Is Nigeria the number 1 digital nation in West Africa?

Nigeria is leading the way to become the first Digital Nation in Africa and Nigeria significantly increased the gap when it became the first African nation to launch and activate its own national digital currency, the eNaira, on the 25th of October 2021.

The innovation was warmly welcomed by the majority and according to Bloomberg, as of November 2021, 488 000 consumer wallets had been downloaded with customer transactions reaching a value of N62 million.

Some states in Nigeria have followed the brilliant leadership manifested by President Buhari’s office in this department. In Lagos state, Governor Sanwo Olu’s office has followed suit with programmes such as Eko Excel focusing on digital inclusion for teachers and more recently, the Lagos Smart City Programme.

However, some questions surfed through my mind as I celebrated the excellent leadership and the corresponding innovation.

1. Is Nigeria or Lagos State ready for a smart city?

2. Considering the state of power supply and lack of reliable and concrete broadband and supporting infrastructures, will a smart city work for the population?

3. What about the tech or digital literacy of the population?

This is why I have prepared the following nine (9) recommendations for the best outcome to ensure that Nigeria continues to lead Africa in digital inclusion.

Digital Inclusion: 9 recommendations for impact in Lagos State and Nigeria

Digital is changing our lives, our jobs, how we run our businesses, manage our health, manage our work, lifelong learning and how we manage our money.

This means that having the digital skills, motive, spaces, provisions, technology infrastructures, leadership and the confidence to navigate the digital world is becoming essential for life, education and for work.

According to the World Economic Forum’s publication titled Our Shared Digital Future, the fourth industrial revolution is well underway and it has the power to reduce inequalities in Lagos, Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large.

However, doing so depends on having certain technological levers and mechanisms in place. Doing so depends on empowering everyone – regardless of geography, location, income, age or gender – and it requires concerted action and greater collaboration across all players.

  1. Encourage employers to support basic and intermediate digital skills: especially for low-skilled staff, using resources available off and on line and in communities. We need to find better ways to engage and support people in low-paid jobs, with low literacy, low digital skills, amd who want to progress.
  2. Use digital inclusion to catalyse collaboration locally: Stronger strategic leadership by local authorities with comprehensive strategies for digital inclusion are needed. Co-ordinated pathways to support and make it easier for people to get the support that they need to progress.
  3. Accessible and affordable Broadband infrastructure (i.e Fiber Optic): Broadband also plays an important role in improving social outcomes. Broadband democratizes access to education, offering a wide supply of free and open education platforms, courses, and resources. It can also help people foster social supports and stay in contact with a broader social network.
  4. Invest in citizen institutions such as Local Government Libraries: The library is a controlled space for connecting with children while allowing them space and time to make own connections. Children can now enjoy many free activities with their parent/s or guardian at the local library. Read my top benefits of local libraries here.
  5. Embed digital inclusion in all major initiatives: For jobs and skills, financial inclusion, and small business support. We have now reached technology adoption maturity usherin in the decline that will lead to new AI and AR. Digital should be an integral component, not a bolt.
  6. Promote the benefits of digital and the internet: especially for people on local incomes and those seeking work. Some of the biggest economic opportunities lie in monitoring micro businesses, educational institutions and sole traders to embrace technology and digital.
  7. Provide free and affordable essential digital skills support for citizens: For everyone who needs it, prioritising those who are constrained by poverty. The Lagos government needs to use their developed powers to ensure adult skill policies deliver a geniunely inclusive and effective offer. This means: recognising that effective support is much wider than digital skills; it is about digital motivation and confidence and developing people’s ability to apply digital skilla for life and work. Supporting trusted and recognised faces and trusted faces in local places as the best way to reach individuals, organisatons, lawmakers and institutions who need support the most. Finally, ensuring that support keeps pace with digital trends, online safety, skills for the future of work amd digital financial skills.
  8. Support holistic approaches to digital capability that understand the wider needs of the individuals: foregrounding digital skills in relation to social inclusion and education. Our local servies should be person-centred, agile and motivational, taking into account of the interactions between individual factor, personal circumstances and external factors.
  9. Harness the power of peers: to build skills and motivation, whether through peer support in communities, schools, or local and national business networks. Furthermore, when people share stories of how digital has benefited them, this can motivate others.

