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A Huge Boost to Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem as Eko Innovation Centre Launches

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L-R: Moruf Oseni, Deputy Managing Director, Wema Bank; Akin Banuso, General Manager, Microsoft; Babajide Sanwoolu, Lagos State Governor; , Aramide Abe, founder, Naija Startup; and Victor Afolabi, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Eko Innovation Centre, during the inauguration of Eko Innovation Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday.
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Technology is the key driver to fast-growing economies globally, creating smart economies with technology-driven innovative solutions, leading to the creation of new jobs that previously never existed.

This idea of a technology-driven growth is the key motivation for Victor Afolabi to develop a new innovation centre– Eko Innovation Centre for the incubation of startups in Lagos – the heart of the country’s economy.

Tech hubs are a vital part of the entire start-ups ecosystems by providing platforms and opportunities for collaborations and building support structures that are important to the growth of new startups. Lagos, over the last few years has become one of Africa’s city with a robust tech ecosystem; it is currently the city with the highest number of technology hubs on the continent.

It is in keeping up with this fast-growing paradigm of technology driven economies, that the new Eko Innovation Centre was launched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019, aimed at discovering, incubating and curating new startups that will create new technological-driven solutions and add more value to an already growing tech ecosystem on the continent. The primary objective being to transform the tech and innovation landscape in Nigeria and by extension, Africa .

According to the founder, the motivation was the need to create an enabling environment for young people to develop innovative solutions and create employment while leveraging on technology, and for him, Lagos provides the perfect setting to launch this idea.

“We saw in the Lagos manifesto an agenda to make the State a 21st century economy. The only way to create a 21st century economy is to make sure you are creating businesses and solution to problems that are driven by innovation and technology,” he said during the launch of the centre.

It will be noted that Nigeria recorded the highest growth of tech hubs in Africa, expanding by 40% in 2 years between 2016 and 2018.

Eko Innovation Centre is designed not just to add to the growing figures of local tech hubs, but to provide a much-required platform for startups to scale through the challenges of their incubation period – a bold and audacious initiative for the country’s tech community.

A Game Changing Initiative

Most of the existing technology centres and hubs primarily provide workspaces and basic facilities including power and internet services, with a few more providing support platforms for the growth of the startups operating from there.

Eko Innovation Centre will provide shared services including legal, finance, tech, marketing, and PR services among others. And most importantly, Mr. Afolabi says, the centre will provide investment readiness services as well as funding for the startups.

This means that startups that are admitted will have the time to focus on their businesses and are not worn out by bureaucracy, as the hub will essentially take up most of the bureaucratic processes, allowing the businesses focus more on the success of their ventures – a game-changer for potential start-ups.

For most Nigerian startups, the stage between concept to commercialization is mostly the defining stage of the journey, where many eventually get it wrong.EIC is simply saying, “focus on building your products and business, while we take care of the other things for you!”

The new Lagos state governor, Mr. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu also graced the occasion of the launch – the building of the hub was his former campaign office, to endorse the initiative and reiterate his administration’s commitment to leveraging on technology in delivering the megacity dream.

In his short statement, Mr. Sanwo-Olu said, “Technology is the way to go, it is the way of the future and it is the way the entire universe is going to, and everybody is using technology to develop everything that we need.

We believe that from here, things around the THEME concept that has to do with the environment, education, transportation and health innovations would be developed. People from here would come and give us innovative ideas to solve our transport problem; ideas with which they think locally but act globally.”It is important to note however, that the Eko Innovation Centre is a private investment, to run independent, without any government funding.

In conclusion, the opening of the centre is a welcome development to add to the growing technology ecosystem in the country and it is expected that it will run with full steam once to deliver the vision of the founder.

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E-Business

NITDA Identifies Stiff Competition with Foreign Software as Bane of Indigenous Software

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has identified stiff competition from foreign developers as the bane of software development in Nigeria.

The agency, which is responsible for the regulation and development of the information technology in Nigeria, said “off-the-shelf software” from foreign developers deny local producers the opportunity to grow.

NITDA’s director general, Isa Ibrahim, who stated this in Abuja on Tuesday said his agency is working to change the situation by evolving software testing and information system security best practices.

Speaking while opening a stakeholders’ engagement for the review of the Guidelines for Information Systems Audit and Nigeria Software Testing Guidelines, he said the local industry is not reaping the growth in IT investment.

The director general was represented at the event by Vincent Olatunji, NITDA’s director of e-Governance and Regulatory.

“The acquisition of technology-driven solutions to drive growth in the public and private sectors has continued to increase in Nigeria.

“The indigenous software market has not been left out of this growth trend, but continues to suffer stiff competition from foreign off-the-shelf software used to meet local needs, where indigenous software could have provided the appropriate solutions,” he said.

Quoting unnamed industry analysts, the NITDA DG said the trend has affected the growth of the local software sector, “which by now should be in excess of probably $10 billion annually if well harnessed”.

He attributed the low patronage of local developers to quality assurance challenges.

Mr Ibrahim said the two new regulatory documents will help in addressing some of the challenges.

“The Nigerian Software Testing Guidelines (NSTG) is developed on the premise that mitigating software vulnerability risks through the promotion of structured software testing practice for safety and quality of software development will create the enabling environment for growth of the indigenous testing sector in Nigeria,” he said.

“The Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), has estimated that Nigeria loses about N127 billion to cybercrimes yearly. This is caused in part by our inability to adequately secure our Information Systems. Therefore, securing our information systems is a must if we want to guarantee the safe delivery of our services.

The proposed Guidelines for Information Systems Audit by the Agency is one of the tools to guarantee this safety.”

