Information and Communication Technology (ICT) experts are unanimous in their views that Nigeria has to become a thinking nation to survive the coming, disruptive revolution which is upon the world.
The experts who were gathered at the maiden edition of ‘Think Breakfast Series’ (tBs) organized by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek and CFAtech.ng in Lagos, recently, said that one of the biggest steps President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government must take is to identify and address impediments to broadband penetration.
Ayotunde Coker, managing director, Rack Centre, delivered a well-researched presentation on ‘The Challenges & Importance of Building a Knowledge-Led Economy through ICT.’ According to him, Nigeria has over 180million (estimated) population with the middle class around 18 years old and gross domestic product (GDP) worth $481billion, it therefore behoves on the government and the private sector to build critical infrastructure required to stir up the knowledge-led economy.
Mr. Coker who reiterated improvement broadband penetration usually leads to 1,4% increase in GDP, noting that the key driver of knowledge-based economy relies on the transformational power of computing.
“The ‘Impacts of Broadband Penetration on economic Growth’ are obvious. Both the ITU and GSMA have stated continuously that a 10% increase in broadband penetration yields 1.4% increase in GDP. Yes, broadband penetration brings about improvement of productivity in enterprises; acceleration of innovation by new consumer applications and services; more efficient functional deployment of enterprises, access to consumers and social impact from consumer access to products, services and content.
“Knowledge economy eco system requires varying technologies to thrive particularly Fibre then of course LTE, 5G is coming into the mix now. Of course the impact and benefits of cloud services can’t be over emphasized. More so Cloud services will create significant positive impact on SMEs particularly for cost savings, optimization and efficiency.
“Now, looking at the ‘Network Readiness Index and Ease of doing business’ (EDB) ranking: Nigeria ranks behind Mauritius and South Africa at the 16th position in Africa with an NRI and EDB ranking of 119 and 169 respectively.
“But the good thing is that Nigeria’s presidency has begun to look at the EDB issue realistically. We hope it will be sustained,” the Rack Centre boss said.
On his part, Mr. Yele Okeremi, Managing Director of Precise Financial Systems (PFS) said that the ten pillars the World Economic Forum (WEF) uses to gauge nations shows that Nigeria is lagging in most of the areas like skill, knowledge and competence pillar.
Mr. Okeremi said that technology as a tool and technology professionals can assist in the enhancing the ease of doing business particularly by ensuring that e-government platforms are deployed.
He said, “Leadership is key to this transformation and leverage the new mindset of the youth by focusing more on skills rather than paper qualifications. Leadership engagement- continuous awareness, education and enlightenment of our leaders across board to understand the importance of technology and the knowledge economy is primary in achieving the knowledge-led economy, because it is what the legislator knows that he will present at the floor of the Chamber, which often times becomes laws of the land.
Also speaking, Mr. Muhammed Rudman, the chief executive officer, Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), nodded in agreement on the need for legal framework to protect Intellectual Property (IP).
The laws when promulgated as shield for protect intellectual properties; the judges and lawyers need to be informed on the principles in order to ensure proper interpretations and enforcements.
Rudman added that funding framework for start-ups has not encouraged innovation which necessities for various channels to step up interests of angle investors in Nigeria.
“So, basically, it’s all about pervasive enabling infrastructure, learning frameworks, e-government enablement and executive drive amongst others. Opportunities include a diversified export oriented economy enhanced GDP growth of about 18%, economic and country efficiency, educational and health implications and systematic GDP impact on all value chains. We have a lot to gain from the knowledge-based economy”, he said.
Craving for local content and indigenous data hosting, Reverend Sunday Folayan, President, Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), said that unlike in other climes, Nigerian call centers staff range from 24-30.
“Does it mean that Nigerians become productive from age 22. 18-22 are not skill ready. Usually call Centre staff age is 18-22, by 24 they move to Knowledge processing. It is one thing we must look into as an industry to place our young people on the right footing.
He also encouraged individuals and organizations to join in the .ng domain name crusade. “This should be default for Nigerian businesses there is increasing interest in Nigerians patronizing .ng domain companies as 80% is mainly people process.
“Change happens with a few people not with the crowd. Nigeria can change. Government pushes agriculture as the solution to our current recession. Extractive industry is important but that is not the way to go. How much do we generate from these. The leaders and laggers’ countries, what is the difference? Knowledge is the differentiator! Three categories of people: producing something the world needs, if you are wealthy, people with specialized knowledge.
Mr. James Emadoye, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), however, linked the journey to knowledge-based economy to quality educational sector.
To him, there is need for technology companies like Rack Centre to collaborate with educational institutions particularly universities to enable them enjoy the benefits of cloud services because it’s expensive for universities to building their own data centers, rather they should focus on knowledge delivery.
Again, he said, the existing university network and content platforms are ineffective, as it has become very expensive for universities to be building data Centre, hence they should focus on knowledge sharing.
He also called for industry support to young software developers though the use of cloud based productivity tools and services.
“Content development – whose responsibility- it’s everyone’s, but it must be structured to get real value. The key issue in knowledge economy is Knowledge and learning; therefore developing the people and managing processes within the technology chain is important. People, process and technology make knowledge-based economy happen”, the ISPON president said.
These thought leaders also proffered ‘trust capital’ as solution to many business ideas in the country, as trust enables progress and builds confidence in a business.
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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