Kofo Akinkugbe is recognised globally for being an entrepreneurial success story and for her strong business track record. She is a mathematics major and has an MBA from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
After completing her education, she was in the financial sector for more than 12 years. In 1997 she left to start Interface Technologies Ltd, a security management and biometrics technologies company, which she ran successfully for nine years. In 2005, she went on to establish SecureID Nigeria Ltd, an offshoot from a small department in Interface Technologies and the first certified smart card manufacturing plant in sub-Saharan Africa.
The organisation’s website states that SecureID is Africa’s industry leader in smart card manufacturing, personalisation/fulfilment and digital solutions, offering superior end-to end identity management and digital security solutions. The company manufactures all kinds of smart cards, including highly complex polycarbonate cards. Their SecureCard Manufacturing is the first smart card manufacturing plant in Nigeria and the first polycarbonate card manufacturing plant in Africa, with distribution in an impressive 21 African countries.
Speaking at an innovation forum, Akinkugbe urged business owners to build capacity that will sustain creativity: “We need to create an environment that drives creativity. Do not be afraid to test new things.” Her company has succeeded by thinking ahead, developing a product that was not yet in demand at the time it was being developed. She added, “We must be creative, ensuring that we are a step ahead of competition.”
She also stressed the need to make it company policy to encourage employees to be creative and to track returns on investment based on staff creativity. She asked, “How effectively do you measure and track the returns on your investment? Does the way you innovate reflect your vision and appetite for innovation? Encourage staff to be innovative; do things innovatively.”
Currently, Secure ID is fully certified by VISA, Verve and MasterCard, and the company operates a world-class production plant employing best practices and setting international standards. The company is the leading Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) certified card plant in West Africa – this is the global standard for chip-based debit and credit card transactions. It is one of six in Africa and a member of the elite club of only 80 such companies in the world.
SIM card manufacturing
In 2017, Akinkugbe commissioned a SIM card manufacturing line to support the needs of Nigeria’s rapidly growing mobile telecoms sector. According to reports, the line will greatly help in the preservation of foreign exchange in the telecoms sector and provide a proximate location for the numerous telecoms companies in the country and on the continent, who will now be able to locally source SIM cards that are high quality, meet global standards and offer competitive pricing.
Speaking about the launch, Akinkugbe said, “This facility is the result of a bold vision and absolute confidence in the underlying strength and strategic importance of the Nigerian economy. It resonates as a pivotal strategy in the growth of the nation’s telecoms industry, especially in the area of local manufacturing of SIM cards.”
She pointed out that the organisation offers the most advanced solutions based on smart cards and covers the various implementations of SIM card electronic profiles, namely 2G(SIM), 3G(USIM) and 4G(LTE), including the development of a wide range of programme applications.
Nigeria spends billions importing SIM, ATM cards from China. Mrs Akinkugbe built a factory in 2015 that was inaugurated in Dec 2016, as west Africa's first smart-card plant. It produces 200 million cards. Now her company exports to 21 African countries, as well as to Nigerians. pic.twitter.com/p3AJN1YKGI
— ᴏᴍᴀsᴏʀᴏ ᴀʟɪ ᴏᴠɪᴇ™☤ (@ovieali) June 6, 2019