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Art of Technology Lagos 3.0: LASG, Eko Innovation Centre Chart Course For Startup Funding, Empowerment of Tech Entrepreneurs

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Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0: LASG Eko Innovation Centre Chart Course For Startup Funding Empowerment of Tech Entrepreneurs, SiliconNigeria

As Pantami, Others Point out Imperatives of Startup Bill

In a bid to address one of the critical challenges of businesses, especially among startups, the Lagos government and Eko Innovation Centre including other experts at the Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0 held recently in Lagos have offered tips on how start-ups can get funds. They also used the platform to empower innovative Tech Entrepreneurs and young innovators with equity investment and other support initiatives to thrive in the business space.

The two-day hybrid conference curated by Eko Innovation Centre held 3rd and 4th of December, 2021 at the Oriental Hotel Victoria Island, had as its theme “Funding and a Connected Lagos”. In attendance were the crème de la crème in government and other experts in the technology ecosystem who spoke on investment readiness, intellectual property, startup bills and other regulations, and policy formulations for tech startups in the tech ecosystem.

Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0: LASG Eko Innovation Centre Chart Course For Startup Funding Empowerment of Tech Entrepreneurs, SiliconNigeria

Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy who spoke at the event via a virtual platform commended Lagos and Eko Innovation Centre for making the state the Silicon Valley of Africa stating that it would continue to support the state in its quest to achieve much more.

He explained further that technology deployment is changing the world, stating that the ICT sector was instrumental for the country’s exit from recession. He, therefore, urged startups to deploy technology to ease their operations in the interest of growing their business remarkably

In the same vein, he said the government is determined to support the growth of startups and businesses especially with the many government agencies working closely to fund and grow the business landscape.

Also, he pointed that the country has the highest number of venture capitalists and pointed that the Startup bill currently up for consideration by the federal Executive council, would further help accelerate the growth of Startups when made to the law.

Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0: LASG Eko Innovation Centre Chart Course For Startup Funding Empowerment of Tech Entrepreneurs, SiliconNigeria

Noteworthy, asides from Pantami, some of the experts at the conference stated that they are optimistic that the bill when it becomes a law will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for growth, attraction, and protection of investment in tech startups.

On his part, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor, Lagos State said that his administration has been deliberate about deploying technology to make governance seamless and has been funding the technology space in line with its smart city agenda which has further helped the state to be the 5th largest economy in Africa.

He added that from traffic management to security it is deploying technology to make the state better and as regards supporting businesses with funding, he explained that the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) raised the bar in assisting the state in achieving its smart city agenda of making Lagos a 21st-century economy to transit to a smart city through the application of science and information technology and by also providing grants to innovators.

Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos is the largest tech conference in Nigeria which brings together key stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss policies and initiatives that will pave way for the evolution of a smarter, digital, efficient, and competitive Lagos.

The event also had experts in the technology space, business, and financial sector. Some of the keynote speakers who dissected the theme and subthemes are Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft; Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, Financial Services Leader & Chief Economist (PWC, NG); Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO, Bank of Industry; Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform; Tomi Davies, Collaborator-In-Chief, TVC Labs; and Aishah N. Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among other experts who will be speaking during panel sessions.

Some of the decisions from deliberations are calls for more government and private support for startups through funding, friendly policies, leveraging technology, adopting sustainability in business, taking the opportunity of sectors they belong among others.

Meanwhile, in a segment of the event titled Collaborate Lagos, 8 startups pitched their products for a chance to receive up to $100k in equity investment from Eko innovation Centre. Collaborate Lagos is an initiative that seeks to give visibility to the best startups in Lagos. The selected startups pitched to 8 judges, 50 VCs, and a global audience.

