Hologram replaces human receptionist at council office in London

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Visit the council offices in Brent, north-west London, and you’ll be greeted by a virtual assistant in the form of a hologram.

Going by the name of Shanice, the new receptionist, which has cost the council an estimated £12,000 (N3,000,000), will offer visitors a friendly smile and (hopefully) answer questions, albeit simple ones pre-programmed into a tablet.

Tap the appropriate request on the display and Shanice, who’s projected onto a thin screen positioned behind the reception desk, will give you directions to the relevant service within the building. However, if you have a question that doesn’t appear on the display, presumably you’ll have to go off in search of a real live person to help get you sorted.

Savings?

According to Brent councillor James Denselow, Shanice will save the council around £17,000 (N4.25m) a year.

“The best thing is it’s going to save us lots of money, without compromising our service,” Denselow told the Evening Standard. “Nowadays we’re constantly having to look at innovative ways to cut costs and they don’t come more cutting edge than Shanice.”

However, opposition councillor Alison Hopkins isn’t entirely happy with the move, calling it a “startlingly expensive” way of dealing with complaints about poor signage around the new £90 million (N2.25bn) civic center, which opened in June.

“As the council admits, Shanice can’t respond even to basic questions but is limited to a small number of pre-recorded scripts,” Hopkins said. “I hope she has been told one of the commonest questions is: ‘Where are the toilets?’”

Critics suggest any savings will probably be spent on maintaining Shanice, with the hologram likely to require reprogramming once its operators learn more about the kinds of questions visitors are asking. And what about the poor worker replaced by Shanice? It can’t be much fun telling family and friends you’ve been replaced by a hologram.

Judging by the demonstration video below, Shanice’s explanations appear, for the most part, clear and concise. Her information regarding the seemingly unusual elevator procedure – where you have to keep your finger on the button the whole time – is certainly without ambiguity.

“To use the lift, please call it by holding the button, and keeping it held until the lift arrives,” Shanice helpfully explains. “Once in the lift, keep the button held until you reach the mezzanine level.”

While such virtual assistants have been seen at some airports reminding passengers of what they can and can’t take on as hand luggage, this is believed to be the first time a hologram has been used by a local council in the UK. And it shouldn’t be too long before we find out if it’s also the last.

Image rights : Brent council

culled from digitaltrendsdotcom

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NIGERIAN CUSTOMERS PAYING A LOT FOR NOTHING

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By: Ayisha Osori on August 20, 2013

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Last month Twitter-sphere lit up about the increase in fixed charges for consumers using pre-paid meters. Charges have gone up from N245 in 2010 to N300 by 2012; it’s now N702 and will apparently continue to rise. This means when a million Nigerians each pay a fixed charge of N1,000 every month, regardless of whether there is electricity or not, companies earn N1billion a month. In response to the outcry, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) chairman, Dr Sam Amadi, in an interview with Vanguard, allegedly said N750 was not too much and that the Nigerian rate for fixed charges is around the lowest in the world. He went on to say, “the problem we have is that Nigerians are used to paying nothing.”

Let’s put this in perspective. Tribune reported that as of August 12, 2013, Nigeria’s power generation rose to 2,766 megawatts (MW) from 2,628.6MW. This surely has to be the lowest generation of power in the world for what has been spent on the power sector. However, three months ago our electricity distribution companies had reportedly realised N189 billion as revenue despite poor supply to consumers – compared with the N151 billion collected for the entire year in 2011.The situation regarding lack of power is a national disgrace that is compounded by the following issues.

