Tim Kayode Akano, Managing Director and CEO of New Horizon Systems Solutions, a Lagos- based ICT firm, regularly issues out informed commentaries on key national and international issues. In this chat with Ayo Arowolo, Akano who says he has done extensive research over the past three months to understand the dimensions of Nigeria’s current economic situation concludes that Nigeria is in a serious life support and it would take a miracle to prevent it from relapsing into a coma . Excerpts:
There is hunger, fear and pessimism all over Nigeria today – what do you think the Buhari administration should do to bring quick relief?
I have both the good news and the bad news for Nigerians at this moment.The bad news first: there is no equilibrium in poverty, suffering and pains- it can always get worse. But, here is the good news: Nigeria is a maturing democracy and since Nature abhors a vacuum, when enough people truly have their backs on the walls, something will give way. Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention.
At the level of spirituality, I strongly believe that this crisis is necessary for the nation’s much awaited moral rebirth. There is no other way through which God can make a wayward nation become disciplined and focused without going through near-death excruciating pains as we are witnessing.
In essence, there is no quick fix. The rot is systemic, endemic, and partly genetic. This kind of ‘Nigeria-ailment’ is peculiar; it will, for total healing to happen, require a mixture of prayer and fasting, sweat and blood. It’s certainly not today that the rain started ‘beating’ us.
The irony of it all is that the people who sin are not the ones suffering. The political elite with their cronies in the Judiciary, Civil Service and the business world and their foreign collaborators brought this ‘peculiar mess’ on the nation. The masses and the middle class who are now suffering could be rightly accused of docility, though. And the consequences of docility are mass retrenchments, children dropping out of schools and ‘ death-on-sales’- death is now very cheap ( buy-one-get –two-free- sort-of-discounted death is now a common place in the rural communities) because Paracetamols are beyond the reach of the poor, retail ailments like cold and fever are now killing people randomly. The Ruling Elite has what it takes to live in opulence for 1000 years with their family members without going to the bank one day for any transactions.
Be that as it may, peculiar problems require peculiar solutions. If President Buhari can muster enough political courage- let him get the CBN and the National Assembly to outlaw completely the usage of the following currency bills from circulation: N1000, N500, $100 and $50 with effect from 1st of January 2017. We can make do with other foreign convertible currencies from China and Japan as a nation.
Will this solution immediately bring jobs, food and medicine to the table? No. Will it bring justice, equity and fairness? Yes. How? The punishment will be even. The volume of dead money in Nigeria today stuffed in mattresses, septic and water tanks, underground bunkers is mind-boggling. I believe about 70 per cent of the stolen money is not only in cash but it is in those four denominations of naira and USD.
Since it is dead money- PMB could as well finish it off by burying the money and allow its ghost go home and rot in hell.
But for those who have genuinely earned their cash – they should be allowed to deposit it in the bank within the first fifteen days of 2017 to reflate the economy. Immediately our naira will get relief.
As an Entrepreneur and ICT practitioner, what has been the impact of this recession on businesses in general and ICT sector in particular?
Taking the blood pressure of a patient is the first thing a doctor does when you get to the clinic. This is because there is a one-to-one relationship between the amount of pressure in your veins and your overall wellbeing. The higher the blood pressure- the closer the patient is to hypertension, heart diseases, and ultimately, strokes.
The same scenario is applicable to Nation-States.
As at today, Nigerian economy’s blood pressure test shows something like a systolic of270 and a diastolic of 190- 1.e. 270/190mm. With this level of stress, the Nigeria economy is dangerously regressing from hypertensive level (Recession) to stroke level (Depression). From Depression, a partial or total paralysis (Destruction) is not impossible. In a word: Nigeria economy is on a life-support machine as we speak. Will it slip into coma?
Could you comment more on the dimension of the crisis?
Frankly speaking, the time on the Nigeria watch right now is 15 minutes past the hour. By 2017, it will be half past the hour. And by 2018 it will be quarter to the hour. In a word, the year of full restoration is 2019! People should study how Americans survived in 1930, Argentines in 2001 and Japanese in 1989 and the on-going Venezuela economic crisis to prepare for the challenges ahead and to fully understand the signs of the times
What are the signs you see on the horizons that makes you arrive at this conclusion?
First, before we discuss the signs, let us ask ourselves: how did we get to this junction?
