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Nigeria to spend $5.3bn on IT

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IT spending in Nigeria will top $5.3 billion in 2016 as organizations embrace digital transformation initiatives in a bid to streamline their costs and bolster their flexibility.

This is according to global technology research and consulting services firm International Data Corporation (IDC), which last week hosted an event at Victoria Crown Plaza, Victoria Island, Lagos, to announce a series of ‘IDC FutureScape Predictions’ for the year ahead.

“Some combinations of the technologies of the 3rd Platform – namely mobility, cloud, Big Data analytics, and social business – sit at the heart of most digital transformation efforts across Nigeria,” says Mark Walker, IDC’s associate vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa. “Smart City initiatives, whether greenfield or brownfield, are driving greater adoption of 3rd Platform technologies as well as a deeper paradigm shift on the part of governments, technology users, and vendors. Indeed, the success of Smart City initiatives will play a role in Nigeria’s digital transformation journey in 2016.”

The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem is another key facet of the digital transformation revolution beginning to take place in Nigeria. IoT applications in the government, retail, transportation, manufacturing, and utilities verticals will offer the greatest growth opportunity for vendors operating in Nigeria, while security is expected to form a key component of any robust digital transformation strategy. And according to Oluwole Abegunde, a telecommunications research analyst at IDC West Africa, cost-optimization efforts and a lack of skills will drive demand for security services in the years ahead, while the proliferation of IoT technologies will push concerns around privacy and physical security to the top of the ICT agenda.

“The adoption of IoT will accelerate the rate of digital transformation in Nigeria as organizations and stakeholders seek actionable insights from the high volumes of data that will inevitably be generated by the proliferation of connected ‘things’ such as mobile devices, wearables, and sensors,” says Abegunde. “These insights will transform the way businesses and government organizations interact with customers, citizens, suppliers, and even employees, helping them to become more agile and innovative than they could have previously imagined.”

Elsewhere across the African continent, public and private sector organizations will shift to tighter, more digitized supply chains in 2016. Regional integration, public-private partnerships, and omni-channel services are expected to accelerate supply chain cohesion, driven by a combination of trade agreements and a reduced reliance on commoditized trade. Babatunde Afolayan, a systems and infrastructure solutions research analyst at IDC West Africa, notes that continued urbanization – together with demographic/social changes – will further drive the need for digital solutions. “eCommerce and mcommerce developments are expected to bolster the African sharing community and mobile, IoT, user experience, security, and analytics will create new experiences and opportunities across the continent,” says Afolayan. “African examples of these trends will become showcases for established and emerging markets around the world.”

IDC’s country manager for West Africa, Bola Adisa, believes that technology in Africa is undoubtedly an equalizer that enables innovation and transparency. “In Nigeria, the democratization of information is preparing the country for a digital future and enabling it to become included in the digital economy,” says Adisa. “While the digital transformation trend signals a positive development for Nigeria’s ICT vendors, a number of macroeconomic factors may nevertheless prevent the ICT market from reaching its full potential. Indeed, a challenging economic outlook, high structural unemployment, electricity supply challenges, and volatile currency fluctuations are all impacting ICT market spend. Despite market headwinds, IDC predicts ICT spend in Nigeria will grow 6.5% year on year in 2016, with mobile devices responsible for much of the increase.”

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Mastercard names 9 Africa projects for $9-million fund

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) has announced that nine companies from seven countries will receive more than US$9 million to support projects that expand financial inclusion in rural Africa.

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The nine companies were selected from more than 300 firms competing in the first two phases of the Fund’s 2017/2018 rolling competition, which launched in June 2017 and closed in January 2018.

The 2017/2018 rolling competition was one of the Fund’s largest in its efforts to find and support providers of innovative and scalable financial products and services that improve the lives of poor people living in rural areas of Africa. Financing for another group of companies, assessed as part of the third and fourth phases of the competition, will be announced in 2019.

The latest round of financial support will extend innovative transactions, green energy, asset finance, mobile banking, agency banking, and distribution/logistics solutions to excluded rural populations in the seven countries.

Phase #1 selected companies are:

  • Equity Bank Congo SA
  • FutureLink Technologies Limited
  • Apollo Agriculture Limited
  • SolarNow Services Limited
  • Easy Solar Limited
  • Dodore Kenya Limited

Phase #2 selected companies are:

  • Farmerline Limited
  • Stewards Globe Limited
  • Microcred Limited

The nature and geographical diversity of the new projects saw the Fund expand its presence to four additional Sub-Saharan countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Zambia. The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity portfolio now includes 30 projects in 11 countries in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia). The projects comprise a range of businesses from traditional banks and solar-energy leasing companies to agricultural off-taker firms.

