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Accelerating Digital Adoption In Africa: Learnings From Ericsson



Accelerating Digital Adoption In Africa: Learnings From Ericsson

By Nora Wahby, Vice President and Head of Customer Unit West Africa at Ericsson Middle East and Africa

It is an irrefutable reality that access to the internet has revolutionized economies all over the world. Mobile broadband has significantly transformed the way people connect, socialize, communicate, and work. It also supports how we exchange ideas and information, accelerates economic development, and projects a positive outlook for the future. Governments, industries, and businesses, both large and small, have remodeled their operations and embraced digital innovations that have radically transformed economies and promoted globalization.

The internet-based economy, expanding across Africa and several countries, has grown significantly in the last decade alone. More and more critical services, including healthcare, education, banking, and retail, are being offered online. The continent has indeed experienced an impressive development of Information Communications Technology (ICT) with enormous growth potential.

According to Ericsson Mobility Report, published in June 2022 the Middle East and North Africa region is forecasted to reach nearly 200 million 5G subscriptions by 2027. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 4G subscriptions grew by 26 percent in 2021 and strong growth is expected to continue throughout this year. Data traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa is also forecasted to maintain an upward trajectory, as mobile broadband-capable devices become more accessible.

Accelerating Digital Adoption In Africa: Learnings From Ericsson
Nora Wahby

Fueling this rapid transformation is the uptake of Ericsson’s 5G network, which is already operational in a few markets in the African region. This will bring about a significant boost to the socio-economic ecosystem and lead to inclusive growth that allows sub-Saharan Africa to participate in the digital economy. According to the GSMA Mobile Economy report published in May 2020, predicted that 5G could add $2.2 trillion to Africa’s economy by 2034. This means that today, more than ever, the promise of a young population and the rapid expansion of 5G has already set the stage for a wide range of opportunities, starting with a higher standard of living and a better quality of life.

Digital adoption is incomplete if it is not all-inclusive. This is why it has become critical to leave no one behind in driving digital economies. While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly spurred digital adoption, it has also increased emphasis on addressing the global digital divide, now more than ever.

We, at Ericsson, recognize that digital literacy and skills training are as important as coverage and infrastructure, in achieving digital and financial inclusion across the continent. This is why we have a variety of projects that promote equitable digital inclusion throughout sub-Saharan Africa, in line with our commitment to enable #AfricaInMotion.

