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Conference convener (in blue and crested black shirt) Mary Chinda, Lovett Obiakalusi (last first right), Blogger Jenny Chisom (2nd Right) and other speakers at Dream FM 92.5 Enugu.

 The Single Ladies Conference organized by Mary Chinda Initiatives held in Enugu recently. The maiden conference which was organized by Rivers-born TV Host, Mary Chinda, was attended by hundreds of ladies and few men across the south east. Mary Chinda, the Enugu Television presenter and book writer, while introducing the theme of the conference ‘The Single Lady: Her Career, Love & Marriage’ said the essence of the conference was to get Single Ladies to be relevant, discover their God-ordained purpose before getting married."The Single Ladies Conference is not about feminism.

It is to empower the Single Woman to find herself before saying 'I do.' It's great when ladies explore their potentials that is, build their career before loving a man and staying married. It’s high time we make the men who will marry us proud by becoming the best version of ourselves. What are you bringing to the table beside your human hair wigs and expensive lipsticks?" She quizzed.

 

  Another speaker, Lagos-based Mrs. Lovett Obiakalusi who spoke to the ladies on 'Why You Ain't Married Yet' noted that single ladies must frantically prepare for marriage like they prepare for success in other areas of their life. "You can't come into a marriage with all your bad character and expect it to work. You discipline yourself to study 4 years to get a degree yet you don't discipline your character to be a wife in the future. You prepare for a job interview, a meeting, a church service, visa interviews and even examinations yet you sing prepare for 'wifehood’. You don't succeed in marriage cause you are 25,30 of 40.You succeed because of character. “she hinted. The wife and mum, with 23 years of experience who also doubles as the Convener of the Valiant Women Awards, advised the young ladies against extreme feminism pointing out that respect and submission reminds the demands of a man greater than sex. She said "Even as you make more money, single ladies must understand the difference between their roles as women--a helpmeet and their purpose--their assignment on earth." 

 

Similarly, Jenny Chisom, Africa’s pioneer men empowerment blogger and founder League of Extraordinary Men (LEM) begged single ladies to relish every day of their spinsterhood. She condemned the rush into marriage because of age and pressure from family.  The 36-year-old continued by saying "It's suicidal to marry a man for age, good sex or affluence." In the same vein, Convener of the conference, Mary Chinda, who dissected the mystery of 'Pain to Purpose' explained to the ladies that while self forgiveness is rife it is the key to breaking free from addictions and low self esteem troubles."You are not your past, let it go. The pains you go through melts you to a more purposeful version of yourself"  Enugu's popular OAP, Fabulos Gloria noted that the best way a lady can build her  career is to marry her friend. Other contributors, Dr Collins Chinda of the Benue State University and Sammy Ajufo, Enugu's media consultant, employed the ladies get a life rather than think marriage is the next big thing.  One of the participants, Success Oma, described the conference as insightful and worth the time.

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As we enter into the seventh month of the year, we often look at how far we have come and what we haven’t achieved. If you are looking at starting a up a business why not look t our list and carve  niche for yourself, instead of lolling round and waiting to be pushed.  After nearly10 years of undulating economic growth, the continent experienced a very sharp decline last year. The hardest hit was the major commodity exporters, especially Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.  Our very own

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, went through a recession and its currency took a severe beating, losing more than 60 percent of its value in less than 12 months; which we experienced, some of us took to twitter to curse  and rain abuses on ‘HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED’.

Well it’s not just us, In South Africa, pull-backs in mining operations and volatile commodity prices (especially for gold, platinum, and coal) led to increased unemployment and slow economic growth. And at this point, it’s tempting to think: “Are there still any viable business opportunities in Africa for us? “Is Africa still rising?”You see, for decades, the biggest business opportunities in Africa were created through “traditional” sources, especially from the trade and export of raw and non-value-added commodities such as crude oil, timber, gold, coal, cocoa, tea, coffee, leather and several others. Today, the wealth that is breeding a new generation of millionaires in Africa is being created through new and unconventional business opportunities.

 These business opportunities are simmering beneath Africa’s endless stream of unsolved problems, underserved needs and everyday frustrations. New wealth on the continent is emerging from solving problems and creating value, and not from “old school” resource extraction. In this post, we will share with you the top business opportunities on the continent that are very likely to make more millionaires in 2017.

  1. Financial Technology aka fintech

As the name implies, FinTech involves the use of technology to support and enable banking and financial services, making it easier, faster and cheaper to meet Africa’s underserved demand for financial services. In many countries on the continent, access to financial services is very poor. In most cases, just about one in five adults have a bank account, and most transactions are still done in cash. But since the wild success of M-Pesa, the revolutionary mobile money solution that has transformed financial services in East Africa, several innovative fintech products and services have erupted across the continent. Just a few months ago, Paystack, a Nigeria-based fintech business 1.3 million dollars from local and international investors. Paystack provides an online payments platform that allows local merchants to accept payments from around the world, via credit card, debit card, and direct bank transfer on web and mobile. Another fintech solution, TopCheck, helps users to compare prices of financial products such as various types of insurance and bank loans. It has attracted over 1million euros in investments and was recently acquired by South Africa’s Silvertree Internet Holdings. Snapscan the South Africa-based fintech service, allows consumers to make payments with their mobile phones by simply taking a photo of a QR code and punching in the amount they want to pay. These are only but a few examples.

There are hundreds of entrepreneurs on the continent behind fast-growing fintech companies such as Paga, Zoona, Interswitch, Wealth Migrate, Riovic, BitPesa and several others. Financial technology is hot in Africa right now because financial services are a severely underserved market, and a multi-billion dollar opportunity for the continent.

  1. Film & Movies

Over the last three years, three different blockbuster movies from Nollywood, Africa’s leading film industry, have broken local box office records back to back. Despite major economic difficulties and a tough recession, the wedding party a romantic comedy drama, has become one of the highest grossing African movies of all time, raking in over 400 million Nigerian Naira (just over $1 million) in less than 60 days after release. One million dollars in box office pickings may be pocket change by Hollywood standards, but it’s the scale and growth of business opportunities in Africa’s film industry that’s truly breathtaking. With a population of over 1 billion people, of which about 60 percent are young people below the age of 25, Africa presents a very fertile ground for its local film industry. The four biggest business opportunities in this industry are in film financing, production, distribution and exhibition. With less than one cinema per million people, Africa is the most underserved cinema market in the world. That’s why entrepreneurs like Kene Mkparu, who worked for many years with Odeon cinemas in the UK, have returned to the continent to explore lucrative opportunities in the African cinema market. Since launching his business, FilmHouse has opened Nigeria’s first IMAX movie theatre and about10 cinemas across the country in just a few years. In the film distribution space, home grown companies such as iroko are consolidating their positions on the African market. With nearly $40 million in funding, and a strategic partnership with Canal +, Iroko is widely regarded as “The Netflix of Africa”, serving films in over 35 countries on the continent. We are excited movie market by the prospects of Africa’s film and, and there’s no doubt in our minds that the rest of 2017 will be another year of blockbusters from the continent’s creative and entrepreneurial minds.

