By Adedapo Adesanya
Despite recent headwinds faced by the deployment of fifth Internet generation (5G) technology, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has made it known that it is going ahead with the plans.
This, the commission made known, as it revealed the process leading to developing a policy framework for rolling out 5G technologies in the country.
In April, the NCC was faced with backlash from some Nigerians, who claimed that 5G was hazardous to human health, going on to link it with the spread of the coronavirus. However, the agency was able to quell the rumours, assuring citizens that their welfare would always be prioritised.
Now, the commission has called for stakeholders’ participation in putting the policy framework in place.
In a document signed by Mr Henry Nkemadu, NCC Director of Public Affairs, the industry regulator said it was doing this in line with the provisions of Section 4(q) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (the NCA).
The section empowers the NCC to prepare and implement programmes and plans that promote and ensure the development of the communications industry and the provision of communications services in Nigeria.
“Further to this mandate, the Commission considered that the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Technology will be beneficial for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
“The technology is an advancement of existing mobile technologies (2G – 4G) with enhanced capabilities providing new and enhanced mobile communications services.
“Such enhancements include applications like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Drones, Advanced Communication Systems, Cloud, 3D Printing, Mixed Reality, Simulation/Imaging, Gamification,” the document read.
The NCC said these would bring improvements in manufacturing, transportation, public services, health and social works, agriculture, energy, logistics, media and entertainment.
Other industries to benefit tremendously from 5G rollout include mining and quarrying, machinery and equipment, automotive, education, information and communication, urban infrastructure, consumer experience, sports, semiconductor technologies, among others.
The commission said the deployment of the technologies will promote the National Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria that will improve the way Nigerians live and work.
5G has been deployed commercially and in use in some countries. As with the previous technologies, the International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has classified radiation from 5G as non-ionizing and therefore, safe for human beings.
Following global trends in telecommunications development of 5G, the NCC in November 2019, embarked on a Proof of Concept (trial) with MTN in six locations using different equipment vendors for a period of three months.
At the time, relevant stakeholders including members of the security agencies were involved in the trial.
The trial was conducted to enable the commission assess the performance of the technology in comparison with existing technologies, evaluate compliance to health and safety guidelines and also use the lessons learnt to guide policy towards commercial deployment.
The trial, which was conducted on the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands, was successfully completed with performance showing improvement of 5G over the previous technologies with the radiation levels well below the specified human safety guidelines.
However, the equipment used in the trials have long been decommissioned in all the locations, NCC said.
In view of the successful completion of the trial and a directive from the minister of communication and digital economy, the commission commenced the development of a policy for the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.
“In line with its powers under section 57 of the NCA, and the need for wide public consultation, the process of developing this policy will involve a Public Inquiry which will involve all relevant stakeholders in the review and consultation process.
“The following Stakeholders have been identified: Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy, Office of the National Security Adviser, the National Assembly, Ministry of Health, National Environmental Standards & Regulations Enforcement Agency, and Consumer advocacy groups,” it said.
The commission also called on the academia, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) World Health Organisation (WHO), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (CREN), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), Nigerian Institute of ICT Engineers, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), amongst others.
The NCC further said that the consultative document is currently being developed and will be shared with these stakeholders and the general public, following which a Stakeholder Consultative Forum will be held.
The commission added the views of all stakeholders will be considered in the final policy.
“Accordingly, the details of the proposed public consultation will be widely published in due course. 5G will not be deployed in Nigeria until the policy is concluded and approved,” NCC said.
Financial Phishing Cyberattacks Jump 79% in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
The number of financial phishing attempts in the African regions increased significantly with Nigeria recording a 79 per cent jump in the second quarter of the year.
According to Kaspersky’s Financial Cyberthreats report, attacks in the financial sector are becoming increasingly corporate-oriented and shifting away from consumers as banks, payment systems, and e-commerce websites were attacked massively.
Imperfections in the transition to remote/hybrid work continue to pose a huge threat to businesses. On top of that, economic issues caused by the pandemic have further aggravated the problem. Driven by poverty and unemployment, cybercriminals have continually intensified malicious activities against customers and bank infrastructure.
Financial phishing is a deceptive way of stealing information and is gaining momentum in the region. Phishing is a type of online fraud where the scammer sends fake alerts from banks, e-pay systems and other organisations to trick consumers into sharing their financial details.
The alerts sent by the scammer can be related to loss of data, update credentials or system breakdown, which results in theft of passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details and other confidential information.
According to the Kaspersky telemetry, in Q2 of 2022, a total of 61,344 financial phishing attacks aimed at organisations were detected, an increase of 79 per cent compared to the first quarter.
Giving a breakdown, the largest share of attacks was mostly directed at e-commerce websites with 52 per cent, with payment systems hit by 42 per cent, while banks received about 6 per cent.
It was higher in Kenya, one of Africa’s booming economies, as a total of 100,192 financial phishing attacks aimed at organisations were detected in Kenya, a 201 per cent increase compared to Q1.
The largest share of attacks was directed at e-commerce websites (58 per cent), with banks (21 per cent) and payment systems (also 21 per cent).