Recall earlier before the event, the Curator of Art of Technology Lagos 3.0 and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Gbenga Afolabi, had reported that “Over the years, we get blown away by the number of startup entries for Collaborate Lagos. This year we had 168 top quality applications and we are lucky to have the best minds to help with the difficult task of selections. The startups pitching this year are Drugstore.ng, ThinkBikes, Healthstack, Eko Carbon Exchange, Retailar, Vinsighte, EonsFleet and SabiTeach. These Creative ideas are designed to address local issues and eye global expansion. Good luck to the selected few”

However, after the pitching, the judges three of the startup emerged winners. SabiTeach clinched third place presented N250,000, Retailar emerged second with 500,000 and Vinsighte clinched the first position with N1,000,000. Also, beneficiaries of LASRIC grant were also presented with cheques at the event.

Afolabi said the African startup ecosystem has witnessed tremendous growth over the last few years. Albert, a lot of startups in Africa still finds it difficult to secure funds for their businesses which is the reason for the two-day conference. “Our conference had made decisions that have impacted Lagos State in Irreversible ways.”

The two-day summit was building on the success of last year’s event which recorded a large turnout both physical and virtual, adding that its impact has been a phenomenon.

He recalled that the maiden edition was held in 2019 and recorded over 2,000 participants in attendance, noting that one of the key successes was the launch of the Lagos Innovation Masterplan which has continued to guide the Lagos state government in achieving its SMART City agenda.

Also, the second edition hosted about 8,700 participants and witnessed the launch of Startup Lagos as well as Eko Open-source projects, with key participation from over 30 countries worldwide.

Noteworthy, Governor Sanwo-Olu raised the bar for government participation in Tech with a seed funding of 250million Naira to grow the Lagos Tech community at the maiden edition of AoT Lagos.

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Digital Economy

NCC Assures of Robust Digital Infrastructure for Improved Financial Services

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NCC Assures of Robust Digital Infrastructure for Improved Financial Services, SiliconNigeria

…Sets up TELCARE Desk for enhancing consumer protection

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate deployment of robust broadband infrastructure accessible to all Nigerians. This is to enhance their access to the required resources to carry out seamless digital financial services, irrespective of their locations and circumstances.

The Commission gave the assurance at a programme organised to commemorate Year 2022 World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD). At the programme which took place at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja on March 15, 2022, and implemented in the context of the global theme: ‘Fair Digital Finance’, the Management of NCC announced the establishment of a dedicate desk, tagged: “TELCARE” to be operated across the country to enhance telecoms consumer protection.

Attendance and participation at the event, operated in-person and virtually, was overwhelming. Board members, senior management and staff of the Commission, collaborating agencies and other critical industry stakeholders were among the participants. The event also ran concurrently with a roadshow carried out in Abuja and other NCC zonal offices in different parts of the country, to enlighten telecom consumers on the significance of the WCRD and to engage them on the NCC’s unwavering commitment to consumer protection.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman, Board of Commissioners of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, said in line with NCC’s mandates, the Board and Management have been upbeat in implementing regulatory initiatives aimed at building a robust digital ecosystem to drive the frontier of digital economy with positive impacts on all other sectors in the nation’s economy.

Alluding to the theme of the WCRD 2022, Akande said considering the increasing number of telecom consumers who are also users of digital finance services, the Commission is working assiduously to ensure that all consumers, including the most vulnerable, are provided with access to manage their finances, and protected from scams, fraud, and phishing to safeguard their data.

Earlier in his keynote address, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the theme of this year’s WCRD aligns with the emerging realities of the regulatory goals of the Commission. He informed the audience that the Commission is aware of the dynamic changes in the telecom industry, even as the Commission consolidated the growth in the telecommunication sector since the sector’s liberalisation in 2001.

Danbatta stated that the growth in the telecom industry has led to convergence in different sectors, especially between telecoms and financial service sector. According to him, there is no greater demonstration of this than the fact that financial transactions that were once conducted in-person at banking halls are now undertaken on consumers’ mobile devices. “Financial and commercial activities have been digitised, and the most common of this is the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), which has brought ease to financial transactions,” he said.

Danbatta declared that NCC embarked on various initiatives including the licensing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), effective utilization of spectrum, industry collaboration to address operators’ challenges, increased collaborations with relevant government agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria. A central objective of these initiatives is to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of ubiquitous broadband services to drive growth in all sectors, including financial services sector.

