By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that the number of active telephone subscribers in Nigeria has reached 208 million.
In addition, the teledensity, which measures the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area, stood at 108.9 per cent while active Internet subscriptions stood at 154.9 million as the broadband penetration has reached 45.1 per cent.
According to the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Mr Umar Danbatta, the development has resulted in improved broadband/telecoms service delivery to Nigerians.
The NCC chief, while briefing the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Festus Yusuf Daudu, in Abuja, further noted that third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) deployment in the country have increased by 78.2 per cent to 53,460 from 30,000 while Fibre Optic Transmission cables increased to 54,725km from 47,000km in the last five years.
In the comprehensive briefing, the EVC spoke on NCC’s enabling laws, mandates of NCC, the structure of NCC, implementation approach of its mandates and methodology, key focus and targets, scorecards, the new soon-to-be-unveiled Strategic Management Vision (SVP), NCC’s contributions to the economy, various regulatory frameworks aimed at improving service delivery, challenges confronting the sector and proposed solutions, among others.
According to Mr Danbatta, the effective regulatory regime of the leadership of the commission has resulted in increased deployment of infrastructure by telecoms operators, which in turn, helped to improve broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.
“The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers,” he said.
He added that the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are also expected to add 38,296 kilometres to optic fibre cables when they commence full operations.
The EVC, who also talked on various initiatives undertaken by the agency to ensure consumer protection and empowerment, listed the Declaration of 2017 as Year of the Telecom Consumer, the introduction of the 622 Toll-Free Line for lodging and resolving consumer complaints and the provision of the 112 Emergency number and activation of 19 Emergency Communications Centre (ECCs).
Other such consumer-centric regulatory measures intervention, according to the EVC, include the issuance of various directions to mobile network operators (MNOs) to protect the consumers from being short-changed, ensuring a smooth transition of Etisalat to 9Mobile, consumer outreach programmes, introduction and enforcement of mobile number portability (MNP) as well as the introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 to check cases of unsolicited text messages.
He disclosed that the number of subscriptions to DND service has hit over 30 million as the service empowers Nigerians to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages.
In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband and its associated technologies, Mr Danbatta said the commission has positioned itself in government’s drive for a digital Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030) and the Strategic Management Plan (2020 – 2024) of the regulatory body.
“The commission will continue to put in its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development.
Also, it is our belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, will experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space,” he said.
Osinbajo to Flag-Off Digital Empowerment Scheme in Ogun
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Vice President of Nigeria, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, will on Thursday join the Ogun State Governor, Mr Dapo Abiodun, to flag off a digital empowerment scheme in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Tagged Ogun State Digital Economic Empowerment Project, it is a plan of the state government, being organized by the Bureau of Information Technology in conjunction with 21st Century Technologies.
In a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Mr Kunle Somore, the Director of Information Technology in the Bureau, Mrs Olatundun Adekunte, was quoted as saying that the event will hold at the Ogun Tech-Hub on Kobape Road, Abeokuta at 11 a.m.
According to the release, the project is aimed at providing internet access to indigenes and residents of the state and its environs in order to enhance the lives and businesses of the people.
The release further stated that other special guests such as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele; Ministers, Stakeholders, Royal Fathers will grace the occasion.
It added that the project would enable the people to meet up with the best global practices in the present digital era.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has reiterated its effort to drive technological growth across the country.
Twitter Snubs Nigeria, Opens First African Office in Ghana
By Adedapo Adesanya
Twitter has snubbed Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, and has picked its West African neighbours, Ghana, as the preferred location for its first African office.
This was disclosed in a statement on Monday by the social media giant. The opening of its office in Ghana is part of efforts to make inroads in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets.
In the statement, the company noted, “We must be more immersed in the rich and vibrant communities that drive the conversations taking place every day across the African continent.”
The move has come as a surprise to many as they had pegged South Africa or Nigeria as the first choice but according to Twitter, the decision to kick off its African expansion with Ghana stems from the country’s dealings with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and its openness towards the internet.
