Thursday, June 30, 2016

iSON extends African reach with call center revolution

African emerging Information Technology (IT) leader, iSON Group is extending its reach with build out of call centers across Africa countries, ITRealms reports.

Currently, iSON boost of presence in 29 countries spanning 4 continents including Africa, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Middle East, iSON Group is inarguably a market leader in its niche.

ITRealms gathered that iSON Group consists of three operating companies, namely the iSON BPO which provides outsourcing services specifically in customer service experience management, iSON Technologies the systems integrator arm and iSON Innovation and Investment (i3), which is a recent initiative launched by the Group to drive consumer internet business in Africa.

The Chairman of iSON Group, Mr Ramesh Awtaney, was quoted in a press statement made available to ITRealms by Ope Alebiosu, as saying that in Africa alone, iSON operates in 25 countries with over 10,000 employees operating in its call centers including Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, South Sudan, Liberia, Uganda and Tanzania, with plans to build more facilities in the coming years.

“With the global awakening to more cost effective solutions, Business Process Outsourcing, with specific regard to call center management has become a cost effective solution to most customer centric organizations with the twin benefit of this being a ready-made platform for employment generation for the rising number of employable youths, with basic IT training to steer them onto a gainful career path.  

“We are responding simply to the law of demand and supply but in such a way that ‘supply’  in turn organically grows macro economies rapidly in all our host communities,” Chairman and Founder of iSON groups asserts.

“This of course has a ripple effect on not just providing a much needed service to our clients and engendering youth development and capacity but also building and sustaining our communities while encouraging urban to semi urban job shift,” he concludes.

As of 2016, Nigeria accounts for over half the call center staff working for iSON across Africa. Due to the rigorous training the company offers its staff, they are highly valuable in other verticals they migrate to, thus reinforcing iSON as a strong platform for capacity engagement and building.

iSON Group services a growing list of market leaders in their various niches i.e. Banking, Insurance Financial Services (BFSI), Telecom, Hospitality, Retail, Government, Health care, FMCG and DTH, Media and Entertainment.
The company offers its teeming customers all over the world various services such as analytics, customer experience management, voice process solution and CRM process solution.

Since its inception, iSON Group has amassed numerous awards for its BPO efforts some of which include the 2016 Great Place to Work award for ‘Best Practices’ and ‘CSR’, CIO top 100 Companies, Champions of Governance award, World Class Cup Team award from Standard Chartered Kenya, Distinguished Achievement in IT & ITES, Best Technology Vendor Top 100 Organizations Supplier Award – Zimbabwe Customer Service Week and the Global Business Excellence Awards - Outstanding IT Team.

The company continues to expand its services around Africa with new call center facilities recently launched in Ilorin and Abeokuta in Nigeria.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CBN CardExpo Africa: Remita wins most efficient e-revenue service award

Integrated electronic payments and collections platform developed by SystemSpecs, the Remita, has been adjudged the “Most Efficient e-Revenue Service” at the recently concluded CBN CardExpo Africa Awards 2016, reports ITRealms.

The recognition reinforces Remita’s position as a strong emerging leader in the innovative financial technology and services space in Nigeria and the larger African landscape.
According to the organisers, Remita is the most viable electronic revenue collection platform among many other options available in the market today. 

The CBN CardExpo is an annual 3-day conference organised by Intermarc Consulting in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to showcase the most exciting developments within Africa’s payment industry. 

The award, presented by the Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs Sally Mbanefo, follows other recent honours accorded the financial technology brand at home and abroad.

Managing Director/CEO of SystemSpecs, Mr. John Obaro, said that the company is inspired by the recognition and would continue to "extend the frontiers of financial technology innovation which Remita has now come to be known for.” 

According to him, the firm believe there are grounds to be covered in the revenue collections and payments space, adding that the company is  committed to working with individuals, businesses and governments in Nigeria and other African countries to "take advantage of our innovative technology to achieve their objectives.”

Remita is the technology behind the highly successful Treasury Single Account (TSA) initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and has enabled the government to take full control of over N3 trillion of its cash assets as at the end of the first quarter of 2016. 

Flowing from the huge success recorded on the TSA initiative riding on revenue collection technology provided by Remita, the Federal Government has recently recommended TSA implementation as a pre-condition by state governments seeking to take advantage of bailout funds to be provided by the Federal Government. 

Remita is the flagship product of SystemSpecs, the 24-year-old software company widely regarded as Nigeria’s leading software house and home to many of Nigeria’s exceptional software talents.

