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Experts harp on enabling environment, policies to drive fintech growth

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Fintech

Lagos, April 23, 2019 Financial experts at the ongoing Future Banking Tech West Africa Conference have called for an enabling environment and policies for fintech to thrive.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Future Banking Technology conference was organised to address the full value chain of West Africa’s banking and financial sector to achieve more financial inclusion and sustainable growth.

The conference had the theme: ” Innovation in Regulation – Overcoming Gaps in Rural Banking Strategies”.

According to Steven Ambore, Head Digital Financial Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), fintech globally bridges financial inclusion gap.

He said that the CBN recognised the importance of digital financial services and had strategised to ensure fintech’s  adoption by the banking industry.

“To make any progress, we need to focus on creating the enabling environment for fintech to thrive, and CBN has instituted strategies toward that.

“There is a roadmap for that: introduction of a tradition licensing, trying to understand what fintech does and its problems, holding round table with stakeholders and others,” he said.

Ambore said that women and the youth were the most financially excluded, adding that the CBN was working toward bridging the gap.

He called on the financial sector to make financial services more accessible and affordable as well as ensure it would meet specific needs.

Mr Benjamin Tordah-Klu, Principal Economics Officer, Ministry of Finance, Ghana, said that a proper regulatory framework would be needed for fintech to thrive.

According to him, a lot is being done in the fintech space, especially  in the area of payment, urging their adoption.

Mr Damola Atanda, Head, Financial Literacy Office, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, said that apart from an enabling environment, financial literacy was of essence.

According to him, we have technology, but the problem is what we do with the technology.  We have to make it impact on the people.

“Forty million excluded Nigerians in rural areas have been living their lives well without technology; introducing financial technology to them will be strange  because they will be wondering its use.

“How to get them to understand banking solutions is where financial literacy comes in, and they should be made to understand the enormous responsibilities that come with it,” he said.

He advised that the CBN should work with the National Youth Service Corp to enlist corp members to educate people in rural areas on the benefits of digital services.

Atanda listed other activities of CBN  for boosting financial inclusion to include development of a portal to standardise financial literacy and putting together a consumer protection framework.

Earlier, Dr Evans Woherem, Founder and Chairman, Digital Africa Global Consult Ltd. and Compumetrics Solutions, said that financial inclusion and fintech were apt.

According to him, financial inclusion is important because of the need to ensure that the generality of people, especially from ages 18, become users of financial institution.

“It is so unfortunate that these are financially excluded; there is the need to ensure that things are done to include them.

“Fintech is something that we also need to pay more attention to, as it is an exponential technology that will disrupt the banking system.

““The banking system has come a long way – from the long queue banking to the realtime one, but this is not enough; we need to embrace fintech in the banking system,” he said.

He said there was the need for West Africans to catch up on technology adoption, adding that the conference provided an opportunity for experts to come up with decisions that would help the sector to move forward.

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FG appoints Kashifu Abdullahi as new NITDA boss

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The Federal Government on Tuesday appointed Mr Kashifu Abdullahi as the new Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA confirmed the appointment to the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

Umar quoted a statement signed by Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, on the new NITDA boss appointment and others.

The appointment of Abdullahi was sequel to the nomination of Dr Isa Pantami, the outgoing director general of the agency as a minister designate by the President.

Abdullahi until his appointment was a principal officer at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who was on secondment to NITDA as a Technical Assistant to Pantami.

Born on Feb. 21, 1980, Abdullahi is a graduate from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi state and the fifth director general of NITDA.

He, in the past worked with the Galaxy Backbone Limited and has a number of professional certifications.

Other appointments by the government according to Shehu, included Sen. Basheer Mohammed who replaced Mrs Sadiya Farouk as Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees,Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Dr Chioma Ejikeme was appointed to replace Mrs Sharon Ikeazor as the Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

Mr Adeleke Adewolu’s name had also been forwarded to the Senate to replace Mr Sunday Dare as Executive Commissioner, Nigerian Communications Commission.

NIU/ROT

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NCC records 271, 112 complaints in 4 years – Danbatta

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it recorded 271,112 complaints from Jan. 2015 till July 2019 from which 95 per cent has been successfully resolved.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta revealed this on Tuesday at the opening of the 2nd edition of Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) in Abuja.

The conference hosted by the NCC has the theme: “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution” .

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the conference, declared by President Muhammadu Buhari is being attended by representatives of Africa Telecommunications Regulatory Bodies from 11 countries.

“We are ensuring that telecoms service delivery is improved through continuously monitoring of activities of our licensees in order to treat consumer right and offer them value for their money.

“We believe that service delivery on the parts of our licensees in this era of technological evolution should be the totality of how telecoms operating companies package, provide and deliver, those services to their consumers, ” Danbatta said.

