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Nigeria’s MDaaS wins healthymagination phase two

ITRealms : Nigeria-based Medical Doctor as a Service ( MDaaS ) has emerged one of the 14 social enterprises selected for the second coh...

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Nigeria’s MDaaS wins healthymagination phase two

Nigeria-based Medical Doctor as a Service (MDaaS) has emerged one of the 14 social enterprises selected for the second cohort of the healthymaginatioon Mother and Child Programme, reports ITRealms.

Other 13 winners selected in this second cohort include Afya Research Africa – STONE HMIS, Cedars Diagnostics, doctHERs, Early Reach, Liberian Energy Network, and Maternity Foundation.
Also on the selected list comprised MOBicure, Neopenda, Sevamob, Sisu Global Health, Southlake Medical Centre - under LiveWell, SubQ Assist and Totohealth Tanzania.

Healthymagination Mother and Child Programme, ITRealms gathered is an initiative to accelerate health innovations in Africa by General Electric (GE) and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

ITRealms gathered that MDaaS pride itself as an equipment services company, specializing in radiology, patient monitoring, and critical care equipment, as well as created in response to a critical need voiced by Nigerian doctors.

Founded and incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), ITRealms reports that its led by a diverse team of engineers, medical professionals, and supply chain experts.

 Nonye Dom/GEE
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fake News worries FG, prepares IOs

The Federal Government is seemingly worried over the menace of fake news, and is preparing the Information Officers (IOs) on how to effectively counter this effect with fact-based narratives, reports ITRealms.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this disclosure in Abuja Wednesday in his key note address at a capacity building Workshop for Strategic Communication Liaison Officers, with the theme "Mainstreaming Strategic Communication Across Government for National Security."

He said though the Social Media has proved to be a powerful tool of public communication, it is plagued with challenges, particularly the prevalence of fake news which makes it imperative for Information Officers to brace up and overcome the challenge.

''Faced with the prevalence of fake news, we took action by preparing Information Officers with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement and counter narrative. Information Officers are assigned to monitor both online and offline news media to identify such fake news and develop timely and credible counter narratives to respond to such fake news,'' Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the Federal Government is also implementing a robust strategic communication framework, with feedback mechanism, to interface with Nigerians on the policies and programmes of government.

"For example, we engage through Town Hall Meetings across the six geo-political zones to inform Nigerians and the international community about our programmes and to listen to criticism, feedback and advice from the citizens.

''Through these meetings, we are able to shape policy and improve on delivering our promises to the people. The town hall meetings, undoubtedly, have yielded positive results with the kind of direct feedback we received from Nigerians. These interactions with Nigerians underscore the importance this administration attaches to the people in carrying them along in the task of governance," the Minister said.

He underscored the critical role of Information Officers in strengthening government communication to achieve national strategic objectives, particularly in managing the image, reputation and promoting the cultures of the people of Nigeria through a dynamic public information system.

He said because of the dynamics of public communication, ''the ministry is leveraging on various Social Media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter and Instagram to reach our audiences, especially the youths. These Social Media platforms also provide unique opportunity for the Ministry to aggregate and gauge public opinions and perceptions of government."

The National Security Adviser, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Ambassador Aminu Nabegu, challenged participants to come up with a strategic communication plan to counter the propaganda and negative narratives by terror and anti-state groups.

He said the present administration has eliminated inter-agency rivalry in order to achieve seamless and coordinated approach to effective communication.

The Workshop was organized by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) to build the capacity of Strategic Communication Liaison Officers (SC/LO) across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE
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5th Africa DNS Forum kicks off in Tanzania

The fifth Africa Domain Names System (DNS) Forum has kicked off Wednesday, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, reports ITRealms.

The forum, taking place till July 28, 2017, ITRealms reports, follows on the success of previous fora that have taken place in Africa over the past few years - namely (South Africa-2013, Nigeria-2014, Kenya-2015 and Morocco-2016). Organized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society (ISOC) and Africa Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD), this year’s Forum is hosted by the Tanzania Network Information Centre (tzNIC).

Abibu Rashid Ntahigiye, CEO of .tz Registry (tzNIC) and host for the event stated “Most African countries have managed their ccTLDs locally so far. However, significant improvements have been made through the support of regional and global organizations. African Registries are now receiving not only local, but also global support in technical matters as well as problems in marketing and governance issues. With these collaborations, the competition in African domain business is growing.”

