Nigerian digital agritech platform awarded $325,000 grant from GSMA

Nigerian digital agritech platform awarded $325,000 grant from GSMA

Nigerian digital agritech platform awarded $325,000 grant from GSMA.

On Tuesday 26 February 2018 Farmcrowdy, a Nigerian digital agriculture platform which allows Nigerians to venture in and sponsor agriculture, was named as a recipient of a $325,000 grant from dedicated GSMA global team Mobile for Development as part of the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund. The award was granted at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.

The grant will allow the multiple award-winning startup develop a mobile app for smartphones and feature phones that will enable farmers and Technical Field Specialists interact about farm related activities. The app will also deliver other services to farmers, such as information, electronic payments and training.

Launched in 2016, the Fund was set up to provide selected start-ups in Africa and Asia Pacific with grant funding, technical assistance and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in order to scale their products and services into sustainable businesses with positive socio-economic impact.

Other recipients of the 2018 equity-free grant award include Ugandan Fintech startup Ensibuuko and online mpayment platform LipaMobile, Tanzanian Micro-Health Insurance product Jammi Africa, Kenyan education mobile platform Kytabu and Optimetriks , Zambian Musanga Logistics, Nigerian e-learning platform PrepClass, Egyptian Carpooling app Raye7 and multinational knowledge-based network, Lynk.

Onyeka Akumah, Co-Founder and CEO of Farmcrowdy speaking on the announcment said, “we at Farmcrowdy are honoured to have our hard work recognised and supported by GSMA. We are thrilled about the possibilities this grant will provide as we continually strive to remain at the forefront of innovation in Agritech across Nigeria. This award will play a crucial part in the continued journey towards scaling our activities across the country while building our relationships with the telecommunication partners of GSMA across Nigeria.”

Launched just over a year ago, Farmcrowdy, recently announced a $1million seed fund led by international and local investors including Social Capital, Cox Enterprises and Techstars Ventures. The seed fund will allow the startup to scale its operations with plans to expand beyond 8 states they operate in Nigeria, work with more than 4,000 small-scale farmers by the end of 2018 and engage 20,000 new farm followers and farm sponsors on its platform, as they participate in addressing sustainable development goals through the opportunities available in agriculture.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Fortinet report reveals increase in swarm cyberattacks targeting IoT devices

Fortinet report reveals increase in swarm cyberattacks targeting IoT devices

Phil Quade, chief information security officer, Fortinet

Fortinet, a provider in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, has announced the findings of its latest Global Threat Landscape Report. The research reveals that attacks per firm increased over the previous quarter. In addition, automated and sophisticated swarm attacks are accelerating making it increasingly difficult for organisations to protect users, applications, and devices.

“The volume, sophistication, and variety of cyber threats continue to accelerate with the digital transformation of our global economy. Cybercriminals have become emboldened in their attack methods as they undergo a similar transformation, and their tools are now in the hands of many,” said Phil Quade, chief information security officer, Fortinet.

“The stark reality is that traditional security strategies and architectures simply are no longer sufficient for a digital-dependent organisation. There is incredible urgency to counter today’s attacks with a security transformation that mirrors digital transformation efforts. Yesterday’s solutions, working individually are not adequate. Point products and static defenses must give way to integrated and automated solutions that operate at speed and scale,” he added.

Highlights of the report follow:

Swarm Cyberattacks Increase in Volume, Variety, and Velocity
The sophistication of attacks targeting organisations is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Digital transformation isn’t just reshaping business, cybercriminals are leveraging the expanding attack surface it creates for new disruptive opportunities to attack. They are implementing newer swarm-like capabilities while simultaneously targeting multiple vulnerabilities, devices, and access points. The combination of rapid threat development combined with the increased propagation of new variants is increasingly difficult for many organisations to combat.