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In 2019, the Southern Swamp Associated Gas Solutions project was commissioned, and the SPDC JV is planning to reduce associated gas flaring further through its Forcados Yokri gas-gathering project, of which large parts are set to be completed in 2022. Despite such efforts to reduce continuous flaring, unfortunately flaring intensity (the amount of gas flared for every tonne of oil and gas produced) at both SPDC- and SNEPCo-operated facilities increased in 2021 owing to short-term operational issues. Flaring from SPDC-operated facilities increased by around 5% in 2021 compared with 2020. The increase was primarily because of the extended outage of the gas compression system in SPDC’s shallow-water operations. The system was restored and became operational from January 2022. Flaring at SNEPCo-operated facilities rose by around 160% in 2021 compared with 2020. This was mainly because of an increase in flaring on the Bonga floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel. Repairs to a flex-joint on the Bonga FPSO’s gas export riser in the second quarter took longer than expected, in part because of weather conditions. While repairs were under way, the FPSO continued to produce oil and therefore flaring was necessary for safety reasons. The repairs were safely concluded in July 2021. Although flaring intensity levels rose in 2021, SPDC and SNEPCo over the last 10 years have almost halved the combined amount of hydrocarbons they flare from 1.5 million tonnes in 2012 to 0.8 million tonnes in 2021. This reduction is the result of a strict flaring reduction management process and both SPDC and SNEPCo will continue to work in close collaboration with joint-venture partners and the government to make progress towards ending routine flaring of associated gas. NIGERIA LNG EXPANSION UNDERWAY Global demand for LNG continues to grow as the world increasingly seeks reliable supplies of lowercarbon energy. Shell’s investment in Nigeria’s gas infrastructure for export is expected to help 6 This is according to a data provided by global research and consultancy business Wood Mackenzie. the country benefit further from revenues. Shell Gas B.V. and its partners took a final investment decision in 2020 on a new LNG processing unit – known as Train 7 -- at NLNG. The expansion is expected to create around 12,000 jobs for Nigerians during construction and stimulate growth of the local oil and gas service sector, with 55% of engineering and procurement of goods and services being sourced in-country. Train 7 is expected to ensure Nigeria’s continued place as a global player in a lower-carbon energy source. Once operational, Train 7 will add around 8 million tonnes per annum of capacity to the Bonny Island LNG facility, taking the total production to around 30 million tonnes per annum. In 2021, NLNG began awarding procurement and construction contracts. Early works started at the site. The first phase of the worker village is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2022 and the new material offloading facility ready for use by the end of 2022. NLNG’s Train 7 is expected to come onstream in the middle of the 2020s. KEY LICENCE RENEWED FOR DEEP-WATER SNEPCo has interests in four deep-water blocks in the Gulf of Guinea, two of which it operates. Today, nearly one-third of Nigeria’s deep-water oil and gas production comes from the Bonga and the nonoperated Erha fields.6 Since production began in 2005, Bonga alone has produced more than 950 million barrels of oil with the 2021 average oil production per day at 105,000 barrels. The Bonga FPSO vessel has a total production capacity of 225,000 barrels of oil per day and 150 standard cubic feet of gas export per day. In 2021, the availability of the FPSO vessel increased to 80% from 70% in 2020. In addition to Bonga, SNEPCo’s exploration activities have led to several significant discoveries of oil and gas over the last two decades, including the Bolia and Doro fields (Shell interest 55%). Nigeria Briefing Notes Helping to power Nigeria’s economy 13 In the right investment climate, SNEPCo believes that there are opportunities to expand. In 2021 the OML 118 (Bonga) production sharing contract was renewed and the lease extended for 20 years. Bonga North and Bonga South West Aparo (BSWA) oil fields are two such potential opportunities. Bonga North is a proposed tie-back project to the existing Bonga FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 14 wells. BSWA is a development of a new FPSO with Phase 1 comprising 23 wells. SUPPORTING RENEWABLE ENERGY STARTUPS Millions of Nigerians are excluded from the country’s power grid and Shell Companies in Nigeria have established and provided substantial funding for a not-for-profit, impact-investing company called All On. Operating as an independent company, All On works to bring reliable electricity – often from renewable energy sources -- to off-grid urban and rural customers. This support aims to build a solid pipeline of viable businesses that can create the scale required to address Nigeria’s access to energy gap. In December 2019, SPDC and SNEPCo made a significant additional 10-year financing commitment of $160 million in All On, bringing the total commitment to $200 million. By the end of 2021, All On had provided investment capital to over 40 renewable energy start-ups in its portfolio – an increase of more than 30% from 2020. One such company is Infibranches Technologies Limited, to which All On has committed $2 million, which is expected to enable the indigenous technology company to expand sales of solar home systems via its more than 13,000 agent banking partners across Nigeria. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the All On Hub was established in 2020 to provide nonfinancial support and build the capabilities of off-grid energy entrepreneurs. In 2021, the hub supported 81 ventures – nearly double the 41 supported in 2020. Also in 2021, All On, Odyssey Energy Solutions and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet launched a $10 million equipment financing facility as part of the DART pilot programme in Nigeria. 7 Hydraulic flying leads support the delivery of hydraulic fluid and/or chemicals between subsea equipment. 8 Subsea trees are an assembly of valves and other components used to monitor and control the production of a subsea well. DART will combine demand pooling, aggregated purchasing of solar equipment, and access to affordable finance to unlock economies of scale for solar companies, achieve cost savings for end-users, and accelerate the growth of the renewable energy sector in Nigeria and beyond. DEVELOPING LOCAL CONTENT AND SKILLS Shell Companies in Nigeria contribute to the growth of Nigerian businesses that can provide technical and support services to the industry. This includes the manufacture of tools and technical kits, the operation of helicopter flights in the Niger Delta, and strategic partnerships between foreign and local companies to stimulate technology transfer and capacity development. While there are government-required programmes in some areas, such as the Nigerian and Community Content Strategy embedded in the Assa North/Ohaji South gas development project, Shell Companies in Nigeria deliberately seek to contract local businesses wherever possible. In 2021, Shell Companies in Nigeria awarded $800 million worth of contracts to Nigerian-registered companies. Of these, 92% were companies with at least 51% Nigerian ownership. SNEPCo has awarded major engineering and construction contracts to companies that are indigenous, have local staff, or possess domestic capabilities in the country. At present, the manufacture and rebuild of hydraulic flying leads7 (HFLs) is being carried out in-country by wholly indigenous companies. Pressure Controls Systems Nigeria Limited, another Nigerian company, continues to refurbish old subsea trees.8 Sometimes, a lack of access to capital hinders Nigerian companies from competing for and executing contracts effectively. Shell Companies in Nigeria have provided access to nearly $1.6 billion in loans to 901 Nigerian vendors under the Shell Contractor Support Fund since 2012. These loans help improve their tendering opportunities.

