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Mara acquires multichannel platform, Nimbuzz

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mara acquires multichannel platform, Nimbuzz

An African multi-channel platform of online and mobile technology innovations that are designed to connect people across emerging markets, Mara Social Media, has acquired global platform Nimbuzz Assets, reports ITRealms.

Nimbuzz, ITRealms gathered, was initially released in May 2008 is a powerful cross-platform mobile calling and messaging app. The app can be installed on computers, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets. Nimbuzz offers its users the ability to make voice and video calls, enable chat and file sharing worldwide. The app has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients.

Anubhav Nagar, CEO of Mara Social Media said “We see a strong momentum for consumer messaging apps, which are set to overtake social media apps globally. 

According to reports and current trends it is clear that social media apps are likely be eclipsed by messaging apps in the next two years. This is the opportunity, which we identified with Nimbuzz.”

As part of this acquisition, Mara gains access to Nimbuzz’s & Holaa’s unified platform as well as their international assets, IP & Database. The acquisition provides a strong foundation for our future growth in emerging markets. Nimbuzz Instant messenger & Holaa has a user base of 200 million registered users spread across India and the Middle East.

Ahuti Chug, Chair of Mara Social Media said “Users are now demanding a messaging app experience that goes beyond entertainment or communications. We see this as a gap in the offering of the existing messenger players in most markets and it opens up a huge opportunity for Mara to tap in to. We are extremely excited about this move and with the fact that it makes us a global player in this space.”

Mara will roll-out a new hybrid approach for the Nimbuzz messenger which would be an amalgamation of content, Incubator platform, smart market place and consumer communities. Mara plans to integrate the Nimbuzz platform with its existing Mara platforms including Mara Mentor and Mara Jobs into Nimbuzz Messenger and vice versa.

Mara Mentor is a free online mentoring platform that connects ambitious entrepreneurs and business leaders globally and can be accessed via a web-based platform and a mobile application that’s available on iOS and Android.

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LoRa technology to prevail on ecosystem

Latest white paper on Long range (LoRa), and low power wireless technology has indicated that this platform would prevail the ecosystem in the years, showing that no one technology meets all technological needs, reports ITRealms.

According to the Whitepaper, the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) market is often viewed as a technology battleground from which one solution will emerge as the winner and de facto standard.

But LPWAN, ITRealms report, use cases so varied that no one technology will meet all requirements, as some LPWAN technologies are better suited for certain applications than others.

Given the size of LPWAN market and varied nature of applications, the WhitePaper also showed there is room and, in fact, a place for multiple complementary options.

ITRealms further reports that this whitepaper focused on LoRa wireless technology for the Internet of Things (IoT), specifically addressing LPWAN applications and covering the value proposition of LoRa, the applications for which the technology is best suited, and the ecosystem of technology adopters.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Telecommunications Academy accredits GSMA courses

The Capacity Building initiative of the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) has got its courses accredited by the United Kingdom (UK)-based Telecommunications Academy, reports ITRealms.

GSMA founded in 1995, ITRealms gathered is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide with approximately 800 mobile operators membership and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members. 

The body in its latest newsletter, disclosed to ITRealms that all 12 courses in conducted in 2016-17 portfolio, have now been accredited by the United Kingdom Telecommunications Academy (UKTA).

For over two decades, ITRealms reports that UKTA has been an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the provision of academic, technical and vocational education.

With this development, ITRealms reports that certificates awarded to participants who complete accredited GSMA courses will now carry the UKTA endorsement.

Nonye Dom/GEE
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Senate committee thumbs-up Shittu on ICT university

The Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has received a thumb-up from the Senate Committee on ICT & Cyber-Crime for his initiative on the proposed establishment of the ICT University of Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

The Committee, ITRealms reports gave this commendation during an oversight visit to the Ministry by members of the committee, who described the idea as ingenuity in proposing a specific training institution for manpower development in the ICT sector, which will be the first of its kind in Africa.

