We asked MTN, Andela and some other tech companies how they are responding to Coronavirus in Nigeria
After Microsoft revealed that two of its employees have been diagnosed with coronavirus, there’s a greater urgency in global tech to shield against the pandemic. Sequoia Capital, the biggest of names in Silicon Valley, has told its founders to prepare for “the black swan of 2020.”
Nigeria, a hub of tech activity in Africa, has largely contained the virus. But how are companies, in fulfilling their responsibilities to staff, clients and shareholders, responding internally to these developments?
On normal Tuesdays, Michael Adeniran* or an assigned colleague from his company simply walks in with a contractor ID into MTN’s ‘Yellow Drome’ office in Lagos. But this week was different; security personnel at the gate told him the building was on lockdown for non-MTN staff.
Beginning this Monday, MTN stopped welcoming physical meetings at their network division office, TechCabal has learned.
An official email to contractor companies on Monday said meetings will now be held via electronic media “due to a management decision.”
MTN did not directly confirm this detail but told TechCabal that measures have been taken to minimise face-to-face meetings with visitors. “We now encourage the use of video calls and teleconference options,” the company said.
No timeline for a return to normalcy was stated in the email and there was no specific mention of coronavirus. But at the company’s premises, Adeniran was told unofficially that access was being denied due to the official Covid-19 update by Nigeria’s health authorities.
At virtually every company that responded to the research request, placing hand sanitizers at conspicuous stations is the first line of defence.
Computer Warehouse Group (CWG), a 600-staff ICT solutions firm, has set up a number of additional measures including routine environmental cleaning and daily temperature checks before staff clock in.
Their customer-facing employees are “advised to engage in e-meetings except it is compulsory to meet with their clients in person.”
CWG’s business trips especially to the Middle East and Asia have been put on hold (Besides China, South Korea and Iran are the hottest coronavirus spots in the world).
It’s a similar situation at Chams, an identity management company. While assignments within Lagos proceed as normal, foreign trips to the affected countries have been “technically suspended, pending when the epidemic is fully under control.”
At MTN, all non-essential international travel for all staff have been restricted until further notice. Ecommerce platform Konga and Zinox, its parent company, also said they have scaled back on foreign trips to other affected countries, mainly as a precautionary measure.
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