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OPay Gets $120m From Chinese Investors to Conquer African Market

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OPay $50m

By Adedapo Adesanya

Financial technology-oriented company owned by Opera, OPay, has raised an amount equating $120 million Series B funding backed by Chinese investors. The funding comes after the Africa-based fintech company raised $50 million earlier this year in June in the Series A investment.

This new Series B capital by Asian investors include Meituan-Dianping, GaoRong, Source Code Capital, Softbank Asia, BAI, Redpoint, IDG Capital, Sequoia China and GSR Ventures.

Reports disclosed that OPay will use the new funding to accelerate its growth in as well as to expand to Ghana and South Africa and will make a return to Kenya where it originally launched in 2017.

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“OPay will facilitate the people in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, and other African countries with the best fintech ecosystem.

“We see ourselves as a key contributor to helping local businesses thrive from digital business models,” OPay Chairman Yahui Zhou, was quoted as saying in a statement.

On his part, the Chief Financial Officer, Opera, Frode Jacobsen said that with the new capital, OPay will be looking to capture volume around bill payments and airtime purchases, but added that is not necessarily as priority.

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“That’s not something you do every day. We want to focus our services on things that have high-frequency usage,” he said.

This new development comes on the heels of stiff competition in the Nigerian fintech space as fierce rivalry is on the rise as evident when Visa invested $200 million in Nigerian fintech company, Interswitch and $40 million was raised by Lagos based payments startup PalmPay — led by China’s Transsion.

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Opay, which is run by Norway-based Chinese-owned Opera, has always faced backlash in recent times but has created a number of internet-based commercial products in Nigeria around OPay’s financial utility such as motorcycle ride-hail app ORide, OFood delivery service, and OLeads SME marketing and advertising vertical.

With Nigeria’s financial inclusion driving at 80 percent in 2020, it is believed that this digital driven competition will bring the country’s unbanked population into the digital economy fold.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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NCC Seeks Robust PPP to Drive Digital Infrastructure

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NCC

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called for more innovative Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) approaches aimed to make telecommunications infrastructure safer, more resilient and robust in Nigeria.

This was made by Mr Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, while delivering his keynote address at two-day Virtual Information Communication Technology & Telecommunications (ICTEL) organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) themed Disruptions, Resilience and Governance in Digital Economy.

He said the agency was always exploring means to attract more investment into the sector.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that the next frontier for enriching digital economy globally is through sustained investment in broadband or high-speed Internet access.

Speaking on Exploring Public-Private Collaboration for a Robust Digital Infrastructure, Regulations, Investment and Policy, he said that the concept of PPP has become one of the commonly used models of collaboration among stakeholders to fast track socio-economic development whether at the global, regional and national levels.

According to him, in 2017, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) signed a joint declaration in Geneva, “on the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, industrialization, infrastructure development and innovation”.

The UNIDO and ITU, driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 member states and over 700 private sector entities and academic institutional membership, planned to strengthen country-level collaborations.

The two agencies, Mr Danbatta said, “resolved to contribute to global, regional and national efforts toward achieving SDG9, and particularly through action plans that are designed to attract public-private partnerships and investment.

“The collaboration between ITU and UNIDO, thus, represents a very important commitment from global organisations to deliver measurable and sustainable solutions within countries, towards achieving the SDGs, with a focus on “infrastructure, industry and innovation,” through a PPP arrangement.

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“It is on record that this kind of partnership is helping to fast track the realization of SDG9 with derivable quantifiable benefits to industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises in emerging economies.

“Similarly, it is particularly of interest that the African Development Bank (AfDB), in a White Paper on PPP Framework released in September 2020, was emphatic that the infrastructure gap in African countries acts as an impediment to their economic growth and development”.

According to the White Paper, the gaps impact not only the economic situation of the citizens of Africa but also the countries’ global competitiveness.

The paper also estimates that poor infrastructure shaves off 2 per cent of the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates.

“Suffice it to say that, the role of public-private partnership in infrastructure development in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised because an adequate, robust and functioning infrastructure is the bedrock of communal and societal development.

“Therefore, to meet future challenges, our industries and infrastructure must be upgraded by evolving an enduring PPP model that services all the sectors of the economy.

“Objectively, the high level of infrastructure deficit and its attendant effect on socio-economic development in Nigeria explains government’s concern and search for an alternative means of providing infrastructure for Nigeria’s teeming population.