The Special Assistant on Media to the Minister, Mr. Victor Oluwadamilare, informed ITRealms that the Committee Vice Chairman, Senator Foster Ogola, who led the delegation on an oversight visit to the Ministry of Communications said the idea of establishing the ICT University of Nigeria is one of the greatest achievements of Barr. Shittu in office as minister, adding that it is highly commendable.

He promised adequate support of the Committee in providing the necessary legislative framework for effective take off of the institution as soon as possible.

The Minister had earlier told the senators the need to upgrade the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), owned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) into a multiple ICT campus university to specifically provide manpower for the ICT sector.

Barr. Shittu said the Ministry has approached the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) for the necessary institutional framework for the establishment of the university while identified stakeholders have been approached to participate in the Public-Private-Partnership project.

Sen. Ogola said the visit is in the exercise of legislative oversight of the Senate as enshrined in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, and that it is a follow-up to the presentation of the 2017 budget of the Ministry, which he said, is a prelude to the consideration of the budget.

He pointed out that the visit was aimed also at having first-hand information on details of performance of the 2015 budget, 2016 budget so far and detailed information on specific vehicle projects of the Ministry as well as costs and locations of certain projects.

The Senator used the occasion to inform the Minister of the Committee’s planned stakeholders’ conference meant to accelerate the penetration of ICT in Nigeria, with the attendant need to control cyber risks and other ICT-related challenges.

“The conference is ultimately expected to identify gaps inherent in the system and generate appropriate synergy in the relationships of stakeholders with a view to ensuring consistency and complementary and articulating a structured approach to resolving the challenges.

Other members of the team include Senator Abdullahi Gumel, member and Senator Abiodun Olujinmi, member, Mr.Ayoh Ogon, Clerk of the Committee and staff of the Committee.

Uboshe Uboshe with Dorish Minimah/GEE
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Zenith Bank shareholders approve total payout of N63.4b dividend

The shareholders of Zenith Bank Plc have approved final dividend worth N55.573 billion for the year ended December 31, 2016, which brings the total payout to N63.422 billion, reports ITRealms.

The dividend, ITRealms gathered, translates to N1.77 per share, was paid out of N129.65 billion recorded for the year under review.

Giving the approval at the Annual General Meeting held in Lagos on Wednesday, shareholders noted that in all, the bank paid a total dividend of N63.422 billion, having paid an interim dividend of N7.849 billion before now.

Also, the shareholders applauded the board, management and staff for growing its profit after tax by 23 per cent from N105.531 billion in 2015 to N129.65 billion in 2016. Just as the bank ended the year with gross total assets N4.739 trillion, up from N4 trillion in 2015.

The Chairman of the Zenith Bank Plc, Chief Jim Ovia, said despite the challenging operating environment, the bank was able to fully exploit the available opportunities to post the impressive results.

He pointed out that in line with the bank’s commitment to delivering superior returns to its much-valued shareholders, the bank made certain that a good chunk of the profit is set aside for them.

“In this regard, we have declared and paid you an interim dividend of 25 kobo per share in the course of 2016 financial year. We hereby propose a final dividend of 177 kobo per share. This brings the total dividend for the year ended December 31, 2016 to 202 kobo per share as against 180 kobo per share paid he previous year,” he said.

Ovia also said, that even in the face of a very challenging operating environment, Zenith Bank has maintained its culture of outstanding performance and industry leadership.
As a bank, Ovia emphasized, Zenith is monitoring developments both in the local and global economy and applying pragmatism and dynamism as appropriate.

“Our strategy and approach to the pursuit of financial inclusion and sustainability gives us a lot of competitive advantage to explore even new frontiers in the market,” he said.

Equally speaking, the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank, Mr. Peter Amangbo, said as an institution of well-primed people, the bank relied on a its pool of exceptional staff to make sound and timely decision and addressed issues in a manner that anticipated developments and demonstrated excellent understanding of the dynamics of the market and economy in 2016.

