in their business operations, for instance, Stanbic IBTC Group has committed to and is working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

On the other hand, the financial sector is responsible for adopting measures that will influence its various stakeholders such as providing them with sustainable investing opportunities and prioritising compliant stakeholders.

There is a need for collaboration amongst stakeholders (government agencies, regulators, environmental experts, financial institutions, NGOs, Communities) towards developing an ecosystem for environmental financing. This will encourage and facilitate increased adoption of environmentally beneficial practices, solutions, or programs.

What is your expectation for the industry as a whole in the near future? 

Without mincing words, ‘innovation-driven change’. Technology is rapidly advancing, competition is getting stiffer, and the regulatory environment is changing. The industry is generally looking out for improved ways to grow scale and remain relevant in society. The potentials for innovations to transform the financial ecosystem are almost limitless, and these courses are still being charted.

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PhotoNews: LCCI President Visits Association Of German Chambers Of Commerce And Industry (DIHK) In Berlin, Germany

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LCCI President Visits Association Of German Chambers Of Commerce And Industry (DIHK) In Berlin, Germany

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI), Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON, has paid a courtesy visit to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) in Berlin, Germany.

Asiwaju Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON met Mr. Heiko Schwiderowski, Director of the Africa section of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) during a courtesy visit to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) in Berlin, Germany on Thursday, September 28, 2022.

LCCI President Visits Association Of German Chambers Of Commerce And Industry (DIHK) In Berlin, Germany
President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI), Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON, and Mr. Heiko Schwiderowski, Director Africa Section of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) during a courtesy visit to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) in Berlin, Germany on Thursday, September 28, 2022.
LCCI President Visits Association Of German Chambers Of Commerce And Industry (DIHK) In Berlin, Germany
President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, CON, and Mr. Edgar Zedler Head of Regional Affairs NUMOV/ German Near and Middle East Business Association during a visit to the Association office in Berlin, Germany on Thursday, September 28, 2022.

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The Impact Of E-commerce On Supply Chain

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The Impact Of E-commerce On Supply Chain

….as Jumia leads the fast and reliable digital market hub

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The rise of E-commerce and the digital marketplace has changed the composition of consumers buying behavior and expectations, as consumers now expect fast, free shopping and competitive pricing.

This demanding delivery schedule challenges traditional logistics and supply chain models, and companies are now forced to adjust their strategies to provide the low-cost and on-demand delivery service that consumers now demand.

Technological advances in many aspects of our lives have resulted in buying, selling, and other forms of transactions being executed online. Once the consumer makes an online purchase, the work begins to transport the products from the seller to the consumer – and that’s where the logistics sector comes into play.

Statista claims that the logistics sector is one of the pillars of global trade, valued at more than 5.7 trillion euros.

In Nigeria, the logistics and supply sector is growing exponentially. According to the 2018 Logistics & Supply Chain Industry Report, Nigeria’s logistics industry was worth 250 billion naira ($696 million) as of 2018, which represents an increase of 50 billion naira ($140 million) from 2017 statistics. This value has increased over the years. The industry is currently expanding because of improved aviation and rail infrastructure, stronger international relations, expansion in the manufacturing and export industries, and continuous e-commerce growth.

E-commerce and the Supply Chain Sector

The Impact of E-commerce on Supply Chain

The supply chain links numerous parties and organisations, including consumers, enterprises, merchants, financial, and information flows. To deliver high-quality services and products, managing various groups and activities requires a method that can effectively and efficiently integrate interactions among the entities, particularly when organisations use resources from different regions of the world.

The supply chain has grown more adaptable and effective as a result of e-commerce. It has given businesses fresh and creative ways to connect with consumers. E-commerce also has made it possible for companies to offer goods directly to consumers instead of through conventional retail channels.

The increase in e-commerce adoption has made logistics services a necessary component of daily living in Nigeria’s major commercial cities. Access, cycle time, dependability, and cost of logistics are directly impacted by the state of the available infrastructure and the degree of integration. High-performance government agencies, funding, and industry expertise are also essential. Therefore, logistics is a primary marker of economic advancement as represented in trade facilitation and company competitiveness.

How E-commerce is Revolutionising the Supply Chain Sector

The Impact Of E-commerce On Supply Chain

E-commerce has several advantages in the supply chain sector. Firstly, it offers real-time data on inventory levels and order status. This lowers the possibility of stockouts or overstocks by helping businesses to make better decisions about when to produce or order products.

Collaboration between businesses and their suppliers and consumers is also made simpler by e-commerce. For instance, a business can quickly place orders and submit estimates to suppliers. This lessens the amount of paperwork required and helps to speed up the ordering process.

A company like Jumia in the supply chain sector, through e-commerce, connects vendors with consumers across a broad delivery area. As a result, local vendors and international brands can effectively reach more consumers across the country using the platform. In addition, consumers’ shifting preferences, lifestyles, and behaviours have led companies like Jumia to introduce quick commerce to make online shopping more convenient than ever before.

With speed and convenience becoming more important than ever, Jumia opened its logistics services to third parties. Its logistics network smoothly connects hundreds of logistics partners across Nigeria, from small business owners to significant logistics service providers. It offers merchants the advantage of a distributed and scalable logistics service and gives consumers quick access to the products they desire.

What Does the Future Hold for Logistics?

The Impact Of E-commerce On Supply Chain

Technology remains a strategic imperative for supply chain organisations. In the next three to five years, we will see an increase in the adoption of digital supply chain technologies, including those that improve human decision-making.

It is predicted that the future of the supply chain sector will be defined by data, analysed by artificial intelligence, and driven by machines. Gartner has predicted that by 2023, AI techniques will be embedded across 50% of all supply chain technology solutions.