  • Unprecedented Volume: An average of 274 exploit detections per firm were detected, which is a significant increase of 82% over the previous quarter. The number of malware families also increased by 25% and unique variants grew by 19%. The data not only indicates growth in volume, but also an evolution of the malware as well. In addition, encrypted traffic using HTTPS and SSL grew as a percentage of total network traffic to a high of nearly 60% on average. While encryption can certainly help protect data in motion as it moves between core, cloud, and endpoint environments, it also represents a real challenge for traditional security solutions.
  • IoT Attack Intensity: Three of the top twenty attacks identified targeted IoT devices and exploit activity quadrupled against devices like WiFi cameras. None of these detections were associated with a known or named CVE, which is one of the troubling aspects of vulnerable IoT devices. In addition, unlike previous attacks, which focused on exploiting a single vulnerability, new IoT botnets such as Reaper and Hajime can target multiple vulnerabilities simultaneously. This multi-vector approach is much harder to combat. Reaper’s flexible framework means that, rather than the static, pre-programmed attacks of previous IoT exploits, Reaper’s code is easily updated to swarm faster by running new and more malicious attacks as they become available. Demonstrating its swarm abilities, exploit volume associated with Reaper exhibited a jump from 50K to 2.7 million over a few days before dropping back to normal.
  • Ransomware Still Prevalent: Several strains of ransomware topped the list of malware variants. Locky was the most widespread malware variant and GlobeImposter followed as the second. A new strain of Locky emerged, tricking recipients with spam before requesting a ransom. In addition, there was a shift on the darknet from only accepting Bitcoin for payment to other forms of digital currency such as Monero.
  • Cryptocurrency Mining on the Rise: Cryptomining malware increased, which seems to be intertwined with the changing price of Bitcoin. Cybercriminals recognise the growth in digital currencies and are using a trick called cryptojacking to mine cryptocurrencies on computers using CPU resources in the background without a user knowing. Cryptojacking involves loading a script into a web browser, nothing is installed or stored on the computer.
  • Sophisticated Industrial Malware: An uptick in exploit activity against industrial control systems (ICS) and safety instrumental systems (SIS) suggests these under-the-radar attacks might be climbing higher on attackers’ radar.  An example is an attack codenamed Triton. It is sophisticated in nature and has the ability to cover its tracks by overwriting the malware itself with garbage data to thwart forensic analysis. Because these platforms affect vital critical infrastructures, they are enticing for threat actors. Successful attacks can cause significant damage with far-reaching impact.
  • Attack Variety: Steganography is an attack that embeds malicious code in images. It’s an attack vector that has not had much visibility over the past several years, but it appears to be on the resurgence. The Sundown exploit kit uses steganography to steal information, and while it has been around for some time, it was reported by more organisations than any other exploit kit. It was found dropping multiple ransomware variants.

Fighting Swarm Attacks Requires Integrated Security
The threat data in this quarter’s report reinforces many of the predictions unveiled by the Fortinet FortiGuard Labs global research team for 2018, which predicted the rise of self-learning hivenets and swarmbots on the horizon. Over the next couple of years, the attack surface will continue to expand while visibility and control over today’s infrastructures diminish. To address the problems of speed and scale by adversaries, organisations need to adopt strategies based on automation and integration. Security should operate at digital speeds by automating responses as well as applying intelligence and self-learning so that networks can make effective and autonomous decisions, according to Fortinet.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Benefits of a managed IT services model

Benefits of a managed IT services model

Sachin Bhardwaj, eHosting DataFort, Director, Marketing and Business Development.

In today’s business environment, organisations need to adopt new technologies in order to expand their operations and improve productivity and customer experience. Even small to mid-size organisations will not be able to function, let alone scale-up their businesses without a strong IT infrastructure to support their growth. Many companies do not have the required resources to support a dedicated in-house IT team. Faced with mounting costs and an increasingly complex IT environment to manage, organisations are now more than ever looking at Managed IT Services as an alternative to in-house IT infrastructure management.

There are a number of benefits that a Managed IT Services model offers:

  • Converting CAPEX to OPEX and reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Minimising technology investment
  • Access to skilled resources without having to spend on continuously hiring and training IT staff.
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure without having to build
  • Upgrading infrastructure very fast without having to worry about buying, deploying, maintaining, etc.
  • 24/7 Service Desk access

Guaranteed SLAs which provide a high quality of service
MSP market in are seeing a surge as enterprises look to sidestep the need for investment in ICT infrastructure and skills that are an expensive distraction from their core business. From network and data centre management services to disaster recovery, storage and backup, server management, security and IT support, it is possible to offload the day-to-day provisioning of significant chunks of the IT function. This liberates financial and human resources to focus on productivity and efficiency. Companies can opt for various IT infrastructure outsourcing options which range from fully managed hosting to cloud hosting and collocation, as well as remote monitoring and management of their IT.

Traditionally, large businesses have been relying on the expertise and services of managed hosting providers to offer secure, flexible and scalable solutions. However, over the last few years, we are seeing a growing trend amongst SMEs choosing to work with service providers for their data centre and infrastructure management requirements.