“We shall continue to demonstrate extraordinary commitment to our customer s while maintaining focus on all the areas fundamental to adding value to our partnership,” he said, even as he looks ahead with optimism, though noting that 2017 will come with its challenges and opportunities.

“… But I am confident that our determination, resolve and rare commitment to customer as well as our adaptive ability will ensure resounding results” Amangbo said.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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CS2 certifies 20 Nigerians on new DDos threat

The Consultancy Support Services (CS2) Limited has concluded certification of some 20 Nigerians on new threat in the Distributed Denial of Service. (DDoS), reports ITRealms.

Disclosing this to ITRealms, the executive chairman of CS2, Alhaji Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, said that his team successfully hosted 20 Nigerian participants for the Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team (APCERT) and Cyberdrill 2017.

According to him, the session was hosted with the theme “Emergence of a New DDoS Threat.”
“Participants were drawn from a wide range of security, public service organisations and the private sector,” he said.

Ajijola explained that the exercise which commenced “22-03-2017, 2:00 AM” was held at the Penthouse, Ogun State House, Central Business District, Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“It started with preliminary reviews at 2 am Nigeria time (GMT+1) with the actual cyber drill commencing at 3 am 22 March 2017,” he said, stressing that this is representative of real-world situations.

“Hackers don’t work regular hours,” Ajijola said, emphasizing that all assignnents were completed, thus successful.

“We are pleased to note that all assignments were successfully completed,” he said.

ITRealms recalls that APCERT teams from 18 economies including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, People's Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Macao, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) participated in the drill, and additionally with 4 CSIRTs from 4 member countries (Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Pakistan) of the OIC-CERT www.oic-cert.org.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Etisalat parleys subscribers in Kwara State

Acclaimed Nigeria’s most customer-friendly telecommunication company, Etisalat has hosted its customers in Ilorin, Kwara State to a parley, at part of its quarterly exercise, reports ITRealms.

The Etisalat Customer Forum, ITRealms gathered, is an interactive feedback session aimed at engaging customers to deepen relationships, just as the session provides a platform for valuable engagement with customers through constructive feedback on their experiences from using various services and products on the Etisalat network.

Speaking at the interactive forum, held during the week in Ilorin, the state capital, Director, Brands and Experience, Elvis Ogiamwanye, said the forum further underlined Etisalat’s recognition of its customers as being very important to the continued growth of the network in Nigeria.

While stating that the Customer Forum initiative was launched in 2010 with the objective of receiving feedbacks from customers across a wide range of issues, he revealed that feedbacks received at previous customer forums have helped the company in developing innovative products and services that solve every day problem for the customers. 
“At Etisalat, we are passionate about delivering value to our customers. This is why we come to them regularly so they can speak with us about our products and services. The feedbacks we get from them serve as a major input that has accelerated our growth in the Nigerian telecommunication industry,” Ogiamwanye said.

A customer who works with a fashion publication, Christina Odigie, commended Etisalat for the superior quality of its data service in Ilorin, and said this has empowered her to do more in view of the nature of her vocation. “I work for a fashion magazine, so I am always online 24/7 so I can stay ahead of fashion trends. I love to stream videos, download media, check Instagram and other social media platforms. I must say that Etisalat data quality is second to none”, she enthused.

Kwara State Commissioner for Environment, Otunba Taiwo Joseph, also commended Etisalat for its swift response to solving customers’ complaints. “I had some challenges with my line, it was fixed in no time after I complained at the Etisalat Experience Centre on Stadium Road here in Ilorin. Since then I have been enjoying both data and voice services without complaint”, he said. 

Ayo Midele/GEE 
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Pix: L-R: Specialist, Customer Experience, Etisalat Nigeria, Sowari Akosionu;Etisalat Customer, Titus Olorunnisola and Director, Brands and Experience, Elvis Ogiemwanye during Etisalat Customer Forum held in Ilorin, Kwara State, recently.