  1. Sports Betting

Often regarded as a complicated and controversial industry, sports betting is making a windfall in Africa. Africa’s young and fanatical sports fan base makes it a very promising market for the global sports betting industry we have noticed how a growing number of betting businesses in the US and Europe are expanding into Africa as they position themselves to tap into an explosive growth opportunity for sports betting on the continent. Lax laws on betting, a widespread use of mobile phones and increasing access to the internet have reduced the barriers to enter a 350-million strong African market, where nearly 50 percent of male adults in Nigeria, South Africa and several other countries are involved in active sports betting. In July 2016, SportPesa, the biggest sports betting business in East Africa, became the first organisation in Kenya to sponsor an English Premier League football club after it signed a 3 year deal with Hull City FC .Why would a sports betting company in Kenya spend over a million British Pounds on a sponsorship deal in the most-watched football league in Africa? Your guess is as good as mine: “expected high returns on investment.” Across the continent, in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and several other countries, hundreds of sports betting businesses are jostling for a greater share of this lucrative market as they spend handsomely on marketing, promotion and customer acquisition.It would be interesting to watch how this fast emerging industry evolves in 2017.

  1. Digital healthcare

Only a handful of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa can provide basic healthcare to all their citizens’. With less than one doctor per 20,000 persons in countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania, the healthcare industry in Africa is in a perilous state. But entrepreneurs across Africa are taking on these challenges by creating innovative digital healthcare solutions. These innovations, which include telemedicine, e-prescriptions and m-Health applications, are helping to free up congested health facilities from dealing with non-life-threatening conditions so they can provide better care to patients who require more critical care. In Uganda, Brian Turyabagye – a young entrepreneur – and his team have developed a bio medical kit for early diagnosis and continuous monitoring of pneumonia, a disease that kills half a million children in Sub-Saharan Africa every year, according to UNICEF. This kit, named “Mamaope” eliminates most human error, and diagnoses pneumonia at a rate three to four times faster than a doctor. In Nigeria, Redbank is a new service that helps hospitals and patients quickly and easily search and find safe blood supplies in real time via SMS. This could potentially save thousands of lives especially in emergency situations and for patients in need of critical blood transfusions. Across Africa, there is a growing trend of pharmaceutical firms looking to discover, support and partner with digital health start-ups. Last year, Merck – the global pharmaceutical giant expanded its digital accelerator program for the first time outside Germany to Nairobi, in East Africa.

  1. Renewable Energy

With a growing global bias for climate-friendly energy solutions, Africa has become an international test bed for innovative renewable energy solutions. According to a recent World Bank study, only one in three people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity. And up to 80 percent of households on the continent use firewood and charcoal as a primary energy source for cooking, endangering the continent’s fast-depleting forest resources. In Ghana, one company is harnessing the force of crashing ocean waves from the Accra coastline to generate electricity. Yam Pro Energy has secured a power purchase agreement (PPA) that allows it to sell the electricity it generates, and the project could provide up to 10,000 households with electricity. Across the continent, the solar energy revolution is in full swing. In East Africa, businesses such as M-Kopa Solar, Off Grid ElectricStemaCo and several others are lighting up Africa by using the power of the sun to provide low-cost electricity to unconnected households. In West Africa, where sewage collected from households is often dumped into rivers and the ocean, this business in Accra Ghana, converts smelly human waste into an odourless and energy-efficient fuel which looks exactly like charcoal and can be used for cooking. This year, the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will open in East Africa. This 6,000-megawatt power plant will be the largest dam and hydropower plant in Africa. Though a government-owned asset, this dam will be a major milestone in Africa’s progress toward a renewable energy-dependent future. Africa’s significantly underserved energy needs presents a lucrative market for renewable energy solutions and I expect more players will be drawn to this promising industry in 2017.

  1. Urban Transportation

The effects of rural-urban migration and natural population growth have overwhelmed transport systems and infrastructure in major cities and towns across Africa. According to the AfDB, Africa has experienced the highest urban growth in the developing world. During the last two decades, Africa’s urban population grew by 3.5 percent per year and this rate of growth is expected to hold into 2050, with some African cities accounting for up to 85 percent of the national population. While government authorities and urban dwellers are frustrated by the congestion, inefficiency and disorganized nature of urban transport systems on the continent, a growing number of businesses are exploring the business opportunities behind this underserved market. Uber, a highly successful multinational ride hailing business, is one of the big players harvesting the opportunities in Africa’s urban transport market. Now present in 12 cities across the continent, including Johannesburg, Lagos, Kampala, Nairobi, Rabat and Cairo, Uber has created a powerful platform for entrepreneurs and investors to reap the lucrative rewards of serving urban transport needs in Africa.Hundreds of entrepreneurs now earn recurring monthly revenues by putting cars on the Uber network, whose value proposition of convenience, affordability and comfort has created a loyal and fast-growing customer base of urban commuters. In 2017, more entrepreneurs and investors will be advancing innovative solutions to the urban transport problems in Africa. It’ll surely be an interesting industry to watch.

  1. Pay TV

There are over 100 million TV households in Sub-Saharan Africa .However, at the moment, just about 15 million of these households are pay-TV subscribers, and this number is expected to reach 30 million by 2021.Currently, the biggest players in these markets are South Africa’s MultiChoice, China’s StarTimes, East Africa’s AzamTV, Safaricom and Zuku TV. In Francophone Africa, Canal Plus Overseas remains the dominant operator. Africa’s large population and its youthful demographic makes the continent a very attractive market for the pay-TV industry. With annual revenues estimated at over $4 billion, there is still a lot of room for new players in this market. Africa’s growing internet penetration, rising Smartphone adoption, and digital migration will be the key growth drivers of the pay-TV market in Africa as niche offerings such as video-on-demand (VOD) and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) evolve. In 2017, we are seeing more PAYTV subscribers.

  1. Food Processing

It’s widely believed that Africa does not produce enough food to meet its own needs. The continent actually produces far less food per hectare than the world average. However, while food production remains a big challenge for the continent, post-harvest losses and waste are the biggest threats to food security in Africa. Due to inadequate processing options, a significant proportion of harvests from farms in Africa never make it to the final consumer. Right now, Africa’s biggest food problem isn’t production; it’s processing, and then, marketing. If young entrepreneurs could make Africa process more of the food it produces, food waste will reduce, food supplies would be more stable and less seasonal, and food prices would be less prone to wild swings. Take the case of tomato in our very own Nigeria. Despite being a leading producer of tomato in Africa, Nigeria has spent millions of dollars on processed tomato paste imports from China. The same situation applies to several other imported processed food products whose raw materials are abundantly produced in Africa: fruit juice concentrates (processed from raw fruits), industrial-grade starch (from cassava), and edible oils (from soybean and cotton seed) and several others. Young African entrepreneurs like Affiong Williams, founder of Reelfruit, are taking on the food processing challenge in Africa. Reelfruit processes a range of seasonal fruits including mango, pineapple and coconut into dry fruit snacks that can be consumed throughout the year. As more entrepreneurs and investors become agriprenuers, opportunities in 2017, we are looking forward to more grand ideas and innovations that could transform the state of food.

