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Truecaller soars to 100m daily active users

ITREALMS : The Truecaller app has reached over 100 million active users in less than a year following is leapfrogging from 100 million ...

Friday, April 20, 2018

Truecaller soars to 100m daily active users

The Truecaller app has reached over 100 million active users in less than a year following is leapfrogging from 100 million monthly active users (MAUs) per month to 100 million daily active users (DAUs), and is growing faster than ever, reports ITRealms.

With over 20 per cent of its user-base in Africa, Truecaller app service identifies more than half a billion calls a month in the region, and 50 per cent of SMS received were spam.

ITRealms gathered that in Nigeria the application blocks and filters more than 13 million calls and 25 million spam SMSes per month.

From people predominantly using Nokia and BlackBerry phones, to a wide array of Androids and Apple’s, technology is constantly evolving around us. The cost of both mobile phones and data continues to plunge, people all around are now armed with connected devices.

In emerging markets, there is an increased importance placed on smartphones in peoples’ daily lives. It’s their primary gateway to the internet, their connection with family and friends, people abroad, and increasingly their main banking and finance tool.

Alan Mamedi, CEO & co-founder of Truecaller, said: “Close to a decade ago, we set out to solve what we thought was a simple problem – how do we figure out who these unknown numbers belong to that keeps calling us? Little did we know how big of a problem that actually was in all corners of the world.”

“It was so big, in fact, that Truecaller is pleased and excited to announce that we now have more than 100 million daily active users using our app for their daily communication. There are only a handful of mobile-only services that impact as many users each and every day and we are humbled to be able to join this exclusive group,” says Mamedi.

The proliferation of new and advanced technologies that are ever evolving, Truecaller has also come a long way since the day the company was founded. From simple beginnings as a Caller ID and spam blocking app, to a full fledge communications platform with calling, SMS’, Flash Messages and payment services.

“We could never have predicted that Truecaller would become an indispensable resource for women’s safety in many countries; or that it would be used for e-commerce and courier services around the globe to facilitate the difficult last mile of delivery; or allow more people to experience a data-only product in offline mode,” says Mamedi. “Truecaller is more than just an app on your phone, it has aided in bridging the digital divide between the urban and growing semi urban/rural markets in India; and has even enabled more African businesses to accept online payment.”

“We’re continuously working to make communications safer and efficient and the fact that we have so many users validates our mission. We’re excited to see what the next decade and 100 million users bring us. So to all millions of users who helped us get here we would like to say thank you,” Mamedi said.

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Zinox boss applauds Keystone, says CashToken is revolutionary

The notable serial digital entrepreneur and chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh has applauded Keystone Bank plc, describing its partnership with CeLD to launch CashToken as a move that will go a long way to revolutionize customer loyalty in Nigeria, reports ITRealms.

CashToken is an electronic reward and celebratory gift commodity designed to optimize customer loyalty investments for businesses, individuals and government establishments by offering recipients an opportunity to win life-changing cash rewards between N5000 and N100m every week, among other benefits.

Speaking at the 500 CEOs Hyper Centricity conference which featured the official unveiling of CashToken at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos on Thursday April 19th 2018, Ekeh disclosed that one of the major reasons behind the worrisome unemployment situation in the country was the inability of banks and other financial institutions to explore creative avenues to support start-ups and empower millions of jobless youths.

Ekeh, who was the Chairman on the occasion, noted that he had always referred to himself as a digital orphan, considering the challenges he faced in his attempts to raise funds while starting out as an entrepreneur – a situation which inspired him in working extremely hard to offer himself as a collateral in order to realize his corporate ambitions.

“I commend Keystone Bank and CeLD for the launch of CashToken. It is a solution that will revolutionize the scope of customer loyalty and expand access to funding for SMEs. This is a timely intervention, considering the difficulties faced by start-ups, especially those in the tech sector in raising funds to pursue their dreams. When I started out as a struggling tech entrepreneur, it was very difficult raising funds as the banks did not understand technology back then. They were more interested in extending loans and other credit facilities to oil companies.

“Today, we are in an era in which technology is altering the destiny of most countries in the world. Yet, we still see a situation where our banks are still not willing to give a chance to tech start-ups. I also see the governments giving more concentration to agriculture. There is nothing wrong with that but for these youths to embrace farming, then it must be scientific agriculture. We must understand that today’s youths are digital natives, many of whom are eager to take their place in a knowledge economy driven by equal access to wealth. Tech start-ups are defined by attitude, culture and lifestyle. This is the language of the current generation. Just ask your kids at home what they would like to become in future and see what responses you will get from them.

