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60 Hearty Cheers to Chioma Ekeh, Africa’s Leading Unusual Female Tech

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The story has often been told in tech circles of how a relatively unknown Nigerian female student became a sensation of sorts among the international student population back in the early 80s in India owing to the unusual course of study she was undertaking.

60 Hearty Cheers to Chioma Ekeh, Africa’s Leading Unusual Female Tech

Chioma Ekeh

Electing to study Mathematics at Bachelor’s degree level – a course that required not only battling differential equations, calculus, advanced algebra, and so on, but also pitting one’s wits against that of wizened professors – is not a task for the faint-hearted. But that was the path that this unusual lady took at Punjab University, located in the culturally rich and aesthetically pleasing city of Chandigarh, India.

It was a decision that would lead Chioma Ekeh (nee Emelonye) along the path of meeting the love of her life, a certain Leo Stan Ekeh and returning to Nigeria with him to play a leading role in shaping the course of technology distribution in Africa.

Undoubtedly, unusual may also be a word that defines Chioma and Leo Stan Ekeh’s remarkable journey together. A power couple and exemplary partners who have worked together for over 30 years building a successful technology empire is a rarity, one that is not often seen.

That sojourn to India and her subsequent career trajectory laid the groundwork for the impressive reputation Chioma Ekeh has built in the highly competitive technology space. Business associates and representatives of global brands never fail to cite her intellect and brainpower.

Job seekers who cross her path during interviews often recall being asked to solve a simple arithmetic problem. For those who eventually become employees, there is never-ending adulation.

Her husband, Leo Stan Ekeh, describes her as the integral analytics, the backbone behind the brilliant success of the Zinox Group where she has continued to support all the businesses across the board.

Such is the cerebral aptitude of this unusual woman that she is reported to have taken the stage once at a company-wide business review to present a financial report punctuated by humongous accurate numbers, figures and percentages, all from memory and without recourse to any notes, a device or an actual presentation document.

Born on April 25, 1964, the story of the impressive diffusion, accessibility, useability and affordability of cutting-edge technology devices and solutions in Nigeria and indeed, sub-Saharan Africa will be grossly incomplete without a detailed citation on Chioma Ekeh and the leadership role she has played – one she has continued to play as a silent innovator and disruptor–alongside her legendary spouse.

A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Certified Accountants (FCCA, UK), Mrs. Chioma Ekeh is the brains behind TD Africa, a regional technology distribution powerhouse headquartered in Nigeria and with branches across Africa and in four other continents.

A company she led from start-up stage, TD Africa with Chioma Ekeh as CEO, pioneered ICT distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa and has remained the industry leader by market share in the region and the biggest provider of credit to resellers.

Founded in 1999, TD Africa is Africa’s leading distributor of technology and lifestyle products, boasting an unmatched and growing network of partnership with global brands like HP, Microsoft, Apple, Starlink, IBM, Dell Technologies, Ring (by Amazon), Cisco, Lenovo, APC by Schneider Electric, Samsung, Bosch, Phillips, Logitech, Vivo, among several others. Under Chioma’s exemplary leadership, the company has achieved numerous milestones, earned a long list of local and international awards/accolades and ensured Nigeria and indeed Africa is reckoned with at the global table of technology conversations and discussion-making.

However, this remarkable story may have turned out differently, had Chioma not returned to Nigeria under the guidance of her husband.

Armed with a formidable Mathematics degree after completing her studies in India, Chioma had the world at her feet and was the toast of leading companies the world over.

Moving to the United Kingdom at the invitation of her husband, Chioma joined the exalted league of Chartered Accountants and thereafter, bagged an MBA at the reputable Heriot Watts University.In 1987, she joined Sterling Deveraux as an Investment Analyst, engaging in researchand analyzing assets, such as stocks, bonds, currenciesand commodities.

Her acumen and exceptional skills were growing in demand and before long, she left Sterling Deveraux, joining the London Borough of Lewisham as an accountant in 1988.

Between 1988 and 1991, Chioma’s sterling work saw her rise swiftly through the ranks at the London Borough of Lewisham, moving from Accountant to Senior Auditor and then to Financial Auditor.

