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Strengthening Fintech Ecosystem through Partnerships

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Strengthening Fintech Ecosystem through Partnerships, SiliconNigeria

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This statement aptly describes the success achieved in the financial and payment landscape in Nigeria through the strategic partnership between fintechs and banks in the financial services industry.

Years ago, daring criminals would unleash mayhem on unsuspecting victims coming from banking halls and dispossess them of their valuables.  This was because consumers had to move around with cash.

At the time, majority of the people living in both urban and rural areas were unbanked and did not have access to financial products and services.

But as technology evolved and digitalization of businesses became imperative to fit current realities, banks had to re-evaluate their service model and operational strategies. The need to transition into a digital wholesale banking system was inevitable.

Adoption of technology in service delivery such as banking, e-commerce, logistics etc. has contributed to the growth of the fintech companies. With collaboration, fintechs have increasingly developed solutions that have been deployed across industries to enhance payment collection, efficiency and fund security. These partnerships between the fintechs and industry players have helped to accelerate product innovation, drive growth and provide topnotch solutions across board.

The partnership between the fintech and the banking community has brought about innovative solutions such as funds transfer, on-demand bank statement, instant transaction alerts, payment authorization, loan request and disbursement, etc. Thanks to this innovative payment solutions, bank customers and account holders do not have to visit the banks often as they can initiate and complete transactions from the comfort of their homes.

Also, fintechs have leveraged partnerships with other service providers, such as power distribution companies (DISCOs), telecoms companies, ride-hailing services and utility companies to strengthen the payment ecosystem. These partnerships have further deepened financial inclusion and increased adoption of digital payment solutions, enhanced access to loans and other financial services such as funds transfer, bill payments, DSTV subscription, airtime recharge, and so on. These partnerships have helped the service providers collect payment seamlessly as well as allowed the customers to pay with ease.

Following these partnerships, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the adoption of electronic payments over the last few years. Data shows the value of transactions via digital payment platforms, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Instant Payment System (NIP) and Point of Sales (PoS) terminals rose to N60.34 trillion in the first quarter of 2021. That was a 12.55% increase when compared to the N53.61 trillion achieved in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Taking into cognizance that strategic partnerships help to strengthen payment solutions and are pivotal to economic growth, Africa’s leading digital payment and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, has collaborated with several companies across industries to provide the broadest set of financial solutions to financial institutions across Africa.

Since its inception, Interswitch has been providing the switching infrastructure that connects different banks in Nigeria to reconcile inter-bank payments and settlements. Its solutions are also used to deliver the technology used for Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and PoS.

Following the acquisition of a minority stake by Visa in Interswitch in 2019, Interswitch is today the most valuable African Fintech business with a valuation in excess of $1 billion hence its recognition as a Unicorn. The partnership with Visa, allowed the Fintech Unicorn to expand its digital payment solutions across the continent.

Beyond partnerships with brands, Interswitch has also partnered governments across the continent to integrate its digital payment solutions to expand their inter-bank settlement capacities. These partnerships have enhanced the digital payment ecosystem, helped shape the much-needed financial transformation as well as boosted the African economy.

According to Tomi Ogunlesi, Group Head, Corporate Marketing, “Over the years, we have been making major strides in delivering world-class financial solutions to customers across the world. Through strategic partnerships, Interswitch has also reached major milestones and deepened access to financial services.” 

In furtherance of its commitment to help strengthen the financial services industry, Interswitch recently revamped its developer console to improve the experiences of partners, developers and merchants who seek to integrate with their solutions.

Essentially, this platform enables developers to try out their products before going to the market. The new Interswitch APIs enable developers create innovative tools and products, and provides self-service integration, giving developers the ability to access Interswitch’s product APIs, authentication parameters, sandbox, production keys, documentation and seamless project management.

Indeed, the fusion between Fintechs, banks, and other service providers as strategic partners would not only enable them deliver satisfactory services to their numerous customers, it will help grow the payment ecosystem and also contribute immensely to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

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Africa Digital Economy Forum Moves to Promote Digital Enablement across Continent

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Africa Digital Economy Forum Moves to Promote Digital Enablement across Continent, SiliconNigeria

The Africa Digital Economy Forum (ADEF) a non-profit initiative geared towards the realisation of full digitization of Africa’s economies has been launched.

