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Osinbajo Advocates Closing Entrepreneurial Gap with Technology, Innovation

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Osinbajo entrepreneurial gap

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigeria’s Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, has reiterated the need to close the entrepreneurial gap with the rapid growth of innovation and technology recorded over the years globally.

This was the view of the Vice President in a pre-recorded speech at a weekend ceremony in Lagos to mark the 20th anniversary of Interswitch, a leading fintech company in Nigeria and Africa.

He said there are even more exciting new frontiers to be explored and harnessed by Nigeria’s talented and enterprising young entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the ceremony Saturday evening, Mr Osinbajo noted that “as innovation and technology open exciting new frontiers in medicine and healthcare, we can rest assured that Nigeria will not lag behind.”

Noting that “innovative disruptions thrive on natural and human occasioned gaps within the system,” the VP added that many of such are in Africa.

According to the Vice President, “this is why our continent is undoubtedly the next and possibly the last frontier.”

“All across the continent, there are yawning gaps waiting to be plugged by innovative ideas and entrepreneurial efforts. It is exciting to see how sprightly young people, particularly, are rising to the challenge and the accelerated pace of creative disruptions in their wake,” he added.

Speaking further on the incredible talents and potential of Nigeria and Africa’s young people to drive socio-economic growth, the VP stated that, “in 2021 alone, African tech startups raised over $ 4 billion in funding, with over 564 startups across the continent solving critical problems in almost every sector.

“Within the next two decades, Africa’s workforce will be the largest in the world. They are skilled, and they are coming. As a result, more innovative disruptors will yet emerge to plug more of these gaps.”

Mr Osinbajo further said the President Buhari administration would continue to provide the enabling environment for young entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive.

“Our responsibility as a government has been to meet them halfway and perhaps outpace them with corresponding creativity in the provision of forward-thinking regulatory frameworks and adequate infrastructure. I can assure you that no effort is being spared in this regard.

“Nevertheless, there is still so much to be done; and a lot of ground to cover. I have no doubt, though, that we are up to the task,” he emphasised.

The VP observed that “it is through innovative disruptions that humans have managed to resolve their most complex challenges and stay ahead of the survival curve.

“Oftentimes, these ideas are championed by mavericks who find better, safer, and more cost-effective ways for us to live, do business, and govern; slight tweaks that improve our overall experience, and complete overhauls that lead us into new paths altogether.”

On what he described as ‘two rigorous decades of accelerated change,’ since Interswitch was founded 20 years ago, he noted that it was “incredible that what began as a novel idea to facilitate seamless payments across Africa has in barely two decades become something of an icon of technology and innovation literally pioneering Africa’s ongoing Fintech revolution.”

The Vice President described Interswitch “as a leading company at the forefront of agency banking and financial inclusion in Nigeria,” which “also operates the largest and fastest growing private sector-led domestic card scheme in the world.”

He further noted, “It is, therefore, a testament to the quality of the talent and courage of the founders of Interswitch that they saw the future clearly and predicted the potential of a nascent technology for scale and application.”

Situating Interswitch further in the innovative disruption that has since transformed Nigeria’s fintech space, Mr Osinbajo recalled that “in 2002, only 569 million people were connected to the Internet worldwide. Nigeria, as a whole, had less than 200,000 people with Internet access. In fact, PayPal, one of the pioneering electronic payment companies in the internet age, was barely four years old at the time.”

Since then, Africa’s domestic e-payments market has grown by 20 per cent annually in the last two years and is projected to hit around $40 billion in 2025, the Vice President said.

“It is estimated that around half of all future digital payments will come from Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya, with Nigeria experiencing the fastest growth at 35 per cent per year. A lot of this is, of course, owed to the trailblazing efforts of Interswitch. Your rapid expansion, already serving customers in over 23 African Markets, is an ample demonstration of growing vitality.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Technology

Starlink is Now Available in Nigeria—SpaceX Confirms

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Starlink is now available in Nigeria

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Nigerians and tech startup owners can now heave a sigh of relief as Starlink is now available in Nigeria, according to SpaceX.

