By Dipo Olowookere
Over 32 countries have assembled in Addis Ababa for the annual Africa review and follow up of the progress in achieving the World Summit on Information (WSIS) outcomes.
The experts in attendance are also focusing on emerging issues in ICT in relation to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the meeting brings together African policy makers, ICT experts, and representatives of regional and international organizations, telecommunications operators, private sector, civil society, academic and research institutions.
In his opening remarks, Mr Kasirim Nwuke, Chief, New Technologies and Innovation Section, ECA reiterated that Africa needed knowledgeable and informed policymakers to help “address and take advantage of new technologies.”
He urged participants to carefully interrogate the emerging issues, propose a set of recommendations and policy actions that could serve as a means for African countries to harness the possibilities that these new technologies present while managing out the risks.
Mr Nwuke also stressed the need for a common reporting framework on ICT and development for the region and noted that the data burden on National Statistical Offices is so huge that for the most part, data on ICT for African countries are produced and disseminated by providers.
Such data, said Mr Nwuke, are in many countries grouped in a manner reflecting the structure of operations of the operators.
He told the forum that the most pressing issue from policy perspectives is the practice of grouping African countries in operator-generated reports. “In some reports, the whole continent is grouped with the Middle East- a sub-region of the Asian continent. In others, North Africa is grouped with the Middle East; and countries south of the Sahara are grouped together as SSA.”
Yet, lamented Mr Nwuke, some reports even exclude South Africa and Nigeria because of the size of their markets, making meaningful Africa-wide assessment difficult.
He called on the experts to propose a framework for a common reporting platform for the continent in the context of the SDGs.
The meeting continues until Thursday 24 November and will feature special sessions such as: the rise of the financial technology (fintech) industry in Africa and the increasing challenge of cyber-security; an All-of-Africa indicator framework for ICT measurement in the context of the SDGs and the AU’s Agenda 2063; Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) transition; and emerging Internet governance issues.
The key outcomes of the meeting include, a report on progress made in the region in the implementation of WSIS action lines and a measurement framework for ICT within the context of Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063.
Vault Hill Raises $2.1m Pre-Seed Fund
By Adedapo Adesanya
Vault Hill, the world’s first-ever human-centric blockchain-based metaverse has announced the completion of a $2.1 million pre-seed round.
The money was secured from the private sale of its native token, $VHC with proceeds from the transaction aimed to aid the development of the metaverse designed to enhance the human experience.
The rounds were led by Master Ventures with strategic investments from R-930 Capital, Unreal capital, Spring Dawn Ventures, Evan Luthra, Herd Ventures, Lithium ventures, Girnas Capital, Ferrum Network, Trustswap amongst other angel investors.
This will help the firm to humanise technology through the creation of a constructive metaverse that focuses on the basic human instincts which allow users, content creators and developers to explore their unrestricted creative freedom whilst monetising their creation in the secure ecosystem.
While the first fundraising round off its to-do list, the second round of fundraising, that is, the Initial Decentralised Offering (IDO) of the $VHC token is now ongoing from January 10-23, 2022 on eight major launchpads – MaticLaunch, Kommunitas, Lithium, Moonstarter, TrustSwap, SuperLauncher, Coinxpad and Trustpad.
Vault Hill already sold out the $VHC on MaticLaunch ($100,000 raised) and Kommunitas ($145,000 raised) and the IDO on Lithium has now ended. However, the $VHC can be bought on Moonstarter from Thursday, January 13, followed by the other four launchpads.
According to Vault Hill’s Founder and CEO, Jimi Daodu, “this is a testament of the uniqueness of our product offering in the vast competitive market we are playing in and also a reflection of the hard work of the talented and diverse team at Vault Hill.”
Although the metaverse is not yet up and running, Vault Hill has already secured six partnerships with global brands (especially for digital wearables and for improving health and wellbeing) who will be establishing their virtual office in the metaverse once it launches in Q1 2022.
In addition, the Vault Hill community is constantly growing with about 90,000 #VaultHillers currently across all social media platforms.
Considering the booming blockchain industry, and with many metaverse projects already existing, Vault Hill claims that it attracts an insane amount of attention from prominent blockchain venture capitalists, businesses, and individuals.
The first unique differentiator is the human-centric nature of the metaverse. The infusion of human elements in the metaverse means that Vault Hill is not offering a distant unrealistic concept, but rather, a platform that users can realistically engage with. This means that users will be able to do everything they currently do in the physical world and much more.