One, there is something really wrong with a system which forces people to pay for something they have not enjoyed and will not enjoy. There is a name for this: exploitation. Or in the development-speak of “Why Nations Fail”, it is a symptom of extractive institutions, i.e., designed to take income, wealth and resources from one larger subset of society for the benefit of a different smaller subset. The second is that we have not heard a fair justification for increasing the fixed charges when the electricity tariffs are going up too (N8.89, N10.99, N12.61). In order for consumers to appreciate the fixed charge which is meant to cover the fixed cost of supply, it would have been useful to explain what these fixed costs are, i.e., is this payment for the electricity cables, the cost of administration, the salaries of employees or maybe the cost of meters since it is still unclear who is supposed to pay for them? The failure of distribution companies to provide meters for their customers has been hinted at by the latest actions of NERC instructing companies to sell the meters and reimburse customers through their bills over time. It is possible that fixed charges significantly higher than the present might be justifiable but the performance to date has simply damaged consumer confidence further. One would also ask: If our large population in Nigeria is supposed to be an advantage, why are the economies of scale not working to the advantage of consumers? Could the problem be tied to the lack of meters? Since the biggest defaulter of electricity bills is reportedly the federal government, then, Nigerians should know if the FG is now fully or partially (if so, to what extent) on meters. If the answer is that much of the FG is still not on the meters, then it means Nigerians who are using pre-paid meters and those who are not (but who continue to get unreasonable bills) are being made to unfairly subsidize the FG. A quick visit by NERC or any interested CSO to some Abuja ministry offices should prove illuminating.

Third is the issue of investment in power a.k.a. privatisation. Carlos Slim – one of the richest men on earth – comes from an extractive society. According to Acemoglu and Robinson, Slim did not make his money by innovation. “His major coup was the acquisition of Telmex, the Mexican telecommunications monopoly that was privatized in 1990.” Slim did not put in the highest bid, but he still won. He did not pay for the shares in Telmex right away; instead he delayed payment and used the dividends of Telmex (after taking control of the company) to make his payments.

What has this got to do with Nigeria and what we allegedly pay for electricity? Probably everything. Dr Amadi explained that, “this new increase is a basic requirement to attract investors in the power privatisation bid process but, as time goes on, the price will drop when investors have recovered their money.” We have our answer. It is not about us. It is about the investors. Only few still argue against privatization, because it is clear that governments don’t have the right incentives to manage utility services efficiently. However, what the telecommunications sector has taught us is that while privatization can revolutionalise and open things up, there are still issues with regulation where consumers continue to be shafted. Despite infrastructure and security challenges, the telecommunication companies are raking in cash, yet services are poor and millions have few options and no redress. There is something painfully unjust about a system which allows the same people responsible for ruining our utilities to buy them. Over $20 billion has been invested in the power sector since 1999 and we are still struggling to produce less than 3,000mw.

It is time Nigerians came together to learn more about the power sector that bedevils us and to make justice in this sector a central issue for every political platform and all politicians. Is the transition to this privatized sector truly evolving in a way that will benefit the Nigerian consumer? If not, what are they going to do about it? Anyone without a B+ answer should not apply for any level of political office in 2015 or beyond.

The One Question You Should Ask All of Your Customers

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I was meeting with a prospective client the other day, and while I was waiting, I noticed the intake form that they had all customers fill out. It was your typical form asking for name, address, and other pertinent information.

But there was one thing on the form I was looking for that wasn’t there. In fact, it seemed sort of glaring by its omission. My feeling is that if you’re going to ask people to fill out a form, take the time to ask them the one question that can be really helpful as you move forward in you relationship with them, as well as help you with your future  marketing plans. It’s also the question that can provide you with some very real information about your existing marketing efforts and whether you are getting a decent return on investment. It’s also a question that can help you to provide better customer service.

So what’s the question you should be asking all of your customers?

“How did you find out about us?”

If someone is coming to your store or business, don’t you want to know what brought them there? You should.

And if you’re already asking them questions, why not ask them this simple one.

If you’re not asking preliminary questions, maybe you can start, or you can make this question, or some variation of it, at the checkout. Make it a part of the process.

We’ve all been to cash registers where the attendant asks us if we want to contribute a dollar to some cause, if we want paper or plastic, what our zip code is, or perhaps if we found everything we were looking for.

