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Tech4Dev Launches Empowerment Scheme for Women

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Tech4Dev IAmAWomanTechster Campaign

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

Tech4Dev, a non-profit social enterprise working to provide access to decent work for Africans through digital and technology skills empowerment and advocacy, has announced the launch of the #IAmAWomanTechster Campaign with an Art Exhibition held last Sunday.

This was in a bid to achieve the goal of impacting women across through the Women Techsters initiative.

The Women Techsters Initiative is an initiative of Tech4Dev in partnership with Microsoft aimed at bridging the digital divide between men and women in the technology ecosystem by empowering five million women across Africa with digital and deep tech skills by 2030.

The co-founder and Director of Partnerships and Sustainability at Tech4Dev, Mr Joel Ogunsola, noted that the I Am a Woman Techsters Campaign will be a yearly campaign advocating for gender inclusion within the technology ecosystem.

All conversations around the campaign can be followed using the #IAmAWomanTechster hashtag, he stated.

The #IAmAWomanTechster Campaign was born out of the need to advocate for and inspire more women to consider technology careers, celebrate women who have built careers in these fields to serve as a model for other women, and possibly provide guidance to the next crop of women through their career journeys, he added.

To launch the Campaign, Tech4Dev called for visual artists to share artworks celebrating women and women in technology and STEM fields.

Out of 43 entries submitted, 16 finalists were chosen, with three of them emerging as winners of the competition to go home with $500 each.

The Women Techsters initiative is currently being delivered across five African countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, and is set to reach 10,000 women by the end of 2021.

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Infibranches Raises $2m for Energy Distribution Across Nigeria

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Infibranches

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

A Nigerian-based fintech and energy startup, Infibranches Technologies Limited, has closed a total of $2 million in a seed round which will be deployed to bridge the gap of energy distribution and financial inclusion across underserved areas of the country.

The fresh funding saw the participation of investors, including an impact investment company, All On, backed by Shell Foundation to support Infibranches in diversifying its energy products to extend towards rural and peri-urban areas.

The two-year-old energy startup was founded by Mr Olusola Owoyemi with the sole aim of providing digital financial services for service providers in the energy sector, as well as its accessibility across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The firm established two products called OmniBranches and  Green Energy Plug to achieve its milestone purpose which now serves as its flagship products as large distribution networks, Solar Home System (SHS) distributors, and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.

The OmniBranches leverages an active network of agents with hierarchy management, real-time reporting and reconciliation, cashout, and downline commission management, while the Green Energy Plug focuses on improving energy access by financial inclusion via accessible Application Programming Interface (APIs).

Expressing his enthusiasm at the funding, Mr Owoyemi said that so far, OmniBranches has served over a million customers, adding that the investment will focus on tackling poverty while enhancing financial inclusion.

“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” he disclosed.

In his contribution, the CEO of Shell Foundation, Mr Sam Parker, noted that, “The initiative’s work with Infibranches has shown how important it is to continue addressing market barriers, enabling enterprises to more quickly expand their life-changing energy solutions to households and SMEs across Nigeria.”

Noting that the partnership will bring about a new renovation into the energy sector, the CEO at All On, Mr Wiebe Boer, said, “We are particularly thrilled about this deal because it’s an innovative business model that solves the payments and collections problems that Solar Home System distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.

“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections.”

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Apprehension as Sokoto Shuts Down Telco Services

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Sokoto Investment Company Tambuwal

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Sokoto State Government has shut down telecommunications networks in 14 of the 23 local government areas of the state as part of the efforts to check banditry, making it the third Northwest States to do so within the last one month.

The telecommunication blackout was announced by Governor Aminu Tambuwal on Monday, September 20 in an interview with the Voice of America Hausa Service.

Mr Tambuwal said the state secured approval from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, before enforcing the ban which kicked off on Monday.

He said the affected council areas are the most vulnerable to bandit attacks in the state and it has caused apprehension among residents of the councils.

The development in Sokoto followed that of the neighbouring Zamfara, where all parts of the state are affected; and Katsina State where 13 local government areas are affected.

