Stan Leo Ekeh – The IT Icon on the Block


To the joy and pride of many, if not all Nigerians, the list of brands that are not only truly Nigerian but are also proudly so is lengthening by the day. And on the list of such Nigerian brands that are not only doing the nation proud but are also winning continental applause while attracting well deserved global recognition to themselves, Zinox Computers occupies a very bright spot that could be seen from afar.

What is today known as Zinox group and which is indisputably the most integrated information technology group in the whole of Africa, was birthed and nurtured by the afro-centric patriotic inspiration combined with rugged and dogged industry of just one man, Stan Leo Ekeh.

Born Leonard Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh, but simply and fondly called Leo Stan over the years, it is both significant and interesting that this man who has grown into a global IT guru did not have a background in that sector; neither did he pursue a course of study relating to that field of human endeavour. In actual fact, Dr. Ekeh read Economics at Punjab University in India. But, then, his pursuit of a degree in Risk Management at the Cork City University, Ireland, and later on transfer at Nottingham University, United Kingdom, might be instructive of his bold foray into the world of Information Technology.

The story of how this man of vision and courage got on his trail blazing and visionary journey of destiny is as inspiring as it is challenging; and it is one story that can never go stale. Reports have it that it was a chance meeting with the late Steve Jobs of the Apple fame that lit a fire in Leo Stan to challenge the belief which was in vogue in the 1980’s that there was no future for ICT in Africa. And, this was how it happened: He (Leo Stan) was part of a small audience of international students and potential entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom some time in 1986. The man to address the audience was Steve Jobs – at a time he (Jobs) was already a household name after the initial success of Apple computers which he co-founded with another whiz kid, Steve Wozniak, a former electronic hacker.

Jobs, as the story goes, had wowed the audience with his digital sagacity, plotting a roadmap on how he intended to create an all-digital future. Unfortunately, though predictably, however, Africa did not have a place in the future which Jobs intended to create. This provoked a sense of curiosity in Ekeh who inquired from the Apple mastermind why Africa was not on his digital map. The answer which Ekeh got from Jobs was short, sharp and heart wrenching: ‘Africa is not under consideration’.

This expectedly angered Ekeh; fired in him a rebellious zeal to challenge the status quo and got him to vow to put Africa on the global digital map. He thereafter returned to Nigeria after his first degree in India and post-graduate studies in the UK to give life to his dream.

Since that providential incident, Dr. Ekeh has left no stone unturned to ensure the actualization of his dream to put Africa on the digital map, beginning, of course, from Nigeria his home country – in keeping with the saying, ‘charity begins at home’.

In the course of living out his dream, Leo Stan has chalked up a long list of ‘firsts’ in entrepreneurial voyage. To start with, he was the man who first brought Apple – the product of the very man (Jobs) that fired his imagination at the outset – to Nigeria. This, he did, through a company which he established and christened Task System Limited.

In his own words, “When I came back (from schooling abroad) into this country, I had to create a little bit of disruption in the system because the economy was an IBM-driven economy, so I came with Apple Macintosh. I launched Apple in the country more than 24 years ago and we computerized all the media and multi-media houses in the country, including the book publishing houses nationwide. After this first disruptive move, we moved to offer solutions to the oil and gas sector of the economy and it was at this point that Steve Jobs enhanced the graphics interface of Apple with User interface which limited it initially from being used in the corporate sector as an alternative to IBM, and that gave me the impetus to expand into the rare corporate sector”.

Continuing, Ekeh reminisced that “Task System delivered solution to the first 20 largest multinationals in the country in the 80s, 90s and till today. That is in the oil, banking and manufacturing sector. It’s a highly integrated solution company. In order to segment the market, I launched the first ICT distribution company in West Africa – Technology Distributions, which today is the largest ICT distributor in sub-Saharan Africa and controls 70 per cent of the Nigerian ICT distribution market”.

Zinoxt, the company which was to become the family name for all of Ekeh’s companies was to come sometime later. Like the founder and visionary disclosed, “Few years after, I launched Zinox to create digital identity for Nigeria. I mean to say, that after you’ve achieved a little bit, you’d also want your country to have an ICT identity. So Zinox was launched to create an IT identity for the nation’.

“Within the group, we also have a digital Internet hub called Zinox Telecom which is streaming online content using our robust broadband infrastructure to about 226 tertiary and over 1,000 secondary institutions and other strategic corporate organisations in the country. We also have a huge support backbone nationwide which is in charge of support services because it is critical in the third world. We are going from one step to another. You can say we are an integrated group in the ICT sector”.

In talking about Ekeh and his company, certain records stand to his eternal credit as a patriot and a living legend. His Group (of companies) salvaged the 2006 Voters’ registration exercise by delivering 12,000 systems to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in just three weeks! Again in 2011, under his leadership, the Group was responsible for the technology backbone for the 2011 voters’ registration through the supply of 80,000 DDC Machines in 35 days, an accomplishment which was and still is considered awesome for an indigenous firm in Nigeria or anywhere in the world.

Today, Dr. Ekeh’s business interests cut across Information and Communication Technology, ICT, online retail, property, etc, with offices in many countries in Africa, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Europe and Asia.

For all these and many more, Nigeria’s own Leo Stan Ekeh has deservedly emerged as a prophet with countless honours, awards and recognitions, both at home and abroad. He has since been conferred with the nation’s national honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic, OFR, apart from many other local and international awards, and fellowships.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.