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A Huge Boost to Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem as Eko Innovation Centre Launches

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Technology is the key driver to fast-growing economies globally, creating smart economies with technology-driven innovative solutions, leading to the creation of new jobs that previously never existed.

This idea of a technology-driven growth is the key motivation for Victor Afolabi to develop a new innovation centre– Eko Innovation Centre for the incubation of startups in Lagos – the heart of the country’s economy.

Tech hubs are a vital part of the entire start-ups ecosystems by providing platforms and opportunities for collaborations and building support structures that are important to the growth of new startups. Lagos, over the last few years has become one of Africa’s city with a robust tech ecosystem; it is currently the city with the highest number of technology hubs on the continent.

It is in keeping up with this fast-growing paradigm of technology driven economies, that the new Eko Innovation Centre was launched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019, aimed at discovering, incubating and curating new startups that will create new technological-driven solutions and add more value to an already growing tech ecosystem on the continent. The primary objective being to transform the tech and innovation landscape in Nigeria and by extension, Africa .

According to the founder, the motivation was the need to create an enabling environment for young people to develop innovative solutions and create employment while leveraging on technology, and for him, Lagos provides the perfect setting to launch this idea.

“We saw in the Lagos manifesto an agenda to make the State a 21st century economy. The only way to create a 21st century economy is to make sure you are creating businesses and solution to problems that are driven by innovation and technology,” he said during the launch of the centre.

It will be noted that Nigeria recorded the highest growth of tech hubs in Africa, expanding by 40% in 2 years between 2016 and 2018.

Eko Innovation Centre is designed not just to add to the growing figures of local tech hubs, but to provide a much-required platform for startups to scale through the challenges of their incubation period – a bold and audacious initiative for the country’s tech community.

A Game Changing Initiative

Most of the existing technology centres and hubs primarily provide workspaces and basic facilities including power and internet services, with a few more providing support platforms for the growth of the startups operating from there.

Eko Innovation Centre will provide shared services including legal, finance, tech, marketing, and PR services among others. And most importantly, Mr. Afolabi says, the centre will provide investment readiness services as well as funding for the startups.

This means that startups that are admitted will have the time to focus on their businesses and are not worn out by bureaucracy, as the hub will essentially take up most of the bureaucratic processes, allowing the businesses focus more on the success of their ventures – a game-changer for potential start-ups.

For most Nigerian startups, the stage between concept to commercialization is mostly the defining stage of the journey, where many eventually get it wrong.EIC is simply saying, “focus on building your products and business, while we take care of the other things for you!”

The new Lagos state governor, Mr. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu also graced the occasion of the launch – the building of the hub was his former campaign office, to endorse the initiative and reiterate his administration’s commitment to leveraging on technology in delivering the megacity dream.

In his short statement, Mr. Sanwo-Olu said, “Technology is the way to go, it is the way of the future and it is the way the entire universe is going to, and everybody is using technology to develop everything that we need.

We believe that from here, things around the THEME concept that has to do with the environment, education, transportation and health innovations would be developed. People from here would come and give us innovative ideas to solve our transport problem; ideas with which they think locally but act globally.”It is important to note however, that the Eko Innovation Centre is a private investment, to run independent, without any government funding.

In conclusion, the opening of the centre is a welcome development to add to the growing technology ecosystem in the country and it is expected that it will run with full steam once to deliver the vision of the founder.


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Swedfund Invests in 2 Health Startups in Nigeria, Madagascar

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Swedish financial institution Swedfund announced an investment of SEK2.2 million in three healthcare facilities in Africa and Southern Asia.

Swedfund Invests in 2 Health Startups in Nigeria, Madagascar

The loan conditions have not been disclosed.

In Africa, the company is investing in Nigeria-based Express Pharma, which distributes safe medicines across the country’s strategic points.

The Malagasy Opham, which provides pharmaceutical products to hospitals and pharmacies in Madagascar, will also benefit from the support. In Asia, the Swedish company targets Indian health care provider Medica Synergie.

Swedfund’s investment will primarily be used to acquire drugs and other protective equipment.

The health sector is attracting more and more investments due to the covid-19 pandemic, which requires healthcare facilities to strengthen their equipment and put in place effective response measures.


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Check Point Exposes Notorious Hacktivist ‘VandaTheGod’

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Check Point has shared research detailing its investigation to expose the real identity of a notorious super-hacker who has been responsible for attacks on 4 820 Web sites, the theft of the private data of around one million people, and the sale of stolen credit cards.

In addition, for the last seven years, official Web sites belonging to governments worldwide were hacked and defaced by this hacker, who identified himself as ’VandaTheGod’. The hacks push an anti-establishment message and were carried out, he claimed, to combat social injustices that the hacker believed were a direct result of government corruption.

He targeted governments in numerous countries, including South Africa, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Thailand, Vietnam, and New Zealand.

He was certainly cunning, but not too clever, as a silly mistake on Facebook exposed him, and will likely seal his fate.

“The person behind the ‘VandaTheGod’ persona has used multiple aliases over the years, including ‘Vanda de Assis’ or ’SH1N1NG4M3’, and was highly active on social media, primarily Twitter,” says Check Point. “They would often share the results of those hacking endeavours with the public. A link to this Twitter account would sometimes even be added to the message VandaTheGod left on compromised Web sites, confirming that this profile was in fact managed by the attacker.”

