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DEMS applauds Pantami, NBP 2020-2025 Committee on draft submission - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers’ (DEMS Volunteers’), a non-governmental group leading nationwide awareness/campa...

Monday, February 24, 2020

DEMS applauds Pantami, NBP 2020-2025 Committee on draft submission - ITREALMS

The Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers’ (DEMS Volunteers’), a non-governmental group leading nationwide awareness/campaigns on Digital Economy, has commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), for the vigour and zeal he has shown towards achieving a digital Nigeria.

In December 2019, to foster the growth of a Digital Economy and to achieve broadband penetration by the year 2025, the Nigerian Government inaugurated the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NBP) Committee for the Development of the 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan for Nigeria.

The Director General, DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa, in a Press Statement at the weekend, noted that the recent submission of a National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 report in less than three months the steering committee was inaugurated is another confirmation that Dr. Pantami is on a fast lane hence the industry should rally round him to achieve the goals.

DEMS Volunteers also lauded the Committee Chaired by the MD/CEO, MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke and Co-Chaired by the former Executive Commissioner Technical Services at NCC, Dr. Bashir Gwandu, while NCC’s Executive Commissioner Technical Services, Engr. Ubale Maska, served as the Secretary of the Committee.

Prince Okenwa said that the Committee proved themselves worthy of the national assignment by ensuring the report was not delayed but delivered on record time.

“We followed up the progress report while the NBP Committee was on course for two months; deliberating on issues as they relate to the national broadband, with focus on how to penetrate the underserved and unserved areas in the country and drive the Nigerian digital economy. At some points, the Minister, out of his tight schedules, paid them visit, and took notes of progresses and areas of concerned raised. This is commendable.

Recall that the Minister was at the 2020 - 2025 National Broadband Planning Committee Meeting, which held on the 5th of February 2020 and on the 18th February 2020, the Committee submitted its draft report.

“This is commendable and shows that the Minister is not operating as an armed-chair executive, but a determined achiever. The NBP holds a critical place in the nation’s economic drives. Without adequate broadband, telemedicine won’t happen, smart transportation, seamless fintech, eLearning, ecommerce, eGovernance, and other multiplier effects would become mere thoughts on paper.

“Therefore, we call on the Minister not to relent, but to ensure immediate critical study of the recommendation for swift implementation. By doing that, we would have solved enormous challenges faced by the economy and further unleash new windows for multiple job creation and revenue generation in the country.

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Ikon, MD Fintech firm, emerges 3rd winner @Konga Travel Rolls Royce promo - ITREALMS

Recently named Most Innovative Agency by global airline, Virgin Atlantic, the Konga Travel and Tours, has named Mr. Imeh Gam Ikon as the third winner of its Rolls Royce promo which kicked off on Monday, February 10th, 2020, reports ITREALMS

The lucky flyer, Mr. Ikon, ITREALMS gathered, hails from Akwa Ibom and emerged winner of the third digital raffle held on Wednesday, February 19, 2020.

Ikon is the Managing Director of Viva Finance Ltd., a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-licensed financial institution.

He is scheduled to fly Virgin Atlantic to London on Monday, February 24, 2020.

Consequently, Ikon, a seasoned Virgin Atlantic flyer, will be picked up by a Rolls Royce from his residence at Ikota for the ride to the airport, with full complement of a VIP treatment throughout the journey and upon arrival at the airport where a red carpet reception awaits, among other special privileges.

The delighted winner had high praise for Konga Travel.

‘‘I am so happy to have emerged winner of the Rolls Royce promo. To be honest, the experience with Konga Travel has been very, very impressive. I have been so satisfied. I mean, two years ago when I went to the US, I had issues changing my ticket. However, Konga Travel did it so effortlessly for me. As a result, I have had no regrets referring customers to Konga Travel.

‘‘In fact, my in-law went to the US last year, someone else travelled last week, all of them through Konga Travel. I never fail to refer everyone around me to Konga Travel and that is basically because of the satisfaction I have derived from Konga Travel.

‘‘I have never been messed up or disappointed since I started using Konga Travel. Never! So, keep it up,’’ he submitted.

Meanwhile, the Rolls Royce promo, which runs from Monday, February 10, until Tuesday, March 31, 2020, offers customers of Konga Travel a chance to travel in style with a chauffeur-driven ride to the airport in a Rolls Royce.

Ikon, who is happily married with three kids, also revealed that he has been a die-hard customer of Konga.

‘‘I have been a Konga customer for several years now. The standard of service I receive is at par with what obtains globally. So, when Konga Travel launched, it was easy to continue the relationship,’’ he disclosed.

Prior to Ikon’s emergence as the third winner of the Konga Travel Rolls Royce, two other winners had equally enjoyed the special treatment. They include inaugural winner, Kelly Junior Babatunde, a professional footballer and Dr. Mrs. Nancy Iwara, a retired civil servant.

Every week, new winners will emerge in the Konga Travel Rolls Royce promo through the weekly digital raffle. Also, prospective travellers can book their discounted flights online at travel.konga.com or offline in any Konga Travel retail store nationwide. Intending flyers who book their flights during the promo period, between Monday February 10 and Tuesday, March 31, 2020, stand a chance to be selected for the special treatment in the Rolls Royce.

Apart from being picked up and chauffeur-driven in grand style to the airport, lucky winners of the Konga Travel Rolls Royce promo are also in for the time of their lives with in-car refreshments during the ride to the airport and red carpet reception upon arrival at the airport, while also enjoying the privilege of having Konga Travel assist with their check-in formalities and the possibility of lounge access at the airport, upgrades to Business Class and special gifts, among others.

Konga Travel is Nigeria’s foremost omni-channel travel booking company.

