26 Aug 2016

Nigeria Com speaker spotlight - Airtel's Adedoyin Adeola


By Amy Turner - Com Series Staff Writer, KNect365


We're continuing to count down to the biggest event dedicated to strengthening ICT and digital networks in Nigeria, with the Speaker Spotlight Interview series - where we chat with the most influential tech and telco thought-leaders in the region. 

This week the focus is broadband - the infrastructure, the potential and the challenges that still pervade the sector. There is no one in a better position to to talk about Nigerian broadband connectivity than Adedoyin Adeola, Airtel Nigeria's Vice President of Network Operations.

We spoke to Adedoyin about the the major developments he has seen in the sector, the unique set-up of the region's investment environment and how spectrum transformation will be the key enabler of future telco growth in Nigeria.   
"Broadband connectivity is the driver of development  which touches every sector - from medicine and education to politics and infrastructure development"

1. We look forward to welcoming you to Nigeria Com, next month. You’re taking part in our telecoms leaders’ roundtable on winning investment with Nigeria’s broadband potential - what changes and development have you seen with regards to broadband connectivity in Nigeria, in the last 3-5 years? 

There has been a lot of focus and direction from government on the expectation of the MBB values and the private sector is equally focused to leverage on this. More work is still required to create the environment necessary for investors to come in and invest (FDI which is the major driver for the MBB strategy and actualisation). 

The ICT industry depends heavily on broadband potential and currently ICT has over 9% contribution to our GDP. This driver (broadband connectivity) touches every area of our development (medicine, politics, education, technology, infrastructure development, socio-economic empowerment just to mention a few). 

Disruptive technology startup companies depend on broadband connectivity before their full potential can be fully enhanced. The economic development of our country depends on this because I see this as a driver to move all the indices in the right direction.


"One of the key requirements for any successful business is the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, especially in this digital age"

2. What do you believe have been the major facilitators of this change? 

The World Bank Information and Communications for Development report (2009) showed that access to broadband boosts economic growth in all countries, but most especially in developing ones, such as Nigeria. It is a known fact that one of the key requirements for any successful business is the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, especially in this digital age. Anything that can speed up the rate at which communication takes place improves the output radically from any business endeavour, and enhances the efficiency with which business processes are carried out.

The telecommunication and information services sector, according to the 2013 rebased GDP data of Nigeria, contributed 8.68% ($44.3billion) to the newly rebased GDP figure of $522billion. This development led to Nigeria being the biggest economy in Africa.

Some of best examples of change have been in the areas of:

  • Job creation: Job opportunity through the creation of various economic activities
  • Business productivity: Providing opportunity for sellers and buyers to reach each other effectively through calls, video and other social media platforms
  • Enabler to other sectors: Broadband has been a great catalyst to other sectors of economy such as health, education, banking, trade and agriculture etc.

3. What do you still consider to be the major challenges or inhibitors to more rapid growth in broadband penetration, in the country?

Some of our most critical issues are:

  • The cost of sustaining constant power supply to site loads to guarantee reliable broadband service through the installation of power infrastructure and parallel power generation. It constitutes a huge chunk of the overall annual Opex of the telecom and IT industries in Nigeria.
  • Challenges in the telecoms sector have been identified as: the high costs of right of way, resulting in the high cost of leasing transmission infrastructure; long delays in the processing of permits; multiple taxation at federal, state, and local government levels and having to deal with multiple regulatory bodies; damage to existing fibre infrastructure as a result of cable theft, road works and other operations; and the lack of reliable, clean grid electricity supply.
  • The severity of this irony is the fact that only little of this infrastructure and generation overheads stream into our domestic economy.
  • Most of the basic equipment is not locally sourced due to the collapse of the critical manufacturing sector in the country. Example is all telco towers are imported from China, India and South Africa.

"These challenges are seen as opportunities by me and you have to go for it"

4. How does operating as a carrier in Nigeria differ from conducting business, expanding and increasing market share in other African nations? 

Nigeria has her own peculiar environment which is very different from other African Countries. Despite huge potentials, we equally have huge challenges. These challenges are seen as opportunities by me and you have to go for it.

5. Nigeria is a unique business and investment environment due to its various regulatory statures; do you believe this causes the country to be a less attractive prospect for international tech and telco investors? 

