Having made a transition from OTEKBITS to BITS.ng, here is a compilation of memes to celebrate just that.
Which is your favorite?
The editors of Y! – TV, Magazine & Online – today announced the Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2013 – founder and chief executive of iROKO, Jason Chukwuma Njoku.
The Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year is in its third year and is awarded this year to the individual who has most visibly influenced the Nigerian society for good in the past year, breaking new boundaries or consolidating on gains – and driving the advancement of the public, especially young people. The editors announced there was no winner for its first edition in 2011. The 2012 winner was entrepreneur and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Nominees for 2013 were Aliko Dangote, Tony O. Elumelu, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mike Adenuga, Sim Shagaya, Akinwunmi Adesina and Omobola Johnson.
The editorial making the announcement is below:
Editorial: The Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2013 is … Jason Njoku
Jason Chukwuma Njoku, 33, is chief executive and co-founder of iROKO Partners, an online start up that has revolutionised the availability and distribution of African media content. He is young, big, bold, brash and in his own words, “an asshole.”
He is also the Y!/YNaija Person of the Year 2013.
It is simple really: No one has captured the imagination of young (and many older) Nigerians the way this University of Manchester graduate has. The outlines of the story are now firmly etched: iROKO partners, founded after Njoku had dabbled in scores of unsuccessful businesses started in his bedroom in London with money loaned from his friend and in a space of three years has become the most talked about internet business this side of Africa.
It was at the nadir of his life, when he moved back in with his mother, penniless after his string of failed enterprises that he picked up on her love for Nollywood films. He also noticed his mother’s difficulty in getting these films and decided to do something about it. He soon boarded a flight to Lagos and entered the trenches, directly engaging the producers and copyright owners, paying money for their catalogue. Two and a half years later, and Njoku’s company has amassed the largest collection of African content online with well over 5,000 titles in the kitty. And, with high profile mentions in Forbes, Financial Times, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, iROKO Partners has been able to attract investors and seed money like no other start up.
Criticised across the technology eco-system for pomp and bluster – and those who do so do not exaggerate – Njoku (and iROKO) is that rare individual that deserves all the praise. He has proven that much is indeed possible in Nigeria, by Nigerians – in spite of Nigeria.
Stories like these read easy on paper but it is pertinent not to forget or overlook the grit and tenacity, the wheeling and dealing that has gone into creating his success story. A story that is still far from finished. With his entrance into the online space, Njoku in many ways pioneered the online Nollywood market and with his success, has created a whole new sub specie of industry for interested participants to dabble into, showing them exactly how it is done.
iROKOtv has built peerless library of content has been dubbed the Netflix of African movies reaching 178 countries with about 1million unique visitors a month. Despite the seemingly grudging resistance to accept his influence at home, he continues to fly the Nigerian flag by sheer willpower, just by doing what he does.
Apparently, he does it excellently. Because, this month, iROKO managed the unthinkable, andsuccessfully raised $8million in venture capital from a group of international investors led by American hedge fund and Facebook investor, Tiger Global. This unprecedented feat – even for start ups across the world – brings iROKO’s tally to about $21million raised in two years of doing business making it one of the most heavily funded businesses in all of Africa.
Then there is the matter of the music arm of the company, iROKING. Pronounced dead in the water prematurely after a public – battle with it’s erstwhile leader, Jason Njoku finally had to re-take charge. While still an unprofitable venture, when compared to it’s elder iROKOtv, it speaks to the stubbornness of his vision, and why investors choose to take risks on people more than the particular idea.
With an average monthly unique visitor-ship of about 5million (according to Njoku), iROKING stands a fighting chance of eclipsing revenue figures generated by the movies arm. Music industry piracy issues will have to be tackled head on and it will be excruciating work, but if anyone has done so, Njoku has proven time and time again that he is unafraid to put his money where his mouth is.