PIN to host Internet Freedom Forum 2017 in Lagos

 Plans have been advanced for the successful hosting of the Internet Freedom Forum (IFF) by the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), reports ITRealms.

The Director of Programmes at the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Tope Ogundipe, gave this indication in Lagos, in a chat with ITRealms, saying that all is now set for the successful hosting of the two-day event slated for the commercial nerve centre of the nation.

She also said that the forum is an annual event which focuses on indices around Internet Freedom in Nigeria and around Africa.

“The forum is planned to deepen discussions on how freedom and openness on the Internet promote socio-economic development in Africa,” she said.

Currently, she said, there have been registrations from over 35 countries, including 32 African countries.

Equally, she said, the 2-day conversation will involve policy experts, lawmakers, academicians, security agencies, and civil society organizations amongst other stakeholders. 

According to her, the Forum would hold between April 26 and 27 2017, by 9.00am daily at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja Lagos.

“The very rich conversations at this forum with global, regional and national experts participating will serve as an important information pool, and provide content producers the context to understand and navigate issues of the defense of a free and open Internet in Nigeria and around Africa,” she submitted.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE
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DMO, strategy for economic recovery

Perhaps at no time in the history of Nigeria has the federal government come under such intense pressure to deliver on the economy as now, and this is understandable. 2016 closed with Nigeria recording its worst GDP figure in 25 years as low oil prices, tight monetary liquidity and militant attacks on oil infrastructure rocked the economy. 

The Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, also increased by 18.72 January this year. National budgets have continued to run into deficits as oil revenue dwindles. The federal government and many state governments find it increasingly tough paying salaries of their workers.

The private sector has not fared better. Since the government is the biggest spender in the economy, a drastic cut in revenue means less money in the system. Many companies that depend hugely on government patronage are bearing the brunt of the recession and laying off staff to reduce overhead. The result is that more Nigerians are finding themselves in the unemployment market with no hope of immediate engagement.

President Buhari came to power on the promise of change, and he’ss under an unprecedented pressure to deliver economic change at a time the country faces its worse economic challenges. In economic matters, there are no miracles, but conscious, calculated and strategic intervention through policies and measures that can bring the economy out of recession.

All eyes are on the Government to stimulate the economy by doing whatever is needed to bring it quickly out of a debilitating recession. That is why institutions such as the Debt Management Office,DMO, the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, among others, are increasingly in the headline news.

The DMO is a government agency established to coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debts in such that is healthy for the economy. Anyone who has followed developments in that office will readily admit the DMO has been a work horse for this admiration. Watching Dr Abraham Nwankwo, Director General of the DMO talk on Nigeria’s debt management is like listening to a lecture in an ivory tower.

The man seems to be at his best when defending some of the interventions of this administration, especially when talking about the government’s borrowing plan to finance the growing budget deficit. But this is to be expected from the head of the debt management office since he is also an important part of the equation. It is like a man defending his own actions before a sceptic audience.

What has fascinated me about this man is how he breaks complex economic issues down into bits and pieces that can be easily digested by the lay man. For instance, the Buhari administration’s plan to seek loan to finance development projects in the country as a result of shortfall in government revenue. Nwankwo has tried to convince Nigerians on why borrowing is good for the economy; why loan properly utilised is a sort of investment that is capable of reflating the economy of any country.

A three year Debt Management Strategy (2016-2019) initiated by the DMO better illustrates how debt management has become a key component of Nigeria’s economic recovery effort. It is a broad-based strategy that inspires confidence in the economy and in the managers of the economy. One major aspect of the strategy is that over the medium term, Nigeria will strive to remix the public debt portfolio from 84% domestic and 16% external to 60% domestic and 40% external. And the reason, which may not be obvious to many is that external loans seem to come cheaper than domestic borrowing.

