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Dr Aina Tasks FinTechs on Corporate Governance

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Dr Segun Aina, founding President of the Africa Fintech Network (AFN), and Board Chairman, FintechNGR has urged financial technology service providers in the country to embrace and pay a lot of attention to good and well-established corporate governance practices as they expand to new markets beyond the country and continent.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the 42nd Annual General Meeting of Odu’a Investment Company Limited held in Lagos recently, he said: “We have issues about lack of acceptable corporate governance in startup businesses who are largely small businesses without the desired structures when starting, but over time they will grow and require sound corporate governance practices to scale.

“This is why stakeholders in the industry including the organizations I belong to are now focusing and putting a lot of emphasis on corporate governance.

“The first set of Fintechs are now becoming big institutions. As they move into new markets the demand and need for acceptable, compliant and tested governance structures and practices becomes very imperative.

“That is desirable for the next stage of growth in the Fintech space, and with that in place, Nigeria Fintechs can operate without regulatory hiccups and compete anywhere in the world”.

Dr Aina who is the immediate past chairman of Odu’a Investment Co Ltd who together with other Board members and management rejuvenated the company of companies and set it on the path of sustainable growth and profitability urged regulators and the government to formulate policies that are friendly towards advancing innovation in the country.

“Innovation related to creating non-existing solutions, these are things that were not in existence before and there is no way the government or regulators would have regulated what does not exist. Therefore, when it comes to existence, they will have to come up with how to regulate those innovative outcomes in a way to ensure in most cases the public interest.

“This may create encumbrances for some startup founders and entrepreneurs who were not in breach of any rules on commencement but now have to follow new guidelines and policies put in place to regulate their activities and operations.

“What is important is that policies have to be business friendly and must recognize that there is a need to innovate and the process ought to carry along all the stakeholders.  Regulatory policies should not stifle innovation but be seen as supportive of and advancing creativity. The good news is that things are changing now for the better with the financial services regulators, especially in the fintech space, he added.

Dr Aina expressed his belief in bequeathing Nigerian youths with digital skills to solve unemployment and create many new businesses that provide solutions to societal challenges.

This is why he founded Opolo Global Innovation Ltd, an organization that has with the support of BoI established Innovation Hubs in ten University campuses in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria as one of the platforms to emplace skilling, innovation and enterprise among students and researchers. Also during his tenure as Odua Investment Board Chairman, the company created the South-West Innovation and Technology Company Ltd (SWIT).

He said, “Today, the emphasis is on technology, as we have a large youth population in Nigeria, many of them with University degrees but without the needed skills to enter today’s workplace, hence most of the graduates in the past few years remain unemployed.

“So, we have to provide them with those skills, create the system that encourages them to become entrepreneurs and job creators, provide them with the seed capital, the funding needed to enable them to set up their own business so that a lot of them that are involved in other negative things will be able to focus on positive things that develop the society. Nigerian youths are very, very intelligent, they just need to be supported.

“It is against this backdrop that Odua Investment Co Ltd set up South West Innovation and Technology Co Ltd (SWIT), as a new subsidiary to be the driver of the changes that we want in the innovation and digital space, in solving problems, in doing new things and improving on the ways existing things are done.

“If things go the way it is envisioned, I’m sure in the next five years that company will have produced a lot of new enterprises who will be challenging global players, creating exciting solutions and products. That’s why we added the word innovation-doing new things that will solve the way we are going in our strategy”.

 


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AfriLabs, Korea-Africa Foundation in Strategic Partnership to Boost African Innovation

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African hubs network AfriLabs has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Korea-Africa Foundation for a strategic partnership aimed at driving innovation and economic growth across the continent.

AfriLabs is a network organisation that is committed to driving innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent by bringing together technology hubs, startups, investors, and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Having recently announced the admission of 16 new hubs, AfriLabs now has a network of 478 hubs across 260 cities in 53 African nations.

The Korea-Africa Foundation, meanwhile, aims to serve as a platform for collaboration between the private and public sectors, and to strengthen exchange and cooperation with African countries.

The collaboration between the two aims to bridge the gap between Korean and African startups by leveraging each other’s expertise and resources. This will be achieved through the exchange of insights on youth development, the launch of joint research initiatives, and the fostering of a dynamic ecosystem that cultivates talent and entrepreneurial spirit in both regions.