Why not spend some time asking them how they discovered you.

Was it your yellow pages listing or the ad you put in the paper? Was it your presence on Facebook or the recommendation of a friend? Perhaps it was a simple Google search or they just drive by every day and decided to stop in.

You can even use your new customer form to prompt responses, offering several ways they might have heard of you.

Regardless, this is important information to have.

“How did you find out about us?”

This information can let you know what aspects of your marketing campaign are working better than others. It might show you new untapped areas for marketing and communication. It might let you know that you’re spending your money in the wrong areas. It might help you understand what your current customers think, and are saying, about you.

It’s a simple question.

“How did you find out about us?”

And you can modify it. Perhaps you prefer,

“Where did you hear about us?” 

or some other variation.

From there, once you have an answer, you can follow up with more questions, asking specifics. Have they ever seen your commercials? Have you liked our Facebook page? Did you know we have a blog?

That first question provides a lot of important information, and the follow ups will not only give context to that answer, but also inform both you and the customer.

Are you asking your customers how they first heard about you? How important is that simple piece of information to you?

 

culled from socialmediatoday.com

image rights chexydecimal.com

Nigeria; 120-million mobile subscriber strong!

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Nigeria’s Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that the country’s mobile subscribers have reached over 120-million

Operator MTN is still well in the lead in terms of sheer numbers, with over 55-million of the country’s citizens on its network. The NCC released their Quarterly Summary of Telecoms Subscribers in Nigeria (Sep ’12 – Jun ’13), and showed that MTN had 7.6% growth over the quarter.

Battling for second place in the highly-connected country, Globacom managed to beat out Airtel by more than 4-million subscribers. Since September last year, Globacom and Airtel have been locked in a fierce dominance battle for the second most popular mobile operator in Nigeria.

And while Globacom ended the quarter with a 4.9% increase to over 25-million subscribers, Airtel lost 8.7% of their subscribers – ending the quarter on 21.5-million users.

The top 5 mobile operators in Nigeria are rounded out by EMTS Limited with 15.3-million subscribers for the quarter, while M‐Tel Limited managed to sustain 258,520 subscribers. The top 5 mobile operators make up 117.41-million subscribers of Nigeria’s mobile landscape of 120.36-million.

find statistics here courtesy Nigerian communications commission

Adoption of Mobile Money Services Slow Due To Low Public Awareness

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Latest weekly poll released by NOI Polls Limited has revealed that almost 6 in 10 Nigerians (59%) are not aware of mobile money services and only 13% of those that are aware of mobile money have adopted it. Also, it was found that the overwhelming majority (93%)operate their mobile money account in connection with their bank accounts. Generally, mobile money users have had positive experiences indicating that it is easy to use, secure, saves cost and time; while about 7 in 10 (71%) non-users said they would consider using mobile money services in the future. These are the main findings from the Mobile Money Services Snap Poll conducted in the week of 5th August 2013.

In recent times, the Nigerian Payments System has been experiencing new innovations and transformation in line with the CBN’s financial system strategy vision 2012.  The CBN introduced mobile money services to provide basic financial services and create payment access especially to unbanked Nigerians, and also help drive financial inclusion in the country. Mobile Money enables monetary transactions to be done on mobile phones through text messaging. Operations that can be carried out include money deposit, bills payments, funds transfer and withdrawal payment for purchased goods and services[1]

In line with the introduction of the mobile money policy, The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN licensed 16 banks and other financial institutions to establish the services all over the states, sometime in August 2011. Analysts at Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited suggested that if the potentials of the mobile banking are properly harnessed then an increased bankable Nigerians should be anticipated since there is a high penetration of mobile telecommunications in Nigeria.