He did this in spectacular fashion in May, when – with his business partner Bastian Gotter and wife Mary Remmy Njoku – he launched SPARK, an exciting new business initiative dedicated to building and grooming profitable internet start ups in Nigeria. After a $10million valuation in 3months of existence, Sparks was able to raise $2million in investment from Lagos to London. This money will be ploughed into expanding the company – which currently has 9 start ups under it’s wings, employing about 130 staff – and providing seed money for it’s babies.
Impressively, Njoku – unlike many Nigerian businessmen – is not unashamed to tell his story, sharing as much as he can about the innards of running a successful internet company at a time when many young start-ups desperately need to learn from the experience of those before them.
Of course, blog posts tend to gloss over the dirt, and for all we know, Njoku may be bleeding money. Still, as businesses like iROKO and those in SPARK typically need an average of five years before profitability, it is enough for now that Njoku is crashing ceilings, breaking boundaries and moving mountains.
Whether his businesses fail or succeed, whether or not Njoku eventually becomes the kind of business leader he already fancies himself to be, he would have already won. Because he dared. And to dare is the hardest part.
For creating a globally respected business from scratch, for continuously innovating, setting standards for others to follow, for building a generation of young business people that might just change Nigeria; and for inspiring a whole new generation to believe in themselves and their dreams, we are proud to announce Jason Njoku as the Y!/YNaija Person of the Year 2013.
As seen on YNaija
Often, it is quite interesting whenever you get to find out that there is a story to a particular solution. Especially when I hear that the inspiration behind an idea which has grown into a resounding solution, came out of a journey; my ear stands at alert willing to hear how it all began. Keeping in tune with the core concept of this series –apps developed in Africa – we continue to highlight applications serving solutions to relevant problems around us. Our app of the week is Mobiashara.
Mobiashara was created as an e-commerce marketplace which would enable brands and customers to conveniently and efficiently transact through text messages—with no internet access required. The name Mobiashara is derived from a coinage which combines English and Swahili – literally translated as “Mo’ Businesses”. The goal is to have a platform which provides an affordable, easy-to-use mobile commerce service for Africans.
Here in Africa, it is not uncommon to experience hassles in the process of procuring basic amenities and services which should naturally be carried out almost effortlessly. On the other hand, businesses in many parts of Africa have a hard time reaching their consumers because of the lack of infrastructure. Mobiashara bridges this gap. Developed as a solution that connects brands and customers via mobile phones; enabling transactions through an exchange of messages.
Mobiashara offers a mobile technology that allows consumers to search, confirm, and purchase a given retailer’s good or service using text messages. It empowers consumers while eliminating the need for face-to-face contact and all the problems it entails. The service also crosses socio-economic lines; ensuring that the rich as well as the poor have the much needed access to a procurement platform which just solves the problem adequately.
It was developed by Slim Trader- a company founded by a Nigerian, Femi Akinde in 2009 – as a platform which allows consumers to purchase services or shop for goods with their mobile devices. It all began with the founder experiencing the problem first hand in trying to book a flight, from Nigeria to Ghana. The lengthy hassles he went through served as an eye-opener. Then he thought: if this kind of problem existed for purchasing high-cost items, it must be almost worse to purchase everyday goods and services.
With a lot more people involved in similar struggles on different levels – mostly to procure services (whether basic or advanced) and to make payments; what began as an eye-opening experience has evolved into a paradigm-shifting mobile platform. Mobiashara enables companies and organizations to offer consumers the ability to discover, preview, and purchase goods and services from their mobile phones. Eliminating the issues that come with internet access availability before successful transactions can be carried out, Mobiashara can facilitate a back and forth transaction successfully in a matter of three text messages.
Uniquely, the platform has grown based on customer and partner demand which explains its presence in six countries (Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.) already within a few months of launch. But with the essential offerings provided by the application, it has a potential to extend to all 53 countries comprising Africa, and other developing nations around the world.