The need for digitisation of economies globally, particularly in Africa cannot be overemphasized. Hence the birth of the Africa Digital Economy Forum (ADEF), a  forum opened to local and international individuals and organisations that play in the digital technology space state and non-state C-level executives in the digital sector.

The ADEF, which draws outstanding support from across the continent, will drive digitisation across the continent through four channels, namely Intelligence, Advocacy, Campaigning, and Fundraising. Via Intelligence, ADEF will promote and conduct strategic research in areas of Digital Economy as they reflect its overall goal and vision for the African continent. The ADEF will carry out research to positively and sustainably impact the largest number of people; and to influence the adoption and scale-up of high-impact, cost-effective programs and policies in Digital Economy settings.

Through Advocacy, ADEF will work with other stakeholders to advocate for right policies, causes and actions on issues pertaining to the promotion of digital economy across the continent in line with our mission and vision. ADEF will also conduct a variety of campaigning or awareness efforts designed around our programmes and objectives on achieving sustainable and beneficial digital economy in Africa. Campaign will involve physical, real live events, real life or virtual symposia, workshops, letters to government officials, press releases, email or social media campaigns.

ADEF will work with other stakeholders to advocate for right policies, causes and actions on issues pertaining promotion of digital economy across the continent in line with our mission and vision. According to ADEF’s President, Mr. Teniola Olusola, African countries are making transitions to becoming technology-enabled economies.

“Africa is on the verge of new unfettered opportunities leveraging technology and innovation – fully capitalizing on the expected boom in the digital economy. There are inherent opportunities for digital economy in such common policy drives as the Continental Free Trade Area and the World Bank-supported African Union’s ‘moonshot’ project (designed to ensure high-speed connectivity across the entire continent).” He said.

“To fully tap into these opportunities, the ADEF believes the continent must rework its policy and regulatory frameworks to provide the required sustainable environment for new ICT investment that will enhance connectivity, create innovative enterprises, provide digital skills, and generally improve the lives of over 1.5 billion Africans,” the president explained.

The Founding CEO, Mr. Akin Naphtal, added that the ADEF is the common platform for technology and service providers focusing on the transformative powers of Africa’s steadily growing and booming digital economy.

 According to Co-founder, Olusegun Oruame, “Africa’s ability to leapfrog and be part of 4IR rests on the digital economy. ADEF provides a networking and advocacy platform to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders including governments, private sector, academia, national and international bodies, etc. ADEF offers that critical mass of knowledge to promote frameworks to maximize the potential dividends of a thriving digital economy beneficial to all Africans.”

With a mission statement that talks about a commitment to the expansion of connectivity, access to affordable data, promotion of innovation and full digitization of African nations’ economies as the basis for development and a vision statement of leveraging media to expand opportunities in digital economy for Africans, ADEF is focused on the full realization of digitization of Africa’s economies. All stakeholders in the ICT space are welcome to be a part of this initiative. Further details about membership, and the forum itself can be found on: www.theadef.com

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UK to Support Nigerian Female GreenTech Entrepreneurs to Scale

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UK to Support Nigerian Female GreenTech Entrepreneurs to Scale, SiliconNigeria

The UK Government, through its UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, has launched a Green Tech Programme, which will support 30 Nigerian female green-tech entrepreneurs with 12 weeks coaching sessions with industry experts.

These coaching sessions would seek to boost the capacity of the entrepreneurs, as well as the likelihood of the enterprises to scale and become more sustainable businesses.

The Hub, in collaboration with Future Females as the implementing partner, has taken this next step as part of its pledge to help drive clean, resilient and inclusive recoveries in Nigeria – shaping the low carbon economy of the future that will create new jobs, attract green investment and protect the environment for future generations.

The programme targeted at Nigerian female entrepreneurs with early-stage businesses aimed at protecting the environment and conserving natural resources using alternative technologies that are less harmful to the environment, will run virtually for three months and will cover 10 actionable modules that take entrepreneurs through the fundamental building blocks of starting and growing a GreenTech business. 

Speaking on this, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones said: “As the world looks to build back better from the COVID 19 Pandemic, which has affected millions of lives and adversely affected economies, it is important to remember that we are still tackling an even greater crisis – climate change. The UK, as the host of the 2021 UN Climate Change summit is working hard in advance of COP26 to increase the level of global ambition necessary to ensure that we are on track to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.