He said the commission introduced two major initiatives as part of measures to empower the consumers which were, the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 Short Code, and the 622 Toll-Free Line

He said the DND 2442 Short Code is used by consumers to control what they receive on their phones as unsolicited text messages or calls while the 622 Toll-Free line is too ensure improvement in service delivery.

Danbatta explained that 21 million subscribers had signed up for the Do Not Disturb (DND) initiative and NCC has continued to create more awareness on it through various outreach programmes and other stakeholder engagement fora.

The EVC said that consumers can call the 622 number to escalate their unresolved complaints to their service providers for effective resolution through the Commission’s intervention.

Danbatta said that the commission had commenced aggressive enforcement of compulsory compliance with the NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry.

NAN reports that representatives from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Uganda, Sirialone, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Mozambique, Mauritania and Eswatini ( Southern Africa) attended the conference.

JEZ/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Launching satellites from equatorial orbit shorter to space, cheaper – NASRDA

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The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) on Tuesday said that Nigeria should harness the benefit of launching satellites from the Equitorial orbit which is shorter to space and saves cost.

Dr Spencer Onuh, the Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD), one of NASRDA’s activity centres, said this during the centre’s week and 9th Annual Space Conference and Exhibition in Abuja.

The Nigeria News Agency reports the two days conference focuses on the theme “Exploration of Equatorial Orbit for Space Optimisation.’

Onuh said that Nigeria located in Africa as a continent is advantaged being close to the equatorial orbit, adding that the positioning gives African countries an edge over other countries who could be located across the polar orbit.

NAN reports that Nigeria in 2003, 2007 and 2011 launched its satellites from China, Italy and Russia respectively which are outside the equatorial orbit.

Onuh explained that “equatorial orbit is an orbit roughly in line with the equator of the being planet orbited while polar orbit is one in which a satellite passes above or nearly above poles of the body being orbited on each revolution’’.

“There is a natural endowment of advantages the equatorial region bestows on us.

“For a country like Nigeria, we do a lot of revisiting of satellites for information gathering in disaster management, security, agricultural issues.

“We need to make use of equatorial orbit to reap the benefits of space science and technology,” he said.

According to Onuh, Nigeria is lacking in the area of infrastructure for developing space science technology but has human capacity to advance the sector.

He said that private-public partnership, space entrepreneurs can be encouraged to build the infrastructure needed to develop space science technology and harness its benefits.

“Private partnership can be Nigeria having international collaborations that should be done in our interest, on our terms.

“We have the capacity to challenge European space industry, our challenge is the infrastructure, we need to fix our ground station, our Assembly, Integration and Testing lab.

“Private-public-partnership can be encouraged to develop space science technology because satellite business is not just about government,” Onuh said.

The director said, though, the government had taken the responsibility of developing the space industry because Nigeria is a third world country but it is not sustainable.

Prof. Babatunde Rabiu, Director, Centre for Atmospheric Research, said that satellites from equatorial orbit deviate from the equitorial plane of a planet by less than 45 degrees.

According to Rabiu, equatorial region is characterised with the highest values of the peak electron density with the most pronounced amplitude.

He said that Near Equitorial Orbit (NEqO) satellite of countries have the potential to provide immediate disaster relief information and repetitive monitoring from multi-mission satellites.

“NEqO satellites have possible programming and selection of areas to be observed with acceptable cloud cover before and during satellite data acquisition,’’ he said.

He noted that NEqO country satellites have less market potential for data coverage because it is limited to targeted zone in equitorial zone.

“I observed that most of the nations in the equatorial belt are actually underdeveloped and considered as nations with poor management of resources,” he said

The director recommended that there should be continuous deployment of ground-based equipment for monitoring space environment in the equatorial region.

He called for urgent review of the space agency’s present budget and procurement laws to favour space science and technology among other recommendations.

Dr Matthew Adepoju, President, Geo-information Society of Nigeria (GSN) said African countries lagged behind in the first, second and third industrial revolution.

Adepoju noted that the continent must not continue to take the back stage in the fourth industrial revolution.

“The most advanced countries have taken advantage of the polar orbit, we are located in the equatorial orbit which we need to take advantage of.

“Most African countries are leveraging on this and Nigeria need to also key in and take our leadership in the continent to space.

NIU/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Buhari charges African telecom regulators on e-fraud, cyber crime

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday charged African Telecoms Regulators to protect the continent and their consumers against e-fraud and cyber crime.

The President gave the charge in Abuja at the 2019 edition of the Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) hosted by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The Nigeria News Agency reports the conference with the theme “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution’’ is to, among others, look at how regulatory activities of the 54-member nations of African Union (AU) can be integrated for seamless connectivity to boost customers’ satisfaction.

