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West Africa Needs Advanced Mobile Infrastructure, says IBM Nigeria Boss



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Increased investments in relevant new technologies like mobile, cloud and big data analytics that offer advanced solutions and services are essential for West Africa’s socio-economic development.

In practically all sectors of the regional economy, these advanced technologies allow economies and companies to ensure the integrity of their data assets, providing them with hitherto unseen levels of data mining capabilities which allows them to derive fresh insights and business intelligence from these data.”

These salient points were made recently by Taiwo Otiti, country general manager for IBM West Africa, on the sidelines of the HR Leaders Africa Summit held recently in Lagos.

Adoption of mobile and other technologies is one area public and private sector organizations need to look at with a view to injecting efficiency and new performance levels in their operations, Otiti said. “For African countries, new technologies allow the continent’s businesses and people to leapfrog through development stages/phases.”

He buttressed this particular point by referring to Nigeria’s adoption of mobile technology over the last 12 years which has become a showcase of how well technology can help transform economies. The Nigerian environment struggled with barely 500,000 telephone lines as at the end of 2001.

Today, thanks its fast adoption of modern cellular and other wireless technologies, the country boasts the largest online market for apparel and footwear in Africa, which is expected to grow from US$104 million in 2014 to $1billion in 2019, according to Euromonitor International Data.

Only last week, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics has put the subscriber base of the mobile telecommunications sector at 143.05 million as of the end of the first quarter of 2015.

As the leading regional economy, the continuous advancement of enterprises in the nation’s public and private sector was crucial for growth, he said.

He explained that IBM is helping African businesses, governments, NGOs and innovators recognize the power of big data and the unique opportunities before them to leap-frog their counterparts from more developed nations. 

In Ghana, the mobile market also continues to witness gradual progression notwithstanding the slow pace of macroeconomic growth. 

A recent study, “The Mobile Africa 2015” report, conducted by mobile surveying company GeoPoll and World Wide Worx, has shown that 51% of Ghanaians with mobile phones now use them to access the internet.

Otiti says that mobile technology has been adjudged to be the most powerful communications platform throughout the Middle East and Africa region, with the power to transform the delivery of services across all sectors of the economy, including healthcare (mHealthcare, Telemedicine), education (e-Education) and municipal services like traffic and waste management.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) notes that emerging mobile health solutions are already saving lives – an estimated million lives by 2017.

This positive trend is being driven by some of the fastest mobile subscriber growth in the world, cheaper mobile devices, and continued innovation.

“Together with IBM, African innovators and entrepreneurs along with the broader African ecosystem are ideally placed to focus on some of Africa’s (and the world’s) most important challenges and leapfrog, delivering new solutions, tools and applications to harness the power of mobile data and analytics,” Otiti said

He stated that it was important for business and technology leaders to understand that the so called ‘big data’ when harnessed from the growing proliferation of mobile phones and tablets will enable them to transform

“African societies through the creation of industry specific blueprints designed to see data patterns that help them anticipate needs and deliver improved services to become more competitive on the regional and global stage”.

Questioned on what was holding back technology adoption by organizations, Otiti stated that one key factor responsible for the slow rate of technology adoption in many African countries was cost or budgetary considerations. He however counseled that cost was not the only hindrance.

“The first barrier in the business environment is the poor information or misinformation about ICT services, solutions and products available in the market place,” he said.

“The second headache is institutional inertia and red tape. Knowledge is not really power anymore, it is the right application of knowledge that is powerful and delivers the right impact.”

“Technology can positively influence business and public administration. Business Strategy and new Public Policy formulation and administration can be relevant and eventually effective if it takes cognizance of the evolving impact of technology on Society and the new Social way that customers, companies and citizens now communicate and engage with themselves, their target audiences and members of the public.”

IBM has established the world’s deepest portfolio of big data technologies and solutions, spanning services, software, research and hardware.

Otiti said that the leading global technology company has so far committed more than $100 million in Research and Development on new Big Data technologies and garnered more than 500 analytics-related patents. 

Last year, IBM partnered with Apple to launch IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions, introducing a fresh wave of apps for the enterprise market sector. The partnership brings IBM’s unmatched industry and analytics capabilities to iOS devices. 

IBM official statements note that the partnership seeks to transform enterprise mobility, reconstructing the way businesses and employees work, and enabling new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction across a range of professions and industries, such as personnel management, retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance.


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TikTok Picks Oracle to Provide ‘Secure’ Cloud Tech



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Enterprise software giant Oracle announced that it has been chosen to become TikTok’s “secure” cloud technology provider.

According to Oracle, this technical decision by TikTok was heavily influenced by Zoom’s recent success in moving a large portion of its video-conferencing capacity to the Oracle Public Cloud.

Oracle’s announcement comes after TikTok parent ByteDance last week said it will not be selling the video-sharing app’s US operations to software giant Microsoft.

This after US president Donald Trump signed an executive order on 6 August, blocking all transactions with ByteDance in an effort to address “national emergency” issues.

On 14 August, the US president issued an order that gave ByteDance 90 days to divest the US operations of TikTok.

Since then, US companies such as Microsoft and Oracle have been lining up as potential buyers for the popular short video app.

As the trade war between the US and China rages on, the US government has accelerated its efforts to purge Chinese apps and technology companies that it deems untrustworthy.

