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NCC, FIRS joint revenue quality assurance committee for telecoms debuts

ITRealms : The Nigerian Communications Commission ( NCC ) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services ( FIRS ) recently set up a joint Reve...


Monday, April 24, 2017

NCC, FIRS joint revenue quality assurance committee for telecoms debuts

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) recently set up a joint Revenue Quality Assurance Committee for the telecommunications sector, just as plans have been advanced for the inaugural meeting this week, reports ITRealms.

This, ITRealms authoritatively gathered, formed the highpoint of the discussions between Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and FIRS Chairman, Mr. Babatunde Fowler after a recent courtesy visit of Fowler to the NCC Headquarters.

Confirming this to ITRealms, the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, noted that specifically, the joint committee with four members each from the two organisations is to examine and suggest ways through which the level of transparency can be attained via technology in tax management for FIRS and the returns from Annual Operating Levy (AOL) for the NCC.

He also said that the committee should see how staff matters including payments are addressed, just as to audit the states and proffer what benefits are accruable to them in terms of taxes collected.

“It is expected to work out a recommendation to facilitate the Type Approval of telecommunications equipment that can be used for a transparent assessment of the operators revenues,” he said.

ITRealms recalled that Prof. Danbatta had told his visitor during the visit that NCC has serious concerns over the shutting down of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) in the States indiscriminately without recourse to the Commission.

“This is worrisome as it undermines the capacity to provide telecom services, thereby denying consumers quality of services” he said.

The EVC cited the Resolution of the National Economic Council on Multiple Taxation, Levies and Charges on ICT Infrastructure in Nigeria dated March 21, 2013 saying the document is very clear on the issues of multiple taxations, levies, Right of Ways (RoWs) among others.
Danbatta pleaded with the FIRS Chairman “to help us propagate the provisions of the policy to the Joint Tax Board (JTB)”.

The FIRS boss had earlier narrated his worries over the taxes being collected from MNOs in the States.

Mr. Fowler said his concerns stem from the fact that MNOs do not remit the Value Added Tax (VAT) already charged as at when due, “while some decide when they will remit it but the law stipulates that such taxes must be remitted to the FIRS between 20/21 of each month. Some too have not fulfilled the annual returns”, he added.

In an earlier working document sent to the Commission, the FIRS had requested the permission of NCC to connect its equipment to the MNOs networks for a direct interface to which Prof. Danbatta responded that such equipment must go through the Type Approval process.

Danbatta however said that the NCC sees collaboration with the FIRS as a decision in the right direction.

This underscores what Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari said recently about the collaboration of inter-governmental agencies which saw to the timely completion of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja ahead of the time schedule.

Nonye Dom/GEE
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CTO, Samoa sign MoU on Broadband forum’17

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and the government of Samoa, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Commonwealth Broadband Forum (CBF) expected to hold in July 2017, reports ITRealms.

The agreement was signed by the CTO Secretary-General, Mr. Shola Taylor and Honourable Afamasaga Rico Tupa’i, the Minister of Communication & Information Technology, Samoa.

ITRealms gathered that the signing ceremony took place during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth ICT Investment Forum in Dubai on 10 April.

The Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum, ITRealms reports would take place on 25 – 27 July 2017 at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (“TATTE”) Convention Center, Apia, Samoa.

For Mr. Taylor, “Broadband plays a key role in socio-economic development. The CTO has established this important conference series to assist Commonwealth communities to harness the power of broadband to transform community life and we are delighted that this year’s broadband forum will inform, and be informed by, the countries of the Pacific and beyond.”

The Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum will consider the possibilities for social and economic development by exploring the role of broadband in areas such as finance, education, health broadcasting, entrepreneurship and social inclusion. Previous events have taken place in Kenya, Nigeria and Malaysia with participation from policymakers, regulators, industry leaders and civil society from across the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth Broadband Pacific Forum will enable Samoa to showcase our progress in connecting our citizens and enabling them to access the benefits of the Internet. It is also an opportunity for us to bring together colleagues from the Pacific to examine the particular challenges facing broadband in our region, and discuss with our peers from the international community the future for broadband development across the Commonwealth,” Afamasaga said.

