" ITREALMS: June 2019

Friday, June 28, 2019

Google launches Digital Skills for Africa to Aba - ITREALMS

Google Nigeria has launched its Digital Skills for Africa programme in Aba and other local communities in Abia State, reports ITREALMS.

Disclosing this at a press conference held Aba this week, Google said its Digital Skills for Africa programme offers training courses to help individuals and communities develop and grow digital skills, find jobs and advance in their careers.

Also, ITREALMS gathered that the programme provides free online courses, tools, and in-person digital training to students, educators, job seekers and businesses.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria as at December 2017 was 18.8 per cent, about 16 million people and under-employment at 21.2 per cent.

Head, Brand & Reputation, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at Google, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde, said the youth made up 60 per cent of Africa’s unemployed, developing digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for them is critical to Africa’s transformative growth.

"We’re doing this because we believe that more needs to be done to empower young Africans to succeed in the digital world” Makinde said. 

ITREALMS recalls that Google proclaimed its Digital Skills for Africa initiative in 2016, when it committed to training 1m young Africans within one year. In 2017 it extended the programme for another 5 years in order to reach 10m Africans. 

Last year, Google unveiled plans to help more people in Africa prepare for jobs of the future through local community-focused Digital Skills Training programs. 

In total over 3m people have now acquired different levels of digital skills in 29 countries across Africa via face-to-face training as well as through the online platform - g.co/digitalskills which is available in English, French and Portuguese.

Barrister Chris Ezem, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) representing Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor, at the Google Digital Skills for Africa launch in Aba said that, “The Government of Abia State is excited to have Google introduce the Digital Skills Training to the business community and local manufacturers in Aba, Abia State; that that will drive business expansion, help to increase sales and create employment opportunities in Abia State.” He further said that, “The world is now a global place as a result of information technology and Abia through the Digital Skills Training by Google will be able to key into the digital narrative, giving Aba, the commercial hub in Nigeria, the needed visibility.”

Onyebuchi Nwigwe, President, Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers (ATFD) in Abia State, expressed appreciation to Google for introducing the Google Digital Skills Training to local manufacturers in Aba, Abia State.

“The association is opened to receive the training from Google because they know that as fashion designers and tailors they will be able to properly compete with their counterparts across the world after they have adopted and introduced the digital skills to their business models,” Onyebuchi said.     

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Imo declares state of emergency on infrastructure, approves N49m on Otamiri water plant - ITREALMS

The Imo State Executive Council, Thursday, declared a state of emergency on Infrastructure in the State, even as it approved the sum of Forty Nine Million, Eight Hundred and forty five thousand Naira (N49,845.00) for the rehabilitation of Otamiri Water scheme, Owerri, reports ITREALMS.

The approval followed a recommendation by the Management of Imo Water Corporation, considered by the State Executive Council.

Deputy Governor of the State, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona, who presided over the Executive Council meeting, assured stakeholders that the state Government will monitor the rehabilitation process, with a view to ensuring that it is done according to specifications.

He explained that the project will be executed through direct labour, while the approved funds shall be released in tranches.

The Deputy Governor reiterated the resolve of the administration, under the leadership of His Excellency, Chief Emeka Ihedioha to tackle the decay in infrastructure in the state.

The Executive Council also considered reports on the state of infrastructure in Imo, necessitating the resolve to declare a state of emergency on Infrastructure in the state.
Adviser, Communications to the Deputy Governor, Dr. Walter Duru, listed among the areas considered for immediate intervention to include the poor state of roads in the state, the flooding challenge, particularly, within the state capital, among others.

Some of the roads considered for immediate attention include: the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede-Ihiagwa-Obinze road, Assumpta- Control Post axis, Mgbidi-Oguta road, MCC-Toronto junction, Aba Bridge-Mbaise road, among others.

The Executive Council also directed relevant authorities to produce the architectural designs of the Tunnels constructed by the immediate past administration, the Orji flyover (which are in very bad shape, with possibility of collapsing) as well as details of all civil works procurement by the immediate past administration in the state.

The Council further resolved that the procurement process for all the award of the identified roads commences immediately.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Msgr. Sylvester Osigweh passes to glory - ITREALMS

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has announced the glorious passage of the Very Rev. Monsignor Sylvester Osigweh, reports ITREALMS.

Archbishop, Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale-Martins, in a press statement made available to 

“It is with gratitude to God for a life well spent, that we announce the passing unto glory of the Very Rev. Msgr. Sylvester Osigweh, who departed this world on Saturday 22nd June 2019 at the age of 79 years,” he said.

Funeral arrangements, he said, would commence on Thursday, 4th July, 2019 with a farewell mass by 12 noon at Saint Mary Catholic Church, Alaja Ifo, Ogun State.

This, he said, would be followed by vigil masses by 9pm, 12am and 3am respectively at Saints (Ss) Peter and Paul Cathedral, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

On Friday, 5th July, 2019, Archbishop Martins said there would be a funeral mass by 10am at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

“Interment after mass at Catholic Bishop’s Court, Onikoko, Abeokuta, Ogun State. May God grant his soul eternal rest,” he said.

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Stop arming youths, Imo govt warns community leaders - ITREALMS

The Imo State government has warned community leaders to desist from arming youth of the state, reports ITREALMS.

Deputy Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona gave the warning while addressing stakeholders in war-ravaged Agwa clan, Oguta Local Government Area of the State, during a working visit on Tuesday.

