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Nigeria Experiences Major Mobile Subscriptions Growth

By Peter Pedroncelli

Africa has experienced major growth of new mobile subscriptions during the first quarter of 2017, with nine million Africans signing up for new services during that time. Out of 107 million new mobile subscriptions that were added globally, nine million were from Africa with three million of those from Nigeria alone, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility report. In terms of the total mobile subscriptions globally, Africa now has 985 million, more than the total amount of subscriptions in Western Europe (520 million) and the Middle East (415 million) combined. This makes Africa the fourth fastest growing market worldwide, with only India, China and the Asia-Pacific region boasting more mobile subscribers.

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From car boot to top Nigerian children’s brand: The story of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble

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“Whatever thy hand findeth, do with all thy might.” This was the advice that Adenike Ogunlesi’s mother would repeatedly give her as a child. “And my mother’s voice still echoes in my head today.” Ogunlesi is the entrepreneur behind Nigerian children’s clothing manufacturer and retailer, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble. The brand has 15 stores across five cities in the country and has another opening before the end of the year. There are further plans to open an additional 28 stores between 2016 and 2018. It all started during a rainy season in 1996 when Ogunlesi decided to make her three small children pyjamas. They were cotton, colourful, and trimmed with lace with a Peter Pan collar. There was nothing like them in the market.

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The journey so far: Lexi Novitske, principal investment officer, Singularity Investments

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Alexandra “Lexi” Novitske is the principal investment officer at Singularity Investments, which she launched in 2014 in Nigeria. She oversees the firm’s operations in Africa. Singularity invests in visionary entrepreneurs in technology-enabled, early-stage companies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tell us about one of the toughest situations you’ve found yourself in, and how you overcame this challenge.

When I first moved to Nigeria I faced tremendous disapproval and biases from family and friends. My parents worried for my safety while my mentors were concerned that my promising career in the investment world would shift into charity work. While these anxieties were driven by genuine care and unawareness about Nigeria, the lack of support behind my decision to dedicate my career to growing African investments made the choice much harder.

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Filling Nigeria’s fintech sector

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The golden coastline of California wasn’t enough to keep Tayo Oviosu from returning to Nigeria to found Paga – a secure payment ­system that has become one of the country’s most widely used platforms. Built on the principle of “appropriate technology” able to operate in any environment and on the most basic mobile phone, Paga addresses an issue that is critical to Africa’s development: the availability of financial services to all. “The opportunity I saw is one that exists across the continent,” says Oviosu. “Traditional banks don’t have the reach to the mass market and so these economies are inevitably cash driven, and it’s difficult to make payments and effect commerce. So if Nigeria is to be the economic juggernaut it really could be, you have to solve payments and make it easy for people to pay or get paid; and it has to be easy for people to access finance.”

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