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Blockchain secures procurement

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As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful, with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of many industries, writes KAMENDRAN GOVENDER, Procurement & Supply Chain Transformation Lead for Accenture Consulting.

Blockchain as a technology and concept that continues to be hyped in all industries. As a disruptive technology platform, blockchain is impactful, with the potential to redefine the operations and economics of these industries.

The technology brings value to various firms with the way it offers transparency, efficiency and security for financial transactions. In our view, blockchain can also lend its security and efficiency benefits to other areas as well, including Procure-to-Pay (PTP) processes. It can allow authentication around stakeholders, budgeting, service provision, invoicing and payment settlement.

Procure-to-Pay (PTP) is the multi-step process connecting a client with one or more service/product providers. Among other activities, it allows for the identification and authentication of stakeholders, budgeting, service provision, invoicing and payment settlement.

Among the current challenges faced by PTP programmes are generating sustainable cost reductions through disintermediation, efficiency improvement, fraud control and transparency enhancement. Blockchain technology can disrupt PTP processes and more importantly provide huge operational benefits in terms of speed, greater security and decreased workload by facilitating the exchange of information. The following outlines how blockchain technology can bring value to key PTP processes.

  • Front-end system: A front-end interface is recommended to authorise vendors, define new catalogs, place purchase orders or sign contracts. This application can be an add-on to the blockchain or could be leveraged through existing procurement systems, if vendors decide to adopt this technology.
  • Strong audit trail: As all parties are registered in the ledger, transactions are stored and a tamper‑proof audit trail is maintained. This type of end-to-end visibility into procurement is a well-established practice in the tracking of physical goods.
  • Accelerated purchase order management: Purchase order and good receipt data would be exchanged on the blockchain at an accelerated pace when compared to current performance levels. As well, the blockchain could help identify the nearest and most cost-effective vendor within the network. This would help decrease lead time and workload associated with vendor searches, the processing of purchase orders and goods/services receipts.
  • Reshaped invoice processing: Invoice scanning would no longer be required – thanks to shared access to the database, with the exchange of invoices supported by the blockchain. This would also help render the reconciliation process far less cumbersome as all authorised parties could review the same transaction, eliminating the need for reconciliations. Blockchain hosted transactions would feed into the company’s general ledger for general accounting and financial reporting purposes.
  • Accelerated settlements: These would be accelerated as reconciliations and vendor/end user enquiries would not be required due to complete transparency and real-time access to a shared database. This could potentially disrupt in a positive sense business practices such as the standard D+30 days settlement deadline.
  • Streamlined enquiries management: Blockchain’s greater transparency would diminish the need for enquiries and process status follow-ups, thus streamlining current enquiry management and control processes.
  • Reduced money laundering risk: By permanently retaining historical payment information, suspicious transactions can be more easily identified.
  • Greater security of transactions: This can be attained through a cloud-based contract repository and an integrated e-sign feature that verifies signer identity and authorisation.

In conclusion, adopting blockchain can bring dramatic change and businesses considering blockchain for PTP should first build the full business case, considering the above outline. The assessment scope should include existing PTP assets, processes, and should balance cost considerations.

As blockchain solutions gain momentum, more real-world situations will emerge where information on blockchains simply needs to be modified or removed. Accenture’s redactable blockchain is an innovation for financial services companies that makes it possible to deal with situations in a predictable fashion when things go wrong. An editable form of blockchain will make the technology more practical and useful for enterprise systems as well as accelerate its adoption.

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Netflix lifts lid on first Nigerian Original

The streaming giant is set to increase its investment in Nigerian and African entertainment

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Back row (From L-R): Banky W, Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer), Kate Henshaw, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Felipe Tewes (Netflix Italian & African Originals Director), Omoni Oboli, Ben Amadasun (Netflix Africa Licensing Director) and Akin Omotoso Front Row (L-R) Mo Abudu, Adesua Etomi, Dorothy Ghettuba (Netflix African Originals lead) , Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba and Ramsey Noah.

The working title is the “Akin Omotoso Project”, but the world will soon get to know it by a snappier title. It is the first African original scripted series from Nigeria commissioned by Netflix. To be directed by Akin Omotoso, with Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, it is planned to be a six-part series.

