By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other telecoms regulators under the auspices of West African Telecoms Regulators Assembly (WATRA) are set to develop technical and regulatory modalities to combat the rising wave of cyber-related frauds in the African sub-region.
This is as the regulators seek to achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
This followed a two-day meeting organised by WATRA in collaboration with the bloc which was attended by representatives of telecoms regulators from countries across West Africa.
According to a statement signed by NCC’s Director Public Affairs, Mr Ikechukwu Adinde, the forum provided a platform for key participants and stakeholders to deliberate on building a unified market in telecommunications services in West Africa, to combat roaming and cyber-related frauds, and achieve the standardisation of roaming tariffs among ECOWAS member-states.
Addressing stakeholders at the meeting, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Umar Garba Danbatta, who is also the Chairman of WATRA, underscored the centrality of the meeting by emphasising that, as businesses move online, the fraudsters are also going digital.
Mr Danbatta, who was represented by NCC’s Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Mr Bako Wakil, said, based on this fact and in order to give West African citizens and businesses the confidence to fully take advantage of the enormous benefits of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), there was a need for regulators to tame and outpace the fraudsters.
“About 75 per cent of trade within ECOWAS is informal, and thus poorly recorded. Therefore, digitising this trade through employing many forms of electronic payments is a significant step towards formalising, governing and boosting intra-ECOWAS trade activities.
“Our ambitions are to formalise informal trade, including agricultural commodities as well as boosting intra-regional trade and this requires us to improve collaboration on combating electronic fraud,” Mr Danbatta said.
The NCC EVC informed the delegates to the forum that electronic fraud is not just an African or a West African issue but a global phenomenon.
He cited studies that revealed 54 per cent of consumers in the European Union said they are most likely to come across misleading/deceptive or fraudulent advertisements or offers on the Internet.
On the regional roaming service, the WATRA Chairman said the Assembly has the vision of a Digital ECOWAS where improved sub-regional roaming regulation can help to facilitate economic integration in the region.
“Our citizens, traders and companies will trade better when they can use their telephones to call contacts in other ECOWAS countries and when they can use their data subscriptions at no extra cost while travelling or doing business within the region.
“So, reducing and eventually eliminating the cost of roaming will also be a very significant contribution towards boosting trade within the region,” Mr Danbatta added.
The EVC expressed satisfaction at the level of collaboration among national regulatory authorities in the sub-region on the one hand; and between WATRA and ECOWAS, to achieve a common goal, on the other hand, describing such synergy as a great indicator of progress and internalisation of best global practices.
“I am very pleased to see the excellent collaboration and the sharing of workload between the telecommunications body and personnel within ECOWAS and WATRA. Their roles have become complementary and mutually reinforcing-policies legislative frameworks that have been designed at the ECOWAS level, while WATRA does the follow-up work of information-sharing, dialogue and learning dispersal amongst regulatory authorities. It is indeed becoming a well-articulated symphony,” he added.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of WATRA, Mr Aliyu Aboki, emphasised the value of a trusted digital economy to any nation. He cited a study by Accenture, which concludes that “a trusted digital economy would stimulate 2.8 per cent additional growth for major firms, with the new transactions generated totalling $5.2 trillion of value creation in the economy,” hence, the establishment and operationalisation of national and regional anti-fraud committee.
Mr Aboki commended ECOWAS for “allowing this regional sharing of the enormous task of building Digital ECOWAS to work very well through WATRA, which is a regional manifestation of this collaborative structure”.
The WATRA Chief restated that WATRA, as a mechanism for regional regulatory collaboration, will work in unison and ensure its vision is speedily executed by making sure that no nation in the region is left behind.
Also speaking at the forum, the Acting Director, Digital Economy and Post, ECOWAS, Mr Raphael Koffi, noted that while e-fraud in the provision of communication services has always been an issue being collectively tackled, variance in termination rates agreed in commercial roaming agreements has also constituted an obstacle to harmonization of roaming tariffs which, he said, collaboration between WATRA and ECOWAS is set to achieve.
Participants at the event were updated on the status of the implementation of the Removal of Surcharges on International Traffic (SIIT) on ECOWAS countries; establishment of a uniform tariff cap for roaming call termination in the ECOWAS region, among others.
Bybit NFT Marketplace to Allow Multi-chain Transactions
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
One of the world’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchanges, Bybit, has launched its non-fungible token (NFT) platform that aims to streamline digital ownership and support the development of blockchain gaming and the metaverse.
The platform called Bybit NFT Marketplace will allow users to conduct multi-chain transactions, making it easy for them to participate in the exciting NFT, GameFi, and metaverse marketplaces.
Bybit’s secure and reliable infrastructure means that NFT collectors can verify the authenticity and the chain of custody of their favourite NFTs, making it easy for users to authenticate their origin and value.
As a result, users of the exchange will not be required to link their personal wallet addresses to the platform. Instead, they can buy, sell or trade NFTs on the Ethereum ERC-721 standard through their Bybit spot accounts — opening the door to digital ownership to collectors of all knowledge and skill levels.
To further spur interest among the community, Bybit is launching campaigns featuring exclusive NFTs from Monsters Galaxy, ONBD and REALY as its debut into the NFT world.
Inspired by crowd favourites like Pokémon and Monster Hunter, Monsters Galaxy is a social role-playing mobile game developed by Gaia Online that allows players to participate in epic monster battles with their teams of monsters, or capture wild monsters. So far, it has attracted over 25 million players across the globe to be part of its fanbase.