Having emerged on the scene less than two years ago, Konga Travel, a 21st Century lifestyle travel booking agency, has distinguished itself. Within a short space of its existence, the company has grown nearly 25% on a month-on-month basis, acquired all the requisite and major travel certifications and rolled out multiple physical store locations nationwide.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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BoICT distinguished lecture/awards holds April 25 - ITREALMS

Beacon of ICT (BoICT) Distinguished Lecture/Awards Series, widely regarded as the most prestigious annual event available in the ICT industry in Nigeria, has been slated to hold on April 25, in Lagos, according to Communication Week Media Limited, organisers of the event, reports ITREALMS,

The BoICT Lecture and awards series, now in its eleventh year, is the largest gathering of professional from ICT, banking and other related industries under one roof.

The theme of this year’s event is “Cyber security and its Critical Role in Nigeria Economy”.

Ken Nwogbo, founder and CEO, Communication Week Media Ltd, said that the theme leans heavily on the fact that cyber threats are now the most effective way to attack an organization or country and the fact is that those with malicious intent are finding ever more sophisticated ways of carrying out their activities.

“Many governments and firms’ entities are challenged with insufficiently secured infrastructure, lack of awareness, and competing for funding and resource priorities.” He said.

According to Nwogbo, better security helps governments and corporate bodies provide reliable services to the public, maintain citizen-to-government communications, protect sensitive information as well as safeguard national security.

Past keynote speakers at the event include Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, then executive vice-chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC); Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, former Director-General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Dr. Jean Luc Fort, CEO at OR System France and a specialist in Counterparty Risk; and Professor Chris Nwagboso, Chairman, Knowledge Factory International, United Kingdom.

Others are: Uche Orji, managing director/chief executive officer, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA); Biodun Omoniyi, Managing Director/CEO, VDT Communications; Ayotunde Coker, Managing Director, Rack Centre Limited; Peter Adedayo Arogundade, managing director and chief executive officer, Sidmach Technologies Nigeria Limited; and John Obaro, CEO and founder of Systemspecs; Isa Pantanmi, former DG, NITDA; among others.

The highpoint of the BoICT Lecture will be the conferment of awards on deserving individuals and firms.

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Google to fund 21 news projects in MEA&T - ITREALMS

ITREALMS
To find new and meaningful ways to engage readers have remained hot topics for news organizations of any size, just as the first Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa prompted a myriad of different approaches, reports ITREALMS.

Sarah Hartley, Recipients Manager, GNI Innovation Challenges, revealed that its part of Google’s $300 million commitment to help journalism thrive in the digital age, saw news innovators step forward with new thinking. In South Africa, Daily Maverick proposed a “relevancy engine” that would aggregate data feeds about reader behavior for small and medium publishers. In Jordan, podcast startup Sowt looked to tackle the challenge with a new hosting platform for news podcasts.

We launched the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge last June, and received 527 applications from 35 countries. After a rigorous review, a round of interviews and a final jury selection process, we selected 21 projects from 13 countries to receive $1.93 million in funding. There are 7 projects from Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa respectively.

The call for applications listed four criteria: impact, feasibility, innovation and inspiration, and the successful projects clearly demonstrated all four. Here are just a few of the awardees (you can find the full list on our website):

Demirören Teknoloji Anonim Şirketi in Turkey wants to solve the tagging process for the Turkish language to help with the news discovery distribution process. Currently this work requires cumbersome manual work from their journalists, taking a precious share of their time.
Daily news publisher Israel Hayom will be creating a loyalty scheme where online users get real-life rewards in the form of tickets or money-saving offers. 

Nas News wants to engage Iraq’s citizens in video debates for positive change with a mobile-first social and news platform that allows users to read and debate on local and national topics.

L'Orient le Jour in Lebanon wants to build a new loyalty plan to offer special and personalized privileges to subscribers via an interactive platform.

The National in the UAE will develop a service that converts quality text news into audio in real time, in both English and Arabic.

Ringier Africa Digital Publishing in Nigeria will be increasing personalization across their platform using a blend of prediction, recommendation and local information pages to increase user engagement.

A second round of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Innovation Challenge will open for applications later in the year: Watch for details on our website..

Nenye Dom/editor

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Awka North thanks Governor Willie Obiano for good roads, infrastructure, as rains return (1) - ITREALMS

The people of Awka North are happy with Governor Willie Obiano. They said he is doing well particularly the members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). They said he has done well. They said he has refurbished 250 hospitals in Anambra state yet the only and gigantic general hospital in Awka North at Amanuke remained in ruins. Nothing serious is happening there partially because of lack of infrastructure and no one is concerned.

If you say a word against Obiano’s government in form of genuine criticism in Awka North, you become a wailer, because you weren’t benefitting. Is that how to run democracy? Any democracy without constructive criticism is dead on arrival.

Others in All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two major political parties are either cowards or afraid of telling truth to power? Their selfish interest are paramount?

First rain of the year was witnessed in Onitsha, Anambra state second week in February, 2020. It lasted for 2 hours and it was a mixed feeling. The rain washed off refuses dumped in drainage channels and defaced the commercial city.


What is the fate of the people of Awka North now that rainy season is back, judging by so many abandoned infrastructure in Awka North. There is no completed tarred road in Awka North. The local government is not connected to other communities via its roads because the roads are inaccessible. Some awarded road contracts have lasted over 6 years without completion like Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Awba Offemmili road with a spur to Ugbene and Okpuno-Isu Aniocha-Urum-Amanuke road with a spur to Ugbene.

In rainy season, the roads are impassable and in dry season, the roads are hellish with dusts like balloon hovering past over any vehicular movement. Schools are abandoned by June /July as teachers based in Awka and environs abscond from duties. Children from that area suffer much during rainy season. Government induced poverty is also a challenge. By neglecting infrastructure in Awka North, government is culpable.

Traversing through the communities in Awka North Local Government area during this dry season was hellish, but it will be like dining with the devil himself during the rainy season especially the road that linked Ugbenu and Ugbene with Amanuke community. The road is a death trap. Other roads too. If attended to all the roads in the ten communities in Awka North linked the local government council headquarters at Achalla and to Onitsha either through Awkuzu or Igbariam. Awka North roads connect to Enugu state too. But because the roads were abandoned, Awka North people go through five local government areas to get to Achalla, its local government Headquarters. Is it a shame?