“I urge other banks to follow in the footsteps of Keystone Bank by giving tech start-ups and other smart youths a chance. If we empower 10 tech start-ups and only two of them succeed, the combined returns from that investment will far exceed anything we hope to derive from any other sector,” he said.

The event which climaxed with the unveiling of the CashToken logo, had a number of technocrats, dignitaries and Chief Executive Officers from major organizations in Corporate Nigeria present. Among these was Managing Director, Keystone Bank, Obeahon Ohiwerei; Founder and CEO, CeLD Innovations, Lai Labode; Managing Director, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya; Acting GMD/CEO, Heritage Bank Ltd., Jude Monye; Director General, Consumer Protection Council, Tunde Irukera; Director General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila; Group Managing Director, Interswitch, Mitchel Elegbe; Managing Director, CornerStone Insurance, Ganiu Musa; Managing Director, Aiico Multishield Ltd., Dr. Leke Oshuniyi; Enterprise Commercial Lead, Microsoft Nigeria, Wale Olokodana; Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, Bello Maigari and Chairman, Obalende-Ikoyi Local Govt Area., Hon Fuad Atanda-Lawal, among others.

Nenye Dom/ED, Ops

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The koko of Konga, Yudala merger

For the followers of trends in the nation’s electronic commerce industry in Africa and particularly in Nigeria, the recent eventual merger between Konga and Yudala, did not come as a surprise.

The koko, ITRealms reveals, as said the local parlance in Nigeria on this matter, is that the newly acquired Konga by Zinox Group has finally merged with Yudala, among other things to change for good the face of the largest e-commerce conglomerate on the continent.

The acquisition of Konga, if anything else has been proclaimed a highly strategic movement; ushering in supreme leadership of the e-commerce space per Africa as anticipated by industry watchers and the merger was concluded last Sunday April 15th, 2018 in Lagos.

For a second, a few industry watchers predicted Yudala was subsume Konga as an older in-house brand, but Konga took the shine with a new logo depicting the latest status.
By far, what some other industry watchers are seeing is that Yudala is not done yet and could and definitely be up for another surprise in enlargement of the coast for the Zinox Group.

Recalling in effect, that in their views earlier, a merger between both companies will involve a synergy of Konga’s impressive online platform and robust technology as well as Yudala’s ubiquitous physical store presence and access to genuine products.
Equally, the merger will significantly raise the combined market share of both companies, effectively making the emerging force the biggest e-commerce company in Nigeria.

Whereas there is widespread optimism that the combined strengths of Konga and Yudala will significantly broaden the scope of e-commerce in Nigeria, but will also go a long way in improving consumer experience by lending more ease and convenience to the shopping process, offering more options to potential and existing shoppers and expanding access to an even wider range of products, services and solutions for Nigerians.

ITRealms recalls that Konga, founded in July 2012, has proven dominance until its latest acquisition by the Zinox Group, following months of intense negotiation with major investors, Naspers and AB Kinnevik.

And as soon as accomplished, Zinox Group delayed no further in proclaiming a few strategic management changes including the appointment of Olusiji Ayodele Ijogun, a seasoned and widely experienced technocrat as Chairman and Nick Imudia, a renowned business leader and former Vice President of Nokia as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

On the other hand, Yudala, prides itself with enviable status of being Africa’s pioneer composite e-commerce company that was launched a little over two years ago, Yudala's ambitious retail roll-out strategy and network of physical stores has helped the company reach many unserved and under-served members of the Nigerian populace. The company has also been bold in making a statement of intent with its emphasis on genuine products and best prices.

Finally, the reiteration of the koko of the merger may not after all be out of place as to whom much is given, much is expected as we say welcome to the merger and a bigger Konga to the industry.

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops

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Pix 1: Konga Chairman, Olusiji Ijogun (middle) poses with dual Chief Executive Officers, Nick Imudia (left) and Prince Nnamdi Ekeh (right) during the official announcement of the operational merger between Konga and Yudala on Sunday April 15th, 2018. Both companies will now operate under the Konga brand. 

Pix 2: Konga Chairman, Olusiji Ijogun (middle) congratulates dual Chief Executive Officers, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh (third right) and Nick Imudia (third left) as Marketing Lead, Seye Bandele (left); Vice President, People Engagement, Ikeoluwapo Adebowale(second left); Vice President, Offline Retail, Kalu Johnson (second right) and B2B Lead, Loretta Agbakoba (right) look on during the official announcement of the operational merger between Konga and Yudala on Sunday April 15th, 2018. Both companies will now operate under the Konga brand. 