“As a champion for democracy, Ghana is a supporter of free speech, online freedom, and the Open Internet, of which Twitter is also an advocate.
“Furthermore, Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area aligns with our overarching goal to establish a presence in the region that will support our efforts to improve and tailor our service across Africa,” the statement read.
Twitter’s move was welcomed in Ghana by the country’s president, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo, who tweeted, “This is the start of a beautiful partnership between Twitter and Ghana,” adding that its presence was crucial for the development of Ghana’s tech sector.
Twitter trails its rival, Facebook Incorporated, which opened its first African office in Johannesburg in 2015 and plans to open a second in Lagos this year. The firm struck a deal with African telecom majors in 2020 to build one of the world’s largest subsea cable networks.
Africa is under-tapped terrain for technology firms, with internet use per population at around 39 per cent against a world average of 59 per cent according to web analytics firm StatCounter, but that number grows every year thanks to expanding mobile broadband networks and affordable phones.
StatCounter figures show that around 11.8 per cent have Twitter.
The news comes almost eighteen months after Twitter Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jack Dorsey with his Twitter team visited the continent for the first time in November 2019.
During his tour on the continent, he visited Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa, where he met with different industry leaders and tech stakeholders on matters concerning Twitter and bitcoin.
There are expectations that social media will grow on the continent in the next couple of years.
NITDA Begins Challenge to Drive Vibrant Digital Economy
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), as part of the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day 2021, has opened the application for an Innovation Challenge to support Nigeria’s plans to become a 21st-century digital economy.
Themed Inspiring Creativity and Innovation in the Nigerian Digital Economy, the competition hopes to harness innovative and impactful solutions for the development of a vibrant digital economy.
The World Creativity and Innovation Day is a global United Nations day celebrated to raise awareness around the importance of creativity and innovation in problem-solving with respect to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also known as the “global goals”.
The agency is, therefore, calling on all Nigerians with innovative and impactful working solutions to make entries for the Innovation Challenge.
Solutions will be evaluated based on job and wealth creation potential, originality, marketability, scalability and inclusiveness. Successful entries will have an opportunity to present their solutions to the tech industry stakeholders.
The event is scheduled as follows:
Submission of entries via http://bit.ly/NITDA21WCID
The portal will be opened from April 12, 2021, till April 17, 2021.
Entries will be evaluated and assessed by April 19, 2021, and successful ones will be required to do a 5-minute live pitch on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was created in April 2001 to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate general IT development in the country.
The Act (National Information Technology Development Act (2007) mandate is to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.
The role of NITDA is to develop, regulate and advise on Information technology in the country through regulatory standards, guidelines, and policies. Additionally, NITDA is the clearinghouse for all IT projects and infrastructural development in the country.
It is the prime agency for e-government implementation, Internet governance and general IT development in Nigeria. NITDA is poised to actualize its mammoth mandate through strategic and inclusive stakeholder management, local and international partnership and efficient utilization of resources in the interest of Nigeria.
Sparkle Launches Service for Small Businesses
By Adedapo Adesanya
Sparkle, a mobile-first digital ecosystem providing financial, lifestyle and business support services to Nigerians across the globe, has launched Sparkle Business to help small and medium business enterprises access the much-needed products and services to grow their enterprises digitally.
Sparkle Business features include inventory and invoice Management which will help businesses maintain control over their payment requests and overall operations.
It also has a payment gateway service to manage single and bulk payments more seamlessly, while the tax advisory/calculations will help evaluate business turnover and calculate tax filings.
Payroll/Employee Management, on its part, will manage employee payments and benefits effectively without error or human interventions, and much more.
The platform has been designed with mobile-first, digital native entrepreneurs and companies in mind, who need to run all aspects of their enterprises, at the touch of a button.
Since its launch in 2020, Sparkle has grown a community built on trust and transparency, helping thousands to experience a new, easy, stress-free approach to organising their finances.
