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How Nigeria, Africa can compete with the American-Chinese duopoly

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Africa, with a landmass of about 30.3Million kmand population of over 1.3Billion people is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent, occupying 6% of the earth and yet it contributes just around 6% to the world economy.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) – a report compiled by the World Economic Forum – African countries make up 17 of the bottom 20 nations, which is frankly a sad commentary on the black continent.

According to the CIA’s World Fact book, the world’s Gross World Product (GWP) was around $107.5 trillion in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and Africa with just over $6.4 trillion contributes just around 6% to this global pool. How then does a continent once projected to be the next “Economic Engine” of the world actually compete?

In a global economy dominated by Chinese & Americans and closed followed by the Europeans and the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, & South Africa, how really can Africa compete?

Between 2000 and 2016, Africa experienced strong economic growth rates (averaging about 4.6% annually), higher than Latin America and the Caribbean rate (2.8%) yet lower than developing Asia (7.2%).

These growths resulted from high commodity prices, improved macroeconomic management and strategies to diversify growth.

Despite this growth and however small it was, Africa would benefit even further from improving its economic growth patterns as the critically of the current times and the needs of her people increases.

Interestingly though and against popular opinion, Agriculture does not appear to be the primary way to make this happen, and happen fast.

It is no secret that Technology has pushed the world many years into the future. The Industrial Revolution changed a lot but the current technological revolution is changing everything from the way we live, eat, pay for things, have kids, get education down to the way we make friends, partners and how and when we associate with these people – virtually everything.

Indeed, at the moment, there are about 7.8Billon people on earth, and of this, about 2.7Billion are on Facebook alone, while about 2.1 Billion daily interact with the platform, which is perhaps the largest single convergence of humanity every day. This reality inadvertently means that over 30% of the world are actively interacting on a single platform every day. Imagine the economic possibilities embedded in this data.

It is thus undoubted that if Africa wants to compete, it must look ahead and try to discern what the future of tech would be or rather is becoming. Africa and indeed Nigerians must explore all the emerging technologies possible and see about engaging them for scale.

In 2016, I attended GiTEX in Dubai, the third largest technology conference in the world which converges every October. At the conference, there were clear articulations about the future of technology and why everyone should be preparing for the tomorrow that had arrived today. 5 major branch were the outlook for technology’s future. They were Artificial Intelligence/Data Science, Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (VR), Blockchain Technologies, Robotics and of course, Platforms.

After the conference, myself and fellow attendees reviewed the submission and arrived at some interesting conclusions as we had to contextualise technology within the limitations and realities of our continent.

Indeed, it is necessary to submit here that the African continent does not have the infrastructure or the technological wherewithal to constitute an affront on most of the aforementioned tech directions. With respect to Robotics for instance, Africa still lags incredibly in manufacturing engineering which is a critical requirement for Robotics production.

The plants, people, power and infrastructure required to pull this off is largely unavailable or epileptic in most cases, which is a major constraining factor against adoption or fully exploring this technology at this point. Also, with AI and Data Science, the technology is such an emerging field that Africa isn’t even a consideration for some of the tests and data assumptions currently being paraded around the world at the moment. Same sentiments apply to VR/AR and Block chains which isn’t yet as widely accepted, mastered and deployed across the continent as they have been across the oceans to the left (Atlantic) and to the right (Pacific).

However, when you consider the patterns behind emerging platforms around the world and you look at the level of staying power Africa has on these platforms, you begin to see a trend – perhaps platforms can be Africa’s big break! A lot is happening on the continent currently. Infact, in Nigeria, some of the most reputable technologies to have emerged out of Africa are of Nigerian origins and they are mostly platform. Jumia – the e-Commerce platform, which was recently listed on the New York stock exchange is Africa’s first Unicorn. Quickteller, the Mobile payment platform from Interswitch, Remita the Payment platform from SystemSpecs, Paystack, PayAttitide, Flutterwave, Monnify and other leading indigenous technologies across the continent and in Nigeria are mainly platforms.

Indeed, African start-ups are beginning to make the right noises and consequently have started attracting global prying eyes – most of which have been so fascinated that they almost immediately become angel investors.

Nigerian FinTech start-ups alone attracted around $1Billion in 2018, a fund raiser milestone for the continent. As America and the Chinese continue to lead with the development and deployment of leading platforms globally, with Google, Uber, Facebook and Amazon the leading platforms from America while Alibaba, WeChat, Weibo, Tencent  QQ as leading platforms from China, Nigeria and Africa does not seem to be lagging on that front unlike other leading innovative technologies where we do not seem to have the vital skills, competence and infrastructure to support and deploy them at scale.

The question therefore is, what should Africa do to amplify this positive trajectory and sustain its growth? Build & continuous Build!!!

Africans and Nigerians in particular should build platforms that solve real, localized problems. Indeed, we should start exploring technology to solve real life problems and challenges plaguing our society. Challenges like Security, Waste Management, Financial Inclusion, Access to qualitative and affordable Healthcare, poor Transport and traffic management, Food processing and storage, Access to qualitative and affordable Education and many others.

To kick-start this revolution and scale its execution, the most important steps that should be looked at by every African government as well as multinational corporation should be to encourage Tech education. We need to encourage technology education starting from Basic (Primary) school to High (Secondary) School and tertiary levels across the continent. This will encourage more interest and will grow competence across all strata.

The next is a ramping up of Business Education and building of Partnerships(both intra partnerships within the continents and extra partnerships with other global giants) outside their shores. Mentorship programs should be put in place for young techies to access leading minds and coaches at little to zero cost for these young minds to encourage their incubation and interests.

