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Businesses urged to restructure strategy to ensure survival

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The founder and Chief Consultant at B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, has advised businesses to note the irreversible change in consumer behavior due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, he stressed the need for businesses to change their operational models.
He said this while speaking during a webinar organised by his firm recently. Adedipe predicted that there would be uncertainty around the business environment due to the economic disruptions created by the pandemic. This, he estimated could continue until around the third and fourth quarter of 2021, “before we can start talking about post COVID-19.”

Therefore, he emphasised that, “this is the time to plan and not after the pandemic has subsided.”
“Governments in Nigeria, that is the federal, state and local governments, should be thinking about how to ensure that businesses don’t collapse with the situation we find ourselves,” he said.

According to the economist, just like a paper released recently by the Central Bank Governor, every country or company should be talking about what they can do immediately, what they can do during the second half of 2020 and what can be done in 2021 and beyond.

“We talk about projection a lot in banking. In fact, the projection in banking globally was that by 2025, banking all over the world would have changed in such a manner that any bank that is not present on the digital platform; any bank that is not considering at this point in time, open banking, will likely no longer be competitive globally.

“This is a time also businesses should be pursuing operational and cost efficiency. Companies should be looking at flexible working hours. If you look at the data on the environment all over the world, lock down has brought about cleaner air all over the world, translating to cleaner environment.

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“What this is talking to is that is there a possibility that after we exit COVID-19, that more companies would change their model in such a way that not everybody working in that organisation would have to report to work in the office daily. If people can work from home and still deliver what is expected from them, why should they be at work? That will lead to improved environment and less vehicles on the road,” Adedipe explained.

According to him, the coronavirus is a disease that doesn’t distinguish between the rich and the poor, the big and the small, but affects everybody.

He noted that what the global economy is facing presently is worse than the great depression of 1929.
In his opinion, if countries were to pool their resources, it would be easier for, “all to fight this as a common war, not as the United States of America is fighting a different war from what China is fight, Nigeria is fighting a war different from what South Africa is fighting,” describing the situation as a war against humanity.

“Now, in terms of the creativity element, we can say that this has been aptly demonstrated all over the world as different country keep trying different things and we all keep learning from each other.

“This is a new experience. None of us have been in this type of situation before,” Adedipe added.

While expressing concern about the rising Misery Index in Nigeria, he cited a recent projection by the African Union that as much as 20 million African jobs were at risk as a result of the COVID-19.
This, the economist explained, meant that about four million Nigerian jobs are at risk due to the pandemic.

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“That means that as we speak now, our government ought to be thinking actively, about how to prevent those who are employed presently from joining the unemployment market, complicating the problems that it causes the society in so many ramifications.

“SMEs in Nigeria are peculiar. Firstly, they account for an estimated 48 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and secondly, in terms of number, they account for close to 50 per cent of industrial jobs. What companies used to experience before, in terms of the volume of demand for their product or services has collapsed, because of the lockdown.

“The tourism and hospitality industries are down to zero and global brands have had to downsized their labour force. Recession is inevitable. But the kind of recession we are talking about today is not like any that we have seen in the last 100 years or thereabout. There would also be an irreversible change in consumer behavior. That means the way the consumer would treat people and wallet is going to change in the light of this, going forward. There is now what is also called a new wave of nationalism.

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