Pierre Dandjinou (ICANN), Michuki Mwangi (ISOC), Ali Hadji Mmadi (AfTLD) and Abibu Rashid Ntahigiye (tzNIC) spoke at the opening ceremony of the event. In line with Africa's growing Internet presence, the Forum will cover and open to discussion various topics from regional domain name industry to Internet security.

“Africa is rising with respect to its digital potential and it must make its influence felt at the global Internet governance table to protect its interests” stressed Pierre Dandjinou, VP of Global Stakeholder Engagement in Africa at ICANN. “With this in mind, ICANN is committed to providing equal opportunity to inform the region’s different communities about the domain industry and engaging with them on how best to not only strengthen Africa’s online presence, but also improve their participation within ICANN.” 

Speaking on behalf of Dawit Bekele, Africa Region Bureau Director of Internet Society, Michuki Mwangi said “With less than 2 million domain names currently registered by registries in Africa, there is clear potential for growth in this industry. As Internet access expands throughout the region, there will be a demand for more services online which can contribute to the growth of the Domain Name System industry.” He further added: “ This forum provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, best practices and technical expertise in order to grow the African domain name industry together with the number of Internet users.”

Ali Hadji Mmadi, speaking on behalf of Alex Corenthin, President of AFTLD, stated that “The Africa Top Level Domains Organization, the home of African country code top level domain registries, is committed to working with all stakeholders in the African Internet ecosystem in ensuring sustainable development of the  domain name industry in Africa.”

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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GTBank populates 737 Moments music video

Swarming with colorful scenes, groovy beats and a melody that cannot be easily forgotten, the video of GTBank’s 737 theme song 737 moments has remain a hit, reports ITRealms.

Although, ITRealms gathered that its purpose, is not to reach or be placed on the top of the charts but to highlight the simplicity of 737 and its availability to every Nigerian at every moment in time.

737 Moments, ITRealms also gathered, is a celebration of every moment be it at home, in the office or on the go; when the bank’s customers could easily dial *737# to buy airtime, transfer funds, pay bills or complete any of their transactions.

This, ITRealms reports, featured people from all walks of life in the 737 Moments video with emphasis on the simplicity and universality of 737 with its promise of Simple Banking for Every Nigerian.

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TD Africa flaunts Nigeria’s booming ICT potential

The celebrated Africa’s biggest Information and Communications Technology (ICT) distributors, Technology Distributions (TD) Limited, has flaunted the Nigeria’s booming ICT sectorial potentials, reports ITRealms.

This was showcased at the hosting of a high-powered team of executives from the headquarters of global digital giants, Google in Lagos.

The event which held on Tuesday July 25th also witnessed the unveiling of TD’s new Ikeja office, strategically located at 26 Kodesoh Street, a few metres from the popular, Ikeja Under-Bridge.

ITRealms also reports that the event attended by the Chairman, Zinox Group, Dr. Leo-Stan Ekeh in the company of Senior Executive Management and staff of TD including the Managing Director of TD Mobile, Mrs. Gozy Ijogun who played a major role in liaising with the Google International team for the visit; Managing Director, Sales/Marketing, Mrs. Chioma Chimere; Managing Director, Operations, Mrs. Shade Oyebode and Managing Director, Special Projects, Mr. Stanley Okpalaeke among others.

Also in attendance were a number of key partners such as President, Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Mr. Adeniyi Ojikutu; MD/CEO, DreamWorks Nigeria Ltd., Mr. Chuks Aylor; Sales Manager, SLOT Systems Ltd., Mr. Jonathan Uzomba; CEO, Yudala Ltd., Mr. Wole Ogundare; Founder/Vice President, Yudala Ltd., Prince Nnamdi Ekeh; representatives of Transsion Holdings, Mr. Chuks and Mr. Adams as well as MD, Edge Baseline Solutions Ltd., Mr. Onyinye Ejide, among others.

From TD’s office, the Google team were conducted on an immersion tour of the sprawling Computer Village – Nigeria’s ICT hub and arguably the biggest technology market on the continent.

The tour of Computer Village provided a useful opportunity for the team to feel the pulse and garner a first-hand experience of the daily hustle, sheer scale and volume of transactions, immense opportunities and potential that abound in the Otigba market super-structure which represents a fitting microcosm of Nigeria’s growing ICT sector.

In his address, Ekeh shared insights from his over three-decades of serial digital entrepreneurship in Nigeria, urging the visiting team to see the numerous opportunities that abound from structured investments in the Nigerian ICT sector.