Speaking on the report, Mr Emad Haffar, Head of Technical Experts at Kaspersky, said, “A life without the Internet is strange to us. So much so that our financial life is now digital. This is the magic of digitisation. But we also need to be aware of an unprecedented wave of challenges.
“Financial threats are one such challenge which is becoming more advanced in exploiting human behaviour and will only continue to grow. Businesses trying to stay ahead of such evolving, complex cyberattacks should make fraud prevention a focal point to control fraud transactions, eventually reduce fraud risk in the future and avoid reputation damage.”
Kaspersky highlighted certain recommendations to help businesses stay ahead of financial threats and phishing attacks, including companies needing to educate employees as they are considered the first line of cyber defence. This needs to be a continuous learning experience as well as teaching them about the red flags they need to keep an eye out for.
Similarly, organisations need to extend the dos and don’ts of cybersecurity to customers to protect themselves against phishing fraud.
It called on companies to capitalise on the Kaspersky Fraud Prevention solution, which proactively analyses and detects whether a customer’s device is infected with malware in real time.
Organisations were also charged to rely on Kaspersky Threat Intelligence to increase visibility and feed their security operations with advanced insights.
Meta Introduces WhatsApp Call Links to Rival Zoom, Google Meet
By Adedapo Adesanya
WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that allows users to share a direct link to a call, just as it is planning to allow up to 32 users during a call session in a move that can see the Meta-owned platform rival other platforms.
The Call Links feature will start appearing on WhatsApp this week and can be accessed through a banner at the top of the Calls tab. WhatsApp users who want to try the Call Link feature will need the latest version of the app, which can be updated through the app store.
Mr Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, while announcing the feature on Facebook, said WhatsApp users will be able to share a link to a call with “a single tap.”
The ability to share a call link with up to 32 users was teased in April during the announcement of another upcoming feature, WhatsApp Communities.
The WhatsApp Call Links feature will support both audio and video calls. Mr Zuckerberg also confirmed that encrypted video calling is currently being tested for group calls with up to 32 people, which is notable, as WhatsApp currently caps video calls at eight users.
The expanded call capacity sets up WhatsApp as a competitor for Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. These rival offerings have a far greater caller capacity (100 for Google and Microsoft Teams and 300 for Zoom).
However, they include restrictions like call duration for free accounts and might not be the first choice for the billions of people already chatting for free on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp did not mention any restrictions on call duration, which could place it as one of the best free video calling applications for smaller teams and personal networks once the feature is widely available.
Why Digital and Tech Skills Need to be Included at all Levels of Education
Education is, without a doubt, a fundamental human right. Today, digitalisation enables us to improve education and provide equal access to all. But where do we even begin?
In a world where everything is online, and any business that isn’t online is losing money, failing to teach our children digital skills for today and tomorrow will only widen our continent’s skills gap. This is because more than half of today’s professions demand technical abilities.
So, why is it critical for the technology industry to be involved in education at all levels?
Nurture future champions of the industry
Technology literacy and digital literacy are crucial for Africa’s future. And while we are making progress with the introduction of coding in primary schools in countries like Kenya and South Africa, we still have a ways to go.
“We know that every technology business is hampered in its growth by a severe lack of talent across Africa, and it is up to us as a part of that ecosystem to help develop and nurture future champions of the industry,” says Sean Riley, CEO at Ad Dynamo by Aleph.
“Unfortunately, there is still a substantial skills gap in Africa, and to solve it, we must begin at the grassroots level. We live in an increasingly digital world, so it is only logical that we begin teaching digital skills,” adds Riley.
Provide more flexible pathways
According to a World Economic Forum report, 65% of today’s primary school children will eventually be working in job types that do not exist yet, while the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that by 2030, more than 230 million jobs in Africa will require digital skills.
“It is therefore clear that emerging economies face significant upskilling challenges, which need to be addressed throughout the educational careers of young people. Businesses and educational institutions must work together to ensure that learners are equipped to handle the ever-changing nature of work.
“The business sector, in particular, should take the lead in this regard, whether through training sessions, providing more flexible skills pathways, or through the recognition of short courses, as well as online and self-learning,” says Vanashree Govender, Huawei SA spokesperson.
Technology innovation is happening so quickly that training must now be adjusted constantly, almost in real time, as new systems, applications, and devices come to market.
Conscious of the need for technology-driven upskilling, Huawei has built strong relationships with training and education institutions and established programmes such as our ICT Academies at universities and TVET colleges and our Seeds for the Future programme, which aims to develop skilled, local ICT talent.
“Education needs to be contextual. It should enable children to understand things around them and prepare them for real-world challenges. As technology has become ubiquitous, it is important to teach children how it impacts the world and helps them understand how it can be utilised to solve various problems,” says Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa – Zoho Corp.
Prepare students for an evolving workplace
Students require more than a functional knowledge of digital and technological skills to succeed in the world. By incorporating these technologies into the normal curriculum and ongoing activities, institutions ensure that their students are more equipped for the modern workplace.
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