The country market potential is less than 60% exploited today, hence there is great potential. The main challenge to most FDI is the economic fiscal policy and I believe that with time things will normalise.

6. How would you describe the working relationship between the public and private sectors in the region, and are current partnerships and discussions spurring effective MBB and FBB penetration? 

There will be no success in MBB and FBB without strong collaboration between the public and private sectors because the relationship is symbiotic. The need for cross-pollination of ideas is key to the success of both entities.
"Spectrum transformation is key to unlocking huge opportunity in this sector"

7. Do you believe spectrum is the priority for enabling digital transformation? 

It is like a car without an engine. Spectrum transformation is key to unlocking huge opportunity in this sector. Strategic steps needs to be in place in order to finally realise the digital transition project mandated by the GE 06 Agreement which was endorsed by the Member States of ITU at the World Radio Conference in Geneva in 2006 and Nigeria, as a member of States of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Region 1, signed the Geneva 2006 Agreement on Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting. This agreement projected a new digital plan that involved a re-distribution of frequency bands to accommodate new. Despite different plans, unfortunately we are not yet compliant.

It has been projected by the World Economic Forum that the combined value to society and industry of digital transformation across industries could be greater than $100 trillion over the next 10 years.


8. How do you think government and industry will be able to drive new international investment into the Nigerian telco space? 

New international investment will be driven by the Economic Fiscal policy, which accommodates and protects this sector and creates a regulatory and economic buffer for them. Revision of the double taxation regime and enact laws which will recognise all telco assets as critical national asset (just like the oil pipe-line).

9. What do you expect from speaking at Nigeria Com 2016? 

The opportunity to show the world the potential in this sector and what is required to create value to all and sundry in the ecosystem, as well as pushing the agenda of RAN sharing further.

10. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? 

I'm looking forward to seeing the commitment on the Active Ran sharing and the digital dividend project from the stake-holders because this will unlock the potential in this sector.

Adedoyin will taking part in the telecoms leaders' roundtable on day 1 of Nigeria Com 2016 on: Winning global investment with Nigeria's broadband potential.

You can find out more about the event here.

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25 Aug 2016

The challenges of cloud adoption in the Nigerian online and digital industries


By Wale Oyepeju - Head of IT, Ultima Limited 


Cloud services are playing a key role in enabling and nurturing businesses in Nigeria, especially those in the online and digital sectors. The reasons for cloud adoption in this sector of the economy aren't far fetched and they're borne out of the dynamic nature of the industry and the infrastructure challenges in the country.

"Never have businesses been driven by technology like we have in this era of cloud" 

Many online businesses see leveraging cloud technology in order to stay ahead of the competition as an imperative, with their seemingly superior product and service offerings. For others, the main objective is to reach a global audience with the offer of value added customer excellence. Never have businesses been driven by technology like we have in this era of cloud.

That said, utilising the adoption of cloud in Nigeria is still frought with key challenges. Some of these issues are global and general in nature, while others are cultural and local to Nigeria.


Pricing


IT leaders in Nigeria consider the price point a key factor in deciding whether to move specific IT functions to the cloud or retain on-premise. In arriving at this decision, price points are analysed across cloud providers and weighed up against on-premise costs. The idea to migrate services to the cloud is sometimes dropped when there is no favourable price point to support the decision. 

"Different price points have to be worked out for each sector in a way that is beneficial to both provider and the business"

For instance, discussion to migrate traditional video data backup and archiving processes to the cloud usually enters a stalemate because traditional warehousing, even with its inherent risks, is still a cheaper option for content producers and a widely adopted tactic in the entertainment sector. 

Cloud providers need to engage business owners and IT leaders in order to understand their needs better and tailor cloud solutions to industry peculiarities. Take for instance the bandwidth required for financial transactions - They aren't the same as what is needed for the backup and retrieval of video data. The frequency of data retrieval is also not the same. This means that different price points have to be worked out for each sector in a way that is beneficial to both provider and the business. In instances where on-premise price point more reasonable than cloud, other benefits would have to influence the decision to utilise cloud.

"WhatsApp has proved to us all that real growth comes from focusing on product and not technology"

There is also a dearth of innovation in Nigerian cloud sector towards the development of sector-specific cloud products and solutions. WhatsApp has proved to us all that real growth comes from focusing on product and not technology. According to a recent HBR article, the team at WhatsApp focused on what the customer wants to deliver what we know as WhatsApp today. Cloud providers’ product development model should be innovative, more of “outside-in” strategy than “Inside out”. 