The DMO DG said during one of his interviews that for Nigeria to pull the economy out of recession, government must embrace what he called a “conventional public borrowing” to fund critical infrastructures. This is not a loan to be disbursed at the whims and caprices of the presidency; it is loan tied to specific and strategic projects to give the economy a rebound. And this he said, could easily be tracked by the public and the legislature.

This thinking informed the decision by the Buhari administration to decide on a three-year borrowing plan to fund deficits in the budget from 2016-2019. In the words of President Buhari, it is a “prudent” borrowing plan to bridge the financial gap created in the budgets, stressing that the funds would largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely power, railway and road project amongst others.

The DMO recently facilitated the approval of the issuance of $1 billion Eurobond and appointment of six transaction parties for the bond by the Federal Government. The bond is part of the country’s plans to borrow a total of N1.8 trillion ($5.8 billion) from abroad and locally to fund an estimated 2016 budget deficit of N2.2 trillion. Apart from the fact that it is a good deal for the country, it will also prevent the emasculation of local investors.

Now,the DMO is in the news again. This time it is promoting a novel product and one that benefits majority of Nigerians. This is the newly floated Federal Government Savings Bond, FGSB. This is the first time one has heard about this type of bond. Of course bonds are debt instruments in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or governmental) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate.

The owners of such a bond are creditors or debt- holders.
Although the federal government regularly churns out bonds to raise fund from the capital market, this one is different. The FGSB is a retail savings product accessible to all income groups, and it will enable all citizens participate in and benefit from the favourable returns available in the capital market which had hitherto being an exclusive preserve of big players. Every Nigerian who has N5,000 can subscribe to this bond that will be issued monthly for a tenure of two to three years.

The minimum subscription amount is N5,000.00 with additions in multiples of N1,000.00, subject to a maximum ofN50,000,000.00. And there is no fee or charges for subscription. No matter the tenure of the bond, interest will be paid quarterly to holders. The payment will go to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Accounts of investors and text alerts will be sent to investors on Settlement Day.

The purpose of this bond, aside being a source of diversified funding for government, is to also help deepen the national savings culture. Anyone who earns income is able to participate in this unique investment opportunity.

This is an alternative for many Nigerians who have taken to the Ponzi schemes as investment option. The FGSB, like all government bonds, is backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is a scheme Nigerians must take advantage of to help themselves and their country. It is another innovation from the rich bag of the country’s economic managers.
Isaac wrote in from Ilorin.

*Contributed by Olu, Isaac
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

24hours to grab $50,000 prize in ReCode Nigeria hackathon

Hackers aiming to grab the $50,000 prize in the Recode Nigeria initiative by the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF) should be warming up to achieve that in the next 24 hours, reports ITRealms.

This, ITRealms reports, would herald a three-day hackathon slated for March 24-26, the programme attracts multiple teams of talented developers, designers, problem-solvers, and out-of-the-box thinkers to build brilliant solutions to the most vexing problems in financial services. 

AFF spokesperson, Victor Okigbo, confirmed to ITRealms that the banking industry needs to enhance its existing customer experience. 

“The mission of these participants is to transform the mode of customer engagement, enhance the customer experience and create solutions that bring value to banking customers” he said.

Okigbo also said that during the hackathon, participating teams would have the privilege of creating excellent solutions that combine API’s from one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, IBM’s Bluemix platform, Microsoft Azure amongst others.

Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Access Bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna, said the bank is collaborating with the AFF to “ensure that shareholders value and growth in tomorrow’s complex financial technology ecosystem can be delivered. By supporting initiatives like Recode Nigeria hackathon, we have teamed up with technology titans like Microsoft, IBM and other numerous technology startups to create the future together.” 

Enumerating what the participants derive from using its latest platforms, Microsoft spokesperson, Dona Sarkar in an interview with Accelerate tv, said as a cloud-computing infrastructure for building and managing applications through a global network, “Microsoft Azure offers startups the opportunity to host their applications in the cloud. As such, they will not purchase or manage their own servers. That is why the winner gets access to the Azure platform.”

