BusinessDay

Africa Prudential, a corporate reinvention journey from share registration to tech solutions company

OBONG IDIONG, managing director/CEO, Africa Prudential Plc., in this interview with HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE, he speaks about the company’s transformation journey, innovative products, and business outlook.

Africa Prudential offers services such as custodians of shares, could you take us through the services you provide in the digital tech space as well as the event management space?

Africa Prudential has offered Share Registration services for close to 5 decades and we have excelled in this space. We are the only listed Share Registration company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, with over 260,000 shareholders.

As is expected of every forward-thinking organisation, there is a need to constantly evolve and reinvent your business and with our competence in technology, we decided to explore the digital technology space to create viable solutions for businesses.

Our services include but are not limited to Application Development and Support Services, Tellerless Banking and Biometric Identity Management Solutions to clients spread across various sectors.

In the event management space, we realised that there was no readily available platform or solution to make corporate events seamless and perform functions like conducting hybrid elections and voting at Annual General Meetings and other gatherings alike. This informed our decision to build Apems, a secure hybrid event management solution used in organising corporate events such as Annual General Meetings (AGM) and professional Team Meetings.

What roles do you play in these industries?

In the Digital Technology sector, we deliver technologically driven solutions to business needs.

This fuelled our drive to create products like EasyCoop, a solution that eliminates the hassle involved in running cooperative societies by automating all the tasks required for effective operations; Greenpole, a proprietary enterprise registrar operating software; Invearn, a platform to access, track and manage multiple investment assets at the same time and Apems as earlier stated.

In the capital market, we are experts at managing shareholder enquiries, dividend payments, and processing of corporate actions such as Public Offers, Bonus Issue, Right Issue, Bonds, Debentures, and private placing.

Currently we manage over 83 client companies.

How can you describe the Nigerian environment for the kind of businesses that you operate?

While there are notable challenges in doing business in the Nigerian market, we focus on ensuring that we provide solutions and deliver value that ease the lives of the Nigerian populace. It is important to state the Nigerian environment is endowed with opportunities, talents, and resources especially as Nigeria is reported to have the fastest growing talents in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Africa.

Technological development in Nigeria has not reached a fraction of its potential, so there are always problems to solve and solutions to provide. In the capital market, we see lots of opportunities due to its large untapped potential and the country’s huge long term funding needs.

What would you say are your biggest constraints in the Nigerian capital market and how have you been able to surmount them moving forward?

The biggest constraint in the Nigerian capital market is the incomplete KYC gap which has led to the increase in unclaimed dividends and the inability of investors to access their equity investments. What we have done to surmount this challenge is to build a direct interaction with our investors as well as create marketing campaigns online and offline for investors to complete their required information.

Another huge constraint is the absence of market-wide technology infrastructure for the market which has made operators operate in silos. What we have done here is to build tech solutions like Greenpole and Invearn to bridge these gaps.

How have you handled competition in the industries where you play in and what are you doing differently?

For us, the keyword is collaboration. We don’t see competitors, we see collaborators. We see huge opportunities in collaborating with traditionally perceived competitors to create value.

In the technology space for instance, traditional competitors now share services leveraging API technology to deliver value to their customers. We are open to collaboration and sharing technology to drive value creation in the markets we play in.

You have quite a large market reach. However, there are still potential clients who are yet to know about your services, what are you doing to bring such people on board?

As a company previously known solely for Share Registration services, we have had to gradually change people’s perception about our new brand and diversified portfolio. We understand that it is not a change that can happen overnight but we are confident that with the constant campaign & backing of our partners such as the Nigerian Police Force & the Nigerian Immigration Service and through organic testimonials and referrals, the message will surely get to everyone.

You received an award from BusinessDay. Tell us about it and what impact it has on your company?

We won the Most Innovative Company of the Year Award at the Nigerian Investor Value Awards (NIVA) by Business Day earlier in the year.

The award is a testament to our strides in the technology space and attests to our innovative culture. The recognition as a company that has distinguished itself with an enterprise-wide culture of innovation and creativity, has first mover advantage in its industry, developed a competitive advantage in innovation, pioneered several profitable initiatives valued by customers and is able to leverage technology to scale is appreciated and urges us to constantly create, deliver and capture value.

What is the next big news we should be expecting from Africa Prudential? And where do you envision the company in the next five years?

Expect big news and announcements as we transform the way business is done in Nigeria. There is so much more and we are excited.

In the coming years, we plan to expand across the shores of Africa into the global market. We will continue to develop stellar solutions that can compete with the world’s best.

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