Digital Lab

Access to teaching and learning materials on new technologies is one of the key drivers of digital adoption. Ericsson Educate, an online portal we introduced during the pandemic in partnership with UNESCO, gives teachers and learners unlimited access to Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills. Teachers, parents, and instructors from all over the world can use the platform to help children and students learn more about this emerging technology.

Financial Inclusion (Ericsson Wallet Platform)

    Giga Initiative:

    • ly propel Africa’s digital adoption. Two years ago, Ericsson broke new ground to become the first private sector partner to make a multimillion-dollar commitment and significant in-kind contribution to support the joint UNICEF-ITU Giga initiative for global school connectivity. By embarking on that journey, we committed to our belief, based on decades of experience with public-private partnerships, that successful partnerships cannot be built on financial backing alone. Ericsson’s financial and in-kind support has contributed to Giga’s achievements to date in connecting over 5,000 schools and over 2 million students.

    At Ericsson, we believe that digital literacy is central to driving an innovative and sustainable knowledge-based ecosystem. We are therefore proud to play our part in leading digital adoption across the continent. Reducing digital inequality across the continent is a promise, and we will continue to be at the forefront of driving a more promising and connected future for sub-Saharan Africa.


    NITDA Engages Stakeholders To Boost National Outsourcing Strategy



    NITDA Engages Stakeholders To Boost National Outsourcing Strategy

    Olushola Okunlade Writes

    In Its continuous efforts to create fair and inclusive society that provides equal opportunity, the Federal government of Nigeria, through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), organized a 1-day stakeholders consultation forum on the National Outsourcing Strategy (NOS), in Abuja, to give stakeholders an opportunity for inputs to express their views and opinions on the proposed NOS.

    The participants which include the Academia, relevant MDA’s, ICT Related Organizations, as well as Government representatives, and key relevant stakeholders in the Digital Economy sector share ideas and brainstorm for gainful deliberation.

    The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, who was represented by the Ag. Director, Digital Economy Department, Engr. Salisu Kaka said that the stakeholder’s engagement is an avenue where the National Outsourcing Strategy will enable Nigeria to take advantage of the opportunities presented by global value chain, leveraging its competitive advantages of having the largest youth population in Africa,  mature telecoms market, strategic geographic  location, and vibrant innovation ecosystem to create millions of jobs.

    NITDA Engages Stakeholders To Boost National Outsourcing Strategy
    Representative of the DG NITDA, the Ag. Director of the Digital Economy Department of the Agency, Engr. Salisu Kaka gave his remark.

