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What the ‘New Normal’ means for Nigerian Cinema

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When cinemas across Lagos shut down activities on March 24, following the advice of the state government, most expected that the shutdown would not last for long.  

Genesis Cinema, in its announcement, stated, “As this is an evolving situation, we will keep you updated and we look forward to welcoming you back soon with the best cinema experience. 

Filmhouse also released an official statement saying“We look forward to welcoming you with the best possible cinema experience as soon as things return to normal. 

Little did they know that the word “normal” would be redefined over the next couple of months to become “new normal. 

Impact of the lockdown 

Now, the various state governors have commenced easing of the lockdown (which had been placed nationwide to curb the spread of covid-19) and a gradual reopening of the economy. In spite of this, the fate of cinemas, just like most entertainment outlets, is largely uncertain.  

Nairametrics had done an analysis of the Q1 performances of cinemas in Nigeria, and findings in that article showed a significant drop in their weekly revenues between February and March 2020.

 Also, available data from CEAN  shows that the last filming week for cinemas was 20 to 26 March, 2020, and since then no income has been recorded.  

As a result of this, several movies selling at the box office were suspended, while others scheduled for release were postponed. In fact, the film calendar for Nigerian cinemas has been completely upturned, courtesy of the pandemic.  

Movies like Going Bananas2 Weeks in LagosLemonadeThe Good Husband, and others slated for release in April and May have been postponed indefinitely. Omoni Oboli, notable Nigerian actress and filmmaker, who was shooting a new Tv series, Last Year Single, had to halt the production abruptly, and no one could say for sure when things would become normal again. 

Seeking possible solutions  

There may yet be hope for the industry, even as it proceeds into the second half of the year. However, there will have to be huge sacrifices and adjustments made, and the result is that cinemas will no longer be what you used to know.  

So, here’s what you should expect from the ‘new normal’ in the industry.  

 

Drive-in screening of movies 

Just recently, the drive-in cinema was experienced for the first time in Nigeria. Foremost filmmaker, Charles Okpalekehas pioneered the concept with the screening of the Living in Bondage sequel, which was screened at the drive-in cinema holding at Transcorp Hilton car park, Abuja. 

Silverbird cinemas also had its first drive-in cinema experience, when it screened the Legend of Inikpi on Sunday June 7, in Abujawith plans to replicate it in Lagos and Port Harcourt. 

Genesis Cinemas has also announced similar plans to commence the drive-in cinema experience.  

Bukunmi Sobowale, Public Relations Officer of Trina Studios, a movie production firm, insists that Nigerians should definitely expect more of the drive-in cinema experience as we move forward towards a total ease of the lockdown 

A drive-in theatre or drive-in cinema is structured with a large outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, a concession stand, and a large parking area for automobiles where customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their cars. 

As we can easily deduce from Okpaleke’s statement, this is an attempt to keep business moving, without violating the physical distancing guidelines.  

 

More checks for traditional cinema 

Even when the normal theatres resume, adjustments are expected. In a bid to check the number of admitted persons, ticket reservation will now be done strictly online and there will be a controlled seating arrangement. This is only one of the guidelines which the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria CEAN has put in place.  

For movie-lovers, getting into the cinema is going to require more than a ticket check. Guests will have to undergo temperature checks and other safety measures before being allowed in, and of course, everyone is expected to wear a nose mask.  

Rest rooms will now also be strictly regulated to allow for usage based on capacity 

Naturally, the cinema staff will also be expected to use nose masks and gloves while carrying out their duties.  

Change of viewing schedules and seating arrangements 

Among the directives which the authorities have passed down to cinema owners, they will have to increase clean-up time in between shows to allow for deep cleaning, and all movie schedules will take the existing curfew laws into consideration.  

Like the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Oluhad said in a recent briefingcinemas will have to recalibrate their space management strategy as part of the Register-to-open initiatives before they can be allowed.  

This could mean anything from taking some seats out of the cinema halls, to completely altering the hall arrangement. Physical distancing also has to be strictly applied at the receptions to ensure that no one is within a two metre distance of another person.  

Specifically, the cinemas are no longer allowed to seat more than 50% viewing audience per screen, and physical distancing is to be strictly enforced. 

The 20 minutes end-time in between shows will also keep traffic in the foyers in check.   

 

Embracing the new normal 

Despite adjustments madeone wonders how ready Nigerians are to get back to the cinema viewing experience. Most people would likely still be wary of potentially crowded places for a long time, except where it is absolutely unavoidable.  

In this covid-19 era, I think cinema culture as we know it is gone. Even if people continue going to the cinemas, the little intimates we take for granted would be absent – no more leaning over to the next seat to have whispered conversations with loved ones as the moviego on.  

