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Airtel Touching Lives Season 7 Positioned to Achieve Sustainability Agenda

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Airtel Touching Lives Season 7

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Airtel Touching Lives Season 7 would be used to achieve the ambitious sustainability agenda announced in 2021 by Airtel Africa, the parent company of Airtel Nigeria, the chief executive of the subsidiary firm, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, has said.

Airtel Touching Lives is the flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiative of Airtel Nigeria. It is a platform the organisation uses to empower and uplift underprivileged people across the communities where it operates.

Airtel Touching Lives takes a reality television show format, allowing the public to nominate causes, communities, and underprivileged persons/people with special needs.

The leading GSM network provider then evaluates and selects the causes to support. The activities are filmed and broadcasted on terrestrial and satellite television stations to inspire other corporate organizations and well-meaning individuals to support the weak across society.

On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, Mr Chemmenkotil had a chat with newsmen in Lagos to announce the commencement of the programme, currently in its seventh edition.

“Last year, Airtel Africa announced an ambitious sustainability agenda with a strong focus on providing access to digital learning for underprivileged children, working closely with the government to uplift the standard of primary education through the adoption of schools and providing access via financial inclusion to the underbanked and unbanked,” he said.

According to him, to implement this agenda, Airtel Nigeria, through Season 7 of the Airtel Touching Lives programme, will mostly seek causes and opportunities that speak broadly and primarily to digital and financial inclusion as well as the adoption of schools.

Recounting the previous season, the CEO noted, “In the last season of the programme, one of the biggest projects we embarked on was the adoption of Government Day Nursery and Primary school in Gombe State under our Adopt-a-School programme, bringing our adopted schools in Nigeria to a total of 7.

“With the adoption of the school in Gombe, we renovated 37 classrooms, renovated two teachers’ offices, renovated, and modernized the toilet facilities in the school, reactivated the borehole facilities with clean pipe borne water and provided furniture for the teachers’ offices as well as educational supplies for the students.”

Other past projects highlighted by the CEO include the renovation of the Ward A block in Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LUTH); The refurbishment of the Library for Blind people and rehabilitation of an IDP Camp clinic facility in season 5, and the provision of an ultra-modern public water system for a large community in Ajah in season 4, among others.

“I am excited, and I look forward to the nominations and the projects that will be implemented, and I also wish to assure you all that, as always, Season 7 will not be different from past editions as we will continue to focus on the vision and philosophy of Airtel Touching Lives,” he said.

Airtel officially invites the public to nominate individuals or communities by dialling 367 or sending an SMS to the shortcode 367. Entries can also be sent via email to touchinglives@ng.airtel.com.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Airtel Wins 5G Licence Auction in Nigeria

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Airtel 5G licence auction

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Airtel Nigeria, trading as Airtel Networks Limited, has made payment for the Intention to Bid Deposit (IBD) for the second 5G licence auction of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The company, alongside Standard Network, expressed interest in the exercise, but the other bidder did not pay the required fee of $273.6 million on or before the December 5 deadline, as stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) guiding the auction process.

As a result, Airtel was announced as the winner of the offer and will join its rival, MTN Nigeria, to roll out 5G services to its subscribers in Nigeria.

MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communication had won the first 5G licence auction, with Airtel losing out because of the fee. However, only MTN has commenced operations, with the other yet to announce when it would roll out its services.

In October, Airtel Africa confirmed that it would partake in the plans of the NCC to auction additional two slots in the 3.5GHz spectrum auction to deepen the 5G network in Nigeria.

At the exercise, according to a statement issued by the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Mr Reuben Muoka, Standard Network could not meet up with the IBD payment, a development that compelled the agency to announce Airtel as the sole bidder of the spectrum auction.

“The NCC hereby announces that by the close of business on Monday, December 5, 2022, only two companies expressed interest in the auction of the 3.5GHz Spectrum band, namely Airtel Networks Limited (Airtel) and Standard Network & Connections Limited (Standard Network).

“However, only Airtel paid the Intention to Bid Deposit (IBD) as stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) whereas Standard Network sent an email appeal for the deadline to be extended by 12 working days which was not acceptable in view of the auction timetable.

“Having met all the provisions in the IM, Airtel has, therefore, emerged as the sole Bidder.

“Consequently, there shall be no further bidding, and the commission will proceed to the Assignment Stage in line with the published Information Memorandum guiding the licensing process,” the NCC said in the statement.

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FBNQuest Advises Firms What to do to Manage Rising Cyber-Attacks

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cyber attacks

By Adedapo Adesanya

As Africa faces the threat of rising cybercrimes, FBNQuest, through its Thought Leadership medium, has called on the need to recognise the strategic importance of managing companies’ security infrastructure.

In a note made available to Business Post, it stated that organisations of all sizes should be looking at what to do when (not if) they are hit by cyber-attacks.

Cybercrime is estimated to cost Africa $4 billion a year (a figure that hits $450 billion worldwide), broken down into yearly losses of $570 million, $500 million, and $36 million for the economies of South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, respectively.

