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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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Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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