“The UK, as a bilateral partner, is committed to supporting Nigeria in delivering an accelerated and just transition, not only to meet the climate imperative but to ensure the country is at the forefront of shifts in the global economy. Like the transition itself, this support is at all levels – from £200 million flowing into major clean technology programmes through International Climate Finance to entrepreneurs, to designing and developing small and micro-enterprise sustainable companies of the future.”

The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub Interim Country Director, Lamide Johnson said: “Climate Change remains a priority for the UK-Government. We are pleased to have partnered with Future Females to help and support Green Tech Female Business entreprenuers in Nigeria who are tirelessly working hard to promote the use of technology to solve problems caused by climate change, and invariably promote a greener world.”

Commenting on the GreenTech programme launch, Future Females Co-Founder, Cerina Bezuidenhout said: “At Future Females, we have always been passionate about supporting sustainable businesses, and we are very excited to be focusing on GreenTech businesses in our partnership with UK-Nigeria Tech Hub. The entrepreneurs who participate in our programmes are not just building businesses – they’re creating innovative solutions to real problems we’re facing in this ‘new’ world, and they are a source of hope for their communities – and we can’t wait to meet them.”

The programme is set to commence on May 24th 2021  and applications to participate will close on Friday, 7th of May 2021, all interested Nigerian female green-tech entreprenuers can apply here-  https://futurefemales.typeform.com/to/hg6bBbv9

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Stakeholders Restates Support for Young Nigerian Girls in ICT

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Stakeholders Restates Support for Young Nigerian Girls in ICT, SiliconNigeria

The recent event to celebrate the global campaign, the International Girls in ICT Day, organised by eBusinesslife in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders in the industry, has placed more emphasis on grooming more young girls that will take up the challenge of exploring ICT-related careers.

The event which held on Thursday in Lagos, was part of a year-long campaign instituted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to sensitize young girls to explore career options in ICT and related fields, which prior to now have been male-gender dominated.

Introducing the event, the Convener and Publisher, e-Business Life Communication Limited, Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, aligned with a report by the ITU stating that the ICT sector remains a buoyant and growing sector for employment, and a key economic factor reinforcing both national and international development.

According to her, “Any professional job we can think today has a strong tech component. Technology has become a critical tool in fields as diverse as art, history, archaeology, law, primary teaching, to mention but a few. As such, tech qualifications will give an advantage in a competitive job market, earn a high salary and give career mobility.”

While encouraging the students to tap into the future, Mrs Emuophedaro stated: “The future of the ICT sector promises to be an exciting one. It is estimated that within the next 10 years, there will be more than 2 million technology jobs that cannot be filled because of lack of qualified ICT specialists.”

In quoting a statement by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, she said, “Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all. There is overwhelming evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies and countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous… Gender equality is the unfinished business of our time.” She noted that that given the rising need for software engineers and web developers, and coupled with the projection that advances in gender equality can result in a $12 trillion boost to the global GDP by 2025, it is hardly surprising that the world is making more space for women in STEM.

She applauded female mentors with whose efforts more girls have and will dare to pursue careers in STEM in the near future. “On a global scale, we are heading towards 40% of women in tech positions in the next 5 -10 years. Let’s hope that in the future years, there will be more and more females in IT and science. We also don’t want companies to hire women because they have to, or because they feel pressured by society. Hire women because it’s worth it!”

Deputy Director, New Media and Information Security at NCC, Mrs. Olatokunbo Oyeleye, in her address, recalled that the ITU on April 8, 2011 announced the establishment of an International Girls in ICT Day to be held yearly on the fourth Thursday in April, which was a direct result of the adoption of its Resolution 70 – “Gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).”  The Resolution was to incorporate a gender perspective in the implementation of all ITU programmes and plans.

Mrs. Oyeleye, who represented the NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) Prof. Umar Danbatta cited examples of young girls that broke the gender barrier with exploits in STEM fields, noting: “And they are a proof that breaking gender norm should become the norm.”

He continues: “For gender norms to be broken, there needs to be a deliberate and intentional promotion in the field of STEM in our schools for girls, and this must start at a young age. This is vital when attempting to promote gender diversity within STEM. The STEM industry is crying out for more female talents to balance the gender inequality.”

Prof. Danbatta noted that the NCC has a series of initiatives to promote Child Online Protection (COP) within the nation. Educating children on ways they should keep themselves safe online, and avenues to report if they fall victim. Therefore the NCC invites participants to share their experiences and proffer solutions by sending an email to COP.

