The man, Leo Stan Ekeh arguably Nigeria’s foremost tech guru and serial digital entrepreneur has championed many firsts in the Nigerian ICT sector.
Mr. Ekeh is the Chairman of Zinox Group, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest integrated technology conglomerate which includes viable concerns such as Zinox Technologies Limited, Task Systems Ltd., Technology Distributions Limited (TD Africa) and TD Mobile, among others, through which he deployed some of the biggest ICT projects on the continent.
Mr. Ekeh has also inspired several generations of budding entrepreneurs and startups, many of whom are currently disrupting the technology space in Nigeria and beyond.
On the Nigeria’s Independence anniversary on October 1st 2001, Ekeh enjoyed the rare privilege of being honoured as an Icon of Hope by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for his sustained pioneering efforts in the area of Information Technology and also as a pride to modern Nigeria.
His ground breaking strides in the Nigerian technology ecosystem recorded another major achievement in 2018 when he made a bold return to e-Commerce (a vertical he pioneered in Africa many years ago through BuyRight Africa Dotcom) with the addition of Konga after acquiring the company from previous majority investors, Naspers and AB Kinnevik.
Barely two years after its acquisition, Ekeh transformed the composite e-Commerce giant into Nigeria’s leading player, with the brand on the cusp of dominating Africa’s biggest market and making inroads into other neighbouring African markets.
Today, this Icon of ICT in Nigeria turned 65 years old, born on February 22, 1956 in Ubomiri Mbaitoli, Imo State to a middle-class family with three brothers and two sisters.
He attended Holy Ghost College, Owerri for his secondary education, after which he went to India for his university education, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Punjab University.
Ekeh, however, believes that studying in India was a great turning point in his life, according to him, he found the Indian economy a realistic economy.”
In addition, he is a Global Advisor to Microsoft. He also holds a Post Graduate Degree in Risk Management from Nottingham University, England.
Ekeh equally holds several honorary doctorate degrees from highly respected universities for his enviable record of incisive entrepreneurship and pioneering efforts in the field of Information Technology.
Leo Stan as he is popularly known is a renowned digital democrat and philanthropist has also quietly touched so many lives through the Leo Stan Foundation – his personal foundation.
Among these are charitable works such as donation of N100m to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East, donation of N50m to victims of the demolished Eke-Ukwu market in Imo State, scholarships to hundreds of indigent students across Nigeria to study both at home and abroad, as well as the set-up of a N1.5bn revolving loan scheme for disadvantaged students and entrepreneurs of Imo origin, among several others.
Furthermore, Ekeh has silently invested in education, provided Medicare to the needy and supported churches and other religious organizations through the Foundation.
During the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leo Stan Foundation leveraged on staff of the various companies in the Zinox Group to feed over 7000 families across Nigeria for two weeks. He has also regularly supported state governments in Imo, Lagos and other parts of the country through the donations of patrol vehicles to improve security, among other donations.
Indeed, the story of Ekeh’s legendary strides is one of many firsts amid a series of landmark achievements in his chosen field of Information and Communications Technology.
He pioneered Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics in Nigeria in 1987 with his first Company – Task Systems Ltd.
In addition, Mr. Ekeh launched the first ICT support Company in Nigeria – ITEC Solutions Ltd.
More so, he pioneered the deployment of digital dispensing pumps for petrol and gas stations in Nigeria in partnership with Elf Oil (now Total Plc.) after he was cheated by an attendant at a fuel station.
He also pioneered ICT Distribution in West Africa with the launch of Technology Distributions Ltd. (today known as TD Africa) which has remained the biggest technology, lifestyle and cutting-edge solution distributors in the West African sub-region.
Furthermore, Ekeh holds the rare status of manufacturing the first internationally certified computer brand in Sub-Saharan Africa: Zinox Computers.
Equally, the biometric digital revolution in Nigeria can be attributed to Mr. Ekeh after he singlehandedly delivered to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) data capturing machine for voters’ registration when foreign contractors could not deliver after months of promises.
