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Thursday 2nd December, 2021

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#AfriTECH2021: ICT Stakeholders Seek Urgent Steps To Drive Inclusive Digital Economy

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L-R: Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, president, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON); Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC and Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs at NCC, during AfriTECH2021 in Lagos recently

Stakeholders in the ICT industry comprising of C-Suite executives, founders, presidents of companies/organisations, presidents of industry associations, startups/entrepreneurs and government officials, etc., have unanimously agreed that accelerating innovation remains the best path to drive inclusive growth.

The Stakeholders who stressed this at the 2021 Africa Tech Alliance Forum (AfriTECH2021) held in Lagos on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, also highlighted that building infrastructure to extend internet access in underserved areas will drive digital transformation across the board.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, focusing his presentation on “NCC as a Digital Transformation Crusader and Nigeria,’s in-Road to 5G Deployment,” stated that, following the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a change in the dynamics of people’s interaction, especially on the Internet.

Represented by Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration at the NCC, Danbatta said that almost every means of communication has become virtual in one way or the other.

“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion,” Danbatta said at #AfriTECH2021.

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval,” he said.

Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said that with the advent of new technologies occasioned by the fourth industrial revolution, it has become imperative to increase Africa’s level of preparedness and develop the capacity of the youth.

L-R: Dr. Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director, Rack Centre; Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju, Director, Spectrum Administration at NCC and Femi Williams, MD/CEO, NewWave Ecosystem Ltd., during AfriTECh2021 in Lagos

Abdullahi who was represented by Dr. Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director IT Infrastructure Solutions at NITDA, spoke on ‘Reskilling Africa’s Youth for Future Jobs from NITDA’s perspective’ adding that the fourth industrial revolution will continue to fundamentally alter the way human beings live, work, and relate to one another.

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“We need to look at the educational sector and focus more on skills and research that can be used to develop the economy. People should not see education as the end but means to the end. We need to look for ways to disabuse people’s mind on paper qualification and inculcate in them those skills required for the imminent industrial revolution and also focus more on science and technology,” Inuwa said.

In her keynote address anchored on the Forum’s theme: ‘Embracing Change and Digital Transformation in the New Normal,’ Olatomiwa Williams, the Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, said that COVID-19 has happened with different experiences, but there are a lot of opportunities for the Continent.

She said leveraging technology to ensure that the continent is actually accelerating the digital economy potentials cannot be over-emphasised

“Looking at the impact of COVID-19 and how it has accelerated digital transformation and based on research and engagements globally, two years of digital transformation was achieved within two months.

“What does that tell us? It tells us that because we were able to embrace the change that COVID brought, we were able to make those changes happen. These changes continue to accelerate. So, it means that an organization can no longer do business as usual. Everyone needs to embrace digital transformation at a fast reach,” the Microsoft Country Manager said.

Zoho Corporation also hosted a workshop during AfriTECH2021.

Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager at Zoho Africa, said that for organisations large and small, the year 2020 was the longest year ever however, the quick lesson is the urgent need to reorient the workforce to a new way of working.

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“It came swiftly with playbooks being written and rewritten depending on what leaders were learning from government authorities, medical professionals, and from their own employees,” he said.

With a reference to Forbes’ report, he said: “Millennials currently hold the largest purchasing power, but Gen-Z is close behind. The group, which was born between 1996 and 2010, already holds $44 billion buying power ($600 billion when considering their influence on their parents’ spending) and will hit the workforce and become powerful consumers in the next few years.

“In the next year, they will account for 40% of all U.S consumers. To succeed, companies need to know how to tailor a great consumer experience for Gen-Z”.

Bourne also demonstrated how to drive customer loyalty through a CRM system. Through this means new customers get introduced to the company through ‘promoting’ customers which could be triggered by word of mouth, social media recommendations or customer testimonials.

In his part, Prof. Muhammed Abukakar, the Managing Director and CEO, Galaxy Backbone Limited, had expressed the company’s preparedness to provide ICT infrastructure and services to public institutions and the underserved communities in Nigeria.