Mobile money is a real tool for economic growth and development, if fully explored. In addition to its ability to increase transactions, it serves as an alternative way of storing money, for both the banked as well as unbanked subscribers as well as facilitates the payment of goods and services, while reducing the risk of theft and loss as it involves a lesser handling of cash. In addition, mobile money reduces the cost of payments as it eliminates the requirement for physical points of presence. Its facilitation of financial inclusion will bring a great impact on the lives of the ordinary Nigerian. As soon as people gain access to financial services, their cash management and personal financial planning will improve and this will lead to a greater ability to save.

More than a year into its introduction, the scheme has suffered slow-adoption by Nigerians as the licensed operators of the mobile money services have not made great headway in the  deployment of the services across the states. This has attracted great concern and worries from expert and stakeholders. In line with this, one major challenge the scheme has faced is the low awareness of the total process and its benefits to stakeholders. Some other challenges associated to the slow roll out and adoption of the mobile money process includes; the lack of finance and basic infrastructure; few agents, and the exclusion of mobile operators from taking part in the execution of the service.[2]

Based on this background, NOI Polls conducted its latest poll on Mobile Money Services to explore the current level of awareness among Nigerians, to determine the present rate of adoption and potential for the future. 

Respondents to the poll were asked 10 specific questions. The first question sought to measure the awareness of Nigerians on Mobile Money services. Respondents were asked: Have you ever heard of Mobile Money services? In response to this question the majority overall (59%) are not aware of Mobile Money services, comparatively, 41% are aware of the services. 

Analysis based on geo-political zones shows that the South-South (54%), South-West (46%) and the North-Central (43%) zones had the highest proportions of respondent that are knowledgeable of Mobile Money services.  Conversely, the North-East (70%), South-East (64%) and the North-West (63%) zones accounted for the highest proportions of respondents that did not have any knowledge of Mobile Money services.

Measuring the level of awareness based on age revealed that the age category with the highest number of respondents that are aware of Mobile Money services is 35-44 years (48%) of respondents. This is closely followed by respondents within the age category of 45-54 years (46%). The 65+ age group has the highest proportion of respondents (79%) that are not aware of it, closely followed by the 18-21 age group (78%).


[1] Central Bank of Nigeria: http://www.cenbank.org

[2] Prospects and Challenges of Mobile Money on Nigerian Economy: http://www.thisdaylive.com

 

The second question sought to determine the sources of awareness of Mobile Money services. Respondents who indicated awareness of mobile money services (41%) were subsequently asked: How did you get to Know about Mobile Money services? Overall the major source of awareness about Mobile Money services as indicated by 36% of the respondents was “Bank”. This is followed by the “Media” (29%) and “Family and friends” (27%).

From the geo-political zones standpoint, the North-West (48%) and the North-Central (44%) zones accounted for the highest proportion of respondents that gained awareness on Mobile Money services through banks. Also, Majority of respondents who became aware through the Media were from the North-East zone with 47%. 

 

Subsequently, in order to ascertain the level of adoption of Mobile Money services in Nigeria, respondents that are aware of mobile money services were further asked: Personally, do you use/have you ever used Mobile Money services?. Results show that the majority (87%) of the respondents who are aware of Mobile Money services have not yet adopted it, while 13% have adopted the services and out of these, respondents within the age category of 45-54 years (22%) had the highest level of adoption.

Gauging the level of adoption from geo-political zones revealed that the North-East zone (which had the lowest level of awareness as shown in figure 1) had the highest level of adoption with 31% this is followed by the North-Central zone with 19% and the South-South zonewith 11%.

 

Furthermore, respondents that have adopted Mobile Money services were asked: Who is your Mobile Money service provider?  The majority (86%) indicated “Banks” as their provider. This may be due to the fact that licenced banks have been given the responsibility to establish the services over Nigeria. Also, 12%indicated “Mobile Money agents” as their provider and 1% indicated other sources.

Analysis based on geo-political zones shows that all of the respondents (100%) from the North-East, North-West and the South-East zones that use Mobile Money indicated banks as their provider. In addition, theSouth-West zone (28%) had the highest proportion of respondents who indicated Mobile Money agents as their provider.