He said since coming to office, NITDA, under his leadership, has come up with a number of subsidiary legislations and regulations to enhance the productivity of the industry.

“For instance, in 2019 alone, I had launched and signed off five regulatory instruments and we have presented five additional documents to stakeholders for inputs and contributions.

“All these instruments were issued to address various challenges facing us as a nation,” he said.

In his review of the guidelines, Churchill Aribodor, an IT consultant, said the regulations developed by the agency are needed to tackle “the dark side of ICT”.

He said the new regulations will ensure tightened security, provide confidentiality and protect data systems from havoc.

Mr Aribodor said the news internet security guidelines will provide an improvement on the level of information security, avoidance of improper information security, ensure effective of control and safeguard access, and maintain key data and system attributes.

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Emerging Markets are Money Savvy and Ready for Change – Says Luno

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The adoption of cryptocurrencies in developing countries has been well documented and the anomaly is often flagged that people who have less appear to take greater financial risks.

Initial findings from the Luno ‘Future of Money’ survey, which took the views of more than 7000 respondents across Europe, Africa and South-East Asia helps explain this phenomenon. As large global tech firms start to move into blockchain and altcoins, the research shows why early adopters, the most important audience for these firms, will probably come from emerging markets.

Marcus Swanepoel, Luno CEO said: “As some of the world’s largest tech giants announce they are launching cryptocurrency coins we believe developing markets will be the lead adopters. Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer.”

When asked the question “Do you think a single global currency would make the current financial system better or worse?” almost three times as many respondents from Nigeria and South Africa said it would make it better, compared to the UK.

“The data also identified why money is such a focus in emerging markets. When asked why money is important to them, the respondents said that it was ’to secure my family’s well-being (60%) or to ‘pay for my education’ Nigeria 25%, compared to 8% in the UK.

A further question regarding the setting of a monthly expenditure budget found that 80% of people in Malaysia; 65% in Nigeria; 73% in South Africa and 74% in Indonesia, do, compared to 54% in the UK. And, 33% in Indonesia compared to 0% in the UK, are more likely to stay within the budget they set.”

“It is very clear that if money is not simply a ‘nice to have’ and is vital for your future, then you spend more time understanding it, managing it, preserving it and to an extent being creative with how you maximise the use of it. Therefore if a cryptocurrency can provide a secure and cheaper means of exchanging value, better than the existing system, it will be used.

This is why we believe that as new cryptocurrencies, linked to global brands are introduced they will find an important audience in emerging markets.”

“These markets are also more likely to exhibit grassroots level adoption (vs institutional)” said Swanepoel.

“In almost every emerging market country surveyed, over half of the people said they would turn to family, friends or colleagues for financial advice over government organisations which shows that people in these markets rely on information from those closest to them”

This survey presents an overview of a study conducted by Dalia Research for Luno between 17/05/2019 and 07/06/2019 about the future of money. The sample of over 7,000 individuals with internet access was drawn in France, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Calculated for a sample of this size and considering the design-effect, the average margin of error would be +/-3.1% at a confidence level of 95%.

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Galaxy Backbone Continues To Partner Locally For Space Segment & Satellite Services

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Galaxy Backbone has continued to provide connectivity services to Government MDAs across the length and breadth of Nigeria on its 1GOV.ng platform. The preferred mode of connection is fibre. However, in locations where there are no fibre or terrestrial networks, satellite capacity is used.

Galaxy has been and continues to obtain the satellite capacity required  from its sister agency, NIGCOMSAT. This has given federal government the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and encourage local partnerships.

Galaxy Backbone (GBB) is the Digital and Shared services Infrastructure provider of the federal government. For over 12 years, this organisation of government has continued to strive towards living its mission being, to drive national development through the provision of pervasive ICT Infrastructure and services to public institutions, underserved communities and other stakeholders. This mission propels the day to day running of the organisation and how it interacts with institutions, local communities and other stakeholders.

Prior to the existence of Galaxy Backbone (GBB), the provision of technology infrastructure services within public institutions existed in silos and created a lot of duplicity of government services and greatly increased government expense on ICT services.

That experience is history now as over 95% of these government establishments now operate under the Galaxy Backbone shared services platform which is secure, less capital intensive and provides a world class service experience to the federal government institutions on its platform.

Now, as technology has grown globally and locally in the last ten years, government continues to invest in ensuring that the required infrastructure needed to ensure that the network and communications amongst government agencies and between government and its citizens is enhanced.

As Galaxy Backbone continues to lay fibre optics across the nation, leveraging on the government’s investment in the National ICT Technology Infrastructure Backbone project, connectivity and broadband services will continue to expand for the consumption of the citizens. The vision to ensure that local and underserved communities are catered for in areas where fiber cannot reach, will be taken care of via Satellite services.

So, in 2015, GBB, seeing the growth, development and government’s investment in Satellite services to address these communities through the Nigerian Communications Satellite limited (NIGCOMSAT), severed its relationship with previous foreign partners, to focus completely in leveraging NIGCOMSAT services to serve these class of customers. This has made Galaxy Backbone one of the largest consumers of Nigcomsat satellite capacity.

Also, in promoting government’s vision around Data sovereignty and ensuring that data generated within the country, stays within the nation, Galaxy Backbone (GBB) provides secure hosting services through its state of the Tier III Datacentre located at the federal Capital Territory. Through this infrastructure, the nation’s sensitive data is kept secure.

GBB is also the only hosting company with an in-country Data Recovery Centre situated in Enugu.  The company will continue to improve its services, champion government’s efforts at improving digital services and data protection across the nation by collaborating and working closely with public and private institutions.

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