Abukakar who spoke on ‘Boosting Cloud Infrastructure for Digital Economy through Partnerships’ via a representative, Mr. Timi Fadeyi, head, DataCentre at Galaxy Backbone, said  “We need to work smarter, faster and simpler – a combination of a hybrid mode of working and harnessing relationships; virtual, physical, both.

“Artificial Intelligence is reshaping value chains, industries, communities, countries and the works entirely. You also need to secure your data; secure your entire digital experience, a combination of technology and you.

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Other key industry stakeholders participated at the one-day Forum, which also featured an exhibition by some sector players such as Zoho Corporation, Medallion Communications, Layer3 and Notion Technology Limited (representatives of American #1 Technology company – Comway – and Hsv Products)

The AfriTECH2021 had Zoho as the lead sponsors and received support from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Galaxy Backbone Limited, as partners, also sponsored by Rack Centre, Digital Encode, Cloudflex Computing Services Limited, Zinochrome International, Layer3, Notion Technology Limited and Medallion Communications.

Mr. Peter Oluka, Editor of TechEconomy.ng and the convener of AfriTECH said that Africa must play a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution by embracing emerging technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things; Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality which is also playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.

He said that the recent events around COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrated why the government and the private sector must embrace digital transformation.

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Vbank Sponsors Women In Tech Global, Upskills 1,000 Women, Girls In STEM

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In alignment with its CSR objectives, Vbank, Nigeria’s foremost digital bank has announced its intention to support the core mission of Women In Tech Global, Nigeria chapter to close the gender gap and help women embrace technology in the country through its WIT Nigeria Makeathon.

The WIT Nigeria Makeathon, the inaugural program of Women in Tech Global, Nigeria chapter was launched on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, and aims to empower 1000 girls and women spread across rural and urban settlements across Nigeria over a period of three months by upskilling them with varying degrees of digital, deep tech, and soft skills such as Product Design, Product Management, Software development, Data Science and Digital Marketing required within the technology ecosystem.

Commenting on the partnership, Managing Director, VFD MFB, Gbenga Omolokun, said: “Our involvement with Women In Tech Global, Nigeria chapter is based on an alignment of our objectives and bridging the gap of women currently working in the Technology space.

“Technology is the future, and there needs to be a deliberate and concerted effort to ensure women are provided with access to the requisite skills to thrive in this future”.

Omolokun added: “In 2020, the tech sector only had an estimated 28.8% of women employed. This disproportion can be attributed to several factors, chief amongst them being an overwhelming absence of skilled women and girls in this sector.

To this end, Vbank has decided to take the lead in ensuring the tech sector in Nigeria adequately accommodates skilled women who will pursue and succeed in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career.

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It’s not easy, however, balancing the short and long term is key to delivering sustainable, profitable growth that is good for our shareholders, users, and the entire sector. We believe our commitment here will be instrumental in the growth and development of the sector.”

“As an innovative brand, increasing the participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a business imperative. Vbank is invested in creating and fostering a STEM workforce that includes women and builds on the major contributions that women have made to the sector.

“By encouraging future talent – and supporting the immense talent we already employ – we can ensure that future generations of all backgrounds are empowered to lead.”

Launched on March 25, 2020, VBank is a next-generation bank powered by VFD Microfinance Bank. The digital bank has onboarded over 500,000 individuals and businesses and processed transactions worth billions on its mobile banking platform across Nigeria. VBank can be accessed on all iOS and Android devices.

 

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Zinox Bags NCS 2021 Technology Company Of The Year Award

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Zinox Technologies Ltd, a leading integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) giant has been crowned the pioneer 2021 Technology Company of the Year by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

NCS is the umbrella organisation of all Information Technology professionals, interest groups and stakeholders in Nigeria.

Zinox was accorded the award at the National Information Technology Merit Awards (NITMA) held at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos on Thursday, November 18, 2021.

The well-organised event had the crème of personalities in the Nigerian tech sector in attendance, including the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat who represented the Lagos State Governor at the event.

