Stakeholders have reiterated the need for investment in Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology sector to boost its economy.
The views were expressed at this year’s Financial Services Innovators and Nigeria Association of Computing Students’ Innovative Challenge, tagged ‘#TechonDemand’ hackathon, according to a statement on Monday by Plexus Media Interlinks, the public relations agency for FSI.
The FSI and NACOS challenge held virtually from October 1 to 9, and physically from October 12 to 14, 2021.
The competition was organised to provide solutions in the digitisation of key sectors such as education, health, transport and financial services.
According to stakeholders at the event, Nigeria needs to invest in infrastructure and human capital development as well as promote indigenous contents in the ICT sector to boost its economy.
The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Abdullahi, said, “The [Nigerian] government has rolled out initiatives to see how we can invest in our people, as we realise that our greatest assets are our people.
“The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy’s policy is aimed at promoting indigenous content and helping Information Technology businesses to grow and thrive in Nigeria.”
The NITDA DG, therefore, called on Nigerian students to be innovative and to think of ways to use technology to solve problems and create wealth for themselves.
Abdullahi also urged them to leverage the FSI innovative challenge to create jobs.
“You do not need to start thinking of jobs after graduating. For you, the computer students, this is an opportunity to key into this,” he added.
The dream to build a global technology enterprise, the Executive Director of FSI, Mrs Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, said, would involve the active participation of every stakeholder, financial and non-financial institutions, fintechs and government agencies.
“I strongly believe that if we create an enabling platform for young innovators to thrive, we can make Nigeria a global leader in innovative technology,” she added.
The President, Nigeria Computer Society, Prof Adesina Sodiya, said NCS would continue to support and promote technological development and IT business for sustainable development of Nigeria.
On his part, the President of NACOS, Olamilekan Abolade, said, “We want to use our power as students to push for the rebirth of technology, which is the enabler for adequate innovations and ensuring productivity.”
Meanwhile, Wakanda, AAU and STEMInnovators emerged winners of the competition and the teams were awarded N1m, N500,000 and N300,000 prize money respectively.
FutureTrek, The Bells Team, Start Vest, GodHands, Halal Invest, Team KPT and Adashi, who came 4th to 10th positions also got a consolation prize of N100,000 each.
Team Wakanda presented a DigiPay, a USSD-based payments collection system, to clinch the star prize.
Presenting their solution, team Wakanda described DigiPay as a collection system that could allow merchants and associations in higher institutions to collect electronic payments from customers and members.
“The solution will enable the collection of payments for goods sold online, in physical stores or via social media, as well as for the collection of payments for associations in higher institutions,” the team added.
Meet Twitter’s New CEO, Parag Agrawal
The Indian-born Parag Agrawal was appointed the new CEO of Twitter on Monday, picking the leadership baton from the outgoing CEO, Jack Dorsey. Data from Bloomberg showed that Agrawal is the youngest CEO to run a company in the S&P 500.
The 37-year-old Agrawal was born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. His father was a senior official in the Indian Department of Atomic Energy and his mother is a retired school teacher. Agrawal obtained his B.Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2005, and further pursued Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in the United States.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he began his career as a researcher with Microsoft in 2006, thereafter worked with Yahoo!. He later returned to Microsoft in 2009, keeping his old role. Mid-year 2020, he joined AT&T Labs, Inc. after which he joined Twitter as Distinguished Software Engineer in 2017, a few years after he rose to the post of Chief Technical Officer. He’s currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer at Twitter.
The company revealed that Jack Dorsey, the outgoing CEO, will remain on the company’s board of directors until his term expires in 2022. While serving as Twitter’s CEO, Dorsey was also working with his payment processing company, Square in the same capacity as CEO. However, it was believed that his resignation from Twitter will enable him to focus on his payment company and also pursue other interests.
The new CEO, Agrawal is the first full-time CEO Twitter has had in years. Following his appointment on Monday, he sent his first official message as the CEO to Twitter employees. He said, “We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right,”
“But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results — that’s how we’ll make Twitter be the best it can be for our customers, shareholders, and for each of you.
“The world is watching us right now, even more than they have before, It’s because they care about Twitter and our future, and it’s a signal that the work we do here matters”. Agrawal wrote on Monday.
Twitter shareholders are expecting Agrawal to create a clear path strategy towards building the company’s revenue and engagement metrics. Despite the expanding growth of Twitter’s users, the company still lags behind in growth, stock returns and revenue compared to its peers in the social media space like Snapchat and Meta. Although Jack Dorsey has upped the company’s return and revenue by 62 percent and 68 percent respectfully since he took leadership in 2015, however, this could not be compared to the growth recorded by its social media rival, Meta, previously Facebook who reportedly gained over 250 percent in stock returns and over 4 times sales growth in the same time frame.