According to IDC, the managed and data centre service markets in the UAE will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.8% between 2013 and 2018 to reach a total of $971.8m by 2018. Data centre hosting makes up approximately 18% of the Managed Services market revenue in the UAE.

Industry sectors such as Banking and Finance, Aviation, Media, Government, IT and Telecom in particular, have taken to managed services as ensuring a ‘secure and reliable system’ is critical. In fact, according to a recent survey by Frost & Sullivan, the managed services market in the GCC region is projected to reach US$3,116m by 2018.
Security is one of the biggest concerns because of which companies show resistance to MSPs. To overcome this, MSPs should ensure that they have the best and latest security systems and practices in place, offer round-the-clock monitoring and management of the IT infrastructure and comprehensive customised managed services – all with a guaranteed service level agreement that meets international industry standards.

By Sachin Bhardwaj, eHosting DataFort, Director, Marketing & Business Development

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Airtel Rwanda appoints new Managing Director

Airtel Rwanda appoints new Managing Director

Phillip Moateng, newly appointed Managing Director of Airtel Rwanda. (image source: InyaRwanda)

Philip Amoateng has been appointed the new Managing Director of Airtel Rwanda, the firm said in a statement.

Amoateng was the chief executive officer of Tigo from 2016 until it was bought by Bharti Airtel in December 2017. Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) approved the merger and formal the acquisition of Tigo by Airtel on January 30.

Amoateng has held various operational, financial and strategy positions while working for Millicom over the past 16 years. The move to combine the two entities will see improvements in coverage and a wider network of customer touch points, the statement added. Amoateng is a member of the Association of Chartered Accountants and a graduate of the University of Leicester with an MBA.

In 2016, he was appointed CEO Tigo Rwanda, a position he held until the organisation was acquired by Airtel.

According to Airtel, the move to combine the two entities will see improvements in coverage and a wider network of customer touch points.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Fintech companies using digital technology to score creditworthiness in East Africa

Fintech companies using digital technology to score creditworthiness in East Africa

Fintech companies using digital technology to score the creditworthiness in East Africa.

More than 2.5 billion people around the world – many of them in Africa – lack formal identification that enables them to access to financial and government services, according to the United Nations and the ID2020 project. Furthermore, less than 10% of adults in low and middle-income countries are on file in public credit registries.

The result is that millions of people in East Africa are paying punitive interest rates for credit or are frozen out of access to financial services. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the region charge their borrowers notoriously high interest rates, often up to 30% per year. This is partly because these lenders face a higher risk of loan defaults than mainstream banks due to a lack of borrower data to support lending decisions.

MFIs in frontier markets have traditionally needed to make lending decisions without access to the sort of customer data and documentation commercial banks take for granted: credit scores, identification documents such as passports or government ID cards, bank statements, lending history and collateral.

Fintech providers, financial inclusion companies and digital finance applications are filling this information gap with alternative credit data. Credit scoring applications like Tala in East Africa, for example, collect masses of data about phone owners and use these data points to produce accurate credit scores.

This alternative credit data could help the credit officers at microfinance banks (MFBs) and MFIs who make lending decisions to make more accurate predictions about loan performance. This could, in turn, help improve collection rates and profitability for institutions and make credit more affordable for lower-risk customers.

With smartphone ownership in East Africa rising as the average selling price falls, an unprecedented amount of credit data is expected to become available in the years to come. Through API integration , fintech providers and Oradian will be able to provide access to real-time credit scores for credit officers at MFIs and MFBs.

Oradian, which currently serves a global community of over 50 financial institutions and one million end-clients, provides a cloud-based toolset designed for financial inclusion in hard-to-reach communities.

Third-party fintech software can plug into Oradian’s core banking platform via API integration so the two systems can ‘talk to’ each other. When credit officers log into their Oradian dashboard to see loan applications, loan performance and borrower information, they can also see the credit score provided by an alternative credit scoring app, similar to Cignifi and Equifax’s partnership in Latin America.

