The Group Managing Director of Zedcrest Group, Adedayo Saheed Amzat has advised corporate organizations and the government to rethink their model and adopt technologies that would keep the green-light on – should another pandemic of COVID-19 scale ever happen again.
Amzat, is a consummate business leader in the financial services industry and a forerunner in the development of the securities market in Nigeria.
In an Instagram Live Chat with the Editor of TechEconomy.ng, Peter Oluka on the theme; “Implications of COVID-19 on Nigerian Economy: Way Forward for Businesses”, Amzat stated that the battle against COVID-19 is one that leaders today must win if we are to find an economically and socially viable path to the next normal.
According to him, “This is the worse than the worst case scenario that businesses plan for”; noting that the last time the world experienced a pandemic like this was 1918 (the Spanish flu).
“No company or individual could have foreseen and made adequate preparations to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies and businesses. Businesses are shutting down in their numbers because this crisis is unprecedented. In order to stay alive, businesses will require a shift from a brick and mortar mind set to exploring digital channels to reach their consumers. What we have now are opportunistic winners. Digital business are taking over brick and mortar businesses”, he said.
He stated that very few insurance packages have pandemics in their contracts which unfortunately means that many businesses will struggle after the pandemic.
The financial expert also urged the government restructure its finances and to give more support to agriculture, mining and other sectors that can create jobs to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the Nigerian economy.
“Before now, the government have been trying to move the economy from an export driven economy to a consumption driven one. There should be more local aggregate demand to drive the economy. Government has heavily invested in supporting the agricultural sector. With lessons that we have learnt during this COVID-19 crisis, it makes sense to deepen internal competences across different sectors.
“Agriculture has the capacity to employ a lot more people. Our first problem in Nigeria is unemployment, if we can develop our agriculture value chain, a lot more people will be employed. Almost 100 million Nigerians live in abject poverty, but remember, poverty isn’t just the lack of money, and it is also lack of access to information that can lift you out of that poverty.
“Agriculture can increase aggregate demand and we can generate more tax revenues, which can make our GDP more liquid. We have a GDP of $360 billion, but we don’t make up to $20 billion in tax revenue. We can make our GDP more liquid by ensuring that people get to work”, he explained.
Amzat opined that the government also needs to increase funding and encourage more research in the health sector.
“There was a video by Bill Gates that he did after the Ebola crisis, everything he said is happening right now. There is this theory that anything that can go bad will one day go bad. We have to have a plan for every possible situation. We need to create our health sector response and model it after the military.
“The military is funded even when there is no war, it’s like an insurance. Every year there is one health crisis or the other so why do we not have the same response for the military? What if HIV comes back what are we going to do? We have to have reserve health doctors that can be called upon for periods when there are health crisis that can overwhelm the health sector”, he urged.
The Zedcrest Group boss concluded that this is the best time to reduce the cost of governance by slashing the prodigious salaries and allowances of political officers; needless tours and other ostentatious expenses.
For now, Zedcrest Group has since activated its business continuity plan which amongst other elements include a work from home arrangement for staff.
The Group’s consumer finance outfit, Zedvance Finance Limited remains one of the lending firms that are still active at this time through their digital channels.