“Technically, I pioneered IT in the country about 30 years ago. I brought the likes of HP which currently owns about 60% share of the market to Nigeria. Same for the likes of Compaq, Apple, Lenovo and Microsoft among others. Nigeria is not as bad as it’s talked about globally. We are very hospitable people. We appreciate foreigners. We want them to come in here to do business and the Government protects you; even the corporate bodies and individuals protect you.

“When you have a country like Nigeria with a lot of resources and human capital that is largely untapped, the potential is huge. For instance, Google can invest a little bit on human capital, say in three universities in diverse regions in Nigeria and create an incubation hub to train human capital or what I call finishing school.

“The guys have the basic but they need to see the global big picture to learn coding and other associated skills. It doesn’t cost a whole lot. People like us have been doing it over the years to bring up most of the people you’ve seen here.”

While welcoming the Google team to Nigeria, Ekeh disclosed that TD Africa pioneered ICT distribution in Nigeria with a vision to becoming the biggest players on the African continent – a dream which saw the company make about $45m within its first year of operations based on personal guarantee and integrity. He also cited the examples of other partners such as SLOT Systems and Transsion Holdings, best known for its leading mobile brands including TECNO, itel and Infinix who have prospered from their ambitious tech investments in Nigeria.

Ekeh’s submission was echoed by the partners in attendance, most of whom took the opportunity to share details of their respective organization’s growth trajectory in the Nigerian ICT sector.

President of EMEA Business & Operations for Google, Mathew John Brittin, disclosed that the company is firmly committed to deepening its footprints in Nigeria.

“We have been in Nigeria for seven years with a small team of experts, all Nigerians who are passionate about making Nigeria making the most of the digital world. We share the view about the numerous opportunities in Nigeria for Nigerians.

“Three things are top of mind for us: the first is access so we have been part of the explosive growth of TECNO, Infinix and others with Android. This is something we are very proud of. I own some of these devices and I can see that they are very great devices so we appreciate them. How we can help with the explosion of access to make the internet a certain reality for everyone is a key thing that we are focused on here and that includes making our products and services work better on lower cost connections.

“Second is the computing revolution with smarter tools that work for everybody. If you can’t read and can’t spell, that’s our problem. We want you to be able to talk to us and we’ll give you an answer in your language. We are really working hard on making the next generation of tools better for everyone and also helping local developers do the same. We’ve funded some universities with free apps and we are trying to do more around developing a launch pad programme here to help local developers build local apps that can power the next generation of entrepreneurs and successful businesses here.

“The third thing and which is really important to us is education. We have piloted over the last year, here in Nigeria, programmes on basic digital skills for everyone: individuals, SMBs, developers and we set out with an aim to train 400,000 in a year. We’ve trained 600,000 with some government support and encouragement and we are looking at what we can do to take that further into the future. We look forward to the next chapter of our partnership with all of you,” he said.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Pix 1: Google's Mathew John Brittin with MD TD Mobile Mrs Gozy Ijogun
Pix 2: Google's Mathew John Brittin with Leo-Stan Ekeh of Zinox Group in Lagos 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

EU enters deal with FG on digital single market

The European Union Commission (EUC) has entered a deal with the Federal Government to create a Digital Single Market in Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

The Minister of Communications, Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu made this disclosure in Lagos on Tuesday at the 2017 Information Communication Technology & Telecommunication Expo (2017 ICTEL Expo) held at the Eko Hotel & Suites.

Speaking on the theme: The Digital Economy: Strategies For Growth in a Connected World, as the Special Guest of Honour, the minister said this collaboration is timely and coming at a time the ministry is making concerted efforts to implement its ICT Strategic Roadmap, e-Government and Mobile Broadband Plans.

According to him, the size of Nigeria makes it the most lucrative investment destination in sub-Sahara Africa with a high return on investments and an emerging market that made it one of the new frontiers for investments and Digital Market consideration.

Towards achieving this, the minister stated that he had instructed that a committee is raised comprising the Ministry’s agencies and the Nigerian Computer Society on the new Digital Single Market paradigm ahead of the EU/Africa Summit holding November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Shittu who spoke extensively on efforts of the Ministry of Communications to implement Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda by leveraging on ICT said this administration has hinged the Economic Recovery plans on ICTs as well as with fiscal and strategies policies.

