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Blackmail, Not Forex, Major Reason for Multinationals Exiting Nigeria – Ekeh



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Leo Stan Ekeh, Serial digital entrepreneur has spotlighted the chief reasons why multinationals are exiting Nigeria and warned that if nothing was done, more of such businesses and indigenous ones may close shop in the coming months and years.

Leo Stan Ekeh

In a press statement, Ekeh who is the Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited, a Nigerian conglomerate with international affiliations, urged President Bola Tinubu to address the critical issues of corporate blackmail and bullying, which he said frustrate the Federal Government’s effort at promoting ease-of-doing-business in the country.

While acknowledging that scarcity of forex is a challenge for businesses operating in Nigeria, he said these challenge can be surmounted especially with the new push by the Tinubu government to inject more forex into the system.

He stated that the depreciation of the naira, which dropped from N422.00/$ in June 2023 to N951.94/$ in December 2023 at the official window, following the floating of the naira by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is only a convenient reason cited by the exiting multinationals.

“On face value, some of the exiting multinationals cite difficulty in procuring forex as reason for closing shop in Nigeria, but they are only being diplomatic. Many of them have had to contend with all manner of blackmail and corporate bullying from professional blackmailers aided by our slow judicial process.

“This has become an emerging but very destructive business model in our country, and unfortunately, the legal system is handicapped to protect the victims because of the long years it takes to discharge a case,” he said.

According to Ekeh, the escalation of corporate blackmail over the years is responsible for the low attraction of foreign direct investments (FDI) relative to the size of Nigeria’s market and potential.

Referencing an open letter he addressed to President Tinubu, Ekeh cited an issue of blackmail against his Company TD Africa and himself by an Ibadan-based computer firm, Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited owned by an Enugu state indigene, Mr. Benjamin Joseph, as a case study of how much frustration investors suffer for doing business in Nigeria. He said that the matter had been investigated by several constituted agencies and were found to be false.

Consequently, the IGP charged him to court for giving false information in 2016, but for over 8 years Mr. Joseph has not been able to defend a one count charge for false information instituted at the FCT High Court Abuja for a case he reported. Mr. Joseph has been skipping court sessions or feigning ill-health rather than appearing in court to defend himself and prove his claim of fraud after the prosecution closed its case. He rather appeals to successive Attorney-Generals to withdraw the case from court, knowing that his claims and allegations are not true.

Ekeh urged the President to prevail on the Attorney-General, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi SAN, and any other person/institution not to truncate the course of justice but to allow this case and similar cases to run its full course in the interest of justice, fairness and to convince the international community, including international investors, that we respect and abide by the rule of law in Nigeria.

While expressing confidence in the President to address the issue of blackmail, he suggested that Tinubu should aggressively pursue a policy that promotes patronage of indigenous manufacturers and service providers as a way of reflating the economy.

He said: “It is evident that the core of the myriad challenges afflicting the nation today is our failure to develop local capacities. We must embrace self-sufficiency by consuming what we produce and supporting indigenous players across various sectors.”
He regretted that in spite of several local content policies established by the Federal Government, such policies are consistently disregarded by government employees and appointees, wondering why “we send our children to the world’s best institutions, where they excel, yet we overlook the products they create.”

He gave the example of the government of India which recently imposed restrictions on the importation of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers and ultra-small computers and servers with immediate effect. This, according to him, was to boost local productivity both by multinationals operating in India and indigenous Indian companies to create more jobs, encourage proficiency, and discourage capital flight.

“Mr. President, I humbly appeal to you to be deliberate and decisive in encouraging indigenous producers and service providers across all sectors. This way, we create a market for indigenous products, build confidence in our economy and easily attract international investors. The way we treat our local investors will determine how many foreign investors we can attract,” he stressed.

Ekeh also urged the President to activate the suspended national census because “Nigeria has already made substantial investment in the programme with the acquisition of critical technologies and training of personnel”, explaining that allowing those systems to lie fallow would lead to huge waste.

He said Nigeria needs a credible national headcount now more than at any time given the flaws and logistics challenges that attended the distribution of palliatives across the nation, adding “a credible database is key for decision-making for planners, policy makers and investors.”

While stressing the need to bring the suspended census to a closure, he advised the government to release the over 500,000 units of Tablet PCs used during the census to different educational institutions nationwide after the headcount to enable the students acquire relevant digital skills that will make them globally competitive.

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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd


Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test



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A simple blood test could predict Parkinson’s disease seven years before symptoms appear, marking a “major step forward” in diagnosis of the condition.

Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test

Researchers believe early prediction and diagnosis would help in finding treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves.

The test uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the disease, which is caused by the death of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

When these nerve cells die or become impaired, they lose the ability to create a chemical called dopamine.

People with Parkinson’s are currently treated with dopamine replacement therapy after they have already developed symptoms, such as tremors or slowness of movement.

It is thought that early diagnosis and treatment would help protect the dopamine-producing brain cells.

Dr Michael Bartl, co-first-author of University Medical Centre Goettingen and Paracelsus-Elena-Klinik Kassel, alongside Dr Jenny Hallqvist, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said: “By determining eight proteins in the blood, we can identify potential Parkinson’s patients several years in advance.

“This means that drug therapies could potentially be given at an earlier stage, which could possibly slow down disease progression or even prevent it from occurring.”

Professor David Dexter, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This research, co-funded by Parkinson’s UK, represents a major step forward in the search for a definitive and patient-friendly diagnostic test for Parkinson’s.