Most irksome is the fact that you may not even get to scream or laugh out loud, courtesy of the compulsory nose masks you have to put on.  

For all we know, the fun days of the cinema may be gone!

At least, until a vaccine is found for the virus

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Business

Where to invest your money in H2 2020

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There are two kinds of people in the world: The ‘glass-half-empty’ kind, and the ‘glass-half-full’ people. Where some see problems, others see the opportunities – same glass, but different perspectives. 2020 might have left very little hope to hang on to, but the world is still in motion.

Amidst the chaos, many have found their diamonds in the rubble – and many more will. These people, however, will be those who are willing to adapt to the changing times by repositioning themselves to leverage the opportunities that arise.

The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a holistic challenge, bringing to the fore a myriad of issues. It has caused a dent in the revenue/ disposable income of many businesses and individuals alike, shaken the very balance of the economy with many countries heading for unprecedented recessions, and left everyone with so much uncertainty.

Yet, we are at the cusp of a new dawn. Processes are changing, new industries are emerging, and money is changing hands. Flexibility, automation, and sustainability are just some of the words that will make all the difference in the world of business.

Dr. Ola Orekunrin Brown, the founder of Flying Doctors – a healthcare investment company – had, at a Webinar, offered insights into some of the industries that are expected to succeed given the changing times, and they have been outlined below. But be warned, a lot of them are not your usual kinds of investments.

Investment opportunities to leverage in H2 2020

Online Events

One of the many trends that emerged in recent times, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown in many parts of the world, is a huge dependence on internet technology and digital media. Everybody went indoors – and online. The entertainment sector found its home on social media through Instagram Live parties, Tik Tok, and the Houseparty App.

Companies went online as well, leveraging digital technology like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack. Even the lifestyle industry went online with online gym classes, yoga classes, and even karate classes. Not only have they provided much-needed solutions, they have also come with the additional benefit of convenience.

A good example of this is Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom, who joined Forbes’ billionaires’ list for the first time as a result of the increased use of Zoom for work meetings. Apptopia, an App tracking firm, reveals that Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK– up from 56,000 a day and two months earlier.

Online education

Another feature of the digital economy lies in the education sector. With schools forcefully closed, classes have had to go online. Online courses, training workshops, and even full degrees will become more normal as those who work from home will see these online education courses as an opportunity to develop themselves with little effort.

Investments here will be even more fostered by access to international markets, thereby increasing the market size. ResearchAndMarkets predicts that the online education market is poised to grow by $247.46 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 18% during the forecast period.

READ ALSO: Stay secure when shopping online – Follow these tips from Visa

Institutions that are too big to fail

The stock market is expected to be even more volatile, given the overall unfavourable economic terrain and a high level of uncertainty – especially with all the talks of a recession coming. In H1 2020, the more favourable companies to invest in are those that have stood the test of time – the stocks that are too big to fail.

Many of these stocks have been in existence for decades and have been able to attain a level of stability as a result of their large market share and stable structures. You want financially strong companies and the reason is not far-fetched; the goal is to put your money behind the companies that are strong enough to withstand the storm to a good extent.

Telecommunication

Another by-product of the Covid-19 induced lockdown is the increased need for internet services. Dr. Ola explains that the use of the internet as well as the move to work-from-home, are some of the megatrends of the times.

Good internet connectivity has proven to be the lifeblood that keeps digital entertainment trends, digital work trends, digital lifestyle trends, digital entertainment trends, and a huge chunk of the communication we have today. As a result of this, companies in the telecommunication industry have begun experiencing growth in revenue and earnings. Investments in this sector will most probably be worth your while.

Distribution & E-commerce

When the Okada ban took place, several motorcycle companies that were affected were forced to pivot from transporting people to moving items as full-scale delivery businesses. While many might have thought that a bad idea, the lockdown has undoubtedly contributed to the development of this industry.

The e-commerce industry is also expected to thrive with trade moving predominantly to the internet. Investments in distribution companies and e-commerce businesses are also expected to be worth your while.

Stronger currencies

One of the major hits of the pandemic is the Nigerian foreign exchange market which has now become highly volatile. The demand for the dollar far outweighs the available supply and this has forced importers and speculators alike to scramble for what is available in circulation.

Given the challenges with the FX market, international spending on foreign denominated expenses like tuition fees or international loans will come at an increased cost. To mitigate foreign exchange loss challenges, investments in USD denominated equities and Eurobond funds will help you withstand the storm. While gains here could have you betting against the Naira, having foreign investments in your investment portfolio will come in handy.

