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Wednesday 29th March, 2023


eCommerce: Call To Rescue SMEs’ Data Genocide

Gains from eCommerce can write the cheque to significantly assist in reviving our dying SMEs and reduce youth employment in Nigeria.

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Many billions of data sets are entangled and suffocated in SMEs’ business value chain. This scenario is creating an enormous problem in leveraging eCommerce for economic development, provision of jobs and creation of wealth.

Post COVID-19 pandemic issues have disclosed that ‘unless we consciously promote and empower eCommerce in Nigeria, the consequences may result to the annihilation of SMEs’! Indeed, without a well-structured and resilient SME segment, there may be no viable trade and commerce platform for constructive intervention to attain our sustainable development goals.

Gains from eCommerce can write the cheque to significantly assist in reviving our dying SMEs and reduce youth employment in Nigeria.

This is possible if we can intelligently provide the framework to secure and analyse related data sets that gets missing in action by policymakers each day. The phenomenal data genocide observed in our trade-ecosystem, if rescued, can create millions of jobs; as well as value chains of wealth for the country.

It will also renew lost hope for the disillusioned youths, their families and indeed contribute positively to the GDP. This calls for a proactive National eCommerce policy and devoted strategies to energize indigenous business empires.

Unarguably, the biggest problem we face in Nigeria/Africa is leveraging evidence-based data for accelerated development and economic advancement. For want of an equitable expression, with respect to eCommerce analytics; it appears we are annihilating data required for the growth and security of life. In other words, our concern should now be focused on exploring if we are not facing eCommerce data genocide in Africa?

It is significant to note that data genocide contributes to catastrophic eCommerce poverty in Nigeria/Africa. This is against the background of the energy status in the production and development processes of the wealth creation value-chain. For example, reliable data informs that the total energy consumption required for the advancement of education, shelter, trade and security in Africa is equal to the total power generation and consumption volume in the Republic of Spain!

Therefore, this is the right time to empower mega eCommerce companies in Nigeria.

To achieve this, the smart economic approach is to urgently start trade recovery investment to rescue millions of small-scale SMEs currently on life support and dying out there. In the United States, for example, over 480,000 small-scale enterprises have gone under! SMEs represent the economic backbone of mega enterprises and sustainable mechanism for effective governance and national security-of-things.

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Reliable estimates indicate that if an eCommerce outfit such as Konga in the Zinox Group and others are empowered to create a physical market distribution presence in the 36 States; the stimulant intervention will energise the creation of 20,000 new small-scale enterprises with capabilities to create over five million jobs and related activities in the trade, commerce and logistics industries. In a span of 24 calendar months; eCommerce enabled solar energy to millions of homes will produce three million employment avenues for Nigeria.

Post-pandemic reality has now cleared the air that the world can now anticipate a 276.9% increase in worldwide eCommerce sales over the most-recently tracked period (cumulative data).  However, many business owners and investors are vigorously scratching their heads and strategizing on how to participate and scale into that magic number adding up to $4.7 trillion; where e-Commerce has a sizeable chunk in the market playbook. How can Nigeria’s e-Commerce domain benefit from the emerging market?

Today, the term going global has become almost meaningless. The irony is that all nations, business and everything in-between is dreaming of going global. Whereas this is an illusion because the world is intertwined and already gone global. The new challenge is that some geographical spheres are dreaming of rebuilding traditional trade fences – domestically!

Nevertheless, the Harvard Business Review recently informed that: “Business leaders are scrambling to adjust to a world few imagined possible just a year ago. The myth of a borderless world has come crashing down. Traditional pillars of open markets — the United States and the UK — are wobbling, and China is positioning itself as globalization’s staunchest defender.”

Currently, the majority of the world’s entrepreneurs/CEOs recognize that Big-Data holds the key to discovering and recovering the abundant wealth in Africa. But without evidence-based predictive analysis, the eCommerce benefits will perhaps remain a pipe dream. Now, how can we propel African eCommerce to the next level and at the same time limiting the risks?

Historically, Africa had been a mega trading continent. And to date, Africa remains a trading destination continent – reminding us about Mansa Musa of the old Mali Empire and the gold riches.

The recorded fame of Musa I. (c. 1280 – c. 1337), or Mansa Musa, apart from his kingship background, was entirely due to his ingenuity in trade and commerce. Little wonder he has been described as the wealthiest individual in all human history. But today the continent has been inundated with several challenges – limiting her trade development potential and innovation.

