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Nigeria, Others to Account for Half of 115m new Subscribers by 2020 – de Morais



 Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais is an entrepreneur and innovation specialist with a deep interest in African socio-economic development. In 2007, He founded Quantum Global Group, an international group of companies focused on African development, particularly in the fields of corporate finance advisory, asset and private wealth management, real estate and investment consulting. He has been supporting sustainable and innovation-led socio economic growth in Africa through African Innovation Foundation. He spoke to chike Onwuegbuchi on issues around his Foundation and supporting innovation in Africa

Low Internet penetration in Africa as a Challenge for Entrepreneurs

The 2017 Mobile Economy report by GSMA estimates that at the end of 2016, there were 420 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to a penetration rate of 43%.

The region will have more than half a billion unique mobile subscribers by 2020, by which time around half the population will subscribe to a mobile service.

Four of the most populated markets in the region – DRC, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania – will account for nearly half the 115 million new subscribers expected by 2020.

A decade ago, none of this existed. Today, despite bandwidth challenges, African entrepreneurship is on the rise.

The 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report shows that three quarters of working age adults in Africa consider entrepreneurship as a ‘good career choice’.

The GEM report also shows that ‘Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial activity (TEA) rates in Africa are amongst the highest in the world, with just under a fifth of working age adults engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity.

The majority, 55%, of early-stage entrepreneurs in Africa operate in retail trade, hotels and restaurants, while the second most-popular sector is agriculture, forestry and fishing, at 10%, followed by manufacturing at 8%.

Through IPA we have seen many African innovators rise above the common day challenges that affect Africans at large and go on to build successful local, regional and global businesses.

As I referenced before, the challenges are more in relation to entrepreneurs not being able to commercialize their ideas due to their lack of ability to meet the real needs in Africa, which renders their ideas technically and commercially unviable.

AIF and Innovative Initiatives in Africa

In the six years since AIF hosted the inaugural Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), I have seen African ingenuity evolve in its sophistication and relevance. Africa’s youthful demographic has come of age in the digital era, making them early adopters of technology and the vanguard of innovation on the continent.

The continent has witnessed a cultural shift from consumers of technology to innovators capable of disrupting traditional sectors such as agriculture while pioneering relevant African-focused solutions in important growth sectors such as healthcare and clean energy.

However, not all segments of African society have been privy to being able to participate in driving the continent’s innovation needs.

In order for African innovation to truly have an impact on socio-economic transformation, we need to create more inclusive innovation ecosystems that provide windows of opportunity for Africans who are outside the formal economy to develop technically and commercially viable solutions that meet their needs as well.

Attracting Investment to Develop ideas in Africa

Africa’s investment in research and development (R&D) is less than one per cent of the global investment share. Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) infrastructure and resources continue to fall short.

These factors are amongst the reasons why very few scientific discoveries translate into viable solutions that solve real African challenges.

An innovative solution is only as good as its viability in the real world. Year after year, through IPA, hundreds of African innovators put forward solutions that they believe meet local challenges. Yet only a handful of African innovators are able to translate their ideas to the lab and scale their innovations.

There is a need for increased collaboration between researchers and innovators to facilitate knowledge transfer and enable the creation of more impactful and marketable innovations across the continent.

In an effort to close this gap, AIF recently entered into a MoU with The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) to create more value and enhance cooperation, interaction, and knowledge sharing in STI in Africa. In doing so, we aim to catalyse research-led innovations into sustainable African enterprises.

Motive Behind African Innovation Foundation

I founded the AIF in 2009 with the aim of supporting sustainable and innovation-led socio economic growth in Africa. Its key focus has been to enable Africans to create homegrown solutions for local challenges.

Then, in 2011 we launched the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This proved to be the catalyst for unlocking the dormant African innovation spirit.

In 2012, at the joint Africa Union (AU) and UNECA conference, IPA was endorsed by the ministers in attendance, and a resolution was passed, calling for member states to work with AIF to promote innovation-based societies in Africa.

To me, this will always remain one AIF’s greatest milestones because it led to important beginnings.

Many African governments have since begun to see the real value in investing in innovation economies and have been increasingly putting innovation ahead on their development agenda.

Last year at IPA2017 held in Ghana, H.E. President Akufo-Addo pledged to commit a minimum of one per cent of GDP towards strengthening Ghana’s innovation ecosystem.

This is yet another reflection of AIF’s impact in defining the importance of innovation in securing widespread socio economic transformation.

I sincerely hope to see more African leaders make this level of commitment towards driving innovation-led growth in their respective countries.

Way out of problem of Access to Credit for Entrepreneurs in Africa

This comes down to a financing mismatch more often than not. Africa is an early stage market. The ideas on the continent are also young, reflecting a young demographic that are early adopters of technology.

At present, investors are largely interested in startups in the e-commerce, clean technology, e-health and financial services space but many of these startups are still in early stages. What they need is venture capital because they do not yet qualify for private equity.

Africa needs to attract more venture capital money in order to boost its startup scene at a faster rate.

The theme for IPA2018, ‘Investing in Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society.

The aim is to find solutions to increase access to innovative financing and knowhow, and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate.

We are also looking to garner increased participation form the diaspora. Diaspora entrepreneurs and investors too are uniquely positioned to recognize opportunities in their countries of cultural origin as ‘first influencers’ in fostering economic growth.

Recent research suggests that diaspora entrepreneurs can contribute to development by creating businesses and jobs, stimulating innovation, expanding global networks, and generating social capital across borders. So in this regard, IPA2018 is a call to action for diaspora investors to support African innovation and entrepreneurship.