Nigeria can be likened to a couple with a very complicated and unhappy marriage; nonetheless, the couple is extremely blessed by Providence with all the good things of life: wonderful children; peaceful neighbors, and rich environment. But the couple lacks one thing: Discipline. Among the children bestowed by God to the couple called Nigeria are – Agriculture as the eldest child followed by Manufacturing, then Mining, followed by the Services , then Oil, which is the fifth child, followed by Information Communication Technology (ICT) – the sixth and the last born.
But tragically as soon as the Couple called Nigeria had the fifth child called The Black Gold and saw how beautiful, attractive she was, ebony black , easy money-spinner -even in its crudest form- Nigeria, the couple, abandoned the other children and allowed them to suffer and, indeed, waste away. With huge ecstasy, Nigeria cuddles The Black Gold, turn it to ATM for about four decades, treats her like gold that she is to the level of even refusing to bath her (Refining) or send her to school to add value to her (value-chain enhancement). Suddenly, the Black Gold beauty began to fade, her value depreciated, and other nations started giving birth to Black Gold – Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Chad, Congo, Venezuela, Iran, USA,- Black Gold is now everywhere. The Nigeria Black Gold is no more special.it has lost the sweetness and bride- status she enjoyed for forty years. In fairness to Lady Black Gold, she shit about $600Billion for the Nigeria couple within those four decades without any commensurate development to show for it. And she did more unofficial billions of US Dollar shit which are in private pockets of Nigerians and foreigners.
On page 16, paragraphs one of Marc Rich biography- the King of Oil, after making so much billions of dollars from Nigeria, Marc concluded: ‘Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and indeed, the undisputed Global Headquarters of Corruption…’
Today, The Black Gold’s capacity to shit US Dollar at the same volume, value, and velocity of yesteryears has been weakened by a combination of factors.
Consequently, wholesales hunger and anger, untold frustration and disillusionment coupled with total hopelessness have now enveloped the nation that once bragged that money was not a problem but how to spend it. It is bad enough for a nation to be running on one kidney but more criminal to not even maintain the one kidney, which is what Nigeria did. Nigeria is paying for its sin(s). To be sure, there are over 200 by-products of crude oil that can create wealth and jobs for Nigerians that we failed to exploit. Now the chicken has come home to roost, Things are Falling Apart, the Falcon can no longer hear the Falconer. Nigeria is stranded at what Yoruba call – ‘’Orita-Meta’ (T-junction) – dazed, wearing a garment of shame and pessimism, lacking in self-esteem and bereft of wisdom as to which way to turn that will lead her to the promised land. Obviously, the fault is not in our Stars, but rather, in us.
What would you say are the national and international dimensions of the situation?
There are seven major signs nationally and three major international shifts that I have observed so far.
Signal 1: Dead Money- there is currently unbelievable huge amount of dead money in Nigeria- i.e. money stuffed in mattresses, water tanks, toilets, on the cassava plantation farms, underground bunker. I learned some of those deserted ghost-looking houses in Abuja are warehouse of dead money. This money is not in circulation to create jobs and reflate the economy. Any country where the volume of dead money is excessively high, watch it, rain of recession is nearby.
Signal 2: Low Naira/Dollar Velocity- the higher the velocity of money, the stronger the economy as a result of multiplier effect. As at today, the naira velocity is at its lowest level in the nation’s history. Nobody is spending because of uncertainty of tomorrow. There is massive loss of faith in the system. Everyone is expecting the rain to start pouring sooner than later.
Signal 3: Huge Assets Price Decline/ Devaluation– all over Nigeria cities today – you see signs of ‘’To Let- Distressed Sales- Call The Owners Directly’’ This is a colour of trouble. Home- owners are selling not to build new businesses but rather to buy food, drugs and pay school fees. This only happens in a war- torn country. This economic violence obviously has the same effect like physical war on Nigerians.
Signal 4: Emergence Of MMM Economy (for want of better terminology I call it: ‘Miracle Money Machine’)
When interest on fixed deposit, loans and Treasury Bills is in the upper double digits then there is trouble: banks now offers 20% per annum on fixed deposit, then, where is the incentive to do business when you are not sure of making 15% Returns on Investment at the end of the year? Worse still, the bank interest on loan today is hovering around 30%. So what do you sell to make profit – It is worse in the black market, where interest rate on unsecured loan is 15% per month and 180% per year! This is why about 70% of SMEs have totally lost capacity to function.
