Andela CEO sees African techies solving ‘world most pressing problems’ amid $40m fundings

Africa’s technology talents are now positioned to provide solutions to the world’s most pressing, Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela, has said amid fresh injection of $40 million into the technology company.

“Over the past three years, we’ve helped prove to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed. It’s now time to prove that our model of investing in extraordinary people isn’t just viable, but revolutionary,” says Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela. “Increasingly, African technologists will be launching high-impact companies and solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, and this round will help that happen faster.”

Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding. The investment was led by pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital with participation from DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, and Africa-focused TLcom Capital.

Meanwhile Andela has also announced that Dr Omobola Johnson, the former Minister for Communication Technology will be joining its board following the fresh rounds of fundings secured by the tech company.

Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to over $80 million.

Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to over $80 million.

Andela team seen at an event. Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa's most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding   Photo credit: Andela

Andela team seen at an event. Andela, which has a Nigeria office, builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, and recently secured $40 million in Series C funding Photo credit: Andela

Andela was launched in 2014 to combat the global technical talent shortage by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers. With an estimated 1.3M software jobs unfilled in 2016 in the U.S. alone, it’s clear that the growth of today’s major technology ecosystems is inhibited by a severe lack of talent. To solve this, Andela invests in high potential pools of brainpower across the African continent to help more than 100 partner companies build distributed engineering teams. These partners range from industry leaders like Viacom and Mastercard Labs to high-growth technology companies such as Gusto and GitHub.

With offices in Lagos, Nigeria, Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda, Andela has hired 500 developers to date — the top 0.7% of more than 70,000 applicants from across the continent. Selected developers spend six months in a rigorous on boarding program before being matched with one of Andela’s partner companies as full-time engineering team members. Beyond recruiting elite development talent, Andela is catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across the continent by open-sourcing its content and partnering with organizations including Google and Pluralsight to provide resources and mentorship to developers.

Pule Taukobong, Founding Partner of CRE Venture Capital, also says that “at present, there is more capital to fund ideas globally than there are people to build them. Andela is providing a solution to this global talent dilemma while building a business case for one of Africa’s greatest assets: our people.”

Andela will use the capital to fuel its aggressive expansion plans. The company aims to launch offices in two additional African countries over the next year, doubling its developer base from 500 to 1,000 to meet growing demand. Alongside this round, Pule Taukobong of CRE, Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister and Amplo Board Partner, and Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner at TLcom and former Minister of Communication Technology in Nigeria, will be joining Andela’s board.

Omobola Johnson

Dr. Omobola Johnson, former Minister of Communication Technology for Nigeria, will be joining the Andela board, the company has announced

The company is also welcoming Salesforce Ventures, TLcom, DBL, and Amplo to the “Andela family of investors.” Andela announced that “with them, Omobola Johnson, former ICT Minister of Nigeria and Partner at TLcom, Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Amplo Board Partner, and Nancy Pfund, Managing Director of DBL, will be joining our board as well.”

For the Andela team, the new rounds of funding and growing partnership is bring the company closer to its vision to change the world.

“When we first started Andela, even those who loved and believed in us thought it was a bit crazy. But with every partnership, we’re proving to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed and has nothing to do with nationality or gender. Soon, the demographic challenges that many associate with Africa will instead become an advantage. Increasingly, African technologists will be leading companies solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges and, simultaneously, reversing age-old misconceptions about talent and potential”, the company said in a statement.

“In July of 2014, Andela put out a call for aspiring software developers in Nigeria. Through Twitter alone, we received 700 applicants, interviewed a few dozen, and accepted six to join Andela’s first cohort in Lagos.

“That month, we also met Pule Taukobong. A few weeks later, as head of the Africa Angels Network, he became Andela’s first institutional investor from the continent.

“Three years later, Andela has grown to nearly 800 people across four countries. We’ve received more than 70,000 applicants and accepted the top 0.7% — around 500 developers to date — and more than 100 of the world’s leading tech companies depend on Andela developers from Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.”

9Mobile VP, Dikko, bids good bye to phone company

Ibrahim Dikko, the Vice President of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs at 9Mobile is leaving the mobile phone company formerly called Etisalat Nigeria.

Technology Times has learnt that Dikko’s has officially notified the new managers of 9Mobile, which has been taken over following indebtedness to a group of creditor banks, of his planned exit.