Adoption reluctance


Furthermore, there is a general paranoia and reluctance among stakeholders to move key IT functions to the cloud. Business leaders still believe hosting key business applications in-house will safeguard their data and prevent unauthorised access. Unlike in Europe and America where cloud is widely utilised by the financial sector, adhoc use of the cloud in Nigerian financial institutions is prevalent. Some stakeholders also believe that cloud adoption will translate to job cuts, creating skill gaps within the IT sector. There is also the fear of incurring huge cost in data transfer when switching cloud providers, or from cloud to on-premise platform.

"For cloud adoption to gain ground in Nigeria, Internet has to be faster, cheaper and more reliable"

According the Nigerian Guardian, the Federal Government has committed to increasing broadband penetration from about 8% to 36% by 2018. This is an indication that things may not improve much in the short-medium term. The assertion was made at a time countries in Europe and America can boast of 31% - 52% fixed broadband penetration. Government, through private partnerships must speed up infrastructure development and solve key challenges that could undermine the growth of online and digital industry. The success achieved with mobile and wireless telephony needs to be consolidated through high impact fixed broadband penetration.

Efforts aimed at solving other key infrastructure challenges in the power sector will further improve the adoption of cloud in Nigeria. Key issues around right of way as they affect network backbone deployment need to be looked into. For cloud adoption to gain ground in Nigeria, Internet has to be faster, cheaper and more reliable. 

Creating awareness


Cloud awareness is generally low in developing countries, Nigeria inclusive. Evident is also the cloud knowledge gap between business/finance and IT. Studies have shown that nearly a third of companies are neither tracking their public cloud usage nor managing the costs associated with public cloud services. Deirdre Mahon, Cloud Cruiser’s Chief Marketing Officer said today’s reality is that IT can only move at the speed of finance: “If business, IT, and finance stakeholders cannot view the same real-time dashboard showing exactly what cloud services are being consumed by whom, services will come to a screeching halt.”

"IT leaders need to understand the financial implication of cloud option in a holistic manner"

To solve the knowledge gap between business, finance and IT, communication needs to improve and knowledge transfer is encouraged corporate-wide. IT leaders need to understand the financial implication of cloud option in a holistic manner and communicate the cost saving in both top and bottom lines. Finance leaders also need to avail themselves of the various tools that can support the decision to adopt or utilise cloud. 

The legalities


There is also the need for robust legal and regulatory compliance framework for cloud. Nigeria is not known to have a holistic cloud framework and regulatory compliance guidelines that address territorial issues bothering on cloud adoption, taxation, QoS, copyright, data security and privacy laws. There are liability and governance issues that a comprehensive legal framework will address within the Nigerian context. 


Money matters


"Many businesses are slow to adopt cloud due to the confusion over the financial impact of cloud"

What is evident is the confusion in the simplification of financial benefits of cloud. Given that the adoption of cloud can sometimes increase OPEX, any business leader would ordinarily not see the financial benefits of cloud. Many businesses are slow to adopt cloud due to the confusion over the financial impact of cloud.

Laurence Goasduff in his article, “The Financial case for moving to the cloud” said that: "Adopting the cloud can save significant amounts of money, which ultimately is the lifeblood of any business”. The discussion on the financial implication of cloud is usually not balanced. There are other cost savings that we often don’t talk about. These cost savings come in the form of indirect, direct and overhead costs of maintaining IT infrastructure on-premise.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need for stakeholder engagement beyond selling of cloud products and services. Not all cloud products are a fit for the Nigerian online and digital Industry due to pricing and market share. The Federal Government needs to fast track key infrastructural development. We need a roll out plan for smart city initiatives. Regulatory bodies should also focus on developing local cloud players with the aim of exporting cloud solutions and products to Nations. Re-imagining regulations beyond sanctions and penalties need to be done for healthy growth and development within the online and digital industry.


About the author:

Head of IT, Ultima Limited 

Wale’s journey in the corporate world has seen him wear three hats with a wealth of experience in IT Service Management, Broadcast Technology and Telecommunications. Wale was instrumental to the implementation and technical support of MTN Nigeria’s Virtual Top-Up platform. His dedication earned him consistent service delivery award in 2009. As an astute IT Service Manager Wale holds a MBA in Customer Service Excellence from Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

Wale will be speaking on day 1 of Nigeria Com 2016 about utilising the adoption of cloud services in the online and digital industry.

