Africa’s foremost digital disruptor and founder, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, on Monday, April 12, 2021, disclosed that Edo State has the requisite attributes to become a model for a digital economy in Nigeria.
The Zinox boss was speaking during a smart exploratory visit to Benin, the Edo State capital for likely expansion and investment purposes. The serial digital entrepreneur, who seized the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, expressed his surprise at the massive rate of digital adoption in the state, even as he declared that Edo boasts ready whiz kids who can defend the state and Nigeria in the 21st Century.
‘‘The wealth of Edo State lies not in its current Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile, its population or level of infrastructural development in the state but in its growing army of digitally ready youths, many of whom will become certified and sustained billionaires in the nearest future,’’ Ekeh stated.
The Zinox boss, who was conducted round some of the tech hubs in the state in the company of some of his Management staff, expressed amazement at the brilliance of the youths he encountered at the centres, among whom are software developers and coders, digital graphic artists, social media creatives, fashion designers and automobile technicians, among others.
Ekeh, who also addressed specifically the young girls in the hubs, encouraged them to keep up building up their capacities, even as he assured them that they are bound to become global leaders soon as it is no more an extra blessing to have girls than boys in this century, noting that by the second quarter of the century, billionaires would no longer be assessed by their monetary values or gender, but by their future earnings and family values.
The Zinox Chairman hailed the cultured disposition of the young ladies, jokingly noting that if he were to marry today, he will go for a tech-savvy Edo girl already prepared to rule the world.
‘‘This was how I took a decision those old days when I married my wife as a knowledge star with a First Class in Mathematics, a UK-certified accountant with an MBA. Be proud of your state and country of birth and the knowledge privileges you are enjoying under Governor Obaseki and continue to pray for good leadership. Your Governor has made all of you global citizens because you have great value to add to the society as wealth creators and not a burden to the society,’’ he counselled the youths.
He affirmed that the coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, stating that a state like Edo, for instance, has taken advantage of it to double down on its embrace of technology, while some states may not have been conscious of using digital tools to upgrade the knowledge of their citizens.
‘‘I felt the power of enforced digital knowledge in February when I celebrated my birthday. I received over 12,000 messages through texts, WhatsApp, Facebook, emails, etc. It was impossible to reply to all well-wishers. After a few days, I woke up one morning to pray for all persons and organisations that wished me well including Mr. President. It was unprecedented but that reassured me that I did not waste my 36 years of preaching digital democracy and doing IT evangelism.
‘‘It is obvious that the COVID-19 pandemic and its encumbrances have helped Edo State turn more attention to transforming the state into a digital economy. This is highly commendable. Although the current wave of the digital revolution was birthed by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has also dedicated huge attention to the importance of building a digital economy in Nigeria, especially with the renaming of the Ministry of Communications and the appointment of Dr. Ali Isa Pantami, a digitally-savvy professional to man it.’’
Ekeh commended Obaseki for bringing his exposure to bear in building a knowledge base in the state, adding that the state has gone about the initiative without making a noise about it. Further, the Zinox boss disclosed that the benefits of leveraging technology in all facets of human endeavour cannot be over-emphasised in the 21st Century, even as he reiterated that it is the only resource today that can bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Also speaking at the event, Obaseki emphasised the determination of his administration to leave a lasting legacy in the state through a deliberate focus on technology.
‘‘While receiving the Founder Zinox Group, Mr. Leo Ekeh, I reassured that my administration will continue to pursue policies and programmes to enhance digital transformation for businesses in the state, so as to increase their competitive advantage, improve performance and boost growth.
‘‘For us as government, our role is to create an enabling environment; an environment for people to be successful. It is evident, over the last four years, how we have focused on the electrification of Edo state, human capacity building and other notable projects to drive the state’s economy,’’ Obaseki stated.
Meanwhile, Zinox, one of the Infrastructure Companies (Infracos) licensed by the Federal Government, is expected to roll out a multi-billion-naira broadband deployment in the entire 95 local government areas in the South East, a project which analysts believe will unleash the sheer human capital potential of the region and transform it into an investors’ delight.