Four years later, he again supervised the biggest single ICT digital rollout in Africa with INEC in 2010 valued back then at over $170m, as well as the largest single e-Library and Wireless Cloud rollout project on the continent through one of his companies – Zinox Technologies Ltd.
Today, Ekeh’s contributions and sterling work with INEC have gone a long way in giving Nigeria a credible database of voters and reduced post-election litigations by over 45 per cent.
Mr. Ekeh has also been involved with companies such as ICT Brokers, TD Plus, ICT Connect and, as earlier stated, the launch of Africa’s first ever e-commerce outfit, Buyright AFRICA Dotcom.
A major advocate of digital literacy for all, Ekeh holds the enviable record of donating cutting-edge and well-equipped digital centres to several secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Significantly, Ekeh’s Zinox Group pioneered the unheralded but highly commendable practice of paternity leave in Nigeria to reduce stress on young male staff and enable them to support their spouses when they welcome a new baby.
The tech enthusiast is one of the foremost champions of gender equality in Nigeria. He has consistently advocated for and also empowered women and the girl child, whom he regularly addresses and challenges to aspire to greatness at various public events and fora.
His passion for gender equality can be seen at first hand in the Zinox Group where women, led by his wife, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, occupy the first four executive management positions at TD Africa, the biggest company by revenue in the Group. Also, he had recently appointed another female as Managing Director of Zinox. The Group’s Human Resources Unit is also headed by a female.
Mr. Ekeh’s unerring zeal for productivity and excellence was recently rewarded by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with the National Productivity Merit Award (NPOM) in November 2019.
A distinguished member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group and Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society, Ekeh is a recipient of one of the country’s highest National Honours – Order of The Federal Republic (OFR).
Applauded by professionals as a global digital giant and a man whose vision and performance shore up credibility for the indigenous capacities in the ICT sector, Leo Stan Ekeh’s unmatched interventions have seen him receive over 60 local and international awards. He has also served on a good number of Federal Government Committees, which includes the Presidential Committee for Job Creation, Nigeria Thinkers, ICT Roadmap, among many others.
He is happily married to Mrs. Ekeh, a Mathematician, Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and CEO of TD Africa.
The union is blessed with successful children.
COVID-19: 9mobile Celebrates, Pledges Support for Health Workers at Yaba Isolation Centre
9mobile has paid glowing tribute to Dr. Ayodeji Falana and other health workers who have been outstanding in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the last one year.
Dr. Falana was adjudged most outstanding health worker for his leadership and dedicated service. The commendation came as 9mobile visited health workers on Saturday February 27 at the Lagos State Government isolation centre of Mainland Hospital, Yaba otherwise known as Infectious Disease Hospital.
The 9mobile initiative is designed to appreciate the efforts of health workers who have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 across the country. A minute silence was observed in honor of health workers and Nigerians who lost their lives to Covid-19.
Commending health workers nationwide, Chineze Amanfo, 9mobile’s Public Relations Lead, who represented the Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Abdulrahman Ado, recalled that it was exactly one year that the index case was recorded in Nigeria.
“She stated that “we decided to visit the isolation centre in Yaba to appreciate the health workers who have been at the forefront in this fight against Covid-19. 9mobile appreciates your commitment and dedication because you are the real heroes in the fight against Coronavirus. 9mobile applauds your dedicated service and reiterates that we are solidly you.”
Amanfo, who presented a plaque of recognition to the recipient and other gift items to the health workers on behalf of 9mobile, also saluted the bravery of the health workers. She said that despite the disruption and loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic, health workers have continued to show exemplary commitment.
In his response, the Medical Director of Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Abimbola Bowale said that “I received the Covid-19 index patient on February 27, 2020, and it has been a very long journey since then. Unfortunately, we have reported some deaths and for the health workers, it has been very demanding for us.
“So, this is a very significant day. This facility is the largest facility where Covid-19 patients are treated. We are very proud of the enormous work and commitment of our staff in the fight against Covid-19. Our health workers have shown resilience. We appreciate 9mobile for their show of support. I am excited for what they have done today”.
The recipient of the award, Dr. Ayodeji Falana appreciated 9mobile for shinning its spotlight on the selfless sacrifices of health workers in Nigeria.