    According to him, the vision of National Outsourcing Strategy is to make Nigeria a prime global outsourcing destination. To achieve this, 7 strategic pillars have been carefully chosen based on the country’s unique environment and strengths, in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria.

    He noted that the strategy is also in alignment with the National Development Plan and addresses key focus areas of Mr. President which are economic diversification, youth employment, and security.

    “We, in NITDA, call on all stakeholders to support the implementation of the strategy. This, we are confident, will facilitate the development of a resilient and vibrant digital economy”, he noted.

    Furthermore, he stated, “as a national strategy, we encourage all stakeholders to cascade this strategy so that we can build a highly competitive market, making Nigeria the prime Global Outsourcing Destination.”

    Presenting a paper on the NOS, Dr, Ayodele A. Bakare, Head of Digital Technology Adaption Unit, NITDA, discussed the summary information about the proposed NOS which includes the rationale, vision, mission, goals, and Objectives of the NOS as well as supporting pillars, governance structure, and implementation strategy.

    Laying emphasis on the primary objective of the document, he said, “the National Outsourcing Strategy which aligns with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy aims to deliver 5 Million Jobs in Nigeria by 2030”.

    “To achieve this ambitious target, the strategy is focused on seven critical pillars which include the following: Outsourcing, Infrastructure, Human Capital Development, Trust, Privacy and Security, Branding and Promotion, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, and lastly, Finance and Incentives,” he concluded.

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    Nigeria Can Boost Digital Economy By Ensuring Equal Participation Of Women – DG NITDA



    Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, NITDA Director General.

    Olushola Okunlade Writes

    The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, has said that Nigeria can potentially and significantly boost its digital economy by ensuring the equal participation of women in the digital economy.

    According to him, women’s participation in all sub-sectors of the digital economy is equivalent to men’s participation, and the country stands to gain a whopping 230 billion USD in GDP growth by the year 2025.

    Inuwa made this state at the stakeholder press briefing organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day in Abuja with the theme ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.”

    Represented by his Special Assistant on Strategy and Innovation, Mrs. Iklima Musa Salihu, Inuwa stated that in 2021, the UN estimated that Nigeria’s female population was 104 million; as Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has much to gain by facilitating the inclusion of women in technology industries and bridging the digital divide.

    He said that NITDA has over the years been implementing several strategic programs and initiatives which have seen an investment of 4.4B USD in the last four years.

    The National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) which NITDA is primarily implementing has the objective of bridging the digital gender gap by ensuring that the digital skills training programs incorporate children, women, internally displaced persons, and the physically challenged.

    “In fulfillment of this strategy, we have taken many steps to drive our nation’s prosperity by boosting digital innovation for women, creating an enabling environment that maximizes the potential of all Nigerian women, promoting their ability to contribute to the economy, and ensuring their improved quality of life and well-being,” he mentioned

    He highlighted some of the key initiatives designed to support technology innovation including the Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Scheme (TIES); Idea Hatch (iHatch); Bridge to MassChallenge Nigeria and MIT-REAP Abuja, which has translated into establishment of vibrant innovation ecosystem and creation of 33,500 direct jobs in 2020.

    He said, “In a bid to support digital literacy in women, we have conducted capacity-building programmes on ICT and entrepreneurship for 360 women in the various geopolitical zones.”

    Inuwa stated that implementation of the Digital Literacy initiative increases women’s awareness, knowledge, and use of business tools that can help promote their entrepreneurial and career pursuits, increase distance learning and distance work programs and opportunities, as well as financial inclusion.

    He said, “this year, the United Nation (UN) wishes to recognise the women and girls in our lives who are championing the advancement of digital transformation and education.”

    “We recognise that different challenges arise in the form of social, economic, and cultural barriers, which are hindrances that forestall this inclusion.

    “That is why we have worked to create barrier-circumventing opportunities that will transform lives and create a positive domino effect that cascades greater values into our societies,” Inuwa added.