We have a huge opportunity to use digital inclusion to create a fairer society and equitable and inclusive economy in Lagos State and Nigeria, but we can only make it happen if we work together.

John Adewole is Inaugurated Platinum Patron of The Nigerian Red Cross Society

The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) on Saturday 15th January 2021 appointed the DNG founder, Mr. John A. Adewole, along with four others as Platinum Patrons.

The Investiture ceremony which took place at the NRCS Headquarters, Lagos was graced with dignitaries such as the Chairperson, Mrs.  Adebola Kolawole and her team.

Mr. John who has always believed and lived a life of service to humanity through his years in the United Kingdom, received this with great delight and honor for more service stretched across continents especially, back at his place of origin – Nigeria.

In 2020, just before the pandemic struck, he was in Nigeria, Africa on a digital championship tour to raise the campaign for a more digital society – bridging the digital divide. During the lockdown declared by the government of Nigeria to prevent the spread of the virus (COVID-19) which included schools and some other sectors of the Nigerian economy, Mr. John enthusiastically began to support schools to teach their students via digital platforms.

The Nigerian teachers who were opportune to participate in this raised the bar of e-learning by swiftly becoming digital champions who could keep up the teaching-learning process for their school. The result was remarkable.

Back in the United Kingdom, Mr. John continued his bridging the digital divide campaign with Good Things Foundation’s through the UK’s Online Centres Network to distribute free Tablets and data to vulnerable people and communities in England and Wales.

A young girl receives a tablet for remote learning in Southwark, London.

Mr. John who is a firm believer in creating equal opportunities for everyone especially the vulnerable spoke on the day of the investiture ceremony about contributions he is willing to make so as to support and partner with the NRCS in actualizing its goals.

At DNG, we believe this is just the starting point for our leader, Mr. John A. Adewole and we also take this opportunity to say, A Big Congratulations once again. We know this is not just a title but a responsibility you are not afraid to take on because you believe this is your mandate.

Congratulations Sir!!!

10 benefits of volunteering

When presented with volunteering opportunities, I have found that youths are often put off by the thought of a construct that involves “work without wage or reward”. Well, this is not actually the reality and volunteering is an essential and concrete way to give back to one’s community and the society at large.

Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and build healthy personal and professional relationships held at the core of a shared passion for humanity.

I am a proud volunteer at the UK’s Online Centres Network where I have contributed to empowering 15+ million people back into work or to take back control of their lives during tech-adoption maturity and beyond. I have been volunteering for 20 years, in England, Australia, Kenya and Wales and was recently awarded a platinum patron by the Nigerian Red Cross Lagos branch.

In this article, I share my perceived benefits of volunteering as experienced during my 20 years as a volunteer in England and Wales through the UK Online Centres Network where I am also the digital health and wellbeing specialist for the network.

Why should you consider volunteering?

Volunteering is a great way to explore and improve your social and technical skills. It exposes you to like-minded connections and networks that you could meet only in a corporate and workplace.

Volunteering strengthens your ties to the community and gives you the opportunity to practise and develop your ideas. Because volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others, it can also support you to develop a concrete social fabric and a supportive and solid career base.

Benefits of volunteering

There are several ways to volunteer. You can volunteer off or online, through events, by contributing personal or organisational time and/or skill to a cause, or through cash donations.

Below are my top 10 benefits of volunteering.

  • Volunteering gives you a sense of achievement and purpose and it is a practical way to explore your passion and purpose.
  • You can make a difference to someone’s life through volunteering. 
  • You will like-minded individuals and organisations through volunteering. 
  • Be recognised and acquire references for your passion, skills and experience through volunteering. 
  • Learn new skills that could help your career and purpose through volunteering. 
  • Be a part of a community of passionate like-minded individuals and organisations. 
  • Get exclusive invitations to national events.
  • Volunteering helps you feel better about yourself by improving your self-esteem and confidence
  • You can share your talents, learn new skills and create a better work-life balance through volunteering.
  • Meet industry experts and insights
  • You can develop professional connections and networks through volunteering.