Certainly, Chioma Ekeh had a clear path to becoming CFO and possibly CEO at the London Borough of Lewisham or even going on immediately to taking up other elevated roles at other organizations. But the love of motherland and the call of her husband – Leo Stan Ekeh – to return home to Nigeria with him and build a technology legacy for Nigeria and Africa proved too strong.

Back home, Chioma Ekeh’s initial area of responsibility was with Task Systems Ltd., the first of many companies in the Zinox Group set up by Leo Stan Ekeh.

She took up the position of Financial Controller and spent six achievement-filled years at Task before driving the vision of technology distribution birthed by her husband in launching TD Africa where she became the company’s pioneer CEO.

A quiet, unassuming tech icon, Chioma Ekeh has acquired a well-deserved status as unarguably one of Nigeria’s top three leading Women-in-Tech, a female technology business leader with extensive years of proven capacity in building high-performing teams and transforming businesses beyond stakeholders’ expectations.

In partnership with her husband, Chioma Ekeh has played immense roles in growing and nurturing partner businesses, launching several thriving new businesses and successfully closing some of the biggest acquisitions in the technology space in Nigeria.

The Tech Experience Centre – Africa’s first technology experience centre – located at Yudala Heights, a sprawling edifice in the heart of Victoria Island – is another project that has Chioma Ekeh’s indelible signature on it.

The launch of the Tech Experience Centre in October 2020 received high praise from the Nigerian government and representatives of global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Under her guidance, Celebrating You, an annual showpiece celebratory event hosted by TD Africa has become unarguably the biggest year-end event in the Nigerian technology industry for over a decade.

Also, she has spearheaded several CSR projects, including The Herwakening – an empowerment programme for female entrepreneurs– and Girls in ICT – a project targeted at encouraging young girls to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines and considering careers in technology.

As she turns 60, Chioma Ekeh deserves rarefied mention and unmitigated encomiums. An amazon, this unusual female tech icon who has shattered several glass ceilings, knows no fatigue and has continued to innovate, effortlessly leading from the front.

 

 


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Afreximbank Launches CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa

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Afreximbank, has officially announced the launch of the CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa, a partnership between the CANEX Book Factory and the Narrative Landscape Press Limited.

Afreximbank Launches CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa

The CANEX Book Factory, a key intervention under the CANEX programme, aims to promote a vibrant literary culture across Global Africa and encourage the development of a sustainable business ecosystem in the literary sector.

CANEX was launched in 2020 by Afreximbank as a key driver for development and job creation in Africa, having recognized the relevance and opportunities provided by the creative and cultural industries.

The CANEX Book Factory will spotlight and elevate the African book value chain through a Pan-African writing workshop, an e-newsletter highlighting African literature and the prize for publishing in Africa. This will culminate in the Award Ceremony at the CANEX WKND to be held in Algiers, Algeria between 16-19 October, 2024.

A USD20,000 prize will be awarded to the publisher of the best trade book. Trade books refers to books published for a general audience, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry and excludes textbooks and academic books. Additionally, four finalists will each receive $2,000 in prize money.

Commenting on this announcement, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, executive vice president-Intra African Trade and Export Development Bank at Afreximbank said: “We are thrilled to announce the launch of The CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa, a pioneering initiative by Afreximbank aimed at promoting and celebrating excellence in African publishing. This prize underscores our commitment to nurturing Africa’s creative industries and supporting the vibrant literary landscape across the continent. Through the CANEX Prize, we aim to recognize and empower African authors and publishers who play a vital role in shaping our cultural identity and enriching our communities through literature in what is a multi-billion-dollar industry.”

On the importance of initiatives such as CANEX,  Ms. Chimamanda Adichie, renowned writer and novelist, said: “Imagine being an African, dreaming about being a writer, surrounded by people in a room who share the same interests, it propels you, it gives you hope. I’ve always believed that there is nothing more essential to the human spirit than hope. For me, CANEX is about hope – the hope of many more African stories.”

Submissions will be judged on the quality of writing, editing and production. Priority will be given to books printed and produced on the African continent as well as to books published in indigenous African languages.