Lastly, local investment and funding should be a priority for all Africans. The continent has over 20 known Billionaires (US$) and over 140,000 millionaires (US$), so local funding would ensure that Africans are key players in the coming continental resurgence. Currently, there is a lot of investment in yesterday’s assets across the continents. Real estate, Oil fields, trade and commerce and even depreciable assets like cars and accessories are still the leading assets of many of our rich Nigerians.

A trip to Banana Island in Ikoyi still reveals an assortment of un-occupied palatial houses, which is the same reality in Asokoro, Wuse 2 and Maitama in Abuja where Nigerian Billionaire are still hell bent on investing in a peaked real estate Market.

In Nigeria today, an Import License or Oil prospecting license is still considered the crème of local investment opportunities at the detriment of an abundance of revolutionary technologies emerging from the continent. It is a well-known but sad reality that more than 80% of Start-Up finance is currently foreign thereby exposing our enterprise and economy to foreign interest.

Whatever happens now and into the future, it should be known that a new Africa is coming – one that will be a force to reckon with.

Therefore, entrepreneurs across the continent should start exploring technology that can give us a competitive advantage and get us at the table. We all don’t necessarily need to know how to code.

Whatever skillset you may be blessed with, explore partnership with technically skilled people to deliver the next Remita or Google from Africa. For certainly, a day is coming, when the tale of the hunt will no longer be told by the hunter, but also by the lions, and when such a day arrives, we will behold a new continent arisen from the ashes of colonialism, militarisms, diluted democracy and costly wars that have stolen its boon and brightest.

When that day truly comes, a technovated Africa will emerge. One that will never again be ignored.

Lanre Basamta

Tech Marketing Expert & Strategist

Shared at the recently convened TEDx Ikeja 2019

@Basamta

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Tramadol and Codeine found in remains of Boko Haram suicide bombers – NAFDAC

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Tramadol and Codeine found in remains of Boko Haram suicide bombers - NAFDAC

The National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) On Monday October 14, revealed that tramadol and codeine were often found in the remains of suicide bombers contracted by Boko Haram insurgents.

 

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, the agency’s Director-General who spoke during a courtesy visit to Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, said the importation of the illicit drug had a dramatic increase after NAFDAC was barred from the Nation’s ports for over 7 years.

 

“We have had a lot of problems that predated me and one of the problems is that NAFDAC was removed from the ports for seven years (2011-2018) and the damage that was done during the seven years, we are still mopping the damage, as we speak. I never knew that I would come home and start battling tramadol, codeine, that have destroyed so many young lives and I have often told people that Nigeria cannot be greater than her youths.

“So, I take this very personally and for the first five months I was running to ensure we returned to the ports and the NSA office came to help us because we found out that even our children the Boko Haram sent on suicide mission, that their remains contain tramadol. So, it is not about destroying the future alone, it is terrorism. It is destabilisation of the community. But we are able to go back into the ports” she said.

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NIMC: National ID Card Replacement Costs N5,000

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The National Identity Management Commission, says the renewal of the National Identity Card will cost five thousand naira (N5,000) payable through remita.

This was disclosed by its tweeter handle (@nimc_ng) monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Monday, and confirmed by a staff of the Corporate Department of the NIMC.

NIMC also said that applicants who wish to renew their card can visit any NIMC office with the required documents to obtain their card.

” The requirements include a written application with attached proof of payment receipt made through remita, bank teller, NIN slip and submit it at our office.

” Card renewal costs N5,000 payable through remita.” NIMC tweeted.

The tweet also explained that the main focus of the commission was to ensure that all Nigerians are enrolled.

” Our main focus is ensuring that all Nigerians are enrolled and issued their NIN and Your NIN is the most important token of your enrollment.

According to the commission, Nigerians can authenticate their National Identity Number through the NIMC verification portal.

”Your NIN can be authenticated through our verification portal without your card” NIMC tweeted.

” You will be issued your cards when funds permit, Please bear with us and Your NIN is generated immediately for you upon successful completion of your enrolment.”

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CBN issues fresh guidelines on payments system

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CBN Headquarters Abuja

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday issued regulatory guidelines for the operation of Indirect Participants in the Payments System, with effect from Nov. 11.

The apex bank made this known in a circular issued by CBN’s Director, Payments System Management Department, Mr Sam Okojere, to banks.

The Indirect Participants are payments service providers who are non-clearing financial institutions but settle their payments obligations through clearing banks.

According to the guideline, to qualify as an indirect participant, an institution shall: have a satisfactory risk-based rating from the CBN and secure a letter of recommendation from its direct participating bank, signed by the Chief Risk Officer and an Executive Director of the direct participating bank.

The bank also directed that an indirect participant expected to settle all its payments obligations through only one direct participating bank per payment scheme at any given time.

“The relationship between a direct participating bank and an indirect participant shall be governed by a Settlement Agreement.

“Where the account of an indirect participant with a direct participating bank is not adequately funded, the direct participating bank may decline further settlement services to the indirect participant and inform the payment processor accordingly.

“Except as otherwise agreed, a direct participating bank or an indirect participant shall give at least thirty 30 days’ notice to the other party before terminating the Settlement
Agreement for any other reason apart from the circumstances in 3.4.

“The terminating party shall notify the Payments Service Provider (PSP) of its intention to terminate.

“A direct participating bank and an indirect participating bank shall enter into a bilateral agreement to guide the relationship.

“Where an indirect participant connects directly to a PSP for transaction processing, the indirect participant, direct participating bank, and the PSP shall enter into a tripartite agreement”, the bank directed.

It also directed that indirect participants must process their e-reference instruments through the direct participating bank or directly, through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS).

“In the latter option, NIBSS shall indicate the source, (bank, indirect participant)
of the e-reference requests.

“The receiving bank shall not discriminate between e-references originating from banks and indirect participants.

“An indirect participant shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Nigeria Bankers’ Clearing System Rules (NBCS)”.

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