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NCC Boss, Danbatta To Be Honoured with Zik Prize Next Week

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NCC Boss Danbatta To Be Honoured with Zik Prize Next Week, SiliconNigeria

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, is billed to be honoured with the prestigious Zik Prize in the Professional Leadership category in Lagos, next week.

The award will be presented to Danbatta by Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), during an elaborate ceremony slated for Sunday, December 6, 2020 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos State by 6 p.m.

This year’s event, which also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Zik Prize series, will be chaired by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, while the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe is to function as the royal father of the day.

The PPRAC had, during a virtual conference on Thursday, September 24, 2020, named Danbatta and the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, as the joint winners in the category.

Danbatta, Uzoka and other prominent personalities who emerged in different categories of the Zik Awards, were carefully selected through a rigorous and meticulous process for their notable contributions to national development, said Prof. Jubril Aminu, Chairman of the PPRAC in a statement on the grand award ceremony.

Described by the organisers as a square peg in a square hole, Danbatta, through dint of hardwork as NCC boss, was acknowledged to have led the charge to drive Nigeria’s industrial revolution and knowledge-based economy leveraging telecommunications.

According to them, telecommunications’ contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria has grown by 70 per cent from 2015 to 2020, whilst broadband penetration has increased significantly to over 45 per cent.

“Danbatta’s leadership has enhanced transparency and innovation in the sector, such that recently, NCC was acknowledged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as one of Africa’s foremost regulators” they observed.

According to the organisers, the NCC boss has transformed the Commission into a regulator of global acclaim, as they noted the establishment and implementation of the NCC’s auspicious strategic 8-Point Agenda, under Danbatta, which has given the direction to activities of the Commission.

Organisers of the award also acknowledge that Danbatta has, through several breathtaking and far-reaching innovations, such as Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration and 112 Emergency Number, helped in the effort against insecurity in the country.

They also noted that the sector’s improved contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as improvements in Quality of Service (QoS) delivery, broadband infrastructural development, broadband penetration, effective spectrum utilisation, consumer empowerment, technology innovation, have been phenomenal under Danbatta’s leadership.

Earlier in a letter of nomination in July 2020, signed jointly by the Aminu and Utomi, the NCC boss was described as “an outstanding public servant, whose initiatives and reforms had contributed to Information and Communications Technology (ICT), playing a leading role in the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”

Zik Prize center was set up in 1994 in honour of the first President of Nigeria, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, with a view to encouraging and nurturing quality leadership in Africa and in the diaspora.

The impending event literally puts Danbatta in the prestigious category  of eminent intra-continental figures so honoured by the foundation, like late former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawligs (1995); Late President Nelson Mandela, President Yonweri Muzeveni of Uganda and former Chairman of NCC’s Governing Board, Alhaji Ahmed Joda.

Among this year’s winners, however, are the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawal and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustafa, who won in political leadership and public service categories, respectively.

Others are Governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara Zulum, his counterparts from Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Oyo State Governor, Engr. Oluseyi Makinde, who have bagged the award for good governance.

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IT and Telecomms

Nigeria’s Sparkle Partners with Payment Experts Network International for virtual and physical payment cards

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Nigeria’s Sparkle Signs with Payment Experts Network International for virtual and physical payment cards, SiliconNigeria

Sparkle, a mobile-first digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle and business support services to Nigerians across the globe, has partnered with Network International, the leading enabler of digital commerce across Africa and the Middle East, to power its recently launched payment card offering. 

Sparkle’s new virtual and plastic debit cards are targeted at SMEs and upwardly mobile, unbanked consumers across Nigeria, bringing them the convenience, flexibility, safety and security of cashless payments across various channels. The cards will enable Sparkle customers to make in-app purchases as well as pay for e-commerce and m-commerce transactions. 

Sparkle was founded by entrepreneur, tech pioneer and financial inclusion advocate, Uzoma Dozie with the mission of helping Nigerians fulfil their financial and lifestyle needs. The company’s collaboration with Network International is based on their shared commitment to further the adoption of digital payments among emerging markets across Africa and the Middle East.    

Collaborating with the region’s largest payment company offers Sparkle access to Network’s years of experience and expertise in creating card solutions for emerging markets. Sparkle can benefit from Network’s advanced digital infrastructure and robust security protocols, avoiding the need to invest in expensive card management infrastructure. 

Commenting on the partnership, Uzoma Dozie, Founder of Sparkle, said, “Digital adoption and customer experience is going to be dependent on the people, platform and partnership. In the area of payment processing and data insights, Network International brings that to our platform, and we are truly excited about the future of the partnership and what it means for the enablement and transformational impact for Nigerians anywhere in the world who are connected to the Sparkle platform.” 

Andrew Key, Managing Director – Africa, Network International, said, “We are delighted to strengthen our strategic alliance with Sparkle as it seeks to further disrupt the payments offering to consumers and retailers in Nigeria. Building on our two decades of experience within payments and deep insight of the African market, we look forward to deploying our trusted platform and best-in-class technology towards supporting digital and financial inclusion of Nigerian consumers and businesses.”