You can find out more about the event here.

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24 Aug 2016

Igniting entrepreneurship through African mHealth services


By Kyle Moss - Program Manager & Head of Global Entrepreneurship, Qualcomm Wireless Reach
&
Okey Okuzu - Founder & CEO, InStrat Global Health Solutions


As one of the continent's leading economies, Nigeria is home to a flourishing ICT sector, which has spurred numerous technological innovations in recent years. Unfortunately, the nation is still to traverse a range of challenges when it comes to safeguarding the health, safety and development of it's 180 million citizens.

Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ is an initiative which brings advanced wireless technologies to under-served communities globally, improving lives with projects that strengthen economic and social development. The initiative implements programs in five areas: health care, education, entrepreneurship, public safety, and the environment. Important, strategic, and clear cut, each of these can, and does benefit greatly from the introduction of advanced wireless technology as a well-suited solution to development issues. Mobile is creative, pervasive, and according to the GSMA’s 2015 The Mobile Economy Report, it’s becoming more and more affordable – even in emerging economies.

"The most successful outcomes have been achieved when the boundaries between each program are able to fluidly respond and adapt according to their specific demands"

But what I’ve found in my six years of managing global projects, is that hardly any of our unique programs actually fall squarely into one vertical area. Rather, the most successful outcomes and a clear path to sustainability have been achieved when the boundaries between each program are able to fluidly respond and adapt according to their specific demands. For example, a health care pilot may also be able to utilize the strengths and expertise of an entrepreneurial venture.


A perfect example of the cross-cutting nature of these wireless programs is our mHealth CliniPAK360 effort in Nigeria. Nigeria is home to numerous technological innovations; it’s also, unfortunately, home to one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates. Knowing both of these things were motivation enough to team up with VecnaCares and InStrat Global Health Solutions (InStrat); now, for over three years, we’ve invested in this program which provides mobile technology as a solution for frontline health care workers in maternal health clinics and is continually evolving to help solve other health challenges (see this example and this Ebola research that speaks to the adaptive and expansive nature of the program).

On the ground in more than four Nigerian states, InStrat is the implementation partner and is run by an incredible entrepreneurial founder, Okey Okuzu. I’ll let him tell you a little more about our experiences with mobile and how our mHealth program has benefited and flourished due to his entrepreneurial mindset and efforts:

“I started InStrat in 2010 after a lengthy life sciences and financial services career with a vision of driving an e-health revolution in Africa, starting from Nigeria. Skittish officials and investors were too nervous to provide the funding required for demonstration or proof of concept projects. About a year later, in collaboration with VecnaCares, we applied for a competitive Qualcomm Wireless Reach grant for CliniPAK360 to form the basis of an electronic health data management platform in Nigeria’s Primary Healthcare system. This opportunity was squarely in line with InStrat’s vision of advancing the e-health revolution. Fortunately, VecnaCares and InStrat were awarded the grant. 

"Electronic health data can be transmitted to the National Health Information Management System in real time"

We established a consortium that embarked on a journey that started with the installation of CliniPAKs in two facilities in 2013 and expanded to 51 by the end of 2015. Along the way, we have demonstrated the benefits of electronic health data management through the following accomplishments: conducting health worker education and preparedness for the Ebola campaign; instituted an electronic disease surveillance mechanism that identified the cause of a methanol poisoning outbreak; validated that electronic health data can be transmitted to the National Health Information Management System in real time; demonstrated that rural primary health facilities can operate in a fully paperless environment. We have now established partnerships with visionary officials that have become evangelists of that eHealth revolution. And Qualcomm Wireless Reach remains steadfast in its support of this vision. 



Officials and investors are no longer skittish – local funding opportunities are beginning to emerge – increasing the likelihood of sustainability. In the last few months, InStrat has received calls to leverage CliniPAK360 and other available eHealth technologies for disease surveillance and response; emergency management; health insurance claims processing; health program enrollment; front line health worker training and capacity building, just to name a few. 

"When you introduce mobile as a tool in this arena, the transformation, economic development and opportunities that arise are limitless"

The revolution has started! This movement has been inspired by the thought leadership and project management provided by Qualcomm Wireless Reach as well as VecnaCares’ technical prowess. And it has manifested in a dramatic increase in the demand for CliniPAK and InStrat’s other eHealth support services. This is the true story of entrepreneurship.”