However, upon completion of the contest, Okigbo gave an assurance that a team at the hackathon would be accepted into the 17-week AFF accelerator programme with up to $50,000 seed investment. He added that the winning teams will get up to N3million-prize money, one-year's access to IBM’s Bluemix and Microsoft Azure platforms.

While explaining the IBM Bluemix cloud service, IBM’s spokesperson, Akintomide Akingbade, said the service supports several programming languages and services to build, run, and manage applications on the cloud. “We are backing the startups at Recode Nigeria hackathon with the latest cloud offering from IBM. With this partnership, we are enabling the software geniuses create and manage their mobile and web applications on the cloud”.

Individuals and teams can register at www.recodenigeria.com. The number allowed in a team, Okigbo said, is a minimum of two and a maximum of five persons. Participants care free to register as individuals or with a team.

Industry leaders and representatives are among the judges that will select the winners of the Recode Nigeria hackathon. Each submission will be scored based on certain criteria with the final score being the average of all scores. The judges include Victor Etuokwu, Ernest Ndukwe, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Joseph Sam.

Other supporting organizations are Emaginations, Re:write, Trium, Systemic Logics, Accelerate TV, ntel, Dev Center and Design Institute.
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Plateau State Commissioner, Samuel Galadima dies while jogging

The Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development in Plateau State, Samuel Galadima, this morning, Wednesday, died after slumping during a jogging exercise in the state capital Jos, reports ITRealms.

Galadima’s death, ITRealms gathered, occurred in the company of his boss, Governor Simon Lalong at the Rwang Pam Stadium, while on a morning jogging exercise.

Confirming this to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Director of Press Affairs, Emmanuel Nanle, said the story was true.

“Yes, the commissioner slumped while jogging and was rushed to the Plateau Specialist Hospital, where he died,” Nanle said.

The DoP also said that the official was gasping for breath by the time he arrived the hospital.

“Doctors tried to stabilise him but could not. We have lost him,” he said.

*Banjo Bayo with additional reports from NAN

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Abuja Airport Closure: FG says effective measures in place to ease air travellers' plight

The Federal Government (FG) has said that the measures put in place to ensure comfort and safety of travellers at the Kaduna International Airport are working satisfactorily, reports ITRealms.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in Abuja on Tuesday after leading a team of 40 Journalists on a tour of the Train Terminal in Abuja and the Kaduna International Airport.

"We set out this morning to show you how the train service works, some experiencing it for the very first time. We saw firsthand how passengers transfer from the Tarmac to Abuja either by train or by coach and we all came back (to Abuja) by road. You saw the level of security all along the way. I am very satisfied with all the measures,'' he said

Alhaji Mohammed said a lot of planning and innovation have gone into making the Kaduna International Airport a viable alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, adding that some of the challenges being experienced have been anticipated because of the diversion of the huge volume of air traffic to Kaduna.

''But Nigerians have risen to the challenge to ensure seamless operation at the airport,'' he said.

The Minister therefore appealed to Nigerians to be patient, as two weeks have already elapsed from the six weeks earmarked for the reconstruction of the runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

"The issue is not whether Abuja Airport has failed or whether we have to close the airport temporarily. The issue is have we done all that is necessary to ensure minimal disruption to airline services, to ensure minimal inconvenience for passengers and members of the public and to ensure security of lives and ensure that safety is paramount?

"I think I will answer the four questions in the affirmative, that we have done all that ought to be done within a very short time to provide these. It's not a perfect situation. In other words, there is no way we can replicate Abuja in Kaduna within the time frame, but if the objective is to ensure seamless operation and minimal disruption to services, absolute safety and security, I think we have done well,'' he said.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the measures that have been put in place for seamless air operation in Kaduna include construction of the perimetre fencing and roads, installation of instrument landing system, completion of the terminal building, fixing of runway markings, deployment of Mobile Control Tower, designation of the Hajj Terminal for domestic passengers and the Terminal Building for International Passengers, and provision of buses to take passengers from Abuja to Kaduna.