The internet service provider is owned by a billionaire businessman and owner of Twitter, Mr Elon Musk.

The federal government held meetings with the management of the company to introduce its services in Nigeria. The network was earlier expected to commence its operations in the country last month.

However, after the wait, SpaceX has confirmed the availability of the Starlink network in the country and would be expected to take a huge chunk of the broadband market with competitors like MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile, Smile, Spectranet, and Swift.

Nigeria is the first African country to receive Starlink service.

“Starlink is now available in Nigeria, the first African country to receive the service,” a message posted on the Twitter handle of SpaceX on Monday night stated.

Starlink, according to its profile on Wikipedia, is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX, providing satellite Internet access coverage to 47 countries. It also aims for global mobile phone service after 2023.

With Starlink, users can engage in activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet, as its high-speed, low-latency service is made possible via the world’s largest constellation of highly advanced satellites operating in a low orbit around the Earth.

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CBN Gives Interswitch Payments Service Holding Company License

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Interswitch

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A Payments Service Holding Company (PSHC) license has been granted to Interswitch Group by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This followed an earlier announcement by the CBN regarding new licensing categories for participants in the Nigerian payments system.

The integrated payments solution provider is among the first to receive this authorisation from the country’s apex bank.

According to the regulator, the PSHC regulation requires companies with existing or prospective operations across multiple license categories to set up a PSHC. The activities of each of the PSHC subsidiaries operating within those respective licensing regimes are clearly delineated for clearer accountability, effective risk management and the enablement of better regulatory oversight by the CBN.

A statement from Interswitch, a leading financial technology in Africa, outlines that Interswitch’s Group Holding Company retains ownership of the PSHC in Nigeria as well as its other subsidiaries outside of Africa.

The issuance of the PSHC licence coincides with Interswitch’s 20th-anniversary commemoration, which has seen the company cement its position as a pioneering and integral enabler that has actively supported the growth and development of fintech and payments progressively across Africa over the last 20 years.

It also serves to reinforce Interswitch’s progressive outlook as a frontier-driving company which keeps pushing boundaries to facilitate the creation of new ecosystems that help businesses and individuals scale and thrive, in line with its purpose of inspiring Africa to greatness through innovation, value-creation and excellence.

“Twenty years ago, we placed a bet on the latent potential we saw in the introduction of e-payment channels at the time, particularly ATMs for the delivery of cash just-in-time, and today, we are gratified to see how far the financial technology and payment systems in Nigeria have grown.

“On the back of our receipt of this additional license, we remain strongly committed to a close partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria to facilitate the delivery of the Payments Vision (2025) and, of course, the National Financial Inclusion Strategy,” the founder and Group CEO of Interswitch, Mr Mitchell Elegbe, remarked.

He further reiterates Interswitch’s resolute focus on its over-arching mission to continue championing technology solutions that connect and empower individuals, businesses, and communities across the continent.

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Technology

Mafab Rolls Out 5G Services in Nigeria

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Mafab 5G Network

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Another player has joined the 5G network space in Nigeria, and it is Mafab Communications Limited, which won the licence with MTN Nigeria Plc in December 2021.

After it obtained the licence from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for $273.6 million, it delayed its rollout, while its competitor, MTN, started in August in a few cities.

Business Post reports that Mafab on Tuesday held a ceremony at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, to commence operations in the country, promising to deepen broadband penetration.

“We are fully committed to bringing the benefits of 5G services to Nigerians and deploying a network that will drive economic development with increased broadband capabilities nationwide.

“I have no doubt that the service will help deliver improvements in the fields of education, business, smart cities and entertainment,” the Chairman of Mafab, Mr Mushabu Bashir, said.

It was gathered that Mafab would largely use existing infrastructure from IHS towers and, if need be, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Solutions as well for its operations.

Recall that last month, the NCC again auctioned the 3.5GHz spectrum, which was won by Airtel Nigeria, which intends to launch its operations very soon.

It is not certain how much the Mafab 5G network services would cost. When MTN rolled out its 5G services last year, it sold the device for N50,000 and asked interested customers to pre-order the 5G router.

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