Then suddenly from the blues MMM- has become the life wire of Nigerian economy. People are selling their cars to invest and make unbelievable returns from 30% to 100% within few weeks. I was told that if not for MMM, there would have been revolution in the land, that people would have taken to the streets to protest hunger in anger. The massive patronage of MMM is a sign that people are frustrated and do not care about the longer term ruins it will plunge them into.
Signal 5 : Social Damage- The rate at which marriages are collapsing , the rate of child prostitutions, ritual killings, kidnapping, suicide, mental illness in Nigeria today has no equal in the history of Nigeria. One of the fast-moving businesses in Nigeria today is Diagnostic Centers because people are falling sick at a faster rate than before. This is a signal of an ailing economy progressing from hypertension to strokes.
Signal 6: Political Implosion- . All countries that went from Recession to Depression to Destruction were all victims of both economic and political violence. Think of USSR, Yugoslavia, Venezuela, etc. When you combine economy suffering from high blood pressure with Hot Politics – the result is always almost destruction for the country. The on-going power game among the different four power bases that came together to form APC may compound the recession and prolong recovery.
Signal 7: Indecision– In 18 months, government has been very sloppy in tackling the issue of multiple and rising foreign exchange rates.
This was how it all started in Venezuela- today people queue up to obtain ‘ purchase voucher’ from government to buy tissue paper, drinks and milk from supermarkets in Venezuela and you have only one chance per month, per family to buy essential commodities.
All these seven Signs are present in Nigeria today and they are signs that 2017 may be worse than 2016
What about International Shifts?
Yes there have been three major international Shifts that will have all round effect on Nigeria economy in 2017.
Shift One- America Debilitating Trillion- Dollar Debit: USA will likely witness some form of economic recession sometime in 2017. The fall-out effect will be global.
America has been living above its means for the past twenty years. The national debt has risen by an average of more than 1.1 trillion dollars yearly since Barack Obama became Captain, and in 2016 alone America is on pace to add more than 2 trillion dollars to the debt.
As I write, America’s national debt is a huge $19,901,545,151,126.51, and still climbing and most likely to cross the 20 trillion dollar mark by the time President DT is inaugurated on January 20, 2017.
Obama inherited 10.6 trillion dollars debts, but in 8 years our brother from Kenya doubled it by adding about 9.3 trillion dollars to the debt.
Indeed report from McKinsey is scarier. It put the USA total debt at $51trillion. The yearly consumer spending in the USA is estimated at $11.2 trillion yet the amount of money in circulation officially is about $250 billion. The implication of all this is that the volume of Dead Money is extremely high in the USA, which is a sign of stress that can trigger recession in 2017. This is also making cash dollar to skyrocket in value. People are becoming afraid of tomorrow so they are keeping cash Dollar also under their mattresses in the US as I write. The $20 trillion America debt is not sustainable; it is a major threat that may beget a major negative economic shift globally in 2017. Since about 25% of our oil sales come from Americans, if countries like China that is holding the American Treasury Bills decide to make a call for their money – just to spite the President DT- we should be prepared for a weaker demand of our oil from the USA. Does Nigeria have alternative market to the USA at the moment?
International Shift 2: Nationalism 2.0- This brand of nationalism will signal the contraction of globalization and free trade and the enthronement of Thomas Hobbes State of Nature where life is short, brutish and nasty.
The rise of unbridled Nationalism as epitomized by Brexit and the triumph of Trump in the US is a major threat to globalization. From France to Germany, Italy, to Netherlands, the new song in town is ‘’ to thy tent…..’’
Not that Nigeria has benefitted greatly from globalisation- No. We are a mono- economy- exporting crude oil in its cruddiest form, bereft of value. We do not have a second economy and infrastructure which we can fall back upon immediately in the new unusual world. The infrastructure to make Nigeria become a producing nation as against a consuming nation will take three years of hard, consistent and deliberate activities. In the new World, Nigeria will still remain a dumping ground for China products If Trump puts tariff of 35% on all Chinese products going to the US as he has threatened, this will make Chinese to be more desperate to colonize Africa economically because we are seriously indebted to them. Giving China unrestricted access to our market is like mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren.