Volunteering is both extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic because it is a good way to meet people and develop a social fabric and it creatively exposes you to professional connections and networks. It is intrinsic because it has a great way to give back to the community and society. When you give back and support or heal people in need, your self-esteem blossoms and you heal yourself too.

Hubert Ogunde Memorial School has been awarded a Guinness World Record

In this update, we share the story of Hubert Ogunde Memorial School.

Hubert Ogunde Memorial School is a leading Montessori school situated in the heart of Akute, in Ogun State.

About HUBOG

Hubert Ogunde Memorial School is often referred to as HUBOG locally.

The school was founded by the daughter of Hubert Ogunde, Abosede Oloyede, in 1995.

The school is named after the great Nigerian actor, poet, educator, activist and playwright – Dr Hubert Adedeji Ogunde.

The school is famed for its ingenious and creative blend of contemporary methods and technology.

Hubert Ogunde Memorial School was the first school in Akute to start remote learning during the lockdown.

Guinness World Record

In February of 2021, HUBOG joined other institutions in Nigeria, such as Scholars’ Crest School and Broadway Junior School, to execute Safer Internet Day thereby contributing to a new Guinness World Record. 

The campaign was championed by Safer Internet Day (UK) and the certificate awarded for “Most Safety Pledges For An Internet Safety Campaign in 24hrs”.

Scholars’ Crest International School awarded a Guinness World Record & British IS Award

Today we remember the ingenuity manifested by Lagos schools and the heroism shown by teachers across the nation during the peak of lockdown, here in Nigeria and the rest of the world.

So many events have occurred this year. It is quite easy to get drawn to it all and be drowned in the inequalities, gaps and uncertainty that the pandemic has now exposed in many walks of life.

But that is not truly the case. The pandemic has also exposed opportunities for new learning and innovation, and education is at the forefront of the essential transformation.

In this update, we share the story of Scholars’ Crest International School, Omole Phase II, Lagos State.

About SCIS

SCIS stands for Scholars’ Crest International School. SCIS was founded by Mrs Olubunmi Runsewe in 1985 and it is one of the future-proofed contemporary nursery and primary schools in Lagos State with a modern ICT room and supporting infrastructures.

As we often say here at Digital Nation, Scholar’s Crest International School is simply the best school in Lagos State that you have NEVER heard of.

Scholars’ Crest International School is the first school in Nigeria to experience our Digital Champion Programme. In 2021, SCIS joined other institutions in Lagos State, such as Hubert Ogunde Memorial School and Broadway Junior School, to execute Safer Internet Day thereby contributing to a new Guinness World Record. The school has also been awarded an International School Award by British Council, through the Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme.

6 lessons that educators can take away from the Pandemic

COVID-19 has put new demands on the triple bottom line, and there is no one manual or exit for and from the current situation.

Though we currently experience a partial lockdown, the unpredictability of the pandemic is real, and the restrictions on social and physical interaction remain in place.

COVID-19 did not only disrupt learning as the pandemic manifested new opportunities for more and continued learning through personal and professional development initiatives.

COVID-19 presented unique opportunities for educators to rethink and redesign what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century and beyond. Personally speaking, the Pandemic offers a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to address the gross inequalities and inadequacies in the Educational system.

In the article, I impart six lessons schools can take away from the pandemic as observed during my work with teachers in Nigeria during the peak of lockdown.

  1. Together we can achieve so much more: Teachers discovered intrinsic and new strengths within themselves and among colleagues.
  2. Teachers bonded during a time of adversity: Teachers talked, listened, and worked
    with parents, community, and outside groups to co-design and co-deploy solutions.
  1. Teachers employed a plethora of technology: Teachers swiftly learned the power of educational Apps such as Zoom, Doodle polls, Padlet, Seesaw, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams.
  2. Personal Development Planning PDP & Continuous Professional Development CPD: During the lockdown, Teachers benefited from more professional development opportunities and joined more professional (online) chats than ever before.
  3. Learning, unlearning and relearning. STARR – Situation. Tasks. Actions. Result. And… Reflect… Teachers know that this is no ordinary start of term. Teachers must now be deliberate in learning and development and must invest in digital literacy.
  4. Technology-Adoption Maturity: During the lockdown, many teachers were finally able to make successful cases for tech-adoption in their schools.