The easiest and closest route to Unizik junction Awka for most people in Ugbene, Ugbenu and Awba Ofemmili is through the Ugbene – Amanuke- Isu Aniocha-Okpuno road or Ugbene-Amanuke-Achalla-Urum-Isu Aniocha road or even Ebenebe-Mgbakwu-Isu Aniocha-Okpuno road, not even through Ebenebe-Amansea, but over six months ago the belly bridge reconstructed by the 14 field Engineer Regiment, Nigerian Army Onitsha connecting Amanuke from Ugbene collapsed, and since then, nothing has been done. Belly Bridge built by the Army and reconstructed by the Army, collapsing?
No attention whatsoever apart from visit by the local government chairman, Hon Ferdinand Onwuje, even though he did not go with the media. Commissioner for Works, Hon Marcel Ifejiofor said some staff of his ministry went on assessment of the collapsed Bridge. Are there no government appointees from Awka North to facilitate Obiano’s visit there as well as government urgent attention?


Photo of Flood at Ezigo primary school Amansea

The former presidents General met and re-echoed on the need for Obiano to intervene on Awka North roads as council area appears abandoned by all indications.

Chairman of Awka North former Presidents General, Chief Mike Ekwunife flanked by Pharmacist Paul Enemuo former PG Amanuke as well Chief Shedrack Anakwue and former PG Amansea/ former ASATU PRO, Chief Ifeanyichukwu Cajethan Nwokike , among other former Presidents General lamented on the neglect of Awka North by the Obiano administration.

They noted that there is no other local government abandoned like Awka North in the state hence Governor Willie Obiano should declare a state of emergency on Awka North roads as the people have suffered untold hardship and decadence.


They lamented that communities in Awka North could not access their council headquarters without running around four to five local government areas of Awka South, Njikoka , Dunukofia, Oyi, and Anambra East before connecting to the council area of Achalla.

They pointed out that the communities are interlinked with roads to the local government Headquarters but unattended to like Amanuke through Ugbene and Ebenebe through Mgbakwu.


They informed that a team of investors visited Awka North for investment but were stunned they could not access any part of the local government with ease and that was how we lost the consortium of investors from China. The Governor during his election promised to attend to Awka North as part of Igbo Adagbe but never did.

They insisted that if Awka North had good roads, every other thing would have been sorted out, lamenting that in 2014, Awka North communities threw in everything to elect Chief Willie Obiano as Governor only to be abandoned soon after even when Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbene-Ugbenu-Awba Ofemmili road was the first he visited after becoming Governor. They said Obiano promised to link the road from Awba Ofemmili to Ayamelum but has not even completed the road since six years he assumed duties.

They asked Obiano to stop the negligence of the people of Awka North and complete the roads awarded since 2004 by former Governor Peter Obi led administration. They asked for state of emergency on Awka North roads by the Obiano’s administration as no road in Awka North is passable even with a Jeep, particularly Amansea –Ebeneb-Ugbene-Ugbenu and Awba Ofemmili.


*First published by Emeka Odogwu at Odogwu.com

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Pantami raises fake news alert - ITREALMS

The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) has raised an alarm over purported misleading message authored by him, which has been trending on social media, reports ITREALMS.

According to his spokesperson, Mrs Uwa Suleiman,"the fake news is circulating a message which implies that all devices are now connected to the Ministry’s systems and that effective tomorrow, it will commence the recording of phone calls and the monitoring of all social media platforms and fora.

The malicious message also further discourages citizens from sharing any messages or videos with political or religious content as it is now officially a crime and could even lead to arrest.

The office of the Honourable Minister, initially ignored the message which has been in the public domain for sometime, so as not to give undue attention to the originators but its spread, the efforts of well meaning Nigerians to get clarity and the need to ensure that all Nigerians are properly informed, has necessitated this disclaimer/public awareness.

"We are at a point in our Nation’s history where the focus is on digitalizing the Nigerian Economy for the greater good of all, and divisive messages such as these are mere distractions. It is on record that Dr Pantami, as the then Director General of NITDA, initiated and passed the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR January 25th 2019) which solely exists to protect the privacy rights of every individual.

"The honourable minister enjoins all Nigerians, to disregard the propaganda which is aimed at inciting fear, and creating public confusion. Under the leadership of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is mandated to Leverage on Technology for a Digital Economy, and will not engage in acts that would sabotage its mandate.

The office of the Honourable Minister, calls on all Nigerians to ignore all and any instructions contained in the message, and further help in tackling this ignoble act by immediately deleting the message to curb its spread.

We thank all well meaning Nigerians for the continued support and reiterate our commitment to achieve our mandate for the greater good of all.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Zenith in N200bn market share, reaffirms leadership - ITREALMS

In a clear show of its resilience and market leadership, Zenith Bank has announced an impressive result for the year ended December 31, 2019, with profit after tax (PAT) of N208.8 billion, achieving the feat as the first Nigerian Bank to cross the N200 billion mark, reports ITREALMS.

According to the bank’s audited financial results for the 2019 financial year released in Lagos on Friday, profit after tax rose by 8% to N208.8 billion from the N193 billion recorded in the previous year.

The Group also recorded a growth in gross earnings of 5% rising to N662.3 billion from N630.3 billion reported in the previous year. This growth was driven by the 29% increase in non-interest income from N179.9 billion in 2018 to N231.1 billion in 2019. Fees on electronic products continues to grow significantly with a 108% Year on Year (YoY) growth from N20.4 billion in 2018 to N42.5 billion in the current year. This is a validation of the bank’s retail transformation strategy which continues to deliver impressive results.

Profit before tax also increased by 5% growing from N232 billion to N243 billion in the current year, arising from topline growth and continued focus on cost optimisation strategies. Cost-to-income ratio moderated from 49.3% to 48.8%.