Strong persons, have healthier brains - Research reveals

If you are a strong person, definitely you may have a healthier brain, so says the latest study of the The University of Manchester, reports ITRealms.

According to a study of nearly half a million people, ITRealms gathered, has revealed that muscular strength, measured by handgrip, is an indication of how healthy our brains are.

Dr Joseph Firth, an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester and Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, crunched the numbers using UK Biobank data.

A press statement made available to ITRealms, by using data from the 475,397 participants from all around the U.K, the new study showed that on average, stronger people performed better across every test of brain functioning used.

Tests included reaction speed, logical problem solving, and multiple different tests of memory.

The study shows the relationships were consistently strong in both people aged under 55 and those aged over 55. Previous studies have only shown this applies in elderly people

“When taking multiple factors into account such as age, gender, bodyweight and education, our study confirms that people who are stronger do indeed tend to have better functioning brains,” said Dr Firth.

The study, published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, also showed that maximal handgrip was strongly correlated with both visual memory and reaction time in over one thousand people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

He said: “We can see there is a clear connection between muscular strength and brain health.

“But really, what we need now, are more studies to test if we can actually make our brains healthier by doing things which make our muscles stronger – such as weight training.”

Previous research by group has already found that aerobic exercise can improve brain health.

However, the benefit of weight training on brain health has yet to be fully investigated.

He added: “These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions.

“Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder – all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning.

“This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions.”

Baseline data from the UK Biobank (2007-2010) was analysed; including 475,397 individuals from the general population, and 1,162 individuals with schizophrenia.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Internet fraudster bags 1 month jail over N1.5m bitcoin scam

The Enugu State High Court has sentenced an internet fraudster, Omokaro Osamudianmen Precious, to a one-month imprisonment over N1.5 million scam on Bitcoin trading, reports ITRealms.

Bitcoin, ITRealms gathered, is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), ITRealms recollects, had arraigned Omokaro Osamudianmen Precious, before the court on one count charge bordering of cheating and obtaining the amount under false pretences.

According to the Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC on Wednesday, accused Omokaro as posing as a genuine business man that deals in Bitcoin.

The anti-graft agency said Omokaro had promised the victim through her brother a 10 per cent interest on her capital investment within one month.

The presiding judge, EFCC said, ruled and ordered the fraudster to be jailed for committing the offence contrary to section 388 of CAP 30, Criminal Code Law, Enugu State and punishable under Section 388 of the same Law.

The count read, “That you, Omokaro Osamudianmen sometime in 2018, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Enugu State, by means of fraudulent trick obtained the sum of N1,545,000.00 from one Ifunanya Afam Okonkwo, when you presented yourself to her as a genuine business man with a promise to pay her interest and return her capital within one month and thereby committed an offence.”

However, he pleaded guilty to the one count charge preferred against him by admitting to having committed the crime.

In view of the accused person’s plea, the prosecuting counsel Mbachie Innocent applied to review the facts of the matter presented by the prosecuting witness Abdulraman Babakano and urged the court to convict the accused.

The defense counsel, Kakaan Desmond on the other hand pleaded with his lordship to temper justice with mercy since the accused is a first offender and did not waste the court’s time by admitting to the crime.

Nenye Dom/ED, Ops with additional report by ChannelsTV

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Discussing digital rights in era of repression

As a sort of New Year gift to the online media community, Nigerian security agents arrested Tim and Daniel Elombah, the publisher and editor of elombah.com, for allegedly publishing a content the police hierarchy considered offensive. That would not be the first time a journalist or publisher would be arrested for publishing content online in Nigeria. In the last few years, several citizens have been illegally detained for online content some powerful individual or institutions found “offensive.”

For instance, a popular blogger Abusidiqu was arrested in 2016 by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a law enforcement agency in Nigeria. A source was quoted as saying, Abusidiqu’s arrest was connected to his posts on EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu and according to the spokesperson of the agency, Abusidiqu was arrested for offences bordering on cyberstalking.

The attack on free speech online is unfortunately not limited to Nigeria, too many other African countries are in the same boat of repression as Nigeria. From Egypt to The Gambia, from Cameroon to Kenya, citizens and journalists alike are not safe from the wrath of those in power when critical content is published online. Last February, Gambian police arrested a university lecturer and kept him in overnight detention for questioning the president's ability to maintain national security in an interview. In April 2017, a Ugandan university teacher and social media critic of the Ugandan government, Stella Nyanzi was arrested and detained for allegedly insulting the President Yoweri Museveni.