The President underscored the need for the bodies of telecom regulators in the continent to place priority attention to protecting their consumers from e-fraud,

NAN reports that the president was represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who was also represented by his (SGF) Chief of Staff, Mr Polycarp Shombo.

“Globally, technological evolution has facilitated innovations in various sectors of the economy such as banking, agriculture, healthcare, commerce, entertainment, transport, and so on, bringing a lot of efficiency in service delivery as we are witnessing in Nigeria.

“However, these channels may also be hijacked and manipulated to the detriment of vulnerable consumers as can be demonstrated by rise in e-fraud activities and cybercrimes,’’ he said.

The President also called on the regulators to keep themselves abreast of the phased technological evolution from the first, second, third, fourth and the fifth generation of technologies.

He said that telecoms regulatory agencies should be concerned about the effects of the technological changes on the consumers as regulators of one of the dynamic sectors of the economy in Africa.

Buhari said that the federal government was focusing on leveraging ICT as baseline for growth and development in every sector of Nigeria’s economy.

He stressed that telecommunications and broadly speaking, Infomation Communication Technology (ICT), had become an enabler of economic growth

According to him, Nigeria is already tackling challenges associated with broadband deployment in order to boost accessibility, availability and affordability of digital services across the nooks and crannies of the country.

He said the government is working tirelessly, through regulators, to address challenges associated with right of way issue, multiple taxation and regulations, vandalism of telecoms infrastructure, among others.

“We are also ensuring that Nigeria continues to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into its digital space through creating the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“We now talk of Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Blockchain, smart cities and various smart technological renovations.

“All are targeted at certain group of consumers of digital services, whether individual or corporate entities,’’ he said.

The President congratulated the entire NCC team for supporting the platform for telecoms regulatory bodies across the length and breadth of Africa to gather and exchange ideas.

“The contribution of telecoms to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) now stands at over 10 per cent by the first quarter of this year.

”We want to see telecoms industry playing even bigger role as an enabler of economic growth and development not only in Nigeria but also across Africa.

“We must be aware that these technologies present enormous opportunities for the consumers on the one hand and may constitute threats to consumers on the other hand, especially if left improperly regulated.

“In as much as the technological evolution has changed the way we interact as nations it has also deepened the frontier for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’’ he said.

The president charged the regulators to be on top of their game in safeguarding the interests of the end users of the complex technologies.

JEZ/ROT

Edited by Rotimi Ijikanmi

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Ogun governor’s wife says committed to achieving SDG Goal 4

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The wife of the Ogun governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, on Tuesday in Lagos said she was committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 of the United Nation (UN).

Abiodun expressed her commitment in an address at the Junior Chambers Initiative (JCI) on International Youth Day 2019, organised by the European Union (EU) and the UN with the theme “Transforming Education: Rethinking the Present”.

She said that the SDG goal 4 which is all children are given equal opportunities to education was her passion and project.

According to her, there is a contradiction in the globalised world and the fast growing service centre, the digital technological transformation in recruitment and a wider range of skills is currently required.

“It is therefore, imperative to bridge the skills gap in employment opportunities and sell social economic transformation and reduce poverty.”

Hence, the theme, Transforming Education is critical, as a champion of the UN SDG, I am personally committed to achieving SDG 4.

“SDG 4 is all children are given the opportunity of receiving quality education and my dear husband the governor, Dapo Abiodun’s administration is actively working to reform the educational system in the state,” she said.

The Ogun first lady also urged individuals to positively impact on the Nigeria, while commending the 10 persons who had contributed meaningfully to the society.

She said that the 10 persons had in spite of all odds persevered and remained dedicated to positively impacting on various communities.

Abiodun expressed satisfaction with their continued belief and optimism in the country and encouraged all to remain committed to Nigeria’s development, continually striving for self development and finding innovative ways to positively impact on community.

According to her, when you do this you will find that you are living the true value of the JCI creed that says “Earth great treasure lies in human personality”, you are all the backbone and the future of Nigeria.

She also applauded Nigerians, the EU and partner organisations for the impact they were making in the society.

Abiodun said that most importantly, for the TOYP programme that holds every year would motivate young persons across the country.

“I am hopeful that the Nigerian flag will once again be hoisted in the world congress.

The News Agency of Niger reports that the JCI at the annual International Youth Day gave honoured the 10  outstanding Nigerians who had contributed meaningfully to different sectors in the society with awards.

The award categories were Academic Leadership and Accomplishment, Contribution to Children World Peace and Human rights, Cultural Achievement and others.

One of the recipients, Onye Lauritta, a Weightlifter and an Olympic gold medallist got the Personal Accomplishment award and appreciated the organisers.

Onye said that she would make effortsw to keep the Nigerian flag flying at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Japan.

SKA/PDE

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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