The drive for cheaper retail deposits coupled with the low interest yield environment helped reduce the cost of funding from 3.1% to 3.0%. However this also affected net interest margin which reduced from 8.9% to 8.2% in the current year due to re-pricing of interest bearing assets. Although returns on equity and assets held steady YoY at 23.8% and 3.4% respectively, the Group still delivered an improved Earnings per Share (EPS) which grew 8% from N6.15 to N6.65 in the current year.

The Group increased its share of the market as it secured increased customer deposits across the corporate and retail space as deposits grew by 15% to close at N4.26 trillion. Total assets also increased by 7% from N5.96 trillion to N6.35 trillion. The Group created new viable risk assets as gross loans grew by 22% from N2.016 trillion to N2.462 trillion. This was executed prudently at a low cost of risk of 1.1% and a significant reduction in the non-performing loan ratio from 4.98% to 4.30%. Prudential ratios such as liquidity and capital adequacy ratios also remained above regulatory thresholds at 57.3% and 22.0% respectively.

In demonstration of its commitment to its shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend pay-out of N2.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to N2.80 per share.

In 2020, the Group remains strategically positioned to capture the opportunities in the corporate and retail segments, while efficiently managing costs and expanding further its retail franchise employing digital assets and innovation.

Consistent with this superlative performance and in recognition of its track record of excellent performance, Zenith Bank was voted as the Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria 2019 by the World Finance and the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria 2019 by The Banker. The Bank was also recognized as Bank of the Year and Best Bank in Retail Banking at the 2019 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Awards, and was ranked as the Best Digital Bank in Nigeria 2019 by Agusto & Co. Most recently, the Bank emerged as the Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the Thisday Awards 2020.

Ayo Midele/Editor


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Friday, February 21, 2020

Tallen, stakeholders advocate girl-child education to rid society of evil - ITREALMS

ITREALMS: 
The Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has called for the support of the Girl-Child education to enhance a sustainable society free of criminality.

Tallen made this call at an Annual Conference in Abuja, themed '21st century Nigerian Girl Child, societal norms and traditional parenting' organised by the Association of Nigerian Female Students (ANFS)in collaboration with West Africa Network for Peacekeeping (WANEP) stating that this in the long run will create a family of relevance with profound advantage to the society.

Represented by the Special Assistant Technical, Ms. Princess Jummai Idonije, the Minister reiterated the need for parents and authorities to ensure an enabling environment for the Girl Child to thrive in education and other relevant sections.

She said: "There is a need for us to make continuous effort to balance the percentage of girls in school to reach her maximum capability.

"All hands must be on deck to support the Girl-Child to create a home of properly nurtured children as educating a woman is educating a nation ,without the girl Child there can be no continuity of society there must be an attitudinal change."

Speaking, Chief Executive Officer Youth Star Initiative, Mr. Kingsley Bangwell, disclosed that "the Girl-Child need to be properly represented, they should strive to add value to the environment and society.

According to him "the girl Child should be enabled to grow into a 21st century woman who is out to solve problem and move from just being a woman."

Earlier, the President of ANFS, Ms. Sarki Sylvia Yemi, in her welcome address reiterated the need change the narrative concerning the girl Child and the future of women in Nigeria as for a long time our country and indeed Africa has tenaciously held unto oppressive practices making the girl Child feel that her highest aspiration should be to house wife.

"There is need to open up opportunities to the girl Child to forge a future different from what ancient tradition determined. I stressed that the path forged by our ancient tradition is not bad but needs to be updated to the 21st century standard to equip Girl Child with the necessary impetus to confront current challenges in the global arena.

Stating also the necessity of upgrading the traditional parenting as to the method of raising the boy Child to respect and value their female siblings, school mates and women in general.

"The male child must be raised to that every man no matter how highly placed is born an raised by a woman and through the influence of a mother figure as such they must grow to accord women the requisite respect needed to build corporative efforts aimed at rebuilding our society which is already been ravaged by drug abuse and other vices.

"There is need to raise our voices to be heard from the home to the school to the market places, a need to raise our girl Child using an upgraded traditional parenting style which must be felt from every seat of power."

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

FG alleges, Amnesty Inter'l slipping into league of terrorists groups - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has warned Amnesty International over unfounded allegations, cautioning that AI is gradually joining the league of terrorist organisations, reports 
ITREALMS.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Thursday, the Minister sounded a warning to Amnesty International to eschew being in the league of Boko Haram and ISWAP over their level of fake news propagation lately.
"Amnesty International should not cast themselves in the league of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists," he declared. 

Responding to the Amnesty International accusation that the Nigerian Military burnt some villages and forcefully displaced the residents, the Minister said he was aware that the Defence Headquarters had responded appropriately to this accusation.

The military, he told 
ITREALMS, denied razing down villages and detaining locals unlawfully; that it does not employ arson as an operational tactic; and that looting and burning of villages is the style of Boko Haram Terrorists.

Stressing that in carrying out their duties, Amnesty International should not cast themselves in the league of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. 

"They should stop the growing practice of constantly attacking the military and casting them as the bad guys, when all they are doing is putting their lives on the line to fight terrorists who have no respect for the sanctity of life, who willfully go after women and children, who attack houses of worship without respect or allegiance to any religion," he said.

Lai Mohammed insisted that Amnesty International should stop providing succour for terrorists by attributing their atrocities to Nigerian troops. 

"Our soldiers, who are defending the country, are guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct. They should not be made to look like the aggressors here, he said.

The Federal Government, he further said always take seriously any allegation of rights violation by soldiers or other security forces. 

"Investigations have been carried out and culprits, if any, punished. And it is a continuous process," he said.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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9Mobile, Google, Kirusa promote RCS business messaging - ITREALMS

The trio of 9mobile, Google and Kirusa recently partnered on the promotion of Business Messaging (RBM) developed by the Rich Communication Services (RCS), reports ITREALMS.

