Nigerian corporate organizations have taken the baton to enforce COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace and are ready to go tough on employees who are unwilling to get vaccinated.
One of the leading banks in Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank Holding plc (GTCO), on Monday, gave staff an ultimatum till September ending to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or face a pay cut and restriction from accessing the bank’s workplace.
The bank in an internal memo, dated September 13, warned that “starting October 2021, any staff that fails to comply will no longer be allowed into the bank’s premises and may be placed on half salary.”
The letter was directed at all staff from the operational risk management team.
The bank’s move marks a significant point in the growing trend of private companies mandating vaccination to keep the workplace environment safe.
Some oil and gas companies have also mandated staff members to get vaccinated or face lay-offs. In some other cases, staff members yet to get vaccinated are mandated to conduct COVID tests once a week.
Addax Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration firm, MTN Nigeria and a handful of others sourced vaccines for staff members and their families, but it remains unclear if they have mandated vaccination.
Enforcement of compulsory vaccination has been a subject of concern, raising questions on the degree of an employer’s power over the personal health choices of employees.
It has also stirred a moral debate on who is fair between those who have been vaccinated against the virus at work and those opting to stay unprotected, exposing vaccinated people to possible infections.
Many against vaccination mainly have their hesitancy built around distrust towards the vaccine’s effect on their health, thanks to misinformation led by false theories of harmful impact on the body.
Some continue to hinge their refusal of vaccination on the vaccines’ inability to stop the spread of infection even though scientific studies prove vaccines to reduce the severity of symptoms and the rate of hospitalisation.
Also, Nigerians keep questioning the rationale behind making vaccination mandatory when the country barely has enough vaccines available to fully vaccinate 3 percent of its population estimated at 206 million.
Analysts who spoke with BusinessDay said they saw it coming and expect the trend to grow further as companies try to navigate through the third wave of the pandemic and prevent a situation requiring a complete shutdown of operations.
“If you look at the history of vaccination in the world, to take polio, for example, it was like COVID-19 and was killing people until a vaccine was found and was made necessary for everyone. In the first one week of a baby’s life, they get PCG. There are some countries where you need evidence of vaccination against yellow fever to enter,” Olumide Balogun, chief executive, Box and Cedar, a human resource consulting.
According to Balogun, “you can have the right to resist anything. But if you want to work somewhere and they say you should be vaccinated then you can’t work there,”
Ayodeji Ebo, head, retail investment at Chapel Hill Denham, also affirmed that the adoption of mandatory vaccination would increase among companies, given the increased awareness around prevention.
“I think that based on the peculiarity of our situation, we don’t expect to see a significant spread of the virus. And we don’t expect to see implications in terms of businesses shutting down which would impact the economy,” he said.
The tussle between anti-vaccination and pro-vaccination drivers has also posed an influence on the position many Nigerians hold.
Just as in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Poland, and others, considerations on mandatory vaccination by the Federal Government and states such as Edo have met huge resistance.
In Nigeria, it is not yet clear where the train is headed.
More than 10 million vaccines have been supplied to Nigeria but less than half of those jabs have been administered.
Fidelity Bank To Develop SMEs Capacity in Non-oil Exports Sector
In furtherance of its resolve to help Nigerian businesses build sustainable export capabilities, leading Nigerian lender, Fidelity Bank Plc, is set to host the 11th and 12th editions of its highly acclaimed Export Management Programme (EMP).
Launched in 2016, the EMP is targeted at preparing participants for real-time experiences in the international non-oil export markets and the broader export market at large. The session typically covers a wide range of topics including Export documentation, Selection and Implementation of Supply Chain Management for Exports, Application of Export Development Business Processes amongst others.
Speaking on the programme, the Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe noted that, “As a leading supporter of small businesses, we introduced the EMP five years ago to bridge the knowledge gap in the export business locally and to help participants to compete effectively in the global export market. Given the success, we have recorded in the course of the programme and following the yearnings of potential participants, we decided to host an edition of the training in Kano for those who are unable to attend the session in Lagos.”
While EMP 11 is scheduled to hold at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Lekki, Lagos between 4 and 8 October 2021; EMP 12 would hold at a soon-to-be-announced venue in Kano State from 11 to 15 October 2021. The sessions would be facilitated by leading faculty from LBS, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) staff as well as experts in financial management and exports.
Fidelity Bank has over the years demonstrated its resolve to grow the non-oil export side of the economy through strategic initiatives and partnerships. For instance, the bank provided over N32.7 billion in credits to businesses operating in strategic sectors including rice, dairy, poultry, oil palm and cocoa in 2019. The bank has also successfully leveraged strategic partnerships with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) under various industry targeted intervention funding programmes to enhance access to credit for eligible players in the agribusiness and non-oil exports space with the aim of addressing food security gaps and enhancing foreign exchange earnings.
