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Ekeh, Zinox Boss on CNN, Says ICT Investment Will Create Nigerian Billionaires

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Mr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, chairman of Zinox Group

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.

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E-Business

Improved Security Strategies Required for ePlatforms Uptakes- ITSSP

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By peter oluka ‎

Nigeria requires adequate cyber security measures to sustain the growth of service deliveries through e-Platforms, said information security experts.

Professor Adesina Sodiya, president of ITSSP in a telephone interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, described cybercrime as a growing global threat, but every country has learnt to defend its cyber space.

Prof. Sodiya said, ‎”Cybercrime is a global challenge; and the recent attacks in Nigeria have been affecting critical areas of our activities. That is why this group is concerned about the development of solutions to tackle the menace. We have to continue to discourse the way forward in terms of our national cyber development”‎

He said that, ‎as a country, professionals must be engaged to develop the cyber defence strategies. “Many countries have gone ahead with the development of defence mechanisms in the cyber space; Nigeria must not be left behind. We have not gotten there.‎

“Why do we need to be more serious about cyber space? There is a popular saying today that the next world war will happen at the cyber space.

“As at now, many countries are gathering information about other countries. They are peeping into other countries’ activities, which calls for us to develop our cyber security strategies to monitor inflow and outflow of data”.

Mr. ‎Aderogba Adeoye, former president of ITSSP also told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that increase in these e-platforms calls for improved cyber security awareness.‎

“Everybody is talking about e-platforms. If we are to run the e-platforms, it entails a need to develop capacities for security. Your data or information can be wiped off in a twinkle of an eye. As far as the e-commerce platforms are concerned, the intention is to make profit.‎

“For us to continue reaping benefits in e-services applications the capacity development of the human capital must be taken very serious. This is what the conference tends to address.‎

“We are not relenting. ITSSP is an interest group of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS); it is important to us to advocate for focus on issues related to cyber security”, he said.‎‎

He added that recent advocacies have yielded results with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), for instance, introduced information security departments. “That is a right step in good direction. The other day we engaged the Ministry of Justice and the National Security Adviser (NSA) and they were convincing enough on how admitting electronic evidences are helpful in combating cybercrimes”. ‎

“In order to build capacity government has to enhance IT policing activities by ensuring that anybody executing government projects, in IT, are registered professionals. This is another way to elicit adherence to the rules of the business,” Adeoye added. ‎‎

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Stakeholders Frown at Nigeria’s Position on eReadiness Report

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by Chike Onwuegbuchi

Information and communications technology stakeholders have frowned at the recent position of the Nigeria on eReadiness status where the country is placed 119 out of 139 countries.

eReadiness refers to a country’s capacity and state of preparedness to participate in the electronic world.

The state of maturity is commonly measured by the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and the ability of its government and citizens to utilize the positive impacts of ICT for sustainable development.

Chris Uwaje, director general, Delta State Innovation Hub, who disclosed the country’s position said: “In the e-readiness report just released early this week Nigeria is sitting at 119.”

He said; “eReadiness status is about the aggregate measure of how countries are faring using ICT or within the ICT landscape, it embodied economic, educational and social index, measured along the lines of sustainable development goals. Each country has an index that they need to pass, it just like exam. But the aggregate sum of our domain platform today is really unacceptable. It keeps us into that realm of super consumption country in ICT but less in innovative and creativity and that is wrong.”

He explained that the more we consume the more we cannot create employment. “The more we consume, the more we are funding capital flight, the more we consume the more our educational sector will be malnourished in terms of knowledge, and will not be attractive, that is why more Nigerians are now in Ghanaian universities and in Republic of Benin universities.

“For the country to move up it is about knowledge Olympiad. We need to refine our educational system, government need to invest more on knowledge parks, incubators, and fund incubators. We have to ensure that lectures and those who can replicate knowledge are given added resources and reward system that enables them. Because we need to create a digital army for this country, so that when financial sector, aviation, transport or any other sector is attack can we defend it?”

Amos Emmanuel, chief executive officer, Programos Software, said that Nigeria has a lot to do if she has to move up in the ladder of e-readiness.

“The game of e-readiness has changed; it is no longer like technological transfer from Europe or America the focus is now on innovation base on the environment. Nigeria needs to reformulate its digital policy,” he said.

He blamed the country’s socio-cultural environment as impediment to application of information and communications technology to every sector of the economy.

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FG to Harmonize BVN, Others into National Identity Database

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By Fabian Tarpael, Abuja
The Federal Government has announced its decision to stop what it called proliferation and duplication of biometric-based identity systems in the country.

Mrs. Habiba Lawal, acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation, stated this in Abuja while inaugurating a former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, alongside eight others as chairman and members, respectively of the Governing Board of the National Identity Management Commission, (NIMC).

Lawal noted that the Federal Government established the NIMC as the primary institution charged with the responsibility of providing and regulating identity management in Nigeria, the issuance of the National Identification Number (NIN) and ID card to all registrable persons as well as the harmonisation and integration of existing identification databases in government agencies and integrating them into the National Identity Database (NIDB).

Represented on the board are the military, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, other government agencies and the private sector.

Among the first task the ex-governor and his team have been saddled with is the harmonisation of databases of Nigerians believed to have been unnecessarily duplicated.

Data expected to be harmonized included the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card registration being handled by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC); Bank Verification Number (BVN); Drivers Licence from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC); and voters card number among others.

Lawal said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari expects the proliferation and duplication of biometric-based identity systems to stop as it was neither cost effective, nor security smart.

“Apart from being unwieldy, the cost of operating multiple discordant databases and infrastructure is unattainable,” Lawal had stated.

She urged the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to come up with a more effective and innovative identity management system that was devoid of duplication for the country.

Mrs Lawal also said despite the successes of the commission at data capture of registrable persons in the country, “there was still much more to be done.”

She urged members of the Board who were drawn from both the public and private sectors, to take a cue from the countries that have successfully issued unique identity to its citizens and have utilised such identity to transform their society and economy.

“We need change, positive change in our identity eco-system. The change starts with all of us agreeing to make the sacrifices and commitment required, defining clear policy direction and taking collective actions to achieve our common goal.

“The NIMC must focus its energy on ensuring that the remaining component of the National Identity Management System (NIMS) roll-out alignment and switching over by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) through the harmonization and integration framework is successfully implemented.

“The speed of data collection must have to be improved upon, and this will reduce justifications given by MDAs, as reasons for duplicated biometric options.

“Hopefully, the harmonisation programme, being spearheaded by the Office of the Vice President, will help to achieve this, especially, by the commission ensuring that the MDAs switch or at least, align their existing infrastructure as data collection agents to the NIMC system,” she said.

In an acceptance speech, Oyinlola gave the assurance that the Board members will work assiduously to justify the confidence reposed in them by the government.

“We, therefore, pledge our loyalty to our dear nation and Mr President who has recognised our inherent capabilities and made the appointment, based on trust, competence and the confidence reposed in us.

“We shall live up to expectations, especially given the fact that the burden placed on our shoulders is a very sensitive and significant one that must be carried with every sincerity and patriotism,” he said.

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