 

The fifth question aimed to determine the ratio of banked to unbanked users of Mobile Money. Respondents(13%) that use Mobile Money were asked: Do you operate a bank account?  Responses to this question revealed that all of the respondents (100%) that use Mobile Money services operate a bank account. This suggests that the level of awareness and adoption of Mobile Money services amongst unbanked Nigerians is currently very low and almost non-existent.

The sixth question sought to ascertain the proportion of users that operate their Mobile Money account in connection with their bank accounts: Is your Mobile Money account operated in connection with your bank account? Responses show that majority (93%) operate their Mobile Money account in connection with their bank account and 7% operate their Mobile Money account separately. This further affirms previous findings where the majority indicated banks as their provider.

 

Furthermore, to gain insight into the transactions users carry out on Mobile Money services, respondents were asked: What transactions do you use/have you used it for? The majority of Mobile Money users use it for “funds transfer” (65%) this is followed by bill payment (54%), Money Withdrawal (36%) and“Payment for purchased goods and services” (25%).

Analysis based on geopolitical zones revealed that The North-west zone (80%) had more respondents that carry out “Funds Transfer” on their Mobile Money account, the South-West zone (93%) accounted for the highest proportion of respondents that use their account for “Bills payment”. Also, the South-West zone(54%) had the highest number of respondents that use their account for Money withdrawal while the South-East zone (57%) accounted for the highest proportion of respondents that use their Mobile Money account for the “Payment for purchased goods and services”.

 

Subsequently, in order to gauge the general perception of users of Mobile Money services, users were asked: To what extent do you agree or disagree to the following statement about Mobile Money services? (a) It is easy to use; (b) Service providers are easily accessible; (c) It is secure; (d) It saves time; (e) It saves cost.

Findings reveal the majority agree (55%: 25%+30%) that the service is easy to use, on the other hand 38% (9%+29%) are of the opinion that the service is not easy to use.

In reference to the accessibility of service providers, the majority (55%: 21%+34%) agree that service provider are easily accessible. This finding may be directly linked to the fact that most users operate their Mobile Money account in connection with their bank account. At the same time, 39% (7%+32%) disagree with the statement.

Gauging the opinion of Nigerians in terms of the security, it is interesting to discover that the majority (56%: 13%+43%) agree that it is secure while 26% (6%+20%) of Mobile Money service users consider it unsecure to use.

A higher proportion of the respondents (60%: 33%+27%) that use Mobile Money affirmed that the use of Mobile Money in carrying financial transactions saves time, conversely 36% (4%+32%) do not agree.

The opinion of users about cost savings reveals that majority (63%: 16%+47%) are of the opinion the use of Mobile Money to carry out financial transaction saves cost. Comparatively, 36% do not agree that there is cost saving associated with the use of Mobile Money services.

 

The ninth question sought to ascertain the possibility of future adoption of Mobile Money by respondents who do not currently use Mobile Money (87% of the total). These respondents were asked: Do you think it’s something you would consider using in the future?  Findings shows that the majority (71%) indicated they are willing to give it a try in the future, while 17% will not consider its usage anytime in the future and 13%remain indecisive about using it.

Analysis base on geo-political zones showed that the North-East zone with 82% had the highest number of respondents indicated consideration of future use of Mobile Money services. This is followed by the North-West andthe South-East zones with 73% and 71% respectively.

In addition, results show an inverse relationship between age and the willingness to adopt mobile money services in the future therefore the younger the respondent the greater their willingness to adopt the use of mobile money services in the future. 

 

Finally, in order to ascertain the rationale behind their willingness to adopt or not adopt mobile money services in the future, respondents were asked: Why do you think it’s something you would/would not consider using it in the future?

The overall majority (79%) are of the opinion that they would consider using Mobile Money in the future because it “it saves time; it is faster, simpler, easier and convenient to use”.  Furthermore, 13% are of the opinion that they think its something they would use in the future “if there is good awareness and better information”.