Users will be able to interact with others, build romantic connections, play games, improve health and wellbeing, curate art, buy virtual land, own NFTs, transact on the secure platform using $VHC token or other cryptocurrencies of choice, and also explore the seven Districts themed after basic human instincts and functions. The potential of the metaverse as a world where users get to explore different aspects of themselves and overall, feel more human with each visit, is absolutely exciting and undeniable.
Secondly, Vault Hill is the first virtual world with urban planning and development benefits to ensure users build on their Virtual Land (VLAND) respectfully.
Users who own virtual land in Vault Hill City will have total creative freedom to build anything they can imagine on their land. This could range from fitness centres, fashion studios, art galleries, museums, or even libraries and earn returns as other users interact with the projects on their land. Alternatively, landowners can choose to hold their VLAND to sell later at a higher price in the marketplace.
Airtel Africa Gets $176.1m for Sale of Tower Assets in Tanzania
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The tower assets of Airtel Africa Plc in Tanzania have been sold by the company for $176.1 million, a notice to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited on Wednesday has confirmed.
A part of the money would be used to offset some of the debts of the organisation and about $60 million would be used to invest in network and sales infrastructure in Tanzania and for distribution to the government in line with what was agreed.
Airtel Africa disclosed that the full payment has not been made by the new owners as only $159 million has been received, with the expected upon the completion of the transfer of the remaining towers.
The notice stated that the tower assets were sold to a joint venture company owned by a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBA Communications Corporation, a leading global independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure, as majority owner, and by Paradigm Infrastructure Limited, a UK company focused on developing, owning and operating shared passive wireless infrastructure in selected growth markets.
“Airtel Africa, a leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, today announces the first closing of the transaction to sell its telecommunications tower assets in Tanzania to a joint venture company owned by a wholly-owned subsidiary of SBA Communications Corporation, a leading global independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure, as majority owner, and by Paradigm Infrastructure Limited, a UK company focused on developing, owning and operating shared passive wireless infrastructure in selected growth markets.
“The gross consideration for the transaction will be $176.1 million.
“Under the terms of the transaction, Airtel Africa’s subsidiary in Tanzania will continue to develop, maintain and operate its equipment on the towers under separate lease arrangements, largely made in local currencies, with the purchaser.
“With first closing, approximately $159 million of the proceeds for the transaction has now been paid, with the balance payable in instalments upon the completion of the transfer of remaining towers to the purchaser.
“Around $60 million from the proceeds will be used to invest in network and sales infrastructure in Tanzania and for distribution to the Government of Tanzania, as per the settlement described in the Airtel Africa IPO Prospectus document published in June 2019. The balance of the proceeds will be used to reduce debt at group level,” the full statement read.
BlackBerry OS Phones Officially Stops Working
By Adedapo Adesanya
After dominating the global phones market in the early 2010s, BlackBerry legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 operating system and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions are no longer working.
As reported by Business Post in 2019, all BlackBerry devices running legacy software and services may no longer be able to perform basic functions such as making phone calls, sending text messages, or calling any emergency numbers from January 4 (today).
Users will also not be able to access data through either Wi-Fi or their carrier.
BlackBerry’s best Android phones, on the other hand, will continue to work after the EOL date. However, if you’re still receiving redirected emails sent to an email address hosted by BlackBerry, you’ll need to shift to a new email address.
BlackBerry, which dominated the US market before Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, is now primarily a “cybersecurity company.” Just a few months after TCL announced the BlackBerry Key2 LE, BlackBerry completed its $1.4 billion acquisition of AI cybersecurity company Cylance.
Back in August 2020, the BlackBerry brand was licensed by a Texas startup called OnwardMobility.
The startup had promised to launch a new Android-powered BlackBerry phone with a QWERTY keyboard and 5G support in 2021, but we haven’t heard anything about the device since it launched a “pre-commitment” programme.
BlackBerry was an early leader in the smartphone industry but stopped making its own phones in 2016 when it began working with other companies like TCL for hardware-related products and with the end of the partnership, BlackBerry phones mark the end of an era for a smartphone brand that once claimed 20 per cent of the global phone market.
The decision to partner with TCL Communication came when BlackBerry recorded falling phone sales as the market became saturated with new mobile phone players who brought new smartphones.
It was also revealed that BlackBerry did not latch onto the touchscreen design on time and this led it to lose out to Apple’s iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy and other Android devices.
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