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Wednesday 7th December, 2022


Just In: FG Orders Withdrawal Of Charges Against Zinox Boss, Wife, Others

-Insists on full prosecution of alleged blackmailer, Benjamin Joseph

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Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, left and Mr. Benjamin Joseph, right

The Federal Government of Nigeria has ordered the withdrawal of the charges purportedly filed by Femi Falana (SAN) against the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, his wife and a few others based on false information over an alleged N170m contract fraud with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The charges have seen Mr. Benjamin Joseph, owner of Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited, an Ibadan-based ICT retail firm, standing trial for falsely petitioning the Federal Government, alleging that Ekeh and others colluded in defrauding it and his company in executing the contract.

The latest directive was issued via the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and communicated in a letter dated October 28, 2022, from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of the Federation, to the law firm of Falana and Falana.

Part of the letter reads: “I am directed to write in reference to the above caption and to inform you that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the exercise of the power conferred upon him by section 174(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, has withdrawn the authorization earlier granted to you dated 10th May 2022 to prosecute the case mentioned below. You are, accordingly, requested to withdraw Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022 in the interest of justice.”

The letter was signed by M. B. Abubakar, Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation on behalf of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.    

Consequently, by this letter, the Charge No: FCT/HC/CR/469/2022, purportedly filed by Falana & Falana against Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh, Chioma Ekeh, Chris Eze Ozims, Shade Oyebode, Charles Adigwe, and others, is no longer tenable and now baseless.

Digital TimesNG understands that a copy of this letter, which was issued by the FG after a review of the facts of the matter, has been communicated to the chambers of Mathew Burkaa SAN, legal counsel for Mr. Ekeh and others, under cover of a letter dated Monday 31st October 2022 from the Office of the DPP of the Federation on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation, reconfirming the withdrawal of the authorization earlier given to Falana & Falana and directing them to discontinue the said Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022.

This, therefore, lays to rest the allegations bandied about by Mr. Benjamin Joseph of Citadel Oracle Concept Limited, that Mr. Ekeh and the other persons mentioned in the various publications are to be arraigned in court on 8th November 2022.

Rather, it is on this date that the firm of Falana & Falana is supposed to appear in court and formally withdraw the said Charge no. FCT/HC/CR/469/2022, following the clear directives of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation.

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Conversely, the Honourable AGF, through the Office of the DPP, in a letter dated June 6, 2022, had directed the Inspector General of Police to prosecute Benjamin Joseph to a logical conclusion.

The directive came a couple of weeks after the Attorney General discovered that material information was withheld in the application by Falana & Falana for the authorization earlier granted to prosecute Ekeh and others.

Crucially, Mr. Falana SAN, who had only recently started representing Benjamin Joseph, failed to disclose to the AGF that the FCT High Court presided by Honourable Justice Damlami Senchi had in February 2021 delivered a judgment in Charge No. FCT/HC/CR/244/2018, dismissed as false and malicious the various allegations put forward by Mr. Benjamin Joseph and awarded the sum of N20m against him as damages for false petitioning and to serve as a deterrence to others who may engage in false information to the investigation agencies.

The respected SAN also failed to disclose that his client has refused to be cross-examined since 2018 in an ongoing criminal case (Charge No. CR/216/2016) instituted against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Office of the IGP based on false information on the same allegations.

Also, it was not disclosed to the Honourable AGF that the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters had by a comprehensive final report dated 1st December 2020, after a thorough review of the facts of the case, absolved Mr. Ekeh and all the aforementioned persons of any criminal liability in the entire transaction leading to this case, but rather recommended the continuation of the trial of Mr. Benjamin Joseph which began since 2016.

Consequently, he is due to appear in court on Thursday, November 3, 2022, as directed by the Office of the AGF.

Despite these deliberate omissions by his legal counsel, Mr. Benjamin Joseph had embarked on a media trial, publishing a series of sponsored fake news against Mr. Ekeh, with the intent to blackmail him as confirmed by his former partner, Princess Kama.

Kama, who was responsible for helping Joseph win the bid for the FIRS contract, had recently come out to state that Joseph was an ingrate who had attempted to divert the entire funds for the contract without paying for the laptops supplied to them on credit, despite being the beneficiary of an interest-free credit facility from Technology Distributions Ltd. without which it would have been unable to execute the contract.

According to her, Joseph failed in convincing her to go along with his dastardly plans; he had attempted to take all the profits from the deal against their pre-agreed sharing percentage – a move she also resisted.