These efforts, he said, are codified in a document known as the ICT Roadmap which components include; the      hosting of the Smart Cities Summit, precisely on the 8th and 9th of August, 2017; establishment of an ICT University; establishment of a National ICT Park and Exhibition Centre   at the Abuja Technology Village; establishment of a secretariat for implementation of the eGovernment master plan, and establishment of an Electronic Document management system, among others.

The minister noted that the ICT Sector has in the past year, recorded landmark activities and significant achievements. “The environment for greater achievements has thus been created. Now, there is greater access to ICT and Nigerians are today better able to use ICT, thus integrating them into the global digital economy and its benefits. Although challenges still abound, implementation of already mapped out initiatives and programmes will ensure the optimal transformation of Nigeria to a true SMART State”, he said.

He said government is determined to leverage ICT and break its monopoly and open up the economy to foreign investors just as it did in the telecom sector. “Despite coming up with the economic growth and recovery plan, we are determined to actualize the contents of our very comprehensive ICT Roadmap.  This, to my mind, is imperative for the country’s highly import-dependent and consumption-driven economy.

“Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a technology-driven World. The success of any venture without technology is doubtful. The Information & Communications Technology has become a catalyst for success in virtually all sectors of our economy and even in our socio-political landscape.

“This Government is working hard to ensure that all needed infrastructure is in place for the desired growth in the sector, thus helping our national development agenda.”

Shittu urged the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to mobilise the Private Sector for the needed collaboration with the Government so that adequate local and foreign investments can be sourced for the sector. He also enjoined the Chamber to key into Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, to revive the economy as well as exploring the enormous potentials of the sector to advance the economy.

Commending the importance of event, the minister said, “I can tell you categorically that the ICTEL Expo is worthwhile and has contributed immensely to the development of the sector”, while urging the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organizers of ICTEL Expo to sustain the event for the benefit of Nigeria.

He said the ministry is committed to creating a platform – through ICTEL 2017, where organizations and startups can pitch their innovative ideas. These ideas will be passed through a structured selection process to come up with marketable innovations for implementation by the Federal Government.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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iSON Technologies implements Oracle Property Manager Solution

iSON Technologies implements Oracle Property Manager Solution through its recently acquired GTS Technologies, at Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) Dubai, UAE. The DWTC Oracle Property Manager Implementation project went live on 14th Sep 2016 despite the complexity of implementation, tight timeline.
Mr. Akshay Grover, Chief Growth Officer at iSON Technologies added “The real estate industry value chain spans across site development cycle, construction life cycle, sales and leasing cycle, facility management cycle. GTS, now acquired by iSON Technologies has made Property Management, Maintenance and Leasing simpler with our Oracle Property and CRM solutions. iSON GTS is fully equipped and continues to add value to its client base in the construction and real-estate sector across these four areas.
Through this implementation, DWTC is geared up to have a unified view of the tenant contracts and agreements. The system enables DWTC to intelligently manage their real estate portfolio by streamlining and automating lease administration and space management. The objective of the project was to implement a system to manage the DWTC properties in terms of Customer Relationship Management, Pre-Leasing, Leasing and Property Management and Billing and also eliminate many of the manual processes and automate the tasks and reminders at different milestones. Mr. Asif, Application Director, DWTC comments: In iSON GTS we had an able partner and because of their expertise in Real Estate industry they could bring their value adds to the table which helped us to complete the project in a short timeframe of 5 months.
Talking more about the project, Muhammad, Practice head, Oracle Apps & Technology, iSON GTS comments, “DWTC being one of the major Oracle customers, is a very prestigious account for us. We approached the project with lot of care since the solution had to cover diverse business areas including Leasing of Retail, Commercial and Residential Properties, House Keeping Contracts, Car Parking (Summer Promotion/Membership), Valet & Parking Agreements, Lease of Advertising Board and Theater Leasing.
Kalidhas, iSON GTS, Real Estate SME and Project Manager adds “Real Estate is one of the verticals in which iSON GTS demonstrates its expertise but we still approach each project on its merits. Each project is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. In case of DWTC Project, time line was a constraint and the client expected us to deliver the project in 5 months including the additional customization and we are happy we were able to deliver the same in the defined timeframe.”
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

FG approves Digital Literacy Council

The Federal Government (FG) has approved the establishment of a Digital Literacy Council of Nigeria (DLCN), reports ITRealms.