The list of victims of flagrant abuse of the right to free speech online is simply endless. While the digital space has democratised access to information and information dissemination means, governments and powerful individuals in Africa have continued to put unnecessary hurdles in the way of progress.

In Nigeria and Egypt, the national governments have asserted its power to restrict access to websites they consider subversive without judicial oversight. This power that is unknown to the law, at least in Nigeria, was behind the restriction of access to some 20 websites in Nigeria, including the popular news site, naij.com, last year. Egypt is the clear leader in this department as it has permanently restricted access to over four hundred websites. Across the continent, we find obnoxious laws or policies that not only impact negatively on citizens’ rights, but threaten the health of democracy and exchange of ideas. Tanzania, for example, recently introduced a regulation that would require bloggers to pay $900 every year as some sort of license fee. This regulation, if allowed to be implemented, will effectively shut down the country’s burgeoning online media space.

A couple of days ago, Burundi Media Regulator suspended the online commentary column of Iwacu newspaper, for three months. According to the Director of the Newspaper, “the column is known to be a platform for criticism over government’s action, the country’s situation by Burundians irrespective of where they live.” Also, the online weekly newspaper Iwacu is said to be one of Burundi’s few remaining independent media outlets since 2015, when the country’s radio stations were shut down on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s orders.

Free speech online is not the only digital right that has been under attack in Africa. Access to internet service has been under severe attack. Cameroon has repeatedly shut down internet services in the Anglophone regions of the country in a futile bid to scuttle protests against the government. In fact, in 2017, the internet was off in parts of Cameroon for almost as many days as it was on.

For many people on the continent, activities such as elections, public examinations and protest could mean comprehensive internet blackout. Ethiopia, Togo, Somaliland and Cameroon are just some of the countries that have shut down the internet in the last two years. Social media and messaging platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber have been and are currently blocked in Chad amid political tension. This is not the first time this year. Chad ordered an Internet shutdown in response to national protest action backed by trade unions and civil society organisations using social media.

According to a report released by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) last year, Internet Shutdown has cost Sub-Saharan African up to US$237 million since 2015. This is to highlight the economic implications of the trend of digital rights violation in Africa.

The persistent attacks on digital rights and the poor policy framework for rights protection have led to civil society efforts geared towards resisting and ultimately correcting the sad situation. One of such efforts is the Internet Freedom Forum. For the last six years, Nigeria has hosted the pan-African forum, dedicated to conversations on internet freedom on the continent.

The forum is convened by Paradigm Initiative and supported by organisations including Microsoft, Google, Ford Foundation, Premium Times and The Guardian. The forum brings together experts from various African countries to discuss the state of digital rights and internet freedom on the continent, and evolve effective solutions to problems confronting rights online. For instance, the 2014 edition of the Forum gave birth to a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill that was recently passed by the Nigerian legislature and is currently being studied in other countries for possible replication. The Internet Freedom Forum provides a veritable platform for Internet stakeholders in Africa and those whose work focuses on Africa to discuss and proffer solutions to the challenges. It is a meeting point for government, civil society, journalists, open web advocates and other Internet stakeholders.

The 2018 edition of the forum is scheduled to hold from April 24 to April 26 in Abuja. The Forum could not have come at a better time in 2018 as many African countries including Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Mali are preparing for elections. Election periods constitute a vulnerable period for digital rights as governments leverage the periods to curtail citizens’ rights online. The forum also comes at a time when the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal is at the centre of conversations globally and most importantly the revelations of the data analytics company’s attempt at shaping previous elections in Kenya and Nigeria.

Clearly, delegates will have their hands full discussing better methods of protecting digital rights not only from the antics of government but also from businesses with less-than-ideal data privacy culture. All lovers of human rights must turn their attention to the Forum in Abuja as it is where African experts and advocates would have their say on issues confronting digital rights in Africa and evolving and strengthening Africa-led initiatives towards entrenching digital rights on the continent.

*Contributed by Sodiq Alabi and Boye Adegoke are digital rights advocates with Paradigm Initiative.

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OELA single debuts with SufferingNoMore

Stage is now set for new arrival on Friday, April 27, 2018 when OELA music brand will drop an R&B single titled, ‘Suffering No More’ to inspire the world to overcome all impossibilities, reports ITRealms.

The song to be available for download on iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube and over 30 other channels was inspired by the need to understand that suffering in Africa and many other parts of the world is not destined, neither a cross to bear, but due to a wrong mindset about who we are.

OELA, the Nigerian based Artist in the song takes the world through a journey of self-consciousness about injustice that breeds suffering with people complaining about lacks and limitations, stagnation, no job, no food, no light, no house, no money to spend!

