Interswitch Group, one of Africa’s leading integrated payment & digital commerce players has announced a series of intervention measures as part of a coordinated effort to complement ongoing efforts from public and private sector perspectives to address the spread and mitigate the negative impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
Inspired to make a difference as far as playing their part in fighting the scourge, employees of the company have rallied together to voluntarily contribute various amounts from their compensation, raising a total of 75 million Naira in an employee-led effort, which the company has supplemented with the sum of N230 million, thereby bringing the funds raised towards the organization’s COVID-19 response effort to a grand total of N305 million Naira.
This is coming on the heels of concerted efforts by good-spirited individuals and corporate organisations to support the Federal and State governments in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This intervention fund from the Interswitch Group and its employees is being deployed to provide support to Federal & State Governments, as well as some selected private sector-led initiatives. The primary focus of the fund is supporting the creation and equipment of isolation centres, purchasing COVID-19 Test kits, providing personal protective gear and related support to frontline heath workers and to setting up foodbanks to cater to under-privileged communities in Lagos.
Execution has commenced with Interswitch’s Verve Brand, which has sealed a partnership with the Lagos State Feeding Program to provide raw material food items for poor & vulnerable communities in Lagos. Interswitch also supported The Young President’s Association (YPO) and the Lagos State government in setting up the already functional Eti-Osa isolation centre in Lagos. The fund has also supported the Delta State Government by providing tropicalized ultra-low temperature (ULT) laboratory refrigerators that will be used for the storage of reagents and other laboratory consumables and COVID-19 test samples pending when they will be transported to the designated COVID-19 Testing Laboratory in Irrua, Edo State.
The company is finalizing discussions with states including Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Ogun and Oyo with a view to providing test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers in these states.
Furthermore, by way of providing free technology for the use of governments and healthcare authorities, Interswitch has leveraged its core capabilities as a technology company and systems integrator, manifested through the initiative of eClat Healthcare, Interswitch’s health-tech subsidiary company, in building out a user-friendly, locally-nuanced software application which is useful for members of the public as a first-line intervention for the assessment of risk and pre-disposition to the novel Coronavirus infection. The software platform analyses users’ information provided from answers to a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure, observed symptoms, health and travel history.
From an epidemiological mapping perspective, the application also offers insight-based analytics, based on its capabilities to track and aggregate insights into geographical heat-maps which highlight areas in which pre-disposition is deemed to be higher, to optimize decisioning and ultimately enable prioritization of interventions, a key value proposition to public healthcare authorities.
This initiative essentially serves to provide guided and up-to-date information on COVID-19, reduce panic, lower gross footfall to medical facilities, being a first-line checkpoint and ultimately reduce risk of exposure to health workers on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. Designed with an interactive interface, the solution facilitates further virtual consultation for infected persons, meaning infected persons can stay in their homes and access consultation as to whether their symptoms give cause for alarm or not.
The eClat Health-tech solution supporting State Governments’ response to COVID-19 has been implemented in 20 states across the country. It is currently in use in Lagos State’s Eti-Osa isolation centre, and in Edo, Ogun and Oyo States, while it has been implemented and is set to go live in Delta, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Yobe and Jigawa States, where healthcare personnel have also been trained in readiness to go-live. The system has been primed for the other states which are at various stages of implementation, training and approval to go live. These are Kano, Katsina, Rivers, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom and Imo States.
Also by way of exploring collaborative private-sector led initiatives to complement the drive of Federal & State Governments as well as public health authorities to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, Interswitch will leverage its existing partnership with players such as PAX Technology (a leading international provider of Point-of-Sale payment terminals) to provide essential medical consumables and supplies such as N95 facial masks and thermometers as part of the quest to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Interswitch has also expressed a commitment to leveraging its creative capabilities, social and digital media assets to roll out awareness and sensitization campaigns to propagate WHO-approved messaging & information on COVID-19, under the umbrella platform of #FlattenTheCov.
Commenting on the essence of these interventions, Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch opined that;
“These interventions sit well within the context of our corporate mission; to create transaction solutions that enable individuals and communities prosper across Africa. Our efforts are underpinned by the realization that this pandemic, if left unchecked is a potent threat to interactions which facilitate entrepreneurship and commerce, without which inclusive prosperity will remain a pipe dream. It is our desire and earnest hope that these initiatives, aggregated with the goodwill and committed efforts of many other like-minded corporate entities and well-meaning individuals who have rallied to this noble cause would significantly contribute to the flattening of the COVID-19 infection curve in Nigeria, which remains one of Africa’s most important economic hubs”.
