Nigeria’s tech industry on Monday slammed security agencies for the “illegal arrests” of web developers in the country, where authorities often accuse them of being internet fraudsters.
Outrage erupted from the tech community and on social media in Africa’s most populous country over the weekend after Lagos-based software engineer Toni Astro said he was arrested, beaten and extorted for money by a notorious police unit.
Astro said officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) — a force widely accused of human rights abuses — assaulted him after discovering him with a laptop and made him withdraw money from his accounts to pay them.
“Policemen there said you’re the one spoiling the economy,” Astro wrote on Twitter.
The incident brought together some 30 companies, investors and media outlets in Nigeria’s budding tech industry to threaten a “class action lawsuit” under the banner #StopRobbingUs.
“SARS officers, Nigeria Police and all tactical units, targeting software engineers is a frequent occurrence in Lagos and this is the latest in a string of attacks,” they said in a statement.
“This is an ongoing concern for Nigeria’s tech community. A talent problem already exists in our sector, yet police, particularly SARS’ harassment, accentuates the talent drain in our industry.”
Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos is a key tech hub for African developers.
But the country is also notorious for cybercrime and fraud, perpetrated by organised gangs known locally as “Yahoo Yahoo boys”.
Earlier this month, Nigerian and US authorities said they had arrested nearly 300 people in a months-long crackdown on online scams to hijack wire transfers from companies and individuals.
Industry figures say web developers are regularly harassed and extorted by police authorities, who accuse web developers of being involved in cybercrime.
Bosun Tijani, CEO of Co-Creation Hub, told reporters that tech workers were often detained when found with a laptop.
He said firms were documenting cases of their workers being targeted around the country and called for police “to be trained in this area”.
“It is driving talented young people away from this industry.”
SARS officers have long faced allegations of widespread abuse and a prominent online campaign has called for the unit to be scrapped.
Nigerian police’s complaint response unit said on Twitter that it was investigating the incident involving Astro.
How young people are changing the African narrative
For non-Africans who have never visited the continent, the perception of the second largest continent in the world has always been that of a place of impoverishment and raw savagery; a place ravaged by horrible epidemic and war.
This is largely attributable to an agenda-driven western media which sell these bogus tales about Africa to their global audience viewing the world through their reportage. Sadly, some of our local media are also guilty of this disservice to the mother continent.
As much as Africa, like other continents have its challenges, the positive stories to tell about the continent far outweighs the negativity found therein.
The good news, however, is that young Africans – the new generation, are striving to change the negative narrative of Africa through their excellence in different fields within and outside the continent.
These young Africans are pushing the frontiers of knowledge in their respective fields of interests, discovering new things and making landmark achievements. Whether in Technology, Fashion, Literature, Music and more, they are forging paths necessary for the sustenance of development in Africa. These crop of individuals are passing the message that Africa has a lot to offer the world through its rich human resources. What better way to be true ambassadors of the continent?
Let us take a look at some of the young individuals championing the change of an age-long African perception in their different fields.
Technology & Innovation
Over the years, we have seen some of the most innovative minds in technology come from Africa. Notable figures like Philip Emeagwali who invented the world’s fastest computer and who also won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer, Jelani Aliyu who designed the Chevrolet Volt, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, among very many others make this list.
One young African that is gradually making waves in technology is 35-year-old Jamila Abbas. Abbas is a Kenyan computer scientist and software engineer who is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of MFarm Kenya Limited. MFarm is an android application that Abbas developed to solve the challenge of lack of pricing transparency Kenyan farmers faced.
MTN Nigeria test runs 5G in Calabar
The 5G trial kicked off with a launch in Abuja on Monday this week
MTN Nigeria’s 5G innovation test train has moved to Calabar. The pan-African telecoms company announced this via its official Twitter handle.
The 5G trial kicked off with a launch in Abuja on Monday this week.
The event was attended by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, the ICT Infrastructure provider, Huawei, and other communications and technology stakeholders.
The highpoint of the Abuja event was the demonstration of the cutting-edge technology in virtual reality, gaming, 3D holographic communication and video conferencing at a test tube designed to show proof of concept.
MTN Nigeria partnered with the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology and Digital Economy, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Huawei (Abuja), ZTE (Calabar) and Ericsson (Lagos) to exhibit the proficiencies and potentials of 5G in driving economic growth and social inclusion.
“This is a historic moment for us as it means new possibilities for Nigeria and Nigerians. This innovation has definitely made us hungry for more.” an MTN Representative said.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami said that the new innovation is very critical to Nigeria’s economy as a result of numerous advantages like the issue of latency, speed, and digital revolution.
The 5G test is slated to run for three months on the trial spectrum allocated by NCC. This is to ensure that it is efficient and sustained.
The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa
Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?
Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.
The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.
What is digital marketing?
Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.
Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.
Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers.
The state of online marketing in South Africa
In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.
By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.
Kenya and Digital Marketing
In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period. Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.
What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.
Digital marketing in Nigeria
Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.
According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.
From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.
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