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FG set to block illegal broadcast, cautions on IRMS property

In effort block illegal broadcast by rebellious groups across the country, the Federal Government said it has resolved to rehabilitate all International Radio Monitoring Stations (IRMS), warning land speculators to steer clear of IRMS property in the country, reports ITRealms.

The IRMS facility at Ipaja, Lagos covering the South-West geo-political zone is one of such stations strategically located in various parts of the country as security surveillance to monitor radio broadcast activities, so as to guide against illegal use of the radio frequency airspace for unauthorized broadcast by proscribed groups, political and ethnic motivated dissidents.

Special Assistant on Media to the Hon. Minister of Communications, Mr.  Victor  Oluwadamilare, said the Federal Ministry of Communications, has adequately appropriated for rehabilitation works on the IRMS facilities across the country in the 2016 Federal Government budget and has consequently warned against any illegal occupation and acquisition of any fraction of land on which these infrastructures are located.

“Because of the strategic importance of these infrastructures, the general public is warned against purchase or acquisition of any part of the monitoring stations”. The IRMS facilities are located in Azare, Gusau, Ipaja and Ogoja, to monitor broadcast activities across the country and its borders.

This warning, he said, is coming at the heel of what the Federal Government considered as unauthorized acquisition of part of the land on which the IRMS at Ipaja,  Lagos is situated, which is currently a subject of litigation in a suit No ID5764/14 between Oguntoyinbo Abiola, Falola and Illo families of Ipaja, Lagos  Vs the Hon. Minister of Lands and Hon. Minister of Communications

The Ministry unequivocally stated that the title of the land on which the Ipaja IRMS is situated is still under litigation and pending before a competent court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, thereby forestalling anybody, group or family from encroaching upon the land acquired by the Federal Government since 1971.

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Zinox boss urges Nigerian youths to explore disruptive ICT tools positively

The Chairman of Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh has urged Nigerian to explore their youthful disruption at this era of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) positively, reports ITRealms.

Zinox, ITRealms notes prides itself as the Sub-Saharan Africa’s most integrated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) conglomerate.

Ekeh told participants at the 12th graduation ceremony of Bridge House College held at the Muson Centre, Onikan - Lagos on Tuesday, June 28th 2016, that the nation is in dire need of a next generation of digitally advanced, entrepreneurially-minded youth who will question the status quo.

He said at the event which had in attendance the former Deputy Governor, Lagos State, Sarah Adebisi Sosan, the British Deputy High Commissioner, Ray Kyles and Ms. Ngozi Edozien, among others.

Nigeria, he said needs urgently someone who has the capacity to lead the nation out of the woods and urged the graduating students to leverage on the privileged education they had been exposed to at the college in pushing the boundaries, stressing that the second half of the 21st Century was a pivotal one as it would usher in a lot of changes in the global order.

“Today, you are privileged to be armed with a sound educational background from Bridge House College. Many of us were not as lucky as we barely finished our studies. The quality of education you have received here equips you with common-sense and practical situational references which will aid many of you build successful businesses. It is not available in Europe as their circumstances differ from ours,” he said.

Ekeh who was the chairman of the occasion, also said that the internet has today given every one an open space or a level playing field to create wealth.

He foresees among the graduating students, a generation that has the potential to alter Nigeria’s destiny, pointing out that many of them will achieve in one year what some of the most successful entrepreneurs in his generation took over 30 years to put together.

“You have the exposure, the platforms, the energy and, most importantly, certified intelligence to deliver the new Nigeria mandate of a successful economy. Things are changing in the global system,” he said.

In the second half of the 21st century, Ekeh reputed for his entrepreneurial acumen in ICT, said it will make more sense to have just one kid, with a nanny earning possibly as much as a medical doctor then.

“It is a reality because the world is transitioning and will reward skill, style and content. For the males among you, you will marry a woman and not keep her as a slave but as an equal partner in progress. And as for the ladies here, I don’t see women who will aspire to become First Ladies but female Presidents.

“I believe so much in Nigeria. Although I have offices in Dubai and other foreign countries in which we retain digital hubs to roll out to other nations of the world that appreciate our capacities, Nigeria still remains the biggest market for us. Many years ago when I returned to the country and encountered the analogue system of publishing, I embarked on the task of transitioning the country from analogue to digital with the introduction of Desktop Publishing and Computer Graphics. Since then, we have continued to transition from one platform to another and it is up to your generation to cause the positive disruption that this country needs to take its rightful place in the global order.”