“We are excited to add nine more companies to our growing portfolio that is having a positive impact on the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wambui Chege, Team Leader of the Fund for Rural Prosperity. “Today’s announcement reinforces our belief that there is a wide range of innovative, Africa-led projects that, with a little support, can drive financial inclusion across the continent.”

Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategy and Learning at the Mastercard Foundation, said: “The aim of the FRP has always been to enable smallholder farmers and poor people living in rural Africa to reach their full potential by supporting new private sector initiatives that provide access to financial services. We’re very happy to see this latest round of selected firms, demonstrating the depth and breadth of ideas and action plans that will do just that.”

Continue reading about the companies on the next page.

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IoT’s answer for Africa

IoT and digitization enables us to efficiently, proactively and predictively address the sustainability challenges that are faced globally and on the African continent, RESHAAD SHA, CEO of Liquid Telecom.

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With Africa’s population set to increase from around 1.3-billion in 2018 to 1.7-billion in 2030, both challenges and opportunities are presented with regards managing issues including food production and security pose  as well the utilization of limited natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Water scarcity and quality for example are realities that negatively impact health, food production and security. Population growth rates and climatic changes place an exponential demand on this scarce and dwindling resource. These are just some of the sustainability challenges facing not just the African continent, but other developing nations and the world as a whole. In addition to this, the demand for the delivery of basic services as healthcare and sanitation also increases.

Against this background of African population growth lies the grim projection that Africa will account for more than 50% of child deaths (under 5) by 2030, while each day, nearly 1000 children die owing to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases according to the UNICEF 2017 trends in child mortality report. It’s an alarming fact, given that while some 2.6-billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, 663-million people still do not have access.

The department of Water Affairs and Forestry estimate that the agricultural sector accounts for more than 50% of water use in South Africa and experience water losses of between 30 and 40 per cent. Further, the department states that around 35% of irrigation system losses, often nutrient enriched and containing herbicides, pesticides, and other pollutants, return to rivers. These are just some of the ways in which reactive, inefficient, and manually driven processes have limited us in responding in an impactful manner and timeously mitigating these risks

It is for these reasons and other socio economic and environmental concerns that the United Nations has established its Sustainable Development Goals strategy, addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, and environmental degradation.

We need to look at smarter ways that leverage technology in order to addressing these challenges. The situation requires a radical response that delivers a proactive, predictive and data driven approach to addressing these issues with exponentially growing levels of speed and impact.

The IoT ecosystem, comprising of sensors, connectivity, data analytics and workflow automation platforms, and applications are at the core of acquiring, analyzing and harnessing the insights that can be integrated into agriculture, service delivery, health and resource management processer – IoT is at the core of a digitization

One such sector which has benefited immensely from technology is in agriculture pest control, with the implementation of AI and IoT by Spanish startup AgroPestAlert. The innovation makes use of “smart” traps that capture insects and analyse their wing beats to identify their species and even their sex. Placed throughout the fields, the traps communicate with the system to predict an imminent invasion. The system will send alerts to phones, tablets and computers and use an easy-to-understand visual tool to cue farmers instantly.

Around 200-million Africans use approximately 1-million manual pumps across the continent to manually access clean drinking water.  IoT applications have been utilised in assuring the delivery of water through manual these pumps, According to estimates, at least one-third of those pumps will break down at least once in its lifecycle, and up to 70% will break in the second year of operation. The impact of not having access to clean drinking water is dehydration or water borne pandemics.

In the Kenyan Region of Kyusoa, Oxford University began a proof of concept project in 2013, which made use of motion sensors) to capture the movements of the pumps’ handle which was transmitted and analysed in real time. A decision support system based on real data was  used to predict pump malfunctions, allowing for a better planning and shortening the time needed to repair broken pumps, or avoiding malfunctions altogether, directly improving the access to clean drinking water for the rural population.

Liquid Telecom realise that the future of sustainability lies in technology and innovations such as IoT. We provide high speed fiber connectivity to interconnect as well as access platforms to build IoT solutions, in addition to access to Microsoft Azure suite of platforms for analytics and algorithm driven based processing and execution. Our Pan African network enables collaboration and cross border innovation and learning, fast well as the capability to efficiently scale out these solutions on Africa’s Liquid Cloud.

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