Chuks Egbune/GEE  
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Pix: Shola Taylor, Secretary-General, CTO and Honourable Afamasaga Rico Tupa'i, Minister of Communication & Information Technology, Samoa

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Police says Tivs, killers of Zaki Biam massacre in March

The Nigeria Police Force has declared that some criminal gangs with origin of Tiv in Benue State, are the suspected killers of the 17 innocent persons at Zaki Biam, recently, including two women and 17 men, reports ITRealms.

The Force spokesman, CSP Jimoh Moshood said this in Abuja at the parading of suspects arrested in connection with the merciless killings of innocent persons and wanton destruction of properties worth millions of Naira at Zaki Biam in Benue State on March 20.

The 19 suspects so far arrested, he said were all Tivs and made up of various criminal gangs on their roles in the killings of innocent persons and other violent crimes carried out by Terwase Akwaza aka Ghana in Benue State.

This was against earlier media reports that the killers were Fulani Herdsmen.

He said, follows deployment of Police Special Tactical Force and a high powered investigation team to unravel the circumstances surrounding the gruesome killings and bring the perpetrators to justice, set up by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris.

Moshood in a press statement made available to ITRealms also said that the preliminary investigation and the operations embarked upon by the joint Police team revealed that one Terwase Akwaza aka Ghana, a gang leader of a vicious and notorious serial killer syndicate was responsible for the senseless killings of seventeen (17) innocent persons at Zaki Biam and for killing in cold blood of about fifty (50) people in other locations in Benue State.

According to him, Akwaza is also responsible for so many kidnappings, armed robberies and cultists violence leading to loss of lives and properties in other parts of Benue State. Further investigation revealed that he is also responsible for killing of Mr. Deneen Igbana (late) the Special Adviser on Security to the Executive Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom.

ITRealms gathered that the joint operations comprise of the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Military and the Department of State Service, who are now tasked with the arrest of Terwase Akwaza aka Ghana and his vicious criminal gang.

The 19 suspects, Moshood said, are currently in Police custody and have admitted to be cohorts of the wanted suspect “Terwase Akwaza aka Ghana” and have facilitated the commission of some of the offences linked to him at different times in Benue and other neighbouring States.

The suspects, he said, will be charged to court on completion of investigation, 17 men and two women.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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NCC seeks stakeholders input for Internet Industry Code of Practice

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is seeking stakeholders input on the proposed establishment of an Internet Industry Code of Practice (IICP) in the country internet space, reports ITRealms.

The request for this was published in the Commission’s website, noting that as part of its Internet Governance functions, NCC seeks input from stakeholders in the development of a code of practice in support of net neutrality and an open internet.

The Commission also expressed preference for a multi-stakeholder model of engagement in the process of policy development for Internet Governance.

According to officials of NCC, the objectives of the proposed Internet Industry Code of Practice include among other things, to protect the rights and interests of Internet Service Providers and consumers; Provide jointly agreed and effective solutions to the issues of discriminatory traffic management practices; Ensure adequate safeguards are put in place by service providers against abuses such as unsolicited messages; Outline the obligations of Service Providers in relation to offensive and potentially harmful content for minors and vulnerable audiences; and Promote the safe, secure and responsible use of Internet Services with due regard to provisions in existing legal instruments.

Other objectives of IICP, NCC outlined encompass to establish best practices for Internet Governance in Nigeria, in line with emerging issues and global trends; Provide transparent rules for the assessment and classification of Internet content; Increase stakeholder satisfaction through improved consumer experience online; Improve competition by addressing issues of traffic management; and improve operational efficiency.

NCC also explained that in developing the code would entail a review of existing Internet industry codes of practice across various jurisdictions, to determine and incorporate global best practices, as well as review relevant guidelines, regulations, and legislations currently in place in Nigeria, to ensure that the code of practice produced is in conformity; extensive consultation of key stakeholders on scope and content of code; Publication of a draft code for review and feedback by stakeholders; Incorporation of stakeholder feedback into draft code and Production of final document.

Stakeholders, NCC said, are expected to submit their input in form of comments, concerns, feedback, and suggestions for scope and content via this portal, assuring that any input will considered in the drafting of the Internet Industry Code of Conduct.

