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Telecom Colonization Imminent – Daranijo

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Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited
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Sinari Daranijo, Chief Executive Officer, Elcomserve Nigeria Limited – a conglomerate of Security, Telecom and IT professionals.
He is a highly successful unique individual with immeasurable business acumen and has accumulated diverse business portfolios ranging from International Business, Oil & Gas, Business Development, Commerce & Industry, Training & Development, Information Technology, Strategic Management and Safety with over 18 years of relevant experience.
He spoke to Peter Ugwu on the company’s newly invented Nigeria’s first instant messaging/chat platform – Simply Beep and the state of the nation’s telecom industry. 

Elcomserve in Nigeria’s Telecom Business
We have a mix of professionals to provide great solutions for the development of the country and the people.
And one of our major target areas is to make things easier for people on the global scale by using the telecommunication platform.
When telecom was liberalised in Nigeria we actually started by providing infrastructure, equipment like radios, antenna, masts etcetera.
Everything is in stages. After they achieved that feat, the next step was to maintain the existing infrastructure, so that clients and customers can have value for their money and speak to themselves.
So that after acquiring huge voice subscriptions, the SMS promos, text-to-win were inspired, and now the next level is providing service for value added creation which has given rise to increase in the use of data.
For us at Elcomserve, we thought that now that the world is going digital everyone will end up in the internet, whether we like it or not.
So, we considered having a data plan that will be all encompassing, a gate into the world. We discovered that these days the spirit of chatting is beginning to encompass and engulf the entire world – it is easier to be on an IM platform than being on an SMS one.
We also discovered that while the whole world is going ahead, talk about android, iPod, Africa is lagging behind a bit because of high poverty level.
However, the chat experience is presently only available on that higher level, so we thought, ‘what can we do to bring it lower?’, hence we have created a product called Simply Beep.
It is supposed to help people who are using ordinary phones to tap into the experience of the upper-class users of smartphones.
It will open up a huge avenue into the entire system. But of course we have our challenges, even the people who work with the network operators do not completely understand because they are all following the world trend.
We have statistics: out of about 100 million subscribers on all the GSM networks in Nigeria, only about 3 million have BlackBerry and other smart phones.
We have about 97 million others who do not possess a BlackBerry or Smartphone.
For the most part, we have concentrated on those at the top.
 We need to connect with those on the other end of the divide. So, we decided to do something that will allow more people to have access to chat platform, people like students, artisans, house wives, etc, they are willing and ready to chat.
Beep is already available for download with the MTN network and we are concluding talks with all other mobile network providers in the country.
 
Beep and Local Lingua
The product has local lingual significance.
The reason why it is deployed in local lingua is to separate us from the crowd. And it will actually make the product proudly Nigerian.
Our local Pidgin-English is also something now respected and subscribed to in some parts of the world, owing to our music and movie industry.
Therefore, our move is to capture that segment of the society and endear them to the product. The emoticons such as “Laugh wan kill me die”, “I beg wait” and “I dey vex,” are some of the unique features of Simply Beep.

Challenges
Although there are other competing brands in the market – they have higher-end products – not necessarily mass friendly and not directly pushed to the people.
The reason why it’s taking some time for us to leverage on our own product is because we are stepping into a market with a new experience, and by pulling these people into a new experience it now means that we need to throw the product directly to their phones, unlike those other competitors that subscribers have to download from the internet.
That is our strategy, but it was tough pushing the networks to understand what we are talking about, because all they can see is the upper class people.
We had to make them see that Nigerians are highly motivated people.

Economic Values
Now, when you look at it from the point of economic value, the social media is a very big platform.
Increasing the dissemination of information, helps two or more people engage in interaction, increases communal feelings, etc.
So, all the advantages of social media are what we are bringing to the fore, especially for those who won’t otherwise use data services.
Our underlying philosophy however, is: own something. We don’t create, own or produce anything as Africans.
Over 50 per cent of what we wear on our bodies is foreign made. And that is why we shall continue to have local content problems.
Shoprite is here and you are all excited, it is not your money! If you go there to shop, they take the money and develop their own countries.
Why can’t we build our own platforms? This is the age of social platform. And I am building this platform in pain, because banks don’t support me. Even the networks, it was a battle to make them buy into this.
And that is the story of Nigeria, even the government does not understand.
But we need to build platforms that are ours. It will checkmate capital flight, because presently, when N10 is plugged into Nigeria’s economy, N5 out of it leaves the country.

