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African Software Developers Require Persistence, Perseverance- Seni Sulyman



Andela staff at a recent event

The idea of Andela started in Lagos, but has evolved into a global brand with presence in Nigeria and Kenya. It is a global Engineering company, supplying African Developers to international companies.

In 2016, Andela raised $24 million from the Chan/Zuckerberg initiative, set up by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, to train African Engineers. I was with Seni Sulyman, Country Director, Andela recently and we had a very interesting discussion on the impact of empowering African Software Developers.

Seni Sulyman, stated that Andela is really focused on finding some of the best talents in Nigeria, convert them into amazing Software Developers and model them to go ahead and build the future of Nigeria.

He also stated that, it looks for and finds companies in the world that have a lot of problems they are trying to solve, using technology and cannot find people to solve it for them around them.

Andela, then, brings these companies in contact with these trained Software Developers to solve their problems for them.

“We have an application system online, so, right now, every Month, we focus on running an application cycle”, he stressed, when asked on the mode of getting these young men and women, who are trained in Software Development.

Seni, however stated that, some of these enthusiastic young young men and women find Andela by themselves. He stated that the application system online is rigorous and challenging, to the extent that, people who applied, but did not eventually get into the Andela prgram, always said they have learned a lot from the application process alone.

“So, we do a personality test and we also do, essentially, a psycho-metric test, where people are being asked to solve problems, solve challenges, so ee see how quickly they can learn and a big part of the application is that, we give you a study kit, you take it away with you, you spend a few Months working on it and then, you take a test”, he emphasised.

He stated that the entire application process takes about a Month or a Month and a half to complete, but it could take up to six Months, depending on your experience on Software Development, prior to your applying to Andela.

Seni stated that there is no age limit or barrier for anyone that wants to apply to Andela. “We truly belief that anyone can do this. It takes certain personality traits, such as persistence, perseverance and a huge desire to actually learn in corporate feedback”, he stated.

“So far, over 60,000 people have applied to Andela”, he stated, stressing that in Lagos alone, there are about 200 trained Developers and each of them have one or two people they have mentored or mentoring. “Each individual that gets into Andela to work already has a network of people that they have built that is getting value from them”, he opined.

Seni stated that he is ot worried that a lot of younger students are not going for STEM courses currently, which is thought might pose a problem of feeding the tech pipe need in future. “The main ingredient are not necessarily a degree.

The main ingredients for us, are, again, people that can think critically, people that can solve problems, people that can go through challenging circumstances and succeed and overcome”, he emphasised.

He stated that there are people who never had a degree as well as people that never studied any STEM courses at Andela.

He, however, stated that he is worried for Nigeria. “I think that, at a higher level, you do need a large population that has studied STEM because, actually, they can go ahead and build other sectors that are related”, he posited.

 Seni is of the view that, with the right leadership that has a focus of adding value and having the thought of making the next generation better than the last, the issue of getting more young students to embrace STEM courses will ultimately be solved.

On the notion that that Andela is taking our best minds out of the stores of Nigeria, Seni stated that, “if you want to be the best at anything, find the people in the world that are the best at that thing and go and learn from them”, he noted.

He also stated that apprenticeship is the oldest way of learning and that is exactly what Andela is doing. The Andela idea, he emphasised, is to get these Nigerian guys to study and work along side the best tech guys in the word and eventually have some of them come back to Nigeria to start their own companies.

Seni stated that he is excited with progress made, so far, in the Nigerian Startups ecosystem. On a final note, Seni went on to advice young Startups to come into the space with the right reasons, which is adding value and not look for short cuts.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Sophos Identifies Top Ransomware Families in Africa



Cyber security vendor Sophos has identified the top ransomware families that affected Africa in 2017.

According to Sophos, the Ceber ransomware accounted for 80% of attacks in Africa, followed by WannaCry (17%), and others like Jaff (1%), Locky (1%) and Petya (0.5%).

One of the most active kinds of ransomware out there, Cerber encrypts the files of infected users and demands money in exchange for enabling access to their files. It works even if a user is not connected to the Internet, so they can’t stop it by unplugging their PC.

Cerber, sold as a ransomware kit on the Dark Web, remains a dangerous threat, says Sophos, adding the creators of Cerber continuously update the code and charge a percentage of the ransom that the “middle-men” attackers receive from victims.

Regular new features make Cerber not only an effective attack tool, but perennially available to cyber criminals, the cyber security firm notes.

“This Dark Web business model is unfortunately working and, similar to a legitimate company, is likely funding the ongoing development of Cerber. We can assume the profits are motivating the authors to maintain the code,” says Dorka Palotay, SophosLabs security researcher and contributor to the ransomware analysis in the SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast.

The WannaCry ransomware attack was a May 2017 worldwide cyber attack by the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm, which targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin crypto-currency.

“Looking at the whole world, WannaCry was responsible for 45.3% of the ransomware attacks, while in Africa this value is only 17%,” Palotay says.

“In Africa, clearly Cerber was the biggest ransomware threat this year, since 80% of the ransomware lookups was caused by Cerber, while this number is only 44.2% if we look at the whole world. Regarding the smaller families, the results are very similar.”

The SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast report recaps ransomware and other cyber security trends based on data collected from Sophos customer computers worldwide from 1 April to 3 October 2017.

One key finding shows that while ransomware predominately attacked Windows systems in the last six months, Android, Linux and MacOS platforms were not immune.