With predictive data that enables lenders to make more informed decisions, fintech can help make credit more affordable for low-income borrowers in frontier markets. API integration is an efficient way for MFIs and MFBs to improve their service, product offering and rates, enabling them to differentiate their business in markets with increasing competition.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Researchers discover vulnerabilities in a smart home hub

Researchers discover vulnerabilities in a smart home hub

Researchers discover vulnerabilities in a smart home hub.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered vulnerabilities in a smart hub used to manage all the connected modules and sensors installed in the home. Analysis reveals that it is possible for a remote attacker to access the product’s server and download an archive containing the personal data of arbitrary users, which is needed to access their account and take control over their home systems as a result.

While the popularity of connected devices continues to increase, smart home hubs are in high demand. They make house management much easier, combining all device settings in one place and allowing users to set them up and control them through web-interfaces or mobile applications. Some of them even serve as a security system. At the same time, being a “unifier” also makes this device an appealing target for cybercriminals that could serve as an entry-point for remote attacks.

Earlier last year, Kaspersky Lab examined a smart home device that turned out to provide a vast attack surface for intruders, based on weak password generation algorithms and open ports. During the new investigation, researchers discovered that an insecure design and several vulnerabilities in the architecture of the smart device could provide criminals with access to someone’s home.

First, researchers discovered that the hub sends user’s data when it communicates with a server, including the login credentials needed to sign in into the web interface of the smart hub – the user ID and password. Moreover, other personal information such as the user’s phone number used for alerts, can be also listed there. Remote attackers can download the archive with this information by sending a legitimate request to the server that includes the device’s serial number. And analysis shows that the serial number can be also discovered by intruders as a result of simplistic methods of its generation.

According to experts, serial numbers can be brute-forced using logic analysis and then confirmed through a request to the server. If a device with that serial number is registered in a cloud system, criminals will receive affirmative information. As a result, they can log in to the user’s web account and manage the settings of sensors and controllers connected to the hub.

All information about the discovered vulnerabilities has been reported to the vendor and is now being fixed.

“Although IoT devices have been the focus of cybersecurity researchers for last years, they are still proving to be insecure. We randomly selected the smart home hub and the fact that we found it vulnerable is not an exception, but rather one more confirmation of the continuous security problems in the IoT world. It now seems that literally every IoT device – even very simple ones – contain at least one security issue. For example, we recently analysed a smart light bulb. What could possibly go wrong with a bulb which only allows you to change the light colour and some other lightning parameters via your smartphone, you may ask. We found that all credentials of the Wi-Fi networks, i.e. names and passwords, to which the bulb had connected before are being stored in its memory with no encryption. In other words, the current situation in the IoT security sphere is that even your light bulb can compromise you,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of vulnerabilities research group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.

“It’s highly important for manufacturers to ensure proper protection of their users and pay close attention to safety requirements when developing and releasing their products because even small details of insecure design can lead to dangerous consequences,” he concluded.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Why car manufacturers need to re-invent their business

Why car manufacturers need to re-invent their business

Morne Bekker, Country Manager at NetApp South Africa.

Automotive industry executives are watching with alarm as consumer-focused sectors are disrupted by new entrants encouraging individuals to share goods and services with each other. Manufacturers who embrace this change open up new business models which can lead to competitive advantage.

The way we live, consume and communicate is increasingly shaped by three global trends: Globalisation and booming populations lead to much denser urban areas, diminishing resources increase the focus on sustainability, and mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) mean people are more connected than ever. These three factors combine to spark fundamental change in the things consumers place value on.

There has been a huge priority shift from ownership to access – and things that used to be seen as status symbols are no longer prioritised in the same way. A good example of this is the car. The maxims of the sharing economy have reached one of our most loved status symbols, as the meteoric rise of car sharing schemes like Uber are already impacting the automotive and transport industries. A study at UC Berkeley showed that vehicle ownership among car sharing users has halved. As a consequence sales of new cars, on the one hand, might stagnate and force companies to refine their business models.

On the other hand, the on-demand business model of car sharing creates opportunities to reach new target groups: People who mainly used public transport in the past due to cost reasons might now occasionally appreciate the freedom of a car ride. That means, today, essentially everyone has access to a car.

How can the automotive industry benefit from these disruptions? Similar to the music industry, car manufacturers in the future will not make money by selling the product, but through value-added services. And when we look at the car of the future – the driverless, autonomous and connected car, services will become even more important, with car manufacturers increasingly turning into service providers. They will be able to answer questions like: Where is the next parking lot? How environmentally friendly is my driving style compared to the average driver?