The team of Journalists led by the Minister of Information and Culture inspected the Railway Terminal at Idu on the outskirts of Abuja before departing by rail to Kaduna, where the team also inspected the Port Health Section, VIP lounge, Immigration and Customs.

After the inspection in Kaduna, the team returned to Abuja by road in order to experience first hand the level of security along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Fear, entrepreneurs nightmare

Setting out as an entrepreneur and making a success out of it is not a task for the faint-hearted. This reality is more pronounced in a peculiar business terrain such as Nigeria. Indeed, most entrepreneurs have the mind-set of an orphan as the pains of failure is borne all alone. This is why success is a driving force for all entrepreneurs. This alone is what gets them widespread adulation and praise.

Yudala, the largest online and offline retail chain examines some of the biggest fears faced by entrepreneurs…

Fear of not being good enough: Many encounter this particular self-doubt at various stages of the entrepreneurial journey. It is a fear that continually gnaws away at the confidence to take bold steps. During difficult times and especially when set-backs occur, the mind will often come up with various reasons why you don’t have what it takes to cut it at the top. The key to overcoming this is to remember that this fear is not alien to other entrepreneurs. Competitors will always be out there with better connections or financial muscle than you. Remain consistent in chasing your passion and allow it work for you.

Fear of re-inventing: Success as an entrepreneur often involves the ability to innovate; to constantly re-invent and fine-tune your offerings, business processes and solutions to meet changing times and needs. A lot of entrepreneurs, including the successful ones, face the fear of evolving at one time or another. This often happens when entrepreneurs grow their business to a certain point and feel comfortable with the position or status attained. In such situations, it becomes difficult to face what needs to be done when faced with the idea of expansion or re-invention. As an entrepreneur, the ability to constant re-invent or engage in positive disruption is a quality that sets you apart. Embrace it!

Fear of failure: This is perhaps the biggest fear faced by all aspiring and established entrepreneurs. The immense burden, shame and psychological effects of failure not only weighs down an entrepreneur; it also creates a huge mental block in the minds of many aspiring ones, preventing them from venturing into business or giving their passions a try. Interestingly though, one of the secrets of most successful entrepreneurs, is their view of failure: it is not an end in itself. Although still prone to the fear of failure, they do not allow it shape their thinking and actions.

Fear of the unknown: Entrepreneurs function in a system that is heavily susceptible to market forces, currency fluctuations and government policies. These factors lend a measure of unpredictability to the business environment. Investment decisions could go south as a result of an unfavourable or sharp shift in any of the afore-mentioned factors. As a result, entrepreneurs live in constant dread of the unknown. This should not in any way reduce the entrepreneurial zeal or the drive to pursue your dreams. As the Holy Book says in Ecclesiastes 11: 4: “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.”

Fear of betrayal by trusted associates: Life as an entrepreneur often involves an element of partnership or entrusting certain core responsibilities to others. However, the experience of most successful entrepreneurs usually takes in one or two incidences of betrayal or let-downs, often by trusted associates and/or business partners. This fear is real and one that a lot of entrepreneurs have to deal with on the way to success. This should not, however, prevent you from reaching out or giving people a chance to prove themselves. A healthy dose of optimism is one quality that has helped some of the best entrepreneurs cope with this fear. Caution and due diligence also come in handy here.

Fear of ideas drying up: This is a fear that confronts most entrepreneurs who rely heavily on making fortunes out of their ideas. A perfect way of overcoming this fear is to observe other successful entrepreneurs. One quality they all have in common is that scarcity of mind does not afflict them. These are the individuals who are constantly thinking up new ways to make money, more good people to hire and with whom to work, new ventures to invest in or investors to pitch ideas to...