  1. Real Estate

This is hardly surprising given the current and future size of Africa’s population. According to the United Nations  more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa. Of the 2.4 billion people who are expected to join the world over the next 30 years, 1.3 billion of them will be Africans. Where will all these people live, work, shop and play? Currently, countries across the continent suffer a significant real estate deficit. In Nigeria, for example, the World Bank estimates the affordable housing deficit at over 17 million homes. In Lagos, one of Africa’s largest cities with a population of over 15 million people, there are less than 7 major shopping centres. It’s the severity of the real estate deficit across Africa that makes it such an amazing multi-billion dollar business opportunity. Across the major segments of the market – residential, office spaces, retail, industrial and hospitality – investors and developers are positioning themselves to benefit from underserved needs. The landmark group is one example among several others that have been pursuing real estate opportunities in Africa, and maintains a multi-million dollar portfolio of properties on the continent. The Group has developed and managed over 130,000 square meters of prime real estate across the continent, and is building a Landmark Village, which will be an iconic “Live, Work, Play” mixed-use development with breathtaking sea views in the exclusive area of Victoria Island in Lagos.

  1. African Fashion

Africa is in the throes of a fashion revolution. The explosive combo  of creative genius and entrepreneurial talent is increasing the visibility of African fashion on the world stage, as a new breed of designers are leveraging the continent’s rich cultures, history, and fabrics to make bold fashion statements. Young African designers such as Maki Oh and Aisha Obuobi have featured fashion pieces worn by international celebrities, including Beyoncé and Michelle Obama. The African Development Bank estimates Africa’s fashion industry could be worth 15.5 billion dollars over the next five years. While this is huge, it’s only a small share of the global fashion industry’s value of $1.3 trillion. Despite its current challenges, Africa’s fashion industry has the potential to create millions of jobs and significantly boost economic growth on the continent. This is already happening in countries like Mauritius, Ethiopia and Lesotho where apparel exports are a major foreign exchange earner.African entrepreneurs like 26-year old Kelechi Anyadiegwu are already reaping benefits from the fashion value chain. She started her online African clothing store , zuvaa with just $500 two years ago. Her idea was to share African-inspired fashion designs with consumers around the world. Zuvaa is estimated to make nearly $2 million in sales in 2016.

  1. Startup Funding

Mark Zukerberg’s surprise first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa last year was a strong external validation of Africa’s fast emerging start up landscape. During the trip, the Facebook CEO who is one of the world’s richest men, visited start up innovation hubs in Lagos and Nairobi.In June 2016, Zuckerberg ,invested 24million dollars in Andela  a start up that trains African engineers and programmers, and outsources them to top tech companies in the USA and Europe. According to the latest disrupt Africa report on African tech start ups, the continent attracted $129 million in 2016, with a 16.8 percent increase in the number of successfully funded start ups. South Africa and Nigeria raised the highest amount of funding, followed by Kenya, Egypt, Ghana and Morocco. Africa’s fast-emerging start up scene is a hotbed of innovation and disruptive possibilities. It’s no surprise there’s been a fast growth in the number of innovation hubs, incubation and accelerator programs on the continent. Africa is one of very few places in the world today that can deliver the massive growth and scale necessary to yield very high returns on investment capital.

 

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22- year old Oreoluwa Osoba is the big shot behind Coz Designs, a brand that specializes in luxury bags.  At its inception, Oreoluwa said it was hard to convince people to buy Nigerian because of the negative conceptions about “made in Nigeria” goods. Now, the likes of Peter Okoye, Reekado Banks, Toyin Abraham, and a number of Nigerian celebrities have become constant customers of Coz Designs.

It is amazing to know that young people are starting to diversify. Move away from the mentality of ‘white collar jobs’. That is not to say proper education is being neglected, in fact, Oreoluwa bagged a first class degree in Computer Science from Covenant University. He was simply blessed with the realization that, there is a market for luxury bags that are made in Nigeria, and also more affordable than designer names like Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

Find below some of his designs and we hope fervently for you to be inspired. 

 

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Chisom Winifred is a creative writer and wordsmith. She believes in expressing herself through written words.

Find her on instagram and Twitter @chisomwinifred 

 

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As we enter into the seventh month of the year, we often look at how far we have come and what we haven’t achieved. If you are looking at starting a up a business why not look t our list and carve  niche for yourself, instead of lolling round and

waiting to be pushed.  After nearly10 years of undulating economic growth, the continent experienced a very sharp decline last year.The hardest hit was the major commodity exporters, especially Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.  Our very own

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, went through a recession and its currency took a severe beating, losing more than 60 percent of its value in less than 12 months; which we experienced, some of us took to twitter to curse  and rain abuses on

‘HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED’.

Well its not just us, In South Africa, pull-backs in mining operations and volatile commodity prices (especially for gold, platinum, and coal) led to increased unemployment and slow economic growth.And at this point, it’s tempting to think:“Are

there still any viable business opportunities in Africa for us ? “Is Africa still rising?”You see, for decades, the biggest business opportunities in Africa were created through “traditional” sources, especially from the trade and export of raw and non-

value-added commodities such as crude oil, timber, gold, coal, cocoa, tea, coffee, leather and several others.Today, the wealth that is breeding a new generation of millionaires in Africa is being created through new and unconventional business

opportunities.These business opportunities are simmering beneath Africa’s endless stream of unsolved problems, underserved needs and everyday frustrations. New wealth on the continent is emerging from solving problems and creating

value, and not from “old school” resource extraction.In this post, we will share with you the top business opportunities on the continent that are very likely to make more millionaires in 2017.

1)   Financial Technology aka fintech

As the name implies, FinTech involves the use of technology to support and enable banking and financial services, making it easier, faster and cheaper to meet Africa’s underserved demand for financial services.In many countries on the

continent, access to financial services is very poor. In most cases, just about one in five adults have a bank account, and most transactions are still done in cash.But since the wild success of M-Pesa, the revolutionary mobile money solution that

has transformed financial services in East Africa, several innovative fintech products and services have erupted across the continent.Just a few months ago, Paystack, a Nigeria-based fintech business 1.3 million dollars from local and

international investors. Paystack provides an online payments platform that allows local merchants to accept payments from around the world, via credit card, debit card, and direct bank transfer on web and mobile.Another fintech solution,

TopCheck, helps users to compare prices of financial products such as various types of insurance and bank loans. It has attracted over 1million euros in investments and was recently acquired by South Africa’s Silvertree Internet

Holdings.,Snapscan the South Africa-based fintech service, allows consumers to make payments with their mobile phones by simply taking a photo of a QR code and punching in the amount they want to pay.These are only but a few examples.

There are hundreds of entrepreneurs on the continent behind fast-growing fintech companies such as Paga, Zoona, Interswitch, Wealth Migrate, Riovic, BitPesa and several others.Financial technology is hot in Africa right now because financial

services are a severely underserved market, and a multi-billion dollar opportunity for the continent.