Agriculture

The Agricultural industry is an expected gainer. One of the reasons for this is that local supply chains will expand, given the restrictions on the global supply chain as a result of the lockdown and the border closure. While this will also thrive, Dr. Ola Brown, explains that jobs will only be created in the short term.

This is because fewer hands will be required as productivity, better processes, and mechanization systems increase. An example of this is the new trend of robot herders in the United States. This is even more so as we compete with the rest of the world in production. Needless to say, Agriculture will always exist, given the need for food, as well as the rising global population.

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Healthcare

While the Covid-19 pandemic has a direct impact on the healthcare industry, the industry is a complex one. The first reason for this is that, with the healthcare infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, the government will need to invest in it to provide wide access.

With subsidies on healthcare, the free market in terms of investments might not be as lucrative with more people opting for government healthcare. However, given increased investments in the sector and the move to preventive health practices, the industry remains attractive.

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How to get new job amid COVID-19

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The economic lockdown and movement restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on job opportunities. Some of them could be in the form of job losses, getting new jobs, or even changing the way we work.

Given the unemployment numbers especially in these challenging times, it might be hard not to be apprehensive.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for personal finance website Bankrate.com, said, “It’s important to remember that there is hiring happening. There’s always attrition and individuals leaving for other jobs.”

Robin Ryan, a career counsellor, said that just a few unemployed people are job hunting at the moment. Most believe that there are no jobs, they can’t be hired, or that only lower-level jobs are available.

Here are some tips for landing jobs during this lockdown.

Beat the system: Make a list of your recent jobs and your top accomplishments at each of them. Those are the items that should be on your résumé. To get past automated applicant vetting systems, enter your work tasks—budgeting, project management, graphic design, team leadership, etc.—in the first bullet point under each job. Don’t include extraneous formatting, such as text boxes, tables, footers, or headers, because application software can’t recognize it.

Assess your prospects: You have to find out if the opportunities in your industry are shrinking. According to Hamrick, “many people fail to see that their skills might apply to a variety of settings.” Consider some of the sectors that have stayed open in the lockdown—finance, real estate, food and other consumer goods, technology, and retail, plus suppliers and distributors for each. If that exercise doesn’t yield much, think about how your skills might help companies sharpen their online business. “There’s a need for people to help facilitate digital transformation,” Hamrick says.

Some tips for landing a job during this lockdown

Hit up recruiters (Recruiting agency firms): Let them help you with your resume and offer suggestions about things you might do to stand out.

Use your resources: Companies are filling positions needed to support virtual workers as part of their pandemic strategies. Many company websites might not yet reflect these changes, so try popular online job search websites, type in a company and your city, and you’ll get a better sense of what kind of hiring is going on.

Network: That friend-of-a-friend who previously ignored you. He’s home now and might be up for a quick Zoom coffee date. Connect with everyone you know in your field. (LinkedIn is good for this.). Those connections build on each other. You can ask mutual acquaintances to introduce you to people who can help and once that happens, you can fix a virtual coffee date. If that goes well, ask for an introduction to a hiring manager or supervisor. You’ve got nothing to lose.

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FIRS to verify Telcos’ taxes with API solution

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has concluded plans to integrate an Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, which will verify the accuracy of taxes paid by telecom operators, rather than relying on their account books.

This is part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which the FIRS signed with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday.

According to a press release signed by Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director of Public Affairs, NCC, the signing ceremony took place on Tuesday in Abuja, with representatives of both agencies present.

The MOU was initiated as part of the FIRS’ efforts to ascertain accuracy and completeness of value-added tax (VAT) elements and other taxes payable in the transactions of telecoms operators.

It authorises the tax agency to integrate an application programming interface (API) technology solution with the systems of telecom Operators for independent verification of the amount of VAT that should be paid by mobile network operators (MNO) rather than relying entirely on the Operators’ books of accounts.

According to the FIRS Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Muhammad Nami, the MoU is mainly “to ascertain the completeness of tax transactions of mobile service providers to the Federal Government due to the shift of physical businesses to electronic-based business activities”.

Nami noted that the API was developed in-house, and is transaction-based – structured so that the tax agency has a basis for determining the completeness and accuracy of VAT elements in telecoms transactions.”

Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, noted during the signing ceremony on Tuesday that the NCC had conducted due diligence and followed due process to understand the import of the MOU before approving it.

“Our concern, as Regulator of the telecoms industry, is that we needed to be sure that it is not another way to tax telecoms Operators, who are already dealing with multiple taxation issues.

“We have also ensured that the integration of the solutions with telcos’ transactions systems will not in any way, impact the cost and quality of service delivery by the Operators to telecoms consumers”, Danbatta assured.

He added further that this new arrangement would not degrade the quality of service delivery to customers, or increase the cost of services.

 

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