Counselling the graduating students to step forward with boldness and a mind-sent to make a difference, Ekeh declared his support for those students who are knowledge-hungry as, according to him, everyone in the current century must invent something that adds value to the society and enhance the profile of his or her family.

“You only require quality education like you have started with and humility, and you become a global citizen,” Ekeh advised.

In line with this, multiple award winner and best student in Physics and Biology, Ms. Serena Omo-Lamai was asked to name any laptop of her choice in the world – a device which the Zinox Chairman made a commitment to source and have delivered to her. College Ambassador, Olu Muyiwa Yusuf also received a gift of a laptop from Ekeh for his efforts as the representative of the students.

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Pix: Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh, Zinox chairman.

Etisalat Prize for Literature book tour excites Nairobi

The Etisalat Prize for Literature held a series of public literary events in Nairobi, Kenyan capital throughout last week in promotion of African literature and celebration of the winner and shortlisted writers of the 2015 prize, reports ITRealms.
The literary programme featured a public panel discussion with the winner of the 2015 edition of the Etisalat Prize, Congolese Poet and Writer, Fiston Mwanza Mujila the author of Tram 83; as well as Etisalat Prize for Literature Shortlisted Writers, Penny Busetto author of The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself and Rehana Rossouw author of What Will People Say?.
Also, the authors visited the University of Nairobi and Daystar University and had book reading sessions at Goethe-Institute Nairobi and PAWA254, in addition to donating books to the institutions during the tour.
Director, Brands and Experience, Etisalat Nigeria, Elvis Ogiemwanye said the programme is aimed at putting African literature in more hands across the world. He expressed the hope that the tour will help encourage more Africans to embrace African literature, adding that Africa is rich in literary talent.
ITRealms recalled that on June 1st, 2016, Etisalat invited entries to the 2016 edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, who made this disclosure, recently said the Judging Panel for the 2016 Etisalat Prize comprises Nigerian novelist and poet, Helon Habila, as the Chair of Judges, South African writer and activist Elinor Sisulu and Ivorian writer, Edwige-Renée Dro as members.

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Pix: (l-r)-- Manager, High Value Sponsorship & Events, Etisalat Nigeria, Opeyemi Lawal; Winner, 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Fiston Mujila; Shortlisted Author, 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Penny Busetto and Judge, 2015 Etisalat Prize for literature, Zikiswa Wanner at the Etisalat Prize for Literature Book Reading held in Nairobi, Kenya, at the weekend.

Olashore celebrates Falz on 2016 BET awards

An uprising Nigerian star, Mr Folarin Falana, popularly known as Falz, is being celebrated by his former school, Olashore International School for winning the 2016 Best New International Act at BET Awards under the Viewers’ Choice category, reports ITRealms.

The award presented at the weekend ahead of the main event which holds at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, the United States of America.

ITRealms gathered that Falz was nominated earlier in the month of June, amongst peers in South-Africa, France, Australia, and United Kingdom (UK), even as the Nigerian Comic Rapper and fast rising entertainer slugged it out with other talented up and coming artists around the world to emerge the best.

Falz was nominated at award shows winning Best Actor in a Comedy Movie cum Series at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards for his role as ‘Segun’ in Funke Akindele’s TV series ‘Jenifa’s Diary’. The 2016 BETS Award was hosted by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. The BET Awards recognizes artists, entertainers, and athletes across 20 categories.

The nominations are selected by BET’s Voting Academy, which is comprised of fans and an esteemed group of entertainment professionals in the fields of television, film, music, social media, digital marketing, sports journalism, public relations, and the creative arts.

ITRealms also gathered that while at Olashore International School, Falz started out with a music group by friends and released a compilation mixtape titled ‘Shakara’ in 2009. By 2011, he released another album titled ‘Waz Up Guy’, ‘High Class’ and ‘Currency’ which gained him grounds in the Nigerian Music Industry. Later in 2015, Falz released ‘Stories that touch’.

Recently, Falz also won the award of the ‘Most Influential Personality’ at the Friends of Olashore Event organized by the Alumni of the school and concerned personalities. 

He got this award based on the fact that he had shown exemplary strides in his profession and in life generality, and has been able to shape how people act or how things occur in their sphere of influence and beyond. 

Receiving the award on his behalf, recently by his father, a legal luminary and Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana (SAN) spoke, “We are glad our son has carved a niche for himself on the sands of time through passion. We actually sent him to school to study Law but he went ahead to marry his passion with his course having been nurtured to his full potential by the Olashore International School which he attended then. He chose to go into music and today he is doing well for himself. I’m proud of him. I also appreciate Friends Of Olashore for giving him this award.”