2)   Film & Movies

Over the last three years, three different blockbuster movies from Nollywood, Africa’s leading film industry, have broken local box office records back to back.Despite major economic difficulties and a tough recession, the wedding party a

romantic comedy drama, has become one of the highest grossing African movies of all time, raking in over 400 million Nigerian Naira (just over $1 million) in less than 60 days after release. One million dollars in box office pickings may be

pocket change by Hollywood standards, but it’s the scale and growth of business opportunities in Africa’s film industry that’s truly breathtaking. With a population of over 1 billion people, of which about 60 percent are young people below the age

of 25, Africa presents a very fertile ground for its local film industry. The four biggest business opportunities in this industry are in film financing, production, distribution and exhibition. With less than one cinema per million people, Africa is the

most underserved cinema market in the world. That’s why entrepreneurs like Kene Mkparu , who worked for many years with Odeon cinemas in the UK, have returned to the continent to explore lucrative opportunities in the African cinema

market.Since launching his business, FilmHouse has opened Nigeria’s first IMAX movie theater and about10 cinemas across the country in just a few years.In the film distribution space, homegrown companies such as iroko are consolidating

their positions on the African market. With nearly $40 million in funding, and a strategic partnership with Canal +, Iroko is widely regarded as “The Netflix of Africa”, serving films in over 35 countries on the continent. We are excited movie market

by the prospects of Africa’s film and, and there’s no doubt in our minds that the rest of 2017 will be another year of blockbusters from the continent’s creative and entrepreneurial minds.

3)   Sports Betting

Often regarded as a complicated and controversial industry, sports betting is making a windfall in Africa.Africa’s young and fanatical sports fan base makes it a very promising market for the global sports betting industry .we have noticed how a

growing number of betting businesses in the US and Europe are expanding into Africa as they position themselves to tap into an explosive growth opportunity for sports betting on the continent.Lax laws on betting, a widespread use of mobile

phones and increasing access to the internet have reduced the barriers to enter a 350-million strong African market, where nearly 50 percent of male adults in Nigeria, South Africa and several other countries are involved in active sports

betting.In July 2016, SportPesa, the biggest sports betting business in East Africa, became the first organisation in Kenya to sponsor an English Premier League football club after it signed a 3 year deal with Hull City FC .Why would a sports

betting company in Kenya spend over a million British Pounds on a sponsorship deal in the most-watched football league in Africa? Your guess is as good as mine: “expected high returns on investment.” Across the continent, in Ghana, Nigeria,

South Africa and several other countries, hundreds of sports betting businesses are jostling for a greater share of this lucrative market as they spend handsomely on marketing, promotion and customer acquisition.It would be interesting to watch

how this fast emerging industry evolves in 2017.

4)   Digital healthcare

Only a handful of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa can provide basic healthcare to all their citizens.With less than one doctor per 20,000 persons in countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania, the healthcare industry in Africa is in a perilous state.But

entrepreneurs across Africa are taking on these challenges by creating innovative digital healthcare solutions.These innovations, which include telemedicine, e-prescriptions and m-Health applications, are helping to free up congested health

facilities from dealing with non-life-threatening conditions so they can provide better care to patients who require more critical care.In Uganda, Brian Turyabagye – a young entrepreneur – and his team have developed a bio medical kit for early

diagnosis and continuous monitoring of pneumonia, a disease that kills half a million children in Sub-Saharan Africa every year, according to UNICEF. This kit, named “Mamaope” eliminates most human error, and diagnoses pneumonia at a

rate three to four times faster than a doctor.In Nigeria, Redbank is a new service that helps hospitals and patients quickly and easily search and find safe blood supplies in real time via SMS. This could potentially save thousands of lives

especially in emergency situations and for patients in need of critical blood transfusions.Across Africa, there is a growing trend of pharmaceutical firms looking to discover, support and partner with digital health startups. Last year, Merck – the

global pharmaceutical giant expanded its digital accelerator program for the first time outside Germany to Nairobi, in East Africa.

5)   Renewable Energy

With a growing global bias for climate-friendly energy solutions, Africa has become an international test bed for innovative renewable energy solutions.According to a recent world bank study , only one in three people in Sub-Saharan Africa has

access to electricity. And up to 80 percent of households on the continent use firewood and charcoal as a primary energy source for cooking, endangering the continent’s fast-depleting forest resources.In Ghana, one company is harnessing the

force of crashing ocean waves from the Accra coastline to generate electricity. Yam Pro Energy has secured a power purchase agreement (PPA) that allows it to sell the electricity it generates, and the project could provide up to 10,000

households with electricity.Across the continent, the solar energy revolution is in full swing. In East Africa, businesses such as M-Kopa Solar, Off Grid ElectricStemaCo and several others are lighting up Africa by using the power of the sun to

provide low-cost electricity to unconnected households.In West Africa, where sewage collected from households is often dumped into rivers and the ocean, this business in Accra Ghana, converts smelly human waste into an odourless and

energy-efficient fuel which looks exactly like charcoal and can be used for cooking.This year, the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will open in East Africa. This 6,000-megawatt power plant will be the largest dam and hydropower

plant in Africa. Though a government-owned asset, this dam will be a major milestone in Africa’s progress toward a renewable energy-dependent future.Africa’s significantly underserved energy needs presents a lucrative market for renewable

energy solutions and I expect more players will be drawn to this promising industry in 2017.

6)   Urban Transportation

The effects of rural-urban migration and natural population growth have overwhelmed transport systems and infrastructure in major cities and towns across Africa.According to the AfDB, Africa has experienced the highest urban growth in the

developing world. During the last two decades, Africa’s urban population grew by 3.5 percent per year and this rate of growth is expected to hold into 2050, with some African cities accounting for up to 85 percent of the national population.While

government authorities and urban dwellers are frustrated by the congestion, inefficiency and disorganized nature of urban transport systems on the continent, a growing number of businesses are exploring the business opportunities behind this

underserved market.Uber, a highly successful multinational ride hailing business, is one of the big players harvesting the opportunities in Africa’s urban transport market.Now present in 12 cities across the continent, including Johannesburg,

Lagos, Kampala, Nairobi, Rabat and Cairo, Uber has created a powerful platform for entrepreneurs and investors to reap the lucrative rewards of serving urban transport needs in Africa.Hundreds of entrepreneurs now earn recurring monthly

revenues by putting cars on the Uber network, whose value proposition of convenience, affordability and comfort has created a loyal and fast-growing customer base of urban commuters.In 2017, more entrepreneurs and investors will be

advancing innovative solutions to the urban transport problems in Africa. It’ll surely be an interesting industry to watch.

7)   Pay TV

There are over 100 million TV households in Sub-Saharan Africa.However, at the moment, just about 15 million of these households are pay-TV subscribers, and this number is expected to reach 30 million by 2021.Currently, the biggest players

in these markets are SoutAfrica’s MultiChoice, China’s StarTimes, East Africa’s AzamTV, Safaricom and Zuku TV. In Francophone Africa, Canal Plus Overseas remains the dominant operator.Africa’s large population and its youthful

demographic makes the continent a very attractive market for the pay-TV industry. With annual revenues estimated at over $4 billion, there is still a lot of room for new players in this market.Africa’s growing internet penetration, rising smartphone

adoption, and digital migration will be the key growth drivers of the pay-TV market in Africa as niche offerings such as video-on-demand (VOD) and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) evolve. In 2017, we are seeing more PAYTV subscribers.