A key concession for the inaugural year (2024) is that books published in the preceding two years will be considered.

By supporting the enabling environment for various creative sectors like fashion, music, film, art, literature, gastronomy, and sport; CANEX seeks to support the advancement and expansion of the creative and cultural economy, both within Africa and the diaspora, utilizing various financial and non-financial tools and initiatives.

CANEX invites publishers in Africa to submit published trade books for the inaugural CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa. To submit your entry, please visit:  https://apo-opa.co/3WR3vgu.

 


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Transcorp Power Posts N142Bn Revenue, N52.8Bn PBT

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Transcorp Power Plc, a subsidiary of Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group), announced impressive financial performance at its recently concluded 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM), the first since the Company went public, via a listing by introduction of its shares, on Monday.

Transcorp Power Posts N142Bn Revenue, N52.8Bn PBT

L-R: Dr. Owen D. Omogiafo, OON, Non-Executive Director; Peter Ikenga, Managing Director/CEO; Emmanuel N. Nnorom, Chairman; Stanley Chikwendu, Company Secretary at the Annual General Meeting of Transcorp Power Plc held at Transcorp Hilton Abuja on Monday

 

The Company recorded gross earnings of N142.1 billion, a 57.3% increase, compared to the previous year.

Profitability remained strong, demonstrating its resilience amidst evolving market dynamics.

Profit before tax showed an impressive year-on-year growth, up 84.4%, from N28.6 billion reported in 2022 to N52.8 billion in 2023.

At the AGM, Mr. Emmanuel Nnorom, chairman of the Board, highlighted Transcorp Power’s achievements over the past year, while assuring shareholders of the Company’s commitment to maintaining its exceptional financial results and improving the lives of Nigerians.

He said: “Last year’s strong performance is a testament to the resilience of our business strategies, underpinned by a culture of strong corporate governance.  We know that with our strategy and the dedication of our team, we will continue to deliver exceptional value to all stakeholders.”

Speaking on the Company’s performance, Peter Ikenga, managing director/chief executive officer, Transcorp Power, stated that the Company’s success is as a result of the rigorous execution of our strategies and deliberate focus on enhancing operational efficiency.

“As we celebrate last year’s achievements, we remain committed to continuous improvement. This year, our strategic focus is on recovering plant available capacity, enhancing operational excellence and efficiency, and rigorously implementing our plant maintenance schedule. We will continue prioritizing and investing in human capital, aiming to enhance in-house capabilities.  Our commitment to incident and injury-free operations remains strong, as we leverage our talent, foster ingenuity, and nurture teamwork. We are determined to build on our successes and leverage strategic investment opportunities to deliver even greater performance and sustainable growth for our stakeholders.”

Shareholders at the AGM lauded the Company’s professionalism and commitment to growing value for shareholders.

Mrs. Bisi Bakare, one of the company’s shareholders, commended Transcorp Power for continuously exceeding shareholder expectations.

She said: “I am very satisfied with Transcorp Power’s performance. It demonstrates their commitment to creating value for us shareholders, which is what we are all here for.”

Transcorp Power’s social responsibility activities were also commended at the AGM.  The Company has contributed to Nigeria’s sustainable development, particularly in the areas of education, community development, and environmental sustainability.

Operationally, the Company’s focus on excellence and optimisation has contributed to its position as a market leader in the power sector.

Through strategic investments and operational strategies, Transcorp Power continues to enhance its generation capacity and optimise plant performance.

Transcorp Power Plc is an electricity generating subsidiary of Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group), a leading, listed African conglomerate with strategic investments in the power, hospitality, and energy sectors.

Transcorp Power is committed to creating value and driving economic growth, by improving lives through access to electricity and transforming Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Air Peace: Strategies to Gain Competitive Advantage in the Battle for the Skies

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By Austin Okere

Congratulations to Air Peace on its inaugural flight to London and for achieving full bookings for the upcoming months, thanks to attractive ticket prices. Over the past fortnight, Air Peace has been making waves on social media for various reasons.

On a positive note, the airline shared a LinkedIn post featuring a picture of former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, aboard a return flight to London.