“Ransomware has become platform-agnostic. Ransomware mostly targets Windows computers, but this year, SophosLabs saw an increased amount of crypto-attacks on different devices and operating systems used by our customers worldwide,” says Palotay.

She notes that for the first time Sophos saw ransomware with worm-like characteristics, which contributed to the rapid expansion of WannaCry.

“This ransomware took advantage of a known Windows vulnerability to infect and spread to computers, making it hard to control.

“Even though our customers are protected against it and WannaCry has tapered off, we still see the threat because of its inherent nature to keep scanning and attacking computers. We’re expecting cyber criminals to build upon this ability to replicate as seen in WannaCry and NotPetya, and this is already evident with Bad Rabbit ransomware, which shows many similarities to NotPetya.”

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Cisco urges Retailers on Network System Skills ahead of Black Friday



Cisco has urged Nigeria retailers to equip their employees with basic network system skills as Black Friday and Cyber Monday begin today.

According to Alfie Hamid, Regional Manager for Corporate Affairs for Cisco Africa, ‘Many retailers have missed empowering their own workforces with, for example, digital collaboration tools, real-time customer insights, and virtual assistance. A workforce that is armed with relevant knowledge and insights is also essential to improving the in-store customer experience, a key differentiator for bricks-and-mortar retailers over their online rivals.’

According to research from Cisco, employee productivity technologies can deliver the greatest value for increasing efficiency, optimising the checkout process and improving worker collaboration. Investments in these areas also contribute to improved shopper experiences and increased loyalty. Just 6% of retailers’ 2016 investment priorities were focused on employee productivity use cases, despite research indicating that use cases deliver the greatest return on investment for retailers; in other words, digitisation is a $187 billion (roughly R2,6 trillion) opportunity, according to Cisco.

“The key initiatives that improve employee productivity all rely on a network that understands how people interact, can be customised easily, and can control access irrespective of the device that the employee is using – all things that today’s retail employees demand,” Hamid says.

In retail, investments in workforce digitisation deliver value to operations, the labour equation, and talent retention. Since all of these support new and compelling customer experiences, digitising the workforce enables a value chain that is critical to retail success.

“A focus on technology investments that empower employees takes on a whole new meaning in Nigeria, which already struggles to overcome education and training challenges,” Hamid says. “With digitisation, companies have an opportunity to improve skills across the board in the retail industry, which will contribute hugely to the growth of the country’s economy, whether on Black Friday or throughout the year.”


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Black Friday: Yudala Records Unprecedented Spike In Online Traffic



By peter oluka

Yudala, Nigeria’s pioneer online and offline e-commerce company is recording an unprecedented spike in online traffic  as eager shoppers thronged the company’s website www.yudala.comfrom midnight to be the first to take advantage of the company’s Black Friday offers.

This year’s edition of Black Friday, a globally celebrated shopping festival, is being marked officially today, Friday November 24th, 2017.

Insights garnered from the shopping activity on the Yudala website show that online traffic on commenced a steady spike from 11:49pm on Thursday night as early bird shoppers began to lay in wait for the official commencement of the Black Friday midnight rush for deals.

From 12am, traffic on the Yudala website had grossed over 50,000 hits, with shoppers who placed their orders between the hours of 12am – 1am enjoying an additional incentive of free shipping of their orders nationwide. Furthermore, Yudala had made available over 500,000 Early Bird deals on its website for shoppers who place their orders between the hours of 12am – 11:59am today, Friday November 24th.

Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, Vice President at Yudala disclosed that the company was determined to make it a memorable Black Friday for its teeming customers.

“If you are yet to visit the website, now is the time to do so.  We had Mystery Products up on the website from 12am at 99% off so, from midnight on Friday, we were already processing loads of orders from shoppers who were taking advantage of our early bird deals. Electronics, mobile phones, home appliances, wines and groceries, consumer goods and computing products are among some of the most ordered items. Remember, the Early Bird Deals run till 11:59am today so there is still ample opportunity for many Nigerians to enjoy our unmatched offerings.

“If you miss the early bird deals, then you can take advantage of our Lunch Time Deals which runs from 12pm till 4:59pm today and if you fall into the class of those who prefer to do their Black Friday shopping later in the day, then you can enjoy our Sunset Deals from 5pm till 11:59pm. Also, shoppers who place their orders on the stroke of 11:11am or 12:12pm will get free tickets to the Yudala Christmas party.

“You also stand a chance to spin a wheel of fortune at six Yudala stores in Lagos today to walk home with a free gift. Simply visit any of the Yudala stores in Bode Thomas, Surulere; Admiralty Way, Lekki; The Palms Shopping Mall; Medical Road, Ikeja; Redemption Crescent in Gbagada or the one at Cherub Mall on Lekki-Epe Expressway to experience what Black Friday is all about, courtesy of Yudala.

“No other company offers you all of these mouth-watering options for Black Friday: best prices, mega deals and genuine products. With Yudala, You Live Well,” he concluded.

Interestingly, Yudala is also adding an extra dimension on social media for its walk-in customers.

For shoppers who find their way to the Yudala Experience Store at The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki today, there is a unique opportunity to follow the “Make a wish” live feed on Instagram at the store.

Yudala has generated loads of frenzy on its Instagram live feed where the company is giving followers a chance to make a wish and see it fulfilled. Many lucky followers have won amazing freebies including laptops, mobile phones, electronics, shopping vouchers and other exciting give-away items through this medium.

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