Teachers should continue to work collaboratively and share best practices within and beyond their schools. Teachers who had the support of management and whose management believed in technology found it easier to adapt to online learning during the lockdown.

I think teachers showed their invaluable worth during the lockdown. We should support our teachers and build on this with the provision of funding and specialised training that not only supports the classroom but lifelong learning outside the classroom.

We should focus on teachers (physical and mental) health and wellbeing and ensure that the anxieties and uncertainties faced daily are supported and listened to and that our schools, as well as Governance, provide positive and safe teaching environments.

Simple tips for parents and guardians of young gamers

The New York Times published a pretty bleak look at what quarantine induced screen/gaming time is theoretically doing to kids in January of 2020. But this is not a new topic or issue. Silent movies were said to provoke crimeViolent TV and, later, violent video games said to cause violent crimes. War games have been said to cause mass-shootings.

In fairness, every generation has its own social and moral panic about emerging technologies and technology adoption, and it is far from over for video games and gaming discussions.

The issue is that no one actually keeps their eye on the ball. As each new technology comes out, we forget the last one. In recent years, we have been easily excited and distracted by emerging technologies, rhetoric, and ‘experts’, most of which has now come to light following the sudden manifestation of COVID-19. It is therefore pivotal to maintain focus and not only see the pandemic as a disruption, but also as an opportunity to bridge certain gaps and re-calibrate for tech-adoption maturity and beyond. In the article, I address a concern from a parent in London below.

as a parent with an artistic child I see him losing all his other interests, if I let him play everyday there would still be an argument when it’s time to stop! I personally worry about too much time staring at a screen.

A Concerned Mother

Gaming is a joint leisure time activity for many people around the world. When humans share leisure time activities together, they often initiate, build, and foster diverse social relationships. For more on the social and economic side of gaming, read my top tips for parents and guardians here and the socio-economic benefits of gaming and eSports here.

Contemporary online gaming devices are not so different from a personal computer or a smart phone and the internet. Contemporary gaming devices and access are pretty much portals to infinite social worlds, applications, and engagement.

At IFB, we believe that computer games (digital games or video games) are great and as we approach tech-adoption maturity and the final phase of the 4th industrial evolution, more and more things will be game-like. Have you played a game on Facebook recently and shared with your friends?

We have found that many people believe that there is a scientifically established relationship between violent video game play and violent crime, when in fact there is no research to indicate such a link. There is also strong misperception that just because someone plays a lot of video games, they are addicted to them. Disregarding the fact that there is currently an open debate as to whether or not video game addiction exists at all.

Pre pandemic, WHO classified gaming as a mental health disorder. Some leaders openly voiced their concerns for gaming addiction and its inherent link to violence – for example, the mass shootings in the USA. In the UK, the top mental health nurse has warned that video games are pushing young people into ‘under the radar’ gambling. It is far from over for gaming, but for now, here are some simple tips for parents and guardians of young gamers.

Simple Tips For Parents & Guardians

Be aware of the 3Cs, communication, connections and context of communication and connections during multiplayer-online gaming.

Off-line, use framing to focus on time and activity planning and management more than screen-time.

Gaming must not be his/her only social, playtime and relaxation activity.

Be present and interested and participate when he/she is gaming.

Finally, it costs to purchase a v-box for a young person every week to play video games such as FORTNITE. This partnership and privilege should be positively framed and transferable to developments at home and in real life.

Our top cybersecurity risk predictions for 2022 and beyond

As the end of 2020 draws closer, it is imperative for both organizations and individuals alike to reflect and gear up for cybersecurity and cybercrime in the new decade. Organizations and individuals should consider new and innovative approaches, but most importantly, a pro-active and deliberate approach that’s deliberately directed to identify, capture and neutralize threats is essential. Considering the frequency and sophistication of hacking and ransomware attacks in 2019, not to mention, the pandemic and urgent adoption of remote learning by organisations around the world – skilled resources and smarter measures should be of consideration in the new decade.

For this reason, I distilled 30 independent reports dedicated to cybersecurity and I have compiled the 7 most interesting projections in this article.