Entrepreneurship has a natural cross-cutting ability to enhance several areas; when you introduce mobile as a tool in this arena, the transformation, economic development and opportunities that arise are limitless. I’ve seen this in my work with Wireless Reach when managing other vertical focused programs and especially in this example with InStrat and VecnaCares (and other incredible stakeholders) in Nigeria. As our program efforts soar to greater heights, in the wake of an improved health delivery system in Nigeria, we at Qualcomm Wireless Reach take continued pride in our role to facilitate entrepreneurial success through our investment in mHealth.

About the authors:

Kyle Moss

Program Manager & Head of Global Entrepreneurship, Qualcomm Wireless Reach


Kyle Moss serves as a Government Affairs Program Manager and Head of Global Entrepreneurship for Qualcomm Wireless Reach. Based in San Diego, Moss designs, implements, and manages, social impact programs throughout Africa, Asia, and the U.S. She also leads her team's efforts in support of SMEs, SGBs, social enterprises, and entrepreneurs, using mobile tools. These activities are all on behalf of Wireless Reach, the strategic program that brings the benefits of advanced wireless technologies to under-served communities globally.

Okey Okuzu

Founder & CEO, InStrat Global Health Solutions

Okey Okuzu is an accomplished healthcare visionary able to identify ways of improving healthcare delivery to under-served markets and populations using emerging technologies. Okey founded InStrat Global Health Solutions in 2010 to focus on Global Health Innovation by identifying and deploying technology based healthcare solutions to underserved markets using SMS and 3G wireless technologies. He is a member of the board of trustees of Oando Foundation USA and serves on the Advisory Boards of Center for Public Policy Alternatives and Trigen HealthCare Ltd.


You can find out more about the event here.

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Stand a chance to win one of two gold delegate passes to this year's AfricaCom, taking place between the 14 - 18 November in Cape Town, South Africa.


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22 Aug 2016

"You've got to be able to bridge people's lives" - Kakono's Owen Ruwodo

By Amy Turner - Com Series Staff Writer, KNect365


Coming soon to the Com Series blog and YouTube channel.

Here's a sneak preview of our interview with Kakono's CTO, Owen Ruwodo.

We sat down with Owen at the launch of the bigger, better, bolder AfricaCom, where we chatted about his background and experience, as well as his connection to the African continent.

He discussed tech and telecommunications development in Africa, making connections and including all - truly bridging the gap and empowering young Africans to achieve more.

Owen also went on to talk about the telecommunications success in Africa and how job creation in the sectors of technology and telecommunications enriches all aspects of society - from healthcare and farming to retail and manufacturing.




Stay tuned for the full interview, coming to the channel soon.

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19 Aug 2016

Nigeria Com speaker spotlight - Jara Mobile's Emeka Akano


By Amy Turner - Com Series Staff Writer, KNect365


There's only one month to go until Nigeria Com 2016, and to set the scene for the event dedicated to the Nigerian digital and telco ecosystem, the Com Series team have introduced the Nigeria Com Speaker Spotlight series - where we talk with some of the sector's biggest influencers and thought-leaders in their respective fields.

Emeka Akano is the digital distuptor who has innovated the Nigerian apps market, by forecasting the African mobile revolution and utilising it make the everyday consumers' lives more convenient, while simultaneously helping foster brand loyalty in the region.

We spoke with Forbes Africa's Most Promising Young Entrepreneur and Jara Mobile CEO about the rate of digital development in the country, how to support and spur content creation and what motivated him to step into the apps space.
"The mobile revolution in Africa has indeed created a lot of opportunities, as well as creating what I would refer to as positive change"

1. We look forward to welcoming you to Nigeria Com, next month. You’re taking part in our keynote panel on the rise of data driven services through smart devices, what fundamental societal and institutional changes in Nigeria have you seen as a result of what is often termed the African mobile revolution? 

The mobile revolution in Africa has indeed created a lot of opportunities, as well as creating what I would refer to as positive change. In Nigeria, I've seen the ease at which our creative youth are now able to showcase their talents effortlessly in the areas of comedy, music or even administrating live workshops via short videos skits, shared on social media platforms, such as: Instagram, Snapchat, and more recently live video streaming platform Periscope. 