The 9Mobile VP’s imminent exit is one of several high profile human resource losses that the mobile phone company has faced in the wake of its financial troubles.

People conversant with situation at 9Mobile told Technology Times that they are ruling out the possibility of Dikko switching to a competing operator.

Dikko was the Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs where he was responsible for regulation, community and environmental issues, before he was promoted to a VP in 9Mobile.

According to the company, his role involved “leading the Corporate and Regulatory Affairs teams in an integrated approach to achieve the company’s strategic plan of forging and maintaining valuable partnerships among all its stakeholders.”

He was responsible for managing the toughest public image crisis suffered by 9Mobile following the crisis faced by the mobile phone company in the wake of the takeover by creditors.

Nigeria’s phone subscriber numbers reached 139,444,227 by August this year split among MTN Nigeria, 50,051,572 (36.1%); Globacom, 37,304,367 (26.83%); Airtel Nigeria, 34,321,613 (24.6%) and 9Mobile, 17,349,731 (12.5%).

Watch | Nigeria’s broadband coverage is now 22%, NCC chief says

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Computer Village Nigeria | What really makes this market tick?

It all started when the handful but sizeable hub of GSM phone mart formerly located at Ogunlana Drive in the heart of Surulere to the serene and docile environs of Otigba in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State.

Little did anyone realise that the market would assume the status of the largest information technology accessory market in Africa, generating about N60 million annually in levies alone for Ikeja Local Government Council, collected from about 6000 different categories of shops in the market.

When it comes to phones, computers and other devices, this market comes first to the mind for residents of Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital. Buyers and sellers of technology products and accessories converge daily in the market to transact various businesses and there is actually no brand of phone that is not available in the market; ranging from the authentic ones on display in lock-up shops to counterfeits, which are sometimes on display by traders on tables and make shift shelters.

Aside gadgets and computer accessories, the market also deals in the sales of software and repair of mobile phones, computers and allied gadgets.

An aerial view showing  Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest technology market cluster

An aerial view showing Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest technology market cluster

 

A bustling time on the street of Otigba

Presently, the Ikeja tech market, popularly called the “Computer Village” is undisputedly the largest hub of such on the African continent.

Remarkably, no single individual has a hold on determining the prices of goods and services rendered in the market. It is a highly competitive market where everyone is a player in what he has to offer. It is an open market that is under the administration of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), the umbrella body of businesses in the market.

The market is opened on a daily basis except on Sundays and public holidays. This daily business transactions and popularity has attracted new investors and tech dealers across Africa thereby expanding the market size and population with profound effects on the economy of the host state, Lagos.

Walking along the streets of the market, one is endlessly prodded by hawkers of used phones and gadgets who constantly bellow, “you wan buy phone or you wan sell?” Countless number of youths have found a thriving source of income in the market as engineers, technicians and marketers of all types of gadgets found in the market.

It is an open market with no barriers to entry and exit, allowing great influx of people regularly.

However, in recent times, the market has gone beyond the just sale of all types of tech gadgets to trading in other essential commodities.  Sales of “hand-me-down” clothings, which we popularly refer to as “Okrika” in local parlance have gained popularity in the market and the traders of such commodities enjoy huge patronage.

Other items one is bound to find in the market range from fashion accessories to even edible fruits. If there is another trade that thrives so well in the market and generates a very good source of income, it is the sale of cooked food. The market has food vendors of different tribes, with each showcasing its tribal delicacies. There is virtually no type of the common local dishes that can’t be found in the market. The aroma from those dishes would make any passerby to want to stop and have either a taste or a fill.

On the other hand, the glory and deportment that are bestowed on this ever-lively and vivacious market tends to decrease gradually in intensity and power. The purpose of its existence in the initial setting is gradually being forfeited as a result of increasing crime rate that is being carried out on a daily basis.

Comput

Mobile market….Technology Times file photo shows a phone shop at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos

Mobile market….Technology Times file photo shows a phone shop at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos

er Village, which is noted for its unmatchable popularity in the tech world and marketing is now a market place with an unenviable record of notoriety. It is now a depot for counterfeit and phoney products and also a den for petty thieves, pick-pockets, fraudsters. Stolen phones from other parts of the country somehow find their way into the market to be offered for sale.