 

On the other hand, respondents that indicated they are not willing to use it in the future (17% of the total) gave reasons such as: “Don’t trust the safety/security/effectiveness” (46%), “Don’t need it, not interested” (30%) and “Don’t know about it” (12%).

 

In summary, the results from this current poll have revealed 6 in 10 Nigerians forming the majority have no prior knowledge about Mobile Money services. It has also been revealed that the adoption rate is very poor as only 13% of respondents that that are aware have actually used or adopted it. Furthermore, all respondents (100%) that use mobile money services operate a bank account and 93% operate their mobile money account in connection with their bank accountsThis shows that Mobile Money services have not had any impact on the financial inclusion of the unbanked Nigerians so far. Generally, mobile money users have had positive experiences indicating that it is easy to use, secure, saves cost and time. Finally, about 71% of non-users have indicated their willingness to use it in the future; this clearly shows the huge potential that exists  for mobile money services going forward. Given the fact that Nigeria is currently transitioning towards being a cashless payment systems, more awareness has to be created about the mobile money payment option with emphasis placed on including the rural population and unbanked Nigerians in the roll out process.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted on August 5th to 7th 2013. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1004 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOI Polls Limited is Nigeria’s leading opinion polling and research organisation, which works in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation (USA), to conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOI Polls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOI Polls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOI Polls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOI Polls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOI Polls’ current findings and/or thinking.

 

Press Contact

The Editor

Email: editor@noi-polls.com

culled from noi-polls.com

BRAND AND PRODUCT ADS

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Guinness launched a new, inspiring campaign recently. Like all other Guinness ads, ‘Udeme’, ‘Table of men’, etc. it was done to inspire and celebrate the resilience of the human spirit to be more and do more, regardless of the odds; for those who can, to grab opportunities when it comes

Guinness ads are likable because it’s got real relatable messages. Maybe that’s why people choose Guinness, because it has been positioned as a beer that reflects a bolder choice and the confidence of those who enjoy it.

culled from lindaikeji blog

RISING PRODUCT FAKING WORRIES STAKEHOLDERS

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A recent disclosure by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria indicating that the country had been losing an average of N52bn yearly to fake and substandard products has raised much concern among stakeholders in the economy.

The fresh onslaughts in products faking, counterfeiting and substandard product manufacturing unleashed on all facets of the economy have heightened worries among economic players in Nigeria, prompting fears that the country’s economy might be facing a bleak future except viable solutions are found for the three-prong menace.

 It is a non-contestable fact that thousands of lives are lost to fake drugs yearly in Nigeeria, which usually find their way into the country through the nation’s porous borders. In most cases, this nefarious trend thrives with the connivance of some corrupt customs officials. NAFDAC, especially under Dr. Dora Akunyili, took the battle to the doorsteps of fake drug manufacturers and importers, and on several occasions at the risk of the officials’ lives. Despite all the efforts, unscrupulous Nigerian businessmen have kept on sustaining the illicit business just for personal gains to the detriment of the economy and fellow citizens.

The purchasing public has also been blamed for the trend. In an address by the Director-General of SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, to stakeholders in February this year, Nigerians were blamed partly for the trend. According to Odumodu, Nigerians are known to be acute patrons of substandard and fake products. He said in an attempt to buy cheap products, they often bought fake and substandard products, which wore off easily. At the end of the day, he said, they ended up spending more money to buy the same products over and over again.

However, analysts tend to correlate this trend with the growing rate of poverty in the land, which, according to them, is witnessed in the fact that the purchasing power of individuals often influences their buying preferences. A group, Social Alert For Change, paints the scenario succinctly, “An average Nigerian family in lower middle class is more likely to purchase drugs from a ‘chemist’ rather than go to the hospital for accurate diagnosis and treatment. In this case, there is a greater chance that the consumer may end up buying either substandard or outright fake drug. A similar scenario plays out for other products used by consumers.”