8)   Food Processing

It’s widely believed that Africa does not produce enough food to meet its own needs. The continent actually produces far less food per hectare than the world average.However, while food production remains a big challenge for the continent,

post-harvest losses and waste are the biggest threats to food security in Africa.Due to inadequate processing options, a significant proportion of harvests from farms in Africa never make it to the final consumer.Right now, Africa’s biggest food

problem isn’t production; it’s processing, and then, marketing.If young entrepreneurs could make Africa process more of the food it produces, food waste will reduce, food supplies would be more stable and less seasonal, and food prices would

be less prone to wild swings.Take the case of tomato in our very own Nigeria. Despite being a leading producer of tomato in Africa, Nigeria has spent millions of dollars on processed tomato paste imports from China.The same situation applies to

several other imported processed food products whose raw materials are abundantly produced in Africa: fruit juice concentrates (processed from raw fruits), industrial-grade starch (from cassava), edible oils (fromsoybean and cotton seed) and

several others.Young African entrepreneurs like Affiong Williams, founder of Reelfruit, are taking on the food processing challenge in Africa. Reelfruit processes a range of seasonal fruits including mango, pineapple and coconut into dry fruit

snacks that can be consumed throughout the year.As more entrepreneurs and investors become agriprenuers, opportunities in 2017, we are looking forward to more grand ideas and innovations that could transform the state of food .

9)   Real Estate

This is hardly surprising given the current and future size of Africa’s population. According to the United Nations  more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa. Of the 2.4 billion people who are

expected to join the world over the next 30 years, 1.3 billion of them will be Africans.Where will all these people live, work, shop and play?Currently, countries across the continent suffer a significant real estate deficit. In Nigeria, for example, the

World Bank estimates the affordable housing deficit at over 17 million homes. In Lagos, one of Africa’s largest cities with a population of over 15 million people, there are less than 7 major shopping centres.It’s the severity of the real estate deficit

across Africa that makes it such an amazing multi-billion dollar business opportunity.Across the major segments of the market – residential, office spaces, retail, industrial and hospitality – investors and developers are positioning themselves to

benefit from underserved needs.The landmark group is one example among several others that have been pursuing real estate opportunities in Africa, and maintains a multi-million dollar portfolio of properties on the continent.The Group has

developed and managed over 130,000 square meters of prime real estate across the continent, and is building a Landmark Village, which will be an iconic “Live, Work, Play” mixed-use development with breathtaking sea views in the exclusive

area of Victoria Island in Lagos.

10) African Fashion

Africa is in the throes of a fashion revolution.The explosive combo  of creative genius and entrepreneurial talent is increasing the visibility of African fashion on the world stage, as a new breed of designers are leveraging the continent’s rich

cultures, history, and fabrics to make bold fashion statements.Young African designers such as Maki Oh and Aisha Obuobi have featured fashion pieces worn by international celebrities, including Beyoncé and Michelle Obama.The African

Development Bank estimates Africa’s fashion industry could be worth 15.5 billion dollars over the next five years. While this is huge, it’s only a small share of the global fashion industry’s value of $1.3 trillion.Despite its current challenges, Africa’s

fashion industry has the potential to create millions of jobs and significantly boost economic growth on the continent. This is already happening in countries like Mauritius, Ethiopia and Lesotho where apparel exports are a major foreign

exchange earner.African entrepreneurs like 26-year old Kelechi Anyadiegwu are already reaping benefits from the fashion value chain.She started her online African clothing store , zuvaa with just $500 two years ago. Her idea was to share

African-inspired fashion designs with consumers around the world. Zuvaa is estimated to make nearly $2 million in sales in 2016.

11) Startup Funding

Mark Zukerberg’s surprise first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa last year was a strong external validation of Africa’s fast emerging startup landscape. During the trip, the Facebook CEO who is one of the world’s richest men, visited startup innovation

hubs in Lagos and Nairobi.In June 2016, Zuckerberg ,invested 24million dollars in Andela  a startup that trains African engineers and programmers, and outsources them to top tech companies in the USA and Europe.According to the latest

disrupt Africa report  on African tech startups, the continent attracted $129 million in 2016, with a 16.8 percent increase in the number of successfully funded startups. South Africa and Nigeria raised the highest amount of funding, followed by

Kenya, Egypt, Ghana and Morocco.Africa’s fast-emerging startup scene is a hotbed of innovation and disruptive possibilities. It’s no surprise there’s been a fast growth in the number of innovation hubs, incubation and accelerator programs on

the continent.Africa is one of very few places in the world today that can deliver the massive growth and scale necessary to yield very high returns on investment capital.

 

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Former Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, has given insight into how he became Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces at the age of 31.

Giving a breakdown of events that led to his emergence as the Head of State, Gowon disclosed that coup and counter coup led him to power.

He disclosed that his then superior, Zakariya Maimalari, would have been the Head of State in July 1966 “after the convolutions” that followed the Kaduna Nzeogwu-led coup early in the year but could not as he, Maimalari. was killed in a counter coup.

Gowon made the revelation in a book titled, “The First Regular Combatant: Brigadier General Zakariya Maimalari,” which will be launched today in Abuja.

He said Maimalri would have been the “natural choice” after the so-called counter coup.

Giving a breakdown of the coup and counter coup, the book recalled that Nzeogwu, a Major at that time, had executed a failed coup on January 15, 1966 which led to the assassination of the prime minister, Abubakar Balewa, the premier of the northern region, Ahmadu Bello, and the premier of the western region, Samuel Akintola.

As a result of the coup, key officers from the Northern part of the country were also killed, including Maimalari, a brigadier General at the time.

Following the execution of the coup, Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, who was the most senior military officer assumed power but his failure to prosecute those behind the coup led to his overthrow and subsequent death in a counter-coup by officers from the North.

Against this backdrop, Gowon, who was a lieutenant Colonel and Chief of Staff to Aguiyi-Ironsi, became Nigeria’s Head of State at 31.

In the book, Gowon said had Maimalari survived the January 1966 coup, “the convolutions in Nigeria that followed might have been averted, and Maimalari would have eventually taken his rightful place in the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army, following the appointment of General Aguiyi Ironsi as GOC of the Nigerian Army after Sir Christopher Welby-Everard, the last British GOC.

“He would have been a natural choice for leadership after the event of that day. I do not see how I could have become commander-in-chief, if Maimalari or any of those senior ones above me from the same school were alive.”

SOURCE: TODAY.NG

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Nigeria-born Williams Chechet is a supremely talented graphics designer, illustrator and muralist responsible for globally acclaimed contemporary art pieces. He has been featured severally on CNN Africa for his creative beautiful illustrations from Northern Nigeria.

 Being raised in the north, William is known for his art movement which involves imagery from popular culture being visually removed from its known context, isolated and or combined with an unrelated material.