Drawing real-life parallels, in early October 2020, Uganda’s telecoms and banking sectors were plunged into a crisis in the wake of a major hack on Pegasus Technologies that compromised the country’s mobile money network.

Hackers used approximately 2,000 mobile SIM cards to gain access to the system, and an estimated $3.2 million was stolen.

In June 2020, the second-largest hospital operator in South  Africa, Life Healthcare, was hit by a cyberattack in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, paralysing the 6,500-bed provider and forcing it to switch to manual backup systems.

As per the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), the most prominent threats in Africa, based on input from Interpol member countries and data drawn from private sector partners, identified that the top five threats listed in the report include online scams, digital extortion,  email account compromise, ransomware, and botnets.

FBNQuest noted that “the current international threat landscape is incredibly diverse and includes a resurgence of bored teenagers who hack just for the fun of it, nation-state groups, and cybercriminal syndicates and gangs. For the latter groups, the operational objective is to leverage a new exploit to extort  millions and achieve an extraordinary return on investment.”

It then tasked organisations to apply the fundamentals of cybersecurity that will offer protection. This includes tightening the email loop, which makes it difficult to fall for phishing attacks.

Others include fending off malicious ransomware, securing network access, shutting down internal threats, solidifying storage and backups, as well as managing vulnerabilities, noting that, “The key to successful vulnerability management is to identify all the ways an attacker can move throughout your network and reach your business-critical assets. Once you have identified these attack paths, you can focus  on locking down chokepoints and stopping hackers before they even get started.”

It also tasked parties to ensure that a detailed Incident Response Plan (IRP) is put in place.

“Cyberattacks may be inevitable, but a detailed Incident Response Plan (IRP) provides both a  buffer and an antidote if the plan is tested. This means that the first time to verify an IRP is not in the middle of a crisis.

“The best way to determine whether the company’s IRP is effective is through tests that assess the readiness of their incident response teams. These tests, which work for all-size companies,  come in the form of fire drills and tabletop exercises (TTXs). Each test serves a different purpose.”

The company noted that while cyber-security has been largely associated with computers and IT infrastructure, greater consumer use of smart devices has raised overall vulnerability. At the enterprise level, shifting to cloud computing may have cut company costs significantly, but it has also increased the risk of digital attacks.

“Despite the broad-based implications of these risks, many businesses are unprepared to deal with them, as the alarming number of threats clearly indicates. These developments imply that security is no longer merely a concern of IT managers, but a key boardroom topic because enterprises need to recognise its strategic importance. Companies need to beef up their security infrastructure to prevent breaches while simultaneously building a sustained organisational culture of safety,” it warned.

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African Fintech Targets 800% Revenue Growth by 2025—McKinsey

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African fintech

By Adedapo Adesanya

Revenues from financial technology (fintech) companies could grow by 800 per cent to reach $30 billion by 2025, consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has revealed.

As the fastest-growing start-up industry on the continent, African fintech raised over $1,3 billion in 2021 alone; the success of fintech companies is being fuelled by several trends, including increasing smartphone ownership, declining internet costs,  expanded network coverage, and a young, fast-growing, and rapidly urbanizing population.

African fintech has a significant impact on day-to-day life on the continent, and with its current upward trend, it can be perfectly poised to rapidly advance Africa’s global competitiveness with an increase in the exporting of fintech services globally.

However, it said these fertile grounds do have challenges. Regulatory uncertainties and differences between countries are a bottleneck, throttling the expansion of financial inclusion in Africa. This has led to the continent’s fintech’s calling for a Pan-African regulatory body to define comprehensive regulatory policies for regions rather than countries.

Certain governments and the private business sector continuously work on providing regulatory policy frameworks for businesses, customers, and economies with the current focus on regulations, anti-money laundering scrutiny, consumer centrism, and protection of privacy and security of data.

In terms of regulations, digital-only banks and fintech are influenced by but independently regulated from the traditional financial system regulations.

For Anti Money Laundering Scrutiny, more regulatory bodies are insisting on compliance herewith; worldwide, there is a clampdown on non-compliant companies. This requires the verification of information received from the client to avoid fraudulent, terrorist, or other illegal activities being facilitated, supported by other processes such as Know Your Customer.

Also, fintech must be vigilant in consumer education, especially the consequences of services and products that did not exist before, protecting the consumer from being exploited.

For the protection of privacy and security of data, it warned that stored personal consumer information is susceptible to cyberattacks, and as a result, fintech companies must comply and have the necessary security systems and protocols to secure sensitive data.

The Global fintech Index of 2020 lists the top 100 fintech ecosystems, and four sub-Saharan African cities features, that are leading this sector, namely Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town, and account for most of the continent’s fintech start-up funding.

“The countries represented by the four cities above have taken significant strides towards regulatory systems designed to protect stakeholders. Each country’s approach to regulations shares similarities, while others are unique to the challenges faced in their market.

“Regardless of the size of the fintech, these changes become prohibitive to the success of fintech due to the cost and/or inconvenience caused since they impact all areas of the customer relationship lifecycle,” it said.

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