Further, NCC assured that a draft of the Internet Industry Code of Practice will be made available to stakeholders for feedback and change requests when ready. Stakeholders will be invited to a presentation of the draft at a special Stakeholder Consultation Workshop where they will be expected to critique and suggest improvements to the draft.”

Stakeholders, NCC said, will also be able to submit their critiques and suggestions via this portal up until the final draft of the code is produced.

Feedback received from key stakeholders via the Online Consultation Facility as well as during the Stakeholder Consultation Workshop will be factored into the transitioning of the draft into the final code of practice.

Chuks Egbune/GEE 
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Lagos hosts 2017 editors convention, Emma Agu takes on 'A Nation in Recession'

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has concluded arrangements to hold its Biennial Convention in Ikeja, the Lagos State Capital, reports ITRealms.

The Convention, ITRealms gathered has been scheduled to hold April 28-30, 2017, will take place at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State. The theme of the convention is: A Nation in Recession: Whither the Nigerian Media? It will be chaired by Malam Kabiru Yusuf, Chairman, Daily Trust Newspapers limited.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who is the Chief Host is billed to deliver an address and declare the Convention open. A quintessential communication expert and political lobbyist, Mr. Emma Agu, will present a paper on the theme of the Convention.

The Biennial Convention, one of the largest gatherings of Nigerian Editors brings together over 300 editors and other media professionals. The forum will produce a new executive, led by a new President to oversee the affairs of the Guild in the next two years.

The tenure of the current executive, led by Mrs. Funke Egbemode, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of New Telegraph newspapers, began with Mr. Femi Adesina in 2015 and was truncated when he was appointed Special Adviser to President Muhammad Buhari, a few weeks after election. Adesina handed over to Malam Garba Deen Muhammad who was the Deputy President, and his position was ratified during the 11th ANEC in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.

ITRealms reports that a few months after the mantle of leadership changed hands, Malam Muhammad was appointed Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC. Again, power shifted to Mrs. Egbemode who was then the Vice-President (West), and her new position was ratified during the 12th ANEC in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, in 2016.

A press statement from NGE endorsed by the General Secretary, Victoria Ibanga confirmed that to facilitate the election process, the Guild has appointed a highly respected veteran journalist and author, Mr. Ray Ekpu, as the Chairman of a five-member Electoral Committee to conduct the process. He is to be supported by other top-notch journalists of proven integrity.

Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, she said, is expected to address the editors who will converge on Lagos to be part of the historic event.

“As part of activities lined up for the Convention, officials of Trust Fund Pensions Limited will make a 10-minute presentation. The topic is: Pension Fund for Editors: Managing your tomorrow today, during the business session on April 29, 2017,” she said.

Additionally, she said, that a gala night/dinner will hold in the evening of Saturday, April 29 at 7:00pm during which new members of the Guild will be inducted. Delegates are expected to depart on Sunday, April 30, 2017.

Uj. Dominic/GEE
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Internet access restored in North West, South-West regions

After some 94 days without access to the Internet, the government of Cameroun has restored connection to about 5 million people living in the anglophone regions of the country, reports ITRealms.

The Camerounian government, in an official statement available to ITRealms by the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said that the Northwest and Southwest Regions have been restored with Internet Connections due to the social situation in linked to the demands expressed by English-speaking lawyers' associations, extremist activists, driven by secessionist intrigues, took the opportunity to disseminate hate messages and incite violence and abuses of all sorts.

According to the Minister, at their instigation, children were molested and prevented from returning to school, men and women saw their daily activities disrupted, public and private buildings were burned, order were attacked etc.

These criminal activities, the Minister said, fall within the scope of the law, notably the one relating to the repression of acts of terrorists, have been perpetrated for the most part via social networks.

“These information and communication technologies, essential tools of economic and social progress which benefit from the constant solicitude of the Head of State, have thus unfortunately been detoured by the enemies of the republic,” Bakary said.

Also, the minister said that in such circumstances, the public authorities had an imperative duty to restore order, to ensure the security of citizens and their property, and to guarantee the functioning of administrative services.

Insisting that the government of the Republic, had to, among other security measures, to suspend Internet connections in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

“Since then, the government has not stopped constantly assessing the situation on the ground. The current situation is that the North-West and South-West Regions have been living in remarkable calm for several weeks,” part of the press statement read.