Of course, as people are yearning for freedom and justice, the common targets of blame for their woes are the rich and the authorities.

The song writer, Segun Adeleye said music is one of the most powerful tools one can use to inspire the world to become a better place because while in the mood of relaxation and enjoyment, music will pass the message with a lasting impact.

He made a reference to the United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa song, ‘We are the World’ in 1985 by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and other top global artists, saying besides its financial success, millions of people around the world were inspired by the call to care for the less privileges.

According to Adeleye, suffering is real and it’s an injustice, as many are perpetually trapped, but it should not be that way if people know who they are in the context of what to do, their duties to fellow human beings in a world where lack and abundance live side by side.

He said the message in the song is for human beings to be conscious that they are created to reject any situation they don’t like and follow the right principle of God to prosper, multiply and dominate.

“It is for people to realise that their lives could not have been by accidents, they should seek and know their purpose, they should refuse to be angry and suffer, but replace the lacks in their minds with all the precious and pleasant riches of the world,” he said.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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Imo 2019: Aspirant Opara-Ndudu promises agro-revolution

The frontline governorship hopeful of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Imo State gubernatorial election holding in 2019, Nick Opara-Ndudu, has promised to introduce agro-revolution if elected, reports ITRealms.

Speaking at his country home in Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state, where he addressed some party supporters, Opara-Ndudu said that the time has come when a well-articulated agricultural policy should be implemented in Imo State to liberate the people from the scourge of poverty and the lingering underdevelopment now ravaging the state.

The policy, which he tagged “Agricultural Revolution” will also  include the opening up of the rural areas for vibrant economic activities that will improve the quality of lives of Imo people while bringing about sustainable growth in the state economy; the overall aim will be to empower the people economically while engendering socio-economic development of the state.

He said that agriculture is a springboard for economic revival of Imo State and that his government will be very active in the sector because of its numerous potentials.

Opara-Ndudu, who is an astute banker, believes strongly that if the rural areas were opened up through the provision of adequate road networks, the people in the countryside would be connected to the cities and allowed easy evacuation of agricultural produce just as farmers would be encouraged to increase production.

He also said that the provision of power, pipe-borne water, hospitals and recreational facilities in the rural areas will stem the menace of rural urban migration as youths will be encouraged to live in the villages and take agriculture as a profession.

The former commissioner, whose mentor is Chief Sam Mbakwe, late former governor of old Imo State, said if given the mandate in 2019, his government would encourage the return of cooperative farming and commodity board, the building of storage facilities and local processing of farm produce.

He further said he would revive all the moribund agricultural establishments in the state such as Avutu Poultry Farm in Obowu, Adapalm Plantation in Ohaji, and establish new ones, adding that instead of what obtained in the past, when the state government alone was involved, the arrangement would be Public Private Partnership (PPP).Companies, both local and foreign, willing to invest in agriculture in the state, would be encouraged to do so.

Agriculture, he said, has the potentials to transform Imo State ailing economy to a resilient one that will stand the test of time and put it on the path of sustainable growth and thereby reduce the government’s dependent on federal revenues, adding that all the government needs to do is to puts its acts together.

Opara-Ndudu said that agriculture has a composite function inbnu that it provides foods and employment to the people, serves as a source for raw materials, revenues, exports, among others, even as it will lay the strong foundation for industrialization of the state  as exemplified by the economic Eldorado of the countries of South-East Asia and China.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

NGE condemns mace whisking @Nigerian Senate

The Nigeria Guild of Editor (NGE) has condemned the mace whisking at the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja, Wednesday, reports ITRealms.
NGE recalls that on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, Nigerians watched in shock as yet another charade unfolded in the Senate with the snatching of the Mace in the Senate, the symbol of authority from the Red Chamber, by alleged thugs.

A press statement endorsed by the NGE president and general secretary, Messrs Funke Egbemode and Victoria Ibanga, and made available to ITRealms, the Guild described as even more reprehensible is the confirmation by the Nigerian Senate that this dastardly act was perpetrated on the instruction of an elected representative of the people.

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) condemns in very strong terms, any and every act that constitutes an affront to or assault on our fledgling democracy!

They also said, such brigandage and acts akin to hooliganism, as was witnessed on Wednesday, run contrary to the concepts and tenets of the democracy that the Fourth Estate of the Realm struggled to enshrine in our country!

The NGE, like other law-abiding organisations, agencies and persons across all strata, demand that the perpetrators be tracked, arrested and tried in accordance with the country's constitutional provisions.