According to him, part of the problem “is that some of the youths armed by some of the leaders have become uncontrollable.”

“I am aware that some of the youths causing trouble here were armed by some of the leaders. One of the dangers in arming any youth to do your bidding is that at some point he would become too strong for you to control and he would be doing his own bidding. I want to advise our leaders to stop arming the youths, because if you allow your son to slap an elderly person, time would come when he would slap you because you had taught him to slap an elderly person and nothing would happen”, he said.

He promised that Imo State Government will restore peace in the war-torn community, even as he called on people of the area to support the efforts of Government.

The Deputy Governor noted that the clan has been facing serious security challenges, describing efforts of the leaders of the area in addressing the security challenges as commendable.

“The state government under His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha will ensure that Agwa is safe for the people and conducive for business and government investment. We shall take over this Police Station and complete it and put security here so that the people and whatever investment we make here shall be safe.”

Describing Agwa indigenes as very resourceful, the Deputy Governor lamented the high rate of unemployment in the area, promising to tackle the challenge of insecurity and unemployment in the area.

“These people are very resourceful, but when you have a group of youths that are unemployed you would have this kind of situation. The moment this building is completed and operational we shall move quickly and develop this place and find a way of engaging the youths in a way that they will be useful to themselves, the society and the government.”

He however called on the youths to drop their arms and give the government a chance to develop the place, promising that the state government has great plans to engage them.

“I advise young men to drop their arms, embrace peace and give the government the opportunity to develop this place. We have better things to give you. Just give us a little time and we will develop this place. Those who want to go to school would do so and those who want to learn one trade or the other would have a conducive atmosphere to do so. We shall set up industries and empower you meaningfully. Under the Governor Ihedioha administration, we shall provide electricity here.”

Also speaking, Imo State Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Ladado assured that the police will restore peace and order in Agwa, promising that the state command would intensify security presence in the area.

“This clan has a record of high rate of crime, but we shall move quickly to address the situation. We shall have interim measures to restore sanity in this place. From today, we shall improve Police presence here. We will establish SARS, Anti-Cultism or Anti-Kidnapping here, pending the actualization of the divisional police.”

Adding his voice, traditional Ruler of Obudi autonomous community, Agwa, HRH Eze I.O. Asor, who spoke on behalf of the six traditional rulers of Agwa clan, said the visit was remarkable.

He lamented the high rate of criminality in the area, saying that the activities of criminals were beyond what they could control.

“The activities of these boys are bigger than we can handle. Since 2015, we do not have police here and we had to go to Oguta or Ohaji-Egbema to get police. It is a distance. The rate of crime here is alarming, from cultism, vandalism, rape, robbery and others. This clan has six autonomous communities but the boys have chased away five of the traditional rulers and I am the only one left here”, he said.

In his speech, Chairman of the Interim Management Committee of Oguta Local Government Area, Hon. Hillary Eberendu expressed gratitude for the Deputy Governor’s visit, assuring that the Interim Management Committee would cooperate with the State Government in ensuring that normalcy returns to the area.

The Deputy Governor was accompanied to the area by the Imo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Rabiu Ladado, senior police officers, political leaders and aides.

Highlight of the event was a visit to some of the communities ravaged by crises, among which are: Umuofeke Autonomous Community and Obeakuma in Mbano Autonomous Community.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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PwC advises Nigeria on reviving dead capital - ITREALMS

The PricewaterhouseCoopers has advised Nigeria on how to revive its dead capital, reports ITREALMS.

According to the latest outlook available to 
ITREALMS by the company, Nigeria is underperforming and unlocking dead capital is critical to stop this. 

"Our recent paper, Bringing Dead Capital to life - What Nigeria should do, discusses the essence of dead capital and the potential of its effective utilisation," the company stated.

Further, it stated that "We estimate that Nigeria holds at least $300 billion or as much as $900 billion worth of dead capital in residential real estate and agricultural land alone. The high value real estate market segment holds between $230 billion and $750 billion in value, while the middle market carries between $60 billion and $170 billion in value."

There are many forms of dead capital but in this paper, but they focused on real estate.

This report, 
ITREALMS gathered, estimates the amount of dead capital in residential and agricultural real estate across Nigeria. We also recommend ways in which the estimated capital can be unlocked and leveraged to create value and grow wealth in the economy.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Making new Internet domains work for everyone by UASG - ITREALMS

Since 2006 the Domain Name System (DNS) has expanded dramatically, not only fueling competition, choice and innovation, but truly enabling a multi-lingual Internet. There are now more than a 1,500 top-level domains (TLDs), many of which are longer than the traditional two- and three- character (e.g. .com, .edu, .nz, and .org) or are in non-ASCII based scripts – such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Devanagari and Thai.

The expansion allows people to claim a domain name that best reflects their sense of identity. While this expansion is critical in bringing the next billion people online and growing the global Internet economy, the incorporation of these new domains across the global Internet is not an entirely automatic process. CIOs, web administrators, application developers and others have an important role to play in making sure their applications are compatible with the evolved Internet infrastructure. That’s why we’re reaching out to make sure you know about this change.

The issue at hand

Many organizations and business have not updated their systems to accommodate the new domains or, in other words, become Universal Acceptance (UA)-ready. As a result, many applications and systems are unable to accept, validate, store, process or display all domain names. This causes problems for organizations and headaches for users because if the applications do not recognize or appropriately process the new domain names or email addresses that use these extensions, it will result in lost customers and a poor user experience.