The Cameroonian people, Bakary said, is attached to the unity of the country and living together, has once again shown its great maturity.

“The important steps taken by the Government to respond favorably to the legitimate concerns of English-speaking lawyers and teachers, as well as the creation of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, of the national territory,” Bakary pointed out.

While Cameroon's friendly countries and international partners, the minister said, have rightly welcomed these efforts by the public authorities towards the settlement and easing of the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions.

“It therefore appears that the conditions underlying the provisional suspension of the Internet in this part of the national territory have changed considerably,” Bakary said.

So, the Head of State, Mr. Paul Biya, therefore instructed the Minister in charge of Posts and Telecommunications to ask mobile operators to re-establish Internet connections in the Northwest and Southwest regions.

Also, the government urged the populations of these regions to be vigilant in order to continue to block the way for the extremists, secessionists and enemies of the Republic, emphasizing that the government of the Republic reserves the right to take, as necessary, appropriate measures to prevent the Internet from being used again to incite hatred and discord between Cameroonians or to create public disorder.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Ambode commissions AfriOne smart devices assembly plant

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has commissioned an assembly plant belonging to AfriOne Limited, makers of mobile phones and other consumer devices, reports ITRealms.

In his address to the occasion, Gov. Ambode who was represented by his Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Olufemi Odubiyi commended the management and staff of AfriOne Nigeria.

The governor was particular on the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between AfriOne and Lagos State government which aims at training students of Lagos State Polytechnic.

This partnership, he said, has given birth to some 5,000 students of LASPOTECH.
Responding to questions, the Commissioner told ITRealms that the partnership also has room for the building of a competence centre in the state by AfriOne and plan has been advanced for the acquisition of land for such a structure.

He pointed out that Lagos will leverage on its Employment Trust Fund (ETF) to ensure that more Lagosians benefit from investment such as this one from AfriOne in the state.

Equally in a chat with ITRealms, the founder and chief executive officer of AfriOne, Mr. Sahir Berry said that the company with the commissioning of its assembly plant is determined to launch consumer devices in the state.

He described it as a technological breakthrough and precedent for the enterprise and Nigeria’s over 170 million strong population, which will herald the availability of the first in-country produced smartphones for sale in the Nigeria marketplace.

According to him, AfriOne is championing corporate socio-economic development while wholly supporting the ‘Made in Nigeria’ mantra.

The CEO, who was accompanied at the occasion by the Managing Director, Contec Global, Mr. Roheen Berry, AfriOne co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Hemang Kapur, Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Lekan Akinjide, as well as Mr. Jailesh Shah of Gontec Global among others, promises to model their products to utilize cutting-edge technology, reflet a modern, sleek design and integrate the latest and arguably necessary financial technology.

As part of AfriOne strategy to checkmate fake products, Mr. Berry assured on the affordability and availability of their products.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Making IoT networks tech-agnostic tops LPWA agenda

The ability to make Internet of Things (IoT) networks comprehensive and technology-agnostic is topping the agenda at the 2017 LPWA World, reports ITRealms.
The event slated for May, ITRealms reports is aimed at helping public and private operators make sense of the many different technology and deployment choices for IoT networks. 
With support from partners Wi-SUN Alliance, Weightless SIG, LoRA Alliance and GSMA, LPWA World will help operators capitalise on the opportunity IoT signifies through discussions on cellular and non-cellular solutions.
ITRealms also reports that the event taking place at the InterContinental O2 in London, UK from 23 –24 May 2017, would see LPWA World helping operators and end users navigate different technologies, such as LPWAN, LTE-M, NB-IoT and Sigfox, and develop a strategy to achieve tangible ROI on IoT network investments.
Founder and CTO of Aeris Communications, Syed Zaeem Hosain, who will discuss the technological and business considerations of a future LPWA player said the event would pave the way for understanding the range of use cases and applications will also be high on the agenda, with presentations on applications covering a wide range of industry verticals such as transport, smart cities, utilities, healthcare and automotive.
Over the last twelve months, Hosain said, there have been a growing number of proprietary networks, competing standards, and initiatives for cellular and non-cellular networks.
ITRealms gathered that later, representatives from Telekom Austria and Etisalat Digital will join a panel to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding global LPWA live trials. On day two, there will be several regional-specific spotlights, including a focus on South America, Australia, Asia and the USA.

