Not many people know him as Leonard Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh. He is rather better known as Leo Stan Ekeh and he is Africa’s foremost serial digital entrepreneur.
The globally recognized tech guru, is Chairman of Zinox Group, Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest integrated technology conglomerate which includes viable concerns such as Zinox Technologies Limited, Task Systems Ltd., Technology Distributions Limited (TD Africa) and TD Mobile, among others, through which he has deployed some of the biggest ICT projects on the continent.
On the anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence on October 1, 2001, Leo Stan Ekeh was honoured as an Icon of Hope by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for his sustained pioneering efforts in the area of Information Technology and also as a pride to modern Nigeria.
A man of many firsts, he has also inspired several generations of budding entrepreneurs and startups, many of who are currently disrupting the technology space in Nigeria and beyond.
Mr. Ekeh’s groundbreaking strides in the Nigerian technology ecosystem recorded another major achievement in 2018 when he made a bold return to e-Commerce (a vertical he pioneered in Africa many years ago through BuyRight Africa Dotcom) with the addition of Konga after acquiring the company from previous majority investors, Naspers and AB Kinnevik. Barely two years after its acquisition, Ekeh has transformed the composite e-Commerce giant into Nigeria’s leading player, with the brand on the cusp of dominating Africa’s biggest market and making inroads into other neighbouring African markets.
Indeed, the story of Mr. Ekeh’s legendary strides is one of many firsts amid a series of landmark achievements in his chosen field of Information and Communications Technology.
He pioneered Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics in Nigeria in 1987 with his first Company – Task Systems Ltd. In addition, Mr. Ekeh launched the first ICT support Company in Nigeria – ITEC Solutions Ltd. Additionally, he pioneered the deployment of digital dispensing pumps for petrol and gas stations in Nigeria in partnership with Elf Oil (now Total Plc.) after he was cheated by an attendant at a fuel station. He also pioneered ICT Distribution in West Africa with the launch of Technology Distributions Ltd. (today known as TD Africa) which has remained the biggest technology, lifestyle and cutting-edge solution distributors in the West African sub-region.
He also holds the rare status of manufacturing the first internationally certified computer brand in Sub-Saharan Africa called Zinox Computers.
Equally important, the biometric digital revolution in Nigeria can be attributed to Mr. Ekeh who singlehandedly delivered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voters’ registration in 2006 when foreign contractors could not deliver after months of promises. Four years later, he again supervised the biggest single ICT digital rollout in Africa with INEC in 2010 valued back then at over $170m, as well as the largest single e-Library and Wireless Cloud rollout project on the continent through one of his companies – Zinox Technologies Ltd. Today, Ekeh’s contributions and sterling work with INEC have gone a long way in giving Nigeria a credible database of voters and reduced post-election litigations by over 45 per cent.
Leo Stan Ekeh has also been involved with companies such as ICT Brokers, TD Plus, ICT Connect and, as earlier stated, the launch of Africa’s first ever e-commerce outfit, Buyright AFRICA Dotcom.
A major advocate of digital literacy for all, Ekeh holds the enviable record of donating cutting-edge and well-equipped digital centres to several secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Significantly, Ekeh’s Zinox Group pioneered the unheralded but highly commendable practice of paternity leave in Nigeria to reduce stress on young male staff and enable them support their spouses when they welcome a new baby.
A first rate Indian-trained Economist and Global Advisor to Microsoft, Mr. Ekeh holds a Post Graduate Degree in Risk Management from Nottingham University, England. He equally holds several honorary doctorate degrees from highly respected universities for his enviable record of incisive entrepreneurship and pioneering efforts in the field of Information Technology.
A renowned digital democrat and philanthropist, Ekeh has also quietly touched so many lives through the Leo Stan Foundation – his personal foundation. Among his efforts in this area are charitable works such as donation of N100m to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East, donation of N50m to victims of the demolished Eke-Ukwu market in Imo State, scholarships to hundreds of indigent students across Nigeria to study both at home and abroad, as well as the set-up of a N1.5bn revolving loan scheme for disadvantaged students and entrepreneurs of Imo origin.
Furthermore, Ekeh has silently invested in education, provided Medicare to the needy and supported churches and other religious organizations through the Foundation. During the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leo Stan Foundation leveraged on staff of the various companies in the Zinox Group to feed over 7000 families across Nigeria for two weeks. He has also regularly supported state governments in Imo, Lagos and other parts of the country through donations of patrol vehicles to improve security, among others.
The tech enthusiast is one of the foremost champions of gender equality in Nigeria. He has consistently advocated for and also empowered women and the girl child, whom he regularly addresses and challenges to aspire to greatness at various public events and fora. His passion for gender equality can be seen at first hand in the Zinox Group where women, led by his wife, Mrs. Chioma Ekeh, occupy the first four executive management positions at TD Africa, the biggest company by revenue in the Group. Also, he had recently appointed another female as Managing Director of Zinox. The Group’s Human Resources Unit is also headed by a female.
Mr. Ekeh’s unerring zeal for productivity and excellence was recently rewarded by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with the National Productivity Merit Award (NPOM) in November 2019.
A distinguished member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group and Fellow of the Nigeria Computer Society, Ekeh is a recipient of one of the country’s highest National Honours – Order of The Federal Republic (OFR).
Applauded by professionals as a global digital giant and a man whose vision and performance shore up credibility for the indigenous capacities in the ICT sector, Leo Stan Ekeh’s unmatched interventions have seen him receive over 60 local and international awards. He has also served on a good number of Federal Government Committees, which include the Presidential Committee for Job Creation, Nigeria Thinkers, ICT Roadmap, among many others.
He is happily married to Mrs. Ekeh, a Mathematician, Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and CEO of TD Africa.
The union is blessed with successful children.
B.Sc. (Hons.) Economics, Punjab University, India
Post Graduate Diploma in Risk Management, Nottingham University, England
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), University of Jos
Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa), Imo State University
Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi
Doctor of Technology (Honoris Causa), Federal University of Technology, Owerri
Over 15 Honorary Fellowship Awards from Nigerian Federal and State Polytechnics
National Productivity Order of Merit Award (2019)
Lifetime pioneering entrepreneur of the year – 2017 TELL Awards for Excellence
Extraordinary Business Achievement Award (2017)
Pioneer ICT Personality of the year by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS)
National Honor Conferment as Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, OFR (2004)
Honored as a Nigerian Icon of Hope by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2002
Distinguished Fellow, Nigeria Law School
Fellow, Nigeria Computer Society
Life Member, Nigeria Institute of International Affairs