Speaking on the expectations from the new CEO, Jill Wilson the chief marketing officer for Esquire Digital said Agrawal is expected to pick up where Dorsey left off and continue to fight for users which are being lured away by competitors like TikTok and Instagram. “Agrawal has his work cut out for him in terms of keeping Twitter relevant and getting the everyday user on board, and monetizing the platform in general”. She added.
However, Mark Shmulik, an equity research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein believed otherwise. He argued that in order to remain competitive Agrawal may need to change the company’s culture so as to ensure that new products and strategies can be implemented at a quicker pace than it was done in the past leadership. “Can he at least avoid being the cog that everything needs to go through to get approvals and to get things moving? Can he give more autonomy to different parts of the org so they can move at a quicker pace?” Shmulik said.
Although Agrawal is just coming to the public limelight, growing Twitter business isn’t the only challenge at hand but also the moderation of speech through Twitter which has become a growing concern in the political sphere. “The new CEO will need to work out how to stop his platform being a machine that is routinely and perpetually hijacked to distort the news agenda, produce fake popularity and influence, and provide a warped lens on the world,” said Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
Jack Dorsey’s Square Undergoes Name Change, Now Referred to as Block
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter stepped down as the Twitter CEO only a few days ago, and a few days later announced a huge name change for Square. The company which is highly payment-focused will now be referred to as Block, which underlines Dorsey’s interest in the cryptocurrency scope.
Twitter Chief Technical Officer Parag Agrawal was called upon to take Dorsey’s place on the very popular social network, although Jack will remain on the Twitter board until at least the next shareholders’ meeting. There were speculations at the time of Dorsey’s resignation that he had prioritized Square over Twitter.
Jack Dorsey had been operating as the CEO of both Square and Twitter, and had been encouraged to step down from at least one of the companies.
Dorsey is a public supporter of bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies. He recently announced a new business initiative for Square known as TBD5456697, in which the company will deliver decentralized financial services. After this, Jack’s decision to step down from Twitter makes sense given all the existing buzz around blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Square’s name change to Block is also quite logical, considering that the blockchain is the fundamental technology that will power some of Square – now Block’s – businesses. It’s not only the TBD, but also the crypto initiatives and Square payments.
In a press release, the company stated that the new name has a lot of associated meanings which include building blocks, a blockchain, neighbourhood blocks and their local businesses, communities coming together at block parties with music, a section of code and obstacles to overcome.
This name change is similar to what happened with Facebook and Meta, except this one does not come with any negative press. Facebook’s name change was announced by Mark Zuckerberg and others in the middle of a huge scandal concerning the ‘toxicity’ of the company.
However, just like Meta, Block will be a controlling entity over several other businesses. Block will oversee Square, Cash App, Tidal, and the new TBD54566975. There will be no organizational changes and the businesses will not lose their brands. Square’s payment services will still be offered, just like Facebook still exists as a social network.
MTN Shares Fall by 10% After IPO Pricing
MTN Nigeria (MTNN), Nigeria’s second-biggest listed company saw its shares fall by 10% on Wednesday to see a five-week low after it had set a retail public offer price which was lower than its share price on the stock market.
MTN shares had closed at N190 a unit on Tuesday, but lost N19 to close at N171 per share on Wednesday despite the expected renewed interest in the company following its ongoing share sale.
The South African telecommunications company MTN (MTNJ.J) opened its offer for sale to retail investors at N169 for each share on Wednesday, in order to sell about 575 million shares in MTN Nigeria.
The public offer closes on December 14 and signifies the first stage of a share sale to retail investors where the South African-owned company will look to scale down all its holdings in MTN Nigeria to 65% from its present 87%, over a period of time.
This was said by the Chief Executive Officer of the MTN Group, Ralph Mupita at a roadshow that was held in Abuja.
The Chairman of the MTN Group, Mcebisi Jonas was also in attendance of the show, which was held alongside a state visit made by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The fall in the MTN Nigeria shares moved the main share index (.NGSEINDEX) down by 1.8% to observe its lowest point in three weeks.
Two years ago, MTN listed its Nigerian company in Lagos, and at N90 for a share. This made it the second-largest stock when considering market capitalisation.
In March 2020, shares of MTN Nigeria fell back to the listing price due to lockdowns enacted to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
There have been a few IPOs (Initial Public Offerings) in Nigeria since the global financial crisis of 2008, which was responsible for clearing out over 60% of the stock market’s capitalisation.
MTN’s offer includes a bonus share for every 20 shares bought, with an incentive open for retail investors who hold their shares for at least a year after allotment.
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