Practically, every sector of the economy experiences product counterfeiting or faking. Director Odumodu confirmed the people’s fears about two and a half years ago, when he resumed as the agency’s boss. According to him, about 85 per cent of products in the country then were either substandard or fake, making the country the highest among consumers patronising substandard products across the globe.

Recently, however, he said the trend had dropped to about 45 per cent. With his eyes set on achieving 30 per cent level at the end of this year, Odumodu admitted that despite the efforts put in so far, the fight against faking, counterfeiting and substandardisation remained a tough one.

In a spirited and renewed effort to check the trends, the current administration in SON introduced some strategies. SON’s arrowhead of the fight against substandard products, the Zero Tolerance policy for substandard products, has since blown into an expanded campaign.

Implementation of the Zero Tolerance campaign, for example, led to meeting with stakeholders, including a number of industrial, trade and professional groups. The immediate outcome of the stakeholders’ meetings with Alaba International Traders Association, for example, was the establishment of the SON Help Desks in the market and other markets across the country.

Products targeted by fakers cut across items like drugs, tyres, household utensils, phones, electronics, clothing materials, IT equipment, as well as food items like beverages, milk, canned foods, toys, cables, automatic voltage regulators, amongst several others.

Under the current loss estimate of N52bn yearly loss to fake and substandard products auto spare parts appear to be taking the bigger chunk in terms of volume and value of fake products. The sector, according to SON, has an estimated value of N20bn yearly expenditure on fake products.

And in apparent response to the devastating effects of the trade, SON said recently said it had seized fake and substandard products valued at over N9bn, while goods worth over N4.5bn had been destroyed so far in a number of destruction session in the last two years. Goods periodically seized and destroyed include several packs of cigarettes, consumable products, cables, electronics, other household equipment and assorted tyres. Such goods are usually intercepted and impounded randomly in the various markets by the agency since it was removed from border posts and ports. Its araes of operation include markets and warehouses within and outside cities.

But it said the campaign of zero tolerance for fake products, introduced in last year, had whittled the trend down.

However, stakeholders appear not to be in the same boat with SON. According to them, The agency definitely needs to do more in its drive to ensure that only quality goods are available in the country.

Considering the vast nature of the Nigerian terrain and its markets, stakeholders believe that meeting the 30 per cent fake and substandard products level in the polity by the end of this year by SON may be an uphill task.

In view of the burden and effects such trends are producing on the employment market, stakeholders in the manufacturing, export and other non-oil sectors of the economy and consumers have woken up to the threats presented by product faking.

According to them, implementation of strict penalties against culprits, which might also include the restructuring of existing laws, remained the most effective way to tackle the menace.

 The Managing Director, Grand Oak Limited, wine and liquor manufacturers, Akshay Kumar, said consumers’ plight in the face of up upsurge in the incidence of fake products and pass-offs has remained pitiable.

According to him, fake products are very damaging to the consumers for many reasons.

He said, “First of all, consumers often end up paying high prices for a product that is fake and does not deserve that price. Secondly, depending on the type of fake product involved (if it is food and drink product), it could damage their health, even leading sometimes to death. Thirdly, sometimes they end up buying it deliberately as the fake product is sold at a discount price lower than the original product’s price.

“This heavy incidence of fake often pushes consumers towards making alternate brand choices since they are not sure about the genuineness of their favoured brands.

He said all the above criteria could affect the government too as it loses taxes and revenue. Besides, it showed that the government was not in control as illegal elements were operational.

Kumar said the government needed to embark on increased awareness education as well as give enhanced support to SON and NAFDAC and other agencies involved.

“Companies too need to be more creative in product design and branding so as to ahead of fakers,” he said.

On its part, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria said Nigeria and other developing countries in Africa had been at the receiving end of fake products cheaply dumped in the continent.

It urged the Federal Government to review all laws prescribing sanctions for offenders in dumping, faking and counterfeiting to enhance deterrence.

this report is culled from punch newspapers