As a thriving entrepreneur in the world of art, we appreciate and wish the spread the works of Williams, to encourage others who wish to tow his part.

See some of his illustrations below:

 

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Chisom Winifred is a creative writer and wordsmith. She believes in expressing herself through written words.

 

 

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Despite a number of African countries being significant coffee-producers – such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania – the vast majority of production is exported to developed nations, with very little consumed on the African continent.

However, a coffee-drinking culture is now emerging in some countries – expats, well-travelled professionals, returning diapora and young creatives are looking for the same coffee culture they have experienced in developed markets. And Nigerian brothers Ngozi and Chijioke Dozie recognised this a few years ago.

They are the founders of Café Neo, a coffee shop chain enjoying a first-mover advantage in Lagos. The brand – similar to those found in Cape Town’s Woodstock or Silicon Valley – is targeting creatives and entrepreneurs with its free wifi, workspaces, meeting environment, jazz music and – of course – world-class African coffee.

Since its launch in 2012, Café Neo has grown to include seven standalone stores and six office locations in Lagos, as well as a franchise operation in Rwanda. The brothers are now looking at expanding to Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Fired to self hired

Both brothers abandoned corporate careers in the West to pursue opportunities back home. Ngozi, who worked at major financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. as an investment banker, admits to being let go in 2008 for poor performance – after two years of working for the company. “I was just not fit for investment banking,” he notes.

However, he knew he wanted to return home to start his own venture and Chijioke, who had just completed an MBA at Harvard, felt the same.


After researching the market, the duo decided to set up a fund to invest in distressed African companies.

“At that time there was a lot of money running into private equity in Africa, but the opportunity that was being ignored was good companies with bad balance sheets,” explains Ngozi.

“In the West… these companies can just negotiate a bankruptcy package with equity shareholders. But in Nigeria and, for the most part, everywhere else in Africa, there was no bankruptcy or insolvency structure. So you would have good companies that once they had gotten into a bit of trouble, inevitably fall down and die.”

The Dozie brothers managed to raise around US$8m for their fund and it wasn’t long before they found their first distressed company to invest in – a coffee roasting company in Rwanda.

“The rationale was that Rwandan coffee was fantastic quality, and many international buyers were very clear on that,” explains Ngozi.

After turning the company around, they then started looking into exporting to new markets, including their home country Nigeria. However, the brothers soon discovered there were not many places to sell to, and saw potential in starting their own coffee-shop chain.

The first Café Neo launched in 2012 in a small mall in Victoria Island. The location wasn’t very attractive (as the outlet was hidden on the second floor of the building) but the brothers kept it going, despite maybe only getting in around 10 customers a day in the beginning.

About nine months later they managed to secure a counter in an office block tenanted by international companies. According to Ngozi, there were some dedicated customers, but the brand still hadn’t managed to take off.

Then, in 2014, the founders decided to take a risk and open an outlet in a prime, yet expensive, standalone location. And three months after its launch, it began to gain a reputation.

“It was a great success… It wasn’t making money [at first] because the rent was prohibitive, but I think it gave us a lot of encouragement that this could work,” says Ngozi. “And then, in just over 24 months, we got another great location in Victoria Island, which did a lot to create the brand.”

Not always smooth sailing

For being one of the first in the market, Café Neo has attracted a lot of media attention. However, Ngozi noted that things have not always been easy. Café Neo was started during a time when the ‘African rising’ narrative was frequently used by the media to describe the continent’s potential. But today’s lower oil-price environment has caused many economic challenges for local companies and Ngozi warns aspiring entrepreneurs against getting caught up in media hype and not being prepared for the worst.

“I think one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs do is they divorce the macro-economic indices from their micro enterprise. So they go along thinking everything is going to stay great, but then the economic winds change… And that is a mistake we have certainly made and others have as well.”

Today the company is struggling with a weakened naira which makes coffee and machine imports much more costly.

“For example, if we had seen this [naira] devaluation coming, we could have potentially borrowed locally to buy machines, and just stocked up on machines and coffee. We would have saved a lot of money.”

However, Ngozi also believes that the depreciation of the naira might also be a blessing in disguise for Nigerian industries as it forces them to try and cut costs by sourcing locally.

“Even in terms of menu selection, we are now thinking how we can use local fruit and reduce dependence on flour, of which a lot is imported. So in the end I think it’s a good thing.”

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Barcelona star Neymar is the highest-earning athlete in the world under 25, according to a study by Forbes.

Neymar, who is not 26 until next February, earns $37 million a year, ahead of golfer Jordan Spieth ($34.5m) and NBA duo Kyrie Irving ($29.9m) and Anthony Davis ($28.1m).

The Brazil international signed a new five-year deal with Barca last summer, worth $15m-a-year, but the report states he earns far more money away from the pitch thanks to his wide range of sponsorship agreements.

“The Brazilian wunderkind is the highest-paid of the 25 and under set,” Forbes said after naming the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world.

“The superstar’s current contract ties him to Barcelona until 2021. He is the only [football] player to earn more off the pitch than on it, including from sponsors Nike, Gillette, Panasonic and Beats by Dre.”

However, Neymar is only 18th on the overall list, which is headed by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who boasts annual earning of $93m taking into account his salary and the money he receives from endorsements.

Basketball player Lebron James ($86.2m) is second on the list, followed by Barca’s Lionel Messi ($80m), with Neymar the next footballer to appear on the list after his club teammate.

Earlier this year, Neymar was the only football player to be named in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people on the planet.

Included in the ‘Icon’ section, a large part of his presence was due to the image he has cultivated away from the pitch as much as on it — and that was never more evident than after Barca’s famous 6-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in March.

The following day a huge advertising board was unveiled in the centre of the Catalan city as part of a campaign run by Nike with a photograph of Neymar alongside his prematch comments: “One percent chance, 99 percent faith.”

Neymar, who joined Barca from Santos in 2013, agreed to a new deal with the club last summer but didn’t put pen to paper on the terms until last October.

As well as a wage increase, Barca also took the chance to increase the forward’s release clause, which as of July, when he moves into the second year of the deal, will rise to €225m.

Next summer, when he moves into the final three years of his deal that will increase to €250m as the Blaugrana look to ensure the player does not leave the club.

 

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There has been a lot of social media hype, especially in the south east. It’s like any young person you meet knows about ‘SSES’. We kept quiet when all the slay queens on instagram were snap chatting, dabbing and dancing to their song ‘hate’. They weren’t even considerate, but further went ahead to blow their fans away with their hot new single ‘onye nkem’

From ‘hate’ to ‘love’ song, taking over the media space, we decided we’ve had enough. We tracked them down, locked them up, and consequently went ahead to pump them with questions to our satisfaction. All this we did for YOU. We will always tell African stories no matter the cost.

Please read below, the individual and collective story of  Sugar KAY, Super K.O and STUNNA, the talented young men that make up the music group ‘SESS’

Hey guys, it’s nice to meet all of you, so much energy, damn! Shall we start?

  • Were the three of you friends before SSES?

Yeah we were friends but SSES brought us closer.

  • Who came up with the idea to start SSES?