Computer Village has also become a haven for manufacturers of fake phones and accessories. Countless of people who have had bitter experiences in the hands of fraudsters that parade themselves as road-side phone sellers. So, while trading in Computer Village, you need to move with caution. This is not to say that there are no longer genuine brands in the market, but the bad eggs are rubbing hard on the good ones.

The case of Toyin Balogun, a student of University of Ilorin who had travelled all the way from Kwara State to Lagos to purchase a cheap phone at the market is pathetic. “I have been hearing of Computer Village for a long time, even before my first visit to Lagos some years back, and many of my friends have been telling me how cheap I can get phones of different types. I have been planning to visit the market on my next visit to Lagos.” But Toyin’s visit left gory tales to her memory when she eventually visited Computer Village.

According to her, she patronised a roadside vendor who brandished an Infinix Android phone before her and she got attracted to it. After much negotiation, the seller sold the phone to her for N35,000. He tested it and it worked perfectly okay. She went to her friend’s shop nearby to have it charged and also fix her SIM card but alas, she got the shocker of her life!

The supposed phone was a mere carcass stuffed with cooked fufu, a local delicacy made out of cassava. She and her friend rushed to the shop where she bought the phone and to her dismay was told the phone wasn’t sold by the owner of the shop. The receipt she was given bore a different business name from that of the shop and the person that attended to her initially was nowhere to be found.

These cases and many more are commonplace in Computer Village market these days. These and many other reasons are enough factual evidence for the recent resolution of Lagos State Government’s plan to relocate the market, which consist of over 3,000 traders to a new location in Kontangowa, Ile-Epo, a suburb of Lagos.

On combating the sales of substandard devices in the market, Mr Ahmed Ojikutu, President of Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), expressed the association’s readiness to work with relevant government bodies to force out substandard products out of the market.

Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos. Uber has said that the Nigeria launch of its taxi booking service will help to decongest Lagos vehicular traffic

Akinwunmi Ambode, Governor of Lagos.

“If there were cartels cloning others’ phones, it wouldn’t be like they can’t be stopped, but without direct involvement of constituted authorities like the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to clamp down, it is not going to be very easy. Therefore, we need their direct collaboration to rid the country of these substandard or cloned phones which constitute problems to the innocent citizens.  We are open to partnerships, needing the backing of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)”, he says.

Accordingly, “if you want to clamp down, we are ready to volunteer information that will assist you. When the cartel knows it is not profitable any more to import substandard products, they will naturally leave the market and the public will be the direct beneficiaries. CAPDAN is coming up with a product called ‘Phone-Range; an online platform to assist buyers check the genuineness or otherwise of any device they want to buy at the Computer Village” he adds.

Although, the Lagos State Government based the reason for relocation on the population density of the market in the once-upon-time residential area but it is obvious that the crime rate in the market community could damage the reputation of the state capital and the state which is fast priding itself a megacity and it’s a strong undertone for the relocation.

National Identity | Nigeria crosses 21 million enrolment mark

Over 21 million Nigerians have been enrolled under the National Identity programme underway across the country.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) confirmed this today in a statement made available to Technology Times that it achieved the 21,360, 000 enrolment mark at close of business on September 6, 2017.

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO at NIMC has set a goal to register 28 million Nigerians into the National Identification Database by the end of December 2017.

NIMC said it has registered 21,360,000 Nigerians into the National Identity Database and issued them the National Identification Number (NIN).

 

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen during the interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja.

Engineer Aliyu Aziz, Director General/CEO of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), seen during the interview with Technology Times at the NIMC Headquarters in Abuja.

The Commission said it has also setup more enrolment Centres across the 36 States of the federation and the FCT, bringing the number of enrolment centres to about 805.

With the deployment of additional enrolment centres, NIMC is currently active in 556 Local Government Areas (LGAs), and is working to activate dormant centres in the remaining 218 LGAs in order to expand enrolment coverage, according to the nation’s identity management agency.

The NIMC DG said that the Commission has continued to record exponential growth in the population of the database, “despite the challenges facing the Commission, even as the country gradually exits recession.”

NIMC had a little above seven million NINs in the database when Aziz took over the mantle of leadership in November, 2015, according to the government agency.

“Despite the challenges and constraints, the Director General who is undaunted, has continued to manage the scarce resources, to ensure that the database is populated before commencing enforcement of the mandatory use of the NIN for all identity based transactions”, according to the NIMC statement.