Netflix this week announced that it will increase its investment in Nigeria’s creative community, starting with the Akin Omotoso Project,

The series will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye in leading roles, alongside other Nollywood greats and fresh faces, such as Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola, Toyin Oshinaike, Goodness Emmanuel, Ireti Doyle, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, Tope Tedela and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

Set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, this drama tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death. But first, she must learn how to use and harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family from destruction. The series will be produced by Rififi Pictures.

Over the last year, Netflix has started to invest in the creative community – bringing Nigerian stories to audiences all around the world. These include: popular movies such as Merry Men, The Real Yoruba Demons, The Wedding Party 2, King of Boys; Nollywood classics like The CEO, October 1 and The Figurine; and films by renowned Nigerian director, Kunle Afolayan, such as Mokalik. These much loved Nigerian movies will join Nollywood favorites such as Chief Daddy, Lion Heart and box office hit, The Bling Lagosians.   

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer said: “Movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosian have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. So we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world”. 

Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Originals at Netflix, said: “I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production. Our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet.” 

Last month, Netflix enabled Nigerian members to pay for its service in Naira – making it easier for subscribers to use Netflix. Members can enjoy a wide range of diverse, quality entertainment, including African Originals like Queen Sono, which launches this Friday, 28 February. Other African Originals launching this year include Blood & Water and Mama K’s Team 4. 

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Load-shedding generator could blow your insurance

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Load shedding is going to remain a reality in South Africa for at least the next 18 months as Eskom conducts maintenance on its ageing power plants – but don’t go rushing off to buy your own alternative power supply without first checking how it’ll affect your home insurance.

That’s the warning from King Price’s partner of client experience, Wynand van Vuuren, who says it’s vital that alternative power supplies like generators are installed and certified by accredited electricians. If these devices are installed or used incorrectly, you might not be covered for any damages that may result.

“There’s been a huge upsurge in the number of people using portable generators to keep a few basic essentials going when the power goes off,” says Van Vuuren. “But what most people don’t know is that you’ve got to have them installed professionally by an electrician. You can’t just stick your generator in the garage with an extension cord running through the window.”

Here are Van Vuuren’s top tips for staying covered and charged safely during load shedding.

Do your homework

Know what your alternative power options are, and the pros and cons of each.

An inverter changes DC power from a battery into AC power that you can use to operate all kinds of devices. Obviously, it needs a battery pack to be useful. These batteries are either charged by solar or from the grid while the power is on.

A portable generator is a little generator on wheels that you see people buying in their dozens at Makro and Builders Warehouse over the weekend. They’re relatively cheap and easy to operate, but can’t keep big appliances running.

Stationary generators are usually slightly bigger units that are installed permanently, and switch on automatically when the power goes off. They’re more expensive, but have greater capacity.

Stay safe – and covered

Apart from keeping your lights on, the different power options all have one thing in common: they must comply with safety guidelines, and be installed by a professional.

“I know of guys who take their portable generators to a different mate’s house every weekend so they can watch the rugby during load shedding,” says Van Vuuren. “It’s not as smart an idea as you think: not only is the generator not covered, but any possible damage caused by the generator won’t be covered either, because it’s not properly installed.”

It’s also essential that portable generators are operated in open areas with good air flow, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, and that fuel is stored safely in an area with adequate ventilation.

Keep your bases covered

If you’re using a generator or an inverter, make sure they power your electric fence, gate and alarm as well, as burglars are all too quick to exploit opportunities caused by power outages. If you don’t have an alternative power supply, make sure your fence, gate and alarm have a battery back-up that’s sufficient to see you through your darkest moments.

Oh, and make sure your generator’s insured as well, in case it’s stolen or struck by lightning. You would typically insure a portable generator under your home. A stationary (standby) generator becomes a fixed fitting once installed and must, therefore, be added to your buildings cover.

Beat the downs with UPS

Another major headache for South Africans is the power surge that can happen when the power is switched back on after load shedding, with big-ticket appliances like dishwashers, televisions, fridges, coffee machines and sound systems all at risk.

“We’ve seen claims for ‘fried’ computer equipment, appliances and even distribution boards caused by power surges,” says Van Vuuren. “This can be avoided by installing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) – which doesn’t come cheap – but is advisable to at least protect costly items, like TVs and sound systems, and items with intrinsic value, like laptops.

“The other alternative is to manually disconnect your more sensitive appliances from the power supply and reconnect them after the electricity is switched back on.”

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