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Nigeria, Best Place to Plant Seeds for Next Wave of African Entrepreneurs -Russ Fisher-Ives



By Chukwuemeka fred agbata

Any nation that wishes to advance technologically and play big, in the games of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, AI, must invest significantly in Education and make it possible for more students to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, subjects.

This is exactly what Russ Fisher-Ives, Co-Founder and his fellow Co-Founders are doing, with RoboRaves International. I recently had a chat with Russ on his thoughts on the future of Robotics in Africa.

Russ stated that, Robotics brings technology for the 21st Century. “As we move to make our machines smaller, so, they run more efficiently, they use resources better. We start to take our old machines and we start to bring in computer coding, micro-processors, so, our old machines become smart machines”, he stressed. This, he said is done, by understanding sensors, how to code and how to write the instructions. He explained that, after getting your instructions in, you then, find out whether it does what you want.

Russ stated that, talking about coding, the idea is to engage kids with Robotics, so that, they can get excited. “They take a little bit of knowledge and they get all excited to do something with it and ask to be taught more”, he emphasized.

On why Robotics in Nigeria, Russ is of the opinion that, this is because, Nigeria is the fastest growing country on the African continent and has a very huge young population and it has got the opportunities to bring skills for employment. “And when you plant the seeds in the minds of curious kids, not the adults, although we need the adults, but the curiosity in kids, then,  you have gardens full of ideas”, he stressed. He opined that, with this, Nigeria is the best place to plant the seeds for the next wave of entrepreneurs for Africa.

He stated that, the very first RoboRave was in 2001, carried out with 25 High School kids and it has expanded now to many other countries. On the funding of the RoboRave initiative, Russ stated that the project gets funding from registration and from different events that it carries out and donations from companies and Foundations. He emphasized that RoboRaves is constantly looking for resources. He gave the example of SONY, an international company, that has just signed for sponsorship of RoboRave in China.

Russ is of the opinion that, RoboRave is capable of improving the number of women in technology. He explained the strategy being used at RoboRave in getting the female gender to participate in the early years of RoboRave. He, however, emphasized that, it is not about bringing the girls alone, rather, it is about valuing what they do and listening to what they know. “You can’t stop passion. It’s a fire that burns”, he stressed.

On the reach of RoboRave, Russ stated that it has been able to reach close to about 200,000 kids, so far. He explained that, the Chinese has made RoboRave an official Robotics program for all of China. He stated that China has a lot of kids that play locally, but never come to the full event.

Russ, while demonstrating the workings of a Robot, stated that, it is all about input, processing and output. On the fear that, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will, eventually, take all the jobs of mankind, Russ is of the opinion that, it is a question with so many dimensions. “The bottom line is that, we are the ones that are coding. We control the information that goes in. The real issue is that, we are now building Robots that are learning from their environment and are writing their own codes”, he stressed.

“So, do we have the possibility of having Robots acquiring more skills than we put into them? Yes”, he declared.

He emphasized that, what we should now be aiming for, is how to effectively control the Robots and how to shut them off. “This is why we need to teach the kids the ethics of Robotics, which is the new challenge that RoboRave is aiming to achieve in 2018”, he concluded.

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Vodacom Trains the Next Generation on Internet of Things



L-R: Olumide Idowu, Senior Manager, Customer Support Operation Centre, Vodacom; Iwalehin Oluwakemi and Azubile Godwin both Teachers from SS. Peter and Paul Nursery and Primary School; Abu Etu, Senior Manager: Product Portfolio, Vodacom Business Nigeria with pupils from SS. Peter and Paul Nursery and Primary School, Ikate Elegushi, Lekki Lagos during a one day Information and Communication Technology Field Trip to Vodacom Facility in Lagos recently..

In order to further technological development in the education sector and among the next generation, Vodacom Business Nigeria has organised a robotics training session for thirty-six young students from the S.S. Peter & Paul Nursery and Primary School.

Loving Gaze, an independent non-profit organisation that serves the underprivileged communities in Lagos State, runs the school.

The young students, aged between 8 and 10, through a practical course on robotics, were given the opportunity to learn about the integration of the Internet of things (IoT) in robotics and its growing relevance in various areas of modern life.

The students were taught how to build, program and control robots, drones and other artificial intelligence.

This demonstrated the essential nature of technology in various aspects of everyday life, including securing lives and property. As a practical demonstration of this, students were shown how drones could be used for a wide range of services in today’s world.