Modern vehicles are rolling computers. They constantly collect data from the environment and their inner life. Datasets such as tyre pressure, GPS position, and motor temperature are sometimes more, sometimes less visible to the driver. The smart and reasonable analysis of this huge amount of gathered data can provide new insights to the fleet operator. Big data is as relevant for the automotive industry as it is for any industry. Based on the data gathered by the car, fleet operators can forecast, when to order which wearing part and early plan the next workshop visit. The use of vehicles in a short-term rental model provides high value for car manufacturers, too. The vehicle sees a new driver with a different driving profile several times a day which exponentially increases the volume and the diversity of the data. These vehicles are unlike their privately owned equivalents as they are in continuous operation and lead to new challenges and opportunities for the automotive maintenance and engineering industries.

The high value of the data demands for high availability and efficient data management. In a rapidly changing business climate, a solid IT infrastructure and the ability to offer performance and consistency is crucial. Seeing a continuous growth of data which needs to be stored and managed, it is obvious that companies need to thoroughly review their existing data management strategy and make it future-proof.

To be prepared for both current and future business as well as legal requirements, organisations should consider migrating their data to more cost-effective and agile public, private or hybrid cloud-based storage solutions. Not only as this allows faster innovation, but also as data can be managed according to specific business insights. Using cloud services, CIOs have to keep control over the company data to avoid vendor lock-in and to comply with changing data protection regulations.

To realise the full benefits of a hybrid cloud strategy, CIOs need to manage the dynamic nature of the environment – seamlessly connecting public and private clouds – so they can move their data where and when they want with complete freedom. This brings up the question of how to integrate these cloud resources into the existing environment. It’s a challenging task that has traditionally been a roadblock for companies seeking a simple, seamless and secure entry point to cloud.

With its Data Fabric concept, NetApp provides a suitable solution for implementing a multi-cloud infrastructure for big data. Companies can use cloud resources from different vendors, by retaining full control over their data. The use of cloud resources will put companies in a position to integrate the most powerful data analysis engines without investing big money in a new on-premise IT infrastructure.

The technologies from NetApp support enterprise-wide data management and create a link between on-premise systems and resources from the public cloud. As a result, businesses achieve high flexibility in the use of their IT resources and can move data and workloads across all resources. This creates the basis for the efficient infrastructure that is necessary for big data projects and car manufacturers can utilise the cloud to future-proof their businesses.

By Morne Bekker, South African Country Manager, NetApp 

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‘How Google accelerator programme enables Nigeria’s tech startups’

‘How Google accelerator programme enables Nigeria’s tech startups’

Victor Asemota

Victor Asemota founded SwiftaCorp over 20 years ago, a pioneering African software and technology services group with subsidiaries and operations in over 14 African countries. He is also the Co-founder of MFISA, a unique African Mobile Financial Services Accelerator that has powered a number of payment platforms around Africa.

Asemota, who is The Guardian contributor, is a mentor for Google Accelerator programmes. He spoke with ADEYEMI ADEPETUN, in San Francisco, USA, at the just concluded Launchpad Accelerator programme, organised by search giant, Google. He shed lights on the imrtance of the initiative and how it is enabling start-ups in Nigeria, among others.

Excerpts:

What is the drive behind Google Accelerator programme?

First of all, this is the fifth class, since we started in 2016. The goal is actually very simple, if you look at all the startups present here, they are major market startups and we realised that the place where growth will happen is in technology. It is a ready market.

People who are going to make this growth happen are technology startups. Google is looking for the next billion technology users.

For instance, India alone, records yearly 100 million new people getting on the Internet, Africa too has like 100 million people getting on the Internet as well, so that is where the real growth is going to happen.

For you to get to the next billion users, you need to know what is going on to be able to partner with the right people.

The right people are all the people in the programme. I won’t lie to you; I have met some of the most phenomenal startups in the world in the last four classes. The ideas they are championing are mind blowing

We, as mentors, have been educated by coming here, seeing what is possible. Other startups have seen that there is a whole lot more to see. It is actually one of the best programmes that Google has ever thought of. They also have apart from this, regional programmes. This is the global world; they have the local programmes too.

In Africa, we have done one in Nairobi, South Africa, and another one in November, in Lagos. In March, we are having something similar to this in Lagos. It is for African startups, not just Nigeria. We are taking Africa very serious.

For them to do that in Africa, it showed their commitment to Africa. They are committed to training 10 million Africans, and helping start ups leverage their platforms for growth.

So it is serious commitment to the continent, which means they know that technology is going to grow; there would be a lot more users coming from Nigeria and other African countries.