This is as a result of the increasing internet penetration rate, as well as increase in smartphones in the market, mainly due to the decline in smartphone prices as competition increases, with more global smartphone players coming into the Nigerian market. 

This, in turn, is resulting to the high dependence on smart devices as our growing middle class continue to build their lives around a smart device, forming addictive habits around them. Institutions and organisations, more than ever before, are beginning to conform to this new reality that anyone has the liberty to, and can easily, engage with them them in open conversation, via social media platforms like Twitter; be it an unsatisfied citizen or perhaps a customer who was not happy with their experience with a product or service. 



2. In what ways can effective broadband provisioning spur the development of 
new content and bridge the mobile revenue gap in the country? 

Effective broadband provisioning can spur development of new content in two main ways but not limited to;

i) Ease of distribution of new content: When there is fast, reliable and cheap access to the internet (affordable broadband), this opens up the market for content consumers, as well as increasing the demand for it. For example, more people have access to the internet and can afford it, so it increases revenue. Also, content developers are guaranteed an easier, economic and efficient way to distribute their work or content to their end consumers.

ii) Ease of access to new content: Which is closely related to the above point, with effective broadband provisioning, demand for new content from consumers is bound to go up, because consumers now have the liberty to access much more content than they would have done if they had no access to reliable and affordable internet. This results to the supply of new content to match demand and of course an increase in mobile-related revenues.

"Without reliable supply of power the cost of this broadband would still be higher than it should be"

3. What do you believe are still the major challenges or blockers to enhancing digital integration and bridging this digital revenue gap, specifically in a Nigerian context? 

Internet penetration plays a major and vital role in fostering the process of bridging the gap you speak of. Although the penetration rate is at 38% in Nigeria, as reported by Internetsociety.org in their "Global Internet Report", is very impressive and shows some good steps in the right direction.

Saying that, much more has to be done to ensure it grows at a much faster rate, while paving the way for faster, cheaper and more reliable access to broadband internet in the market. All of which are very much tied to the energy sector's infrastructure development. Without reliable supply of power, the cost of this broadband would still be higher than it should be, and therefore limit digital integration in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
"When it comes to gaming, the youth market don't mind paying for in-app content"

4. Having a look at Nigerian youth culture, what kinds of content does the youth market seek out free of charge and what are they happy to pay for? 

The youth market seeks content around gossip, entertainment (music, videos, movies), sports, games. As is the case with every person, getting content that we care about for free is never a bad idea and the youth here largely want gossip, entertainment and sports news content for free. 

This is different when it comes to gaming, as the youth market don't mind paying for in-app content within games. When they have become addicted to a particular game, paying to get an extra life to proceed to the next stage or perhaps getting better equipment to enable them to get ahead in a level is usually a welcome idea.

Paying for music is also another growing trend with recent developments like MTN, the largest mobile operator in Nigeria, recently disclosing that they made $70 million in revenues from digital music distribution across Africa (from January to June 2016). The  majority of this arguably comes from West Africa, who are largely responsible for the 50 million downloads across all their music offerings, each month. 


5. In your experience, how do you balance creating unique offerings against short term walled profits, that inhibit long term growth? 

In my experience, it all boils down to the vision of the founder(s) and the stage the business is at, whether it is at the early stage of development, or at the stage where the business is established and perhaps thriving. 

Where there is a business with a unique offering and a clearly defined vision and road map, a short term opportunity to make some profit, that is not necessarily in line with that vision, may indeed inhibit long term growth.

If a business is at the startup level (a stage where the business needs capital) and has not raised enough investment yet, the founders would have to be proactive about exploiting such opportunities as a means to an end, knowing clearly that it is a means to raise capital for the achievement of the vision of the company, in the interim. With such a strategy one would know the type of decisions to make, which would not inhibit the long term growth of the business, be it exploiting the short term opportunity with a different brand or entity entirely. 

When it comes to opportunities for businesses that are already established and successful, the size of the return would warrant whether it would be worth the effort, as opposed to a startup business which usually has cashflow or capital requirements at the early days and may have to try to exploit short term walled opportunities as an interim action.
"The reduction in prices of mobile data...would make a huge impact in encouraging the new waves of content creation"

6. Did you believe networks are sufficiently supporting new waves of content creation for mobile?

I believe they are doing their best to support as much as they can given the circumstances, but I also believe things can always be improved upon and done much better, regardless. 

