The former CEO Diamond Bank PLC, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, has laid emphasis on the financial sector going digital and advancing greatly in technology and that Nigeria must go with this global trend to make our operations more efficient.

Mr Dozie made this statement on Monday while delivering his keynote address at the Duale, Ovia & Alex-Adedipe’s 2nd Annual Business Series held at The WheatBaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The event which theme was anchored on: “Investment In Nigeria’s Telecommunication, Media And Technology Market”, had three panel sessions with different topics centered around the legal side of technology, investment and inclusion.

On the first session, with the topic “Investment In Mobile Payment And Financial Inclusion”, a question on the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as regulatory bodies for businesses in this mobile payment space, and how is the regulation was raised.

One of the panelists, Tosin Eniolorunda, the CEO of TeamApt Limited was of the view that for the Stakeholders to preempt the industry for the next 5-10 years, then there is need to create a more inclusive environment with all players in this space.

Another panelist, Usoro Usoro, GM, MTN Mobile Financial Services, encouraged the regulatory bodies to continually improve their capacity to be up-to-date with the latest trends.

Jay Alabrabra, Co-Founder, Pagatech Limited added that he believes the regulatory bodies still need capacity to handle all these mobile payments space. Adedeji Olowe, CEO, Trium Networks Limited was asked what he looks out for when seeking for an investment offer.

He said that he does consider the pedigree of the owner, the team experience, and regulation too. He also added that companies should not raise money too fast; it could have a negative effect on the long run. On the personality of the business owner, he said that having an emperor CEO won’t work for him because his investment may end up with no returns with such type of people.

Taking questions from the audience, a participant, Mr. Toye, asked about having an Emperor CEO, which in his opinion is quite good considering the type of business environment we find ourselves. Deji clarified what he meant and rather used the word TYRANT as they are bad for business.

Chairman of the panel Sanyade Okoli, CEO, Alpha African Advisory, was of the view that one thing about these type of people is that they do not listen as the ability to listen to your team and staff members is a good quality of a business leader. Tosin, also noted that there is need to get our politicians become more involved in these new technologies as the case in East Africa where Presidents of 3 East African nations attended a technology summit in Kenya. Concluding the session, Jay encouraged business leaders to focus more on collaborations.

The second Session was on “Technology Investment And The Growing Need For Intellectual Property Protection”. Kenneth Muhangi, an Intellectual Property Lawyer and Partner KTA Advocates, Uganda, opened a discussion by explaining what IP protection really is, as it is the protection of business brand and ideas. He added that IP protects the expression of the idea not just the idea alone.

Mrs. Odunayo Eweniyi Co-Founder/COO Piggytech Global Limited, said that IP protection is top on the list for her in her organization but that its quite hard protecting the software design over here as a competitor may come up with a much similar design but the difference will now be in the way they operate their business, which will be slightly different from theirs. For them, they focus on that little difference and make stand out for their customers, strategizing more on customer acquisition and retention.

Muhangi also added that the protection of a software is possible, it is being done over there in East Africa and can also be replicated here, so the IP registration body here needs to research more about this.

He also said that over there in East Africa, they have also studied the Blockchain technology and adopted it in IP protection. By using Blockchain, it will help keep a record of their Intellectual property of the business in an online ledger that only the business owner and the server administrator has access to. That way, leaks will be reduced to minimal level and it is also secured.

Muhangi also said that IP valuation is also an issue in Nigeria because these things are also company assets. If for example, a business loses its brand name to another business, it will surely affect the former, which is why the brand name alone is a huge asset for the business. He gave an example of a business called Equinox, a foreign company that claimed they operated in the health sector.

“The business owner sold the value of their offering and raised so much money from investors only for the investors to realize that it was all a scam, everything said about the company was nonexistent.  The owner used the brand to achieve this.

“When discussing with an investor, we must try not to disclose our trade secret for our protection”, he stated.

Kenneth Obiajulu, Co-Founder /CEO Farmgate Africa, in his statement said that the need for IP protection cannot be over emphasized as his business takes it very serious. For them, their business is 80% field work and 20% tech so they focus more on building partnerships, collaborations with those on the value chain.

Eloh Umeh, Founder, Terragon Group, noted that the legal framework over here is not where it needs to be yet, therefore lawyers and the regulators needs to meet and discuss regularly on how to make it more efficient because the reality is that more and more money running into hundreds of millions of dollars in investments are coming into the tech space in Nigeria. For example, last year, out of all the foreign investments that came into Africa for the TMT industry, the largest chunk of it came to Nigeria and recently, Microsoft also announced that they will be investing about $100 million in Africa for the tech industry and Nigeria will also benefit greatly from this investment. The panel was chaired by Gbenga Haastrup, Chief Risk and Legal Officer InterSwitch.

The third session was on “Nigerian Tmt Investors – Opportunities And Investments Emerging Across The TMT Space In Nigeria”.

This panelist comprises all business investors except Adetayo, CEO of MAX.NG, and they outlined three key things to look out for in an investment offer.  According to Maya Horgan Famodu, Partner, Ingressive Capital, the following should be put into consideration: Demonstration Of Liquidity, Your Exit Strategy, Profitability Of The Business, Its Market Size And Does The Business Have An Actual Product? Not An Idea.

To Olumide Soyombo, Founder, Bluechip Technologies Limited the team behind the business – the market size, the product(s) and experience of the founder. For Eric Idiahi, Co-Founder, Verod Capital Management Limited, you should look out for the people behind the business, how quickly they breakeven and passion of the founders.  According to Adetayo Bamiduro, Co-Founder & CEO, Max.ng, the people, scalability of the business and the business having minimal risk are key factors to look out for in an investment offer.

Putting the valuation for Tech Companies was also in question as  Olumide Soyombo, noted that most valuations are done using silicon valley standard, which doesn’t really work that way here. Dr. Akintoye, was of the view that there is still room for every investor to operate here, whether foreign or local as they both have unique roles to play for business owners.

Eric added that there is still need for local investors as they help provide more opportunities for the business like handling issues with regulatory bodies, creating more market opportunities for the business.

From the audience, Mr. Kenneth Muhangi asked why we don’t accept international cards here.  Dr. Akintoye answered by saying that we have an infrastructural problem here as regards that —  less than 10,000 functional automated teller machines (ATMs), less than 200,000 POS machines in the country. But with the advent of QR code machines, adopting as our new payment system can help eliminate this problem.

The Chairman asked the panelist if they were investing at the moment.

Olumide, yes, investments between $25,000 to $100,000; Adeniyi, yes, investments between $100,000 to $2 mill; and Dr. Akintoye, yes, investments between $5 mill to $50 mill.

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