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Nigerian Retail & Consumer Landscape May Never be the Same Again

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COVID 19 Safe Shopping

48% of Nigerians Feel COVID-19 has had a sizeable impact on their lives

As Nigerian consumers emerge from a restricted living scenario unlike any they have experienced before, there are already big shifts in their consumption dynamics with some behaviours set to never return. This insight stems from Nielsen research which reveals that 48% of Nigerians feel the pandemic has had a sizeable impact on their lives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Nielsen Consumer Insights Lead for West Africa, Abiodun Olawale-Cole comments; “The reality is that the consumer emerging from lockdown is a changed consumer, facing the reality of juggling work and home against the backdrop of a fundamentally altered world, severely constrained finances and a hyper vigilance on health and safety.

“The past few weeks have also seen a significant shift to a homebound mindset where health and safety is a number one priority with a resultant desire to shop from home (online) or close to home. These changes have been exacerbated by restricted shopping in some areas and constraints like supply shortages and delivery/fulfilment challenges.”

A Nielsen Consumer Insights survey shows that this has resulted in fundamentally altered shopping habits with 71% Nigerians shopping less in malls, 70% reducing shopping in hypermarkets and supermarkets and 58% shopping less at tabletops. In addition, 39% of Nigerians say they are shopping more online for food and beverage products.

With a strong shift to home based lifestyle, unsurprisingly 74% of Nigerians also said they are eating out less and more than half claim to now eat more at home, They are also seeking safer banking options with 62% using ATMs less and 51% say they are banking online more.

Product performance

Against this backdrop, there have been significant movements in product selection during lockdown. Essentials such as sanitation & safety products such as hand care, household cleaners  and health products/supplements showed good growth as did staples such as pasta, noodles, and coffee.

Nielsen Nigeria MD, Ged Nooy explains; “Consumers are juggling their category basket to cope with the current times. They have learnt to appreciate essentials with the aim of maintaining pantry reserves to ensure an uninterrupted supply and have also gravitated towards simplified product repertoire.”

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, during the same timeframe non-essentials such as soft drinks, candies and biscuits saw steep declines and consumer purchases also shifted away from laundry and self-care. This may be due to the fact that as consumers experienced more financial constraints they have forgone certain groceries and discretionary purchase.

Scenario planning

Looking to the future, as Nigeria transitions into ‘post lockdown’ living Nielsen has created various consumer scenarios that could play out over the next 12-18 months.

Nooy explains; “One of the scenarios we have identified is a ‘Mixed Scenario’, which applies to Nigeria where we are starting to relax certain restrictions in order to reactivate business, while maintaining or implementing additional precautionary measures to guard against further spread of the virus.

“This will create conditions that we have never seen before with consumers who are increasingly concerned about the presence of the virus and catching it. They are also focused on the origin and transparency of products which will see a growth in locally produced and sourced goods.

“Demand for these offerings will also be driven by long term shortages of imported products and their resultant higher price points, which may well further strengthen preference for locally produced products and ensure long-term loyalty.”

Nooy adds that as FMCG manufacturers and retailers reflect, rebuild and reconsider the orientation of their businesses and brands for the future, they will need to predicate their ecosystems and strategies upon a deep understanding of what economies and consumers have endured and how they will emerge.

“The key to success will be anticipating how these lifestyle changes will drive new consumer needs and mindsets and as a result, businesses will need to carefully (re)consider and plan for how to solve and adapt to the future conditions through new and unfolding patterns.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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Travel

Nigeria and UAE Reach Agreement on Visa Access for Nigerians

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Nigerian International passport- Investors King

The Nigerian Federal Government announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to facilitate visa access for Nigerian citizens.

This announcement came following the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Bola Tinubu.

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, made the announcement while briefing journalists after the FEC meeting.

He highlighted the importance of this agreement in strengthening the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the UAE, and in fostering greater economic and cultural exchange.

“After extensive negotiations, we are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached with the UAE that will enable Nigerians to access UAE visas,” Idris stated.

“This development is a testament to the commitment of President Tinubu’s administration to improving the mobility and opportunities for Nigerian citizens globally.”

The agreement is expected to streamline the visa application process, making it easier for Nigerians to travel to the UAE for business, tourism, and other purposes. This move comes as a relief to many Nigerians who have faced difficulties in obtaining UAE visas in recent times.

In addition to the visa agreement, the FEC also directed the Ministry of Budget to propose amendments to the 2024 budget.

This directive aims to address emerging fiscal challenges and align the budget with current economic realities.

Idris further announced that President Tinubu will meet with labor leaders on Thursday to finalize discussions on the new minimum wage.

This meeting is part of ongoing efforts to ensure fair wages for Nigerian workers without triggering inflationary pressures.

“The President is committed to delivering a minimum wage that is both fair and sustainable. After thorough consultations, the proposed figures will be submitted to the National Assembly,” Idris explained.

The FEC’s deliberations on the wage increase focused on balancing the need for higher wages with the potential impact on the economy.

“We are determined to provide wages that improve the standard of living for Nigerians while maintaining economic stability,” Idris added.

This week’s FEC meeting also discussed various national issues, including infrastructure development, security, and public service reforms.

The council reiterated its commitment to pursuing policies that promote growth and improve the welfare of all Nigerians.

The agreement with the UAE and the forthcoming minimum wage proposal are seen as significant steps in President Tinubu’s broader agenda to enhance Nigeria’s international standing and address domestic economic challenges.

As the government moves forward with these initiatives, citizens and stakeholders are hopeful for positive outcomes that will benefit the nation.

In the coming days, further details of the UAE visa agreement and the new minimum wage proposal are expected to be disclosed, providing more clarity on the government’s plans and their implications for Nigerians.

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