(After a little debate, sugar kay decided to tell the story)

It was ILLBLISS actually. We were all individual recording artists on our own. ILLBLISS met the three of us at an event and said to us, “your names are STUNNA, SUPER K.O, and SUGAR KAY, I think you guys should be a group, maybe triple S or something” and the truth is that we never thought of our names that way and that was how our SSES story started.

  • How old is SSES?

SSES started a few days after Valentine’s Day in 2016. We can’t pinpoint the date, but we remember it was after Valentine’s Day

  • Who came up with the idea to fuse indigenous culture with western music?

SUGAR KAY: We just flow with these things, it’s not as serious as people think it is. We don’t sing, we build music, we construct music.

STUNNA: It’s not something we think of before we go into the studio, especially with our song ‘HATE’. SUGAR KAY did his own part of the hook and I decided to try something new. I went into the studio and I recorded it once and it sounded very good. A lot of the greatest things we do come like this.

  • Permission to dissect you guys individually, Tell us about yourselves outside SSES

SUPER K.O: My name is IFEAKACHUKWU OBA and I’m an only child. I’m a student of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, studying political science and I’m from delta state.

SUGAR KAY: My name is JOHN BONAVENTURE from Anambra state; I’m a graduate of Madonna University Okija where I studied mass communication and graduated in 2012.

STUNNA: I’m ONYEDIKA ANEKE and I’m from Udi in Enugu state. I studied chemical engineering in Enugu state university of science and technology and graduated in 2015.

  • What would you say is SSES style of music??

We don’t like to be fixed into categories or being put in a box, but here’s the thing; we’ve done three songs that sounds entirely different. First was highlife (Aku na Uba) second was Trap (hate) and our latest (Onye Nkem) has an afro vibe to it.  We don’t know what the next song will sound like, so you can say that SSES is very flexible. We like to put art into whatever we do.

  • Given your religious background, how do you make being in the secular music industry work for you?

SUPER K.O: Personally......religion, family, and my career aren’t going well but I’m strong.

STUNNA: it’s not easy but we try.

SUGAR KAY: People are always going to try to judge you, and say this and that, but nobody is perfect. God knows our heart and that’s the most important thing.

  • At what point did music start for each of you?

SUGAR KAY: I’ve been on the streets since 2008; i actually started my career with dancing. I auditioned for the Malta Guinness street dance but at some point i got tired of dancing because i wanted more. I started rolling with more of artistes after picking interest in music.

SUPER K.O: It’s been so long, i started music officially in 2007/2008, and I think I was in senior secondary school then.

STUNNA: I started music in primary school but i started recording officially after secondary school that should be 2008/2009.

  • Let’s deviate a little bit; do you see yourselves having baby mama's?

SUPER K.O: No one sees the future so we can’t predict stuff like that

  • Do you see yourself having a range rover in 2 years?

SUPER K.O:  hell yes …(He noticed the trap too late)

  • so people can actually predict, Oya answer the question

SUPER K.O: Lol nice one. Okay, I can’t predict the future but i wouldn’t want to have that.

SUGAR KAY: I don’t know oh ,in fact NO.

STUNNA: HELL TO THE NO, i don’t want no drama.

  • (Because we are evil, we decided to pitch them against each other)  Amongst yourselves, vote who is more likely to have a baby mama in the future, each of you gets one vote:

STUNNER: LOL, well they both weigh equally on the scale, but if i were to choose, it would be SUGAR KAY, you know, because he has sugar and the girls like sugar.

SUPER K.O:  I vote SUGAR KAY, he has the sugar he’s just the ONE

SUGAR KAY: Please don’t mind them, in fact I vote SUPER K.O

  • If you guys were to lose one person and save the other, who would it be?

SUPER K.O: We don’t plan on loosing anyone, and we haven’t actually thought about this before. U know sey eh?  In the exam hall, any one wey u no know, u just skip am, abeg make we skip this one

  • So let’s see how smart you guys are? Who knows the meaning of RAP?

Super K.O: Rhythm and poetry.

  • How about NEWS?

STUNNA:  okay.....notable events weather and sports.

  • What about SLANG?

STUNNER: ughhhhh, short language?

(Stunner won the test)

  • What motivated the song 'HATE'?

 SUPER K.O: At some point, at the beginning of our career, we started to get a lot of negative vibes from people. Not a lot of people are doing groups, so people were totally against it, people actually timed us to split, so we poured that negativity into our music and we made something beautiful out if it.

STUNNA: There’s hardly anybody doing ‘groups’ so when we came up, everyone gave us a deadline as to when to break up but we are still on it.

SUGAR KAY: I had to travel to a very far place to listen to someone disapprove of what we wanted to do, but we stuck to it, and said what the heck? Let’s build something out of all this “hate”

  • If you weren’t into music, what other professions would be you be in?

SUPER K.O: I’ll probably be playing football by now

SUGAR KAY: I’ll be in the movie industry and in the kitchen, I love to cook.

STUNNA: I’ll be doing something business inclined.

  • We’ve seen a lot of music groups, go under with time,do you see yourselves breaking up?

SUGAR KAY: The most challenging part was the beginning and even though we are under a lot of pressure, we don’t see ourselves splitting up. We think a lot before we act on anything, so no negative vibes can get to us.

  • What musician or DJ influence you guys?

SUPER K.O: We love migos, because they are a group and we love their style of music

SUGAR KAY: For me, i love DARE ART ALADE.

STUNNA: I think I’ll scratch migos and stick to DRAKE.

  • If you were given N30billion right now, what would be the first financial move you would make?

SUPER K.O: I think I will disappear first for a while and then make some decisions

SUGAR KAY: I’m owing God, I’ll pay all my tithe. I’ll pay God and the rest will come to my mind.

STUNNA: I’ll put N29billion where i can’t touch it for two months.  So i can think properly.

  • What should your fans expect from you guys?

SUGAR KAY:They should expect the right sound, the right tunes, the right message from our music

STUNNER: They should expect more action less noise, most artistes are overhyped. We are like Jollof ,dodo, and goat meat, we are irresistible!!.

 

 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Chisom Winifred is a creative writer and wordsmith. She believes in expressing herself through written words.

  Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @chisomwinifred 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Young people are always classified as people with hungry, insatiable minds. It’s not magic; I mean if you don’t ask questions as a young person then when? Honourable Ndukwe Charles, the commissioner for youth and sports in Enugu State Nigeria has been gracious enough to carefully address some issues bugging the youths of his state.

In a three prong approach, ranging from his administration, the role of youths and future governmental projects, here is an interview granted to us by Honourable Ndukwe Charles, the commissioner for youth and sports Enugu.

  1. Thank you sir, for taking time off your busy schedule to attend to us

Hon. Charles: It’s a not a problem, I will always have time for the youths. That is why I am here in the first place.

  1. How would you rate your administration so far?

Hon. Charles: I would say, so far so good, we’ve done very well.

