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Twitter African Presence: Nigeria Versus Ghana Rivalry Continues…

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Timi Olubiyi Nigeria Versus Ghana Rivalry

By Timi Olubiyi, PhD

It is no more news that US-based social media company, Twitter Incorporated, has concluded plans to establish a presence on the African continent in line with its growth strategy.

Recall, that Twitter’s founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, visited Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa in 2019 in anticipation of this major expansion and growth strategy.

Sadly, to Nigeria and Nigerians, Ghana was announced to host Twitter’s first Africa office. This was communicated in a statement Twitter described Ghana “as a champion for democracy, a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet.”

The social media company joins Facebook Inc in moving into Africa with the announcement made through a tweet by the founder/CEO just recently.

However, when I remember that this action plan will improve Ghana’s outlook, improve Ghana-Twitter relations, increase job creation and opportunities in Ghana, improve the country’s technology sector and yet still serve the Nigerian large market, then I agree it was well thought out even though it ignites a further rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria.

Likewise, when you consider that Nigeria currently has a population estimate of about 206 million and that Nigeria’s population is equivalent to 50 per cent of that of West Africa where the population stands at 394,314,367, according to United Nations (UN) data, then it is depressing that we lost to Ghana.

Further recall that Nigeria also accounts for over 50 per cent of the GDP of the West African sub-region. Furthermore, Nigerian Internet and mobile penetration continue to grow with high relevance, as at 2020.

About 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population use the Internet and around 90 per cent of the total population have mobile phones according to reliable data.

According to a survey online, 39.6 million Nigerians have Twitter accounts, which is more than the entire 32 million population of Ghana. It is on record that Ghana has just about 8 million social media users. All these data on Nigeria should offer tremendous opportunities for any investor, particularly in the technology space, but on the contrary, the choice of Ghana over Nigeria for Africa’s operation of Twitter Inc might just be due to the perennial challenges that exist in the country, from incessant insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, the severe and irregular regulatory requirements, to high sense of entitlement, high cost of running business, corruption and the current macroeconomic uncertainty among others.

In fact, stability, security of life and assets come chiefly for any investment consideration before viability or returns. More so, it is not enough for Nigeria to just be a big market for the desirability of investors, as Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) consider many more other factors.

In my opinion, another reason for Twitter Inc’s decision could be the power/electricity situation in Nigeria which has remained unsolved and this usually increases the cost of doing business.

It is a big challenge to businesses and FDIs when competitiveness is considered across borders. Without adequate electricity supply, it is extremely difficult to operate businesses effectively because companies will usually end up committing revenue to generate alternative power supplies which include buying generators and fuelling such generators daily, which can drawback investments.

If the power concern is addressed in Nigeria, it will contribute significantly to business growth, increase in FDIs, which in turn will contribute to sustainable economic activities and job creation for the citizenry.

To this end, Nigeria needs to do more to attract investments into the country because this is one of the ways to improve the economy, create more employment and engage some of the teeming youth gainfully in the country.

Clearly, by demographics, the population of Nigeria is dominated by youths who are technologically savvy and full of energy, so good opportunities are available through FDIs.

The largest rival of Twitter is Facebook Inc and its first African office on the continent was opened in Johannesburg in 2015. According to the plan, there is a move by Facebook Inc to have a second office in Lagos State Nigeria before the end of 2021, it is hoped that this decision stands.

Ghana appears to be the destination of choice with Google, Microsoft, and Huawei among the international tech giants that have expanded their operations in the small but focused West African country.

Sincerely, there are many lessons to be learned to remain a competitive destination for investors and to attract much-needed foreign investment in Nigeria the government, businesses and the populace must do more. In particular, security, the ease of doing business, and rule of law in the country must be rejigged and enhanced for meaningful competitiveness in Africa as it stands.

A greater number of countries strive to attract FDIs because of its acknowledged benefit as an instrument of economic development, Nigerian can leverage it too.

For instance, a Facebook Inc office in Lagos State is likely to improve the partnership between Nigeria and Facebook, which is critical for the development of the country’s technology sector. Just like Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc other companies and tech giant businesses might be willing to have more presence in Africa to expand their services, therefore, Nigeria should be more prepared.

There is a large body of knowledge on the benefits that can be derived from FDIs, some of which are the development of human capital, more boosts in employment opportunities and job creation, enhanced competitiveness, access to management expertise, improved employee skills, transfer of technology, knowledge transfer, and above all it will boost perception and have the economic effect of the host country.

Historically, Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa with vast demand for goods and services in form of FDIs, sitting in third place behind Egypt and Ethiopia, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2019 World Investment Report.