The NGE notes and commends the Nigeria Police for swiftly responding to the emergent crisis. However, all security agencies are again enjoined to as a matter of urgency, renew their commitment and restrategise to forestall a recurrence, not only in the National Assembly but throughout the country.

The NGE also reminds all officials, elected or appointed and across all tiers of government, to remember their oath of office, as well as the confidence and trust reposed in them by the Nigerian people.

At all times, their words and deeds must exemplify the highest level of decency, decorum, responsibility and stewardship, in order to remain worthy of the people's faith and trust.

The NGE restates it's commitment to promote issues that will deepen sustainable democracy in Nigeria. In this regard, NGE calls on all other constitutional realms to diligently and selflessly play their parts to achieve this goal for our fatherland.

Nenye Dom/ED, Ops

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CFAtech to host 3 industry heavyweights @Startups hangout

The CFAtech, a leading technology blog, would host three industry heavyweights to its monthly CFA's Startups Hangout, reports ITRealms.

The hangout, which is first this year, ITRealms gathered is in line with CFAtech's vision of providing mentorship, learning and growth to the teeming entrepreneurs and startups in Lagos and beyond.

This edition of CFA's Startup Hangout which holds on the 5th of May, 2018 at 53 Oladipo Bateye Street, GRA, Ikeja, would have in attendance three Industry heavyweights as speakers. 

Speaking ahead of the Hangout, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr. "CFA", Founder, www.cfatech.ng said the whole idea is to see the startup ecosystem develop despite the very challenging business environment.

"Frankly, these are indeed trying times to be an entrepreneur but, history has proven that in the face of great difficulties, focused and exceptional minds can go on to create life transforming solutions. 

A number of people not just in Nigeria, but across the world have proven that it is indeed to make something possible out of nothing through commitment. If you are a startup reading this post, it is important to note that this is certainly not the time to give up, rather this is the time to charge ahead on as long as you are not trying to flog a dead horse."

Explaining why startups and entrepreneurs should attend the Hangout, he said, CFA's Startups Hangout serves as a strategic avenue for startups to meet and learn from successful entrepreneurs, through divulging nuggets that will assist them to grow their various startups as well as network and synergize among one another.

Themed: "Building the Right Relationships and Partnerships." The three experienced speakers will focus on how entrepreneurs, startups and businesses can advance their enterprises.

The theme will explore the various methodologies and strategies that allow any business-person to collaborate effectively to achieve certain business objectives.

Nenye Dom/GEE

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Ericsson MediaFirst TV platform debuts on Amlogic's set top box chipset

The Next-generation TV operators can cost-effectively take their customers to new levels of personalized consumer experience satisfaction as a result of collaboration between Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) Media Solutions and Amlogic to make Ericsson’s MediaFirst middleware available via Amlogic’s chipsets, reports ITRealms.

Supported by its high performance central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), the integration of Amlogic’s S905X chipset solution enables consumers to speedily access content, including High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, across MediaFirst set-top-boxes. Operators can also provide increased choice of content, as well as boosting engagement and personalization experiences for customers.
Ericsson Media Solutions is a leading provider of personalized and converged multiscreen TV solutions for pay TV operators. Amlogic is a leading provider of System-On-Chip (SOC) for video streaming and smart home devices. Amlogic’s S905X chipset is operational in OTT and IP scenarios with major operators worldwide, offering high-end features at an optimized price. The integration with the MediaFirst middleware provides more choice and flexibility to operators.
The solution will be demonstrated by Ericsson Media Solutions at NAB Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, from April 7-12. It offers advanced media processing that enables operators to deliver high quality user experiences by utilizing complex HDR schemes alongside its high-performance CPU and GPU. Advanced security technologies ensure that high value content is securely managed to meet the needs of content owners worldwide. The solution is already commercially available through most MediaFirst set-top-box manufacturers.
Ericsson Media Solutions’ MediaFirst TV Platform is an end-to-end media platform for the creation, management, and delivery of next-generation Pay TV. Built using leading-edge cloud-based architecture, it enables operators and content providers to deliver seamless, personalized and intuitive TV experiences to consumers anytime, anywhere and on any device.
James Xie, VP, Corporate Business Strategy, Amlogic, says: “The S905X chipset is ideally designed to meet operators’ requirements and to enable a high-quality user experience with MediaFirst. MediaFirst takes full advantage of our SOC capabilities to deliver a seamless TV experience to operators at price points not possible using current solutions.”
Marc Stauffacher, Head of Solution Area TV Platforms, Ericsson Media Solutions says: “Amlogic chipsets deliver an excellent user experience across all MediaFirst use cases, including Pay TV in-home and OTT services. By pre-integrating the MediaFirst TV Platform client with Amlogic we are adding more choice and value to Ericsson Media Solutions’ holistic MediaFirst ecosystem, enabling our global partner operators to rapidly go to market.”  
Nenye Dom/GEE

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FG to probe invasion of National Assembly

The Federal Government has expressed shock at the invasion of the National Assembly and has ordered probe of the subsequent snatching of the Senate mace by suspected thugs on Wednesday, reports ITRealms.