Disclosing this to ITRealms, the Minister of Communications, Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu said the Council is to develop a National Policy on Digital Literacy through which appropriate digital literacy guidelines and standards in Nigeria would be promoted.

The Council, he also said, is expected to develop a Strategic Action Plan for the implementation of this initiative as well as identify and harness opportunities for partnerships.

Speaking Tuesday in Lagos while delivering a keynote address at the 2017 Digital Citizenship Summit Nigeria held at the University of Lagos, said this is in order to provide digital literacy services to Nigerian citizens irrespective of their geographical location within the country.

He added that its decisions will be implemented by the Digital Literacy Management Committee under the leadership of the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). The Council is already deliberating on its operational methods.

Shittu stressed that digital literacy is beneficial because; it is a requirement for an individual to be competitive and be best prepared for today’s business world of advanced technology; it makes learning faster, allows everyone to study at his own pace, lookup words, data, facts, figures etc; saves hours per month for tasks that could only be done offline; and a means to employment because most jobs today require some form of computer literacy.

The minister informed the gathering that the National Economic Council (NEC) has approved a policy to harmonise right of way charges payable by telecom companies and related public utility infrastructure on Local Governments, States and Federal Highways.

This policy, he said, will minimize the spaces occupied, burden on the roads and reduce taxes payable by the telecom operators. On our part, we are ready to liaise with States and relevant stakeholders for the smooth implementation of the Right of Way project.

He further brought to the knowledge of Nigerians, various efforts of the Federal Government in prioritizing ICT, such as the plan to establish a specialized ICT Development Bank for the development of the ICT industry to cater for the needs of operators in the ICT industry which the regular banks cannot provide because of the time it takes to develop ICT products and services.

‘In present day's high-tech world, digital literacy is a requirement for an individual to be competitive and be best prepared for today’s business world of advanced technology. It is the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. It came to the fore in the last decade with the advent of platforms and apps that have changed the way our world works.

“There are numerous digital applications that we cannot do without them today such as, Mobile Money transactions, e-verification apps that allow people to verify the authenticity of drugs and other products, e-learning, online transactions, Health, Education, Banking, workforce, bills payments, etc,” he said.

He said the Ministry has done so much to ensure the development of the Information and Communications Technology industry in the country and has remain committed in its doggedness to address relevant issues despite various challenges facing the sector by working with all stakeholders to provide guidance and direction for the sector.

Alhaji Shittu was happy to inform to say that the Information and Communication Technology Roadmap has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and that the ICT roadmap is a fundamental component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017 to 2020) of the Federal Government.

Nonye Dom/GEE
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Total, Worldline enter 8-country accord

The Total and Worldline have entered a tripple binding accord on technology, commercial and financing with African Fintech InTouch, reports ITRealms.

Under the agreements, ITRealms gathered that Total and Worldline will support the deployment of the Guichet Unique solution in eight African countries, namely Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, the Republic of Guinea and Senegal.

Guichet Unique provides retail networks with a unique customer-friendly device that makes it possible to securely and seamlessly accept all means of payment, including mobile money, payments through private label cards and cash, and to distribute third party services, such as subscriptions to media content, bill payment, money transfer, card top-up, banking and insurance.

ITRealms also gathered that the solution is already deployed in over 170 Total service stations and more than 600 independent points of sale in Senegal, the Guichet Unique platform manages more than 30,000 transactions per day in that country.

Nonye Dom/GEE
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ICT to save Nigeria N1.5trillion in foreign education – Adebayo Shittu

The Minister of Communications, Alhaji. Adebayo Shittu has said that recent commitment of the Federal Government to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) could drastically reduce the huge amount of N1.5 trillion being spent on Nigerian students studying in foreign educational institutions, reports ITRealms.

He was optimistic that if the Federal Government succeeded in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country will not only develop world- class local capacity, but also reduce the strain on the Naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.

The minister said government is prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.

The minister made this disclosure at a lecture titled; Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere: ICT To The Rescue Of Unemployed Youths And Graduates at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan at the weekend said about 20 million youths and graduates are currently unemployed.

Stating the acknowledgement of the Buhari’s administration to use ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on job and wealth creation as well as on economy and a critical tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy and recognising the role of ICT in making it a reality, he said, government established one form of ICT infrastructure or the other across the six geopolitical zones.

He disclosed that the plan to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja is part of the preparations for the 4thIndustrial Revolution is on course. Similarly, and that a plan to “build a $1 billion-dollar ICT company” to boost indigenous technology has been articulated.