The caption highlighted his positive experience, stating, “I went, it was pleasant. I came back, it was even more pleasant.”

However, on a different note, Nigeria Stories recently reported that the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority has contacted Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority regarding alleged violations of aviation safety regulations by Air Peace.

The significance of Air Peace’s impact on airfares along the Lagos-London route cannot be overstated. Since commencing operations on March 30, Air Peace has maintained its round-trip economy ticket price at $1,000 (₦1.2 million), a substantial reduction compared to the previous rates charged by international airlines, which could soar up to $2,500 (₦3 million).

This bold pricing approach has disrupted the established norms, prompting foreign carriers to reassess their pricing frameworks.

To uphold customer loyalty and ensure long-term viability, it is imperative for Air Peace to explore additional strategies for differentiation. I have outlined these strategies using Austin’s Four Models of Competitive Strategies below:

  1. Technological Leadership

This approach is commonly embraced by firms that have secured a substantial leadership edge on the innovation spectrum. Their dominant position within their specific market niche is profound, making it exceedingly challenging for competitors to replicate or close the gap. Companies like Apple, Alphabet, Airbus, SpaceX, Netflix, and Tesla, among others, adeptly employ this strategy to significant effect.

Typically, they command premium prices for their offerings, allowing for greater investment in ongoing research and expertise, thus fortifying their technological supremacy and perpetuating their cycle of success.

  1. Service Excellence

This strategy is often embraced by companies that may not necessarily lead in technology but excel in delivery and customer experience to secure patronage and foster loyalty. Airlines like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Japan Airlines consistently rank among the world’s top 10 airlines as voted by travelers worldwide, thereby drawing more patronage.

3. Customer Intimacy (Personalized Customer Engagement)

This approach is predominantly employed by companies that strive to create a familial bond with their customers. They foster a sense of intimacy with their clientele, exemplified by Ghana’s Africa World Airways (AWA), which has established a reputation for punctuality in West African travel.

Air Peace appears to be following suit with this strategy, offering popular Nigerian cuisine and beverages on the Lagos-London route, and outfitting their crew in vibrant Nigerian attire. Companies employing this strategy often boast prolonged customer retention rates. They possess a deep understanding of their customers, accommodating their unique preferences, while customers reciprocate with steadfast loyalty.

  1. Cost Leadership

This strategy is predominantly adopted by companies that have enjoyed an early lead in product development and launch, leveraging the returns on their investments over time. They employ low pricing to dissuade competitors from entering the market. A classic example is Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.

Additionally, other companies that may employ this strategy are those that have accessed the experiences and intellectual property of more advanced competitors without incurring the costs and challenges of research and development. They are content to price their products relatively lower to attract patronage.

Many established companies with mature infrastructure also aim to increase their market share through periodic sales promotions, satisfied with extracting contribution margin from fixed costs.

Airlines often utilize this strategy during low seasons to improve their load factor rather than flying with empty seats or cargo space. They prefer to capture customers at any price rather than allow competitors to benefit from lost sales.

Bringing it All Together

In the fiercely competitive landscape of the airline industry, pricing strategies serve as a cornerstone in attracting passengers and maintaining a competitive edge. Employing competitor pricing, a dynamic and data-informed approach, enables airlines to swiftly adapt to market fluctuations and consumer preferences while optimizing revenue streams.

Airlines continuously fine-tune their fares in response to market dynamics, competitive maneuvers, and various other factors, employing a seamless and automated process to uphold competitiveness, optimize load factors, and maximize revenue streams.

While competitive pricing may serve as an initial strategy to penetrate the market and garner market share, I am cautious about relying solely on it for sustained success. It’s essential to recognize that no matter how aggressively priced one may be, there’s always someone offering a lower fare.

This approach risks triggering a downward spiral in pricing, potentially leading to a race to the bottom. In such a scenario, financially robust incumbents may outlast vulnerable newcomers, only to subsequently increase prices to recoup lost revenue once the newcomers are forced out of the market. This fate should not befall Air Peace.

Austin Okere is a thought leader, and business mentor. An Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Columbia Business School, New York.

 

 


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