Trump and his administration raised national security issues, alleging the Chinese-owned company will share sensitive user data with the Chinese government.

“TikTok picked Oracle’s new Generation 2 Cloud infrastructure because it’s much faster, more reliable, and more secure than the first generation technology currently offered by all the other major cloud providers,” says Oracle chief technology officer Larry Ellison.

“In the 2020 Industry CloudPath survey that IDC recently released where it surveyed 935 infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) customers on their satisfaction with the top IaaS vendors including Oracle, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google Cloud…Oracle IaaS received the highest satisfaction score.”

“As a part of this agreement, TikTok will run on the Oracle Cloud and Oracle will become a minority investor in TikTok Global,” says Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

“Oracle will quickly deploy, rapidly scale and operate TikTok systems in the Oracle Cloud. We are 100% confident in our ability to deliver a highly secure environment to TikTok and ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users, and users throughout the world.

“This greatly improved security and guaranteed privacy will enable the continued rapid growth of the TikTok user community to benefit all stakeholders.”

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Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others



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inq. Holdings Limited, artificial intelligence service provider, has acquired Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Inq. Acquires Vodacom’s Business in Nigeria, Others

It plans further acquisition in Cameroon subject to regulatory approvals.

Mr. Valentine Chime, managing director, inq. Holdings Limited, said the 100 per cent acquisition of the Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in the three countries was in pursuit of the company’s dream of building pan-African network that will help in creating better future through digital solutions.

Domiciled in Mauritius, inq. Holdings Limited is a subsidiary of Convergence Partners Communications Infrastructure Fund, a fund dedicated solely to communications infrastructure and related services and technologies across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Formerly known as Synergy Communications, the latest acquisition has grown inq.’s regional footprint with operations in 12 cities in seven countries across Africa. It has existing operations in Botswana, Malawi and South Africa with an additional investment in Mozambique.

“Under the inq. banner the company will embark on the next phase of building a unified Pan-African cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud,”Chime said.

According to him, with operations in major African cities of Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Gaborone, Lusaka, Ndola, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Abidjan and Johannesburg, the inq. team prides itself on global best practice methodologies customised to local customs in each of the 16 cities, covering different sectors including banking, oil and gas, fast moving consumer goods, mining, health, real estate, information technologies, public sector and logistics.

“Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and inq. is perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and  technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions,” Chime said.



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HP Lauds TD Africa, Says Tech Experience Centre will Unlock New Wave in Nigeria



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As Nigeria looks forward to the official launch of the Tech Experience Centre, globally renowned tech giant, Hewlett Packard Inc. (HP) has heaped praises on the management of TD Africa for spearheading the project, noting that the centre will herald a new technological wave in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by Ife Afe, managing director – Nigeria and District Manager – Central Africa (CAF).

Equally important, HP is one of the global Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) that will be represented in the Tech Experience Centre located within Yudala Heights at 13 Idowu Martins, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Consequently, Afe has expressed delight with the development, even as she disclosed that the launch of the centre will bridge the gap to complete technology adoption for millions of Nigerians.

She said: ‘‘I do believe Nigerians are early adopters of new and exciting technology. Having a dedicated space where people can view and experience cutting-edge technology across rich and diverse portfolio is an important step towards complete Adoption.

‘‘Technology is about transformation. This tech centre will serve as a bridge, taking people from the imaginative stage to the experiential stage, thereby unlocking a new technological wave.

“I am very glad that TD Africa is taking this bold step and I look forward to the great collaborations that will flow out of this initiative.’’

Furthermore, the HP Senior Management Executive reiterated the strong interest in Nigeria by the tech brand.

‘‘We are strong believers in the Nigerian project and the boundless potential inherent in the population when exposed to cutting-edge technology.

“We also value the foresight and vision of our long-time partner and co-developer – TD Africa. We are proud of this project and are confident of its success and positive impact not just in the sphere of business but also in human capital development,’’ Afe enthused.

On what to expect from HP in the Tech Experience Centre, she revealed that a lot is in store for every visitor.

‘‘HP is in the business of making life better for everyone, everywhere, hence revolutionary innovation in Health care, Security, Gaming and Printing Solutions will be showcased in the Technology Centre.  Cutting- edge, sustainable, diverse and relevant innovation in technology.

‘‘This brings technology closer to home. I believe that the ambience of the Tech Centre will cater to a wide spectrum of users: CEO’s, Government officials, entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts, students, gamers etc. It will be the crucial meeting point of people and technology.

“Our wide spectrum of products and solutions will cater to all demographics – from first time users to specialists, professionals, gamers to moviemakers, work or play,’’ she affirmed.

The revolutionary Tech Experience Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, is set for launch on Thursday, October 1st 2020, incidentally the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence Anniversary by 12noon, with the launch streamed live online for the benefit of tech enthusiasts.

Expected to officially commission the centre is the Minister of Communica99tions and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami.

The Tech Centre is widely expected to boost Nigeria’s relevance in the global technology race and shore up the country’s march to technology independence.

For the first time, Nigeria will play host to the latest global technologies including those not normally available in Africa, offering all classes of visitors a first-hand experience of new gadgets, solutions and infrastructure that would have previously required a visit abroad, thereby saving corporate organizations, government establishments and individuals money or scarce foreign exchange expended on these trips.



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