Elaborating on the planned ICT University, Shittu said,” We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) which is for short term training programmes, in six locations across the country and we will transform this Institute into the ICT University of Nigeria. This unique University would by God’s grace take off effectively in September 2017 and would be run as a Public Private Partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.

“I have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson and am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.

“I am happy to report that this project is receiving a global boost and endorsement. The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realization of this objective, and has indeed submitted its final report on Tuesday 18th July 2017. A Vice Chancellor and other senior officials would soon be appointed.

“The ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba and Yola.”

He said a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT is transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global and accordingly, ICT is influencing employment both as an industry that create jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways. He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nation’s economy in 2014 and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years. The statistics also show that the sector attracted about $30 billion of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.

The minister, therefore urged Nigerian Universities to take a cue from what is happening in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT. He also promised that the government would provide the much needed infrastructure and favourable policies that would create the enabling environment for young people to innovate unhindered in the various start-ups and innovative centres across the country.

“The digital revolution that has the power to transform societies is already underway. Success belongs to those who innovate and seize available opportunities. I want to assure you that I will go talking with development partners home and abroad on the importance of investing in ICT today to leap-frog the nation’s growth for today and the future.

“If we must achieve the desired goal of placing Nigeria on the global ICT mark thereby using it as major tool for job creation, earmarking investment for ICT is not enough. More importantly, we have to decide that we are going to do it by developing and churning out fit-for-purpose youths from our institutions for the exceptional ICT market and opportunities at the global level”, he said.

Ayo Midele/GEE 

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Egmont's suspension of Nigerai: A case for NFIC Bill

Three weeks ago, the hammer of the world’s watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units fell on Nigeria for non-compliance with global best standards. The crux of the matter is the absence of autonomy for the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit-NFIU.

The suspension which was announced at the Egmont Group meeting held in China from July 2nd to 7th, 2017, was following the refusal of Nigeria to make NFIU autonomous in its funding, operations and management of financial intelligence. The failure of Nigeria to pass a law making the NFIU independent is the kernel of the matter.

If Nigeria fails to comply with the group’s demand for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by January, 2018, the country will be expelled from the global body, which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

When expelled, Nigeria will no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other one hundred and fifty member-countries, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will be hampered.

Another major consequence will be the blacklisting of Nigeria in international finance, and this could affect the issuance of Mastercard and Visa credit and debit cards by Nigerian banks. In fact, financial instruments from Nigeria may not be honoured abroad.

It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some major international transactions. Nigeria’s membership of the Egmont Group ensured the removal of Nigerian banks from the blacklist of international finance. The blacklisting had prevented the banks from engaging in correspondent banking with foreign institutions and also denied Nigerians access to foreign credit cards.

Joining the Egmont group of FIUs was not easy for Nigeria. It is in fact, one of the greatest legacies of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. The suspension of Nigeria is a heavy blow; a major setback, and If Nigeria is expelled, then the country is in real mess.

Nigeria claims to have its FIU as an autonomous Unit in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; a situation that has exposed the country to international ridicule and embarrassment. Events over the years clearly show that there is no semblance of autonomy enjoyed by the NFIU.

The constant leaking of sensitive intelligence to Nigerian media, contrary to global best practices and the indiscriminate removal of FIU Directors by successive chairmen of the EFCC say it all.

In 2014, the Egmont Group warned Nigeria that it may suspend her if she refuses to enact a law granting NFIU autonomy. This warning never made any difference, as those opposed to the move worked very hard to suppress information and bend the rules. Now, that which stakeholders tried to avoid has finally happened. The worst- expulsion will certainly happen if we do not call the enemies of the country to order and do the needful.

There are four types of globally acknowledged Financial Intelligence Units. The first is the administrative type-FIU, which focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU- to collect, analyze and disseminate financial intelligence to law enforcement agencies and other authorized entities. This type of FIU does not engage in law enforcement or prosecution.

Next is the law enforcement type of FIU, which performs Police functions of arrest, detention, interrogation, investigation and prosecution; in addition to the traditional functions of an FIU, thereby becoming the custodians of Intelligence, as well as the end users.

The third type is the Judicial FIU, which engages in collation and analysis of financial intelligence, investigation, as well as prosecution of offenders; while the fourth is the hybrid type of FIU, which is a combination of the elements in the three earlier mentioned, depending on domestic preferences.

