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#StartUPNaija: Pantami Says Nigeria Closer to Having Own ‘Zuckerberg’



(L-r): Dr. Isa Pantami, the director general and chief executive officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), presenting certificate of participation to one of the startups, while Dr. Amina Sambo Magaji, acting national coordinator of OIIE, observes.

The Nigerian startup ecosystem, with proper regulations and support, has capacity to become the strong catalytic force for sustainable economic growth across nations, even producing the like of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

Dr. Isa Pantami, the director general and chief executive officer of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), dropped the comment at the seventh StartUP Nigeria, the brainchild of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE).

The DG alluded to OIIE’s position that ICT “is not only indispensable for developing new products and services but also for ensuring the survival of any business in the competitive world by providing ample opportunities for growth and profitability”.

He said that NITDA has raved up its processes for proper regulation and development, crucial for supporting the startup and entrepreneurs ecosystem in the Country.

The NITDA’s interwoven roles are relevant for the country to achieve its purpose of “creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into new products, processes, or services meeting market needs, which culminates in successful enterprises”.

He believes that the competitiveness of any economy in the long term depends on innovation potential of the economy gained through entrepreneurship and effective technology transfer, especially now that revenue from the ‘oil and gas’ industry is on downward trend.

Dr. Pantami warned that Nigeria cannot remain an ‘ oil and gas resource’ based economy, as every projections show other countries are making a turn away from oil.

The NITDA DG said, “StartUPNigeria held in Lagos today (Saturday) is a prelude to GITEX 2017, as NITDA tends to select the best startups to represent the country. This is critical in helping even the regulatory aspects of the IT sector. We identify with startups that need our technical, financial supports to push their solutions forward.

“We believe Lagos is home to innovative startups; thus, we intend to assist them improve on their works. The truth is this: our country relies solely on oil and gas sector; in UK for instance by 2040 they intend to ban diesel or petrol cars, so our reliance on oil is disturbing.

“We have to move from oil resource to knowledge-based economy. ICT has the answer to this. The contribution of 12.6% of ICT to GDP is second to oil at the moment, but will soon takeover. India depends on ICT as $143billion annual comes from ICT; Nigeria accounts for 180million with 60% young people who are addicted to ICT.

“Today, you can’t do without smart devices or not connected; it’s not worth trying. We as ICT natives are addicted to it. The best way is not importation, but using our intellects to develop. No country will survive depending on ICT importation. We have met with OEMs to see how to reduce the level of importation. We want to have a ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ in Nigeria. Nigeria is closer to having own Zuckerberg and we shall surely support the process that will produce that platform”.

Earlier, Dr. Amina Sambo Magaji, acting national coordinator of OIIE, thanked the exemplary leadership of the NITDA DG and the management for giving OIIE platform to meet with startups and solve needs in the ecosystem.

She said that OIIE’s vision to drive ICT innovation and entrepreneurship through policies, initiatives, partnership and programs implementation by focusing on socio- economic impact, competitiveness, and sustainable & inclusive growth, was carefully crafted to ensure the startups are impacted positively.

She said the Office is not relenting on its focus, amongst others, on innovation and entrepreneurship by fostering a more innovative digital economy through turning new ideas and inventions into products and technologies that spur job growth and competitiveness while promoting economic development.

She announced that over 60 pitches were received online for StartUP Nigeria held, while 11 startups made pitched at the event held at the Admiralty Conference Centre, Naval Dockyard Complex, Wilmot Point, Ahmad Bello Way, Victoria Island.

Startups that Pitched:
Accounteer- a smart cloud based platform meant to create professional invoices with ease and get paid faster; accept instant payment from your customers using their favourite means of payment.

TheFarmyard, a mobile platform for farm monitoring and assists in making informed decisions.

BeatDrone- a multi-sector drone service project that uses drones-As-A-Service for Agric

“Six”- IOT solution to road safety concerns in Nigeria

Nicademia- an online distributions platform for African inspired cartoons.

Livekampus, an online platform to book accommodation for students

Comestibles Nigeria- a mobile platform targeted at farmers, consumers and grocery stores

Novael- a mobile platform aimed at using using technology to drive the creative (art) industry in Nigeria, to empower youths (Writers)

TapPay- online voucher platform that enables bank customers to deposit at the comfort of their homes, anytime

SwiftCheckup- a secured online platform to book medical tests easily. an ecommerce platform connecting buyers and sellers while providing other auxiliary services.

