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Zinox to Transform Edo Into Tech State

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Zinox

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Edo State Government has partnered with Zinox as part of its efforts to transform the state into a hub of technology in the country.

Governor Godwin Obaseki expressed delight at the opportunity of working with the tech giant following the formal signing of a partnership agreement between the Edo State Government and Zinox at the Government House in Benin City, the Edo State capital on Monday, October 11, 2021.

Mr Obaseki, speaking during the signing ceremony, hailed Zinox which he described as an indigenous technology leader and a fitting partner in its journey of state reforms led by a renewed embrace of digital technology.

‘‘I have always said it that the private sector will remain sub-optimized without a virile public sector. Our goal is to transform our state into a very modern, progressive state. But there is no way you can pursue this agenda without using the tools of technology.

‘‘The superstructure on which the reforms we are driving is anchored on is technology. Our demographics is very youth-centric, we love to travel, so we have a certain level of exposure as a people.

“So, we just found out that technology helps us to put it all together. In reflecting on technology, the beautiful thing is technology is global. We also have to make it global. But to localize technology with global standards, you need partnerships locally that have these in-built standards.

“We’ve looked around and we are fortunate that we have a Zinox in Nigeria,” he disclosed.

He then said that the plan is to ensure that every member of the public and civil service in Edo State owns a minimum of one personal comp or laptop, which he noted would boost their efficiency, while also aiding their work from home.

“If we are going to achieve the greatest we can achieve as a state that we wanted to have in development via technology, then we need to have the best technology partner in all of Africa. We are transforming enviably every area of the state.

“We have developed an e-learning approach and spent the last one year diligently reviewing our system, processes and procedures, while also recruiting a new generation of civil servants, training them, teaching them and attracting people from the private sector to join government so that we can now change that culture of service delivery. Nothing can put all of these together in a transparent manner other than technology,” he stated.

Also speaking, Mr Stan Ekeh, Chairman, Zinox Group, commended the Edo State Government for setting the pace in its adoption of technology as a tool for reforming the state and in raising the bar of service to world-class standards.

He noted that his recent visit to the state was an eye-opener, even as he reiterated the commitment of his tech group in working with the state to achieve its transformation agenda.

“The Zinox Group has done so much in the area of technology including a number of pioneering efforts across the continent. We are happy to be working with the Edo State Government to deploy the power of digital technology in empowering the citizens and transforming the state.

“I must commend the governor and his team for their vision and the efforts in this regard. Edo state is blessed with a number of smart youths and on arrival today, I interviewed some of them and already hired one. It is interesting also to see that the government is attracting its citizens back home, even from abroad. So, it means that they are doing something right,” Mr Ekeh stated.

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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Nigerian Advertising Regulator Slams N30bn Suit on Meta 

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Meta FG ARCON

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) says it has lodged a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms) and its agent, AT3 Resources Limited, at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division.

According to a statement on Tuesday by the apex regulatory body for Nigeria’s advertising ecosystem, ARCON is seeking a declaration, among others, that the continued publication and exposure of various advertisements directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram platforms by Meta Platforms Incorporated without ensuring the same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful and a violation of the extant advertising law in Nigeria.

ARCON stated that Meta Platforms Incorporated’s continued exposure of unvetted adverts had also led to the loss of revenue to the federal government.

ARCON is seeking N30 billion in sanctions for violating the advertising laws and loss of revenue due to Meta Incorporated’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.

“ARCON reiterates that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising on Nigeria’s advertising space,” the statement read in part.

According to ARCON, it is not regulating the online media space. Rather, its focus is on advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.

Social media giants are coming after increased pressure from governments and regulators, which are identifying loopholes and issues.

Meta reached a $37.5 million settlement of a lawsuit in the US in August after accusations that the parent of Facebook violates users’ privacy by tracking their movements through their smartphones without permission.

Meta is also seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Sweden-headquartered royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound about three months ago over the alleged copyright infringement.

Epidemic Sound, which owns a catalogue of about 35,000 royalty-free tracks and 90,000 sound effects, sued Meta in July, alleging that the social media giant “knowingly, intentionally and brazenly” stole music created by hundreds of musicians, songwriters, producers and vocalists.

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Biometrics Player iiDENTIFii Secures $15m to Fund Expansion

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iiDENTIFii

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The goal of an innovative biometrics tech firm, iiDENTIFii, to expand its operations across Africa is coming to fruition as it has obtained a funding package worth $15 million for this purpose.

iiDENTIFii is a world leader in biometric authentication. Its advanced face authentication technology securely authenticates users within seconds via their cellphones or PCs.

The company operates across several industry verticals and its services are used by the largest pan-African banks, insurers and mining houses for customer and employee authentication.

Its customers include Standard Bank, ABSA Bank, and Investec Bank. Investors in the round alongside Arise are growth-stage private equity firm Sanari Capital and veteran US tech entrepreneur Bill Spruill.

The major contributor of the new $15 million injection was an African investment company, Arise, whose cornerstone investors include Rabobank Partnerships, Norfund, NorFinance and FMO.

In a statement, iiDENTIFii said it would use this investment to fund its expansion across Africa, especially at a time cybercrime within the financial sector is a growing threat to the continent.

The consequences of attackers exploiting security vulnerabilities are particularly severe for financial services and banking apps that process sensitive financial information.

The use of iiDENTIFii’s biometric authentication to protect access to this sensitive financial information makes iiDENTIFii’s solution an integral part of financial inclusion, digital inclusion, and identity inclusion on the continent.

“I’m incredibly proud of our engineering team and our growth as a company over the past three years,” says iiDENTIFii Founder and CEO, Gur Geva. “This investment validates our central business thesis that we are the preferred partner for enterprise-grade identity in Africa. We’re excited to put the investment to work as we close in on our goal of authenticating every face in Africa. With this new funding and the networks of Arise, Sanari, and Bill – we confidently continue our mission of stopping identity theft in Africa.”

“In addition to complementing Arise’s portfolio of bank investments across Sub-Saharan Africa, this investment heralds our foray into the African fintech market,” says Arise CEO Gavin Tipper. “We are excited about our partnership with iiDENTIFii, which will allow us to offer their unique technology to banks in Sub-Saharan Africa, strengthening digital anti-money laundering practices and advancing financial inclusion.”

“At Sanari, we place a strong emphasis on digital and human enablement to unlock business potential,” says Sihle Gumede of Sanari Capital. “iiDENTIFii is, therefore, a great addition to our investment portfolio and we look forward to being part of its ongoing growth journey. We are excited about co-creating a scalable and sustainable pan-African biometrics business.”

“As an entrepreneur and investor, I’ve had a significant amount of experience with transformative technology,” says Bill Spruill “The work being done by iiDENTIFii is particularly exciting and I am excited to see the impact it has on the African continent.”

iiDENTIFii recently won KPMG’s Tech Innovator in Africa award and will compete for the global title in Lisbon, Portugal in November 2022.  It has previously, amongst other awards, won MTN App of the Year and Microsoft Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Partner of the Year.

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Financial Phishing Cyberattacks Jump 79% in Nigeria

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financial phishing

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.

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