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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Pix: Falz

Prof. Rothwell to take-over from Donald as BSA President

The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, is to take over the leadership of the British Science Association (BSA) from the incumbent, Professor Dame Athene Donald, reports ITRealms.

This change of guide would be consummated in September 2016, just as BSA, established in 1831, is a registered charity that organises major initiatives across the United Kingdom (UK) including British Science Week, the British Science Festival, regional and local events, the CREST Awards and other programmes for young people in schools and colleges.

ITRealms gathered that BSA programmes encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with science, become ambassadors for science, and ultimately to be empowered to challenge and influence British science – whether they work in science or not.

Prof. Rothwell’s year-long term will begin at the British Science Festival 2016, hosted by Swansea University and supported by Siemens, where she is billed to deliver the annual Presidential Address and host the Festival dinner, on Thursday 8 September.

“I am delighted and honoured to be asked to take up Presidency of the British Science Association for the coming year. I’m looking forward to helping the Association with its goals of making science a fundamental part of society and culture, which is something I feel particularly passionate about," she said.

Nancy is a Professor of Physiology, and is President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester – the first woman appointed to the role. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a former non-executive director of AstraZeneca.

In 2009, she became the first president of the Society of Biology (now the Royal Society of Biology), and gave the 1998 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on The Secrets of Life, which were broadcast on the BBC. Currently, Nancy is Chair of the EuroScience Open Forum 2016 (ESOF) Steering Committee. ESOF takes place in Manchester between 23 – 27 July.

In 2012, Nancy was appointed co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. In 2013, BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour named Nancy as the 15th most powerful woman in the United Kingdom. She has worked tirelessly to further the public's awareness of science, and in particular, encourage women to pursue careers in science.

Imran Khan, CEO of the British Science Association said: “Nancy Rothwell's scientific record and public service alone make her one of the UK's foremost scientists, but she has also consistently championed the importance of public engagement with science. She is an excellent communicator in her own right, and also supports and enables others to work with the public. We're delighted that she's chosen to serve as our President for the coming year."

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Saraki, Ekweremadu docked: Nigeria's democracy on trial says Deputy Senate President

The Deputy President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Ike Ekweremadu has described his trial alongside the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and two other senior members of the National Assembly (NASS) staff over an alleged forgery of document to facilitate their emergence of current leadership of the Red Chamber as democracy on trial, reports ITRealms.

Reacting after appearing and pleading not guilty amongst others, the deputy president of Senate said he presented myself to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on Monday, June 27, 2016, as an ordinary citizen of this great nation to plead ‘not guilty’ to charges he did not and could not have committed.

As said by him in a press statement sighted by ITRealms, there is deeply troubling to note that people in high places who swore to uphold the law, have dwindled into purveyors of falsehood and rumours who seek to smear and tarnish the reputation of law abiding and responsible citizens as well as cripple the hallowed institutions of democracy.

“It is all the more disheartening that people who should know better use the colour of their office to pursue private vendetta against people they disagree with,” he said.

Ekweremadu said this grotesque display of vindictiveness, arrogance, and mindless targeting of innocent citizens should find no sanctuary in Nigeria’s democracy, stressing that using the machinery of justice to create disorder is a dangerous and invidious scheme that ultimately will lead Nigeria down the road to perdition.

“It is Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu today, who knows whose turn it will be next?,” he asked, wondering that as a law-abiding citizen and believer in the rule of law and all the rights and privileges it advertises, that its only in his place not to commit crime, but way out of his reach not to be accused of one, especially when instruments of power become apparatuses for oppression of the innocent and voices of opposition.

Senator Ekweremadu pointed out that he does not claim to be above the law, just that he believes that the law should not be used as an instrument to bludgeon innocent citizens into submitting to the untamed wishes and caprices of witch-hunters.

“However, I put my trust in God, the court, and the overwhelming solidarity of the good people of Nigeria. When the dust settles, Nigerians will see clearly that this charge is nothing but meretricious thrash. Time, occasions, and provocations like this will teach their own lessons. I hope that one chief lesson will be that democracy differs markedly from military rule and that public officer should never subvert the foundations of democracy by prioritizing the rule of man over the rule of law,” he said.

The Deputy Senate President warned that Nigerias that to make no mistake about this trail, because it is not Senator Ike Ekweremadu or Senator Bukola Saraki or the other accused persons that are on trial; rather the hallowed democratic principles of separation of powers, rule of law, the legislature, and indeed democracy itself are on a ridiculous trial.