International Shift 3:- A New Orphan World In The Making- In the past, the former USSR and America were the two super powers ruling the world and bringing balance through terror. When USSR expired and collapsed, the World came under a single parenting with America as the new foster single father. But with the emergence of President Trump- things are bound to change. Trump-Putin on-going courtship which may likely lead to marriage will alter the world equation as it affect US-Europe relationship, US-China, US-Japan/South Korea and US-Africa. If Trump throws Europe under the moving bus, Germany and England will not fold their arms and be watching. If Trump pushes China, which it has labeled a currency manipulator, China will fight back and dirty economically. If Trump abandons NATO, there will be major realignments of power. All this will have serious implications on the Nigeria fragile economy as from 2017. The world is presently in a state of flux; Japan is on the edge, ditto Germany, South Korea and China- waiting for Trump moves. Nigeria needs to have its own Plan “B” in the midst of all these global uncertainties.
How can Nigeria profit from this coming global disorder?
First, Nigeria should reposition itself as Africa’s business Hub. To that extent, we should encourage Lagos state government to build its proposed Airport in Lekki to international standard so that it can serve the African market. Two, Britain is single and searching for a new partner after fantastically but foolishly separating from the European Union recently. She has her eyes on China and Africa. We have a good chance of marrying Britain cheap on our own terms if we get our acts together. England needs the African market more than any other thing now. Three, Japan is on the edge- it does not want Trump to throw her under the bus. Japan has a budget of $100 billion to invest in Africa and other developing countries. We should allow Britain and Japan to have access to the Federal government Free Trade Zone in Lekki, since the Chinese controls the Lagos Lekki Free Trade Zone.
In the interim, Nigeria needs urgent blood transfusion. The blood level is too low for comfort. This is why PMB should move fast and either borrow or sell the refineries / other unproductive assets or do oil- for- cash deal at a competitive and transparent pricing to generate immediate cash to stop the nation from slipping into coma. If nothing tangible is done before June 2017, the consequences may be fatal for Nigeria. I am aware of a couple of Multilateral Funding Agencies that can fund projects in excess of the $30 billion which Nigeria is seeking for.
Finally, as Captain of the football team that has not scored a goal at half-time, PMB should fire his Team members; 75% of them can’t light matches!
What do you consider as the critical success factors that will eventually drive the recovery of the Nigeria economy?
There are five critical success factors I could put my hands upon immediately. First Factor is Lagos. Second is Dangote. Third is Agriculture. Fourth is Abuja. Fifth is Direct Foreign Investments
1 Lagos Mega City Project: Something big is going on in Lagos; unfortunately most analysts have not been able to connect the dots. At the government level there is the Lagos state Mega City Project which includes the construction of the ambitious 4th Mainland bridge supported by JP Morgan which will gulp close to a trillion naira and be ready in about three years. Also at the government level there is another budget of close to a trillion naira in 2017 for infrastructural development of Lagos.
At the private level there is- the Eko Atlantic City – the Africa Dubai city. When completed, about 500,000 quality residents and workers will inhabit the city.
Two, the Lekki Free Trade Zone about sixty companies are already within the Zone and more are to come – when completed it will house about one million quality workers and residents.
Three, The New Planet Team is putting together a $2.5 billion massive, project that will put Lagos on the world map of tourism and hospitality permanently and serves as a catalyst for foreign exchange earner for Nigeria. This is one project that will support the Lagos State Government along the hospitality window and employ about 200,000 people.
The second critical success factor is Dangote. As at today, Dangote is to Nigeria what Samsung is to the Koreans, what Toyota is to the Japanese, what Ford is to the Americans and what TATA is to the Indians. The second biggest opportunity for Nigeria’s economic revival today is not Federal Government, it is Dangote! If an individual is investing over $20 billion to build a colony of companies that will put over 250,000 Nigerians to gainful employments- then it could be said without fear of contradiction that Dangote is more active than the Nigeria Federal Government in creating jobs and wealth opportunities.
But Nigeria needs at least ten Dangotes competing with one another. Government should consciously groom local entrepreneurs and patronize locally made products.