Nigeria in Telecom Market
The world telecommunication market is expanding.
The data accompanying all products pushed to Africa are being kept by foreign companies. The problem with Nigerians is that we are not creators; we would want to leverage on what everybody brings to us.
We can do something even better; something we can call our own.
If Nigeria can boast of a chat platform we hold as ours, rather than depend on outsiders, then it is the beginning of great things to come in the Nigerian telecommunications market.

Infrastructure
That is where the global village phenomenon comes in, because we are still battling with electricity and all that, what we have done is to partner RackSpace that hosts servers for many other companies in the world.
RackSpace keeps all our chats and everything.
There is a room in the cloud that is dedicated to us. Reason why we have gone to that level is to ensure we do not tell our subscribers stories.
The problem we are having with the network operators is their inability to see that this project is important for the nation, because local content is not always the best for the expatriate companies.
It’s just the way the oil companies operate; we need a lion-hearted Minister who will put it on the expatriate companies to align themselves with the domestic inventors.
Do we have government functionaries who understand what mobile application developers go through?

Human Resources
We need to have telecom people in government; those who understand the nitty-gritty of the business so as to harness the potentials.
Your software is nothing until it goes out to the public. Nigeria must do everything within our powers to run away from impending telecom colonization.
It is a serious issue; there is no sector that the foreigners are not dominating.
We need to have Nigerians hold some gates in the sector. They know it, but there is not enough passion to drive it.
We have the best of policies in place, but the implementation is the problem. You remember when the telecom market was initially liberalised, NITEL had 400,000 lines and owned all infrastructure associated with the industry.
The new private operators were begging NITEL (for infrastructure sharing), but now they have all built their own infrastructures and its NITEL through the government begging them (for accommodation).
So, the bigger you are, the less stress, because you don’t have to talk to anybody.    
  
Government’s Involvement  
The connection between government and the realities ends in speeches. We need to have people who feel the pain to make things happen.
We need the government and the industry to understand each other by communicating on a regular basis, so we can deliver a resultant technological effect to the people at the grassroots.     

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CBN Rate Cut on the Horizon as Inflation Slows to 12-Month Low

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By Lukman Otunuga,  Senior Research Analyst, FXTM

The latest inflation figures from the Nigerian economy are certainly good news for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the economy as a whole.

Inflation in Africa’s largest economy dropped to its lowest in a year at 11.1% last month as food prices and services reduced in July compared to June. Further signs of inflation cooling during the third and fourth quarter of 2019 should present the CBN an opportunity to re-join the global easing bandwagon – ultimately supporting domestic economic growth. While the exact timings of the rate cut remain uncertain, it now remains a matter or when rather than if. Lower rates in Nigeria have the potential to stimulate consumption which accounts for roughly 80% of GDP.

Markets search for stability as we head into the weekend

It has been a rollercoaster trading week defined by heightened trade uncertainty, yield curve inversions and global recession fears.

The “risk off, risk on” pendulum swung back and forth as investors grappled with conflicting signals on the US-China trade front, disappointing economic data from China and Germany and depressed oil prices.

Some semblance of stability is returning to Asian markets on Friday after China hinted at more fiscal support for its economy. While European markets are set to open cautiously higher as investors closely monitor the Treasury yields, gains may be limited by the general unease and uncertainty which is shrouding financial markets.

All eyes remain on the yield curve…

History was made this week after the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell below 2% for the first time ever.

Market players offloaded riskier assets like a hot potato and rushed to perceived safe havens like bonds and Gold as trade tensions and global growth fears promoted risk aversion. Although treasury yields are climbing away from record lows on Friday as some tranquillity returns to markets, the movements in the bond markets are poised to remain on investors radars in the week ahead.

Dollar maintains grip on iron throne

King Dollar has appreciated against almost every single G10 currency this week excluding the British Pound and Australian Dollar.

The Dollar’s positive performance suggests that it is still viewed as a destination of safety amid trade disputes, geopolitical tensions and global growth concerns. Appetite towards the Greenback was sweetened further on Thursday after US retail sales jumped by 0.7% in July, which eased concerns about the health of the US economy. I expect the Dollar Index to push higher based on price action, as the economic calendar for the United States is void of Tier 1 economic releases on Friday.

In regards to the technical picture, the Dollar Index is bullish on the daily charts. The intraday breakout above 98.20 should encourage a move higher towards 98.40.

Commodity spotlight – Gold

Gold prices depreciated slightly on Friday morning but were headed for a third consecutive weekly gain thanks to global recession fears, uncertainty over US-China trade developments and falling US bond yields.

Gold bulls remain firmly in the driver’s seat and are set to switch into higher gear as geopolitical risk factors and lower interest rates across the globe send investors stampeding towards the precious metal. Focusing on the technical picture, Gold is heavily bullish on the weekly charts as there have been consistently higher highs and higher lows.