The workshop organized to create awareness about RBM attracted stakeholders in the ecosystem including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Aggregators, and Brands among others.

Just as 9mobile, the leading telecom operator in Nigeria, in association with Google, and Kirusa, a global leader in communication solutions over data networks for consumers and enterprises, recently hosted a workshop in Lagos.

The workshop was attended by over 50 attendees, including representatives from MTN, Airtel, Glo, GTB, Zenith Bank, Unity Bank, Accion Microfinance, Interswitch, and Infobip, among others.

Touted as the next-generation native messaging evolution for Android users, RCS is an update to SMS, offering features for enhanced smartphone messaging on Android such as high-resolution photo and video sharing, location sharing, group chats, read receipts, etc., all of which are not available on SMS. It is changing Person-to-Person (P2P) as well as Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging. For individuals, RCS opens up the possibility of rich media interactions with any other mobile subscriber using the native messaging app on the phone. Enterprises, on the other hand, are opened to an opportunity to engage with their smartphone customers using RBM, RCS’s offering for enterprises which is used for business-to-consumer communication to provide a richer and interactive brand experience, complete with verified senders and brand logos.

At the workshop, 9mobile announced that they had chosen Google’s Jibe platform for offering RCS, and had chosen Kirusa for managing their RBM services in Nigeria, including directories, onboarding, verification, and APIs to send OTP’s over RCS. Google demonstrated their Jibe platform, including their Dialogflow bot creation tool, while Kirusa demonstrated the RCS directory (available at www.dotgo.com) and the partners.dotgo.com portal for aggregators to launch RBM bots on 9mobile.

"We are excited to see Kirusa and 9mobile leading the way by launching the first RCS agents in Nigeria on Google's RCS MAAP platform. Bringing modern messaging to everyone on Android is important to us and we look forward to supporting Kirusa and 9mobile further," said Johanna Kollar, Partnerships Lead, Communication Products, EMEA, Google.

Bola Afuye, Head of Digital Media, 9mobile said, “We are glad to be the front-runners not just in Nigeria, but in all of Africa to launch RCS and RBM. RCS opens up newer avenues for brands to communicate with their customers. This workshop demonstrated how carriers can benefit from RCS and leverage it to offer innovative services to their subscribers and have engaging conversations with their customers.”

“We are delighted to be a part of the workshop hosted by Google to showcase the possibilities of RCS for the Nigerian market. Through this workshop, we want to enhance the usage and adoption of RBM by brands in Nigeria, as it provides convenience and value to consumers. By providing RBM agents, brands are empowered to improve overall customer experience and satisfaction,” said Inderpal Singh Mumick, Founder, Chairman and, CEO of Kirusa.

Google has been playing a significant role in marshaling the adoption of RCS across the globe. Taking the lead to transform enterprise messaging experiences on Android with RCS, Google launched its RBM Early Access Program in 2017. The Program aims to help enterprises build agents that take advantage of RCS features and engage with their audiences better. 9mobile is the first operator in Nigeria to launch RCS, and the first operator in the world to provide an RCS bot, named my9mobile, for providing customer support, and also the first operator in the world to make missed call alert and voicemail available using an RCS Agent.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Airtel uplifts underprivileged kids in Touching Lives Episode 4 - ITREALMS

Airtel Nigeria has reaffirmed support for underprivileged children and pledged to build modern toilet facilities as well as donate educational materials to the pupils of Methodist Central Primary School in Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa-Ibom State, reports ITREALMS.

Airtel is offering this support as part of the ongoing Season 5 of its flagship Corporate Social Responsibility programme, Airtel Touching Lives, which will air on Sunday, February 23rd.

Episode 4 documents the heartfelt story of Methodist Central Primary School in Akwa-Ibom State, which had been in a state of disrepair, with no toilet facilities, furniture or adequate learning materials for its over 900 pupils.

For several decades, the school had lacked power, potable water, first-aid kits as well as modern toilets, and pupils had to share an unhygienic pit latrine, putting them at risk of infections and diseases. Despite the situation of the school, the teachers remained steadfast in imparting knowledge to the pupils as well as discharging their duties.

However, the conditions had become quite dire in recent times, leaving the teachers frustrated and bereft of hope. The upcoming episode will show how Airtel promised to intervene and turn around the situation.

Last week, Episode 3 of the programme documented the story of Omishakin, a small community in Ogun State that had been without electricity for over 13 years, hampering businesses and affecting livelihood of community members.

The community was also faced with security problems owing to the lack of power as hoodlums swarmed its environs in the dark, putting lives and properties at constant risk. Community members also had to walk long distances to fetch potable water as commercial boreholes were no longer sustainable as their owners could not continue to fuel their power generating sets.

You can follow Airtel Touching Lives by tuning in to Africa Magic Urban by 6:30pm; Africa Magic Family by 6:30pm; Ebonylife TV by 7pm; NTA Network by 6:00pm & Farin Wata by 6:30pm to enjoy the programme every Sunday.

New episodes can also be watched on the Airtel Touching Lives website by simply visiting.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

State Policing: Gambari demands 2014 confab report - ITREALMS

ITREALMS
Given rise to agitations for state policing, the former Minister of External Affairs,  Amb. Ibrahim Gambari, has demand a revisit to the reports from the National Conference (Confab) held in 2014, reports ITREALMS.

About six years after the conference, there has been calls by stakeholders, experts and atavists,  for adoption of the reports from the conference to tackle challenges facing the country.

Gambari, opined that in the face of growing insecurity, killings across the country and loss of confidence in the security architecture, it was important to adopt the many recommendations provided at the 2014 conference which can be used to re-structure policing and promote synergy among police at all levels.

The former minister made this suggestions on Wednesday in Abuja during a public lecture titled: 'Development Resolution: Overcoming Global Conflicts and their Local Interactions',  organised by Ubuntu Centre for African Peacebuilding in collaboration with West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development (SCDDD).