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20 African digital start-ups to benefit from World Bank

Twenty African digital start-ups will benefit from the World Bank Group under its XL Africa initiative attracting early stage capital between $250,000 and $1.5 million, reports ITRealms.
The programme, ITRealms gathered is a five-month business acceleration scheme designed to support the 20 most promising digital start-ups from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Start-ups, ITRealms also gathered will receive mentoring from global and local experts, learn through a tailor-made curriculum, increase their regional visibility, and get access to potential corporate partners and investors.

Vice President, Africa Region at the World Bank, Makhtar Diop, said that digital start-ups are important drivers of innovation in Africa.

“To scale and spread new technologies and services beyond borders, they need an integrated ecosystem that provides access to regional markets and global finance; pan-African initiatives like XL Africa play a critical role by linking local start-ups with corporations and investors across the continent,” he said.

In addition, ITRealms gathered that the programme, comes at a time of increasing interest in the African digital sector.

According to a recent report by Disrupt Africa, in 2016, the number of tech start-ups that secured funding increased by 16.8 per cent compared to 2015.

Director of the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice at the World Bank Group, Klaus Tilmes, said that XL Africa aims to put a spotlight on the continent’s growing digital economy by scouting for and supporting the most innovative tech start-ups.

“The success of these ventures will create a demonstration effect that can attract much-needed growth investment in the sector and catalyze scaling of transnational businesses in the region,” he said.

Further, ITRealms reports that the programme’s flagship activity includes a two-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, where the ventures will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from their mentors, peers, and local partners. The Cape Town residency will conclude with the Venture Showcase, a regional event in which the entrepreneurs will present their business models to a select audience of corporations and investors. 

“The program’s unique combination of targeted mentorship and access to investors represents a vital resource for digital ventures ready to grow,” said Lexi Novitske, Principal Investment Officer for Singularity Investments, a venture group based in Lagos, Nigeria. “By connecting innovative business ideas with the knowledge and resources available in the ecosystem, XL Africa will create a pipeline of investment-ready companies, unlocking better investment opportunities for regional and global investors,” he said.

The program will collaborate with prominent African investment groups, including the African Business Angel Network (ABAN), AngelHub Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Knife Capital, Nest Africa, Silvertree Capital, Singularity Investments, South African Business Angel Network (SABAN), TLcom Capital, Zephyr Acorn and 4Di Capital, and corporate partners, such as Orange, .Eco, Ringier, and Thomson Reuters.

ITRealms reveals that interested companies can apply online on the XL Africa website www.XL-Africa.com by Monday, June 12, 2017.

XL Africa is funded by the governments of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and administered by the World Bank Group with implementation support from IMC Worldwide, VC4A, and Koltai & Co.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whistleblower policy: AFRICMIL applauds FG over suspension of NIA D-G

The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), a civil society organization currently engaged in a project (Corruption Anonymous) to support the Nigerian government’s whistleblower policy, has applauded the momentum the policy has brought to the war against corruption and the suspension of the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) over the N13billion seized by the EFCC in a Lagos apartment, reports ITRealms.

The Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah, in a press statement made available to ITRealms, expressed delight that the success so far recorded was a pointer to the fact that the policy was proving to be an effective tool in checking widespread corruption in the polity.

“Within so short a period the whistleblower policy has transformed the anti-corruption landscape to the extent that hitherto lukewarm citizens, the bulk of whom are direct victims of corruption, have started showing in the war against corruption by exposing hiding places of looted funds” he said.

AFRICMIL noted that there was no doubt that the aim of the policy was steadily being achieved with the involvement of Nigerians. It praised the government for its realization that without getting citizens to play a key role in the fight against corruption, there was no way the war would be successfully prosecuted.   
Also AFRICMIL stated that only corrupt persons and beneficiaries of the proceeds of corruption would not be happy with the positive impact of whistleblowing since it was launched four months ago.

“We are all witnesses to the long years of orchestrated stealing and stashing away of public funds in our country. While a majority of Nigerians have been jubilating over the gradual recovery of these funds through whistleblowing, we hope that the perpetrators of this heinous crime and their accomplices would be exposed in due course,” Onumah said.