In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48 per cent of national GDP, account for 96 per cent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment, however, they often face challenges with making strategic decisions due to a lack of data for key insights into important issues that affect their business.
Built by the Sparkle team to support Nigeria’s millions of SMEs as they scale, Sparkle Business will bring all essential business transactions onto one safe and simple to use platform.
Commenting on the launch, Mr Uzoma Dozie, founder and CEO of Sparkle, said, “SMEs are the largest employer of labour in Nigeria but are lacking access to basic services that will help their businesses.
“We have introduced Sparkle Business as a one-stop-shop, to help individuals to launch their businesses digitally, while meeting existing SMEs’ pain points, and allowing them to pivot to the next level of success.
“We have been afforded this opportunity due to our extensive research and access to data, which allows us to know what exactly SMEs are looking for. We are truly excited about the initial results from the beta test and are looking forward to impactful results for small businesses in the near future.”
Mr Uzoma, having worked in retail banking for over 20 years, has unrivalled experience when it comes to building banking products for businesses adds, “Sparkle was built to allow individuals to be free; Sparkle Business is an extension of this so that business owners can reduce friction when it comes to important administrative transactions.
“We are excited to roll out our new products and services, and to continue to grow an increasingly busy and entrepreneurial group of business owners who don’t want to accept that banking halls and physical paper trails are the only means of conducting business in Nigeria”.
Sparkle Business is live now and can be accessed by current Sparkle users who have registered businesses in Nigeria. To register, individuals will need to have a personal Sparkle account, Tax Identification Number (TIN) and an email address connected to their TIN.
MasterCard Enables SBI Card Pay Feature
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Customers of MasterCard will now be able to use a payment feature based on Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology called SBI Card Pay.
This feature allows customers to create a virtual version of their physical SBI Credit Card on their mobile phones and then tap their phone at Near-Field-Communication (NFC) enabled Point of Sale (POS) terminals to make payments at merchants.
However, to use this service, customers with an Android smartphone (housing Android OS KitKat version 4.4 and above) have to register their SBI Credit Card on the SBI Card mobile application.
This creates a virtual card on their mobile phone for their physical credit card. Thereafter, customers can make payments at merchants simply by unlocking their mobile phone screen using fingerprints, the screen lock facility or an MPIN and tapping the phone at a Near-Field-Communication (NFC) POS.
It was explained that this simple ‘tap and pay’ contactless process makes the card payments swifter, hygienic and more seamless for customers.
Business Post reports that the SBI Card Pay is powered by Comviva’s HCE Module from its mobiquity® banking suite, which provides a comprehensive solution to banks and financial institutions to not only build, manage and control the omnichannel experiences, but also continuously iterate and engage the consumers, through instant configuration capability, marketing automation, personalization, and experimentation engine..
“Safety and security combined with quick and convenient payment experience is at the core of growing India’s digital economy.
“Mastercard is happy to partner with SBI Card and Comviva to bring the benefits of ‘Tap and Pay’ contactless payments to Indian consumers.
“These ‘tap and pay’ payments are secure, seamless, and more importantly are safe in time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mastercard is confident that the service will offer a better mobile payment experience for SBI Card cardholders. It will also encourage contactless payments, especially in a time when people prefer touch-free transactions in a safe and secure manner.
“With this new launch, Mastercard is strengthening the long-standing partnership with India’s largest pure-play credit card issuer,” the Chief Operating Officer, South Asia at Mastercard, Vikas Varma, commented on the launch.
On his part, the CEO of SBI Card, Mr Rama Mohan Rao Amara, stated that, “SBI Card Pay has redefined the payment experience for our customers.
“The ’Tap and Pay’ contactless experience is not just fast, secure and convenient, but also very relevant in COVID era from a safety perspective as customers simply need to tap their mobile phone on NFC enabled POS terminals to make payments.