Resources available to assist you

To address these issues and provide support, stakeholders and industry leaders such as Apple, GoDaddy, Google, ICANN, Microsoft and Verisign, created the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG). The UASG exists to help organizations ensure their systems are UA-ready and able to accept all domain names and email addresses in any valid script.

The UASG has developed several helpful guides and resources which are available at https://uasg.tech/information/. Of particular note is the Quick Guide to Universal Acceptance (UASG005). We encourage you to visit our website and view these useful materials, and to get involved with the UASG (you can join the mailing list at https://uasg.tech/subscribe) so we can work together to fully incorporate these new domains for the benefit of the next generation of Internet users.

*Contributed by Don Hollander, Secretary General, Universal Acceptance Steering Group; a New Zealand-based former CIO for very large domestic and international corporations.

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Yoruba: Only unity'll ensure development says Gov Makinde - ITREALMS

The Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde has said that the Yoruba people must remain united if they intend to achieve the much-desired growth in the South West, reports ITREALMS.

The Governor, who was represented at the public presentation of an autobiography titled Awo, by his Deputy, Engr. Rauf Olaniyan, said that without unity there cannot be development.

The book was translated by to Yoruba by Mr. Alao Adedayo, the Publisher of Alaroye Newspaper.

The Governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, decried the security challenges in the Yoruba speaking states and in the nation in general.

According to him, collaboration and exchange of ideas among the South West States would enhance efforts geared towards tackling the insecurity.

He also urged the Yoruba to remain, united, adding that by speaking in one voice the forces of darkness attempting to overwhelm the region would be defeated.

Also speaking at the public presentation, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi (III), said that vices such as kidnapping, harassments from herdsmen and other criminality have enveloped Yoruba land.

He said: "What is worrisome is that most of the herdsmen perpetrating these criminal activities are alleged to be non-Nigerians, but migrants from some West African countries.

"The Yoruba are proud of their harmonious relationship with indigenous Fulani.”

The monarch also stated that the solution to the current security challenges lies in restructuring of our federal system, noting that the central government was is too powerful.
In his contribution at the event, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, said that the Yoruba were against Federal Government's proposed cattle ranches in the South West states and other Yoruba- speaking towns and villages in Kogi and Kwara states.

He also cautioned Governors of the South West states against ceding any portion of their for the purpose of Cattle ranch adding that everyone must close ranks to tackle insecurity.

Some of the dignitaries at the event include the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji, Alaafin of Oyo, Prof. Bamiji Akintoye, a representatives of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Chief Kessington Adebutu, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and the Chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria, PLC, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu among many other Yoruba leaders.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

UNICEF, EU demand clean water, toilets in all Nigerian schools - ITREALMS

Some 4,500 people in Riyom local government area of Plateau State, north-central Nigeria will benefit from improved access to safe water and sanitation facilities following the commissioning of a communal solar driven motorized water facility and WASH facilities in a school which include gender segregated latrines and a handpump, reports ITREALMS.

The facility built with support from the European Union (EU), 
ITREALMS gathered, would go a long way towards ensuring that every child in Nigeria has access to safe WASH services. 

“Children who do not have safe access to WASH, are most likely to lose interest in pursuing learning opportunities because they are forced to spend more time in search for water during school hours or stay out of school to recover from illness caused by frequent episodes of diarrhea,” says Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.

According to the data from the WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH NORM), as many as 47 million Nigerians practice open defecation, only 11 percent of Nigerians have access to complete basic water, sanitation and hygiene services and only 13 percent of schools have access to basic water and sanitation services.

The ripple effect of this is that more than 100,000 children under five years of age die each year due to water borne diseases like diarrhea, of which 90 percent is directly attributed to unsafe water and sanitation.

“Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are critical for the survival and development of children. Without these basic needs, the lives of millions of children are at risk. We must do better for children by prioritizing WASH on the development agenda,” Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria said.

The European Union Ambassador explains that ending open defecation and making water, sanitation, and hygiene services available to children in rural Nigeria is one of the biggest challenges in Nigeria, construction and management of which requires sustained investments and more partnerships.

In November 2018, the Nigerian president declared a state of emergency in the WASH sector, reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment for eliminating open defecation and launched a national campaign with an objective of achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status by 2025.

The EU through UNICEF and other development partners is supporting the government of Nigeria to protect the rights of children through the provision of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services in needy locations within the country.

The EU funded programmes support WASH projects in urban and rural areas through the provision of water schemes, technical assistance and capacity development to sector institutions and agencies responsible, and improved access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene services in communities. 

The European Union has has invested more than 250 MEUROs in the Nigerian water sector improving the WASH conditions of more than 10 million people in 14 States. Working towards achievieng the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is a priority for the EU and Nigeria. SDG 6 ensure access to clean and sustainable water for all.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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ITU Telecom World goes to Hungary - ITREALMS

Decision-makers from the technology industry and governments across the globe will assemble from 9-12 September at Hungexpo, Budapest, Hungary to exhibit, debate, network and reward innovation at ITU Telecom World 2019, the leading United Nations global technology event for governments, corporates and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reports ITREALMS.

The annual event, ITREALMS gathered is organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and this year's event is hosted by the Government of Hungary.