Between last year and now that Nigeria joined, what impact has it really brought?

First, it had made other people sit up too, remember, Facebook is also doing something similar now. It is actually giving us more feasibility internationally, it also changes the way startups look at the ecosystem and the opportunities there. This is not a short term effort, but a long term plan.

A particular startup, which was here last year got about $1million grant, which was equity free; the Startup never expected it.

The firm is doing well now because of Google grant, so that is actually one of the bigger successes. So many things have happened and much more would still come.

What does it take to be selected?

It is a very rigorous process; people at this stage are not in early stage, they are in the growth stage. You have to validate your market hypothesis to show that there is a market for your product.

Those are the guys selected; most likely, you get some funding, build a team, so the kind of issues startups here have are very different from the issues other startups will have at a very early stage. The selection process starts from the end of one class.

What does it take to be a mentor?

The mentorship programme is one of the strongest. You know Google also has the expert programme. One of the things they look at are people with main knowledge and experience, and also are willing to share some of the knowledge and experience, and also ready to use their time.

So it is really more of recognition, the ability to give back or willingness to give back, and they do their mentors workshop very carefully, most of the time, you are referred.

They don’t just pick people on the street as mentors; there are mentors from different parts of the world. I have colleagues from Pakistan, Indian, among others here, sharing possibilities.

Looking at the startup ecosystem in Nigeria, can big companies emerge from the tech space, looking at programmes like this?

Yes. Two years ago there was nothing, but look at them now, I mean a team that grew for almost zero to 50 people a year, and have done over $1billion in transaction within a year.

They may be young, but they are already a company. They were here in the last class that is why the programme is called accelerator. The purpose is to create big companies and very quickly.

In doing that, they provide the right advice and funding. It has already started happening in Nigeria, so there would be more like that as people now understand that we need to stop doing things the way we have been doing them, and become more innovative.

From the experience and interactions you have had before now with the tech ecosystem, what do you think are the challenges confronting tech startups?

The very first problem is that there is no data in the market. I was talking to one of the Nigerian start-ups, and we realised that getting that data is also a startup opportunity, but a lot of people just walk blind.

The thing is, Nigeria is also a very rewarding place, because people are afraid of walking blind, it also creates lot more opportunities for this. What really happened is that most startups have ended up becoming bigger companies. They are the ones who build data by trying to understand the market, and to gain insight.

You can have all the money in Nigeria and no data, because the data is what gives you understanding not just for the market, but knowing if what you are doing makes sense.

Do you know how many startups we have, we still have that problem. It is a market maturity problem that we have. If the market is a bit more mature, the opportunity to grow exponentially would come.

So right now, a lot people create their own data, it is like going to school all over again. It is learning to read, write, meanwhile someone would have taught you, you learn all over again, and that brings in mentorship. That is also what is missing. A lot of the older startups see the younger ones stressed and all that, they don’t get enough support as they ordinary would in other places than in Nigeria.

For an initiative like this brought up by Google, is there anything the government can do in this space?

Government should be the biggest player in this space. The government should try to understand what is going on. Like Lagos State for example, I spoke with the Commissioner for Information recently; I didn’t know that the e-contact is a function of where you live.

Most young people can’t live in Lagos but faraway, they are losing a lot of big contact. If you empower your young people and they are productive they make money. It is an investment for the future.

Government should invest in everything tech; Indian had invested long ago, especially in training institutes, which is why Indian is doing so well now. Like I said, it is not a short term thing, and it is only the government that have the capacity for such huge investment.

They shouldn’t be doing things directly, even if it is to be supporting Google and other initiatives, it will go a long way to increase the tax base and help the government as well.

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‘Businesses should prepare for disruptive innovations’

‘Businesses should prepare for disruptive innovations’

Exhibition stand

To survive in this era of technological advancement, businesses must innovate and disrupt their environments.

This, formed part of the submissions at the second day of the ongoing 2018 Social Media Week (SMW) in Lagos, yesterday.

Panellists’ at the Digital Transformation session with the theme: ‘Does your business have what it takes to survive in the digital age,’ posited that businesses must create a balance in innovation to stay afloat.

The General Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso, noted that digital transformation is intrinsic to the way people live their lives, adding that businesses should come up and do something disruptive in the economy so as to remain afloat.

Banuso said digital transformation is the present and the future, saying it has unlimited ways to disrupt even lives.