Mere anarchy is unleashed upon the land, but our courage must not fall apart. No condition is permanent and nothing lasts forever.

“For me, I find great comfort in the immortal words of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who said that history will vindicate the just and the wicked will not go unpunished,” Ekweremadu said.

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Pix: Senate Deputy President, Ekweremadu

NERFUND crisis resolved: Adeosun orders staff back to work

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has ordered all staff of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND), to immediately return to their duty posts as the crisis within the organisation has been resolved, ITRealms reports.

NERFUND, ITRealms  recalls, were directed in a circular signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse on June 15, 2016,   to stay away from work to forestall further breakdown of law and order as a result of disputes between the Executive Management, Senior Management and other staff of the organisation.

The National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) was established in 1989 to provide medium to long-term financing to viable Small and Medium scale production enterprises to increase the quantity of goods and services available for local consumption and export, provide needed employment, expand our production base and add value to the economy.

Director of Information at the Ministry in a press statement available to ITRealms, Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, noted that the Fund so far extended credit facilities for 2,829 projects valued N9.5 billion between 1989 and 1999.

He also pointed out that all Nigerians are qualified to apply for NERFUND loans, either as individuals, associations, cooperatives or corporate entities as well as partner institutions.

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Oronsaye et al: EFCC once again contradicts self

The second prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission-EFCC, Mustapha Sani Gadanya, in the on-going trial of Nigeria’s former Head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, Tuesday, followed the tread of the first witness, Ibrahim Rouqayya (Mrs), by contradicting himself while giving evidence before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

Gadanya is a former ‘second in command’ of EFCC’s Pension Fraud Team and present Manager, Compliance Investigations in Standard Chartered Bank, Lagos. He was brought by the Commission as witness in the trial-within-trial, as ordered by the Court.

Led in evidence by prosecution Counsel, Mr. Afolabi, Gadanya explained his involvement in the investigation of the second defendant in the matter, arguing that he voluntarily gave his statement to the Commission.

However, during cross examination by the counsel to the second defendant, Mr. Oluwole Aladoyele, Gadanya contradicted himself, having earlier denied taking the statement of one Mrs. Phyna in 2011, only to admit when the defence Counsel provided documents to the contrary.

Defence counsel had asked the PW2: “do you recall obtaining the statement of one Mrs. Phina Chidi in this case?”

In his response, he quickly denied. “I never obtained any such statement.”

Insisting, defence Counsel stressed: “on the 11th of February, 2011, you personally took Mrs. Phina Chidi to your superior officer to endorse her statement as having made same voluntarily. My lord, the statement on page 118 of the proof of evidence before this Court, could be used in testing the credibility of this witness. It has his endorsement as investigating officer. The same also is on page 176 of the proof of evidence.”

Upon seeing the evidence of his involvement, the EFCC witness recanted and acknowledged that he signed the statement as investigating officer.  

ITRealms recalled that Mrs. Phina Chidi was alleged to have been involved in moving huge sums of money from pension accounts using her under-aged children, but later turned to EFCC’s star witness during the Pension fraud trial.

Gadanya also denied seizing the international passport, mobile telephone and other gadgets of the 2nd defendant, Osarenkhoe Afe, a claim that was contradicted by the third prosecution witness.

Also testifying in Court Tuesday, third prosecution witness, Nurudeen Sulaiman, an EFCC detective acknowledged that he was part of the team that executed a search warrant on the residence of the second accused person.

“I knew the second accused, Osarenkhoe Afe, during the investigation of the pension fraud. We executed a search warrant in his house and we saw a Laptop, a brown envelope with documents of the office of the Head of Service, an I-Pad, a Zenith Bank Cheque book, letter head papers belonging to his company, Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited (3rd accused) and some other items.”

The matter was tentatively adjourned to the 7th of July, 2016, with six more dates taken for continuation of hearing in the new legal year, before the Christmas break.

It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission dragged Nigeria’s former head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye and four others before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court, Abuja over an amended 35-count charge bordering on alleged corruption.

Others charged by the Commission are: Cluster Logistics Limited, Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited, and Drew Investment & Construction Company Limited.

Recall that many Nigerians have accused the EFCC of witch-hunting the former head of Service, Stephen Oronsaye over his Committee’s recommendation for the merger of the EFCC with the Independent Corrupt practices Commission, ICPC, as well as his strong support for autonomy for the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit-NFIU.

Reports say the highest foreign donor support to the EFCC comes because of the NFIU.