"There is lack of confidence in the current arrangement, the evidence is that people are being killed everyday. There were  recommendations at the 2014 National Conference. We better go and look at it and see how we can have a structure that will take up to the local, to the state and to the national police that will work together and not one at the expense of the other", he said

Gambari further pointed out that localisation of the security apparatus was paramount, adding that unless Nigeria localise its security apparatus and architecture, it will not work.

According him,  attacking Violence Extremism and terrorism, needs the cooperation of local communities.

"You need intelligence and to get it you  need to become friends and partners of the local community, but when there are human rights violations, you are afraid of the security, you can't get that kind of cooperation", he said.

He also stressed that even as Nigeria is striving to achieve peace, putting in place infrastructures for development will be important because peace development will not be a sustainable means of livelihood. 

"Even if you have peace, you can't eat peace, peace is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for development, because you must have a means of livelihood.

"How do you build employment opportunities, how do build educational system that emphasis entrepreneurship, in order words job providers not job seekers . How do you provide infrastructure for people to invest, how do you encourage local investment", the former minister queried.

While delivering the lecture, Mr. Marek Hrubec, spoke extensively on the four periods of time since independence in Africa and called in the need for Africa to develop it's own in the aftermath of the colonial era other than the popular Chinese model. 

Hrubec who is the Director, Centre of Global Studies, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, said the Chinese model was attractive, transformed infrastructure and lifted millions out of poverty, stressing that Africa needs its own model governed by its own experiences, goals and objectives.

He opined that the model should not just be indigenous to the African culture but should be able to tackle poverty, because according to him, 40 percent of the global poor live in Africa especially sub-Saharan Africa.

Meanwhile, a participant at the lecture, Mr. Ayi Joseph,  stressed that poverty, hunger and ignorance fueling conflict and insecurity and stalling development. He noted that Nigeria has a significant number of poor people who are vulnerable to be used as instrument of conflict.

To this end, Joseph, said in addressing insecurity, Nigeria must develop strategies to reduce poverty and hunger.

Also, the Director General of Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Maj-Gen. Garba Wahab (rtd), advised that in tackling insecurity, Nigeria should settle it's problem internally.

To this end, Wahab urged Nigeria not to rely entirely on neighbouring countries which according to him do not have the wherewithal. 

He however, stressed that collaboration among security agencies was also key.

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Mega gospel concert: Sinach to shutdown Eko Hotel - ITREALMS

Acclaimed Africa’s biggest contemporary gospel musician, Sinach Joseph, is set to thrill gospel lovers with a mega concert in Lagos, reports ITREALMS.

The concert, ITREALMS gathered, is the first edition of an annual event that is set to become a mainstay in the gospel calendar.

Entitled Sinach Live in Concert (SLIC 2020), the inaugural edition of the eagerly anticipated concert will hold at the Convention Centre of the prestigious Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday, March 22, 2020 from 4pm.

In addition to coinciding with her three decades of influential ministry, Sinach disclosed that she chose the date, which is also Mothers’ Day to celebrate the positive impact of women and mothers around the world.

‘‘Sinach Live in Concert is scheduled for Sunday, March 22, 2020 which incidentally is a date that will be celebrated globally as Mothers’ Day. We have carefully selected this date to mark and celebrate the unerring and life-changing impact of women and mothers around the world.

‘‘A lot has been lined up for this event. Indeed, attendees will be treated to soul-lifting ministration and a wonderful all-round experience in an atmosphere of divine praise and worship to the Almighty God. There will also be a special recognition for all women and mothers in attendance at this event. It promises to be a rewarding experience for all,’’ she revealed.

Equally important, tickets for SLIC 2020 have already gone on sale, with e-commerce giants Konga, one of the major partners on the project, also serving as a dual outlet for ticket sales. Interested attendees can purchase the ticket online on https://www.konga.com/merchant/sinach-live-in-concert or offline in any Konga store nationwide.

Meanwhile, a number of brands have already begun to signify their interest in being a part of the epoch-making event. Among these are telecoms giant, MTN and foremost commercial bank, Zenith, official bankers for the event. Also on board are integrated downstream oil and gas company, Rainoil as well as beverage giant, Malta Guinness, official beverage sponsors for the event, among others.

Sinach, arguably the continent’s biggest gospel musical export to the world, has been on the scene for three decades. The title track of her sixth studio album, Way Maker currently has over 138 million views on YouTube. It has become a global worship anthem and has been recorded by multiple Grammy award-winning artist Michael W. Smith as well as Leeland, Bethel Music, Mandisa and over 30 top Gospel singers around the world.

Equally important, Sinach’s strong brand equity and rich content have garnered her a commendable social media followership, (over four million followers across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), cutting across all age-brackets, with millennials constituting circa 60% of her base. Further, she is recognized by many governments and corporate institutions with her songs being sung in most churches around the world.

Hit songs like I Know Who I Am, Awesome God, More of you, Omemma, I Stand Amazed, Great are You Lord, The Name of Jesus, and many more, have become anthems with a most recent and highly publicized invitation to popular American Televangelist, Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.

In 2018, Sinach pioneered Gosgem, an initiative to harness the gift of talented Christian artistes around the world via an onsite and offsite mentorship platform. The platform provides mentees access to interact and learn from seasoned professionals.

She has received numerous awards and recognitions. Among these are being listed in 2019’s Reputation Poll’s Most Reputable Persons on Earth, an honorary inductee in Bethlehem Hall of Fame 2017 set, top 100 influential Christians in Nigeria, West African Artist of the Year, African Achievers Award for Global Excellence, Songwriter of the Decade by LIMA, and recently, Worship Song of the Year by LIMA.

Sinach’s songs and writings are greatly influenced by the teachings of her mentor and Pastor: Chris Oyakhilome.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Inspire students, not tell them about Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) - ITREALMS

Readiness for the fourth industrial revolution requires a broad array of technical skills combined with a burning curiosity to find solutions to our most pressing problems.