Already, Jumia Logistics is leading the forefront, as the company has invested in machine learning and several data science techniques. This has helped to offer more precise delivery times based on multiple factors, and even to predict the ideal routes that delivery agents can rely on to meet their targets. Consequently, online consumers will have better experiences on the mobile app with greater certainty about the progress of their orders from purchase to delivery.

Furthermore, the company’s move into drone delivery with its recently announced collaboration with Zipline, the world’s largest instant delivery service, is another game changer for the industry. Using the latest instant logistics technology, Jumia will be able to offer consumers living in rural or remote areas on-demand delivery of the products they need.

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Sanwo-Olu To Intending Investors; Lagos Ready For You

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SANWO-OLU TO WOULD-BE INVESTORS: LAGOS READY FOR YOU

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu played the quintessential salesman on Monday, reeling off his administration’s achievements in the past three years to woo investors to the state.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu met a group of would-be investors in New York on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at a roundtable organized by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) at Park Lane Hotel in the heart of the city. He got an exciting response from the group of corporate giants who urged him to see himself as an ambassador of the private sector to the Federal Government.

With confidence, the Governor spoke of the major strides Lagos State has made in the past three years, despite COVID-19. He used the THEMES Agenda – the six-pillar development plan of his administration – as a guide.

According to the Governor, the state’s GDP has gone up by $5b to about $145,141b, the budget has doubled to about %N1.7tr and infrastructural development has been tremendous. He cited landmark developments in transportation, the first pillar of THEMES, saying the Red Line and Blue Line rail projects were on track to be commissioned by the end of the year. The rolling stocks for the Red Line, which his administration started, he said, are on the way to Lagos and work is going on as scheduled on the stations and the overpasses that will ensure a good transportation experience. There are about four other lines to be built for the state to be covered by rail so as to ease the pressure on roads.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu minced no words on the purpose of the meeting – to attract more investors to Lagos, which has 80 per cent of Foreign Direct Investments coming into Nigeria. He spoke of opportunities in water transportation, saying from seven ferries, the state’s fleet has risen to 21, besides many others run by private operators. Investors can double the fleet, Sanwo-Olu said.

Many of the 15 jetties being built by the state are ready for commissioning, he added, stressing that the aim is to have an integrated urban transportation system, strengthened by strategic road infrastructures, such as the Lekki-Epe Expressway and the Fourth Mainland Bridge, which attracted many investors, among which one will be chosen before the end of the year.

The state, said the Governor, plans to build an Infectious Diseases Research Centre to tackle health challenges, such as COVID-19.

Over 1000 school projects have been completed and “we have introduced technology to make teaching and learning an exciting experience”.

“We are seeing the results. We used to have about 36% pass in School Certificate Examinations; now we have about 80%,” Sanwo-Olu said.

“We are opening brand new schools and introducing technology by giving teachers tablets to aid their job.”

He spoke about the 6,000 km fibre optic cable being laid around the state, saying the first phase of 3,000 km was almost completed. This, he said, will aid faster and cheaper internet connectivity, thereby boosting service in hospitals and schools, besides boosting the impressive activities of the youth in the tech ecosystem.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu described Lagos as the “entertainment capital of Africa”. He cited the recent Headies Awards in Atlanta and added that a Film Village was on the way. He mentioned opportunities in housing and assured would-be investors of “the sanctity of contracts”, with the state appointing new judges to aid smooth operations of the Judiciary.

On security, Mr. Sanwo-Olu described Lagos as “the safest state in Nigeria”. He said small businesses were being supported with grants, even as the youth and women are being encouraged.

It was, however, not all a matter of passing marks. The Governor spoke of challenges, such as refuse disposal, saying about 4000 metric tons were being generated daily. This, in his view, should attract investors, who are willing to turn waste into wealth – a path the state is willing to tread. There are also challenges in water, power, and other sectors, which are awaiting investors, Mr. Sanwo-Olu said.

The applause was loud as Mr. Sanwo-Olu ended his speech.

Replying, the Managing Director (Africa) of McLARTY Associates, Amb. (ret.) Terence P. McCulley, praised Mr. Sanwo-Olu for an insightful account of his administration’s policies and projects. He said many “people who have returned from Lagos have spoken of how they no longer recognize the state because of the developments taking place there. He is of the view that the Governor has done well “because good governance is about providing services.”

Amb. McCulley said: “You can be the ambassador of the private sector to the Federal Government, providing an enabling environment for manufacturing, agriculture, and technology, which are drivers of diversification.”

A participant spoke about the discovery of talents among Nigerian youths in the tech space. He said such talents were being lost to other countries because they could not be retained in Nigeria. Mr. Sanwo-Olu said the government was doing so much to link young graduates to companies that train them to make them employable under its Graduate Internship Programme, which has absorbed thousands of youths. There are other programs, he said, agreeing that a retention strategy for talents was necessary.

At the meeting were Stephen Jennings, founder and CEO of Rendeavour, the organisers, Country Head, Nigeria, Rendeavour, Eyong Ebai, CEO, Africa, GE Healthcare, Mr. Patrick Santillo, Senior Vice President, BCIU, Mr. Biodun Dabiri, Chairman, Lekki Worldwide Investment and many others.

With the Governor were Economic Planning and Budget Commissioner Sam Egube, Energy and Mineral Resources Commissioner Lere Odusote, Information and Strategy Commissioner Gbenga Omotoso, Special Adviser on SDG and Investments Mrs. Solape Hammond, Special Adviser on Public Private Partnership Ope George and Mrs. Ibilola Kasumu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology.

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