With the right kind of investment in technological platforms and the overwhelming support of the government in providing the requisite enabling environment, Nigeria can effortlessly produce global billionaires from the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
This much was disclosed by Leo Stan Ekeh, chairman, Zinox Group, in an interview feature with renowned media outfit, Cable News Network (CNN) which has received significant mention since it was first aired in the first week of January 2017.
Serial digital entrepreneur, Ekeh who has built arguably Africa’s most integrated ICT conglomerate – the Zinox Group – is confident that with significant investment in ICT, the challenge of youth unemployment, inadequate opportunities and growing restiveness among the youth can be arrested.
For this to happen, however, the government has to actively engage the youths by investing massively in ICT which, in his opinion, has become the fancy of young people.
Ekeh is a firm believer in the numerous opportunities which abound in the rapidly evolving ICT-driven future – a knowledge economy in which wealth is no longer the exclusive preserve of a privileged few.
“The miracle of ICT is that it is the only profession in the world today that can make the child of a poor man the richest man in the world. The challenge, however, is that majority of our youths are in a closed community in which the standards are still poor so they cannot exhibit their innate intellectual strength. As a result, they are seen as defeated and a lot of them are unemployed.
“We are doing our bit to correct this situation but government support will go a long way in helping the country achieve more. Presently, Zinox is building digital training centres and tech hubs across the country and empowering many of our youths. We have also committed some significant investment in a number of tech start-ups. Recently, we invested in an Ibadan-based software company – Xputer. Interestingly, some of the apps being created by the young chaps Xputer are driving the business processes of the major e-commerce outfits in the country. All they needed was a bit of exposure and support to help them scale up.
“The same situation applies to many of our youth. Today, if you give these youths the right platforms, which I must say is not expensive, Nigeria can produce a minimum of 10 billionaires from the ICT sector in the next few years.”
"Ninety percent of youths today want to go into trending professions; lifestyle professions and that is what ICT really is. If government invests in this sector as it should, Nigeria is capable of producing several billionaires straight out of the technology space", he added.
Ekeh is the founder and chairman of the Zinox Group, a technology company based in Nigeria that manufactures and distributes computers at home and abroad. Zinox employs 1,800 Nigerians and Ekeh thinks the company can play a role in improving the tech economy, while tapping into Nigeria's young population.
Among his many tech ventures, Ekeh pioneered Zinox Computers, Nigeria's first internationally certified and most popular indigenous computer brand which has powered several international conferences including the African Union conference in Gambia and the 18th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which held in Abuja in 2003, in addition to being severally deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the registration and successful conduct of elections in Nigeria.
“We came with a computer with an in-built surge protector in line with the peculiar power challenges in Nigeria. At Zinox, we are closest to the people with 14 offices nationwide. Zinox has sold in every local government and town in the country today and the call centre is 24 hours. It’s a brand for Nigeria – global standard but specific to Nigeria,” he noted.
Ekeh ranks as one of Africa's most passionate digital entrepreneurs and he has staked this reputation by pioneering several successful technology start-ups and taking them to the zenith of marketplace competition.
A first rate Indian-trained economist and Risk Manager, he was honoured as an ICON of Hope by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on October 1st 2002 for his sustained pioneering effort in the area of Information technology and also as a pride to modern Nigeria.