It’s amazing how quickly the world around us is changing. The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is upon us and how we continue to adapt to this era of rapid technological and societal change is crucial. Why we need to adapt and how fast we are able to adapt to these changes remain a core question of our time, and education is a key factor in how we navigate these changes. As our society, its challenges and our possibilities for the future are changing, education needs to transform as an enabler for this progress.

Transforming education to align with the challenges of this new age is a big focus for the team at RS Components (http://www.RSonline.africa). We’re particularly interested in encouraging science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools, promoting digital skills development at universities and colleges, and also promoting after-study opportunities to prepare graduates for employment in this rapidly changing world.

Readiness for the fourth industrial revolution requires a broad array of technical skills combined with a burning curiosity to find solutions to our most pressing problems. In this context our aim is to inspire innovation and promote the ways which support innovative and design thinking.

The importance of innovation in our industry is inescapable. We supply electronic and industrial components, services and solutions to a wide variety of sectors. Combined, these all power modern equipment and inspire new strategies and ways of doing business. We help companies around the world reach their goals or achieve a competitive advantage by offering our mix of innovative products and solutions. We have supported many customers as they create the 4IR.

Bringing 4IR to education

It is this kind of innovation and experience we want to bring to the education space. The concepts and practical elements that work in industry and that define 4IR are exactly those we want to infuse into education. Our goal is to get students to start thinking about solving critical problems using technology.

It’s while trying to address this idea that we noticed a particular gap in the process. In most traditional education and training environments the topic is approached in a rote fashion. Students are told what to know and connect enough dots to pass a test. These students are therefore not being inspired to think critically about the possibilities in front of them, to think out of the box, to think differently. In this kind of teaching environment, it will be difficult for them to take charge of the technology and apply it to their own thinking to come up with multiple solutions.

This is particularly important if we want to encourage a greater uptake of STEM subjects. Telling a child to choose science, technology, engineering and math is not enough. Teaching STEM isn’t enough.

What we need is the same spirit as those fun chemistry teachers you can find on YouTube. Show-and-tell, then make it relevant to the real world. Show students the tools and platforms, show what they can do, show how they fit into industry and the rest of the world.

Taking 4IR to students everywhere

The journey can start at home. Minecraft-Pi (http://bit.ly/3bUfmjY), which comes bundled with Raspbian (http://bit.ly/2wwoDyn) (the Raspberry Pi’s free operating system), can be manipulated using coding in the game. A child can play and learn Python (http://bit.ly/2wuMtdP), one of the most widely-used programming languages in the world. They can go a step further and install Scratch (http://bit.ly/38JCuj8), a drag-and-drop coding game designed by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) which is also available for free through Raspberry Pi, or via download from MIT.

The Raspberry Pi computer board (http://bit.ly/32cGeHs) is a marvel of technology, putting everything from basic to very advanced 4IR tools in your hands for around $35. It’s also supported by DesignSpark (http://bit.ly/2SVk1te), an RS platform that offers free tutorials, software and resources for students, teachers, parents and hobbyists.

But you don’t even need a Raspberry Pi to get started. Tools such as Scratch are freely available. We should use these various tools in combination to connect the dots between them and see the amazing things the 4IR is already creating out there. This is how we create the sparks of innovation and imagination in the minds of students.

This approach works. I’ve seen students build small rockets, smart cameras and heat sensors. They can see how their thoughts and ideas can become a reality. But the impact should be felt –in more schools and more homes. If we can focus on inspiring students on what they can do with digital technology, then 4IR stops being a virtual concept and starts becoming tangible in the real world.

*De Wet Joubert, RS Components Sub Sahara Africa

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African Railway Roundtable commiserates with Amaechi over CSO's death - ITREALMS

Rail advocacy group, the African Railway Roundtable (ARR) has described the sudden death of the Chief Security Officer to the Nigerian Transportation Minister,Tony Iwelu as "a deeply sad incident", reports ITREALMS.

The also commiserated with the minister and the late officer's family.

ARR director, Olawale Rasheed told 
ITREALMS that the group described the late security officer as "an effective and dependable official who discharged his duties with highest level of professionalism.


"We know the deceased to be a loyal public servant and a close confidant of the minister who is breaking multiple jinx within the Nigerian rail sector.His supportive role to the minister accounts for his being so long in service of his principal.We sympathise with the minister at this very sad moment.

"We condole with the family and his organisation,the Nigerian Department of State Service. The deceased served the fatherland so well and his name will not be missing when the great achievements of the minister in the railway sector is being recorded",the condolence message concluded.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Pix: Late Iwelu

Sophos’ XG Firewall debuts with 'Xstream' version - ITREALMS

Global leader in next-generation cybersecurity, Sophos, has introduced a new “Xstream” architecture for Sophos XG Firewall with high performance Transport Layer Security (TLS) traffic decryption capabilities that eliminate significant security risk associated with encrypted network traffic, reports ITREALMS.

This, latest in shelf, Sophos said, comes with what is often overlooked by security teams due to performance and complexity concerns.

XG Firewall also features AI-enhanced threat analysis from SophosLabs and accelerated application performance.

Equally, Sophos released the SophosLabs Uncut article, “Nearly a Quarter of Malware now Communicates Using TLS,” which explains how 23 per cent of malware families use encrypted communication for Command and Control (C2) or installation.

The article details, for example, three common and ever-present Trojans – Trickbot, IcedID and Dridex – that leverage TLS during the course of their attacks.

Cybercriminals also use TLS to hide their exploits, payloads and stolen content and to avoid detection. In fact, 44% of prevalent information stealers use encryption to sneak hijacked data, including bank and financial account passwords and other sensitive credentials, out from under organizations.