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‘‘This infuriated him, and he demanded to take all the profits from the contract which I also resisted because we had a pre-agreed sharing percentage. Chief Afe Babalola, who represented him at the time, tried to intervene by asking me to concede a larger portion of the profit to him but Benjamin was greedy and wanted all.

“It was at this point that he turned around to claim that he was not aware of the contract, that his company was fraudulently used to execute the contract with a fake Board resolution, and that no single laptop was supplied. Why didn’t he report to the Police earlier if indeed a fraud was perpetrated on his company?Kama had revealed.

This latest development and intervention by the Federal Government further vindicates the unflinching position of the management of Zinox that its Chairman, Ekeh, wife and others were not in any way guilty of any wrongdoing by extending credit facility to Citadel in the long-drawn case which has spanned nearly 10 years.

Zinox had insisted that it would not succumb to any attempts at blackmail and that it would not negotiate with any would-be blackmailers, even as it had consistently expressed faith that the course of justice would eventually be served in the matter.

The ongoing saga relates to a 2012 credit sale of HP Laptops to Citadel Oracle Concepts Limited on an interest-free credit facility when they could not fund the contract awarded to them by FIRS to supply laptops, along with twelve other companies.

Two directors of Technology Distributions, Barr. Chris Eze Ozims and Folashade Oyebode had been appointed signatories to a bank account opened by Citadel for the disbursement of the funds for the contract, solely as security/guarantee for the laptops supplied on credit and in view of previous bad experiences from other creditors of TD.

After the FIRS paid all suppliers who were funded by Technology Distribution (TD), the other companies paid TD the pre-agreed invoice value.

But Mr. Benjamin Joseph, the MD of Citadel, tried to divert TD’s fund but his partner Princess Kama resisted that move. After TD was paid, a dispute arose between Benjamin Joseph and his partner, Princess Kama, on profit sharing. At a point, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN who was Counsel to Benjamin Joseph, tried to intervene and cause an amicable settlement of the profit-sharing dispute. But Benjamin Joseph wanted the entire money without paying TD.

It was at this point that he changed the story and contended that he was not aware of the contract and that his company was used to defraud FIRS.

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However, during the investigation by Nigerian Police and EFCC, the FIRS provided proof that Benjamin Joseph was indeed aware of the contract and that all the ordered computers were fully supplied and received by the FIRS.

In addition, Mr. Benjamin Joseph again reported the matter to the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police Force, Milverton Road, Ikoyi. The SFU conducted investigations and indicted him on the basis that a forensic analysis report showed that he signed the board resolution which he alleged was forged.

He, thereafter, lodged another petition to the Police Headquarters, Abuja, and after a thorough investigation, it was found again that his allegations were false. It was on the basis of that finding that he was charged to court in 2016 in Charge No: CR/216/2016 (IGP vs. Benjamin Joseph) for giving false information.

That Charge is presently pending before Honourable Justice Peter Kekemeke of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja.

The Police (Prosecution) have closed their case since 2018 and Mr. Benjamin Joseph has been called upon by the Court to open his defence. Instead of proceeding with the said defense to a conclusion, he has devised different tactics in his bid to sway the AGF to discontinue the criminal charge preferred against him.

Interestingly, the law firm of Falana & Falana who filed the present charge had earlier in 2018 applied to the AGF by a letter dated November 1, 2018, for a fiat to prosecute Ekeh and the others mentioned in the articles.

In order to convince the office of the AGF, Mr. Joseph was said to have submitted some spurious reports said to have been issued in 2015 and in 2020 by the Nigerian Police, which his solicitors again used to apply for another fiat.

However, the Nigerian Police Headquarters Abuja, by a comprehensive report dated December 1, 2020, discredited and disclaimed all those reports relied upon by Mr. Benjamin Joseph, which was used to convince the AGF to grant a fiat in May 2022.

On this basis and upon a critical review of all documents relating to the case, the office of the AGF saw through the falsehood and issued a new letter to the Police dated June 6, 2022, directing the Police to continue the prosecution of Benjamin Joseph and bring the criminal charge against him to a logical conclusion.

This letter was brought to the attention of the court by counsel to the Nigerian Police through their letter dated September 26, 2022.