“We are happy to extend SBI Card Pay feature on the Mastercard platform too. We believe that contactless payments will continue to play a key role in the country’s digital payments drive and as the supporting infrastructure increases countrywide, adoption is bound to accelerate significantly.”
The COO/EVP, Digital Financial Solutions at Comviva, Srinivas Nidugondi, stated that, “Globally, HCE and tokenization are making card payments frictionless and secure, and we believe that in India also they will redefine the card payment experience and bring it on par with the developed world.
“With the growing NFC POS infrastructure in India and mobile phones becoming de facto wallets for consumers, we expect ‘tap and pay’ services like SBI Card Pay are the future of card payments in India. The inclusion of SBI Cards on Mastercard platform will help to grow the usage of this service in the country.”
Yahoo Shuts Down Another Service
By Adedapo Adesanya
Less than six months after shutting down one of its services, Yahoo has announced that it would no longer operate Yahoo Answers, one of the longest-running and most storied web Questions and Answers platforms in the history of the internet.
The tech giant stated that the services would cease to operate from May 4. Users would be redirected from the Yahoo Answers website to the Yahoo homepage and all of the platform’s archives will apparently stop existing.
The platform has been operating since 2005 but its popularity and use has waned during the rise of competitive platforms like Reddit, Quora, and other internet hangouts.
Yahoo, which is now part of Verizon Media Group, following the company’s sale to the telecom for nearly $5 billion in 2017, announced the change at the top of the Yahoo Answers homepage.
The message links to an FAQ, which details the timeline of the shutdown, adding that from April 20, the platform will no longer accept new submissions.
Users will also have until June 30 to request their data or it will be inaccessible after that. Yahoo noted that this includes “all user-generated content including your Questions list, Questions, Answers list, Answers, and any images.”
However, Yahoo said “you won’t be able to download other users’ content, questions, or answers.”
A note sent to active Yahoo Answers members provides a little more detail as to why Yahoo is shutting down the platform, including that “it has become less popular over the years” and that the company “decided to shift our resources away” from the product to “focus on products that better serve our members.”
Dear Yahoo Answers Community,
We launched Yahoo Answers sixteen years ago to help people around the world connect and share information. With you and millions of other users, we built the best place on the web to ask and answer questions on a variety of topics, creating a community of global knowledge sharing.
While we could not have been prouder of what we accomplished together, we are reaching out today to let you know that we have decided to shut down Yahoo Answers on May 4th, 2021.
While Yahoo Answers was once a key part of Yahoo’s products and services, it has become less popular over the years as the needs of our members have changed.
To that end, we have decided to shift our resources away from Yahoo Answers to focus on products that better serve our members and deliver on Yahoo’s promise of providing premium trusted content.
Starting on April 20th you will no longer be able to post any new questions or answers. However, you can still view any posted questions and answers until May 4th.
On May 4th the site will be shutting down. If you would like to download a copy of your questions and answers you have posted, you can do this by signing into Your Privacy Dashboard and requesting a download. You will be able to do this until June 30th, 2021 after which your Yahoo Answers data will be securely deleted and no longer available.
The closure of Yahoo Answers will not affect your Yahoo account or other Yahoo services. For further information and instructions on how to download your data, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/SLN35642.html
Thank you for contributing to Yahoo Answers — we’re proud and honoured to have helped you connect with and learn from the Yahoo community these past sixteen years. If you’d like to provide feedback, please feel free to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, The Yahoo Answers team
Follows Shutdown of Yahoo Groups Last Year
Business Post had reported that Yahoo closed its social media platform, Yahoo Groups, last December after almost 20 years of operations.
Yahoo Groups, which was aimed to help users stay connected to their community and friends, has seen a steady decline in usage over the last several years.
The blockchain brings new financing options to the business market. For example, Bitcoin Cash casino has adapted to only using cryptocurrency. This way, it makes it easier for their customers to deposit and withdraw in a BCH casino. Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and are looking to invest more in crypto than in fiat markets.
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