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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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Samsung in N65m Copyright Infringement Suit in Nigeria

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Eagle Eye Production Limited, an Abuja-based production company has slammed N65 million lawsuit against Samsung Nigeria and Ringier Media Nigeria Limited for allegedly using a part of its ‘Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge at Night’ video in a Galaxy S8 advert without authorization.

 

Samsung had, after receiving the lawsuit, claimed it had no knowledge of the creative process of the ad, as it outsourced the job to one Cheil Communications Nigeria Limited.

 

Cheil Communications, in turn, claimed it outsourced the job to Ringier Media Nigeria Limited.

 

At the first hearing on the lawsuit on May 3, before Justice Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, Ringier Media’s Counsel applied to strike out the suit, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit because Eagle Eye in suing Ringier Media omitted the word ‘media’ in its name.

 

Ringier Media also argued that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against it.

 

Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN) however, prayed the court to dismiss Ringier Media’s application with substantial cost on the basis that the omission of the word media from Ringier Media’s name is “a misnomer” and that the suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action against Ringier Media.

 

The learned Silk also pointed out that the omission of the word “media” was infact caused by Ringier Media and its counsel who in various correspondences exchanged prior to the suit represented to Eagle Eye’s counsel that the full name of Ringier Media is Ringier Nigeria Limited instead of Ringer Media Nigeria Limited.

The learned Silk also pointed out that Ringer Media’s counsel also described its client’s name as Ringier Nigeria Limited in the conditional memorandum of appearance filed by the said counsel on Ringier Media’s behalf.

 

On the same day, Eagle Eye’s Counsel also moved an application to amend their Writ of Summons and other accompanying originating processes to reflect the proper name of Ringier Media.

 

Court proceedings were witnessed by a Newsroom correspondent when Justice Hassan gave his ruling on Monday, June 2, 2018.

 

On Ringer Media’s application to strike out the suit, the learned judge held on the first leg, that the omission can be treated as a misnomer and representatives for the plaintiffs are allowed to file an application for amendment.

 

“There is no kind of mistake or error which the court cannot correct, except it is intended to cause injustice to a party. The omission can be corrected without causing injustice to the other party,” he ruled.

 

The Learned judge also held on the second leg, that looking at certain paragraphs in Eagle Eye’s Statement of Claim, the court is satisfied that a reasonable cause of action has been disclosed against Ringier Media.

 

The learned judge thereafter dismissed Ringier Media’s application and awarded cost of N20,000 in favor of the Plaintiffs against Ringier Media.

 

On Eagle Eye Production’s application to amend, the learned judge ruled that representatives for Eagle Eye Production Limited were misled by Ringier Media.

 

He made references to the exhibits submitted by the legal counsel for the Eagle Eye, where it was established that Ringier Media Nigeria Limited described itself only as Ringier Nigeria in various correspondences. Thus, the learned judge reiterated as follows:

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ITB Nigeria Set to Complete its First Steel & Concrete Building

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ITB Nigeria Ltd, innovative construction company providing full and advanced integrated engineering and construction solutions in both private and public sectors, is set to complete its first steel & concrete building project, Azuri Peninsula, in Eko Atlantic City, Lagos state.

The Azuri Peninsula project, which began in early 2015, is a unique steel and concrete residential building project that consists of three sets of over 30 storey towers.

It offers a unique collection of four-bedroom luxury and super luxury apartments, two and four-bedroom stunning Marina Town houses as well as s six-bedroom simplex (penthouses).

Commenting on the project, Mr. Ramzi Chidiac, Managing Director of ITB Nigeria, said, “We are excited about this project because it’s our first composite structure created by a combination of steel and concrete to form a single element.

This helps to deliver performance that is more effective than when individual components are used together but not unified. This testifies to the excellent work that we do at ITB Nigeria.

We are focused on fully understanding the needs of our clients and delivering on our promises, regardless of the scale or complexity of the challenge at hand”.

Steel and concrete structures involve a mix of steel and concrete together to form a single element. The tensile capacity of the steel and the compressive capacity of the concrete results in a standard structure.

This gives rise to benefits like speed, performance and value. Additionally, concrete encasement protects the steel from buckling, corrosion and fire.

On his part, Engr. Emmanuel Adeyemi, QA/QC Coordinator, ITB Nigeria,  stated, ‘the uniqueness of composite structures is that it enhances speed of construction, performance and value.

Steel framing for a structure can be erected quickly and the pre-fabricated steel floor decks can be put in place immediately.

When cured, the concrete provides additional stiffness to the structure, making the structure one that can stand the test of time”.

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BoI Secures $750M Afreximbank Loan at Single Digits for MSMEs

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Bank of Industry (BoI) will be disbursing the $750 million (N250 billion) syndicated loan facility which she received from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises at single digit interest rate.

Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry, made this disclosure on the last day of the Afreximbank 25th Anniversary and Annual General Meeting during an interview with journalists in Abuja.

Pitan revealed that “the loan will be given to entrepreneurs in Nigeria for a period of between five and seven years, would enable the BoI bridge the funding gap for MSMEs which estimated at about N700 billion.”

This fund he said would be “given to companies operating in the creative industry, manufacturing and gender based businesses to help reduce the unemployment rate in the country and create wealth for small and medium scale entrepreneurs.

“We are looking at small, medium and large enterprises. We are looking at enterprises or companies that have a focus in using local raw materials, companies that generates that generates employment and bring down their cost of borrowing” he said.

Pitan stated that “the loan will be deployed at less than ten per cent interest per annum. We are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria so that the loan we will give to Nigerian businesses will be a longer term loan of between seven to eight years for the industrial sector.”

The landmark deal was signed off in the presence President Muhammadu Buhari who insisted on witnessing the agreement signing ceremony in Abuja because the N250 billion syndicated facility financed by 16 banks (among which are: Africa Export-Import Bank, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development,  and British Arab Commercial Bank Plc and four Nigrrian banks based in the United Kingdom) is the single largest facility of its kind to be received by a Development Finance Institution (DFI) in Nigeria.

According to Pitan, “the idea is to support industries. What this loan allows us to do is, it gives additional N250 billion depending on the exchange rate that is used, between N230 billion to N250 billion to deploy to the industrial sector.

There is gap in the funding of the industrial sector, to the tune of N704 billion. This is our way to reduce that gap.”

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