“Finding biological markers that can be identified and measured in the blood is much less invasive than a lumbar puncture, which is being used more and more in clinical research.”

The research found that when a branch of AI called machine learning analysed a panel of eight blood-based biomarkers whose concentrations are altered in patients with Parkinson’s, it could provide a diagnosis with 100% accuracy.

Professor Kevin Mills, senior author of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said: “As new therapies become available to treat Parkinson’s, we need to diagnose patients before they have developed the symptoms.

“We cannot regrow our brain cells and therefore we need to protect those that we have.

“At present we are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted and we need to start experimental treatments before patients develop symptoms.”

He added that with sufficient funding, it is hoped the test will be used by the NHS within two years.

The experts suggest that with further research this test could potentially distinguish between Parkinson’s and other conditions that have some early similarities.

The team also looked at whether the test could predict the likelihood of someone going on to develop Parkinson’s.

Blood from 72 patients with Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder (iRBD) was analysed as it is known that about 75% to 80% of these people will go on to develop a synucleinopathy – a type of brain disorder caused by the abnormal build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein in brain cells – including Parkinson’s.

The patients were followed up over 10 years and researchers say the AI predictions have so far been correct, with the team correctly predicting 16 patients would go on to develop Parkinson’s and being able to do this up to seven years before the onset of any symptoms.

According to Parkinson’s UK, around one in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime, and there are 153,000 people already living with the condition.

The researchers are hoping to secure funding to create a simpler test where a drop of blood can be spotted on a card and posted to the lab to investigate if it can predict Parkinson’s even earlier than the seven years before the onset of symptoms in this study.

The research, which was funded by an EU Horizon 2020 grant, Parkinson’s UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Research GOSH Biomedical Research Centre, and the Szeben-Peto Foundation, is published in Nature Communications.




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NAICOM Seeks Police Support on Enforcement of Motor Third-party Insurance



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The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has asked the support of the Nigeria Police Force in advancing the insurance industry road map particularly in the enforcement of Motor Third- Party Insurance.

Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, commissioner for Insurance(CFI) /CEO of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) made the request when he paid a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, at Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters, Abuja.

Omosehin said the purpose of the visit was to seek an audience with the IGP and the management of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), who are critical stakeholders aligned with NAICOM’s vision, to achieve its mandate, particularly in the area of compulsory insurance enforcement.

During the visit, the Commissioner for Insurance requested collaboration to advance the Nigerian insurance sector roadmap. He emphasised that it is unlawful for individuals to drive on the road without valid motor insurance (3rd party), he noted that less than a quarter of the vehicles have valid motor insurance.

The CFI stated that the visit aimed to seek NPF’s collaboration to ensure the enforcement of compulsory 3rd party motor insurance, as mandated by law.

The CFI also highlighted that in 2023, the ECOWAS Brown card has been captured in the upgraded premium for 3rd party motor insurance cover by NAICOM, allowing insured vehicles to travel across the West African sub-region.

Additionally, he noted that the benefits attached to the 3rd party insurance had been increased to N3 million.

To further this initiative, the CFI underscored the need for digitisation platforms to authenticate the validity of vehicle insurance. He mentioned that this system is already being implemented by the Lagos State government.

The CFI requested the establishment of a team to collaborate with the Commission in conducting enforcement actions, asserting that the success of this initiative would be a significant achievement for Nigeria.

In response, the IGP assured the CFI of the Nigerian Police Force’s full support in enforcing compulsory 3rd party insurance. He announced that a team, headed by the DIG Operations, would be set up to oversee the enforcement of compulsory insurance.


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Report Explores Surge in Fintech Innovation in Africa



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A new report by BDO Africa has explored how transformative technology within the African Fintech landscape has the potential to shape a more inclusive and prosperous future for the continent.

According to the Africa Fintech report, Africa is witnessing a groundbreaking surge in Fintech innovation, rapidly unlocking a continent brimming with economic potential.

For businesses to capitalise on this transformative technology, specialised guidance to navigate the complexities of regulation, competition, and technological integration is required.

“With the Fintech market expected to be worth around $65 billion by 2030, it is crucial for businesses to understand the minutia associated with recent advancements, ongoing challenges, and regional variations in the sector.

“As leading advisors in the Fintech space, we have compiled this report to bring clarity to navigating the complexities of the market in the hopes of empowering more businesses to join the race.”

Nevellan Moodley, Head of Financial Services Advisory at BDO, says. The report takes a deep and insightful dive into topics such as trends, opportunities and challenges, regional dynamics and the distinct Fintech ecosystems of Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa, the importance of establishing clear and harmonised regulatory frame works that balance innovation, consumer protection, financial stability, and cybersecurity in ensuring the security and trustworthiness of Fintech systems.

“The African fintech space is growing exponentially, but the development of the fintech ecosystem is still in the early stages,” says Keshan Pillay, Associate Director: Financial Services Technology BDO.

“By breaking down Africa’s FinTech landscape and providing real insights around the high level of fragmentation per country, we are removing the barriers that could be holding businesses back and providing guidance on reaping the full economic benefit of this growing market,” Keshan added.

As the market matures, Africa is on a trajectory to becoming the next globally recognized Fintech hub. “We can say with confidence that although there is still quite the way to go, the current state of Fintech in Africa is on the right path.

“We have seen the opportunity and are intent on leveraging our expertise to get more businesses into a state of readiness so that they are empowered to offer more customised solutions for niche population segments that keeps them sustainably growing.

“We are thrilled to be playing an active role in the continent’s journey to revolutionizing the financial services industry as we know it,” concludes Moodley.

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