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Visibly noticed as central to Africa’s development challenges are technology and related trade and commerce infrastructure. The good news today is, the same technology phenomena infested by digital transformation is igniting Africa with the eCommerce revolution.

It is evident that this revolution is happening at the speed of thought while Africa’s data rate of response to digital commerce is better described as unacceptable snail speed that leads to nothingness. Ironically, the continent still harbours a major chunk of global wealth. The resilience to conquer those challenges lies in the capability and mastery of eCommerce delivery and services. What constitutes the beneficial substances of re-imagining the Nigerian trade and commerce model?

Numbers speak. According to WTO,Africa is undergoing a remarkable energy transformation. But African governments and their international partners must accelerate that transformation if we are to achieve our collective ambitions. Access to clean modern energy, especially in Africa, where 620 million people have no electricity, is critical to the success of global efforts to tackle poverty.’’

One critical factor stands out, and that is, digital infrastructure to promote e-Commerce and energize multi-sectoral market segments.

The telecoms infrastructure support to eCommerce logistics and service delivery remains a strategic imperative. The INFRACO initiative targeted at the telecoms section holds a great promise if the investment assurances are strategically put into action as a post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan. This is critical, especially if channelled in partnership with experienced and trustworthy development groups.

Again, a good example of such dynamic groups in Nigeria is the Zinox Group where Konga qualifies and fulfils the expectations of showcasing reasonable equity to eliminate financing gaps. This can be achieved by concentrating such investment into digital innovation solutions. In the long term, as demonstrated by InfraCo Africa, Infraco model investment championed by proactive Government financing reduces identifiable risks and costs of implementation. Not only that, it goes a long way to ensure project reliability and standards that fulfils the expectations of sustainable development Goals (SDGs).

Looking at 2050, what will become of our post-COVID-19 economic outlook, without a dynamic and health eCommerce ecosystem? A very lucid question indeed! Will the digital evolution validate the known adage that; “when the poor have nothing more to eat, they will consume the rich?” This is the time to act. We must not allow the looming digital tsunami to consume our trade and commerce missions. There will be great consequences if that is allowed to happen. We must avoid travelling back in time from the digital divide to the invisible traps of emerging digital poverty!

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Let there be action. The nation is at war with the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccines are knocking at the door. Now, the central concern is how to empower the youth to engage and own the emerging digital knowledge ecosystem. This can be done by instituting a special national cluster for Nigeria’s Digital Transformation Innovation Readiness for Nigeria.

The first line of action is creating and reconstructing a digital transformation movement mindset and political will to defeat consumerism, corruption and enthrone bold philosophies of prioritizing merit for advancement in science and technology-enabled manufacturing. Nigeria must lead this complex mission in the combat of global digital knowledge acquisition to drive trade and commerce and succeed.

eCommerce has the magic to facilitate the sustainable development of Africa’s youth employment and digital wealth creation. This agenda includes re-imagining national economic development and corporate governance pathways; while fast-tracking government mandatory responsibilities through proactive intervention strategies. It also includes the conscious responsibility to analyse our environment, communication and digital divide challenges in Africa and prepare for the world of AI, which includes raising a future digital army for national and continental security.

Refocusing our development from figurative oil-based data to digital commerce transformation information system is the panacea for migrating the nation from an economy that generates an internal revenue of $9 billion as against $39billion import to register $trillion trade export numbers as a meticulous enterprise out of Africa.

Moving forward, there should be no further excuses for Africa with its large population and market to continue failing digital exams repetitively; sitting in the same class of knowledge advancement! The new and profound dream must commence now. Our entrepreneurial-mind treasure is capable and must advance our success agenda from the euphoria of self-celebration to being celebrated by the world.



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MTN’s Funso Aina Wins SABRE IN2 ‘Innovator Of The Year’ Award



From L-R: Founder and Chair, PRovoke Media, Paul Holmes, presenting the 2023 SABRE Award for African Innovator of the Year (Brand) to Senior Manager, External Relations, MTN Nigeria, Funso Aina at the PRovoke EMEA Summit at Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten, in Frankfurt, Germany on March 23, 2023.