A weekly close above $1500 should open the doors towards $1535 and $1550, respectively.

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African Governments,are you ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

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Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika
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By Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of Microsoft 4Afrika

At a recent conference in Johannesburg, a young college student posed a question to the Presidency of South Africa: “If we are introducing into basic education new subjects to be competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, like coding, why do we have ministers of education that are over 60?”

It was an interesting glimpse into the mind of a demographic most impacted by the digital era. If you look at anydigitally transforming organisation, what sets the leaders apart is not just a clear digital strategy, but a culture and leadership poised to execute it. Employees today expect business leadersto be nimble, embracing digital tools to remain competitive and make strategic decisions with the future in mind.

Thisstudent’s questiondemonstrates that the expectation on governmentsis no different. As African countries work to become global leaders in the digital revolution, young people are looking for a tech-savvyand digitally mature governmentto boldly set the standards, andlead the way.

The benefits of a digitally skilled government

The benefits of a digitally-savvy government are many. Armed with technologies and the capabilities to use them, governments are empowered to be moreagile, efficient, data-driven, transparentand connected to citizens. With machine learning and skills in data analytics, policy makers can be more forward-thinking, regularly re-examining policies, discovering new opportunities and mitigating risks for more productive and inclusive growth.

A Deloitte digital survey also found thatpublic sector leaders who understand digital trends and technologies are three times more likely to provide appropriate support for transformation, compared to those who do not. High levels of involvement with technology typically result in greater investment, broader adoption and a greater number of successful implementations.

In a recent IFC report, Africawasnoted as having a slow and insufficient policy response to digital transformation.Respondents called for accelerated efforts in developing clear-cut digital agendas. This includes modernizing school curriculum, training teachers, expanding broadband access,promoting avibrant business climate by encouraging competition, and enforcing cybersecurity.Today, resources such as the AI Business School geared specifically towards government can be the first stop for governments looking to upskill their employees.

With more digital champions in government,imagine how much more rapidly Africa could implementthis transformation and advance its position as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In 2018, for example, the United Arab Emirates announced its intention to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence, leading in AI research, development and innovation. To do so, they began efforts at government level,appointingthe first dedicated Minister of AI. The effort was applauded for ensuring “a necessary focus for implementation as opposed to just talking” and ensuring solutions are based on the latest understanding of technology.

 

Taking the lead in digital transformation

For Africa to truly succeed – and lead – in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovative startups, technology companies and smart businesses need to collaborate on building an ecosystem where everyone benefits from technology. Leading this charge needs to be progressive governments with clear roadmaps that both define and enable the digital horizon.

Countries like Morocco are well on their way, through initiatives including the Maroc 2020 Digital strategy. But, as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) points out, the success of this strategy depends on government capacity to prioritize, plan, manage and monitor ICT investments. Governments need to focus on attracting, retaining and upskilling qualified ICT professionals in the public sector workforce that can cope with the complexities of the new policy environment.

Undoubtedly today, the most critical area of investment by governments needs to be skills development in order to sustainably grow their emerging digital economies. The time for skilling was yesterday. The next best time is today.

 

 

 

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Warning lights flash red as UK economy contracts in second quarter

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst,FXTM

Confidence over the health of the UK economy was dealt a gut-wrenching blow this morning after GDP growth contracted for the first time since 2012 in the second quarter.

Economic growth fell at a quarterly rate of 0.2% in the three months to June, below the 0% market expectations amid Brexit-related uncertainty. With mounting fears over a no-deal Brexit weighing heavily on sentiment and crippling the Pound, the UK is at threat of shrinking again in the third quarter of 2019. Should Britain officially enter a recession, the Pound/Dollar parity dream may become reality.

All in all, today’s disappointing GDP figure is set to raise alarm bells over Brexit dragging the UK economy deeper into the abyss. This unfavourable scenario may prompt the Bank of England to cut interest rates sooner than anticipated, in an effort to revive the UK economy.

In the currency markets, the GBPUSD dipped just over 40 pips before clawing back some losses with prices trading around 1.2100 as of writing. While the GDP report is significant, the Pound remains more concerned with developments in Westminster and Brexit newsflow.

What does this mean for Nigeria?

As a member of the British Commonwealth, the impacts of Brexit could indirectly affect the Nigerian economy. If the United Kingdom enters an official recession, this may trickle back to Nigeria in the form of decreased investments by the United Kingdom to Nigeria. A decline in external investments has the potential to impact domestic GDP growth at a time where the nation is tussling with falling oil prices.

 

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