Worst case scenario, it could serve as a viable alternative to applications which require internet access in the event of a service disruption or even non-availability, even in the more developed countries. This would mean it has the potential to expand across the globe, albeit on different scales.
As focused as the platform seems to be on the use of text messages only, I feel it should also create the option of an application which could leverage on internet access, in the event that it is available. This creates flexible options for the user, especially if one of the channels experiences a disruption.
It would also be able to equally leverage the different Smartphone platforms available, in keeping up with the key trends on mobile, so that it doesn’t get left behind while attending to only one part of the market.
Applications like this eventually take on a life of their own, as they offer different ranges of consumers with the option of adaptation, to fit individual or corporate needs as they see fit, or as the situation demands. Billing with the use of channels like mobile money, and other existing payment options already available through local mobile carriers, the potential for adoption is really enormous. The application could also benefit strongly from partnering with local businesses on ground throughout Africa. These people know the terrain, and can supply huge and helpful angles with the provision of relevant knowledge perspectives.
Hubs and Accelerators such as the Co-Creation Hub, Wennovation, iDEA, Venia, TechnoVision, and even SPARK (even though it call itself a business birthing other business) are taking center point in the innovation growth in Nigeria. Perhaps why it is of good cheer to welcome another player into the space.
CapitalSquare is a co-working space for young, creative entrepreneurs in Lekki, Lagos, with an aim to provide a relaxed environment for independent professionals to work, collaborate, and learn from each other with a good number of meeting rooms for members, as well as external clients.
Currently in its pre-launch phase, the hub is simply offering all of its services for free – including access to working spaces, internet, meeting rooms, printing, copying, tea and coffee, and maybe snacks to munch if they are in a so-good mood. So check it out any time between 9a.m. to 6p.m. for the rest of this week.
Not sure if you can make it, then RSVP for the Open House party to take place Saturday, November 23, 2013. Not to worry if you just want to get down to work as soon as possible as CapitalSquare opens for business on Monday, October 21, 2013 and you can get your membership access here.
This October saw a diverse group of private and public sector players come together in Abuja, Nigeria to launch the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a coalition to lead policy and regulatory reform and spur action to drive down artificially high internet prices in developing countries.
By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below 5% of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the UN Broadband Commission. Reaching this goal can help to connect the two-thirds of the world that is presently not connected to the internet (source: ITU) and make universal access a reality.
A4AI’s 30+ members reach across boundaries of geography, industry, and organisation type and include governments, companies, and civil society organisations from both developed and developing countries. Members share a belief that that policy reform, underpinned by robust research and genuine knowledge-sharing, is one of the best ways to unlock rapid gains in internet penetration rates.
The Alliance was initiated by the World Wide Web Foundation, and its honorary chairperson is DrBitangeNdemo, the immediate former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications, who is widely regarded as the father of Broadband in Kenya.
A4AI has a strong focus on action and announced the following plans today at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s Annual Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, witnessed by communications ministers, policy makers and industry leaders from around the globe:
Other players included Global sponsors Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID. They were joined by a host of governments, tech companies and civil society organisations from developed and developing countries in launch of new initiative, backed by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Mobile Monday Nigeria went down exactly a week ago, 30th of September 2013, and it took a unique turn with the partnership with Google Nigeria hosting Nigerian technology players with a focus to discuss the impact of internet in Nigeria.
The primary presentation of the evening was by Dalberg Global Development Advisors on Technology impact in Nigeria, and the event turned out to be one of the most amazing 2-hour meeting in local technology and internet business space with contribution from Simdul Shagaya (CEO and Founder of Konga.com), Jason Njoku of iROKO Partners, Ayodeji Adewumi of Jobberman, Femi Taiwo of INIT, Deepanker Rustagi of V-Connect and many more internet moguls touching down on the problems facing internet businesses – policy, scalability and access.