Many of the tweets in this account were written in Portuguese, and the hacker claimed to be a part of the “Brazilian Cyber Army” or “BCA”, often displaying BCA’s logo in screenshots of compromised accounts and Web sites.

VandaTheGod didn’t only target government Web sites, but also launched attacks against public figures, universities, and even hospitals. In one case, he claimed to have access to the medical records of 1 million patients from New Zealand, which were offered for sale for $200.

While the majority of VandaTheGod’s attacks against governments were politically motivated, but closer scrutiny of his tweets shows he was also trying to achieve a personal goal: hacking a total of 5 000 Web sites, a goal that was nearly achieved, with 4 820 records of hacked Web sites linked to him.

The man behind the handle

VandaTheGod’s prominent role in several hacking groups, as well as his love of publicity, meant that he stayed in touch with others in the hacking community via numerous social media accounts, backup accounts in case of takedown, e-mail addresses, Web sites and more. Through the years, this activity left a long trail of information for Check Point to investigate.

For example, the WHOIS record for VandaTheGod.com revealed that the Web site was registered to an individual from Brazil, more specifically from Uberlandia, using the e-mail address fathernazi@gmail.com. In the past, VandaTheGod claimed to be a member of the UGNazi hacking group, and this e-mail address was used to register additional Web sites, such as braziliancyberarmy.com.

This wasn’t the only time the hacker got sloppy and shared details online that gave away valuable information about his identity. Another example, a screenshot that showed the compromised e-mail account of Brazilian actress and TV presenter Myrian Rios also shows an open Facebook tab with the name “Vanda De Assis”, and looking that name up led to a profile belonging to the attacker.

“While this profile did not share any details about the real identity of VandaTheGod, we were able to see many similarities between this and the Twitter accounts operated by the attacker, as the same content was often shared on both platforms,” says Check Point. “What was more interesting, however, was that this screenshot revealed the name of a user that we will identify here only by initials MR.”

At first Check Point was unsure if these were the hackers real initials, but upon further investigation, discovered a first name with these initials also appearing in several screenshots shared in VandaTheGod’s Twitter as the username of the machine used for this hacking activity.

Researchers tried to search Facebook for people named MR, but unsurprisingly, were presented with too many possibilities to fully explore. “Our breakthrough came when we searched for MR in conjunction with the city we previously observed in vandathegod.com’s WHOIS information: “UBERLANDIA”.

This still gave Check Point numerous Facebook profiles, but researchers were able to locate a single account, which contained an uploaded image endorsing the Brazilian Cyber Army. “At this point, we knew that we were on the right track. All that was left for us to do was to connect this individual’s account with one of the known VandaTheGod’s accounts. We were able to locate several cross-posts between the newly discovered profile and Vanda de Assis’s Facebook account,” the researchers say.

Finally, Check Point located shared photos of the same surroundings from different angles, specifically, the poster’s living room. This confirmed that both the MR and VandaTheGod accounts were being controlled by the same person.


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FG to Create 1m Jobs on Digital Platforms

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National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is targeting the creation of about one million jobs through digital platforms between now and 2025, according to, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi of the agency.

FG to Create 1m Jobs on Digital Platforms

Abdullahi who disclosed this during a virtual stakeholders engagement workshop in Abuja on the Draft National Outsourcing Strategy for Nigeria 2020-2025, said Nigerians and industry players should learn from how the world’s 25 richest billionaires have gained over $225 billion in just two months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Almost all of them leverage on the power of digital platform to get the whopping amount. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest gainer.

“He made almost $32.5bn in two months under lockdown and he has moved from the 7th richest person in the world in early April to the fourth-richest person today,” Abdullahi said.

The NITDA boss, who quoted Forbes Magazine to buttress his point, explained that the Federal Government would leave no stone unturned on the diversification of the economy, especially adoption of digital platforms to increase the country revenue earnings.

Abdullahi, who put the global business process outsourcing market size as at 2019 at a value of  $221.5 billion, said it was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.0% from 2020 to 2027.

COVID-19 is forcing organisations to cut bottom line cost. Therefore, many organizations will leverage on the benefits of outsourcing for some business processes and focus on core competencies, he explained.

He said: “With the recent government initiative to make Nigeria a leading digital economy coupled with the government promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, NITDA under the supervision of Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has refocused its effort to implementation of the National Digital Economy Strategy.

“This resonate with what is happening globally. Digital economy was emerging before covid-19 and now the crisis has made it more profound.”

He told participants at the workshop the strategy is predicated on fostering  “institutional, legal, regulatory, technological and infrastructural environment for sustainable development and rapid growth of IT enabled outsourcing industry in Nigeria.

“And we targeting creating over a million jobs in Nigeria by 2025”, Mr Abdullahi said, adding that seven critical pillars, such as infrastructures, skill and human capital development, branding and promotion, digital finances and incentives, innovation and entrepreneurship, trust, privacy and security and multi stakeholders governance are on target to achieve the desired end.

Abdullahi urged the stakeholders to make inputs into the draft to facilitate robust document that would make Nigeria a better place for all and a force to reckon with in the global business outsourcing market.

 


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