A press statement made available to ITRealms, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the security agencies have been directed to immediately unravel the circumstances surrounding the breach of security that led to the invasion.

Also, he said the security around the National Assembly complex would be reinforced to prevent a recurrence.

ITRealms further gathered that the Senate leadership led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu visited Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to debrief him on the invasion of the Senate Chambers on Wednesday.

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Dickson berates APC over looters list, says its childish

The Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson has described the recent list of looters by the All Progress Congress (APC) ruling party, as childish, reports ITRealms.

The Governor made this known on Wednesday, also reiterated his belief in the existence of two dominant parties in the country.

He regretted that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is grossly fragmented, a development he noted has made the party disorganized.

Also, he reasoned that the cluelessness and insensitivity of the APC has left the country divided more than ever before and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently unite Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo, quoted the governor as saying that current reform in the state was not aimed at witch-hunting any worker but to rid the service of all forms of irregularities, sharp practices with the view to repositioning the service to stand the test of time.

‘‘The mind-set that you can keep your name on the pay roll without coming to work is negative and we have to draw the red line now because we want to leave behind a reformed, repositioned, motivated and efficient work force that can stand the test of time…’’
The Governor who cited the case of 1,090 staff with teaching qualification redundant at the local government councils stressed that they would be redeployed to schools after going through refresher courses.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Snatching Mace: Senator Omo-Agege arrest by Police

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has arrested the embattled Senator, Ovie Omo-Agege over an alleged involvement in the snatching of Mace from the National Assembly upper legislative chamber on Wednesday, reports ITRealms.
The Senator, ITRealms gathered was arrested immediate after the plenary.
ITRealms recalled that Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was suspended by the Senate for 90 days last week, for some curious reasons, he attended the plenary yesterday and today, Thursday.
Hitherto, the National Assembly gave the Police and other Security Services in the country 24 hours to recover the mace hijacked by some hoodlums who were allegedly working for Omo-Agege.

Further, ITRealms gathered that the Senate accused him of leading the armed men who stormed the chamber and snatched the mace while plenary was ongoing, thereby creating uproar.

ITRealms equally gathered that right after the plenary, policemen standing-by arrested Omo-Agege and rushed him into a waiting pickup van.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Task force on F4D wants increased financing for development

The United Nations Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development has called for increased development financing to improve effectiveness, especially in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reports ITRealms.

new report made available to ITRealms at the weekend the task force noted that most development financing flows increased in 2017 as a result of a dynamic world economy.

UN also warned that the economic upturn masks systemic social and economic weaknesses that could derail development efforts, including such weaknesses as “insufficient financing; an excessive focus on short-term profits and political considerations; and persistently high levels of inequality.”

UN task force highlighted how new technologies have the power to address some of these weaknesses, and thereby accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.

According to the report, some of the benefits of deploying technologies include that “New technologies can help channel financing to all segments of the economy. The digitalization of business has potential to widen the tax base, improve tax revenue collection, identify and prosecute tax evaders, and combat illicit financial flows.

“Digital financial services can increase access to financial resources for those currently underserved. By lowering the cost of banking services and remittances, digital financial services delivered via mobile phone can provide a boost to developing countries that receive significant remittances from overseas, and can help to meet the financing needs of Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises (MSMEs).

“The labour market’s increasing requirement for advanced digital skills represents both a risk and an opportunity for development. To ensure that technology dividends are shared broadly, countries should put in place policies to support lifelong learning and skills acquisition for all.

“E-commerce may provide untapped potential for further enhancing inclusive trade growth in developing countries.”

Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Blockchain is facing a backlash. Can it survive?

Not so long ago, the internet was hailed as the solution to humanity’s ills. It would shine a light on all corners of the globe, bringing new knowledge and exchange. But growing concerns about fake news, surveillance, cybercrime, social media addiction and monopolised power have tarnished that shine. Without ignoring the internet’s positive impact over the past few decades, these difficulties remind us that a technology-driven utopia – or technotopia – is a fiction. People and governance always shape the use and impact of a technology.