According to him, human capability must be augmented with technology.

The Microsoft Nigeria boss recalled that between 1960 and 1977, the country’s GDP was larger than that of India and China because it thrived on oil and made huge money, “but despite the robust economy, Nigeria jettisoned innovation. We were just importing, but the story has changed now. It is the other way round.”

“China and India have become two leading technology nations. They achieved this by innovating and investing in ICT-related activities. Today, they are disrupting the global economy.”

Banuso said Nigeria must invest in technology so as not to be left behind.

From her perspective, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) noted that disruption is the main agenda now globally.

Ugochukwu recalled that Uber has disrupted the transportation system across the globe; smartphone displaced the likes of Kodak; Netflix disrupted Blockbuster, adding, “disruption is fasting gaining momentum, so businesses must evolve and disrupt.”

The TEF chief said entrepreneurs must disrupt or be disrupted. She recalled that in the last three years, TEF agenda has shifted from granting of aids to enabling digital transformation.

She disclosed that for the new phase of the TEF empowerment programme going on across the 54 countries of the African Continent, about 108,000 applications have been received.

According to her, out of the $100 million budget for the programme, about $25 million has so far been spent, with $15 million going the way of Startups, while the remaining $10 million went into technology that enables the entire process.

At the “Teaching One million Lagosians to Code” session, the Special Adviser on Education to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, said the state is keen on creating a digital economy that will outlive the present regime.

Bank-Olemoh said Lagos remained open to private sector in the entire process. He stressed that government doesn’t run a business very well, hence the need for private sector partnership in the initiative.”

According to him, the coding programme would engender logical thinking needed for the 21st Century mega city. Currently, he said 65 per cent of Lagos population are youths. So, to keep them going, they must be engaged constructively.”

From his perspective, the Managing Director, Oracle Nigeria, Adebayo Sanni, said: “Looking at where the world is going now, we should look for what we need to do to move up the ladder of development in the Continent. Nigeria should move from oil led economy to a technology driven and service economy.”

Addressing participants at the GTB session, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Segun Agbaje, said technology is fast facilitating changes that were considered impossible about 30 years ago, and causing companies to grow exponentially rather than linear.

According to him, while there is no permanent solution to the challenge of fraud with the technology world, the “percentage of transactions that are susceptible to fraud is clearly immaterial to the larger level with the same technology. So, I don’t think that people should be scared.”

However, he said that ‘flexibility and adaptability’ are now the basics for banks and other business organisations to keep at par with the technology-driven business trends.

Agbaje, who addressed the forum on ‘Making sense of a world in motion’, said: “the currency today is access, not capital,” just as “collaboration and partnership are now critical and strategic to success, hence they have to become a platform to survive.”

Stating that innovative concepts drive today’s business world, he urged entrepreneurs to shun the fear of failure, adding that every new business concept must take change as it is given.

According to him, the only legacies that do not change but give businesses edge are values of integrity, transparency, hardwork and discipline.

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Safeonline launches seamless payment platform for merchants

Safeonline launches seamless payment platform for merchants

To boost accountability that eCommerce merchants are struggling with in Nigeria, Safeonliine has launched a payment model that will cumulatively change the supply chain within the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, and save eCommerce in the country.

Speaking about the innovation, Head of Product, Safeonline fintech, Abraham Ezeadiebuo, said the initial goal was to provide a seamless replenishment process for retail outlets selling basic amenities needed by the consumer populace.

“It was to ensure only entities responsible for the movement of goods were left as the sole middle men fostering direct relationship between Retailers and Manufacturers.

However, our solution provides a robust system that could effectively manage splitting of funds across the numerous partners needed to ship goods and a trigger mechanism to confirm successful delivery to process compensation for the haulage operator in real-time.”

Speaking on the inspiration behind the innovation, he said: “we were triggered by internal data from a major FMCG shared with its partners on the work needed to be done to expand its distribution network.

“The data highlighted the fact that due to the uncontrolled dispersion of retail outlets within the country, well over 65 per cent of active retail outlets at the time data was presented independently restocked items and could not qualify for line of credit.

From the FMCG perspective, this meant its own sales force had to get across to these retailers, and its haulage partners had to extend their coverage to areas where these retailers were located.”

According to him, the implementation plan encompassed building a web based ERP solution that would effectively manage collections, disbursements, provide detailed reporting, support order tracking, and increase accountability of the haulage partners.

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