  1. Since your assumption into office,  what challenges have you faced as a youth commissioner?

Hon. Charles: It is unfortunate that I resumed office when the country is experiencing recession. Our major issue is funding. A lot of our wonderful ideas suffer because of lack of funding. Corporate organizations that are supposed to sponsor programmes as parts of their social responsibilities are not doing that anymore and there isn’t only one commission in the state, we can’t keep running to the governor every now and then.

  1. 60% of youths in Enugu are on social media, is there a central channel to reach them online to spread information?

Hon. Charles: We are only on Instagram and Facebook, we are not so active on social media.

  1. A lot of Enugu youths are asking, what is the commissioner for youth and sports doing?

Hon. Charles: The fact that we don’t publicize our every move on social media doesn’t necessarily mean we are not working. In January this year, we held a skill acquisition programme at the Nnamdi Azikwe stadium which graduated over 323 youths. These youths are now self employed with farms, bakeries and all of that.  I get a lot calls and testimonials from them; I even patronize and buy their products. They are doing quite well and can now help themselves.

  1. Would you say you have made an impact on Enugu youths?

Hon. Charles: Yes I have. On assumption of office, the first programme we held was the International Youth Day on August 12 2015 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium. Afterwards we held the youth enterprise day where we unveiled the “Enugu YES” i.e. Enugu Youth Enterprise Scheme. This was a PPP arrangement with Startup Hub. The programme was attended by over 1567 youths, and they all registered online. But funding was a huge issue, we couldn’t continue. Many organizations we sort to for help turned us down and the government can’t kill itself. Enugu state does not owe any staff and there are lots of ongoing projects in all the local governments. The state government is trying its best.

  1. What happened to the legends wrestle for unity game that was planned for last year?

Hon. Charles: I foresaw the need for national unity, and that birthed the initiative for that programme. That programme was supposed to take our state to another level. Initially, we started with all the necessary preparations. After meeting with the governor, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his endorsement of the program, we went to Abuja and met with General Yakubu Gowon, the father of unity in Nigeria. I explained the idea to him and what we hoped to achieve and he accepted. He even went further to light a “Unity Torch” on the 27th of October 2016 at the Hilton in Abuja. The lighting of the torch was attended by the National Minister of Sports, Chairman of the Police Command, Hon. Ike Ekweremadu, and a lot of retired generals. The capital required to carry out this project is in the neighbourhood of about N300Million. We need to pay the international stars we are hoping to bring. The good news however is that that event will still happen this year. We have already spent N21 Million so far and I assure you that very soon, the publicity for the event will commence. The unity torch was lit by General Yakubu Gowon himself and it’s not an event we can easily sideline.

  1. What are your plans to tackle unemployment, especially among the youths of this state?

Hon. Charles: With regards to that, plans are already underway to launch the second phase of our youth skill acquisition programme. This has been planned for the 15th of July being the international youth day for skill acquisition at the indoor sports hall at Nnamdi azikwe stadium. We want everyone to be present. We are also going to actively engage the media for online publicity. The youths will be addressed by the ones that just graduated. We’d like to help as many youths as possible.

In another measure of tackling unemployment, on assumption of office, my office has refurnished the media centre at the Nnamdi Azikwe stadium. The place has been in total shambles before now, but we have taken time to bring it back to order. We also provided a stand by generator. The media centre is for free for anyone who wants to host any youth related event.

  1. What is your take on the current released list of top 50 youths in Enugu, when majority of them are not actively influential?

Hon. Charles: I want to use this medium to say that my office is not aware of such list. It was just sent to my phone, I had no idea such thing had been published, I even saw my name there as the special guest of honour. I was surprised because no one informed me of such activity. What we agreed on was the youth summit which is a program of the office of SA on youths but not the inclusion of 50 influential Enugu youths. People are asking what are the criteria for choosing these people and I have no answer for them.  If I was aware of that list, a panel would have been set up to effectively judge the eligibility of these people. 

  1. What do you think are the major challenges facing Enugu youths?

Hon. Charles: Unemployment is the major issue, not just in our state but in our country at large. Most of our youths are lazy, I personally feel there is a lot of money to be made in the social media, and youths are just taking it for granted. We however hope to tackle that in our next phase of skill acquisition programme, the publicity will be huge, so everyone will be involved. There will also be follow ups after the programme, to watch what they have been able to achieve with the skills.

  1. NDLEA recently released a report, on the increment of drug use by Enugu youths, as a youth commissioner; do you have any plans in this aspect?

Hon. Charles: I have a proposal right here for a campaign. We want to do a campaign which will be tailored to enlighten and help the Enugu youths. Although funding for these projects is a still a problem, we are working on it. I like to also urge the youths to please stay away from drugs, it has never helped anybody.

  1. There has been money problem rumours in the rangers camp and issues of mismanagement, how true is this?

Hon. Charles: This is a sensitive issue, but am going to say this. Rangers football club is a corporation under my office, am not in charge of Rangers. I don’t issue orders to their staff, but however, I can liaise with the board running rangers. Meanwhile the board running Rangers presently has elapsed, we are waiting for the governor to set up a new board. When Christian Chukwu came on board, we had a meeting and started working together. There is always power tussle in government; but we all have a common interest, to move Rangers forward. Rangers is bigger than any one man. Rangers remind the igbos of Biafra. Rangers came up after Biafra war. It is something we are proud of. This is something that spurred me. This was why I put in all my efforts and Rangers Fc won the NPL in 2016.

 In partnership with the Rangers board, we moved a front and that was what made us win the cup. We had unity then. The governor also gave massive support. He bought a new bus for the club and funds worth N28million and N30millioon was released respectively to clear the players that used to be on loan. We give all glory to God while thanking God for giving Enugu state governor Ugwuanyi who is a man with a heart of Gold and really helped us in actualizing this feat. As we speak now, there are players on loan who havent been paid and there are not happy. The management is working on providing that list for payment for all thier requests this year. I can’t go there and put up a fight. The unity that was in rangers in 2016 is no longer here and it must come from the leadership of Rangers not from the ministry. Last month rangers was in 20th position, the governor released some funds and gave us an ultimatium, we met and executed his Excellency's directives and they entered 14th position after playing 6 matches. It was like a miracle. But they know what to do, because the 14th position is very dangerous, we need to go up, and any draw we play in a home match drags us down the table. 

  1. Your tenure as a youth commissioner will soon be over, and we’ve heard rumours that you’re aspiring for the governorship position, how true is that?

Hon. Charles: Enugu state has a working system, Enugu west senatorial zone where I come from just finished, and the mantle of leadership has moved to Enugu north. Enugu north has 8years to stay and after that, it is expected to go to Enugu East, and Enugu East has another 8years to rule and that is 16years before it comes back to Enugu west. So who ever is saying I have interest to run for governorship, I don’t know where the notion is coming from.

  1. Finally sir, what is your definition of a true Enugu person?

Hon. Charles: A true Enugu person is not an indigene of Enugu state; it’s the person that wants the goodwill of the state whether he resides here or not. Saying ‘042’ doesn’t make you an Enugu person, it is having the interest of our state at heart.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER 

Chisom Winifred is a creative writer and wordsmith. She believes in expressing herself through written words.

 Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @chisomwinifred 

 

 

 

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