Edmond Ajoge:  We Must Bring Down the Cost of Running Tournaments

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By Stanley Nkwazema

For four years, Edmond Ajoge, through Tombim Sports Foundation has shouldered the sponsorship of an International Tennis Federation-sanctioned tournament in Abuja. Three seasons ago, Engineer Dayo Akindoju joined in the sponsorship before he was elected the President of Nigeria Tennis Federation also joining the train is Bayo Okusanya through GSL, now in its second edition. This brings three weeks of uninterrupted international tennis to the Federal Capital Territory.

Interestingly, even as the last edition was concluded recently, it was yet a pipe dream for the Nigerian players as Brazilians won the Tombim and GSL tournaments and Sweden’s only entrant, Markus Eriksson, won the Dayak leg of the International Tennis. After following the editions and sharing the challenges faced by the sponsors, who indeed deserve commendations for the daunting task of bringing players aiming for the top level of the pro circuit, Ajoge told THISDAY that he feels happy impacting on tennis in Nigeria.
Ajoge said: “God has given us the grace. We have done four editions. It has been very challenging. Everything, everywhere in the world is now a challenge coupled with the economic situation in Nigeria. It is a bit difficult but we are committed to it and by the grace of God we will see it through.

“When we set out to do these four years ago, it was one of the things we had in mind. But like they say, man proposes and God disposes. That was part of our dream but we have not been able to do that because right now, achieving it in the near future is very tight for few reasons. One of them is the fact that we don’t have very good players in this country. It doesn’t have to do with only tennis, it is just the way our country is right now, and we are all in a mess in all facets of life in this country. So, sports are no exception and tennis in particular is just one of it.
“You find kids, instead of them training to be somebody in life, all they are taking about is money. They have the wrong set of people as their mentors. That is the biggest problem we have in tennis today. The Nigeria Tennis Federation is working towards that and one of the things they are trying to do is to develop our players at the grassroots level; reason they had a tournament recently called ‘play your age’. The NTF President is pushing so hard to achieve the best in that regard and see to it that he can replicate it three or four times in a year.  If that can happen regularly, we will have the privilege to see our local players grow into better players and get to maybe the Semi-finals or the finals of the Tombim, Dayak and GSL Tournaments.

“It’s quite unfortunate, the foreign players come here and they look forward to playing this tournament every year; they know they will come to Nigeria and pick the points and walk away. There is no resistance from any Nigerian player.”
It is no longer news that a particular set of officials dominate the tournaments in Nigeria almost monopolising the officiating due to the fact that tennis enthusiasts doesn’t seem  interested in running the lines. Ajoge said: “It was a battle for us like three years. We were on it and finally last month, we were able to accomplish it. The way we function in Nigeria as a people, whatever we are used to doing, we do not want to change and I felt that we could do something to it. We have done it repeatedly for a few years and there is no difference and if you still continue to do it that way, of course, that is what is called madness.
“You have tournaments in Lagos, Kano and other places and you are bringing people from Taraba to come and officiate in tournaments in Lagos. It doesn’t make any sense. If we can develop our data and equally develop a good number of officials everywhere in the country, then that makes life easier for us in this country. If you have a tournament in Abuja then the residents in Abuja will do it. My aim is to bring down the cost of running tournaments in this country as low as possible. When you do that, you will see many people coming in to assist with hosting as many tournaments as possible with little amount of money.
“It is possible. But before now, the cost of running tournaments in Nigeria is up there; you to pay the officials, their transport, accommodation and all these raise the cost of tournaments. I can guarantee that if there is any tournament in Abuja and I am invited, I will commute from my house.

According to Ajoge, one of the goals is to get Nigerian players rated by ITF and the ATP. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve that because the players are not ready to sacrifice; most of them are not disciplined. The second part is to bring as many tournaments to the country as possible. We have been able to achieve that. We have three which runs for weeks here in Abuja. Hopefully, more people are joining us to run more tournaments. The other is also to bring down the cost and we are going to achieve that with every opportunity we have. We now have many volunteers ready to run around with each tournament which therefore encourages others to be part of the train.