The third critical success factor is Agriculture- I read what Minister Audu Ogbeh put together in the Green Alternative Road Map book the very day and very hour it came out. I believe we should become food- self-sufficient within three years with what I can see all around me from Anambra to Kebbi, Ebonyi, Niger, and others. To get to the Promised Land, however, we have to discount the government role and see it as bonus if something good comes from Abuja. We are not competitive presently in any crop or product, save cassava. For instance, the number one Cocoa exporter in the world today is Ivory Coast, Yam is Ghana, and Plantain is Uganda. Kenya does extremely well in exporting flower to Europe. Vietnam is the Cashew Tiger, while India is Mango leader. America is wheat; Thailand and Cambodia are rice experts. The Audu Ogbeh book does not have strategies to compete and win Gold at the Agriculture Olympics Game; it only contains strategy to participate. This is something Abuja should look into and commission experts to work it out.
The fourth critical success factor is Abuja (i.e. what decisions PMB and his Economic Team take on Foreign Exchange rate, Privatization, Taxation, and Rail lines construction). We need to throw away emotion and sell off all those government organisations that have become unprofitable. It is obvious to the blind that Nigerian government cannot run any business at a competitive profit. Imagine if we still hang on to NITEL by now? NNPC refineries cannot survive Dangote competition just the same way NITEL could not withstand MTN.
Fifth, there has been a continuous behind the scene in-flow of Foreign Direct Investment in Lagos and some other parts of Nigeria. According to reports from Africa Capital Digest, Tana Africa Capital recently sold its 25% interest in Promasidor Group to Ajinomoto Co. for $399 million. The deal came about as part of the Japanese manufacturer’s $532 million transaction to acquire a 33.3% stake in the privately held FMCG Company. Another one is tagged the biggest off-grid solar deal to date in Africa. Lumos Global, an off-grid solar company operating in Nigeria closed a $90 million round of debt and equity financing. There have been dozens of these deals going on in Nigeria of late which will all congregate in two to three years to strengthen the economy.
Based on the above on- going projects in Lagos (4th Mainland Bridge, Eko Atlantic City, Lekki Free Trade Zone and The New Planet and FDI) coupled with the dynamism of Governor Ambode of Lagos, I am convinced that over 1,000,000 quality jobs will be created in the next three years and over $15 billion in foreign exchange conserved with concomitant multiplier effects in the economy. Thus, our national currency, which has been suffering from erectile dysfunction will regain its erectility and potency and stand once again shoulder-to- shoulder with the American dollar. Here is the basis of my optimism that 2019 will be a turning point for Nigeria, and the premise is that 75% of the recovery job will be private-sector-driven- and not PMB and Abuja.
Why should Nigeria depend on Lagos for its economic revival- is it safe?
No, it is not safe. Just the same way I have been advocating for the deliberate creation of ten Dangotes through government patronage of locally made goods in Nigeria for the past ten years. I will also advocate for the creation of six Regional Economic Development Hubs (REDH) in Kano, Yola, Jos, Enugu, Ibadan and Port Harcourt. We need to create competitions for Lagos from everywhere; secondly for strategic security reason it is not safe to have Lagos as the only viable place for commercial activities. If there is war between us and our neighbors, Lagos becomes our soft spot. Today, Lagos is competing against itself.
What hope do we have on job opportunities? Which ICT skills can get our youths hired either locally or internationally in 2017?
In every situation, there will always be an exemption. Oasis in the midst of desert will continue to be discovered by those who have eagle eyes. The task is to locate where the oasis are in this period of recession and get the information out to our youths so that they can equip themselves accordingly. There are ten hot ICT skills that can get our youths and even adults hired both nationally and internationally in 2017.
1. Cloud and Distributed Computing- organisations are all relocating to the cloud and taking not only an apartment but a whole house in order to remain competitive. Therefore the number one person they are looking for is that fellow with cloud and distributed computing.
2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining- The job of analysts cannot be replaced by Robots yet. With all the information coming from Social Media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Tweeter, etc, the employer treasures the Analysts who can look at this information and come up with useful top lines that Management can use in taking decisions.
3. Web Architecture and Development Framework- Web Architect and Developers have been in great demand for the last ten years. There is no sign it will slow down for the simple reason that almost all business transactions are done using the website today. From Airlines, to Security Agencies to Retailers – all need Web Developers of highest grade.
4. Middleware and Integration Software- the ICT industry is in need of Software integrators that can connect several software and make them to have a seamless handshake
5. User Interface Design- In business today- Data is King. Employers are looking for people with user interface design that will make available mountain of data useful for their customers. This is why experts in User interface Design will not smell recession in 2017.
