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Mentorship: You Can’t Develop Skills Without Giving Experience- Johnson

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By peter oluka

Start-ups in Nigeria require proper adequate mentoring to triumph in today’s business environment hence the establishment of Lighthouse Hub about nineteen months ago.

The Hub aims to mentor, train, encourage, guide and propel the upcoming entrepreneurs towards the right path in order to reach their potentials, Yetunde Johnson, founder of the Hub said in an interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek.

Lighthouse Means

“LightHouse guides you to where you are going, safely. So, we are​ here to guide anybody that comes to us ​inspired to move to the next stage of achievement. We took a risk and we are still taking risks to make it happen. When we moved into the building, the core team took on the job of setting things right, from the electricity to decors and other works. We did this by ourselves and the funding had come from Slingshot’s consulting fees and money we have raised internally,” she said.

Why?

“We ​believe that if you give young people responsibility with the right training and mentoring, they will get to their destination. Imagine if you take an army of young people in technology or business and expose them to adequate training, the gains will be much.

“​My​ only worry is that young people​ tend to separate themselves from the older people. It is such a fundamental mistake. There should be a ‘marrying’ of the two; it takes the raw energy of the young people and the experience or exposure of the older people to move us to a different place, the right place’, Johnson said.

Lighthouse System of Grooming Young People

“It has been difficult in the country for organisations to take-on young people due to the cost required to groom them to a level where they are productive. Therefore, we are trying to give them (young people) hands-on experience in IT. They are here for real life tasks to develop their skills. We have six pioneer interns.

“One of the key things is that our interns follow us to meeting businesses. On one of such occasions, I spoke to a client and the company was willing to take four interns, train and pay them stipends. At the end of six month one will be selected, as a permanent staff. More employers need to do that.

“You can’t develop a skill if you don’t give experience. You can’t keep people unemployed because they don’t have the right skills or certification, yet you don’t provide the right environment for that. You can make it tax deductible whereby every business is involved in training​m the young people​. Businesses can​not just be sitting by the corner; not want to assist in job creation. They should train our youths to be employable”.

Lighthouse Hub, Johnson added, “We will show IT startups the avenues through which to limit business risks while giving those seeking career redirection the route to success.

“For this case we are partnering with organsiations like the Debbie Mishael Consulting and others. The fact is that IT needs a strategy. If you have a dream and lack where to seed it, there is not drive. We have given free courses before.

“Our costs are seemingly the lowest in Lagos and you can still get zero entrance. When we train somebody, we do it thoroughly. But people aren’t turning up. We did training on WordPress which anybody can take up and begin to make money. We had little or no turn out.

“However, we had some girls who showed serious enthusiasm that I rarely see in the young people and without any motivation from us they came for HTML and CSS training and have been coming for the last 10-12 weeks. They are inspiring. They see the opportunity learning coding skills can give them and they have jumped at it. We wish for more like them.

“Now, I know we don’t want brain drain, but if you have spent time here and there are opportunities calling for your skill​s elsewhere, then of course you would ​ go and grab it. Though, I strongly believe that when a Nigerian goes outside the country, they would want to return, because he would realize why home is so special.

“But you need an avenue or programme that should be showing our young people the pathway to success; rewards them commensurately. We worked with the Women In Tech on a project in the University of Lagos (Unilag). Out of thousands of young ladies in Unilag, less than 70 attended the training. We offered to train people free, but they aren’t showing up.

“There is something wrong with the present generation that must be addressed. Some of the best IT trainers are in Nigeria, but the young people are not paying attention. We did a programme for teachers in collaboration with Teachers Nigeria; they tend to train teachers on how to use Google related research tools. They were so disappointed.

“The turn out in Lagos was just low. How many teachers do we have. It was a free course. But the attitude of our people will now force them to start charging fees. We were invited to Ogun State, the turnout was incredible and we had a dynamic session.

Nigerian Youths Need to Believe In Themselves

“We need to give credit to ourselves and accept the little things we make here. I know a young man who makes shoes of extremely high quality. For him to make s​ale​s, he had to use ​an ​Italian label. Now, the shoes were made in Nigeria but Italy takes the credit. Now, Debbie Mishael Consulting is bringing ICITP training programme​s​ that will enable our young IT graduates have han​ds-on​ experience. Only the passionate will understand and grab the opportunities as they come.

“This is one reason we are partnering with lot of organizations do a lot of things that compliment the skills our startups would need. We are planning a six weeks intensive ‘You-Learn’ programme.

“If you are a programmer I don’t think you can succeed by mere ​reading books​, you need to practise what you have read​. Our young people need that practical approach to doing things. Also, it is difficult for interns to learn without ​​​financial support, even though they are not expecting to us to pay them we provide a stipend. They will struggle to have concentration if they are hungry or short of cash. Though, it is not easy to sustain such system. If we can’t continue to function as a business, we can’t sustain the Hub.