However, Nigeria needs to further improve on this or at least maintain the position by handling and tackling the myriad of challenges in the country as quickly as possible. The current decision by Twitter Inc to opt for Ghana only shows that more is required from Nigeria in all areas, more importantly in the business, economic, security, and governance landscape. Without doubts, things really need to improve in the country to attract much-needed foreign investment.

Therefore, to attract quality FDIs and significant investments into the country, the government needs to do more on policy formulations and incentives targeted at FDIs including an adequate enabling environment for businesses to thrive. Most importantly, the anti-corruption drive of the government needs to be stiffened accordingly.

In conclusion, government and policymakers need to further initiate various policies and incentives to attract FDI inflows into the country as the competition for FDI intensify on the continent.

More so, the government needs to improve on policies and laws to promote private sector involvement in the economic growth of the country particularly the SMEs, startups, financial technology (Fintech), software and telecoms companies because they are essential in today’s business world. Good luck!

How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?

Dr Timi Olubiyi is an Entrepreneurship and Business Management expert with a PhD in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria. He is a prolific investment coach, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: drtimiolubiyi@gmail.com, for any questions, reactions and comments.

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Money, Society, Development and Economics

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By Nneka Okumazie

For some people, all they will ever become is what money can make them.

For them, the power of everything money can do makes everything about money.

They often measure to money and measure for money. They talk for it and ensure it is what is seen about them.

Many of these people have money above all culture in some of the countries the people there have described as unbearable.

In most of these countries, the same reason government does not work is the same thing outsiders are about, bringing the country to a contiguous halt.

Government is all about who can grab for self and interests, around power, resources and money.

This same reason is why many organized crimes exist and several kinds of harmful practices across the private sector.

Money will never develop any country. Though some continue to say money is what is lacking.

Money will never change anything about anyone because if there are real changes at any point, money may have enhanced it but was never cause.

Things that look like changes that money made does not change; they are just more of how money keeps itself important.

For many things done because there was money to do it, they are many times purposeless. There are also others that should be been important, but because money was more important in that project, it also became purposeless.

If in some developing country, someone lives in a nice apartment or drives a cool vehicle, making that individual seem important, the importance of the individual is to whom, and what purpose does it serve, and for what it serves, what does it change, affect or improve?

The comfort that is lived in many of these places is a false peak.

It keeps them there and there is rarely much else to find meaning for.

Money continues to dictate how to be seen to have it, going around in circles, absent of progress, but ensuring participants are unaware.

Money, for what it can, makes people become a sunset. Money stays important using people as tools to itself.

[Ecclesiastes 6:7, All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.]

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5 Tips for Tackling Imposter Syndrome

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Aisha Pandor CEO SweepSouth Imposter Syndrome

By Aisha Pandor

Imposter syndrome is something that most of us have felt at one time or another. Even if you know you have all the right qualifications and experience to be in a position, it can be all too easy to feel like you don’t belong.

Whether it’s someone dismissing your work or even just casually telling you about something you’ve never heard of as if it’s common knowledge, it can be an incredibly difficult space to climb out of.

Imposter syndrome can be especially insidious among entrepreneurs, who already have to deal with ecstatic highs and crippling lows. In fact, a 2020 study found that 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners experience imposter syndrome. Many also worry that they’ll be “found out” for their lack of knowledge and ability.

That chimes with my own experiences as an entrepreneur and investor. When Alen (my husband) and I first started SweepSouth back in 2013, I had no experience as an entrepreneur. I’d come from an academic background and everyone at the various startup events and pitching competitions we attended seemed so much calmer and more confident. I couldn’t help wondering what I was doing there and why I’d sacrificed a potentially comfortable life for something I was certain everyone else was doing better at.

While that feeling occasionally rears its head again, I’ve learned a number of strategies over the years to effectively tackle it. Here are five of them.

Remember that your journey is your own

For entrepreneurs especially, imposter syndrome can be fuelled by comparing yourself to others. It can strike when a business that started at the same time as you gets a batch of great write-ups in the press or when they raise a massive funding round. At times like that, it’s important to remember that you’re on your own business journey, no one else’s. By trying to match someone else’s success because it makes you feel inadequate, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Remember, if you’re making progress, you’re doing the right thing. Many of the entrepreneurs who seemed so confident at the early events I went to have seen their businesses not perform as well as they’d hoped. The same is true of those who raised headline-grabbing early funding rounds. If I’d let comparisons to them cause me to waiver from my focus, SweepSouth would be in a very different place today.