“At AfriLabs, we are dedicated to unlocking Africa’s full potential and generating wealth through strategic alliances. This partnership with the Korea-Africa Foundation unlocks a treasure trove of opportunities for startups, granting them access to a global network, invaluable resources, and unparalleled industry knowledge.

“Together, we will empower the next generation of African innovators and entrepreneurs, paving the way for sustainable development and a thriving economy,” said Anna Ekeledo, executive director of AfriLabs.


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$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

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Federal government may reintroduce the controversial telecom tax and other fiscal measures to fulfill one of the conditions for The World Bank’s fresh $750 million loan to Nigeria.

$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

Experts have however strongly opposed new taxes, calling them harmful to the sector’s survival and the larger economy.

But The World Bank in programme appraisal document, dated May 17, 2024, on the loan disbursement to Nigeria, said that $750 million loan to Nigeria will support the federal government’s policy reforms.

A copy of the plan’s document posted on the World Bank website indicated that the government might reintroduce the excises on telecom services, and EMT levy on electronic money transfers through the Nigerian Banking System among other taxes.

Recall that on June 13, Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, announced the approval of two financial support packages by the World Bank valued at $2.25 billion.

The loan consists of $1.5 billion for Nigeria’s reforms for economic stabilisation to enable transformation (RESET) development policy financing program (DPF) and $750 million for Nigeria’s accelerating resource mobilisation reforms (ARMOR) program-for-results (PforR).

In the programme appraisal document, the World Bank said the ARMOR programme contains revenue policy measures such as raising pro-health taxes on tobacco, and alcohol.

The Bretton Woods institution also said the programme contains the introduction of taxes on online betting and gambling, as well as new excise on telecommunication services.

Experts have however warned that these taxes would have severe consequences for investment and the operational viability of telecom companies.

According to them, higher taxes would hinder digitalization efforts, which are crucial for economic growth.

The proposed tax measures, according to the industry, are not only damaging to the telecom sector but also to the broader economy.

 

 


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EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Flutterwave, unicorn payments technology company have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to establish and a state-of-the-art Cybercrime Research Centre.

EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, policy development, as well as youth empowerment.

The fintech company with fortunes worth over $1bn headquartered in San Francisco with footprints in Nigeria and other African countries said the centre would also provide a “sustainable lifeline to youths across the country”.

To this effect, the Silicon Valley-based company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the anti-graft agency in Abuja.

Ola Olukoyede, chairman, EFCC; Olugbenga Agboola, founder, Flutterwave; Christopher Gray, director of Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); and other senior officials from both the EFCC and the FBI witnessed the signing of the MoU

Specifically, the MoU was signed by Mohammadu Hammajoda, secretary, EFCC and Agboolaof Flutterwave.

Olukoyede said, “This partnership marks a significant leap forward in our efforts to combat financial crimes and ensure a secure financial landscape for Nigerians. The Cybercrime Research Centre will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent, detect, and prosecute financial crimes.”

On his part, Agboola said, “This initiative underscores our commitment to creating a fraud-free financial ecosystem and leading the charge in safeguarding transactions across Africa.

“We applaud the EFCC’s relentless efforts to combat internet fraud and other illicit activities in the financial sector.”

The Cybercrime Research Centre, to be established at the new EFCC Academy in Abuja, would serve as a hub for advanced research, training, and capacity building in the fight against financial crimes.

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, collaborative research and policy development, youth empowerment and capacity building, technological advancement and resource enablement, among other key areas.

“Advanced Fraud Detection and Prevention: Developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies to detect and prevent financial fraud. The centre will offer comprehensive training for law enforcement and industry professionals to combat modern financial crimes effectively.

“Collaborative Research and Policy Development: Engaging in joint research initiatives and policy formulation to enhance the understanding and regulation of financial crime. The centre will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices between the public and private sectors.

“Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building: Providing high-end training and research opportunities for 500 youths, equipping them with the skills needed to navigate and excel in the digital economy.

“Technological Advancement and Resource Enablement: Creating a repository of advanced tools, technologies, and resources to support financial crime investigations, including protocols for addressing emerging threats such as cryptocurrency-related crimes,” the statement concluded.

Birthed in 2016 by Agboola, fondly referred to as GB, Flutterwave, with its corporate headquarters in San Francisco and operational head office in Lagos State, grew within a short time, penetrating the African market with customisable payments applications through its unique Application Programming Interface.

 

 


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