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    How 7 Nigerian Women Lead Aurora Tech Award 2023



    7 Nigerian Women Lead Aurora Tech Award 2023 Shortlist

    Aurora Tech Award 2023 Shortlist recognizes women founders challenging gender inequality in IT

    …Winners will be announced on International Women’s Day

    Olushola Okunlade Writes

    Seven (7) Nigerian women startup founders have been shortlisted for the prestigious Aurora Tech Award 2023. The women are among the 22 finalists from different world countries shortlisted for the Award.

    According to inDrive – the organizers of the Aurora Tech Award – this is a moment of pride for Nigeria as seven ground-breaker women from the country have dominated the list. Out of 22 competitors who made it to the shortlist worldwide, these Nigerian women have proved their tenacity in the tech industry and shown that women can excel in STEM fields.

    Founded in 2021 by inDrive, a US headquartered mobility and urban services global platform, the Award supports women entrepreneurs using technology to develop their communities, aiming to challenge gender inequality in IT.

    The Aurora Tech Awards is an annual event that recognizes and celebrates outstanding women’s achievements in technology and innovation. This year’s competition has attracted entries from all over the world, with 22 competitors making it to the shortlist. The judges were impressed with the quality and diversity of the submissions but were particularly struck by the strength of the entries from Nigeria.

    The seven women are Folake Owodunni and her startup Emergency Response Africa, Prencess Oti, and her startup Kaoshi Network, Cynthia Asije and her startup Craftmerce Inc, Ifedayo Durosin-Etti and her startup Herconomy Limited, Monsurah Alli Oluwafuyi and her startup HERRYDE, Olapeju Umah and her startup MyFoodAngels, and Ifeoma Nwobu and her startup Sendstack.

    Other shortlisted women include;  Marie-Reine Seshie from Ghana and her startup Kola Market Inc,  Elizabeth Mwangi from Kenya and her startup Gwiji for Women, Marisa Paramita from Indonesia and her startup Ibu Punya Mimpi, Carol Kakooza from Uganda with aXiom Zorn Foundation, Carol Kakooza from Uganda with aXiom Zorn Foundation, Karina Ojanguren from Argentina and startup Humana Digital Health, Lauren Yen from USA and Fronted Records, Adila Shaukat from Pakistan and her startup Shemote,  Hira Saeed and Faiza Yousuf from Pakistan and their startup CaterpillHERs,  Sonia Majeethia from India and the Kadamb Inclusive Learning Tools,  Iva Gumnishka from Bulgaria and Humans in the Loop,  Loide Dawid from Namibia and her project K-12EdTech.Inc, Anna Ngwenyi Mafor from Cameroon and her app GreenAgain, Aggaris Anggia (Ghea) Cininta P. from Indonesia and her project GenEd, and Namya Mahajan from India and her Rocket Learning.

    Winners will be announced on March 8, 2023, at an online ceremony on commemorating International Women’s Day. The winners would be awarded three cash prizes: $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively.

    The organizers have also announced the jury list for the 2023 edition of the Award. This year’s jury comprises past Award winners and prominent female leaders worldwide. They include Adora Nwodo, Founder, AdoraHack; Ruchika Singhal, President of Medtronic LABS; Adrienne Doolan, CEO of Green Touches; Mayra Castro, Founder of InvestAmazonia; Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, Co-founder, and CEO CanopyLAB; Ahu Serter, Founder of Arya Women’s Investment Platform, Sardana Mikheeva; VP of Operations at inDrive, Ainura Sagyn, Co-founder and CEO of Tazar; and Sadaffe Abid, Social entrepreneur leading CIRCLE

    Ekaterina Smirnova, Executive Director of the Aurora Tech Award, said: “The shortlisted applicants this year demonstrate leadership and innovation in using advanced technologies to improve communities and challenge IT inequality. Our VC partners examined each application. The Aurora Tech Award draws more women IT leaders each year, many overcoming significant obstacles to better their communities. The inDrive team is passionate about female equality in IT, and this year’s Award honors these remarkable founders and provides cash prizes to help them achieve their goals.”