According to ITU team, technology can achieve results at a scale, speed, quality, accuracy and cost not imaginable just a decade ago. They are means to deliver quality goods and services in the areas of health care, education, finance, commerce, governance and agriculture, among others. They can help to reduce poverty and hunger, boost health, create new jobs, mitigate climate change, improve energy efficiency and make cities and communities sustainable.

At ITU Telecom World, participants will discover tech innovations, solutions and opportunities from around the world, hear from top decision-makers on the need for international collaboration to ensure digital technologies transform lives positively everywhere and meet those being recognized for their innovation at the ITU Telecom World Awards.

The International audience comprising C-level industry executives, government leaders, ministers and regulators of ICT and related sectors (finance, transport and health), digital visionaries, global media, consultants, academia and the flourishing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) community from across both developed and emerging markets.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Konga offers 90% to celebrate 7th anniversary - ITREALMS

Acclaimed Nigeria’s composite e-commerce giant, Konga, has unveiled massive discounts up to 90 per cent to celebrate its 7th anniversary, reports ITREALMS.

The commemoration of the anniversary will witness a mouth-watering discount sale covering a wide range of products including electronics, mobile phones, tablets, fashion, wine/spirits, home appliances, computers/accessories, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and much more.

The Konga 7th Anniversary sale will run from June 24th to July 7th 2019.

Shoppers on Konga will enjoy amazing offers including flash sales and treasure hunt. There are also special deals and offers for visitors to its nationwide network of stores.

Furthermore, shoppers stand to enjoy free delivery nationwide on orders above N15,000 from Konga warehouse.

Head of Marketing, Chidalu Ekeh explained that Konga’s commitment to customers in the past seven years is borne out of deep appreciation for their patronage and loyalty. She added that this comes with an unbeatable offer of best prices and quality products.

“We’ve been able to serve our customers exceptionally these past seven years and that is down to our innovations in technology, swift delivery, cutting-edge service and other interventions that have improved the shopping experience.

“We are closest to Nigerians with the establishment of over 30 experience stores in major locations across the nation. Added to this is the presence of massive regional warehousing facilities that cater to the needs of our growing database of merchants and customers. The Konga Marketplace, a structure we pioneered, remains the best and most trusted online marketplace on this side of the Atlantic.

“We have also expanded the suite of offerings through Konga Pay, a Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed mobile money e-wallet as well as Konga Travel which remains the first omni-channel travel booking agency in Nigeria with best deals. Furthermore, Kxpress, our in-house logistics arm, is a world class company that has resolved the thorny issue of last mile delivery to our teeming customers nationwide. This is in addition to handling critical deliveries to external parties.

“We are excited with the journey and our aim is to go the extra-mile in satisfying our customers – a reason we crashed our prices to make the offers juicy.

With our effective customer service, we have the capacity to attend to and resolve feedbacks promptly. Our customers also have a range of payment options to choose from including payment on delivery, online payment through Konga Pay, payment on collection, cash payment in the store, payment through Visa, payment through USSD and much more,” she concluded.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Oyo names Executive Assistant, SUBEB, Internal Revenue Board Chair - ITREALMS

The Oyo State GovernorEngineer Seyi Makinde has approved the appointment of Dr. Nureni Adeniran as the Chairman, State’s Universal Education Board (SUBEB), reports ITREALMS.

A press statement made available to ITREALMS by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Governor Makinde equally named Hon. Segun Ogunwuyi as Executive Assistant on Investment Promotion and Aremo John Adeleke as Chairman, State Internal Revenue Board (SIRB), in that order.

The appointments, ITREALMS gathered, take immediate effect.

Further, ITREALMS gathered that Dr. Nureni Aderemi Adeniran had his secondary education at the Muslim Grammar School, Odinjo, Ibadan where he passed out in flying colours. He also had his first degree, Master's and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) degrees in Education from the University of Ibadan and also LL.B degree from the same University.

He was at a time a lecturer at the Kaduna Polytechnic, senior Lecturer in Mass Communication at the Lead City University, Ibadan and a one-time Commissioner for Education in Oyo State.

Hon. Ogunwuyi, the Executive Assistant was a member of the 8th House of Representatives, which came to a close on June 6, and holds a B.SC in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and was first elected into Oyo State House of Assembly in 2011.

He is a Certified Accountant and Financial consultant who has consulted for top organizations like TNT Logistics (UK), Baker Hughes (UK), Nokia Siemens Network (Finland), NNPC (Nigeria) among others.

In addition, the new Oyo State Internal Revenue Board Chairman, Aremo John Adeleke holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial and Personnel Relations from the University of Ibadan.

He graduated with a Managerial Finance degree from the University of Mississippi, while also completing graduate studies in Business Administration at the Louisiana State University, Shreveport in 1985.

He had served as Special Adviser on Economic Planning and Corporate Matters to the administration of former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in Oyo State and was reputed for the great leap in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) recorded in that era.

Aremo Adeleke is a businessman with interests spread across different sectors.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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Ajufo is new President OAAN as new officers emerge - ITREALMS

Mr. Emmanuel Ajufo of Opportunity To See (OTS) has emerged the new president, even as new officers have been elected for Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), reports ITREALMS.

Their election was one of the outcomes at OAAN recent Annual General Meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Ajufo who was the Vice-President of the outgoing executive led by Mr. Tunde Adedoyin said he is ready to complete the ongoing projects of the immediate past president.

"I was the vice-president to the immediate past president and I know where we stopped. So with my new team we will address the research issue which we have not been able to address till the tenure ended.