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Opeke Tasks Nigerian Businesses On Need To Interconnect Locally

• As Nigerian survey data shows that 34% of IT decision-makers in Nigeria are planning to move to a new region and 33% to a new country
• 58% of IT decision-makers in Nigeria view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business
• Equinix completed the acquisition of Nigeria’s MainOne earlier this year

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Funke Opeke, Managing Director, MainOne, an Equinix Company

Managing Director of MainOne, Ms. Funke Opeke, has said that the acceleration in digital transformation in Nigeria, has reinforced the need for businesses to have access to single points to interconnect locally.

Opeke was reacting to a report by Equinix, the parent company of MainOne titled ‘Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey,’ in which 100 business leaders in Nigeria were interviewed about the opportunities and challenges their organisations are facing as well as their plans for the future.

According to Opeke, “Increased speed of connectivity, increased flexibility of connectivity, and reduced cost of connectivity were identified by IT decision-makers in Nigeria as the most beneficial aspects of interconnection.

MainOne provides a rich interconnection ecosystem that allows customers to connect to each other’s multiple telecoms networks, and Cloud, Payment, and Content Providers in a single location.”

The Equinix survey report highlights that there are huge opportunities for Nigeria’s businesses to successfully expand into new markets and reach new customers.

According to the survey carried out in Nigeria, 54% of respondents are planning on expanding in an existing country in the next 12 months, 34% into a new region and 33% into a new country. It added that 93% of IT leaders in Nigeria said enhancing customer experience is a priority.

The report, however, showed that a number of potentially limiting factors were identified by businesses when it came to global growth including concerns and challenges in the supply chain, cyber security, and staff retention and recruitment.

On Supply Chain Challenges, the survey pointed out that 55% said their business was plagued by global supply chain issues and shortages, while 50% specified the global microchip shortage as a threat to their business.

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Disclosing its findings on Cyber Security, the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey reported that while significant concerns around cybersecurity in Nigeria still remain, ensuring expansions are supported by resilient digital models is business-critical, particularly at a time of increasing volatility and emerging global threats.

As a result, as part of their digital-first strategies, 85% of respondents in Nigeria confirmed a key priority is improving cybersecurity. 88% said complying with local market data regulations is critical, while 85% highlighted the need to future-proof their businesses.

“According to IT specialists in Nigeria, the most feared threats were cyberattacks (73%), security breaches and data leaks (68%),” the survey further highlighted.

On Staff retention and recruitment, the report showed that despite having one of the youngest populations and workforces in the world, 58% of IT decision-makers in Nigeria view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business.

Furthermore, the survey showed that among the most common concerns for businesses in Nigeria are candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (56%), pay and compensation (49%), changing expectations around ways of working (41%), and the retention of current talent (38%).

“Additionally, in Nigeria, the most in-demand tech employees are those with skills in areas such as AI/machine learning, data analysis, cloud computing specialists, data protection, security software development, IT technicians and security analysis,” the survey highlighted.

On tools to deploy to help grow their businesses, the survey reports that 77% of IT leaders in Nigeria said they plan to move more business functions to the cloud including business-critical applications and security functions.

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“Hybrid cloud models were the preferred approach for 36% of respondents in Nigeria, although 18% still rely on a single cloud provider and 2% not using the cloud at all.

“40% in Nigeria said they plan to facilitate global expansion plans by deploying virtually via the cloud, with over a quarter (26%) – 21% among IT decision-makers in Nigeria, doing so using a bare metal solution,” according to the survey.

Meanwhile, whereas 47% globally (46% in Nigeria) said they expect increased spending on carrier-neutral colocation solutions to facilitate the planned rise in digital deployments, more (59% at the global level, 70% in Nigeria) said they intend to increase investment in interconnection services as they plan to progress digital transformation and build resilience.

On COVID impact, the survey showed that the pandemic continues to accelerate digital evolution thereby having a significant impact on businesses’ digital strategies.

The report showed that more than half of IT leaders in Nigeria (64%) say they are accelerating their company’s digital evolution because of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Indeed, over half (64%) confirm their IT budgets have increased as a direct outcome of its legacy—an insight into the now broadly acknowledged necessity for robust digital infrastructure to pivot to evolving business needs in an instant.

“Furthermore, almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe the technology changes and investments implemented during the pandemic are here to stay,” the survey further revealed.

DigitalTimesNG recalls that earlier this year Equinix, Inc., the world’s digital infrastructure company, expanded into Africa through a US$320m acquisition of MainOne, a leading West African data centre and connectivity solutions provider, with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

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Ekeh, Zinox Boss To Mentor 12 Lucky Konga Shoppers

-In all-expenses paid Knowledge Weekend powered by Konga Kares

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Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman, Zinox Group

As part of efforts to empower budding entrepreneurs with the right business success tips and strategies to create new wealth in the 21st Century, 12 lucky shoppers on Konga will be hosted to an all-expenses paid weekend mentorship programme with Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh.