    Know More About Aurora Tech Award: Aurora Tech Award is a non-profit initiative of inDrive, a global mobility and urban services platform. Today, inDrive is available in more than 700 cities in 47 countries on five continents and ranks second in the world among mobility services in terms of downloads monthly on Play Store and App Store, with a total of more than 150 million downloads. In addition to ride-hailing services, inDrive offers other mobility services, such as intercity transport and freight. inDrive is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with regional hubs in the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the CIS countries, employing more than 2,700 people.

    The Aurora Tech Award is for women tech startup founders whose projects have profoundly impacted global development. The objective is to support women in advanced technologies, especially women entrepreneurs.

    About the Aurora Tech Award 2023 shortlist:

    1 – Folake Owodunni from Nigeria and her startup Emergency Response Africa, a network of First Responders, emergency vehicles, and hospitals, connecting people urgently needing help using technology.

    2 -Prencess Oti from Nigeria and her startup Kaoshi Network, a marketplace to connect Africans at home and abroad to enable them to meet their financial obligations.

    3 – Cynthia Asije from Nigeria and her startup Craftmerce Inc, a marketplace that connects small and medium-sized producers and artisans from Africa with retailers and business owners from Europe and North America.

    4 -Ifedayo Durosin-Etti from Nigeria and her startup Herconomy Limited – a community empowering women to be financially independent.

    5 – Monsurah Alli Oluwafuyi from Nigeria and HERRYDE, a ride-hailing service where women drive women.

    6 – Olapeju Umah from Nigeria and her startup MyFoodAngels, a marketplace connecting farmers and consumers.

    7 – Ifeoma Nwobu from Nigeria and her startup Sendstack,  digital logistics infrastructure for African businesses.

    8 – Marie-Reine Seshie from Ghana and her startup Kola Market Inc., a product that drives sustained growth for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially women-owned SMEs in Ghana and beyond.

    9 – Elizabeth Mwangi from Kenya and her startup Gwiji for Women, connecting cleaners living in the slums of Nairobi with their clients.

    10 – Marisa Paramita from Indonesia and her startup Ibu Punya Mimpi, a web platform with online education and job opportunities for mothers in Indonesia and beyond.

    11 – Carol Kakooza from Uganda with aXiom Zorn Foundation, connecting farmers with business and financial services in Uganda.

    12 -Karina Ojanguren from Argentina and startup Humana Digital Health, virtual family doctor.

    13- Aira Mongush from Tyva (Russia) and her startup Mathshub, an ed-tech project with free fundamental programming and data analysis skills for everyone and personalized career programs.

    14 – Lauren Yen from USA and Fronted Records, customizable health applications to empower underserved clinics.

    15 – Adila Shaukat from Pakistan and her startup Shemote, a project supporting women working from home with training and consultancy.

    16 – Hira Saeed and Faiza Yousuf from Pakistan and their startup CaterpillHERs, an ed-tech training project and job marketplace.

    17 –  Sonia Majeethia from India and the Kadamb Inclusive Learning Tools, a web platform that provides comprehensive guides focusing on enabling students with learning disabilities to study independently.

    18 – Iva Gumnishka from Bulgaria and Humans in the Loop, data annotation services for computer vision.

    19 – Loide Dawid from Namibia and her project K-12EdTech.Inc, an app that enables education in the metaverse.

    20-Anna Ngwenyi Mafor from Cameroon and her app GreenAgain, increasing farmers’ crop productivity by diagnosing diseases in plants that are difficult to diagnose physically or manually.

    21- Aggaris Anggia (Ghea) Cininta P. from Indonesia and her project GenEd, an education-based solution focusing on empowering educators.

    22- Namya Mahajan from India and her Rocket Learning, digital teacher-parent communities.

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