"As SophosLabs’ research demonstrates, cybercriminals are boldly embracing encryption in an attempt to bypass security products. Unfortunately, most firewalls lack scalable TLS crypto capabilities and are unable to inspect encrypted traffic without causing applications to break or degrade network performance,” said Dan Schiappa, chief product officer at Sophos. “With the new Xstream architecture in XG Firewall, Sophos is providing critical visibility into an enormous blind spot while eliminating frustrating latency and compatibility issues with full support for the latest TLS 1.3 standard. Sophos’ internal benchmark tests have clocked a two-fold performance boost in the new XG TLS inspection engine as compared to previous XG versions. This is a game changer.”

Latency too often deters IT admins from using decryption, as seen in an independent Sophos survey of 3,100 IT managers in 12 countries. The survey white paper, The Achilles Heel of Next-Gen Firewalls, reports that while 82% of respondents agreed TLS inspection is necessary, only 3.5% of organizations are decrypting their traffic to properly inspect it.
ITREALMS gathered that some key new features of XG Firewall include:

· Inspection of TLS 1.3 to detect cloaked malware: New port-agnostic TLS engine doubles crypto operation performance over previous XG versions

· Optimized critical application performance: New FastPath policy controls accelerate performance of SD-WAN applications and traffic, including Voice over IP, SaaS and others, to up to wire speed

· Adaptive traffic scanning: The newly enhanced Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) engine dynamically risk-assesses traffic streams and matches them to the appropriate threat scanning level, enhancing throughput by up to 33% across most network environments

· Threat analysis with SophosLabs intelligence: Provides network administrators with the SophosLabs AI-enhanced threat analysis needed to understand and adjust defenses to protect against a constantly changing threat landscape

· Comprehensive cloud management and reporting in Sophos Central: Centralized management and reporting capabilities in Sophos Central provide customers with group firewall management and flexible cloud reporting across an entire estate without additional charge

· Integration with Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) service: Customers of XG Firewall who also subscribe to the Sophos MTR Advanced service will have deeper actionable intelligence to prevent, detect and respond to threats, as a result of the integration

“Sophos’ new XG Firewall offers a wide array of enterprise-caliber features, with a growing installed base that is now one of the industry's most widely deployed next-generation firewalls,” Eric Parizo, senior analyst for enterprise IT strategy, (according to Omdia, Enterprise Decision Maker, January 2020. Results are not an endorsement of Sophos or SophosLabs. Any reliance on these results is at the third-party’s own risk). “XG Firewall can win against industry competitors in large part because of Sophos Central, its SaaS-based, single-pane-of-glass management system for overseeing deployment, management, policy, updates, and response, with optional log management and analytics. This cloud management platform with the Firewall Management and Reporting feature, plus the TLS inspection, position Sophos XG Firewall as a compelling option for a wide variety of organizations.”

“At Convergent Information Security Solutions, we are engaged in the management and monitoring of both perimeter and internal cybersecurity for our customers, and until now we were somewhat limited in our ability to monitor SSL/TLS encrypted data streams. Sophos XG Firewall helps us solve this problem efficiently and affordably with the new accelerated DPI engine in the latest version. This, combined with new automatically-managed custom IPS rule sets, gives us much more visibility into encrypted traffic going through the network than we ever had before. This feature will immensely improve our customers’ security and we consider this to be critical, based how broadly cybercriminals are capitalizing on TLS encryption to cover-up and carry out their attacks,” said Bruce Kneece, CTO of Columbia, S.C.-based Convergent Information Security Solutions. “We’re also aware of how fast cyberattacks are morphing. With the ability to scan for potentially dangerous files transported inside of SSL/TLS tunnels, in addition to the zero-day detection engine of Sandstorm, we can provide better, faster customer protection, detection and service.”

Sophos XG Firewall is available in the cloud-based Sophos Central platform alongside Sophos’ entire portfolio of next-generation cybersecurity solutions. Sophos’ unique Synchronized Security approach empowers these solutions to work together for real-time information sharing and threat response.'

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

ATCON opens registration for national dialogue on telecoms - ITREALMS

The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has opened registration for the national dialogue on telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Nigeria, reports ITREALMS.

ATCON president, Mr Olusola Teniola told ITREALMS that registration is now open for the one-day event with a well-researched theme "Harnessing the Digital Resources for the building of our National Economy" slated for Thursday, March 26, 2020 at NAF Conference Centre and Suites, Abuja.

Teniola was also quoted in a press statement available to 
ITREALMS by the Executive Secretaary of ATCON, Mr. Ajibola Olude as disclosing that Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, is expected to deliver a keynote address.

Also, he said that some of topics to be focused on during panel discussions include "Digital Economy in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities; Private Public Partnership and Development of Mechanism for the seamless Management of Inter-Ministries and Agencies: an imperative for Broadband Infrastructure Development in Nigeria; National Funding and Investment Strategy for Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy: The Importance of Education and Awareness; Regulation on Emerging Technologies (AI, IoT, Robotics, Blockchain, etc): Leveraging on Nigerian Young Population’s Innovation and Creativity for National Development."

In addition, he said that the strategic objectives for the dialogue comprised to channel collaborative efforts toward Nigerian Digital Economy with the sole aim of accelerating our economy’s performance in relation to other leading African countries; To serve as a forum to discuss the recently launched documents on Digital Economy and take stakeholders input for implementation; To optimally Xray the factors that have worked for and against the telecom and ICT sector in Nigeria; and to discuss regulations and policies around AI, IoT and Blockchain.

Further, 
ITREALMS gathered that the growth across all the sectors of Nigeria’s economy is expected to be exponential as a result of the resolve by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to drive the entire economy through digital resources.

"This strategic dialogue plans to bring together the Presidency, National Assembly, relevant Federal Ministries, State Governors, ICT State Commissioners, Telecom and ICT Operating Companies, World Bank and other international relevant agencies," he said.

Pointing out that one of the overriding deliverables of this national dialogue on telecoms and ICT sector is that the adoption of digital resources by all aforementioned sectors would lead to development which would eventually make Nigeria to join the league of the top 20 global economies.

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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