This includes the delivery of medication and lifesaving supplies to remote locations in emergency situations, which is already happening in some locations around the world.

They were also given a tour of the company’s facilities, exposing them to the importance of connectivity and telecommunications technology in today’s digital world.

Abu Etu, Senior Manager: Product Portfolio, Vodacom Business Nigeria said, “ As part of our commitment to empower the next generation in Nigeria through ICT, Vodacom believes that it is important to promote training for students at the primary level of education.

This will prepare them from the early stages of their lives for the post – digital age which will demand technical knowledge and skills”.

The General Manager of Loving Gaze, Barbara Pepoli, said; “We are excited that our students had the opportunity to learn new things beyond the walls of the classroom.

Getting children interested in technology has been very important for our school and this field trip is a great way to make technology come to life for our students”.

Vodacom Business Nigeria constantly uses industrial tours and field trips to educate students from primary, secondary and tertiary schools on new telecommunications technologies that are driving the economy.

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Opeke Highlights Data Centre Hosting, Cloud investment @ TMT Finance Africa



Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, has highlighted the opportunity for increased investment in shared fiber network infrastructure and data center and cloud computing infrastructure in Africa. This, she said was key to further unlocking the gains in the digital transformation of the continent.

She spoke at the 2018 TMT Finance Africa Conference, a forum driving investment for telecoms, media and technology sector across Africa, held in Cape Town, South Africa last week.

Ms. Opeke joined panelists from DLA Piper, Teraco, PAIX and Rack Center to discuss the need for continued investment and growth within the telecom sector and data center market in order to realize the vision for increased ICT adoption in Africa.

She highlighted that MainOne, through its subsidiary, MDXi Data Centre has recently invested an additional N12billion in its Lekki data centre in order to grow its capacity from 300 to 600 racks as the leading data centre in West Africa.

She stated that this investment is a part of MainOne’s plan to invest additional $300 million to enhance communication infrastructure across West Africa over ten years.

“MainOne intends to remain at the forefront of the broadband initiative in West Africa with investments in fiber infrastructure and data centres across the region to advance broadband activities.

In 8 years, we have established a reputation as the preferred provider of connectivity and data center services to West African businesses and have facilitated global content providers seeking direct access to subscribers on the sub-continent.

The company has continued to extend its network reach and is currently providing services in eight West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana,” she added.

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After Konga, Owners Mull Sale of Jumia



There are plans to sell Africa’s leading e-commerce firm, Jumia, owned by Rocket Internet, a German start-up investor.


The move is coming as Zinox Group, an integrated Information Communication Technology (ICT) solutions conglomerate and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), recently acquired Konga, e-commerce giant.


Reports,  yesterday, suggested that Rocket Internet, is also considering listing Jumia either in Frankfurt or London stock exchange.


This is expected to take place this or next year, but according to Reuters, Rocket Internet is expected to “shortly mandate banks for an initial public offering of Jumia.”


Rocket Internet helped set up Jumia in 2012, but the firm has been operating with loss for years despite conquering the market space.


But the owners are seeking a way out from the consumer electronics and fashion retailer, in line with its strategy of selling or listing established internet firms.


Reuters said Berenberg, which has a track record of working with Rocket on capital market transactions, is seen to be in a good position to win a mandate, the people said.


A listing of shares, in a volume of under €200 million ($245.7 million) is expected to be floated, but no information on Jumia’s valuation was immediately available.

Last year, Rocket Internet floated online food groups, Delivery Hero and HelloFresh, while the investor is currently also preparing a flotation of its online furniture retailer Home24.


1.2 billion consumers and 15 million small and medium-sized firms. It also features services such as an online hotel booking and a food delivery platform.


Jumia said in January that it had 1 billion visits on its pages across Africa in 2017. It has 50,000 merchants in its ecosystem, where five million products, hotels, restaurants and other services are listed.


According to a presentation from Rocket Internet, Jumia saw its adjusted loss before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization widen to €80.7 million in the first nine months of 2017. Revenues edged up to €57.3 million.

Only recently, Zinox Group acquired Konga in a move that is expected to raise the profile of e-commerce in Nigeria.


The acquisition has been viewed by industry watchers as a major development that could see e-commerce in Nigeria finally unlock the massive revenue potential in the global multi-billion-dollar industry.




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