“Thus, in 2005, the Federal Government established the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) with a clear objective to accelerate investment in national infrastructure through private sector funding; and to assist the Federal Government of Nigeria and its Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to establish and implement effective PPP processes.

“It is gratifying that state governments have also adopted variants of PPP models in order to tackle the challenge of infrastructure in their respective jurisdictions”, the EVC recalled.

The NCC boss added that if the telecom and ICT sector is the real ‘infrastructure of infrastructure’ as it is often referred to because of its impact, efficiency and effectiveness on the growth of other sectors, it stands to reason, that the telecom sector is the most important sphere PPP should be adopted.

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Interestingly, a 2012 World Bank report already documented how PPP projects have been used to provide broadband access nationally, regionally, or in rural areas to improve broadband access to unserved and underserved locations.

Indeed, the World Bank equally revealed in its 2021 report PPP that the PPP scheme is also helping in key areas of supporting the development of innovative policies, actions, standards and technologies in order to connect the unconnected in any nation, create jobs, enable efficient natural resource utilisation, and electronic waste management.

“The report also states that Public-Private Partnerships have also served as organising principles to facilitate product interoperability, reduce the digital and gender divides, and support growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

“In Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is particularly noted for its faith in strategic collaboration and partnership as a central principle of its stakeholders’ relationship management and regulatory activities.

“Our daily regulatory processes are marked by consultations with a wide spectra of stakeholders as well as strategic partnering and collaboration with both private sector players and other sister public sector organisations”.

He said that following the liberalisation of the telecoms sector in 2001, the Commission has continued to facilitate investment inflow into the country’s digital space through licensing of many private sector players, who are deploying services in a different segment of the nation’s telecom market.

“This has resulted in rollout of massive infrastructure ranging from the deployment of Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and laying of thousands of kilometres of fibre optic cables to every nook and cranny of the country.

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“Hence, the sector has grown significantly in investment with significant access to an array of voice, data and other kinds of enterprises.

“The commission has also continued to enhance existing infrastructure through the licensing of a category of private sector players known as Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo), who are to deploy fibre optic cable on a wholesale basis across the country with broadband Point of Access (PoA) in each of the 774 Local Government Areas of the country.

This InfraCo scheme is running on a PPP arrangement, where the government provides a counterpart fund as a subsidy to stimulate faster, more robust and resilient broadband infrastructure rollout across the country.

While broadband penetration in Nigeria has reached 45 per cent at the moment, from less than 6 per cent in 2015, and by that fact stimulating digital activities in the country, there still exist access gaps which the Commission is making efforts to bridge.

It is noteworthy that the hitherto existing access gaps of 217 identified in the country have been reduced to 114 through increased collaboration between the Commission and stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem.

“Hence, the InfraCo project being implemented by NCC and other similar regulatory initiatives which has PPP component are in line with policy expectations of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025; the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030; the NCC Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, as well as a number of regulatory instruments and frameworks which envisioned the PPP model as a central organising principle for fast-tracking the development of Nigeria’s telecoms industry”, he said.

The EVC said that NCC is renowned for its tradition of engaging in robust stakeholder consultation on the development of its various regulations and policy initiatives.

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Technology

Firm Raises $120m for Digital Infrastructure in Africa

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Digital Financial Inclusion

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

A private equity investor focused on the technology sector across sub-Saharan Africa, Convergence Partners, has raised $120 million to drive digital financial inclusion in Africa by putting in place digital infrastructure.

The funds raised from this exercise is the first close of its Convergence Partners Digital Infrastructure Fund (CPDIF), which aims to secure a total of $250 million.

The company plans to use funds from the exercise to put in place fibre, wireless technologies, data centres and towers, as well as 5G, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), fintech and network virtualization across Africa.

CPDIF expects this money to boost entrepreneurship, innovation and skills development through augmenting access to the internet and all the critical digital tools it offers.

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“We are delighted to have achieved this milestone particularly given the headwinds in African PE fundraising generally, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business activity, over the past 12 months.

“We are very pleased with the level of support from both repeat and new investors and believe this reflects our solid track record and the opportunity CPDIF presents at this crucial time in both a tech and African context,” the CEO of Convergence Partners, Mr Brandon Doyle, said.

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On his part, the Chairman of Convergence Partners, Mr Andile Ngcaba, while commenting on the development, stated that, “In the past 20 years, we have witnessed the exponential growth of internet penetration on the African continent.