Address your weaknesses

Sometimes the feelings associated with imposter syndrome come about because someone brings up a legitimate issue that your business needs to address. It might, for instance, be something that a potential investor brings up. The trick is not to take it as a sign that you don’t belong, but as something fixable that you can address. Every person and every business has weaknesses. That doesn’t mean they don’t belong or shouldn’t exist.

Remember your accomplishments

Write them down if you have to. Chances are you’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get where you are. This is especially important if you don’t look like everyone else in the room. If you’re a woman, for instance, nothing about your male peers’ maleness makes them any more suited to their jobs or running a business.

Have a support network

Remember that stat from the beginning of the article about 84% of entrepreneurs suffering from imposter syndrome? That’s not an indictment on entrepreneurs but an opportunity. By joining a local, regional, or even international entrepreneurs’ organisation, you expose yourself to people who’ve been through the same things as you (including imposter syndrome) and who can guide you through any issues you might face.

Turn it on its head

Finally, remember that real imposters are unlikely to feel imposter syndrome. Being a successful imposter depends on outsized levels of confidence. So, if you’re feeling like an imposter, you can take it as a sign that you’re probably on the right track.

Aisha Pandor is the CEO of SweepSouth

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Reminiscing on the Loss of a Friend, Dreams Deferred, and Bold New Beginnings

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Chris Ihidero loss of a friend

By Chris Ihidero

One evening some eight years ago, my good friend Steve Babaeko walked into a mutual friend’s office looking a little less than his usual uber-confident self.

You won’t find many people who can claim to have seen Steve looking any less than assured: He consistently cuts the picture of a supremely confident man and his achievements are a testament to how that confidence has been well earned. But that evening in 2012, Steve had just put in his resignation as Creative Director of 141 Worldwide, the advertising agency he helped build from scratch and made a market leader. He would have to start all over again and the future held no guarantees. We broke out a bottle of cognac and toasted to new possibilities. As our mutual friend said that evening, “What’s the worst that can happen? You may fail, but at least you would have tried.”

When Amaka Igwe passed on in 2014 just as we were about to launch the TV channel we had been working on for about four years, it soon became clear to me that if I was going to have any shot at realizing the dream we shared, I would have to say goodbye to Amaka Igwe Studios. AIS was my home for eight years. I started out as an apprentice TV director and rose to become Chief Operating Officer. It was the place that built me. On the day I made the decision to leave, I stood in the building we had just furnished for the TV station, gazed at the transmission equipment we had installed and knew I was walking away to start all over again. Walking into a future with no guarantees.

Like Steve that evening, I was a lot less assured.

It’s been seven years since that decision and I have had an incredible run. It hasn’t been a sunset stroll in the park but I’m grateful for my contributions to the TV and film industry in Africa so far. While I worked for different TV networks, wrote, produced, directed and consulted on many film projects (and continue to do so), I started quietly building PinPoint Media. I knew what had to come next. I knew what I wanted to do with my life was to build a content delivery machinery that delivered excellence repeatedly.

In September 2019 we cranked on the content machinery we had been working on for a year and hit the set to deliver the first product off our production line, season one of Man Pikin, a family comedy series. Man Pikin is my nod to Fuji House of Commotion, Nigeria’s longest running and highly popular family comedy series I was privileged to direct for five years.

Man Pikin is the story of a man’s daily struggles with raising his kids after his wife’s passing. We shot 26 episodes for a first season and recently, IROKO TV acquired the rights for broadcast on their ROK Channels, as well as a french version for francophone Africa on NollywoodTV. It premieres on the 12th and 20th of December respectively.

In Q3 2021, we shot season two, another 26 episodes, and that’s not all we’re working on. But for COVID-19 actually, we would have rounded off the first year of our PinPoint Content Fund execution with 104 episodes of TV series in the bag. That target will now be met in 2022, starting with season three of Man Pikin and season one of a new series. Three feature films will also be shot in 2022, and we will also deliver a digital TV channel. Yeah, we have been very busy!

As I watched final edits of the episodes of Man Pikin before shipping off to our distributors in France recently, I reminisced on the loss of a friend and dreams deferred. This propels me forward as I focus on polishing and further knocking our content machinery into shape in order to deliver a five-year plan that culminates in the production of five thousand hours of content yearly from five production centres across Nigeria and Africa.

Scary, right? Well, that was the dream I once shared with an amazing woman and now I must trudge on scared, but confident that we will deliver the reference point for TV/film content excellence, whatever the challenges we will face, because, like the original soundtrack for Man Pikin says “Every day we keep moving forward ooh ooh ooh, ‘cos someday our dreams will come true ooh ohh ooh, man pikin go fall but will stand up ooh oooh ohhhh, for together we are strong and we’ll always have each other, ah ah.”

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