"I also want my team to address the welfare of members especially for them to see the reason they are part of OAAN," he said.

Ajufo pointed out the need for more benefits for members in order for them to be encouraged, stressing "we have a lot of members who are asking the question why are they part of the association."

He, however, said the association will be all out to make sure that non-members are not allow to practice because according to him, there are so many who are not members of OAAN and are enjoying things outside the association and this kept on bringing up the question by members that why are they members of the association.

The new president also assured members of his team readiness to tackle the issue of taxation. ‘’ We intend to engage government some more on this and we hope that the result will positive for us.’’

He also added that his team have the intention to bring in those that are outside into the association because by the time we make it difficult for them to operate, they will join the association.

Earlier in his speech, the out-going president, Mr. Tunde Adedoyin listed the achievement of his tenure, saying they were able to achieve few things despite all odds.

"We faced a lot of difficulties from our first day in office with enforcement notices from our regulators to the recession crisis which made the economy to be in comatose, and thereafter rendered the out of home industry inactive but thank God for your unwavering support and perseverance helped us not to lose focus and direction," he said.

Saying the expectation are more than what they were able to achieve, he said he hope that the new executive would surpass the challenges and do more for the association.

Mr. Femi Ogala , the former General Secretary of the association emerged the vice-president while the Managing Director, KOK Visibity Edge emerged the General Secretary.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

FirstBank records 27,000 banking agents, deepens financial inclusion - ITREALMS

Nigeria’s premier bank and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that it now has over 27,000 Agents on its Firstmonie Agent Network, reports ITREALMS

This feat reinforces the Bank’s steering role at promoting financial inclusion in the country. The over 27,000 Firstmonie Agents are present in almost all Local Government Areas across the country.

In line with the Financial Inclusion objectives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to bring financial services closer to Nigerians, Firstmonie Agent Network is a unique channel designed by FirstBank to solve the challenge of access to financial services. Firstmonie Agents are empowered with secured digital channels to provide basic financial services such as account opening, Cash-In, Cash-Out, Funds Transfer, Airtime topup, and Bill payments to customers across the country.

FirstBank, through this Financial Inclusion drive, is making very impressive impact on job creation, women and youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship development – fundamental pillars of overall economic development.

Alhaji Bashir Aliyu Muhammad Rimin-Gado, a Firstmonie Agent operating from Rimin-Gado area in Kano State said, “I have been with Firstmonie since they started and I can say that it has been a life changing experience, I have been able to build trust of the communities around me as many workers in my area have forgotten the last time they visited any bank branch for basic banking services. I am a proud employer of labour and as a result my staff are well paid and comfortable.

Sharing his excitement on the impact FirstBank Agent Banking has had in his immediate community, another Firstmonie Agent in Abia State, Ephraim Osinachi of Jozzy NetComputer Services. Nig Limited, said, “FirstBank’s Firstmonie has created an enabling opportunity for dwellers of my immediate community and neighboring towns to carry out banking transactions with less time, money, resources and risks as people don’t have to waste time embarking on long journeys to the city, added to the dangers of being robbed on the highway."

"My experience as a Firstmonie Agent has been a rewarding one, as I receive hundreds of Thank You and God bless you from customers each day, because of the relief the Agent Banking gives to them. The people of Ukwa will always remain grateful to CBN and FirstBank for bringing banking to their door step with Agent Banking”, he concluded.

On the back of its drive to deepen inclusion through Agent Banking, FirstBank has also partnered with National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). The (NURTW) partnership seeks to leverage the human traffic and commercial activities at various motor parks across the country to ease access to financial services. First Bank is also in partnership with Azuri Technologies Limited, an off-grid power distribution company to make access to off-grid power easy, especially in rural communities, as well as other institutions, who are seeking to provide resources to cushion the effects of economic and social shocks on low income individuals.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan “Our Firstmonie Agent Banking network, spread across the nook and cranny of the country, is a demonstration of our resolve to promoting financial inclusion and business in the country. This indeed has been achieved with the concerted effort and commitment of our partners and registered Firstmonie Agents to taking banking to Nigerians regardless of where they are. With them, we are committed to leave no stone unturned at bolstering the economic involvement of many more Nigerians, especially through our robust electronic services like *894# USSD banking, Firstmobile, Firstonline and ChatBanking on WhatsApp”

FirstBank recently announced that over N1 trillion Naira had been processed through the Agent Banking Network. The First Bank to achieve this milestone.
Remmy Nweke/DoP

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University of Manchester signs up for Slave-Free Alliance - ITREALMS

As part of its commitment to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, The University of Manchester has become the first higher education institution to become a member of Slave-Free Alliance, reports ITREALMS. 

Raising awareness on the issues of human trafficking and forced labour is a key part of the University’s work to promote responsible procurement.

Slave-Free Alliance is part of Hope for Justice, a Manchester-based charity which exists to bring an end to modern slavery by preventing exploitation, rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society.

By joining Slave-Free Alliance the University has joined a global movement, demonstrating commitment to raising awareness of modern slavery and working to promote a zero tolerance approach to the practice in our supply chains.

A key benefit of joining Slave-Free Alliance is to independently review, benchmark and develop responsible University systems and processes to combat modern slavery.

“As a University with social responsibility as a core goal, joining Slave-Free Alliance helps bolster our existing approach in this important area,” said Director of Finance Steve Dauncey.

