He is a trail blazer and an innovator with uncommon entrepreneurial skills. Chief Leo Stan Ekeh is one of the loudest voices in Nigeria’s information and technological communication firmament. A man who conquered doubt and cynicism, he today, enjoys a colossal image in the ICT industry by a dint of hardwork, consistency and sheer tenacity of purpose. This illustrious son of Nigeria has succeeded in building an ICT conglomerate which most industry watchers have not stopped talking about.
Yet the man who has labored extensively and went through thick and thin to hoist Nigeria on to the comity of digitally advanced nations is not your prototype science and technologist (in the academic sense). A graduate of Economics from Punjab University, India and postgraduate degree in Risk Management of Nottingham University, England, Leo Stan Ekeh is the founder of Zinox Group which manufactured Nigeria’s first globally certified branded computers.
Since its inception in 2001, Zinox has dominated the ICT space providing cutting edge ICT solutions and most importantly moving the industry to the next level. Zinox holds the ace as a WHQL certified brand, the first in sub – Saharan Africa. Zinox personal computers and their allied accessories have unique features which place them above their peers such as the Naira sign and a power regulating control which is designed to contain the erratic nature of power supply in Nigeria. The company reached another milestone in 2013 with the launch of the Zinox Z pad which won the IT Global Platinum Award. Zinox products are duly certified by Microsoft Corp International Standards Organisation (ISO), Intel Corporation, the Nigeria Manufacturers Association and IDC, USA.
Ekeh’s philosophy in the ICT business has over the years, been woven around the concept which he describes as “Digital knowledge Democracy in Africa. However, his journey into the fascinating world of technology did not begin with Zinox. Having completed his studies in India, he set up Task Systems in 1985 with interests in desktop publishing, computer graphics and sale of ICT accessories. The company flourished so much that it handled the computerisation of most business organisations especially the print media then.
A humongous specie in the global ICT ecosystem, this entrepreneurial giant who reached a lifetime milestone of three scores, this year, pioneered IT distribution across the West African sub region through Technological Distributions (TD) a company the best in distribution and merchandising of sundry computer hardware, telecoms and other critical IT solutions. For the past ten years, TD has won the highest industry awards in IT and recognitions for market penetration, revenue boost and preferred partner status. It is highly celebrated as the most decorated ICT distributor in West Africa. With an uncommon record in after sales support, the company enjoys a global rating as the No. 1 integrated ICT group in Africa. His other business subsidiaries include ICT Brokers, TD Plus, ICT Connect and Buy Right Dotcom.
Leo Stan Ekeh stunned the ICT world when he saved the Nigerian electoral body INEC from what would have been a monumental national disgrace. Zinox led by Ekeh salvaged the nationwide voters’ registration exercise (which initially had immense challenges in the areas of technological know – how) by delivering, in less than 3 weeks 12,000 Zinox branded computer systems to INEC. Again, in 2011, the company proved to be the ICT backbone of INEC in that year’s voter registration exercise. Zinox delivered 180,000 Direct Data Capture machines to the electoral body in less than 35 days, a feat which remains very rare for any ICT company in the world.
A patriot of no mean standing, he is among one of the very few, whose faith in the advancement of Nigeria is unshakable. Ekeh moved his crusade to the National Assembly recently, when he lectured the members of the lower chamber of the Nigerian Legislature on the many benefits of the use of ICT for elections. He said: “with the adoption of e – voting the country will take a huge leap towards sound democratic governance. With the use of card readers in the last general elections, we saw a significant reduction in electoral fraud and other electoral malpractices. The country is ripe for electronic voting.”
Ekeh eats, drinks and sleeps technology. His love and passion for the digital world transcends mere economic gains. It is true that being in the ICT business has brought him fame, money and personal fulfillment, but the major attraction goes beyond all these. His aim is to see that the generality of his fellow Nigerians are moved away from lack and poverty through the avalanche of opportunities that abound in the digital world. His belief in the invaluability of the use of technology is as solid as his six foot plus frame. In 2006, he demonstrated this once more in his remark at the House of Representatives retreat, where he concluded that: “Technology does not lie; it is either you are right or you are wrong.”
Leo Stan is one Nigerian who earned garlands from several high and mighty quarters. This ingenious businessman has won numerous awards and honours both as a person and through his various business concerns. Decorated as Icon of Hope by President Olusegun Obasanjo, he earned the prestigious honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) in 2004. An influential member of the Board of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, he won the Nigerian Science and Technology Achiever of the year award in 2003. He’s currently, a Distinguished Fellow of the Nigerian Law School and a Life Member of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. He has been conferred with honorary doctorate degrees by over 20 reputable tertiary institutions within and outside Nigeria.
He has not shirked from giving back to the society. He has contributed to the promotion so many society advancement projects. Way back in 2000, he launched the Computerise Nigeria Project which has to date, been in the vanguard for creating awareness and encouraging Nigerians on the use of ICT and the invaluable gains of digital life. There is also the CANI scheme which is aimed at providing quality desktop and laptop computers and other ICT gadgets to the Nigerian populace at below normal market prices. The beneficiaries have the option of bank financing and a 24 – month repayment period.
Zinox Group has committed a whooping $2.5Billion to promote digital natives and immigrants across the continent of Africa. It has made several cash and material donations to several religious bodies including the Methodist Church Nigeria. Ekeh is reputed and celebrated across his native Imo State for his numerous philanthropic works. He has built schools and donated computers to encourage the learning of ICT in many secondary and tertiary institutions across the country. His company built ICT laboratories and technological parks at Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Imo State University and the Federal University of Technology Owerri. In his hometown of Ubomiri in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State, he will be remembered for generations to come, as the man who single handedly built, what is today known as Jesus Mary and Joseph (JMJ) Catholic Church, Amauburu.
Born Leornard Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh, on February 22, 1956 into a family of three brothers and two sisters. his elder brother, Eze George Azunna Ekeh, is the reigning king of Ishi Ubomiri Autonomous Community in Imo State. His father, the late Pa Ebenezer, Sunday Ekeh was a reputable medic who provided medical services to the rural folks across Mbaitoli during his life time. Leo Stan attended the famous Holy Ghost College, Owerri for his secondary school education.
Noted for his humble and simple lifestyle, he is a teetotaler and a responsive family man. Ekeh’s household has transformed into something of a corporate empire. His wife, Chioma who is a graduate of Statistics calls the shots at Technological Distributions, while his first son Nnamdi jnr is the Chief Executive Officer of Yudala which is a pioneer composte e – commerce outfit, standing higher than the likes of Jumia and Konga. His first daughter, Gozzy, who is now Mrs. Jogun, heads one of the flourishing subsidiaries of Zinox Group.