Co-Founder and former Group Executive Director of energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole has advised regulators to become collaborators with businesses rather than become obstacles to them.
Mr. Cole made this call at the 16th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and 2019 Annual Lecture of the Lagos Area Committee (LAC) of the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
Speaking as the Guest Speaker at LAC’s AGM, Cole’s keynote centred on the lecture theme: ‘Management of Regulatory Issues as a Business Owner in Nigeria.’ The former Sahara Group boss noted that Africans by nature are traders, as the trade mind-set is evident across the continent of Africa.
While informing insurance brokers at the AGM that the informal economy forms the heartbeat of the African market, he lamented that it remained largely unregulated, under-documented, understated and underestimated. He added that 66 percent of unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa is in this sector. While reeling out dire statistics, he noted that 74% of employed here are women while 80% of youth transitioning from school-to work are in this sector.
In calling for innovation in tapping into the business sector, he queried, “If the informal sector is such an inbred and pervasive part of African daily life, should we not be thinking smarter and more innovatively about how to harness its potential and make it a much more potent force for the good of the continent?”
He however decried the fact that among hurdles faced by business owners in Nigeria, regulators constitute a part, where they are more of competitors than collaborators. He therefore urged regulators to be partners with businesses and make themselves easily accessible to them and help them solve their problem as well as help facilitate capabilities. He also advised that the focus for regulators must begin to shift from ‘policing’ to one of enabling and fostering.
In her chat with the media, the Lagos Area Committee Chairman, Mrs Bukola Ifemade said that what the executives of the LAC are doing, having being returned unopposed, is “to promote our council as a body and members businesses because it is when their businesses are doing well that we will have a healthy council.
“This year, we did a lot of things, bringing external people to facilitate different areas, to promote members’ businesses. In the coming year, we are going to internalise it more, where all the things we have done this year will be built on. Take for instance, this year, we had training on preparing budgets for our different companies, but not many have been able to do that. So in the coming year, for example, it is now to engage members to enable them have budgets for their company and plan effectively for the year.”