Welcome to SBL029 (Sycamore Business Lab): our periodic blog post where we address issues affecting you and your business.
On 27th of April 2020, the President of Nigeria H.E. Muhammadu Buhari gave guidelines on the relaxed lockdown, permitting movement and continuity of some physical-economic activities within the hours of 6:00 am to 8:00 pm WAT.
This directive is to be implemented from the 2nd of May, 2020.
How does this affect you and your business?
The initial implementation of the lockdown caused some rancour as people feared the sharp contrasts and effects it will have on them economically and otherwise. Many adopted a remote working setting that allowed them to continue to provide services to their customers.
While this lockdown stretched on in some states for as long as six weeks and
brought with it some level of financial insecurity, food insecurity, loss of jobs, evolution in work, social distancing amongst other things, relaxing the lockdown now brings new challenges with it.
1. Fear of a surge in the number of infected persons: As in the case of a surge of infected people in Ghana after the lockdown rules were eased.
There is a general fear that the rules of physical distancing may not be upheld and for good reason too. It is practically impossible to be at least one meter away from the next person in public buses which are a popular mode of transportation in Lagos. According to the UN Macro trends, the population of the Lagos Metropolis is somewhere north of 14.3 million, being such a high-density state, the fears of a surge are valid as it pertains to contagion risks, within and outside your business environment/society in general.
2. Security Issues: Just as it was feared and predicted during the lockdown, as a result of rising in job insecurity and unemployment, there would be an equivalent increase in crime rate and social unrest because, at the time, people needed to feed but were restricted from fending for their known needs. Law of cause and effect. The gospel in lifting the lockdown and replacing it with a curfew is that crime rate within the neighbourhood would be once again curbed effectively. Now self-employed individuals need not worry about losing their jobs and customers to crime as they once did during the lockdown. Relaxing the lockdown now gives peace to residents of the troubled neighbourhoods.
3. Cut privileges: not as negative news, but could pass as a saddening one. Recent street interviews of YouTubers with people has helped express on quite a large scale, the honest experience of many during the lockdown and what they fear they might as well experience post lockdown. The majority found it difficult and more of a battle than the virus itself, to feed themselves let alone their family. Eventually, the majority in this category were rescued through the provision of palliatives by both the government and some private individuals. As a side effect of relaxing the lockdown, it is feared that these palliatives they once had the privilege to would now cease to exist after a while. Pertaining to businesses, privileges such as tax reliefs, moratoriums, huge discounted loan interest rates, etc. as enjoyed during the lockdown to ensure survival and continuity of most businesses, is feared to also be relaxed or stopped.
4. Cost of Idle Periods: According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the highlighted economic cost of public holidays in 2018 led to a loss of at least 9.74billion to idle periods in 2016 as a result of different public holidays declared by the Federal Government. About 15 days were reported observed as a national holiday that year. In recent times we haven’t only had a few public holidays, but we have had a 6weeks lockdown. The impact of which would be felt in the future to come. Nigeria isn’t the only country with public holidays, neither was she the only one on lockdown. But it doesn’t dispute the financial cost attached to idle or reduced periods in a nation’s economic activities.
How it affects you is apparently there is a correlation between national productivity and prosperity. The higher the national productivity, the more the prosperity. Having too many idle days reduces national productivity hence, less prosperity in the economy. The better the economy the easier it is for businesses to grow and equally have access to funding. The poorer the economy, the tougher it becomes for businesses to survive.
Relaxing the lockdown would inevitably have an impact on us as individuals, as businesses, and the economy in general. It would, of course, have these impacts in different degrees as well. To what degree not mentioned above, do you think relaxing the lockdown would affect you? Feel free to share your thoughts.