Why Obalende?

Johnson doubles as the managing director of Slingshot Technologies Limited. Lighthouse Hub is one of the consulting firm’s projects, located at 35 Moloney Street, Obalende-Lagos Island. She speaks on the location, thus:

“I really love Obalende; this is the place I want to be. People think I am crazy, but they are wrong. If you are going to tap into human capacity of Nigeria, you must know where they are. They too need to tap into us. We are willing to be here to share these skills we are bringing back. Among us, we share skills too because no body has​ a​ monopoly o​n​ knowledge. We need to borrow skills from others. I have always loved this building. To me, it is the most strategic place you can be.

“If you are headed to the Mainland- to the left; to the Island- to the right. If you are aiming at Ikoyi, go through under the bridge. ‘Besides that, it is one point where every w​ork ​of life crisscrosses. So, there was a day I was passing on the bridge, I felt this is a place we can tap in to the ​raw material of Nigeria which is the human resource. I fe​el, the Nigerian human resource is the most incredible resource if trained, mentored well and tapped into. Why do I say that? If you look around the world Nigerians are the ones leading. We are not hailing ourselves, unfortunately. If you look at the key developments in the US & UK, the key drivers are Nigerians.

“I am a staunch Nigerian and I love being here. As a child I grew up to know Nigerians are strong and dynamic. They don’t give excuses rather go for the results. So, I just wanted to come back to the country and tap into the ecosystem and contribute my quota to the development of the young people. If you are trained in Nigeria life is not that stressful when you travel out of the country, because you have already faced great challenges here.

What Happens At The First Floors?

The first floor is where the Hub is located. “In summary, the Hub has room to accommodate everybody no matter how large or small your business could be. We have inside the Hub the Co Working Area for those who can’t afford to rent offices. We made it flexible for networking beyond your own ‘kind’ of people- that is, those outside your immediate business field, but who you need to climb the ladder. That is the environment that allows the young and old meet. We also have the serviced office space that give clients opportunity to focus on their business while we handle all others issues for them.

“You have free access to the meeting and conference rooms for an allocated period of time which is also located on the first floor. Being a member of the hub guarantees you that platform. It is our way of making life comfortable for small businesses. You can actually conduct your training, seminars, meeting, conferences too. It is a small community with a great vision for businesses in the IT ecosystem”, she concluded.

 

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Sanitise Economy, Curb Debtors Via Technology, Ekeh, Zinox Boss

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Leo Stan Ekeh, serial digital entrepreneur and chairman, Zinox Group

Leo Stan Ekeh, Africa’s leading technology entrepreneur, has charged the Federal Government to leverage technology in reducing to the barest minimum the growing incidences of corporate debts and usher in an era of unprecedented boom and sanity in the Nigerian economy.

 

He made this assertion while delivering the Guest Lecture at the maiden edition of the 2018 Nigerian Online Merit Awards (NiOMA) held in Lagos recently.

 

Ekeh, chairman of the Zinox Group, who disclosed that technology will resolve much of the contemporary problems facing the Nigerian state if holistically applied, noted that the country will benefit immensely if the government turns to technology in its search for lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the economy.

 

According to Ekeh, the recent revelation by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) that, about 350 Nigerians account for 80 per cent of its N5.4 trillion debt portfolio and the refusal of majority of these debtors to liquidate their indebtedness is an issue that can be easily resolved through the application of technology if there exists accurate data of how these debts arose.

 

In his opinion, it could also be that the government at different levels are partially responsible for some these debts, especially if they were unable to meet their obligations to some of these corporates.

 

Ekeh acknowledged that the present debt profile should be a case study for upcoming entrepreneurs or part of the issues to be dissected by data analysts on why some of these businesses failed, noting that this may also reveal a lot of insider compromises on the part of the lenders so that sincere lessons could be learnt and better structure and systems put in place to avert a recurrence.

 

“Working in concert with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Attorney General of the Federation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for enforcement purposes, AMCON can leverage a simple technology application that makes it easy to access the bank balances of debtors across all the various banks in Nigeria. This will be a mandatory requirement for the extension of loans and credit facilities and will foster more responsible borrowing as the lenders can easily debit the accounts of borrowers upon due date to recover sums extended.

 

“This will not only reduce the growing profile and negative trend of corporate debts, with its attendant detrimental effect on the economy but will also expose many Nigerians who are publicly hailed as billionaires but who are only living large off depositors’ money, while frustrating further lending to start ups,” he stated.

 

Disclosing the many ways he has relied on technology to ramp up efficiency in his various businesses and simplify complex processes, Ekeh revealed that by next week, he would be trying out a new Enterprise application that will simplify transaction with bankers, irrespective of the numbers.