The reduction in prices of mobile data by the telcos in Nigeria recently, is a good example. If such competitive services are rendered at affordable rates, this would, in my opinion, make a huge impact in encouraging the new waves of content creation, since the access to this content would be easier and affordable when mobile data/internet cost are cheaper.



7. How do you believe technology companies can support local Nigerian content creation?


I believe in optimising the process of content creation and also in the distribution of the content created. Technology companies can support by building products which can help local Nigerian content creation to be much more seamless and thereafter, distributing the created content to the right customers, in a way that can be measured with the use of analytics.
"We reward users for what they normally do routinely, without taking them out of their way"

8. You have recently founded rewards app "Jara", how do you differentiate yourself from other reward apps globally, and what have your adoption rates been like since the launch, earlier in the year? 

Our value proposition is very clear to our customers and is unique in the sense that we reward users for what they normally do routinely, without taking them out of their way. Our model is very different from how most rewards apps globally go about their business. In Nigeria, where we've launched, we've localised the experience, while maintaining a global standard experience. 

Most importantly, we are very passionate about the social impact when doing business, so much so that we added a social impact scheme to our business model, where we donate a percentage of each transaction done on our platform to a reputable charitable organisation, towards the educating of underprivileged children in society, starting with Nigeria.

For product adoption, we did a private beta launch a few months ago, where we got our early users to use the product, and we gained critical feedback for improvement. We are at the verge of now re-launching the product again to market, where we would now market it much more aggressively. 

The adoption rate has been encouraging, as we were particularly keen to learn quickly from our early customers on how to better serve them our innovative, first-of-its-kind app in this country.
I knew that Africa would eventually be mobile-driven, due to the 'African mobile revolution' very much in motion

9. What was your major motivator, as an entrepreneur and innovator, to found Jara Mobile? 

After I encountered a report by the World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics for the fiscal year of 2012/2013, which revealed how much Nigerians spent on telecommunications services, which was in the billions of dollars each month, and how the major mode of transactions (paying bills etc) was through the traditional means of physically going out of our way buy and recharge cards from a road-side hawker or shop - I clearly recall that I hardly slept that night.

Also, I knew that Africa would eventually be mobile-driven, due to the 'African mobile revolution' very much in motion and in the very near future, maybe 5 years from now, most transactions would be done on mobile. Mobile money success amidst other trends are indicators of this already happening. 

We knew they were a few digital (web and mobile) alternatives for purchasing airtime or paying bills already in the market, who are also trying to service the market digitally, so in a bid to position ourselves in readiness to exploit this inevitable change in the telecommunications sector, we founded Jara Mobile with our flagship product Jara app. 

To make our product unique i.e differentiate ourselves, we developed a model whereby consumers get rewarded in for doing their routine bill payment or airtime recharge through our platform, whereby normally all they would enjoy would have been the convenience of doing it digitally through their phones. We decided to take it a step further by adding a reward from their favourite brands, in addition to this convenience. In addition, we also help brands to turn consumers into customers in a measurable way, as their coupons serve as an economic way to market their brands and convert their marketing budget to actual measurable sales.



10. What is next for Jara, where do you see the app developing in the near future? 

In the near future, I see the app being used in neighbouring African countries, as well as the addition of several more varieties of brands across different categories, added to the platform.

11. What do you expect from speaking at Nigeria Com 2016? 

I expect to exchange ideas and have meaningful conversations with stakeholders which would continue to shape the digital, telecommunications and ICT space in Nigeria and Africa. I also expect to build up good PR for Jara Mobile which is an innovative technology startup founded by young Nigerians, as a means to also inspire and encourage entrepreneurship among the youth in Nigeria and Africa. 

I am really looking forward to meeting with stakeholders across different sectors, keen to network and make new connections

12. What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

I am really looking forward to meeting with stakeholders across different sectors, keen to network and make new connections with policy makers, potential investors for my startup, industry-shapers and top executives from the long list of technology ventures, telecommunications giants, telecommunications and ICT service providers all meeting up in one place.


Emeka Akano will be speaking on day 2 of Nigeria Com 2016, on the panel discussion: Enhancing content integration to bridge the digital revenue gap - the rise of data driven services through smart devices.

You can find out more about the event here.

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