6. Network and Information Security- Network and information security are like Siamese twins and they will ever be relevant in the ICT industry. A lot of companies suffer heavy data breach in 2016. We are in a new networked-world where Internet of Everything ( IoE) reign supreme. Therefore, the safety of the information in the cloud, the driverless car, the connected devices is key to employers. Whoever can protect the information 24/7 will be treasured.
7. Mobile Development- We are all going Mobile, on-the-go 24/7. The much expected convergence has come and it is on mobility. This is why anyone who can bring new solutions to Mobile devices will be in hot demand.
8. Data Presentation- there is a new boy in the house. It’s a brand new skill employers are looking for globally. Anyone who can show, not tell data will be in high demand: Show me, tell me not. Data presentation is basically about visualizing data, employers need employees who can organize data in a beautiful concise way bereft of jargons and technicalities to make it easier for all stakeholders- shareholders, Directors, Management, Customers and Suppliers and staff to understand.
9. Social Media Marketer ( SMM)- Even though globally, the demand for Marketing Campaign and Channel Marketing is slowing down. But here in Nigeria we do not have enough Social Media Marketers. All churches, industries, Government Agencies will continue to hire Social Media Marketers for a long time to come in Nigeria.
10. Storage Systems and Management- It is not enough to have data, ability to store it and get it retrieved when needed, disaster recovery mangers, business Continuity skills and Management will always be in good and steady demand.
Will Robots replace human beings, when and how? Which profession will disappear and which ones will emerge in the new economy?
The answer is yes and No. Robots will take away some jobs but new jobs will be created in the process. The challenge is to prepare our youths with a new educational curriculum that will help them compete in the new era of Robotic Technologies. A few years ago people would have argued that it is not possible for a computer to beat the best human in the world at Jeopardy. However, in 2011, IBM’s supercomputer Watson bested two former Jeopardy superstars, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Today IBM Watson is being used at Cleveland Clinic in the US to assist physicians and improve the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis and treatments. In this case, Watson augments the skills of physicians, creating more demand for doctors with access to the supercomputer. True, some professions like journalism, Teaching, Driving, and Receptionists etc will witness heavy usage of Super Computer in the next few years. For example, recently a driverless truck was successfully tested on a 300km journey in the US without an accident. Google, Amazon, Apple and Uber and others are relentlessly researching into driverless cars which I see happening in the next two to three years.
But professions like Nursing, Psychologists, Physiotherapist, Computing, Medical Sciences, and Investment Advisors, etc will never go down in value but rather increase.
What are the seven hottest ICT trends to expect in 2017?
1 Mobility- Everyone in your Team is on the go, the journalists, bankers, Pilots etc. At the same time you want to connect with your customers, team mates and superiors in the office. Giving people access to use their own devices to navigate your network will continue to pose challenges to BYOD security.
2 Internet of Everything- Today we have Coffee pot with IP addresses that you can communicate with via network. There is ATM Pizza machine with internet enable, there are children pampers that can give warning to the mother when the pamper is wet. There is virtually nothing that has power that we cannot connect with other things. This poses serious security challenges as well. The more things connect the more vulnerable the world becomes.
3 Big Data: Today Police everywhere make use of information in their Big Data to fish out crime in their hide-out without necessarily disturbing the peace of other neighbors with siren targeting crime hot spots at a given point in time based on real-time and historical data in their Super computer. However building new data architectures to fix mountain of data and in real-time mode, is not as big a challenge as getting people with the appropriate skill set to work with.
4 Business value dashboards- Every business will like to see action live on their business dashboards. You want to see every transaction going on within your network live, even hacking activities also. There is a new cyber security company that launched a new product two weeks ago in the US that allows you 100% visibility on the dashboard of all the incidences regarding your business. This will remain the trend in 2017 and beyond.
5 Webscale IT Architecture- The CEOs will challenge the CIOs on why and how their respective organisations could do what Google, Facebook and Amazons are doing. For better or worse, business leaders want to know why you can’t do what Google, Facebook and Amazon do. However, legacy hardware and software architecture are not designed with such capability. Which means this trend relies on software-defined everything and open philosophies coupled with attitudinal change on the part of ICT Team.