 

“This application will give us control over all of our bank accounts instead of relying on bank staff to implement our instruction at their convenience.”

 

He also disclosed that the new warehouses widely reported as recently acquired by e-commerce giant Konga were equipped with digital cameras with data analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities which can easily detect fraud and random inconsistencies such as a change in the appearance of an individual or item captured on entry into the facilities. Most importantly, these cameras are cloud based.

 

Urging the government to commit more resources to technology in resolving the unemployment challenges and drive the nation towards rapid development, Ekeh cited the influence of technology in the political space which has reduced post-election litigations from 87% to about 33%, noting that this will further reduce to 11% or thereabouts with the adoption of electronic voting, if funded by the government.

 

“Technology does not lie; it is either you are right or wrong. With technology, you can do unimaginable things. You don’t even need to go through the four walls of a University to acquire quality education,” Ekeh enthused.

 

The Zinox Chairman who spoke on the theme – Leveraging the Internet Revolution to leapfrog Nigeria’s development – affirmed that Information Technology will disrupt the Nigerian economy positively by the year 2023, creating immense opportunities and new wealth for many Nigerians.

 

Noting that this will happen irrespective of the status of leadership at the helm of affairs in the country, Ekeh urged attendees at the event to prepare for the coming disruption.

 

While appreciating the organizers and Publisher of News Express, Mr. Isaac Umunna, Ekeh who received the ICT Icon of the Year award at the event also seized the opportunity to recognize the media for the long years of support in spreading the ICT gospel, even as he declared his intention to stand down from participation at many of such future events in order to allow the younger generation and his son, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, founder of Yudala to take the stage as he believes they have better global education and exposure to lead the nation to the digital promised land.

 

Among dignitaries in attendance at the event was former Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe who chaired the event; Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan; Publisher of the Guardian Newspapers, Mrs. Maiden Ibru; former Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University and Chairman, Editorial Board of the Guardian, Prof. Wale Omole and Editor, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Eze Anaba, among others.

 

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Mobile Operators Commit to Common Approach to IOT Security

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The GSMA has announced that global mobile operators have committed to adopt and implement the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines.

The guidelines outline best practice and recommendations for the Internet of Things (IoT) security for the entire IoT ecosystem and set out a comprehensive security assessment scheme to help ensure IoT services are protected against IoT security risks. There will reach 3.1 billion IoT connections by 2025, according to GSM A Intelligence.

“For the IoT to flourish, the industry needs an aligned and consistent approach to IoT security. Our guidelines encourage the industry to adopt a robust set of best practices that will help create a more secure IoT market with trusted, reliable services that can scale as the market grows.

“The mobile industry has a long history of providing secure services in licensed spectrum and by implementing these guidelines, we can help ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the market,” commented Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA.

The GSMA IoT Security Guidelines are targeted at IoT service providers, device manufacturers, developers and mobile operators and provide best practice for the secure end-to-end design, development, and deployment of IoT solutions across industries and services.

They address typical cybersecurity and data privacy issues associated with IoT services and outline a step-by-step process to securely launch solutions to market.

They are supported by an IoT Security Assessment scheme that provides a checklist to support the secure launch of IoT solutions into the market and keep them secure throughout their lifecycles thereby creating a sustainable IoT ecosystem that is designed for end-to-end security.

Both the GSMA IoT Security Guidelines and IoT Security Assessment also cover the fast-growing Low Power Wide Area or Mobile IoT technologies, LTE-M and NB-IoT.

 

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BoICT Explains Why Glo Won Most Innovative Award

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Organisers of the Beacon of ICT Awards, Communications Week Media, have said that Globacom won the Most Innovative Player Award at the 2018 edition of the awards because it pioneering most of the innovations in the nation’s telecoms industry.

Giving the explanation while presenting the awards to Globacom,  Ken Nwogbo, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer of Communications Week Media, reiterated  Globacom’s consistent role as the pioneer in Nigeria’s telecom space in the area of innovation and service quality.

According to him, “Glo has remained consistent in pioneering most of the innovations we have in the telecoms industry today, both in voice and in data services.

Glo Café, Borrow me Data, Campus Booster, E-top Up and Easy Share are among the recent products which have offered unparalleled experience for telecom subscribers on the Glo network. Many of the respondents who took part in the poll said this was why they voted for Glo as the Most Innovative Mobile Player”.

Nwogbo further explained that winners in the various categories were decided by readers of Communications Week in an online survey conducted by the magazine from November last year to March 15, 2018.

The Beacon of ICT Awards was instituted to reward the vision and efforts of individuals and companies that have contributed to the growth of the ICT industry in a particular year.

The main objectives of the awards are to evaluate and recognize standards of excellence in the country’s quest for growth and development in the use of ICT and to ensure that ICT professionals are provided a basis for recognizing and validating outstanding contributions.

 

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