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Omobola Johnson, Scot, Anammah lead other speakers lineup for TechPlus 2016

The former Minister of Communication Technology and chairperson, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Dr. Mrs. Omobola Johnson, has been confirmed to participate at the forthcoming TechPlus 2016, reports ITRealms.

She is expected to be joined by the Chief Information Officer, United States office in Nigeria, Mr. Tony Scot, chief executive officer, Jumia Nigeria, Juliet Anammah, among others.
The Managing Director of the organizing firm, Connect Marketing; Tunji Adeyinka,  confirmed this to ITRealms in a press statement.

“TechPlus Conference and Expo is a place where new technology comes to life, new products are launched and innovations converge to provide manufacturers, concept generators, software and hardware companies, content developers a unique platform to bring their products and services to life,” he said.

He also explained that the event is created as a platform where brands can connect with key decision makers and their target audience. This is evident in the caliber of premium brands that have signed to come onboard for the TechPlus 2016 event.

Other top speakers billed for TechPlus 2016, he said, include Professor Joan EnricRicart, Professor of Economics and Strategic Management and Head of  IESE’s Strategic Management Department; Dr Vincent Olatunji Acting DG, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Josep Ramon Ferrer,Former Smart City Director & Deputy CIO (Barcelona City Council); Rodney Williams Founder, LISNR; Karthik Noornie, Olam Group; Vytas Paukštys, CEO, Eskimi and Kamran Elahian, Chairman & Co-Founder of Global Catalyst Partners, among others.

Adeyinka also said that with global focus shifting increasingly towards innovative ideas that drive business, Nigerians are looking with great expectations as respected technology brands and players.

The event scheduled to hold at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos between 22nd and 23rd July 2016, with the theme ‘A Connected World.’

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Inflight toys for Emirates kids

We are in a modernized world where technology rules the world. As a result of this, Emirates has lots of Inflight entertainments for both adults and kids, and even more. But in as much as technology rules, people tend to clamour for other means of getting entertained, especially children. While on board, kids often embrace toys to play with when they are tired of watching movies or listening to music or even browsing.

To this end, Emirates Airline has the ‘Fly With Me Animal’ toys for the children flyers. For kids, Comfort and Companion is key.

Appearing in various colours, these newest range of Fly with Me Animal toys were made for infants and toddlers while the Fly with Me Lonely Planet activity was specially designed for those aged between six(6) and twelve(12) years old Emirates’ young flyers have got lots to benefit, as Emirates is out to make their trip a memorable one, given that young travellers are one of the most important customers of the brand. These toys are made available to kids at the kids play area at both First Class and Business Class lounges in Dubai.

The toys are light in weight, and soft in nature like a teddy bear, appearing in various shapes and colours as it will appeal to children, with eyes, ears, hands and legs. It’s lovely to behold. It’s soft nature will endear children to want to play with. It’s not harmful either. The blanket located inside is equally soft enough for baby use, thus playing up an added advantage.

In less than a year now,  Emirates launched a set of Fly with Me Animal toys, which made their debut on board the Emirates flight as soon as it was launched for use. The set of toys included, Lewis the Lion from Africa, Peek U the Panda from China, Enrico the Monkey from Latin America, and Leila the Camel from the Middle East.

The beauty of these toys is that they come with extra features in it for children’s play time. These toys in the pictures below, have blankets in them for cuddling babies. However, infants and toddlers when playing with these toys as though they were babies will have something to cuddle their babies while keeping them entertained. Also, parents can make use of this blankets to cuddle their new born babies.

Emirates’ Fly with Me Animals is a replacement of the popular Fly with Me Monsters for both entertaining and educational purposes. The animals were designed with unique features - The Travel Buddy which comes with a plastic toggle allowing the toy to be hung in the car, on a pram or in the cot; the Carry Buddy, a dual purpose toy and blanket; as well as the Magnetic Sketcher for young ones to express themselves creatively. It is hoped that four new Fly with Me Animals will be introduced every six months. 

Parents admit that their main travel concern is keeping children entertained inflight. Since the Fly Me Animal will do just that, this summer trip will be fun for kids, I believe.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Cyber attackers target govt, telecoms sector in East Africa

The East African governments and telecommunications sectors now top cyber-attacks, according to an industry study by the ControlRisks, ITRealms reports.

According to Control Risks Group Holdings Ltd, a cyberthreat intelligence organisation, the government in this region accounts for 33 per cent, while telecommunications currently attract 22 per cent, just as financial service sector records 17 per cent.

The Compliance, Forensics and Cyber expert for East Africa at ControlRisks, Patrick Matu, said this is contrary to the perception that cyber breaches are a problem unique to the large multinational companies based in developed markets.