“Internet penetration in sub-Saharan Africa alone has grown tenfold, compared to the threefold increase the rest of the world has seen.

“As Convergence Partners, we pride ourselves on contributing to this growth through our numerous communication infrastructure investments across the continent.

“However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that there is still much work to drive digital inclusion. Today, Africa is experiencing the highest growth in international internet bandwidth compared to any other region in the world.

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“As we embark on this journey as CPDIF, the next twelve years will be spent continuing to build on our original vision of ubiquitous pan-African communications. As the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) commences in the same year, we embark on the next step of our journey as Convergence Partners.

“We believe that AfCFTA will benefit immensely from the availability of digital infrastructure. Our greatest strength is our knowledge of technology, investments, and deep understanding of the African market and cultures.”

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Cybercrime: The Greatest Challenge of the Nigerian Youth in the Digital Age!!!

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CyberCrime Nigerian youth

By Rotimi Onadipe

Cybercrime is a crime perpetrated through an electronic communication network, particularly the internet. This menace is very rampant among youths between the age of 14 and 21 and it had done incalculable damage to the image of Nigeria.

Cybercrime can be perpetrated through many ways; e.g. phone calls, internet calls, sending of scam emails containing “get rich quick” proposals to entice unsuspecting victims etc.

The most common type of cybercrime is perpetrated through email. In most cases, it comes in form of a marriage proposal, unclaimed fund, donation, lottery, help, bonanza, bank transaction notification or credit alert etc. Some of the youths send as many as 20,000 such scam emails every day while others send more to increase their chance of getting their targets.

Youths are proverbially referred to as leaders of tomorrow but how can they be true leaders when they engage in various types of cybercrime at an early age?

It is very sad that the family members of most cybercriminals are very happy with their illegal activities. Due to the economic situation of the country, most parents of cybercriminals have determined to pretend as if nothing is wrong with what their children are doing because of the benefits they derive from their ill-gotten wealth. Their excuse is that the high rate of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria lead their children into illegal activities.

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Some parents invite clerics, family members and neighbours to celebrate with them and hold special prayer sessions for their children who have made huge sums of money through internet fraud.

Others go further to prepare charms for their children so as to escape justice if they get arrested or are taken to court for trial. Some parents even justify the unlawful acts by saying “they are reaping the fruits of parent-hood”.

This menace had done incalculable damage to the image of Nigeria and many countries around the world. A study by a research organisation discovered that Nigerian scams cost the British Economy at least £150 million a year. The fact of this matter is that the cost to society goes beyond just losing money. Some victims had attempted suicide, many homes have broken and a lot of businesses crashed.

Further findings, also revealed that some countries lose at least $36 million a year to Nigerian scammers. Another research by Cybersecurity Ventures states that cybercrime will cost the global economy $6.1 trillion annually by 2021.

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However, cybercrime is not limited to men, some ladies are also into the illegal act. They usually start by sending their nude pictures to unsuspecting victims after which they develop this to Advance Fee Fraud, all in the name of unemployment and poverty.

The mind-boggling question:

Is cybercrime the solution to unemployment and poverty in Nigeria? The answer is of course “NO.”

Here are some safety tips that we can adopt to reduce cybercrime among Nigerian youths in today’s digital age:

  1. We should all have a total change of heart by having the fear of God in our hearts and believing that one day we will meet our creator to give an account of how we spent our lives.
  2. Religious and non-governmental organisations should always organise programs to sensitise the youths and the society at large on the need to have the fear of God in their heart.
  3. Parents should not indulge their children who come home with different items they did not procure for them. They should investigate how they got the items.
  4. Parents should always pray for their children and counsel them to be contented with what they have.
  5. Government and non-governmental organizations should encourage the youths in their talents through skill acquisition programs.
  6. Nigerian youths should be optimistic about the situation of the country. They should shun the belief that “Nigeria can never get better”.
  7. Government should address the problems of poverty and unemployment by creating more jobs and providing soft loans to unemployed youths.
  8. The youths should also realise that cybercrime has repercussions that could destroy their future.
  9. Government and non-governmental organizations should always create awareness campaigns at all levels to sensitise the entire public on the dangers attributed to cybercrime and the preventive measures.
  10. The sim card registration program set up by the National Communication Commission (NCC) had really helped a lot in reducing the rate of cybercrime in Nigeria. More programs of this nature should be introduced by the government.
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