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

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 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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FG Urged to Use Nigerian Communications Consultants to Frame Economic Narratives

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The Federal Government has been called upon to use Nigerian Public Relations and Marketing consultants to frame the nation’s economic narratives.

The appealed was made by one of Africa’s leading economists, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, at a Fireside Chat, organised by the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN) at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently.

Speaking on the theme of the session, “Macro-economic Factors That Will Impact the Nigerian Marketing Communications Industry in 2018,” Adedipe counselled the Muhammadu Buhari administration to tap into the expertise of Nigerian PR and Marketing Communications consultants to help the government frame its economic narratives and distill the message for better understanding of the populace.

Adedipe said: “Nigeria has exited recession going by the GDP growth recorded in the last two quarters. Government will therefore need to communicate better than it has ever done to be able to receive social approval for some of its policy initiatives and options.”

He cited the example of the initial opposition to the government borrowing plan as an example of how using communications consultants could have made the task easy for the Federal Government. “It took a single session with members of the Nigerian Senate for them to understand the wisdom in using long-term loans for infrastructure development. The Nigerian Senate approved the borrowing plan immediately the economic case for taking such a loan was well articulated before them. This is your job. This is what the Nigerian government should rely on you for,” he said.

Adedipe also counselled communications consultants in Nigeria not to wait for the invitation from government. He advised them to always put forward their professional opinions on what government should be saying and doing per time. He said: “You must always have a voice in the room. Your professional opinion on key national issues must always be articulated and put forward to the government, whether solicited or not.”

On the economic outlook for 2018, Adedipe said there was no doubt about the fact that Nigeria had exited recession. “We have had two quarters of positive growth back-to-back and there are strong indications that the last quarter of the year 2017 will record more GDP growth too,” he stated. He advised businesses to begin to watch out for recovery signs.

Adedipe further said: “A nation can go through the different phases of boom, recession and slump to recovery. So, there are recovery signs you need to begin to watch out for. Nigeria now has a brighter outlook. You must keep your eyes on sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, real estate, mining and trade amongst others.” He explained that these were dominant contributors to the nation’s GDP as they were of interest for government.

Adedipe also advised PR and communications consultants to commit to research, best practices, top quality services, relentless improvement and to conduct proper diagnosis on the businesses of the clients they hope to service.

In staying true to its values, PRCAN used the opportunity presented by the event to induct a new PR agency, Media Panache, into its membership at the event. The Public and Social Relations agency is led by Timilehin Bello.

PRCAN is legally chartered by By Law No. 3 (1993) of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), to cater to the interests of the consultancy side of PR practice in Nigeria. It currently has a membership of 51 PR consultancy firms providing services across at least 21 PR practice areas.

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Three Startups Win GenesysIgnite $10,000 Innovation cash Prize

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(R-l): Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, in company of Senator Ken Nnamani, president of the Senate of Nigeria, presenting cheque to GenesysIgnite winners while Kingsley Eze watches on. 

By peter oluka

 

Winners have emerged after pressure-filled GenesysIGNITE pitch sessions. The three winners- PlayJoor, TutorFinder and House of Uwe were unveiled on Friday at the South East Startup Convergence, one of the biggest technology conferences in the region put together by Genesys Tech Hub in collaboration with CFAtech.ng.

 

Presenting the cheques to the winners, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, in company of Senator Ken Nnamani, president of the Senate of Nigeria, and other dignitaries, applauded Genesys Hub for the providing financial assistance to the startups, which has remained one of the painpoints of Startups in the region.

 

“Any nation that produces science and technology experts is always the toast of the world. Teneces is doing what the Government has in mind with regards youths development- capacity building, incubation, venture capitals, and other supports.

 

The winners are:

Tutor Finder NG

Tutor Finder NG is the leading home tutors in South East Nigeria with reach in Owerri, Awka, Enugu and Aba and over 54 professional tutors .  

They provide learners with the advantage of quality, experienced and innovative teachings that make them become the finished articles, far beyond the limitation of class room learning.

They simply bridge the gap!

Tutor Finder provide support to classroom instruction and assignments and go back and deal with building blocks that were missed.

One-to-one tutoring helps students build confidence, and get individualized support and better grades.

 

PlayJoor

PlayJoor is a platform for real time multiplayer games. The developers make it possible for players to earn while competing against other players at a game they are skilled at.

The startups founders believe that people should enjoy games they are skilled at and to cap it up, earn while playing the games.

Tagline: Real-time games with real people

 

House of Uwe (cloth)  

This is an e-commerce shop selling made-to-order African apparels proudly designed in Africa by very experienced African designers.

 

House of Uwe provides a solution to the need of the fashion market by allowing shoppers order a custom made, individually tailored piece they truly love.

 

Earler, Senator Nnamani, said that the future of Nigeria belongs in the digital age, adding that it will become visible if the country strategizes properly.

 

Senator Nnamani, said that the educational institutions, charged universities in the zone to strive in research and development as panacea for digital revolution in the area.

 

He said: “What Tenece is trying to ignite in the South East and Enugu State in particular is awesome, by projecting and opening the eyes of our young people to tech disruptions.

 

 

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FG Plans N180bn Investment on National Science, Technology Roadmap

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, has said that the Federal Government is committed to investing N180 billion to ensure successful implementation of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmap (NSTIR) 2030.

Onu said this at the ongoing 15th meeting of the National Council on Science and Technology in Benin.

He said the amount, which would be over a period of three budget years, would be in the short term basis of the roadmap.

Onu said the ministry was keen on implementing the roadmap, in collaboration with wide variety of stakeholders, including public and private research development centres.

He expressed optimism that the implementation of the planned NSTIR 2030 programmes and increased investment in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) would help actualise Nigeria’s dream to join the top 20 of technologically advanced countries in the world.

Onu noted that though the country was yet to reach its full potentials in the deployment of STI deliverables into projects and programmes due to some identified challenges, it had been able to attain some mileage within the past few years.

He also said that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 to 2020 recently launched by the present administration, focused on macroeconomic policy improvement, economic diversification, competitiveness, improvement, social inclusion and job creation.

The Minister said the ERGP targeted that the Nigerian economy would recover strongly with a GDP growth of seven per cent, driven by non oil sector growth of 7.2 per cent by 2020.

This, he said, would also help in the steady expansion of the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors, adding that approximately 15 million net jobs would be created with poverty reduction from 61 per cent to 50-55 per cent by 2020.

Onu said the ministry was committed to playing its required role in ensuring that the ERGP strategies were STI driven and successfully implemented.

He said that the theme of the meeting “Nigerian Economy Driven by Science and Innovation”, was apt and captured the new direction the country had resolved to follow, in the quest to revive and strengthen the economy.

Onu explained that it was aimed at “helping to strengthen and diversify the economy in a sustainable manner by encouraging the harnessing and application of STI apparatus in the Nation’s development process’’.

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