Today’s advocates of blockchain and digital currencies describe the potential for more privacy, transparency, accountability, efficiency and competition in all forms of commerce, finance and bureaucracy. Some see blockchain as providing technologies for democracy itself, from elections to budgeting. While some claims seem overblown or premature, there are already some fascinating applications in the fields of logistics, inventory and supply chain management.

Despite these advances, there has been a growing backlash from opinion leaders as the technology’s drawbacks become better known. Perhaps you’ve heard that Bitcoin alone uses 0.25% of the world’s electricity? Other blockchain systems, such as Ethereum, use similar approaches that require computers to burn electricity unnecessarily. Perhaps you are concerned about the number of accidents, hacks and scams possible in this new space, where the law has not yet found its feet? Or you may have heard that crime and terror networks could use these technologies to transfer funds. Blockchains and digital currencies pose important questions to both their advocates and regulators.

Pioneers in the industry are alert to such concerns and have attempted collective self-regulation. The Brooklyn Project, an industry-wide initiative to support investor and consumer protection, was launched in November 2017.

“By acting responsibly today, we can help make sure we are collectively able to reap the benefits of this powerful technology tomorrow,” explained co-founder of Ethereum Joseph Lubin. The following month, a coalition of cryptocurrency organizations and investors representing $650m in market capitalization established Project Transparency. It seeks to protect investors by enabling more disclosure within the digital currency sector.

These initiatives are welcome, but neither address how the technology affects wider society and the environment. If this sector is going to disrupt incumbent organisations (management-speak for people losing their jobs) then the general public will soon ask what the upsides really are.

In recent months, many blockchain projects explicit about their social mission have launched. Bflow.io offers a system for reporting corporate sustainability. Alice.si strives for greater accountability from charities. Provenance.org tracks tuna from shore to plate, giving consumers confidence in sustainability. BitLandGlobal is seeking a step change in land registration by the rural poor. Specialist think-tank Blockchain for Good has been established to promote blockchain’s benefits for worthy causes. Nevertheless, on closer analysis, many of these ‘4good’ projects miss a crucial factor – the impact of their code itself.

Is it appropriate for people apparently seeking economic justice and equal opportunity to use a blockchain in which only heavily invested actors receive new tokens? Is it appropriate for those seeking to put a new medium of exchange in the hands of the masses to use a blockchain whose tokens are mostly hoarded by speculators? Is it appropriate for a carbon emissions reduction project to use a blockchain which emits as much CO2 as a small country?

These are not hypothetical examples. Most blockchain projects bolt a purpose onto code and governance systems that were designed without such public interests in mind. Just as it would not be acceptable to clear the ancient Borneo jungle to raise money for homeless orangutans, it should not be acceptable for a project to deploy socially regressive or climate-toxic code.

Fortunately, there is a new wave of mission-driven blockchain projects conscious about their total social impact. Initiatives like HolochainFaircoinYetta and LocalPay explicitly connect their code base to their social cause. Faircoin uses a codebase that requires little electricity and allows the distribution of coins to socially useful projects. Providing the same smart contract functionality as Ethereum, the new Yetta blockchain is intended to be sustainable by design, with the low energy requirements of its codebase being moderated further by automated rewards for those nodes using renewable energy. It will also enable automated philanthropy to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Two of the most integral technology projects in this field take a post-blockchain approach. By sharing data and not using a single blockchain, Holochain reduces the energy and time involved, while avoiding being dependent on the decisions of unaccountable groups of computing “miners”, as so many blockchain projects are. Shunning digital tokens entirely, LocalPay runs on code that means its users in more than 300 local communities do not need to purchase or mine a currency to begin transacting. For them, currency is simply a unit that comes into being, for free, when they wish to trade.

These projects aren’t just putting lipstick on clones of existing projects. Their founders went back to the drawing board and created mission-driven roles for coders, entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists, regulators and policymakers. They designed a technology to fit into an ecosystem, rather than to dominate it. They set up incentive structures for fair contributions and rewards. This generation of “integral blockchain” and digital currency initiatives aligns its codebase and internal governance with positive social and environmental outcomes. These projects strive to be an integral part of a healthy society, rather than ends-in-themselves.

Will blockchain technologies be killed in their infancy by regulators? Will they grow into monsters that consume energy while enabling tax evasion, crime and capital flight? Or could they provide meaningful services to humanity? Greater cross-sectoral dialogue and guidance is needed to help this last scenario emerge.

*By Jem Bendell, Founding Director, The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability … The original version of this article first appeared in the World Economic Forum.

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ICT4D Week 2018