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Business News of Sunday, 21 August 2022

Source: tribuneonlineng.com

Banks hit by mass resignation of key IT staff, face technical problems

The photo used to illustrate the story The photo used to illustrate the story

They are moving in large numbers outside the country. We are experiencing a pull of people out of the industry to outside the country and these are the younger ones that we are supposed to hand over to after a period. So succession planning is hindered, productivity is lowered because these guys are the next generation of people. That is also slowing down activity.”

That was the president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Ken Opara, some weeks ago at an event.

Indeed, the impact of mass resignations of key Information Technology (IT) talents in Nigeria is beginning to tell on many commercial banks, as unresolved technical problems have started affecting service delivery.

Just recently, a lot of bank customers took to social media to express their frustration, and wondering what is wrong with Nigerian banks.

“Something looks fishy; technical problems; unwarranted charges everywhere. This shows a lot of  incompetencies, loop holes, truth  and  trust in the system,” one of them  @jerryonyema tweeted.

Another user, Abdulkahi Turawa said “I’ve been wondering why some banks/fintech apps don’t do transactions with some other banks/fintech apps. Is it a technical problem or usual Nigerian ‘schadenfreude’?”

According to yet another Twitter user with the handle, @_Whogos nothing is wrong rather,  all banks in Nigeria lost their key IT staff to ‘japa’ (Canada, UK and other developed countries).

“Nigerians are joking with the aftermath of japa. A top Nigerian bank Is having technical issues for over 30 hours no team to fix it. Most of their tech guys have ‘japa.’

“Not only key staff. I was a relationship manager as at March this year in one of the banks in Nigeria. Currently I’m a credit analyst in the second biggest bank In Canada. My branch manager in Nigeria just arrived Canada three days ago. 12 Aug.”

Specifically, findings reveal that the trend has worsened in August and September due to mass resignations as foreign schools resume academic activities in September 2022 and many of them are traveling with student visa.

Nigeria is currently ravaged by a number of socio-economic issues, some of which include insecurity, high cost of goods and services, and unemployment amongst others.

As Nigeria’s tech ecosystem grows, and banks going more digital, its talent shortage especially sofware engineers is becoming more obvious, such that talent is now being sought from outside Africa to build products used in the country.

This stakeholders believe is a disincentive to the cashless banking initiative, and obstructing seamless operation of electronic and mobile banking systems where every banking transaction is expected to be digitized.

This worry was also expressed by Abubakar Suleiman, chief executive officer of Sterling Bank Plc on April 15, 2022 at the end of a meeting of bank CEOs.

“So many of our very experienced talents especially in the area of software engineering are either leaving the industry or leaving the country,” he lamented, referring to it as a “great resignation.”

The meeting came as traditional lenders in Africa’s largest economy face stiff competition for talent from technology startups attracting increased funding from international investors and offering better working conditions, in and outside the country.

Two economic contractions in the last five years have also forced some Nigerians with globally marketable skills to leave the country, with the U.S., Canada and U.K. being preferred destinations.

“So many of our very experienced talents, especially in the area of software engineering, are either leaving the industry or leaving the country,” he said.

Sulaiman disclosed to the media how the industry was putting together a plan that would sponsor individuals seeking skills in the area of technology, as well as in other areas where the sector had a skill shortage.

“The thinking is that we would turn a crisis into an opportunity,” he added. Also, the president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Ken Opara, said the brain drain development was not restricted to only the banking sector, but was also an problem affecting talents across all sectors.

Opara, however, enthused that the industry was rising to the challenges. He spoke of the intention of the CIBN to introduce a human resource centre to help in skills acquistion and transfer in the industry.

“The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, the umbrella professional body for lenders in the country, said it will “drive the process of training more skills in the area where we see deficits,” Suleiman said.

The executives discussed plans to fund training for new tech-focused staffers to replace those who have left.

“They are moving in large numbers outside the country. We are experiencing a pull of people out of the industry to outside the country and these are the younger ones that we are supposed to hand over to after a period. So succession planning is hindered, productivity is lowered because these guys are the next generation of people. That is also slowing down activity,” Opara noted.

Similarly, subscriptions to international music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube Music have become difficult for Nigerian users as most local cards no longer work for international transactions.

While some analysts attribute this to the same loss of tech talents, other industry stakeholders said it is due to US dollar shortage which made several Nigerian banks in March 2022 to limit the amount of money Nigerians could spend on international payments.

A situation they said forced Nigerian fintechs like Flutterwave and several other African fintechs to suspend their virtual card services for consumer users indefinitely.

In an earlier interview, the Nigeria National Coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, attributed this development to the inability of operators to test systems before their deployment as well as inconsistencies.

In Nigeria, according to Teniola, “We are too reactive. Maybe the systems are tested only in the laboratory and so when launched in the public, we become guinea pigs and even the bankers themselves are trying to understand the system. That is why they can’t attend to you immediately because there are errors they can’t account for.”

However, the mass resignation is not a surprise to a global financial and management advisory organisation, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) as  its new survey had revealed that about 71 percent of the global workforce will resign in the next 12 months if employers refuse to raise their pay.

The findings from PwC’s ‘2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears’ survey of workers in 44 countries and territories reveals  that pressure on pay is highest in the tech sector, where 44 percent of workers surveyed plan to ask for a raise.