Funso Aina, MTN Nigeria’s Senior Manager, External Relations, and one of Africa’s most decorated media and public relations professionals, has been announced ‘Innovator of the Year’ in the brands’ category at the highly respected SABRE IN2 awards.  

Awarded since 2013, the SABRE IN2 awards recognise excellent work that highlights the expanding scope of the PR profession, from content creation to the evaluation process using data and analytics to inform, enhance and evaluate campaign successes across the globe.

Aina’s recognition was announced by Provoke Media on February 15, 2023.

The award was presented at the PRovoke EMEA Summit in Gesellschaftshaus Palmengarten Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

CEO & Editor-in-chief, PRovoke Media, Arun Sudhaman said, “The media and communications industry is in the age of convergence, with every discipline demonstrating decent impressions to be most valuable to organisations and agencies.

The innovation SABRE awards recognise groundbreaking campaigns- having factual data analysis and implemented with the use of technology for evaluation by industry leaders. The award category spotlights professionals in agencies and brands that empower and enable reputation excellence within their organisations.”

This innovation award is a testament to Funso’s trailblazing efforts in media relations, through MTN Nigeria’s Media Innovation Programme (MIP): a six-month certificate programme for Nigerian media practitioners to increase the knowledge and skill base of the participants, help them understand the changing media landscape and how to effectively use technology to create impactful media content in the country and Africa at large.

During the study, 20 media practitioners from various media sectors engaged in capacity-building sessions to stir up their innovations and improve ways of practice to create sustainability in the industry.

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This was apparent in their study trip to the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, where the participants engaged in interactive sessions on creativity and innovation, explored opportunities in the media business and brainstormed on solutions to some of the challenges to successfully running media businesses in Africa.

Funso, a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), and a corporate communication professional with over two decades of experience emerged top across Europe, the Middle East and the African region (EMEA). He was named ‘Most Influential Public relations professional in Nigeria’ by the industry regulator, NIPR in 2022.

Aina says: “I am grateful for the recognition from SABRE and its dedication to acknowledging exceptional content produced by modern PR professionals. This award is inspiring for all of us at MTN; it emboldens our commitment to improving the media landscape and implementing our ‘Good Together’ initiative. I am convinced we still have feats to achieve in the industry, and with strategic thinking, we will cover even more grounds.”

Funso Aina has close to three decades of work experience in journalism, cultural diplomacy and telecommunications. He has various competencies and hands-on experience in public relations, corporate communications, media relations, public affairs and reputation and crisis management. He is a Fellow of the prestigious US State Department’s International Visitors Programme (IVP) and the British Commonwealth Press Union (CPU).

Before joining MTN Nigeria in 2009, he was Communications Manager of the British Council, Chief Correspondent at Punch newspapers, Assistant Editor with The Nation newspapers and Senior Reporter with Independent Communications Network Limited (ICNL), publishers of The News, Tempo magazines and PM newspapers.

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He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History (University of Ilorin, 1992) and a Master’s degree in International Relations (Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, 1998).



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ICSFS Receives Information Security Management System ISO/IEC 27001 Certification



ICS Financial Systems Ltd, (ICSFS), the global software and services provider for banks and financial institutions, was awarded the Information Security Management System (ISMS) ISO/IEC 27001 Standard Certification for the Data Centre, IT Department, and ICS BANKS Banking Software Solution Services in February of 2023, recognizing the company’s adherence to the highest standards of information security.

ISO/IEC 27001 is the world’s best known Internationally respected independent information security management standard, focused on providing highly effective and integrated frameworks for the standardization of information security protocols and setting systematic, rigorous, and improved information security policies.

Digital Times Nigeria understands that the Compliance audit covered several areas including data centre security, information security policies, procedures, and controls, as well as Information Security Management Standards, subjecting the protocols and processes carried out by the Data Centre, IT departments, and ICS BANKS integrated solutions and digital platform services to thorough examination and refinement, placing best practice procedures, as well as enhancing the resilience and responsiveness of potential security events.

Ghassan Sarsak, CIO, ICS Financial Systems Ltd said, “Achieving ISO/IEC 27001 demonstrates ICSFS’s commitment to building and delivering secure products and solutions by adopting internationally recognized security standards and best practices throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to address risk and meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

“The phenomenon of the current global digitalization of most banks’ financial services and the collaboration with emerging fintech players make it essential to adopt the best security standards and to constantly maintain vigilant security monitoring to detect and respond to security events.