The free mentorship programme is an initiative of Konga Kares, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of the Konga Group.

To qualify for selection, shoppers are expected to have made purchases on the Konga platform – between December 1st, 2022 through January 31st, 2023, with the names of winners to be announced every Monday starting from January 2nd, 2023 and the final list of winners to be published on the Konga website and on other major news media channels on February 6th, 2023.

Also, details released by Konga Kares indicate that beneficiaries will be selected randomly, although shoppers who have a higher frequency or volume of purchases on Konga stand a better chance of being selected for the much-anticipated mentorship programme.

Two shoppers will be selected from each of Nigeria’s six geo-political zones to ensure equitable distribution of participants, while also assuring that no region is left out from the high-impact sessions.

Lucky beneficiaries will enjoy an all-expense paid weekend retreat with Mr. Ekeh, a Forbes Best of Africa Leading Tech Icon.

The major theme of the programme will be – The New Mega Wealth. In addition to an opportunity to spend time engaging Mr. Ekeh on his entrepreneurial journey, the 12 selected shoppers will also be exposed to healthy living tips, a finishing school, gym/aerobic sessions, deeper insights on the pitfalls confronting contemporary businesses, the new avenues to create sustainable wealth, how to navigate the prevailing tough business climate, as well as direct, one-on-one feedback sessions with Mr. Ekeh.

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Konga Kares recently signed a five-year partnership with Mr. Ekeh to run the mentorship programme every November to January, with higher incentives for selected participants each year.

Meanwhile, selected shoppers also stand a chance to receive a gift at the end of the mentorship programme, courtesy of the Zinox boss.

“Wealth is a right in the 21st Century. There is no reason to be poor if you have the right mentality and willing to work smart and upgrade your knowledge. Through this programme, we intend to support and raise more confident, certified billionaires that will create future wealth,” revealed Mr. Ekeh.

“I will be engaging a total of 12 selected shoppers, two from each geo-political zone. If you are selected and above the age of 60, you can nominate another person.

“Each shopper selected shall go home with a powerful gift. So, I advise interested participants to start shopping. The more you shop, the better your chances of being selected,” he concluded.

Participants for the all-expenses-paid weekend mentorship programme will be selected based on orders placed on Konga between Thursday, December 1st, 2022, and Tuesday, January 31st, 2023.

Leo Stan Ekeh, Africa’s leading serial digital entrepreneur is the founder and Chairman of over seven leading tech companies across multiple verticals in the ICT sector and with several successful businesses on four continents. He also holds the record of delivering the biggest tech project on the African continent.

Mr. Ekeh is a most distinguished African ICT personality with numerous awards and recognitions to his credit. He pioneered Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics, the region’s first locally assembled and internationally certified computer brand, e-Commerce, Biometric revolution for elections, WiMax, ICT products & solutions distribution, amongst others in Africa.

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For his incisive entrepreneurship and as a pride to modern Nigeria, Mr. Ekeh has been honoured by two Nigerian Presidents with highly coveted National Awards; namely the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and ICON of HOPE Award in 2003 and 2001 respectively by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Also in November 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari honoured him with the National Productivity Merit Award (NPOM) for his sustained leadership in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

A first-rate Indian-trained economist and Forbes Best of Africa Leading Tech Icon with over 60 national and international awards, including four Doctorate degrees (Honorary) to his name, Mr. Ekeh has remained at the forefront of enthroning digital democracy, inspiring many budding entrepreneurs and promoting gender empowerment in Nigeria and beyond, while also touching many lives through the Leo Stan Ekeh Foundation.


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Liquid Intelligent Technologies Launches In Nigeria

-Assures Nigerians Of A Digitally Connected Future

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L – R: Shahzad Manzoor Khan, Group Chief Technical Officer of Liquid, Ola Willams, Microsoft Country Director, Nigeria and Ghana, Wole Abu MD/CEO Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, President Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Muhammed Rudman, Pioneer CEO, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) at the VIP Launch of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Nigeria at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos recently.

The quest to accelerate digital transformation in Nigeria received a major boost with the formal launch of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Lagos recently.

A Pan-Africa company with a strong legacy and foundation, Liquid is already in 20 other African countries.

Its formal entry into Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is bound to enliven the nation’s technology ecosystem.