“The opportunity to join a Manchester-based charity that puts victims first by removing them from situations of exploitation, and also working to prevent individuals from becoming enslaved, is a great fit for us. The potential to engage more widely with our staff and students on this issue is very significant.”

“We are thrilled to see The University of Manchester becoming the first higher education institution to join Slave-Free Alliance, and we hope this will encourage the rest of the sector to take notice and take action,” said Ben Cooley, CEO of Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice.

“It is a clear sign of the University’s commitment to working towards a slave-free supply chain, helping ensure that the products it buys and the services it uses have not been tainted by the barbaric crime of human trafficking for forced labour. We look forward to working closely with the University over the coming months to further develop this partnership.”

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BringCom comes to Uganda, leapfrogs Africa’s innovation agenda with local cloud solutions - ITREALMS

The Pan-African connectivity provider, BringCom, in partnership with science and technology investor, Imprimatur Capital, and European edge cloud software company, GIG Technology, have together birthed what is to provide the African technology industry with cloud sovereignty – afriQloud, reports ITREALMS.

Launched in Uganda, afriQloud will provide, at internationally competitive rates, local and foreign customers with an innovative and secure distributed edge cloud service.

Hans van Linschoten, founding partner of Imprimatur Capital Africa and CEO of afriQloud “We see significant potential in the growing African cloud market where an estimated $2 billion is being spent in cloud this year, and we’re excited to bring this service to the continent. By the end of 2019 we will complement the few developed markets clouds with a powerful and local distributed cloud in at least 15 countries. This ensures data sovereignty for institutions and governments within Africa’s shores.”

Most of Africa’s content on the internet is currently hosted on servers outside the continent. Implementation of edge cloud computing services in Africa has been adversely affected by lack of reliable and secure connectivity from various service providers. The cost of setting up ICT infrastructure with improved data latency and minimized downtime has also contributed to the slow adoption of cloud solution across the continent.

Mark Simmonds, Chairman of GIG Technology: ”Although cloud adoption is predominantly private, the African markets are generating a growth of 30% in public cloud sales. Few other ICT market segments in the African tech ecosystem have the potential of adding an incremental $2 billion in top line revenue over the next 5 years.”

Fabrice Langreney, CEO of BringCom: “Opening up of the global market will require African companies and organizations to be equally competitive in deployment of e-solutions, scalability, secure data accessibility and connectivity in line with international standards.”

afriQloud is also building bridges to the African incubators and tech hubs. More than 440 tech hubs are available today and more funding is being raised by tech startups across the African continent. The aim of afriQloud is to have the Edge Cloud installed in cities and tech hub ecosystems which hosts a high number of startups and developers. Now present and operational in Uganda, afriQloud will be spreading its services further into the different regions of Africa this year.

Willem Hendrickx, CEO of GIG Technology: “We believe in partnerships and the creation of local economy using our cloud technology. Having assessed the cloud readiness of different African markets, we are thrilled to launch in Kampala.”

Hans van Linschoten: “We have hit the ground and we intend to keep up the pace. This service in Africa is long overdue. In a few months, we will expand our service in East Africa - Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia will be afriQloud active very soon. We are working through channels in Southern Africa as well - Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique are our next target markets. And of course the West African region is good and ripe for the plucking. 

"Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon – we’ll be present in all these countries this year! We’re very much looking forward to working with tech startups, MNOs, ISPs, government institutions, banks and financial institutions, universities – there is much to be done, and the time to begin is now.”

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104 families benefit from Ekiti multiple birth trust fund - ITREALMS

The Ekiti State Multiple Birth Trust Fund, which provides support for families with multiple births has been revitalised in the State after a four- year break, with the disbursement of products to 104 families by the First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, reports ITREALMS.

Erelu Fayemi who made the first tranche of the disbursement in Ado-Ekiti on Monday, expressed her happiness that the Trust Fund is was back. She also congratulated parents who gathered at the ceremony organized by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with Office of the First Lady.

Cash gifts, baby foods and other family support products were distributed to families with multiple births at the event.

Erelu Fayemi said the Multiple Birth Trust Fund was initiated in 2010 to provide assistance for families who have been blessed by God with Multiple births, but who were finding it difficult to cope because of their circumstances.

"We were receiving many reports of mothers giving birth to twins or triplets in the hospitals and the fathers running away because they were scared of how they were going to settle the bills of their obligations, she said.”

She said the the Multiple Birth Trust Fund supported no fewer than 740 families between 2010 and 2014. “While some of these families received cash and products support from the administration, investments were also made on behalf of some of the families who had triplets”, she added.

The investments, according to her, were created to support the children through school on a long term basis.

Erelu Fayemi expressed her sadness for the non-continuation of the initiative post-Kayode Fayemi administration, hinting on the need to institutionalise the trust fund.

“I was deeply saddened to note that this initiative did not continue in the post-Kayode Fayemi administration. It is, therefore, my pleasure that it has commenced now as part of the Social Investment Programmes of JKF2. However, I am also using this opportunity to alert the public that we are going to be working on ways to ensure that this program is institutionalised, so that it is not done at the discretion of incoming administration but is done as a matter of cause, as an obligation to Ekiti people.”

The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Chief (Mrs) Moji Fafure, said over 700 multiple birth parents benefited from cash disbursed during the first term of the Fayemi-led administration.

She urged them to utilize the amount given to them for the care and upkeep of their babies.