Zamfara had announced its communication shut down on September 3 while Katsina followed six days after on September 9.

The governments of the two North-west states announced the suspension of telecommunications networks and banned weekly markets and sale of petrol in jerry cans, among other drastic measures to check the activities of bandits.

Mr Tambuwal said following the ban in Zamfara, bandits have intensified attacks in Sokoto. He said the measure has proved successful in Zamfara, as a result of which the bandits were fleeing from the state to Sokoto.

“Due to the ongoing military successes in Zamfara State, the bandits are fleeing to Sokoto,” the governor said.

Mr Tambuwal also explained the network ban is effective in Dange Shuni, Tambuwal, Sabon Birni, Raba, Tureta, Goronyo, Tangaza and Isa local government areas amongst others.

Isa local government area shares boundaries with Shinkafi LGA in Zamfara State, while Goronyo and Sabon Birni from west and north respectively have borders with the Republic of Niger in the east.

Mr Tambuwal said the measure was long overdue. He said the seven governors of the region had agreed on the network ban to flush out the bandits but this could not be done.

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Lagos, DPR at War Over Tank Farms

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ijegun-egba Tank Farms

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Lagos State Government has warned the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) from overstepping its boundaries following the agency’s re-opening of tank farms that violated seeking its physical planning approvals.

It also advised the agency to refrain from aiding unlawful acts in the state.

In a statement, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Idris Salako, described as worrisome the situation in which the DPR, a federal government agency, jumped the requirement for a planning permit and went ahead to issue licences to facilities whose constructions were not approved by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) and which consequently did not have stage certification or certificate of completion.

“It is even more worrisome that the state government in the bid to ensure orderly, organised and sustainable development, would seal off illegal and unapproved tank farms and filling stations while the DPR would go behind to unseal such facilities,” Mr Salako said.

The Commissioner said the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development was statutorily mandated to regulate all forms of physical developments in all parts of the state.

He added that the law, being clear on the mandate, did not leave room for any conflict of interest, noting that this was buttressed by the supreme court judgment which specifically placed responsibility for physical development within the confines of a state in the state entity.

“We urge the federal government agency to desist from this untoward act and join us in encouraging promoters of these facilities to respect the law by ensuring that their structures have all necessary physical planning approvals,” he said.

On the continued existence of petroleum tank farms in Ijegun-Egba, the Commissioner said that no new approvals were being granted in the area, while the existing ones were being encouraged to cohabit with the host communities, where they were expected to exercise corporate social responsibility measures for the development of the communities.

He urged fresh applications for approval for tank farms to consider moving to the approved locations in Ibeju Lekki Local Government Area.

The DPR had last week reopened eight petroleum tank farms shut down by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority in Lagos, saying the state-owned agency lacked the constitutional backing to close the depots.

During the activity, the Zonal Operations Controller, DPR, Lagos Zone, Mr Ayorinde Cardoso, who directed the reopening of the depots in Ijegun-Egba, Satellite Town, said in a statement that the oil and gas business was a regulated environment and under the exclusive legislative list as provided by the 1999 Constitution, which exempts it from the purview of LASPPA.

Mr Cardoso also noted that sealing of the tank farms could lead to disruption in the supply of petroleum products which would eventually lead to scarcity across the country.

He listed the depots reopened by DPR as Wosbab Energy Solutions, Emadeb Energy Services Ltd., Mao Petroleum Ltd., Menj Oil Ltd., Oceanpride Energy Services Ltd., A.A. Rano Nigeria Ltd., AIPEC Oil and Gas Ltd. and First Royal Oil Ltd.

According to him, Ijegun-Egba has 13 tank farm operators which receive between 35 per cent to 40 per cent of petroleum products coming to Lagos before being transported to other areas.

Mr Cardoso said, “We were told that LASPPPA sealed the depots today (Monday) for not having their planning permits.

“We don’t believe that is the right approach because these people are providing service to the nation and if you disrupt that service, there will be fuel scarcity everywhere.

“This is why we are taking proactive action to immediately reopen the tank farms and if LASPPPA has any issues with the operators, they should come to us to see how it can be resolved.”

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