The Selection Process
To get to the point of pitching, the Ag., National Coordinator of OIIE said, “NITDA is trying to create jobs in Nigeria; it is huge task. Basically, we seek approval from the management of NITDA to start notifying the public; the startup community in particular, through the social media, traditional media and radio jingles. The essence is to have a wide range reach where every Nigerian is given opportunity to send their pitches to the opened portal.

“Once we get the pitches we create a panel of judges drawn from the academia, business, legal and other areas we believe the startups would be needing mentorship too. The judges spend time collating the pitches. So, it is done in stages. For the StartUP Nigeria the pitches were reduced to 70 using different criteria; then we looked at the innovation of the technical presentation. From there, the figure came down to 30. At each level, we have different set of judges.

“The final set of judges comes from the business community. That was how we narrowed the pitches to 12, spending time with them at a bootcamp, teaching them (startups) how to pitch. So, it is a generally rigorous and transparent process”. 


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Sophos Identifies Top Ransomware Families in Africa



Cyber security vendor Sophos has identified the top ransomware families that affected Africa in 2017.

According to Sophos, the Ceber ransomware accounted for 80% of attacks in Africa, followed by WannaCry (17%), and others like Jaff (1%), Locky (1%) and Petya (0.5%).

One of the most active kinds of ransomware out there, Cerber encrypts the files of infected users and demands money in exchange for enabling access to their files. It works even if a user is not connected to the Internet, so they can’t stop it by unplugging their PC.

Cerber, sold as a ransomware kit on the Dark Web, remains a dangerous threat, says Sophos, adding the creators of Cerber continuously update the code and charge a percentage of the ransom that the “middle-men” attackers receive from victims.

Regular new features make Cerber not only an effective attack tool, but perennially available to cyber criminals, the cyber security firm notes.

“This Dark Web business model is unfortunately working and, similar to a legitimate company, is likely funding the ongoing development of Cerber. We can assume the profits are motivating the authors to maintain the code,” says Dorka Palotay, SophosLabs security researcher and contributor to the ransomware analysis in the SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast.

The WannaCry ransomware attack was a May 2017 worldwide cyber attack by the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm, which targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin crypto-currency.

“Looking at the whole world, WannaCry was responsible for 45.3% of the ransomware attacks, while in Africa this value is only 17%,” Palotay says.

“In Africa, clearly Cerber was the biggest ransomware threat this year, since 80% of the ransomware lookups was caused by Cerber, while this number is only 44.2% if we look at the whole world. Regarding the smaller families, the results are very similar.”

The SophosLabs 2018 Malware Forecast report recaps ransomware and other cyber security trends based on data collected from Sophos customer computers worldwide from 1 April to 3 October 2017.

One key finding shows that while ransomware predominately attacked Windows systems in the last six months, Android, Linux and MacOS platforms were not immune.

“Ransomware has become platform-agnostic. Ransomware mostly targets Windows computers, but this year, SophosLabs saw an increased amount of crypto-attacks on different devices and operating systems used by our customers worldwide,” says Palotay.

She notes that for the first time Sophos saw ransomware with worm-like characteristics, which contributed to the rapid expansion of WannaCry.

“This ransomware took advantage of a known Windows vulnerability to infect and spread to computers, making it hard to control.

“Even though our customers are protected against it and WannaCry has tapered off, we still see the threat because of its inherent nature to keep scanning and attacking computers. We’re expecting cyber criminals to build upon this ability to replicate as seen in WannaCry and NotPetya, and this is already evident with Bad Rabbit ransomware, which shows many similarities to NotPetya.”

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Cisco urges Retailers on Network System Skills ahead of Black Friday



Cisco has urged Nigeria retailers to equip their employees with basic network system skills as Black Friday and Cyber Monday begin today.

According to Alfie Hamid, Regional Manager for Corporate Affairs for Cisco Africa, ‘Many retailers have missed empowering their own workforces with, for example, digital collaboration tools, real-time customer insights, and virtual assistance. A workforce that is armed with relevant knowledge and insights is also essential to improving the in-store customer experience, a key differentiator for bricks-and-mortar retailers over their online rivals.’