Raising Africa’s Hope of Digital Migration with Digital Technology 
The 2018 Digital Dialogue Conference facilitated by MultiChoice Africa, has raised hope among African countries that the current drive for nations to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting, will reposition Africa in today’s digital era, writes Emma Okonji

M ultiChoice Africa, penultimate week, played a major role in the just concluded 2018 Digital Dialogue Conference, which held in Dubai, UAE, by facilitating it to further create a better understanding of the future direction of the video entertainment industry in Africa. Already in its fifth year, the conference was established in 2012 to create a better understanding of digital migration and its impact on Africa’s digital landscape. Since then, the independent and growing platform has been critical in fostering a better understanding and building knowledge on video entertainment and digital terrestrial markets while creating necessary conversations with thought leaders about various industry-related issues.

African countries have been battling to conclude the process of digital migration, which is designed to phase out analogue television broadcasting and usher in digital broadcasting in the TV and entertainment industry. Nigeria is still in the process of completing the entire digital migration process, having covered some few cities where it has launched the Digital Switchover (DSO), as it is fondly called in Nigeria.
Digital Migration in Africa
The rapid advances in digital technology in Africa has created new opportunities to innovate on content delivery, however, while “the digital disruption has and will change how people consume digital products, as people who are invested and committed to the future of Africa, it is our collective responsibility to play an active role in making sure our continent benefits from this opportunity”. These insights were shared by the CEO of General Entertainment at MultiChoice, Yolisa Phahle, on the first day of the fifth edition of the Digital Dialogue.

Speaking in front of a delegation comprising of several international industry thought-leaders and key media stakeholders from across the African continent, Phahle’s talk set the tone for the conference with its positive outlook into the future directions of video entertainment and how the industry is responding to the rapid change in technology when it comes to platforms of content delivery.
Key Insights
According to Phahle, “If you speak to any of the people involved in the early days of MultiChoice, one of the things they remind me of is the absolute necessity to not just understand what the future holds but to shape the future, to be a disrupter and if necessary even to cannibalise yourself.” She said it was the need to be innovative that made Multichoice to launch GOtv in spite of the reach of DStv, adding that that was possible because the company was launched by people who were creating a media group not for the present, but one for the future.

“We produce over 16 local content channels across the continent showcasing local storytellers and created the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards that celebrate African film making, we work with local broadcasters so that East Africans can see what is happening in West and Southern Africa. As a company, we are looking forward to investing even more in telling local stories, documenting our history and providing a platform for Africans to share African stories,” Phahle said.
Speaking on MultiChoice vision for future digital content creation, Phahle said: “At MultiChoice, our vision is to be the best African story teller in the world, at the same time, we also promise to bring our customers the best international stories. Being able to tell the right story, at the right time to the right person is our absolute focus and if we are able to leverage the technology, and become obsessed with pleasing our customers, we will nullify the headwinds and use the tail winds to drive exponential growth for our collective future.”
The Nollywood Revolution

The CEO of Zuri24 Media Limited, Femi Odugbemi, who unpacked the Nollywood revolution to industry thought leaders at the conference, said: “If there has ever been an industry that created digital dialogue from the word go, it is Nollywood.” He reflected on Nollywood’s exponential growth since 1992 with the release of the classic ‘Living in Bondage’ and 2014 when it was declared a $3.3 billion sector by the Nigerian government.
According to him, in 2016, Nollywood’s combined Box Office topped a staggering N3.5 billion ($11.5 million) and in 2017 Nollywood was named one of the priority sectors identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $1 billion in export revenue by 2020.
MultiChoice said it was of the view that with the right digital content and enabling policies, Nigeria could be digitally ready to achieve digital migration.