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Group to Train 5,000 North East Youths on ICT



Arewa Young Leaders Initiative, a group of youths from the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory campaigning for a drug-free north, says it plans to train 5,000 youths on ICT in the northeast.

Malam Ibrahim Yusuf, Drug-Free Campaign Coordinator, disclosed this in Gombe on Thursday after a rally which terminated at the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu’s palace.

The coordinator said the training was to discourage drug consumption among youths by engaging them in meaningful ventures.

He said the training would be in collaboration with Microsoft and will commence before May.

The campaign coordinator said the group would also establish a skill acquisition centre in Gombe to serve the entire region.

Yusuf said the campaign was one of the key outcomes of the 2nd Arewa Youth Leadership Summit held in January at the Nigeria Airforce Conference centre Abuja.

He said drug abuse in the Northern region, especially among young people was an issue of concern which needed to be tackled.

He said the project was intended to be continuous in the span of five years.

“The campaign was structured and tailored to be holistic and all-encompassing with series of activities that are knitted together, for the benefit of youth,” he said.

The coordinator said key influential statesmen would be identified to disabuse the mind of young people on drug and inspire them for leadership.

Also, Mr. Aliyu Adole, Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Gombe, said the prevalence of drug abuse among youths in Gombe was high.

He called on the emir to facilitate the furnishing of the rehabilitation centre in Gombe.

“We have a befitting structure which was constructed by the state government but not equipped with standard facilities,” he said.

In his response, Shehu said it was his responsibility as a father to all to ensure drug-free society.

He appealed to youths in the states to desist from social vices capable of destroying their future.

“Drug abuse kills development because the population engaged in it is supposed to be the future leaders of the country.

“I want to assure you of my commitment as a father to all, in ensuring a drug-free society,” he said.

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Jumia Launches All-in-One Mobile App



Jumia, has announced the launch of Jumia One, a new Android all-in-one lifestyle App that allows customers to conduct all online transactions – such as, Airtime recharge, DSTV & Electricity payments, and access all Jumia services – on just a single App.


Paul Midy, the company’s new Chief Executive Officer said, “Our mission is to bring every online service in one place and make them easier, more secure and more affordable to everyone.”


Jumia One is in line with Jumia’s mission of improving people’s lives through the internet.


“We have built a one-stop shop for Africa where people could fulfill their daily needs or payments online on a single App,” added Midy.


Kushal Dutta, managing director of Jumia One Nigeria, noted that small-scale businesses and full-fledged companies can use the App to attract more customers, as it provides them with a free opportunity to download (for customers) and install (for businesses).


Dutta stated, “The new App is useful to both customers and entrepreneurs looking to sell everyday goods and services.


“You can sell or buy airtime, make payments across different banks, pay your church offerings, pay for your betting games or favourite sports, book Uber, pay for internet data, and most importantly, access all Jumia services, be it shopping for grocery or buying gadgets; ordering food online; or booking flights or a hotels.”


The icing on the cake, Dutta added, is the fact that customers who purchase airtime on Jumia One App will get instant 5% cash back, and those who choose to make payments through Jumia Pay will get 10% cashback.


Commenting on Jumia’s long-term goal for the continent, Midy said, “Hundred of thousands of local African companies are doing businesses on the Jumia platform daily.


“We are taking the entire economy online and enabling small, medium, and large African companies to find new customers and serve them in a new way.”

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Phase3 Joins Efforts on Access to Healthcare for Indigents in FCT



Phase3 Telecom said that its grant access portfolio has been expanded to support local high impact health based initiatives nationwide; principally those that are designed to combat the disproportionate access of the poor to affordable and quality healthcare services.


This is as part of its increased corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive

Stanley Jegede

According Stanley Jegede, chief executive, Phase3 Telecom  “in the past four years, the scope of Phase3 health based grants have significantly increased to a greater percentage almost at par with its ICT grants portfolio, due to the obvious alarming increase in the death rate of the nation’s citizenry from causes that are less terminal or natural; and it is quite disconcerting  that chief causes of death beyond security and social crises often stem from treatable causes that only requires timely, effective and affordable medical care’.


Phase3 also believes that the nation’s low global ranking in terms of human development, especially in the area of access to affordable and quality healthcare as well as standard medical facilities or clinical health centers would improve quicker if more individuals and organizations support credible programs that focus on equal access to healthcare and its outcomes; as government and allied agencies alone cannot resolve this.


Thus, Phase3 will once again ride on its partnership with Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care (GIPLC) to provide financial assistance to indigent patients in the capital’s general hospitals with Gwagwalada being the first stop; as GIPLC is a credible NGO and an organization that thrives on collective actions and is well versed in building networks that can sustainably combat healthcare disparities beyond Nigeria such as South Sudan.


More so, since the scope of this partnership is to cover the medical expenses of the most vulnerable indigents at each target medical facility or centre per quarter – Phase3 resolved to deploy its health based grant for this program through GIPLC due to the fact that the NGO understands the criteria of assessment and measurability of such near complex medical aid initiatives as well as the integrity required in ensuring that grants are disbursed in the names of each beneficiary.


And it is a Phase3 chief objective that as it continues to advocate greater quantification of individual access to affordable healthcare, and less disparity in the quality of healthcare available to especially indigent women, children, elderly, and persons with disabilities in rural areas; disadvantage communities or hubs – more corporates will join efforts for quicker results and to positively change the course of Nigeria’s healthcare sector.


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