As a curatorial brand and incubator focused on discovering, conceptualizing and realizing NFT projects, ONBD collaborates with crypto-native artists and traditional artists alike to onboard them to the metaverse. The first series from ONBD on the Bybit NFT Marketplace features more than 100 unique NFT artworks from nine artists from around the world.
The REALY Metaverse, also known as KOOOLA virtual city, is a lively metaverse inspired by the street culture where users can meet, trade and play games in a fully immersive experience. Players will get to interact with real-life brands and scenarios in the virtual world as avatars (e.g. purchase and wear virtual clothing by real-world brands).
“While some may be sceptical of the investment value of NFTs, it remains a fact that NFTs not only make it possible for everyone to participate in and appreciate digital ownership but also enable artists and creators to exercise control over the ownership of their work,” said Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit. “We are excited to provide a premier NFT platform for Bybit users, so they can be part of the creation of a new marketplace and new world called the metaverse.”
“The Monster Galaxy series has a rich legacy and an established fanbase in mobile gaming. Our aim is to nurture and grow this community, as we lead them into a blockchain-enabled Web 3.0 ecosystem.
“Bybit’s NFT Marketplace is focused on creating a seamless user experience for new users of crypto, backed by their robust infrastructure and deep exchange liquidity which make them the ideal partners for our maiden NFT collection drop. We look forward to working closely with their team,” said James Cao, founder and CEO of Monster Galaxy.
“ONBD is proud to be building a strong Web 3.0 community of dedicated artists and collectors of the highest calibre. We are very excited to be working with Bybit and their new world-class NFT Marketplace to engage with their community and introduce our internationally renowned artists to a new audience,” said Eva Ren, founder and CEO of ONBD.
“REALY’s goal is to be at the forefront of the street culture metaverse and we are very excited to achieve this milestone with Bybit, which is known for its deep liquidity and their no-downtime commitment. The Bybit NFT Marketplace is a clear choice for us to debut our street culture NFTs,” said George Yang, founder and CEO of REALY.
Nigerian Developer to Launch New First-person Shooter Game
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A Nigerian developer, Mr Okolie Uchechukwu, will launch a new first-person shooter game, NCHE: The Escape, on Monday, March 14, 2022.
A statement from Mr Uchechukwu disclosed that the mobile game, a product of an inquisitive mind, entails the player using the resources available to make his way through lasers and zombies in the quest for survival.
According to him, a test was carried out last year and based upon the feedback, he and a co-developer, Cleec Designs, an indie studio based in Nigeria, improved the skill balance, gameplay experience for both android and IOS devices, and boosted the overall graphics and UI design.
He stated that the online showcase uploaded via his official YouTube channel has gathered interest from fans of the genre across the world.
When officially unveiled in less than two months’ time, game lovers would be able to download and play NCHE: The Escape for free by both iOS and Android users.
Mr Uchechukwu further explained that NCHE: The Escape thrusts players into a mysterious mental facility where escape is seemingly impossible.
“You’ll have to keep your wits about you as you try to find a means to escape. As the perfect icing to the cake, the facility is overrun by bloodthirsty zombies, so making it out of the place alive is indeed a challenge.
“Players will go through a series of eerie levels each time, encountering zombies, picking up defence supplies, and avoiding the lasers. NCHE: The Escape places players in a strange mental facility where the existence of life is unthinkable.
“So, making your way through the facility overrun by violent zombies will be a challenging task. Players can pick up guns and ammo on their way as they move ahead in levels, in search of their way to escape.
“The hitch here is that players have to be critical when using their weapons as ammo is limited. They will come across moving lasers and zombies that can be shot down any moment but sometimes simply dodging them would be a better alternative for players to make it through the advancing intense levels.
“The difficulty level increases with every progress as players will find it more and more challenging to withstand the approaching obstacles,” he added.
Nigeria to Launch Another Satellite in Space Soon—FG
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has disclosed that it plans to launch another satellite through the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) before the end of the year.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, during a tour of facilities at the agency’s base in Abuja.
He said: “That approval of federal government which I have secured has been forwarded to NigComSat. Now, it is on the table of NigComSat to answer that question. I want to make sure that as I said that 2022 is NigComSat year along with NIPOST. I want to make sure that all work in progress must be completed by 2022.
“As I said earlier, 2022 has been dedicated to NigComSat and NIPOST, and I want to do the best I can to improve what we have achieved in the previous years.
“I recently approved two subsidiaries of NigComSat and I am here to supervise what they have been doing, and I discovered some areas where we need to work to improve their performance significantly.”
He also stated that for the agency not to be considered for privatisation again, it must provide quality service and generate good revenue for the federal government.
He added: “Before I was made the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), there was the Oronsaye report which recommended for the scrapping of NITDA. But when I was able to turn things around from a generation of N7 billion to N19 billion in a year, no one talks about scrapping NITDA again.
“So, if you are able to turn things around, render quality service and generate income, no one will talk of privatising your company again.”
On her part, the Director-General, NigComSat, Mrs Abimbola Alike, appreciated the Minister for his immense support.
Mrs Alike stated: “We all know what our budget used to be N200 million-N300m, for a company that needs capital after overhead.
“He stood for us and said there must be something good in NigComSat because he is a man who believes that we can actually turn around NigComSat.”
She assured Mr Pantami of the agency’s readiness to deliver quality service and generate revenue to justify his efforts at revitalising the agency.
According to her, this year, Nigerians would see new significant changes that will make them know that NigComSat is a new company that can compete with its global counterparts.
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