“The benefits of supporting the non-oil sector of the economy cannot be overemphasized given the immense benefits that it provides to the economy and the nation in terms of providing much needed foreign exchange investments, increasing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment generation. This informs our decision to host the EMP regularly and we enjoin interested entrepreneurs to take advantage of this initiative to take their business to the next level,” Onyeali-Ikpe explained.
To register for the event, kindly visit www.fidelitybank.ng
About Fidelity Bank Plc
Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with about 6million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and various other digital banking channels. The bank has in recent times won accolades as the Best SME Friendly Bank, Best in Mobile Banking and the Most Improved Corporate/Investment Bank among several industry awards and recognitions. The bank was also ranked the 4th Best Bank in the Retail Banking Segment in the 2017 Banking Industry Satisfaction Survey conducted by KPMG.
Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital-based retail banking strategy which has resulted in an exponential growth in savings deposits over the last 3 years and a corresponding surge in customer enrollment on the bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.
Afrexim and Asoko Partner to Help List African Companies
Asoko Insight, Africa’s leading provider of corporate data and engagement services, is pleased to announce a partnership with Africa Export-Import Bank that will help African companies list on its due diligence platform, the MANSA.
Launched by Afrexim in 2018 to counter the cuts in trade finance and investment financial flows to Africa, MANSA aims to be a single source of the primary data required for Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on African entities. The transparency MANSA provides will address key trade-related challenges facing the continent, including the lack of market information, the high cost of doing business in Africa and the challenges around discovering African counterparties.
The corporate information gathered through this KYC platform provides an additional layer of confidence for international financiers and African companies seeking business partners, unlocking the flow of capital and creating a more transparent operational landscape for trade and investment.
Onboarded as an official data partner for the project, Asoko will host access to the MANSA platform on its Digital Engagement platform through which African companies can register and submit their CDD/KYC information to be listed on the MANSA platform.
Rob Withagen, co-founder and CEO of Asoko Insight, said, “Easing access to African companies for trade and investment opportunities is at the core of Asoko’s work. MANSA is a key tool for facilitating data sharing about members of Africa’s vibrant private sector and we’re pleased to offer a route to it via our Digital Engagement platform.”
HOPE Consortium and Astral Aviation Sign MOU to Enhance Vaccine Distribution Solutions in Africa
As part of its continued commitment to vaccine distribution in Africa, the HOPE Consortium has partnered with Kenya-based cargo airline, Astral Aviation, to offer vaccine distribution solutions to Africa. This highlights the HOPE Consortium’s efforts in reinforcing partnerships that focus on fighting the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as fulfilling the organisation’s mission as a global logistics facilitator, by aiding in vaccine delivery.
As part of the partnership agreement, both entities will focus on intra-African cooperation to enhance vaccine distribution within the African continent. The HOPE Consortium will utilise Astral Aviation’s comprehensive network, technologies, and market expertise, to support its global objective of facilitating vaccine availability with a specific emphasis on the African continent. The alliance will ensure timely delivery of vaccines and critical supplies to all 54 African nations.
Astral Aviation operates a diverse fleet of 14 freighter aircraft and provides innovative, flexible, and cost-effective UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) integrated drone-based solutions, as well as warehousing solutions to both in-store and remote locations.
This synergetic collaboration with the HOPE Consortium will see Astral Aviation provide capacity for vaccine deliveries on its scheduled and charter freighter network, in addition to world-class drone solutions and systems to Africa, with the purpose of facilitating immunisation programmes.
Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation said: “We are truly honoured to partner with the HOPE Consortium and participate in the critical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, based on our track record in performing humanitarian initiatives and vaccine flights within Africa. Astral will add further technological and warehousing solutions for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines from the hub in Abu Dhabi, to all the 54 countries in Africa directly or via its Nairobi Hub, which occupies 9000 m2 of cold-storage facilities.”
It is worth mentioning that Astral has also been selected by UNICEF to perform vaccine flights for COVAX and for the African Union via the African Medical Supplies Platform.
Through this partnership, the HOPE Consortium furthers its end-to-end supply chains required to distribute vaccines from their base in Abu Dhabi to all African countries. The HOPE Consortium has geared its operations to transport millions of critical COVID-19 vaccines to any country in need and thus far has handled over 100 million vaccine doses across 40 countries.
Robert Sutton, Head of Logistics Cluster, Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Africa has always been a high priority market for the HOPE Consortium, and to that end, we are pleased to join hands with Astral Aviation. With a track record of operating over 20 years within Africa, their expertise provides a new dimension towards achieving our overarching objectives. This partnership reinforces the HOPE Consortium’s aim of creating a sustainable ecosystem, based on our collective global networks, logistics and supply chain capabilities, in order to facilitate vaccine distribution across the world. Our partnership with Astral Aviation is another benchmark towards our commitment to serve every country, region, and locale. We are confident that this partnership will help enhance HOPE Consortium’s efforts in Africa and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest against the pandemic.”
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