Nigeria, being a member state adopts the outcomes of ITU resolutions including Girls in ICT, which is celebrated across the nation.

Since the birth of Girls in ICT Day in 2011, over 377,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11,400 International Girl in ICT Day celebrations in 171 countries.

Speaking on the opportunities open in the field of ICT, General Manager, IT Operations, MTN Nigeria, Mrs. Yetunde Ojo enumerating that there is a wide variety of jobs in the industry noting that IT skills are transferable across industries and continents. She also observed that despite each job requiring a distinctive set of skills and personal traits, almost all IT jobs depend on strong technical knowledge. “But each has a different emphasis, whether the job centres on coding, managing hardware, applying software, data science or managing systems or people. In some companies one person performs multiple roles, in larger companies focus on a specialised skillset is expected. Technology is consistently evolving. There are always skills shortages in the latest Technology.”

She advised the young girls, to among other things, to practice using Technology, starting with simple tools such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, then going through tutorial, identifying all the capabilities, and trying them out. “Self-develop, train, do certifications; Remain open minded; Attend free classes; Learn from friends;  Keep researching and find out how you can be part of evolving Technology; Training and personally evolving is key. Self-training, company sponsored training, certification, use material on the internet, tutorials on Youtube, join communities.”

While noting that opportunities are always being created in this dynamic, growing field of ICT, Mrs. Ojo further advised the students to make the most of the opportunities and develop their knowledge and skills wherever they find themselves. “There’s always something you didn’t know before.”

President of Caleb Ayanwusi Foundation (CAF), Dr. Caleb Ayanwusi, in his speech stressed on the necessity to support the critical need for more girls and young women to have “important roles in the striving innovations and creativities in the ICT world.”

Represented by its Project Manager, Mrs. Ejiinkeonye Nice, Ayanwusi noted that the Foundation, in collaborating with eBusinesslife in creating awareness about the gender digital divide and supporting technology, education and skill training, is encouraging girls and young women to actively seek careers in ICT with interest in STEM, thereby improving their problem solving abilities in general.

“Indeed we are proud to be part of this global event & would be very happy, if every one of these girls/young women will further from here to become the best ICT professionals the world will know in the future.”

In her speech, Quality Assurance Engineer, SystemSpecs, Jane Amaife,  noted that gender roles are the makings of a society developed and practised over time, but today, although held back by societal models of the past, stereotypes are being shattered.

While assuring the girls that they could be whatever they desire, Amaife frowned at the challenges that still need to be surmounted in the sector. These she said include the fact that more than half of university graduates are female, yet only a handful venture into ICT, with only about 4 in 10 female graduates in STEM, a number which she said reduces as they progress in their education.

Also with gender segregation in the labour market, females occupy less than 30% of jobs in ICT with few of the women in decision-making roles. Other challenges, she said, include insufficient female role models; lack of awareness and resources and societal roles imposed on women.

Amaife, however lined up some career opportunities to include in fields such as Informatics, Web and multimedia (Arts, graphic design, UI/UX design), Hardware development and medical informatics, which includes scientific informatics, ERP systems, supply chain management systems (SCM) and CRM systems.

In her presentation that demonstrated practical issues around the challenges that women face in a career in ICT, Voice/Edge Specialist, Inq Digital Nigeria, Olanrewaju Justice-Anyi noted that one of the major challenges include opportunities in workplace. She however encouraged that this can be overcome by the young girls by trying to be the best in the ICT field they have chosen because when they are good, they cannot be overlooked.

Justice-Anyi challenged the students to be innovative and be dogged in their chosen career despite challenges they may face because they can do as good as any other person on the career path.

The event attracted support from the nation’s telecommunication regulatory body, NCC, MTN Nigeria, Galaxy Backbone, VDT Communications, Inq Digital, SystemSpecs and Caleb Ayanwusi Foundation.

With the theme, “Expand Horizons, Change Attitudes: Breaking Gender Norms in Career Choices”, the event featured graphic Design Competition among participating schools; quiz competition among students, Roundtable discussion by students and outstanding achievement Awards to the NCC, VDT Communications, and the Founder and Executive Director, Cybersafe Foundation, Constance Staveley for their contributions in the growth of ICT and support for Girls-In-ICT campaign.

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