While commending government for the vision that led to the policy, the organization called for decisive action on the recent seizure by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of about N13billion from a flat in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. 

AFRICMIL called on government to be honest and transparent on the issue as the case had the potential of totally dismantling the whistleblower policy.

“The case has presented itself as the litmus test for the effective implementation of the policy going forward. We appeal to government to treat it objectively so as not to erode the support and confidence of the people in the policy,” Onumah said.

AFRICMIL reiterated continued support and readiness to partner with government in promoting and strengthening the policy for effective implementation.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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NEPAD, SANSA sign MoU on satellite services, signals new African focus

The NEPAD Agency and South African National Space Agency (SANSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on satellite based remote sensing products and services which they say is a new focus for Africa, reports ITRealms.
A press statement made available to ITRealms by the Senior Communications Officer at NEPAD Agency, Mwanja Ng'anjo, revealed that the MoU was signed at the Hartebeesthoek ground station in South Africa’s Gauteng province.
According to her, during the ceremony, the importance of Africa as a continent to find and implement its own solutions to address its challenges was stressed.
In addition, she said, with the MoU the two institutions have signed an important step that signals the new focus for Africa that is emerging, one that places confidence in African institutions and capacity to find solutions to the continent’s challenges.
Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, was quoted as commending the collaboration between the two institutions and stated that, “Gaps in policy-making and implementation can, from now on, be filled will real time data and evidence from Africa itself.”
South Africa plays a central role in the international space community with an established reputation for accuracy and reliability, of which SANSA is using the benefits of space science and technology to help grow and develop the African region.
“The South African National Space Agency is revisiting its strategic position in leading innovations for space solutions, not only for South Africa, but for the rest of the continent to enable us to make informed decisions,” Dr Val Munsami, SANSA’s CEO said.
Dr Munsami also reiterated that Africa is starting to look inward for its own solutions, and added that the MoU signed with the NEPAD Agency will go a long way in redressing challenges in various sectors including agriculture, food security and disaster management.
Other areas of collaboration between SANSA and the NEPAD Agency include: Integrated water resources management; sustainable forestry management; infrastructure; geospatial visualisation and web mapping services, as well as capacity building and knowledge transfer.
ITRealms reports that the satellite based remote sensing products and services provided by SANSA will play a fundamental role in aiding spatial decision support systems that are required for the implementation of NEPAD’s 2025 Vision on the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), which is Africa’s policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all. The products and services will also play a key role in NEPAD’s Action Plan for the Environment Initiative and the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative.
“The achievement of Agenda 2063 requires innovative partnerships that enhance evidence based planning and implementation for real transformation on the continent,” Dr Mayaki said.
The space-based solutions will also enable the NEPAD Agency to support the African Union in the monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals, which are aligned with the implementation of the first ten year plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Abuja runway: Is Nigeria Can-do Spirit - Minister

The timely completion of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, runway that paved the way for the re-opening of the airport, after a six-week closure, has shown the ability of the Buhari Administration to rise up to any occasion, irrespective of how daunting the challenge may be.

In a statement issued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Wednesday, April 19 the Minister described as a remarkable achievement the ability of the government to complete the total reconstruction of the runway within the stipulated time, despite doomsday predictions.

He said the clock-work precision with which everything concerning the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and the temporary relocation to the Kaduna Airport was handled by the relevant ministries and the security agencies is the clearest indication yet that Nigeria can tackle any challenge.

Alhaji Mohammed noted that the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna road by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the provision of non-invasive but effective security along the highway by the security agencies and the perfect handling, by the Ministry of Transportation, of the massive logistics involved in ensuring that the Kaduna Airport was able to handle such a large number of flights, all showed that Nigerians have what it takes to make the country a proud member of the comity of nations.

''It is to the credit of the security agencies and the Federal Road Safety Corps that passengers travelling along the ever-busy Abuja-Kaduna highway were largely kept safe while the closure of the Abuja airport lasted. There was no known security scare while accidents on the road were kept at the barest minimum, despite the increased vehicular traffic. Who can forget the timely departure and arrival of the Abuja-Kaduna train that ferried thousands of passengers back and forth during the Abuja airport closure?