The EVC explained further that the Commission has been working hard to ensure that broadband penetration gets to every part of the country. He asserted that the number of active mobile subscriptions reached 195.4 million while Internet subscription has exceeded 141 million, because there has been increasing broadband penetration which stood at 40.88 per cent as at December 2021.

“Despite some of the challenges confronting the sector, telecommunications remained an enablers of growth in the Nigerian economy, in the year 2021. The Information and Communications sector contributed over N17 trillion to the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics,” Danbatta said to put the contribution of telecom and ICT in context that the audience could relate with.

Also, consistent with NCC’s focus to ensure that consumers get satisfaction, Danbatta disclosed that the Commission had finalised arrangements to establish the Telecom Consumer Assistance, Resolution and Enquiries (TELCARE) Desk. The Desk, he said, will be strategically located in different parts of the county to serve as an additional platform to receive and facilitate the resolution of consumer complaints.

According to him, the Desk will also provide a means through which consumers and citizens can make inquiries on consumer issues; provide a platform for advocacy on any topical consumer issues and concerns, and further enhance awareness of the Commission’s activities. He said the Desk will complement other existing initiatives of the Commission aimed at protecting the interest, privileges and rights of the consumers.

The EVC’s submissions were underscored by the Commission’s Executive Commissioner Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, who declared that the theme of the WCRD is a reminder that “we all have the responsibility to protect the consumer from market abuses, exploitation, and injustices that erode the consumer’s rights, especially with respect to using digital financial services.”

Representatives of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), CBN, Association of Licensed Telecom Operators (ALTON), the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF), National Disability Empowerment Forum (NDEF), telecom operators, among other stakeholders, commended the Commission for all its consumer-centric initiatives and assured of their continuing collaboration towards creating a safer cyber space for digital service users in Nigeria.

Earlier, as part of the activities slated for this year’s commemoration of the WCRD, the NCC had, on Monday, March 14, 2022, organised a debate for secondary school students in Abuja. The debate focused on how the students use mobile devices to enhance their academic performances. The Commission seized the opportunity of the debate to enlighten the students on their rights and privileges, and to discuss other activities of the Commission.



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Start-ups/Fintech

Interswitch Named Brand Leader in Fintech Category at Brandcom Awards

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Interswitch Named Brand Leader in Fintech Category at Brandcom Awards, SiliconNigeria

Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company, Interswitch, has been named the Most Outstanding Brand Leader (Fintech category) at the 2021 edition of the prestigious Brandcom awards.

The high-profile award was given in recognition of Interswitch’s game-changing contributions to the financial technology industry in Nigeria and the African continent at large.

The Group Head, Brands and Communications, Interswitch Group – Tomi Ogunlesi, also beat other nominees in the same category to snag the Outstanding Corporate Communications Professional of the Year (Fintech) award.

This award acknowledges Ogunlesi’s laudable contributions to the practice of corporate communications and brand management, and the promotion of social change through various Interswitch CSR initiatives.

Speaking on the recognition, the Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Interswitch Group, Cherry Eromosele, expressed appreciation to Brandcom for recognising the strength of the Interswitch brand, and the company’s focus on providing innovative payment solutions that make settlements seamless for its customers.

She said, “On behalf of the Interswitch group, I would like to thank the organisers of the Brandcom award for this honour. It is gratifying to see that our commitment to remaining a pacesetter in the payment industry has not gone unnoticed.

She added “I also thank the Interswitch team for their hard work and unrelenting commitment to the brand. This award is a reminder for us not to relent in our work, or waver in our resolve to deliver excellent services across our operating areas.”

Interswitch and members of its executive team have been recipients of many notable awards this year in celebration of their enormous contributions to the development of the financial technology industry.

In October, Eromosele was the recipient of the Most Outstanding Marketing Professional of the Year award (Financial Technology category) at the Women in Marketing & Communications Awards (WIMCA), organised by Brandcom.

The award underscores her efforts towards the advancement of the marketing communications industry in Nigeria, entrenching her as an authority in the space.