Mrs Oriowo Victoria who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries lauded the First Lady for the initiative while describing it as unprecedented.

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ATCON gets new venue for 5th Telecom Executives forum – ITREALMS

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has gotten a new venue for its 5th edition of the Telecom Executives and Regulators forum, reports ITREALMS.

ATCON Executive Secretary, Ajibola Olude disclosed this to letters to valued stakeholders made available to 

According to him, ATCON writes to inform stakeholders that the 5th Edition of Telecom Executives and Regulator's Forum slated for July 11, 2019 will now hold at Lagos Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“We are constrained to change the venue because of lack of some facilities like exhibition and parking space.

“We regret any inconveniences this may have caused you,” he appealed.

Remmy Nweke/DoP
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Monday, June 24, 2019

TSA: FG remit to Remita – ITREALMS

That the Federal Government owes a locally grown multinational Financial Technology solution provider, SystemSpecs millions of Naira, over the adoption of its Remita for the Treasury Single Account (TSA), is least demeaning writes ITREALMS’ REMMY NWEKE, who argues the debt is a much ado shadow over local content and ‘ease of doing business’ mantra.

PMB on TSA: Four years after:Reviewing the four years of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB’s) administration in Nigeria, an instance that left many industry watchers and stakeholders’ agape was the fact that Federal Government (FG) still owes SystemSpecs millions of Naira over the adoption of its Remita for the FG Treasury Single Account (TSA) via the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

ITREALMS recalls that as soon as this administration came to power in May 2015 and shortly after the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) and by end of first quarter of 2016 came up with a report rejecting Remita contract by CBN.

This led to the 2016 controversies on TSA which ranged for weeks with the Senate submitting that FG’s contract with Remita, a proudly locally-developed and globally acknowledged software solution by SystemSpecs be terminated and overtly paying lip-service on issues of local content in Nigeria as it may affect Financial Technology (FinTech) evolution in the country.
With this, industry stakeholders, including the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), expected that FG and NASS will review the report positively till date to reflect the so-called ease of doing business in Nigeria.

As at last quarter of 2018, ITREALMS gathered that FG still owes SystemSpecs in respect of Remita, allied banks and other service providers in the ‘TSA value chain’ payments in excess of N10bn for services provided and which as at the time of filing this report may have increased.

Understanding what Remita offers:Investigations by ITREALMS showed that Remita is an electronic payment (e-Payments) and e-Collections solution on a single multi-bank platform. Presently, Remita is in use by many individuals, public and private sector organisations that process over 500 Billion Naira worth of transactions on a monthly basis.

Adopted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the payment and collections of funds on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Remita is currently used by all 22 commercial banks and some 400 micro finance banks. Some countries beyond Nigeria have shown interest in adopting Remita, for instance, a delegation from the Gambia, were in Nigeria to understudy more closely how to optimise Remita and Treasury Single Account.

Developed by SystemSpecs Limited, Remita has been severally voted as Nigeria's Software of the Year, and indeed a success story as well as a pride to Africa, and has no doubt contributed immensely in revolutionizing the e-payment industry in Nigeria and beyond, just as it comes with an optional Payroll and Human Resource (HR) solution for full integrated processing.

Executive Orders vs NCS Lamentation:
The worrisome indebtedness led to a lot of assumptions including that the Federal Government (FG) may have set aside its own Executive Orders 003 and 005 by refusal to pay SystemSpecs and likes of Chams plc, though these two orders were reputed as landmark when they were signed by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as part of the three orders signed on May 18, 2017, which encouraged government businesses and operations to be conducted in the country, especially in support for local content in public procurement by the Federal Government.

The President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, bemoaned the alarming indebtedness in a chat with ITREALMS, urging FG to lead by example. Noting that local content contributions especially from ICT sector to the economy cannot be over-emphasised due to the number of jobs they offer for the teeming youthful population.

He asserted that “This is integral to Nigeria’s economic revival,” lamenting that compliance to the orders is not 100 per cent, thereby raising doubts and questions about full commitment to the much needed prioritization of local content development. Maintaining that one of the pertinent cases was that of Remita, a payment gateway adopted by the Federal Government for its Treasury Single Account (TSA).

According to NCS President, “Up till now the FG has not been able to fulfil its obligation with regard to the services rendered to her through Remita software.” This is despite official declarations, these in practical terms showed extremely low commitment to the implementation of the ICT Local Content Policy.

“It does not show much evidence exists of a structured approach to ensure Nigerian ICT firms are prepared by Government to take advantage of emergent National ICT opportunities,” NCS president bemoaned.

Between CBN and TSA:
Precisely on November 18, 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proclaimed via circular No. BKS/CSO/CON/DIR/04/043, addressed to all deposit money banks; the Managing Director, SystemSpecs Ltd; and all Licensed Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSPs); intimating them of increase in the service charge on Remita on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the burden carefully passed on to end-users.

According to CBN the guidelines for payment for services rendered under the e-Collection programme of the Federal Government of Nigeria, stipulated thus:

I. That all Payers using other channels, apart from Cards (Bank Transfers, Mobile Payments, Bank teller points, USSD and all other channels) shall pay the sum of N150.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Naira only), per transaction. Hitherto, the Federal Government, through the OAGF has been bearing the charges on behalf of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and the revenue payers

II. That all Payers using Cards are to be charged N150.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Naira only) plus 0.75% of the amount being paid, subject to a maximum of N1,200.00 (One Thousand Two Hundred Naira only), per transaction.