''Indeed, the closure of the Abuja airport runway and the logistic nightmare it triggered must rank among the most intimidating challenges faced by this Administration. It's ability to live up to expectation by delivering the project even before the scheduled date has further confirmed that Nigerians elected a responsive, responsible and capable federal government in 2015,'' he said.

The Minister reminded those who might want to trivialize the feat that what could not be done, in the over 30 years that the Abuja airport runway was left to deteriorate to the level of near failure, was achieved in just six weeks by a determined Administration even under an economic recession.

He also recalled that the Port Harcourt International Airport was closed for almost two years, a shameful development, at a time the country was witnessing a more favourable economic situation.

Alhaji Mohammed thanked Nigerians for enduring the inconveniences that came with the relocation of Abuja flights to Kaduna, the Ethiopian Airline that operated its scheduled Abuja flights to Kaduna when other international carriers turned their back, and the Julius Berger construction company that worked day and night to deliver the project before schedule.

''The success recorded in the timely reconstruction of the Abuja airport runway can only rank next to the determined effort with which the federal government contained the Boko Haram insurgency. We assure Nigerians that this Administration is employing the same uncommon determination to tackle all the challenges facing the country, including pervasive corruption, insecurity, unemployment, infrastructural decay as well as the general economy,'' he said.

Segun Adeyemi/GEE

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

SGF Suspension: Who’s the presidency asked Babachir Lawal

The suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachi Lawal, has told reporters to ask the “presidency” why he was suspended, retorting ‘Who’s the presidency’ reports ITRealms.

Obviously reacting to his suspension after a closed door meeting with Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo at the state house, Mr. Lawal was caught on tape, Wednesday shortly after his suspension was announced.

However, correspondent informed him that his suspension was announced by the presidency, he retorted: “Who is the presidency?”

Detail transcription of that encounter is here:

Reporters: Your suspension has just been announced. How will you react to the development?

Lawal: Who announced it?

Reporters: The presidency

Lawal: Then ask them. Why are you asking me? Who is the presidency?

Reporters: Have you been informed of the suspension?

Lawal: By who? About what. What about you? Have you been informed?

Reporters: Yes sir.

Lawal: By who?

Reporters: By the Presidency sir.

Lawal: I have not seen it. I should have been given… I have not seen the press release so I cannot comment on it.

Reporters: It is currently trending online. Are you doubting the authenticity of the statement?

Lawal: I have not seen it.

Reporters: Tell us the outcome of your meeting with the vice-president.

Lawal: I am always here. I always meet the vice-president. I used to come here even before I was made SGF.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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Six Nollywood tricky lessons for girls on femininity

Gender ICT@ITRealms:
If you are a fan of Nollywood movies, you probably already have certain impressions about Nigerians and their women especially. The female characters in Nollywood movies are almost always cast in similar roles.

The young girls are often portrayed as damsels in distress who eventually find their purpose after they meet a man; or they are cast as gossips and home breakers driven by jealousy and bitterness. Other times they are money-conscious and beauty obsessed simpletons e.t.c;

The older women are usually depicted as wives whose lives are centered around their husbands; they are over-religious mothers who control their daughters, and mothers-in-law, whose purpose is to antagonize the daughters-in-law.

In general, the movies fail to portray Nigerian females in their diversity and complexity. Of course, there are exceptions where the female character is portrayed differently and given non-traditional roles, but how often do we see those kinds of Nollywood films?

While these movies entertain the viewers, it also serves as a medium through which the cultures and norms of the Nigerian society are disseminated to inform and mold the behavior of the masses. As such, they have the potential to shape young minds in a lot of ways.

Without realizing it, young girls in Nigeria who are exposed to these Nollywood films, learn what it means to “be a woman”. Unfortunately, not all of the lessons Nollywood teaches these girls about feminism are good.

Here are some of the problematic lessons:

Marriage is the end game
From as old as the movie “Taboo” to as recent as the blockbuster “Wedding Party”, a number of Nigerian movies tend to subtly or even strongly pass the message that marriage is a woman’s highest achievement, thus should be the highlight of her existence. Most times disguised as a love story or just plain comedy, it essentially portrays the heroine as someone who is all about getting a man to love and marry her. Some of these movies even portray women as men-mad idiots who will go to great lengths to get a man: betray friends, disown their families, and change their religion e.t.c.

