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‘Government can save $300m yearly from local production of smart cards’

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Emefiele

The Chief Executive Officer of Electronic Payplus Limited, Bayo Adeokun, has advocated the need for a local content policy in the electronic cards industry to encourage import substitution and save $300 million spent yearly on such venture.

According to the cards manufacturing firm, there is a need to protect local investments in the country as well as encourage job creation efforts.

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He reiterated that every time cards are imported, local capacity dwindles and jobs are exported to other countries.

In a chat with journalists, Adeokun stated: “If you look at Nigeria today, our budget estimate for banking cards only in Nigeria is about 35 million units per annum and on average, each of that would typically cost about $36 million if produced abroad at the present exchange rate.

“With our investment, we can save at the least 50 per cent of this for the government and the industry, because we still have to import the sheets since they are not available locally as well as the module. The savings of $18 million is on banking cards only and I have not done the cost of other cards that we have the competitive advantage of producing. By the time we put everything together, we will be talking about saving $300 million for the country yearly at a time when remittances from abroad are going down and crude oil prices are unstable,” he added.

Calling on the Federal Government to take steps to protect investments in the card industry, he stated further: “In this period that remittances from abroad are going down, crude oil revenue is coming low and all of that the government really needs to make a lot of savings in terms of foreign reserves.”

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“The Federal Government needs to begin to look inwards. They need to unveil a local content policy around the smart cards business and digital payment and products. There is no reason why Telcos import sim cards into the country. This is the same as the importation of banking cards, even though they pay the duty on such. There is a lot of smuggling of such products into the country. The country has the local capacity for such production”.

He also harped on the employment value the industry adds to the economy, saying, “Prior to this (commencement of its new production lines) Electronic Pay plus had about 100 staff. Now, we are up to 150. So we are also generating employment. I mean, if you look at the nature of Nigeria, those 50 staff, each of them has a dependents, so we are talking of an additional 500 or more that we are catering for.”

Giving details of the company’s new production capacity, he said, “We can do any smart card. So the purpose is to extend it to every area of the economy. I showed you the national ID card downstairs we produce for Nigeria. So, the government knows us. We also have the capacity to produce a digital ID card. We are also playing in that space because we have the license.

“We presently enrolled Nigerians in the diaspora. We do local enrollment that is currently ongoing as well. We have the license to produce that. We also are presently working with the Lagos State government because they want to roll out what is called a residency card, which is also going to be a payment card. So, we are going to service all the industries.

“We are also talking to telecommunication companies on the possibility of supplying their sim cards as well.”

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