The beauty of being an entrepreneur in a country such as Nigeria lies in the numerous opportunities that abound to create and sustain wealth. Despite the peculiar challenges encountered by aspiring and established entrepreneurs, many agree that the Nigerian economy arguably remains one of the few around with the potential to transform a hopeless start-up into a multi-million-dollar business in a few years’ time. This should be the motivating factor for every struggling entrepreneur out there.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Airplane laptop bomb triggers ban on electronics by US, UK

The fear of laptop bomb has triggered off the electronics ban onboard airplanes entering the United States of America (USA) and lately United Kingdom (UK), reports ITRealms.

The new rules, ITRealms gathered has been confirmed by US Department of Homeland Security and UK authorities’ ban, both linked to suspected plans by terrorist groups based on intelligence report.

Britain, according to PA, has taken the dramatic move to ban laptop computers and tablets from the cabins of planes flying to the UK from six countries, amid fears of a new terror threat.

The move affecting thousands of passengers coming from six predominantly-Muslim countries mirrors a similar measure imposed by the US, citing an attempt by the Islamist al-Shabaab group to bring down a jet in Somalia using a laptop bomb.

The British Government’s decision follows the receipt of specific intelligence reports, according to security sources.

Downing Street officials refused to discuss any specific terrorist plot, but action hitting 15 airlines with the extra restrictions was taken after Theresa May met aviation experts on Tuesday morning.

Ministers said they understood the “frustration” the extra measures would cause passengers but said they are working with the industry to minimise the impact.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The safety and security of the travelling public is our highest priority.

“That is why we keep our aviation security under constant review and put in place measures we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate.”

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The six countries affected are: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Devices measuring more than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width, or 1.5cm depth will be banned from the cabin and need to be placed into hold luggage and checked-in before going through security.

Also, Downing Street said the measure was effective immediately, but would not give details as to why the decision had been taken now. No 10 did say UK security services have been “in close touch” with their US counterparts during the decision to implement the ban.

The US electronics measure, announced late on Monday, affected nine airlines flying from 10 specific airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE, including Dubai, the world’s busiest airport for international travellers.

An incident last year appears to have caused particular alarm, after al-Shabaab smuggled an explosive-filled laptop on a flight out of Mogadishu. The explosion was small, but the bomb was particularly placed by the extremist so as to blow a hole in the side of the passenger cabin.

Experts said that if the plane was at a higher altitude, the small blast in the passenger area could have triggered a bigger explosion due to the pressurised cabin and caused the jet to crash.

Nonye Dom with additional report from Independent /GEE
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Paris Club refund disbursement, transparent – Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has reiterated that disbursement of the Paris Club refunds is transparent, reports ITRealms.

Clarifying the seeming misunderstanding on the disbursement pertain, Adeosun, insisted that the Federal Government has consistently complied with all extant rules and regulations in the disbursement of the Paris Club refunds to State Governments.

“The Federal Government's disbursement process is transparent and targeted at the attainment of specific  economic objectives. The inability of some sub-national governments to meet salary and other obligations was considered inconsonant with the Federal Government’s economic stimulus programme.   Claims with regard to over deductions had been made to the Federal Government, consistently since 2005,” she said.

According to her, the Debt Management Office (DMO) initially requested for a period of 22 months to complete the reconciliation and facilitate disbursement.

She also said that however, President Muhammadu Buhari, considering the plight of salary earners and pensioners and the need to stimulate the economy, directed that the exercise be completed within 12 months.

The media adviser to Ministry of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi in a press statement made available to ITRealms, quoted Mrs. Adeosun as saying that Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, gave an express Anticipatory Approval for the release of  up to 50 per cent of the claim of each state, pending  final reconciliation.

“That reconciliation is undertaken by the DMO, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) and the relevant State Governments. Accordingly, the disbursements are staggered in batches and payments are only made when the claims of each state have been reconciled with the facts at the disposal of the Federal Government,” she said.

ITRealms recalls that specifically, information was available that some states had been paid either in full or in part, under previous administrations, which necessitated a more detailed review, for the states in question.

Ayo Midele/GEE
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