“East African organisations are fast becoming a target for attacks with local subsidiaries particularly attractive as the ‘cyber’ route into these multinationals,” he said, stressing that attacks are increasing rapidly and in severity.

Globally, he said, there has been a 42 per cent increase in the number of targeted attacks reported between 2015 and first and second quarters of 2016.

For East Africa, he said, Advanced Persistent Threat and Criminal Targeted Attacks are the most impactful cyberattack techniques in 2016.

In Kenya alone, the ControlRisks team estimated costs for the country due to cybercrime costs sums up to 2 billion Kenyan shillings about $23m.

Matu noted that the Kenyan Government may have made great strides with the formation of Kenya National Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (KE_CIRT/CC) launched in 2012 and the development of the national cyber security strategy in 2014, it is however key for the public and private sector organisations to interpret what the policies mean for them; essentially adopt a “paper to practice” model for their organisation.

“Despite a growing number of media headlines about US or EU based companies falling victim to a cyber breach, the lack of obligation in many emerging markets to report on incidents is creating a false illusion that businesses operating in these markets are not subject to cyber attacks. In fact many organisations with bases in these emerging markets are prime targets and seen as the ‘weak underbelly’ when it comes to an organisation’s cyber security,” Matu said.

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I remain Abia State governor - Ikpeazu

... Appeals Justice Abang order to vacate office
The Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has reacted to the news making a round of his sack from the government house in Umuahia, saying he remained the State governor and assured citizens of no cause for alarm, ITRealmsreports.

ITRealms recalls that a judgment by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja was delivered in favour of Mr. Uche Ogah who instituted the case against Ikpeazu, for allegedly forging of tax receipts, thereby requesting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Ogah with a certificate of return.

But the Governor Ikpeazu, through his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, issued on Monday, said that he has faith in the judiciary and rule of law maintaining there is no cause for alarm as he had appealed the ruling.

The Governor also pointed out that as an appointee of the Abia State Government from 2011 to 2014, when he served as the General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS), and first Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) Aba and Environs respectively, before his resignation in October 2014 to contest the Governorship election in the state, his taxes were deducted at source within that period.

As said by him, when he had need of his tax clearance in 2014, he applied to the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue, and was duly issued with his tax receipts for the period in question.

Ikpeazu further said that he remains the Governor of the state according to law and will await the final determination of the matter by the appellate courts.

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Fiscal discipline, a destination says Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, told viewers of Channels TV that if Nigeria is to achieve sustainable growth it needs a planned approach to financial discipline, targeted investment and economic diversification.
Speaking on the Sunrise programme, Adeosun said: “The government’s Economic Plan is strong on fiscal discipline, because people know we need to get our country working.  And to do that we need to do three things: get the country’s spending in check with firm financial controls, raise money for targeted investment in much needed infrastructure; and see us diversify the economy from a damaging dependence on oil.”
Finance Staff grievances
Asked about her Ministry’s decision not to reinstate special bonus and overtime payments paid to civil servants in 2013/2014, the Minister said: “This is part of the same clear goal: ensuring fiscal discipline. We recognise the value of our staff and have made sure salaries are paid and we’ve worked hard to avoid redundancies. Although I understand the disappointment some staff may have, any special payments wouldn’t be appropriate and there simply aren’t any provisions to pay out the N 1.2bn. We need to return fiscal discipline not just to the Ministry of Finance, but to every arm of government.”
“Any delayed legitimate overtime payments will be paid.  The Director of Finance Administration will address these and ensure that they are paid.  Staff will get what they are legally entitled to.”
The Minister said: “The task now is for management and staff of the ministry to work together to achieve the goals of the administration: real reform through financial discipline, providing targeted investment and diversifying our economy.  The staff work hard and they are committed so they must be paid what they are due.”
Fiscal Discipline is a destination; we will continue to improve discipline on an ongoing basis.  FG have commenced similar reforms at the federal level, with success; Ghost workers which we prefer to call Payroll clean-up has been very successful and the continuous audit unit at the FG level will continue to monitor and improve our efforts there.  We have saved N 6.6bn on a monthly basis.  This is all about good housekeeping.  The Efficiency units have already had success with travel, food, sitting allowance and they will now look at adverts.  We are all aware of the efforts on plugging leakages and recoveries.

