By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
A new report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nigeria and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), says that 20 percent of the full-time workforce in Nigeria lost employment during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The report, which assesses the impact of COVID-19 on business enterprises in Nigeria, is based on in-depth interviews with almost 3,000 businesses from both the formal and informal sectors across major industries of the economy.
While there have been promising signs of recovery this year, COVID-19 has had an outsized socio-economic impact on Nigeria. From disruptions in supply chains, to ongoing supply and demand shocks and a drop in consumer confidence, these challenges are expected to leave lasting impact on the businesses and enterprises that make up the backbone of the economy.
The report, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Business Enterprises in Nigeria”, also highlights the significant decline in revenue faced by enterprises and establishments across the country as a result of the pandemic.
Eighty-one percent of enterprises interviewed experienced a decline in revenue and 73 percent stated that they faced liquidity challenges due to secondary impacts of COVID-19 in 2020. The median loss in revenue reported remained at 44 percent, in comparison to 2019 revenues.
Close to 60 percent of enterprises surveyed experienced an increase in operational costs with the price of raw materials and logistics being the top two contributors to this increase. Other operational challenges included access to credit and capital, high expenditure on utilities and the lack of an adequate social safety net, especially for informal enterprises.
In addition, the report shows that one in three business enterprises surveyed indicated that they know of businesses that have permanently closed due to operational challenges resulting from the pandemic.
The Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Simon Harry highlighted the importance of the survey results saying that “as the economy begins to show signs of gradual growth, this report contains important information that can guide policy makers in their interventions to mitigate the negative socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 in the country. I wish to thank UNDP for collaborating with National Bureau of Statistics on this important report and I urge other development partners to emulate this worthy endeavour by partnering with the Bureau in matters relating to data generation in the country.”
“Although the report findings highlight the complex challenges the economy continues to face because of COVID-19, it also tells a powerful story of innovation, resilience and strength as Nigerian businesses leverage their ingenuity to adjust to this new normal” said UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Mohamed Yahya.
“As Nigeria mobilises to recover from the devastating health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, this report will be a critical tool in informing targeted policymaking and programme interventions for both medium and long-term planning as the country rebuilds.”
Data from the report suggests that businesses are likely to continue experiencing the impact of the pandemic even after the easing of public health measures. Despite reduced restrictions at the time of the interviews, 74 percent of enterprises still reported a decrease in production levels when compared to the same time in 2019.
Accordingly, a further analysis of the report I indicated that 80 percent of enterprises reported, experienced a decrease in production with a majority reporting a decline in production between 21 percent to 60 percent.
Against the backdrop of a decline in production of goods and services and an increase in operational costs, 55 percent of business enterprises were utilising less than 60 percent of their capacity.
To counter the impact of containment measures on operations, 77 percent of business enterprises reported that they either reduced working hours, or either temporarily or permanently had to lay off workers.
The findings also revealed a level of uncertainty plaguing enterprises around the country with 61 percent of enterprises expressing low confidence in relation to outlook on the future, where their perception of their capacity to operate uninterrupted, under the current circumstances, was less than one year.
A small minority of businesses however reported positive gains during the pandemic with 19 percent of enterprises reporting increase in revenue with higher proportions of enterprises in the utilities, financial and insurance and human and health services sectors registered revenue gains over the course of the pandemic, compared to the year before.
Mirroring broader global movement towards e-commerce and direct distribution to consumers to reduce health risks and overcome hurdles imposed by pandemic restrictions, 15 percent of the enterprises expanded either products and services offered or their sales and distribution channels.