By virtue of the alliance with technology providers such as PAX, Interswitch has also underscored commitment by the partners to promote the adoption of contactless point-of-sale payment solutions across the West Africa market. Contactless payment solutions include payments with contactless-enabled credit and debit cards, as well as QR codes, underscored by the realization that the widespread adoption of contactless payment solutions have greater propensity to better mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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Fitbit products are now available in Nigeria with Jumia
Fitbitt (NYSE: FIT), the global brand in wearable technology, is now available in Nigeria on Africa’s leading eCommerce platform, Jumia (NYSE : JMIA), in partnership with Redington Gulf.
Fitbit devices and services help people lead healthier, more active lives and this has never been more important than it is today. By empowering users with data, inspiration and guidance Fitbit is helping them reach their physical and mental health, and fitness goals. Its innovative products are sold at a wide range of accessible price points in nearly 39,000 retail stores across more than 100 countries worldwide.
“We are seeing increasing consumer demand for wearable technology on our platform, and bringing Fitbit products to our customers in Nigeria is an important step for us to address this demand and help Fitbit expand its reach across the country. Jumia delivers a seamless online shopping experience for consumers and from our platform with a dedicated official store on Jumia.” said Sandeep Narayanan, Head of Consumer Electronics, Jumia Group.
Fitbit supports healthier living
Fitbit is committed to inspiring those who want to lead a healthier and more active life through its range of innovative smartwatches and trackers that are compatible with most Android and iOS platforms, including Fitbit Versa 3 , Fitbit Versa 2, Fitbit Charge 4, Fitbit Inspire 2 and Fitbit Ace 2 (see www.fitbit.com/devices for more information).
Fitbit gives users a deeper understanding of their health with smart features such as 24/7 heart rate tracking, on-device sleep tools to help optimize your sleep, Active Zone Minutes to make the most out of workouts and help manage stress with guided breathing programmes.
Users in Nigeria can also benefit from purchasing a membership to Fitbit Premium, which when paired with any Fitbit device, your Fitbit experience through a deeper analysis of your data and more personalized insights that connect the dots across your activity, sleep and heart rate, while offering hundreds of workouts, motivating games and challenges. Users new to Fitbit Premium can benefit from the 90-day free trial through the Fitbit App.
Fitbit Health Solutions will also be offering corporate product discounts to local businesses through Fitbit’s distributor Redington Gulf.
LIRS URGES EMPLOYERS OF LABOUR TO FILE ANNUAL TAX RETURNS ON OR BEFORE JANUARY 31 DEADLINE
In line with the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) Cap P8 LFN 2011 (as amended), The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) urges all employers of labour in Lagos State to file their Company’s Annual Tax Returns on or before the statutory deadline of January 31, 2021 to avoid penalties.
The Agency’s eTax platform, launched in October, 2019 gives taxpayers the opportunity to comply with all COVID-19 protocols, by filing their tax returns from the comfort of their offices or homes. In addition, all digital platforms and tax portals are available for taxpayers’ use and convenience.
The Annual Tax Returns, which show each employee’s emoluments and tax paid in year 2020, are to be filed via LIRS online portals only, as manual filing is no longer acceptable. Tax assessments, payments and other tax administration matters can also be carried out on the same platforms. The LIRS customer care hotline: 0700 CALL LIRS (0700-2255-5477), website: www.lirs.gov.ng, chat rooms and the various social media platforms @lirsgovng are available for enquiries.
The Executive Chairman of LIRS, Mr. Ayodele Subair, stated that in the face of the prevailing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on businesses, penalties and fines may be an additional burden on companies’ finances, and therefore urges all employers of labour to file their returns within the period stipulated by law. The essence of the ongoing media campaign and numerous reminders and appeals to companies on this statutory obligation, is to ensure they file early, to avoid sanctions.
The steps to file are available on all our communication channels, however, taxpayers with difficulties filing are also welcome to seek assistance with specially designated staff at our tax stations.
We have made the process simple, quick, secure and reliable for our esteemed taxpayers. We are also available on various digital platforms to assist taxpayers on the process of e-filing.
The LIRS urges all Lagos State residents and businesses to stay safe and obey all Covid-19 guidelines as stipulated by the relevant health authorities and the Lagos State Government
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