Contract between the States and FG
Minister Adeosun told viewers that State governments had a key role in diversifying Nigeria’s economy. She said: “We see the States as strong partners in diversifying our economy away from oil and getting Nigeria working again. This is one of the key drivers behind the Administration’s Fiscal Sustainability Plan with States. It is about improving accountability and transparency, increasing public revenue, effective expenditure, improving public financial management and managing debt sustainably.    THIS IS TRUE REFORM, it starts with discipline and ends with diversification of our economy.   There are 22 action points of reform to achieve 5 key objects.  The objectives are:
1.         To Improve Accountability & Transparency
2.         To Increase Public Revenue
3.         To Rationalise Public Expenditure
4.         To Improve Public Financial Management
5.         Sustainable Debt Management
FSP reforms will take 18 months to fully implement, but there are key milestones within the period to measure compliance.
She said: “The objective is to ensure that States are set on a path towards fiscal sustainability with a clear link between Federal Government funding and necessary reform. Monthly disbursements to each State will be conditional on compliance with pre-agreed FSP milestones. FSP reforms will take 18 months to fully implement, but there are key milestones within the period to measure compliance. The States have agreed and endorsed this approach. It is also a path to supporting and increasing productivity and diversification of States economies, such as in agriculture increasing food security and opportunities for exports.”   FSP is a REFORM about transparency, accountability and sustainability.  State governments have agreed to these 22 points.  It is their (the States) plan, after consultation and discussions between the states and the Ministry of Finance.
Facility size is not N 90bn; rather N 50bn per month first 3 months, and N 40bn per month for following 9 months.  Monthly disbursements to each State will be conditional on compliance with pre-agreed FSP milestones.  35 States have applied and are in the process of submitting the required documentation which are being reviewed – There have been erroneous claims in some papers that “only seven or five states have met FG’s conditions”, this is factually wrong.  FSP reforms will take 18 months to fully implement.
Diversification of the Economy will increase when each state starts to increase their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), this will create local jobs and expand wealth within the states.  Kebbi State, for example, have taken the initiative to increase their production of Rice, they have gone as far as coining their IGR as “I Grow Rice”. Basically, Kebbi state is undertaking large scale rice growing with the aim of producing one million out of the six million tonnes of rice Nigeria consumes annually.  Ultimately, when we collectively expand IGR, we generate more jobs and create more wealth.   Other states have different resources that can be developed to generate IGR within the state.
“The economic blueprint is about putting in place the financial pillars to enable States to work effectively and to work effectively with the Federal Government, including as recipients of infrastructure investment. Getting this right will enable States to be critical economic drivers for prosperity and pillars of professional probity.”
Optimistic about progress
The Minister said she was optimistic Nigeria was up for the challenge, and the higher revenue collection and the greater sharing of non-oil earnings shows the reforms are starting to work.
Last month’s FAAC distribution was made up largely of revenue collections and not only oil revenue. N 305.12bn was distributed in May; though it was only N 23.62bn higher in May than in April, the pleasing thing is that was funded by locally generated revenue. 
On the new Foreign Exchange policy, the Minister said that “We are happy with the new FX policy, this was the missing link between monetary and fiscal policy and we are happy that is now in place.  It is supply and demand driven”
On policies to support large manufacturers, the Minister said that “It is not about only one policy but a framework of policies to ensure competitiveness both for local consumption and for exports. This would include looking into tariffs, Customs, Power, etc.”
On the N 350bn disbursement planned for this quarter, The Minister said that “N109bn out of the N350bn has already been disbursed.  The funds are ready, however, there are procedural delays, due to the required public procurement processes.  The selection process however, allows for many new capable companies to participate in the process and getting involved in the FG projects.   
On China, the Minister said that the CBN will be best placed to provide details of what was agreed but from a technical point of view, the principle is that both Nigeria and China can directly exchange each other’s currencies without changing into US Dollars first.
Verified winners will be paid, but we must reform YouWIN to meet Nigeria’s current conditions.
The Minister also confirmed that YouWIN disbursements have commenced but there is a serious need to reform the YouWIN program to suit Nigeria of today.  Currently, FG gives winners N 10m as a grant, that is a lot of money that will not come back to FG, so we need to make sure that these funds create sustainable enterprises that create jobs.  We also need to look at whether the figure should be N 10m to one winner or N 1m each to 10 winners.
On the N 1.3bn YouWIN disbursements recently carried out, Mrs Adeosun confirmed that all FG commitments under the YouWIN programme will be fully met, but proper due diligence will be carried out on all winners, using tools like BVN, etc. prior to disbursements.  
*Festus Akanbi, SA Media to Honourable Minister of Finance

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Pix: Mrs. Kemi Adeosun