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“Becoming ISO/IEC 27001 certified is a significant step forward in our capacity to continuously assess the cybersecurity challenges for banks and financial institutions and how vital compliance is to our clients and their businesses.”

Wael Malkawi, Executive Director, ICS Financial Systems Ltd stated: “As a prominent provider of Banking, Financial, and digital platform solutions; cybersecurity is the bedrock of our credibility and solid reputation. The achievement of the ISO/IEC 27001 certification represents a significant milestone for ICSFS and reinforces the company’s commitment to delivering world-class banking software solutions.

“This certification is a testament to our continued commitment to providing secure and reliable banking software solutions for our clients, giving them the confidence to focus on their core business operations, particularly in this disruptive digital era.”

Dr. Samir Abu Tahoun, Co-Founder & CEO of Security Management Technology Group (SMT) noted: “We would like to congratulate ICSFS for successfully completing all the standard requirements and obtaining the ISO 27001 certification for their Information Security Management System (ISMS).

“SMT Group team is grateful to be a part of the successful implementation of the ISO 27001 certification, this couldn’t be accomplished without the cooperation of all ICSFS team members and their management support.

“Businesses nowadays are under intense pressure to adequately protect the information entrusted to them in light of recent Cybersecurity incidents. The ISO 27001 certification confirms that a company has met the international standard for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and constantly improving ISMS.

“Delivering the highest standard of service to our clients is an integral part of our ethos and business operations. This certification is a testament to our commitment to this, and most importantly, to our colleagues and clients.

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“Once again, we would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the effort given through this project, it was our pleasure working with your esteemed company, and we look forward to more successful collaboration.”

ICSFS invests in its software suites by utilising modern technology in launching new digital products, constructing a secured and agile integration, and keeping pace with new standards and regulations worldwide.

ICS BANKS software suite future-proofs banking activities by providing a broad range of features and capabilities with more agility and flexibility, to enrich customers’ journey experience, hence improving the trust and confidentiality between the customer and the bank.

The software has always been a pioneer in utilising the latest technology to serve financial institutions. In addition to its embedded Service-Oriented-Architecture (SOA), the system can be deployed on-premises, hybrid, or cloud.


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Hyperspace Technologies Unveils Keymaster VAULT

Keymaster VAULT is a Low-Cost, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology-Based Hardware Wallet for the African Market

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Chidera Anyanebechi, General Manager, Hyperspace Technologies

Hyperspace Technologies, a Lagos-based Web3 startup specializing in next-level smart security infrastructure and key management systems, Monday announced the launch of its groundbreaking product, the Keymaster VAULT.

Designed to cater to the African market, Keymaster VAULT is a secure, NFC-based hardware wallet that stores private keys offline, offering an affordable and user-friendly alternative to expensive and complicated traditional hardware wallets.

Leveraging the simplicity of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, the Keymaster VAULT allows users to securely access their digital assets by merely tapping their NFC-enabled devices.

Digital Times Nigeria understands that this eliminates complex installation processes, making the wallet an ideal choice for both cryptocurrency novices and experienced users.

With offline storage of private keys, the wallet significantly reduces the risk of hacks and malware attacks associated with online storage.

Chidera Anyanebechi, General Manager of Hyperspace Technologies said, “We wanted to create a wallet that combines the highest level of security with ease of use, making cryptocurrency storage accessible to a broader audience in Africa.”

“The Keymaster VAULT not only provides an affordable solution but also offers enterprise clients the ability to leverage blockchain-based identity and access management, which we believe will be a game-changer in the industry,” Anyanebechi explained.

The Keymaster VAULT’s advanced encryption technology ensures the utmost security for users’ digital assets.

Its compact design and portability make it a convenient choice for individuals and businesses looking to store their digital assets securely without breaking the bank or dealing with complicated setups.

“The African market has long been underserved when it comes to secure and affordable hardware wallet solutions,” added Anyanebechi.

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“We are excited to bring the Keymaster VAULT to our customers and empower them with a hardware wallet that not only protects their digital assets but also opens doors for innovative applications in blockchain-based identity and access management.”

The Keymaster VAULT is now available for purchase here, giving cryptocurrency enthusiasts and enterprise clients across Africa a secure, affordable, and user-friendly hardware wallet solution.

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