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IT and Telecomms

META IT Market Spending Predicted to Top $77 Billion

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META IT Market Spending Predicted to Top $77 Billion, SiliconNigeria

After contracting 4.9% in 2020, IT spending across the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) will make a welcome return to growth this year, increasing 2.8% to $77.5 billion.

That’s according to the latest predictions revealed by International Data Corporation (IDC) as more than 1,000 senior executives from the region’s most influential technology vendors, telecommunications operators, and IT service providers gathered online last week for the first ever virtual edition of IDC Directions Middle East, Turkey & Africa.

The annual event is a firm fixture on the ICT industry calendar and this year focused on the theme of ‘Resetting for the Next Normal: Strategies for Enabling the Future Digital Enterprise’. Opening the day’s proceedings, the firm’s group vice president and regional managing director, Jyoti Lalchandani, explained that spending on digital transformation (DX) is set to gather even more pace in the post-pandemic period, increasing from 25% of total IT spending in 2020 to 37% in 2024.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout has accelerated digital transformation across the region, spurring unprecedented demand for contactless services, cloud solutions, and collaboration applications,” said Lalchandani. “Most economists predict a return to economic growth this year as vaccines become more widely available, and we expect that by 2022, 70% of organizations worldwide will have increased their use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to drive new levels of customer engagement, employee productivity, and business resiliency.”

Lalchandani’s other predictions for the META region’s dynamic ICT markets in 2021 included the following:

  • Overall ICT spending (telecom services and IT) will grow 1.9% to surpass $209.5 billion.
  • Spending on public cloud services will grow 26.7% to top $3.7 billion.
  • Spending on SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS will grow 24.5%, 30.6%, and 30.7%, respectively.
  • Spending on professional cloud services will grow rapidly to total $1.6 billion.
  • Spending on AI software will grow 23% to top $540 million.
  • Spending on security (hardware, software, and services) will grow 7.1% to reach $3.3 billion.

IDC’s global president, Crawford Del Prete, presented the event’s keynote address, outlining IDC’s long-term outlook and explaining how many of the changes instituted during the last 12 months will lead to a permanent shift in IT customer behavior. “COVID-19 has brought about huge changes in IT demand across almost every segment of the market,” said Del Prete. “A clear example of this is the dichotomy between DX investment and non-DX investment, with the former set to grow at a CAGR of 15.5% globally between 2020 and 2023, while the latter will contract -1.4% over the same period. We expect 65% of the world’s GDP to be digitalized by 2022, with direct DX investments totaling $6.8 trillion globally between 2020 and 2023.”

The agenda also incorporated a series of track sessions that enabled the delegates to deep dive into the individual markets that top their agenda for the year ahead. These dedicated sessions outlined trends and forecasts for key countries/sub-regions and explored the latest developments in critical technologies such as cloud, security, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and the Internet of Things. They also included fascinating market-focused panel discussions that showcased invaluable demand-side insights from leading end-user decision makers such as:  

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IT in Healthcare

54gene Unveils World-class Scientific Research Laboratory in Lagos State, Nigeria

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54gene Unveils World class Scientific Research Laboratory in Lagos State Nigeria, SiliconNigeria

54gene has unveiled its new lab in Lagos State, Nigeria, capable of human whole genome sequencing and a variety of other scientific investigations. Hosting a suite of world-class molecular genomics capabilities, including the Illumina Novaseq 6000 and NextSeq 550Dx the lab is part of 54gene’s mission to enable Africans to conduct genomics research and will be fully operational from January 2021.

The new lab, recently inspected by the Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, is geared to crucially expedite internal and external research projects designed to facilitate precision medicine for Africans and the global population. 

54gene is currently conducting research to discover novel biological insights based on genetic modifiers, by deriving information from its unique and rich data set. This will allow the company’s researchers to determine the underlying drivers of infectious and noncommunicable diseases prevalent on the African continent as well as genetic variants unique to its population. The new lab strengthens 54gene’s capacity to enable more research that yields insights from the world’s most diverse populations to solve some of the biggest global healthcare challenges.

Commenting on the significance of 54gene’s advanced molecular capabilities, Founder & CEO, Dr Abasi Ene-Obong said: “Over the last two years, our growth has been underpinned by a supremely experienced world class team, and the collaboration of key stakeholders on the continent. I am proud of the impact our work is making scientifically and economically on the African continent and globally; and the many scientists around the world, who collaborate with 54gene. 

“Our vision is not just to address the health disparities in Africa but to distinctly advance research in some of the most common and rare diseases that affect the global population. To do this we need to scale our operations and continue to collaborate on cutting edge research. The possibilities are immense and we look forward to expanding this impact even more.”

Visiting the Molecular Genetics Operations labs and the Biobank, the Honourable Commissioner of Health for Lagos State, Prof. Emmanuel Akinola Abayomi, said, “This is quite an impressive setup,

and I am happy that 54gene has chosen Lagos as its base. I believe this is going to be a mutually

beneficial arrangement as Lagos is keen to promote a medical innovation hub in the State. We will continue to create an enabling environment for the private sector, like 54gene, to flourish, while ensuring that the public’s interests are adequately protected. We look forward to partnering with 54gene and other stakeholders alike to power innovation and a sustainable bio economy.”

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