The Mobile Monday Nigeria team will make the Dalberg report available shortly and we’d share those with you. In the meantime, here are some photos from the event and you can catch the tweets from #MomoNigeria hashtag on Twitter.
We have seen different fairs from different industries in the past like, Wedding fair, E-commerce fair, Trade fair, Telco fair and many others, but for the first time E-Business fair gets to come to Nigeria as Connect Nigeria is set to host it.
In line with its mission to connect businesses to markets in a convenient, fast, and easy way, this year’s fair is themed “E-Business and the Growth of Your Enterprise”, which underscores the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the economy.
Emeka Okafor, CEO, Connect Nigeria, noted that the number of internet users as well as people who conduct business transactions through electronic means continues to grow. He explained that the idea behind the e-business fair is to increase awareness, educate the society, as well as foster the cashless policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the myriad opportunities that accrue from doing business electronically.
“With the growth of broadband internet technology in Nigeria, and the emergence of the cashless policy, it is evident that e-commerce will play a crucial role in Nigeria’s economy in the coming years. As an organisation that is built on promoting businesses and information access in Nigeria, we feel obliged to convene this event with the intent to promote Nigeria’s place in the global economy,” Okafor explains further.
Connect Nigeria’s e-business fair will also be a platform to discuss issues that pertain to online security and how to include SMEs and remote areas with limited internet access. Different organisations will be present at the e-business fair to showcase their brands, products and services, and enlighten their customers on issues relevant to e-commerce.
We at OTEKBITS are excited about the coming of an E-business fair and with a lot of expectation we will be bringing you coverage. Do join us for the event too at:
Venue: Eko Hotel & Suits
Date: 26th of October, 2013
Follow @OTEKBITS for more updates as regards the fair.
After all the excitement and buzz leading to this year’s conference, NigeriaCom 2013 finally started with registration of the delegates and members of the press. The event kicked off proper with the keynote address by the CEO of Etisalat, the headline sponsor of this year event. It is worth pointing out that the exhibition booths opened early. So, people had enough time to interact and share information before most settled down for the day’s event.
The panel sessions and the individual presentations lived up to the pre-event hypes and expectations. One of the panel sessions focused on the “quality of service on the network, challenges and opportunities for telecoms operators in Nigeria”. The members of the panel included a representative of the NCC, Awadesh Kalia (CTO, Airtel Nigeria), Rajiv Jaitly (CEO, HIS Africa) and a senior representative from Etisalat. The key submission from this panel discussion was that there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to quality of services being delivered by the network operators in Nigeria. We may not have good quality of service yet in Nigeria but most of the panelists alleged that we currently do not experience the worst quality of service. The representative of the NCC pointed out how the organisation is working with all the network operators to ensure the quality of services is improved.
The other panel session that was of interest to me was the one that focused on “services and profitability in the data era”. The highlights included how the OTT players can work together to overcome the barriers to market development while taking advantage of the revenue opportunities which data presents. The panelists included Bayo Adekanmbi (GM Business Intelligence, MTN), Usman Gumi (CEO, Gicell), and a senior representative of Airtel.
In one of the individual’s presentations, Yetunde Johnson (Network administrator, Aluko & Oyebode) make a good case for the use of cloud services. She shared a case study on how cloud is a viable business tool in Nigeria. The case study showed how her company has benefited immensely from using cloud services. She also talked about the already known challenges (power, infrastructure and insecurity issues) and what can be done to overcome these challenges. There was a presentation by Ehi Binitie (co-founder, Rancard Solutions) on “driving subscriber loyalty through connected mobile experiences”. He mentioned that with the right kind of customer engagement tactics, loyalty even in this day of mobile number portability can be achieved.
The day’s event eventually came to an end with an informal drink session hosted by Etisalat and a raffle draw where two people went home with different prizes (a Blackberry Z10 and Q10 phones). The events of day 1 actually set the expectation for day 2. Watch this space as we bring you the summary of day 2 activities.