The Deputy Governor was also honoured with the Fellowship of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS).

Notably, the Technology Company of the Year award marks another addition to a long list of local and international honours and recognitions received by Zinox in its two decades of exceptional leadership and disruptive dominance in the ICT ecosystem in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Interestingly, the latest award comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the company.

Zinox turned 20 on October 10, 2021.

On hand to pick up the award was Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, who was physically present at the event.

Speaking at the well-attended event, NCS President, Prof. Adesina Simon Sodiya, hailed Zinox as a force to be reckoned with in the global ICT space, even as he described the company as a leader in the Nigerian tech space and a fitting winner of the pioneer Technology Company of the Year at the NITMA awards.

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Furthermore, the University don, who doubles as the Head, Information Security and Intelligent Computing Group, Department of Computer Science, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State noted that the landmark strides recorded by Zinox in the technology space since inception has served to inspire many other entrepreneurs.

In his acceptance speech while receiving the award, Ekeh, Chairman, Zinox Group, commended the organisers of the event for a well-orchestrated event.

Additionally, he expressed gratitude to the NCS, which he described as his professional constituency and the planning committee of the NITMA awards for nominating Zinox for the much-coveted Technology Company of the Year award.

Also, Ekeh thanked the members of the NCS for voting for the company and considering it a worthy winner of the award.

“On behalf of the Zinox Group, I am grateful to the members of the NCS and the organisers of the NITMA awards for this award.

“This recognition is another prestigious one which will serve to further energize the management of the company in its task of putting Nigeria on the global technology map,’’ he stated.

The event also witnessed the award of professional and honorary fellowship conferment on a few deserving awardees, as well as the launch of the NCS Innovation and Development Fund.

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Akwa Ibom Adopts ICT Tools To Stimulate Entrepreneurial Drive

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Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

The Akwa Ibom State government has said that it has begun the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools to stimulate entrepreneurial drive.

Udom Emmanuel, the governor of the state, said this in his remarks during a three-day 4th National Treasury workshop, organised by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation in Uyo on Tuesday.

Represented by his deputy, Mr Moses Ekpo, the governor said that the action was aimed at making the people, especially the youths, to be less dependent on the government.

He said ICTs would also stimulate the youth to rather tap into their creative energies in line with the Dakkada Philosophy of government to create jobs that would add value to their lives.

The governor said that the state government had set up a Post COVID-19 Economic Advisory Committee made up of professionals to advise the government on the way forward, adding that the committee is chaired by a World Bank Consultant and renowned economist, Prof. Akpan Ekpo.

“Today, even though we still have work to do, our youths have positive expressions in the use of their hands and creative abilities to create a sustainable living for themselves, using technology as a means of engagement.

“I am very hopeful that this workshop will also come up with ideas and approaches to stimulate and grow our economy in the new world thrust upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Emmanuel said.

He stated that the desire by the office of the Accountant-General of the federation to come up with the workshop as part of the global financial architecture in repositioning the nation’s economy in the Post COVID-19 era was highly imperative.

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Earlier in his welcome address, the Accountant-General of the federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, said that in spite of the pains inflicted on the treasury by the COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop had finally come with a view to letting government proffer ways of overcoming the challenges and come out strong as a nation.

Idris said that the theme of the workshop, “COVID-19 and the Global Economy: Implications on the Nigerian National Treasury” came with the objective of brainstorming on how to effectively manage national economies in the face of pandemics and other global disasters.

He said that the workshop would among other issues help the government to provide adequate financial leverage for the government to enable it to manage any pandemic situation.

Idris added that the workshop would further enlighten financial managers in government on how to control aggregate cash flows within fiscal, monetary, and legal limits that would result in the improvement in the management of critical government borrowings and deploying the same to infrastructure.

Participants at the workshop were drawn from the Ministry of Finance across the 36 states of the federation.

The accountant-general of the federation commended the Akwa Ibom State Government for support and hospitality to ensure the success of the workshop.

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