He said that, “I have been involved in the fight against infectious diseases for a very long time. Hence, it feels good to be appreciated and it shows that when you work hard, you will eventually be recognized and appreciated.
“Covid-19 provided us with the opportunity to serve Nigeria with our capacities and capabilities. I heartily appreciate 9mobile for encouraging us to do more for the Nigerian healthcare system”.
According to his official citation, Dr. Ayodeji Falana, an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University, has played a pivotal role in transforming the clinical landscape of the Mainland Hospital in the past one year with his contribution to the fight against Covid-19.
As a clinician in the facility for over a decade, he was actively involved in the fight against Ebola in 2014, treating and managing infected patients.
This prepared him for the mantle of leadership in the fight against Covid-19 when he was posted by the Lagos State Covid-19 Case Management Pillar Lead to serve as the Medical Lead for Eti-Osa Isolation Centre in April 2020. He has shown commitment, drive, innovation, selflessness and has made enduring impact.
Okonjo-Iweala Assumes Duty as WTO DG
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, newly-elected director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), will assume duties today.
The former Nigeria’s two-term Finance Minister was selected by the General Council of the WTO a fortnight ago, as the organisation’s seventh director-general.
With her emergence as the first African and first female to be the Director-General of the WTO, Okonjo-Iweala had unveiled her agenda, which included working with other members of the organisation in reforming and rebranding the global trade body.
Okonjo-Iweala, in her acceptance speech, had also highlighted the need for procedural reforms so that the WTO would better serve its members.
Her term which is renewable, will expire on August 31, 2025.
According to her, the rule book of the Geneva-based organisation is outdated, while its rules lag behind those of some regional and bilateral trade agreements, which are incorporating many innovations.
Okonjo-Iweala had stated that the WTO’s rulebook must be updated to take into account 21st century realities such as e-commerce and the digital economy.
She said: “It has been a long and tough road, full of uncertainty, but now it is the dawn of a new day and the real work can begin.
“Some WTO rules and procedures also need to be revisited, including the procedure for appointing director-general.”
According to her, the WTO secretariat should be strengthened, to enable it to provide cutting-edge services to members.
She had explained: “An important change would be to move away from the current silo way of working, to a more team-based and task-based approach.
“The secretariat has to be fit-for-purpose to take account of the changing dynamics of the global economy and priorities of members.
“The challenges facing the WTO are numerous and tricky, but they are not insurmountable. There is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel if we work together in a transparent manner that builds trust, build bridges and diffuses political tension and encourages convergence.”
Dangote Refinery to Sell Refined Products to FG in Naira – Emefiele
Arrangement is being made to enable the Dangote Refinery to sell refined crude to Nigeria in naira when it commences production, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has revealed.
It is expected that the take-off of the much anticipated $15 billion refinery will help Nigeria save about 41% of its foreign exchange that is being expended on the importation of refined petroleum products.
Emefiele, who was speaking during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline project at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, also said that the first shipment of Urea from the Dangote Fertiliser Plant would begin in March to help boost agriculture in the country.
He said that ”Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira.
“That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with the freight will be totally eliminated.
“This will make the price of our petroleum products cheaper in naira. If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.
“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency.”
Emefiele, who expressed confidence that the refinery would be completed by the first quarter of 2022, said this would put an end to the issue of petrol subsidy in the country.
He said, “I am saying that by this time next year, our cost of import of petroleum products for petrochemicals or fertiliser will be able to save that which will save Nigeria’s reserve. It will help us so that we can begin to focus on more important items that we cannot produce in Nigeria today.’’
While pointing out that the CBN had given an N100 billion intervention to the projects, Emefiele added that the apex bank was ready to support Nigerian businesses set up to uplift the country economically.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Group, said that the fertiliser and petrochemicals plants were capable of generating $2.5 billion annually while the refinery would serve Nigeria and other countries across the world.
Dangote thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN governor for their support towards the completion of the projects, saying the projects would create jobs for Nigerians and build their capacity in critical areas of the oil and gas industry.
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