Speaking at the launch, Wole Abu, MD/CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Nigeria said Liquid Intelligent Technologies was launched in Nigeria to tell the African story of the digital transformation of the continent.

“Liquid Intelligent Technologies is part of a global powerhouse called Cassava Technologies that is driving global digital transformation. The launch of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Nigeria will further help to connect the rest of Africa to the internet and the digital economy space.

“Our desire is to transform the African continent by empowering Africans, Nigeria inclusive, as well as businesses with intelligent technology solutions,” Abu said.

He assured that the company will live up to its vision of a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind.

Its Nigeria customers, he stated, will be availed good tidings that include a secure network that has Cloud-delivered security at the core and this extends to network protection, penetration testing, secure web Gateway and Modern remote access.

Also available from the stable of Liquid is Cloud networking that ensures direct connectivity to multiple clouds; network within and between multi-clouds; cloud branch connectivity.

For secure cloud, Abu listed Identity Management, Cloud protection, Data protection and Backups/ Disaster recovery as some of the service touch points.

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Abu avowed that Nigeria is the first home for Liquid Intelligent Technologies in West Africa and disclosed that Liquid sees access to high-speed connectivity as a basic human right for all people in Nigeria.

He reiterated his company’s desire to work with the federal government to achieve the objectives of Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (2021 – 2025) and to help transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy.

Abu noted that partnerships with international tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, AWS, and Oracle, have ensured for Liquid exceptional enterprise deployed to serve the customers’ best interests.

He enjoined Nigerians who are desirous of reduced cost and complexity to partner with Liquid for both connectivity and digital service that are top rate.

To Abu, the size of the company’s network offers better economies of scale than multiple providers just as its infrastructure will enable enterprises across the continent to fulfill their digital transformation goals.

In his goodwill message, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Patanmi expressed optimism that the entry of Liquid Intelligent Technologies into Nigeria will help bring about more innovations into the sector, hoping further that the launch in Nigeria will deepen digital transformation in Africa.

Pantami who was represented by the Digital Architect Manager, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Falilat Jimoh, said the launch of Liquid Intelligent Technologies in Nigeria, would further enhance internet connectivity in Nigeria and the rest of Africa since connectivity has become a necessity in driving the fourth industrial revolution and the digital transformation agenda.

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“In Nigeria, we have experienced the impact of the digital economy that is driven by connectivity, which has accelerated the growth of several sectors of the Nigerian economy. In 2020, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), contributed 18.44 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP, which was the highest sector contribution to GDP.

“Again, ICT helped Nigeria to exit the recession triggered by COVID-19, much faster than was predicted by experts. Nigeria must, therefore, take advantage of the opportunities that Liquid Intelligent Technologies is bringing to the country,” Pantami said.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta said the launch of Liquid Intelligent Technology would offer Nigeria the opportunity to become globally competitive in the 21st Century.

Danbatta,  who was also represented at the launch by the Director, Technical Standard and Network Integrity at NCC, Wakil Bako, said that NCC would continue to encourage new players in the ICT sector to further drive digital transformation growth in the country.

“As a leading provider of digital infrastructure, Liquid Intelligent Network is expected to leverage its cloud and cybersecurity services to further drive digital transformation in Nigeria,” Danbatta surmised.

President, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Ikechukwu Nnamani, who gave the keynote address that centred on the benefits of a digital economy, said the world had already entered into the digital era, and that Nigeria must be part of the digital transformation in this digital era.

“The future is digital and businesses have moved online. The benefits that come with the digital economy are numerous, which include transparency in governance, economic growth and job creation, among others,” Nnamani said.

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Liquid Intelligent Technologies is a member of Cassava Technologies, Africa’s leading integrated technology company on a continental scale.

It focuses inter-alia on digital infrastructure and digital services and its string of firsts include the First fibre to cross the Zambezi, the first Cape to Cairo terrestrial connection, the First terrestrial fibre to connect South Sudan, the First cross-continent East to West connections, the First largest independent fibre network provider in emerging markets globally to achieve 100,000km fibre network and the first to take Azure Stack hub to Kenya and Tanzania.

Its seamless, open-access pan-African network, now over 100,000kms, is enabling people and businesses across the continent with unprecedented access to Cloud, Voice and digital services.

In connecting African countries to their neighbours and the rest of the World, Cassava Technologies, and its flagship company in Nigeria, Liquid Intelligent Technologies are evidently living up to its mandate of ensuring that Africa’s digital future is an intelligent one.



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