According to research from Cisco, employee productivity technologies can deliver the greatest value for increasing efficiency, optimising the checkout process and improving worker collaboration. Investments in these areas also contribute to improved shopper experiences and increased loyalty. Just 6% of retailers’ 2016 investment priorities were focused on employee productivity use cases, despite research indicating that use cases deliver the greatest return on investment for retailers; in other words, digitisation is a $187 billion (roughly R2,6 trillion) opportunity, according to Cisco.

“The key initiatives that improve employee productivity all rely on a network that understands how people interact, can be customised easily, and can control access irrespective of the device that the employee is using – all things that today’s retail employees demand,” Hamid says.

In retail, investments in workforce digitisation deliver value to operations, the labour equation, and talent retention. Since all of these support new and compelling customer experiences, digitising the workforce enables a value chain that is critical to retail success.

“A focus on technology investments that empower employees takes on a whole new meaning in Nigeria, which already struggles to overcome education and training challenges,” Hamid says. “With digitisation, companies have an opportunity to improve skills across the board in the retail industry, which will contribute hugely to the growth of the country’s economy, whether on Black Friday or throughout the year.”


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Black Friday: Yudala Records Unprecedented Spike In Online Traffic



By peter oluka

Yudala, Nigeria’s pioneer online and offline e-commerce company is recording an unprecedented spike in online traffic  as eager shoppers thronged the company’s website www.yudala.comfrom midnight to be the first to take advantage of the company’s Black Friday offers.

This year’s edition of Black Friday, a globally celebrated shopping festival, is being marked officially today, Friday November 24th, 2017.

Insights garnered from the shopping activity on the Yudala website show that online traffic on commenced a steady spike from 11:49pm on Thursday night as early bird shoppers began to lay in wait for the official commencement of the Black Friday midnight rush for deals.

From 12am, traffic on the Yudala website had grossed over 50,000 hits, with shoppers who placed their orders between the hours of 12am – 1am enjoying an additional incentive of free shipping of their orders nationwide. Furthermore, Yudala had made available over 500,000 Early Bird deals on its website for shoppers who place their orders between the hours of 12am – 11:59am today, Friday November 24th.

Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, Vice President at Yudala disclosed that the company was determined to make it a memorable Black Friday for its teeming customers.

“If you are yet to visit the website, now is the time to do so.  We had Mystery Products up on the website from 12am at 99% off so, from midnight on Friday, we were already processing loads of orders from shoppers who were taking advantage of our early bird deals. Electronics, mobile phones, home appliances, wines and groceries, consumer goods and computing products are among some of the most ordered items. Remember, the Early Bird Deals run till 11:59am today so there is still ample opportunity for many Nigerians to enjoy our unmatched offerings.

“If you miss the early bird deals, then you can take advantage of our Lunch Time Deals which runs from 12pm till 4:59pm today and if you fall into the class of those who prefer to do their Black Friday shopping later in the day, then you can enjoy our Sunset Deals from 5pm till 11:59pm. Also, shoppers who place their orders on the stroke of 11:11am or 12:12pm will get free tickets to the Yudala Christmas party.

“You also stand a chance to spin a wheel of fortune at six Yudala stores in Lagos today to walk home with a free gift. Simply visit any of the Yudala stores in Bode Thomas, Surulere; Admiralty Way, Lekki; The Palms Shopping Mall; Medical Road, Ikeja; Redemption Crescent in Gbagada or the one at Cherub Mall on Lekki-Epe Expressway to experience what Black Friday is all about, courtesy of Yudala.

“No other company offers you all of these mouth-watering options for Black Friday: best prices, mega deals and genuine products. With Yudala, You Live Well,” he concluded.

Interestingly, Yudala is also adding an extra dimension on social media for its walk-in customers.

For shoppers who find their way to the Yudala Experience Store at The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki today, there is a unique opportunity to follow the “Make a wish” live feed on Instagram at the store.

Yudala has generated loads of frenzy on its Instagram live feed where the company is giving followers a chance to make a wish and see it fulfilled. Many lucky followers have won amazing freebies including laptops, mobile phones, electronics, shopping vouchers and other exciting give-away items through this medium.

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