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.
Emerging Trends in the financial service sector
Fintech set to disrupt over $4.7 billion in global financial sector revenue.
Over the years, the financial sector has evolved and introduced what we now know as fintech – which is simply the application of digital technology to financial services and products. The evolution has been vast, ranging from mobile banking to payment processors, online investment and savings platform, loans and many more. The technologies are endless and it is believed that this is only the beginning.
According to Goldman Sachs, fintech is set to disrupt over 4.7 billion dollars in global financial sector revenue. Fintech is the change that the financial sector has been waiting for but more innovations are set to disrupt already existing companies and the only way to stand out is to keep track of the incoming trends.
We have already seen the start of this with the likes of Prospa, a startup that is changing the way businesses bank by eliminating the need to visit brick and mortar banks, providing free transaction, free delivery of ATM cards, convenient invoice management, quick balance review features, and real-time analytics, all in all, providing better customer experience virtually. Thanks to digital banks, visits to brick and mortar banks are set to drop by almost 40% in 2022.
The financial sector is poised to depend more on AI to process and handle large transactions. Take the banking industry, for example, AI is projected to reduce its operating costs by 22%, this means saving almost a trillion dollars. AI is already being used by several institutions to enhance customer service e.g Leo by UBA. Its ability to work with unstructured data will make for easy dealing of cyber crimes and financial frauds.
Digital wallets, mobile and cashless payments will drive the financial sector in terms of payments. In 2019, there were about 2.1 billion mobile wallet users. Add the use of blockchain to the mix and there is no telling how widely disrupted the sector will be. The main drivers of the disruption will be Generation X.
China takes the lead
China is an overwhelming leader in almost all fintech categories; from payment to lending to wealth management. With over 800 million internet users, 98% of whom are using mobile, it is no surprise that this is the prime area for fintech to thrive. China also has a high rate of investment than the rest of the world, this is equally an added factor. At this point, China is an exemplary leader and the best case study for how the fintech revolution is growing and evolving.
Thanks to blockchain technology, we have what is called smart contracts. Basically smart contracts are a way to digitize contracts that would normally require the services of lawyers and tedious processes. In smart contracts, parties sign a smart contact using cryptographic keys as a digital signature. Instead of paper, the contracts are encoded in computer language. Thanks to blockchain the codes cannot be tampered or altered. All devices that get the first digital copy of the contract will serve as witnesses and these devices would all see to the execution of the contract and fulfilment of all terms.
The modern-day handyman: how to package your business
Artisans have been trivialised to the point where it is rare for a plumber or mechanic to operate in a formal and extremely professional setting.
What do you think of when you hear the term handyman? If you are thinking of carpenters, plumbers and mechanics, you are definitely right. Here in Nigeria, handymen tend to do a good job on their brand identity and so despite the fact that their services are used often, they are paid next to nothing for their work. Many consider the jobs of handymen and artisans to be informal. Artisans have been trivialised to the point where it is rare for a plumber or mechanic to operate in a formal and extremely professional setting.
But it is not impossible. As a matter of fact, rebranding your handyman business is the perfect way to boost and create a more exciting appearance to customers, attract new clients and increase profits. So how do you repackage a handyman business? Here are five steps to consider:
Get a logo and a brand identity
Let’s simplify this process. Start by picking out a colour you like, something vibrant and attractive. Then go-ahead to create a logo and a business card. Nothing too fancy or over the top, just enough to give your business an image that clients will never forget. Thanks to Canva, the whole process of making a logo and a business card can be done in all of twenty minutes. You just have to print out your cards and that’s it.
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If it’s a little too difficult to piece out the logo and brand identity elements yourself, then reach out to an affordable design agency. The agency you select must demonstrate how they will create attractive brand identity elements and must show you a portfolio to confirm their track record. Replace your old work clothes with a customized overall that represents your brand. Your clients will love it and the best of all, they won’t forget it.
Build a cool Website
I know. You aren’t exactly a tech guru and that’s the reason you’re a handyman, not a software developer. I get it, but all businesses are online these days. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, it goes a long way if clients can find you on the Internet. It creates a whole new level of trust in the relationship.
Besides, it’s not that hard to build a Website. You can use DIY software like Wix, Disha.ng or WordPress.org. All you need to put on your Website is a list of your services, at least one compelling reason why potential customers should choose or hire you (i.e. list your training, credentials, skills, professionalism, etc.), your contact information and professional pictures detailing your past work.
Register for a digital business account
For this step, Prospa is the answer. Prospa is a business tool designed to make managing your finances, customers and employees much easier. You can create a business account in less than five minutes. With Prospa, you can easily manage your money, send out invoices to customers and auto-split your funds into sub-accounts for marketing, taxes and more. Isn’t that great? A business account is like icing on a cake, it makes ads more sauce to your packaging.
Hire an apprentice
Are you getting a lot of calls from clients? You might want to consider hiring an apprentice to shadow you while you get work done. As time goes by, you could outsource some work to your qualified apprentice so you don’t have to do it all by yourself. You can start by taking a student under your wing and teaching them all about the business. Don’t forget to communicate the importance of maintaining the brand’s identity to them.
The last thing you want is getting underpaid for all your hard work or overcharging a client because that would speak to your credibility. So how do you charge your customers fairly without tearing a hole in your own pocket?
Consider the following factors: Time – how long is the job going to take, are you going to have to travel a long distance, think about that. Skill and preparation – does this job require a high level of skill, how about how long it would take for you to prepare to get the job done? Expenses – calculate how much you would be spending in order to do a perfect job. With all these, you can determine how much you want to charge clients. You could charge them based on the time you’d spend on the job or a flat rate depending on the type of service but be sure to do the math so you are not getting underpaid.
To conclude, ensure to keep it professional. Send invoices to your clients by mail, maintain a neat and tidy appearance, try as much as possible to widen your skillset. It doesn’t hurt to learn new things, this can open you up to more client’s. Always do a good job, this way clients could spread the good word about your business. And finally, don’t fail to do a little promotion for your business, let people know you exist.
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.
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