Internal/External Sabotage – The global proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things) and connected devices, usage of public cloud, PaaS (Platform As A Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) greatly facilitates business and enables rapid growth. Concomitant, and often unnoticed, is the increase in an organization’s external attack surface. As you cannot protect what you don’t know, the vast proportion of these digital assets are not properly maintained, monitored, or protected in any manner. The situation is exacerbated by rogue mobile apps, fraudulent, phishing, and squatting websites, detectable by properly implemented domain security monitoring that now starts paving its road to popularity among cybersecurity professionals. As organizations upgrade their IT and leave behind a trail of obscure digital unknowns, whether in-house or external, the easier and faster it is to break in. According to CSO Online by IDG, 61% of organizations experienced an IoT security incident in 2019.

Compliance Fatigue – The mushroomed regional, national, and transnational regulatory and political climate may exacerbate compliance fatigue among cybersecurity professionals. 2020 may just be the year when current cybersecurity compliance begins to erode and start its rapid downfall. In light of the slow judicial system on one side, and insufficient cybersecurity skills and scanty budgets on another, cybersecurity professionals may start flatly disregarding the wide spectrum of superfluous regulations. Thankfully, in the UK, GDPR data subjects are empowered with a bundle of rights to control their personal data and its life-cycle.

Third Party Breaches – In 2019, many businesses displayed a high level of proficiency and specialization by concentrating all available resources to attain excellence in a particular market, playing ti their strengths. To achieve this, they outsourced most of their secondary business processes to skilled suppliers and experienced third-parties, thereby reducing costs, increasing quality, and accelerating delivery. Cybercriminals are well aware of this low-hanging fruit and will continue to purposely target this weakest link to get your data, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

Enterprise collaboration – According to ImmuniWeb, over 21 million of valid credentials were exposed on the Dark Web in 2019. The dark web is increasingly becoming popular and fashionably lucrative for rogue individuals and criminal enterprises. In 2021, we may witness new enterprise models and ways of working via the dark web. To this end, organizations may need to invest in understanding the dark web, and counter and mobile-based applications that deter or directly attack cyber-threats.

The Cloud – In July 2019, the world media reported a breach of Capital One, being presumably the largest data breach within the US financial sector and affecting approximately 100 million individuals in the United States and 6 million in Canada. Reportedly, the attacker exploited a mis-configured AWS S3 bucket to download extremely sensitive data that was left unattended. There are already signs that suggest that cloud mis-configuations will expose millions of records in 2020 and beyond. In 2020 and the foreseeable future, cloud security incidents will stay atop of data breach root causes. Furthermore, we are yet to experience an attack on the cloud providers and applications such as One Drive and Google Drive and many trusted brands for that matter. Will cybercriminals exploit this trust in 2021?

Password reuse and Phishing – Even if the passwords found or purchased by the attackers on the Dark Web are invalid, they provide a great wealth of ideas for ingenious social engineering campaigns, facilitate phishing and smart brute-forcing attacks. There are already creative and innovative methods being exploited within certain industries, e.g. fingerprint scan, and facial and voice recognition. But, even if many organizations finally managed to implement a consumable Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems, with strong password policies, MFA, and continuous monitoring for anomalies, few external systems are included in the safeguarded scope. Such grey-zone systems range from SaaS CRM and ER Such grey-zone systems range from SaaS CRM and ERP to elastic public cloud platforms. According to DBIR, phishing was responsible for 32% of data breaches and 78% of cyber espionage in 2019.

Ecommerce and targeted-ransomware – According to IBM, the average time to identify a breach in 2019 was as high as 206 days. Still, even worse, such attacks are infrequently detected both due to their sophistication and lack of skills amid the victims, eventually being suddenly reported by security researchers or journalists and flabbergasting the data owners. 2021 will see a significant increase in organized ransomware activities under the umbrella some sort of support or professional service. They are often deployed through Trojans (through an email attachment) and they are extremely difficult to detect or prepare for.

History has shown that the period from the moment when an attack is launched to until when it is detected has the most devastating impact. Organizations and individuals should consider new and innovative approaches, but most importantly, a pro-active disposition, deliberately directed to identify, capture and neutralize cyber-threats before manifestation.