Girls, when they absorb this message, start to believe that they must have a man to eventually lead a complete life. This is possibly why the marriage fever is unending and most women in our society today would rather chase a man than chase their dreams…even when they do not even feel attracted to a man.

Nollywood should strive to diversify their plot to include heroines who are able to achieve their life’s purpose without necessarily being married or being depressed they achieved the success without a man by their side.

Being Feminist means being tough, domineering and acting like a man 
Among the myriad Nollywood movies that have been produced over the years, some movies have tried to foster the ‘feminist’ agenda. Some of these movies like “Black Bra” or “women in power”, however, end up giving these female characters “male” attributes while trying to achieve their aim. 

They make them tough, domineering and even get them do certain things that have been stereotyped as ‘male’ behavior. This defeats the purpose, as the idea of feminism is not that men be removed from earth or be hated.

It should not in any way either suggest that the world will be better run by females.

Feminism basically just suggests that the female is of the same status as the male, not less, not better…and this message is what these Nollywood movies should strive to pass across.

This is so that the girls, who are influenced by these movies, are not deluded to think that to be empowered, they have to feel better than men or even despise them.

Women are weak and need rescuing
A classic example is the movie “First lady”. The Heroine already on her own was hoping to be rescued by a Prince Charming. This is a mentality most girls have these days, as a result of the numerous Nollywood movies they have seen on African Magic.

They are unwilling to put in the hard work they need to upgrade their status, or take them out of whatever situation they find themselves entrapped in. They wait to meet a man who will rescue them from an abusive father, or change their lives and take them out of poverty.

This mentality is the reason a lot of our Nigerian girls are still not self-made and not rising up to their full potential.

Nollywood movies that highlight this damsel in distress/knight in a shining amor theme, should be regulated so that we have more girls who are confident and willing to chart their own course.
Being girly is what makes you beautiful, attractive and most of all “normal”

The heroines who get the happy ending are usually costumed and molded to look and behave a certain way. They wear dresses and adorn themselves with jewelry. They also put on make-up and wear hair extensions. They also tend to show a lot of emotion (they cry and throw tantrums). The few times a female character is shown, perhaps without makeup or flashy girly clothes, she is really poor, and usually, she will have to upgrade to or adopt the “girly” image, in order to get her happy ending. Even more, if is she is dressed in certain clothes that have been tagged “male”, automatically she is a lesbian or a thug who probably will not have a happy ending.

The young girls who get these messages become image-obsessed, as they now believe how they look is everything. Perhaps Nollywood movies need to place less emphasis on the outward appearance of the girl focus more on highlighting the qualities in a female character that makes her uniquely female.

As a woman, you have to wait for love to find you
It is really hard to see any romantic Nollywood movie where the girl took the bull by the horn, and went in search of love. The love stories are always written in such a way that boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, and love conquers all.

In these movies, these girls- even ones that are clearly self-centered and narcissistic- do not need to work on themselves or do anything …love finds them any way.

This is not the case in our real world today. Love does not come easy. At least, not genuine love. It is important that girls know it is alright for them to make the first move sometimes, and go for what they want as opposed to waiting to be pursued.

Also, it is important that they understand that love requires emotional maturity; they may need to work on themselves to attract the kind of love they desire. Nollywood movies should try to reflect that.

Women are destined for subservient roles in the society
In a large number of Nollywood movies, men are depicted as leaders, rulers and successful business men. Women, on the other hand, are mostly captured in domestic settings, their roles constrained to being mothers, daughter, brides, housewives and other related roles. Even in a few movies where the woman is given a sort of ‘masculine’ role or place in a position of power, it is still orchestrated such that she has to submit to a higher boss who is male, or submit to a domineering husband.

This gives the girl the impression that this is all the future holds for her. Her mind is conditioned to accept and even look forward to it. Modern day Nollywood movies should consider the direct and remote messages their moving may be passing across and not ignore them. They can start by ensuring women are not always cast in traditional roles.

What are your thoughts on these points?

*Nkem Ndem contributed this from Lagos.

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