The Group Chief Information Officer, Babafemi Ogunbamila was also recently awarded ‘Chief Information Officer of The Year’ award (Financial Technology category) at the 2021 edition of the CIO Awards, an award he has received for the second consecutive year.

These awards highlight Interswitch’s ability to attract and retain some of the best brains in the industry as it continues to push the boundaries of innovation to deliver payment solutions that enable commerce across Africa.

Brandcom Awards, now in its third season, gives recognition to brands, individuals, and agencies creating impact in the marketing and communications field.

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TechForum

Lagos Dangles $100k Before Startups at Art Of Technology 3.0

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Lagos Dangles $100k Before Startups at Art Of Technology 3.0, SiliconNigeria

In pursuance of its smart city agenda of making Lagos a 21st-century economy and growing the technology space, the Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State is set to host the third edition of Art of Technology Lagos 3.0. curated by Eko Innovation Centre.

The two-day hybrid conference which holds the 3rd and 4th of December 2021 at the Oriental Hotel Victoria Island, Lagos from 9 am to 4 pm daily, will focus on funding and a connected Lagos to spotlight investment readiness, regulations, and policy formulations for tech startups in the tech ecosystem.

Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos is the largest tech conference in Nigeria which brings together key stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss policies and initiatives that will pave way for the evolution of a smarter, digital, efficient, and competitive Lagos.

The event would also have top government dignitaries from Babatunde Raji Fashola, Hon. Minister of Works & Housing; to Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Federal Republic of Nigeria as special guests while the chief host is Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor, Lagos State. Other eminent stakeholders in the private and public sectors will also be gracing the event.

The event will gather experts in the technology space, business, and financial sector. Some of the keynote speakers to dissect the theme and subthemes are Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, Financial Services Leader & Chief Economist (PWC, NG); Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO, Bank of Industry; Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform; Tomi Davies, Collaborator-In-Chief, TVC Labs; and Aishah N. Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among other experts who will be speaking during panel sessions. 

In a segment of the event titled Collaborate Lagos, 8 startups will pitch their products for a chance to receive up to $100k in equity investment from Eko innovation Centre. Collaborate Lagos is an initiative that seeks to give visibility to the best startups in Lagos. The selected startups will pitch to 8 judges, 50 VCs and a global audience. 

“Over the years, we get blown away by the number of startup entries for Collaborate Lagos. This year we had 168 top quality applications and we are lucky to have the best minds to help with the difficult task of selections. The startups pitching this year are Drugstore.ng, ThinkBikes, Healthstack, Eko Carbon Exchange, Retailar, Vinsighte, EonsFleet and SabiTeach. These Creative ideas are designed to address local issues and eye global expansion.  Good luck to the selected few,” the organizers disclosed in a statement. 

According to the Curator of Art of Technology Lagos 3.0 and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Gbenga Afolabi, the two-day summit was building on the success of last year’s event which recorded a large turnout both physical and virtual, adding that its impact has been a phenomenon. 

He recalled that maiden edition which was held in 2019 and recorded over 2,000 participants in attendance, noting that one of the key successes was the launch of the Lagos Innovation Masterplan which has continued to guide the Lagos state government in achieving its SMART City agenda.

Also, the second edition hosted about 8,700 participants and witnessed the launch of Startup Lagos as well as Eko Open-source projects, with key participation from over 30 countries worldwide.

Recall, last year’s event was themed ‘Smart Data, Smarter Lagos,’ and the conversation centred on the fundamental role data plays in connecting the city with its citizens and how data can be collected, collated, analysed, and deployed for governance, commerce, and development. The event had the Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Commissioners and other eminent stakeholders in the private and public sector.

Noteworthy, the Governor Sanwo-Olu raised the bar for government participation in Tech with a seed funding of 250million Naira to grow the Lagos Tech community at the maiden edition of AoT Lagos.

This year’s hybrid event will happen through an online VR experience [www.aotlagos.com], however, the physical ‘limited edition’ part will be hosted at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos and attendance is strictly by invitation.

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