6 Intelligent Technologies- Human-like Robots, Drones with deadly capacity, Autonomous vehicles, Autonomous Soldiers – all this and many more will continue to become mainstreams. Intelligent APPS like Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) that will assist the CEOs in highlighting important emails and urgent matters to respond to real-live.
7 Multilayered Cyber Security- Now that everything is going to be connected and since everything that is connected can be hacked then we have the issue of security to battle. This is why cyber security will move to a new level of Multilayered- cyber security.
How has it been with your business in 2016 and what new things do we expect in 2017?
We thank God that despite all the challenges and uncertainties we are able to overcome. In 2017 we plan to introduce new courses to the market like Robotics Technologies, Embedded Engineering, Big Data, Social Media Consulting, and new security courses among others. This is with a view to equipping the workforce with new skills that will be required as the economy takes a new dimension in recession and recovery
What are the three best pieces of advice you have ever received that you want to share with younger entrepreneurs?
The three best pieces of advice I have received from my mentors are permanently written on the table of my heart. One is that entrepreneurs should not hesitate to ask for help when in trouble. ‘Tim they don’t shoot you for asking’- ‘DS’- will always tell me. ‘The worst answer you get is a No’.
Second: ‘hang-on when the going gets tough and pains become almost unbearable. ‘Don’t come down’: ‘the darkest part of the night is the one that is closest to day-break’- I was admonished. Nothing can happen to you that have not happened to others before. If I did not die for taking hot loans called ‘Boku-O-Ku’ in Yoruba language (i.e. where you as a borrower will sign an agreement like this: ‘Borrower beware, for you may die as a result of stringent conditions attached to the loan you are about to take and in the event that you die without paying the loan, the lender will not allow your corpse to be buried until your relatives pay up the capital and interest up to the day of your death’). These are the kind of money they charge you 15% per month or 180% per year. Most SMES in Nigeria look for a poisonous solution like this when cash dries up in their business, which always almost happens to all Start-Ups.
Three; I was told and believe now that every disappointment is a blessing in disguise. Every disaster is a rapped opportunity. One day sometime between 2008 and 2009, the Managing Director of a bank gave me one ‘Hot Information’ that his Bank ‘ABC’ stock will climb from N22.00 to N66.00 per share within the next 3 months. And that I could use my house as collateral to get a loan of about N100 million, and the bank will give me additional N200 million as stock- loan to buy the bank’s stocks worth about N300 million which I could sell for N1 billion in three months. Who does not want to become a Billionaire? Most banks were involved in this kind of practice in those days and most of the big men were involved as well- they call it insider trading. My wife stopped me from participating in the ‘’Deal Of The Year’- I was angry with her though then. Today, I have learned how to tap into women’s instinct when taking certain risks. Women have sharper, stronger instinct than men!
Thirty days later: the bubble burst. Just like volcanoes, the Nigeria stock market caught hot fire, it crashed, and heavily too. Overnight, big men of yesterday became jelly taking permanent abode in their doctor’s clinic to bring down their blood pressure. People lost their monies, houses and some even died in the process. Several marriages collapsed because both wife and husband had made secret investments that were not known to each other until the house roof came down. The said bank died as well.
The lesson I learned from the 2008/2009 stock crash is that there is no short cut to Good Success- it is a narrow, lonely, frustrating pathway meant for the courageous and positively crazy people who are blind to fear and immune to criticism. The pains: always almost heavy; the scare: always almost permanent, but the joy: indescribable. The beauty of butterfly comes as a result of hardship it went through trying to get out of its shell; it has to use its wings to break the shell all alone. The blood that flows from its veins in that process bring about the butterfly beauty that people admire. When I see the people we have been able, by God’s help, provide jobs for.
When I see millions of students we have trained in ten years some of them doing great overseas and some now CIOs of banks and Multinationals in Nigeria, and when I look at some of the permanent scare on my body covered by cotton, which can be traced to this entrepreneurship endeavor, I smile, with deep satisfaction, that with the gift of one life, value has been created, joy has been multiplied and thousands of candles have been lit with just one candle and still lightning.
As an entrepreneur, I have learned that the joy is the process, the pains, the mistakes, the disappointments, the anxieties on the road to the Canaan land- and not the destination itself. In trying to make a difference, I have learned in the school of life the hard way that if you want to get pregnant you can’t stay a virgin.