III. The application of these charges is effective from 1st November 2018

It is necessary to note that this directive is without prejudice to the provision of Section of the CBN Approved Guidelines on Operations of Electronic Payment Channels in Nigeria (April 2016), which stipulated that “A merchant shall under no circumstances, charge a different price, surcharge a cardholder or otherwise discriminate against any member of the public who chooses to pay with a card or by other electronic means.”

CBN stressed that this directive only relates to payment of MDA’s revenue, taxes, levies, penalties, etc to the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the TSA scheme.

Core notes from the circular deductible include was that FG hitherto borne the cost of the charges per transactions on TSA but has since November 1, 2018 decided to pass it to users despite no public enlightenment on this.

Industry observers described the new charge as “a uniform flat fee of N150 + VAT irrespective of the amount being paid to the Government, through any bank in Nigeria.” Although it was still argued that based on the flat rate, like obtained with the N65 on the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) in the country, no matter which ATM or Bank ATM in use, it’s a welcome development.

PMB commends TSA:
This came at a time, President Muhammadu Buhari in his address to the 2018 e-Nigeria Conference organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Abuja last November, disclosing that FG saved about N24.7bn per month as a result of the implementation of the Treasury Single Account and the elimination of ghost workers from the civil service.

“In addition to the consolidation of accounts and elimination of ghost workers that resulted in a combined monthly savings of about N24.7bn, the TSA facilitated the recovery of huge sums of money including the recent N1.6bn from a single account,” PMB said.

And if based on the above monthly income and supposed “1 per cent charge by Remita” according to the contract terms, it could be safe to say that between May 2015 and May 2019, that the Federal Government, for instance, is owing SystempSpecs via Remita, the sum of N247,000,000 (Two Hundred and Forty-Seven million Naira only), which seems to be the bone of contention when looked at the monetary value rather than the revolution, service, job creation and development such value added by Remita offers. This argument is not far away from those posited by the Senate in 2015 who seemed ignorant of the processes and deserves some education.

For the record, this 1 per cent revenue from every TSA transaction is shared between SystemSpecs, Banks and CBN on the ratio of 50 per cent, 40 per cent and 10 per cent in that order over some 40 months culminating between September 2015 and December 2018, as at the time of this report.

Despite Remita commendations by Mr. President, it is no longer news that the government of the day is not living out what its preaching with regards to ease of doing business, moreso with the consequence like lack of job creation that should have emerged from support services across the states and effects on the economy, industry watchers look forward to a time Federal Government will, repent by seeing local solution developers like SystemSpecs, as the real engine of the economy in this age.

Another set of renegotiation with the likes of Remita developers, SystemSpecs among others playing in this space cannot be over emphasised by taking the local content mantra of this administration seriously, and the Federal Government consciously remitting to Remita what is due to it.

This will encourage a lot of local solution developers in Nigeria, that after all, there is hope for them to create more jobs, with a listening government.

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UN partner with IFC, ARC, AAISA towards creating African disaster risk insurance market - ITREALMS

A consortium of international development agencies including the United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), the African Risk Capacity (ARC), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Association of African Insurance Supervisors (AAISA), opened a two-week training event on index and disaster risk insurance, on Sunday, reports ITREALMS.

The training, ITREALMS gathered would help build the knowledge of African governments, the private sector, and the international community to better carry out financial planning necessary to protect vulnerable populations against climate shocks, disasters, and other crises.  

Index and disaster risk insurance products help protect agribusinesses, farmers, and other low-income populations against environmental risks such as drought, floods, irregular rainfall, natural disasters and other effects of climate change. Access to these types of affordable insurance products will help the affected population mitigate the effects of these climate-related shocks, protecting them against catastrophic losses and unlocking access to finance.

The training workshops – offered in English the first week: from June 24 – 29; and in French the second week: June 30 – July 6, 2019 – will allow participants to discuss ways of exploiting their relative strengths to successfully implement these innovative types of insurance in their countries.

In his remarks, UN-ASG and Director-General, ARC, Mohamed Beavogui said, “Capacity building is key to our efforts in working with Member States. ARC and its partners work with Member States to provide development insurance instruments by determining risk profiles, customization of its tools, and development of a contingency plan that fits into a country’s broader risk management framework. This helps to strengthen resilience and protect development gains from being wiped away by weather-related risks.

Faheen Allibhoy, IFC Country Manager for Senegal, said: “The World Bank Group is committed to working with the African Union and UNECA to create new, sustainable agricultural and disaster risk insurance markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Working together, we can achieve greater combined results that contribute to the development goals of all three institutions.”

One of the sponsors of the training, the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), is UNECA’s training institute. It is responsible for providing capacity development and training programs aimed at improving public sector management and development planning in support of member States’ structural transformation. Also, it contributes towards strengthening the capacity of member States to develop and adopt better approaches to development planning, economic policy formulation, management, monitoring and evaluation.

The training workshop in Dakar is the first of a series of activities that will be run jointly by the three institutions. Participants include representatives of ministries of agriculture and finance, insurance regulators, the media, as well as insurance companies offering (or planning to offer) index and disaster risk insurance in Sub-Saharan Africa, from Chad, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Remmy Nweke/DoP 

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Night travel: Over 80 passengers robbed, vehicle set ablaze+video – ITREALMS

ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news! Over 80 passengers on night travel to the Eastern part of Nigeria with Ifesinachi Mo...