Nigeria joined the Egmont Group in 2007, opting for an administrative type of FIU. Having registered as an administrative FIU, it must be outside a law enforcement agency. The claim that we have our FIU in EFCC is indeed ridiculous. More laughable is that the EFCC Act describes the EFCC as Nigeria’s FIU.

The major advantage of an administrative-type FIU is that it focuses on the traditional functions of an FIU and not encumbered with police and prosecutorial duties. Indeed, the mandate of the FIU is different from that of law enforcement agencies such as the police and the EFCC. While law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not. This allows for specialization, separation of powers and responsibilities, checks and balances, transparency and accountability. Concentration of multiple responsibilities in the FIU beyond the traditional duties makes the FIU susceptible to abuse of such powers.

For example, in the United States of America, just like Nigeria, where there is more than one law enforcement agency, the FIU is located in the Department of Treasury/Finance. This is to separate the functions of intelligence collection from police duties (investigation) and judicial functions (prosecution), lest there will be over concentration of powers and abuse of such powers.

Similarly, countries such as Canada, Australia, Belgium and France have their FIUs located in their respective Ministries of Finance.

Of all the 14 countries in West Africa with an FIU, Nigeria is the only jurisdiction that currently domiciles its FIU in a law enforcement agency - EFCC, even when it is registered as an administrative-type FIU. This is a misnomer. Ten of the West African countries have their FIUs domiciled in their respective Ministries of Finance, while two others have theirs domiciled in Central Banks and one in Ministry of Justice.

The surest way out of the country’s present quagmire is the enactment of a law that grants autonomy to the NFIU. This is the exact thing the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Agency/Center Bill presently being considered by the National Assembly seeks to achieve.
The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center Bill will ensure that the NFIU is not tied to any agency but will have adequate measures to build an independent financial intelligence system.

The Bill seeks to establish the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Center asthe central body in Nigeria responsible for receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating financial and other related information to all law enforcement, security agencies and other relevant authorities, as well as exchange of intelligence with over 150 FIUs globally.

NFIC is to serve all law enforcement agencies, regulators and other authorized agencies (EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NDLEA, CBN, CUSTOMS, POLICE, NAPTIP, CBN etc) and domiciling it in any of the interested agencies/parastatals will mean giving undue advantage to one over the others.

In Ghana, the FIU has an independent board and Executive Director. It is located under the Ministry of Finance. In Gambia, the FIU is located in the Central Bank; while in Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo, it is located under the Ministry of Finance.

More so, the mandate of an FIU is different from that of law enforcement; while law enforcement agencies carry out investigations and also prosecute, FIUs do not.

Nigeria opted for an administrative FIU when it registered with the Egmont group in 2007. Having registered an administrative FIU, the operations have to be outside a law enforcement agency.

Majority of the administrative FIU types all over the world are administrative and none, apart from Nigeria is domiciled in a law enforcement center. They are mostly domiciled in the Ministry of Finance, Justice or Central Bank.

In addition, it is a misnomer to have an independent Board for the proposed Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center within an EFCC that has a Board with an Executive Chairman. It will not work, as there will be conflict. There cannot be an independent Board within a parastatal.

Also, it is always best to separate the functions of intelligence collection from Police duties so as to avoid overconcentration of powers and the natural consequence of abuse. NFIC as being contemplated today will address inter agency rivalry.

It is on record that Nigeria applied for membership of the Financial Action Task Force and the FATF assessment team is expected in Nigeria in November, 2017, and without the NFIC law in operation, Nigeria cannot be admitted. The country remains disconnected from the secured Web of the Egmont group of FIUs. Only a truly independent FIU can guarantee a way forward for the country.

In the light of the international obligations and standards imposed by various international instruments, to which Nigeria has acceded to, it is imperative that steps are taken to properly define and establish the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center, by clearly defining its mandates in the law.

As the National Assembly deliberates on the NFIC Bill, stakeholders must jettison every form of sentiment and support the move to align Nigeria with international best practices, especially, at this critical period of terrorism, which financing is mainly done through money laundering.
Only a truly independent Financial Intelligence Center can address the country’s security challenges through effective money laundering and terrorist financing checks.

Civil Society, Media and all sectors of the country’s economy must join the crusade to save the country by strengthening the legal framework against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

All hands must be on deck!

Dr. Walter Duru is a Public Affairs analyst; Executive Director, Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption- MIIVOC and Chairman, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria- FOICN. Reach him on: walterchike@gmail.com

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