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Governor Sanwo-Olu, Minister Unveil Lagos Smart Meter Initiative

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Governor Sanwo-Olu Minister Unveil Lagos Smart Meter Initiative, SiliconNigeria

BY LINDA JACOBS, Lagos, Nigeria

The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, along with other government officials today unveiled a Smart Meter Initiative tagged “The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020”.

The initiative is in furtherance of ongoing efforts to address the metering gap in Lagos and Nigeria through the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, in collaboration with Eko Innovation Centre.

The unveiling which took place at a virtual press conference is widely applauded as a game changer as the Lagos state government will leverage the availability of bright local talents in Nigeria to develop and produce affordable smart electricity meters for consumers, and significantly reduce the revenue leakages in the sector and ultimately improve last-mile electricity supply.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in his remarks stated that the launch marks a significant milestone in the implementation plan of the state government towards improving access to electricity in the state and it is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the UN which aspires to drive universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. 

He added that increased electricity access is one of the priority mandates of his administration given its significance in ultimately driving economic development of the State to enable it achieve the objective of making Lagos a 21st century Economy.

“This Lagos Smart Meter Initiative is an important way for the Lagos Government to demonstrate its commitment to improving electricity access and reliability for Lagosians. We believe that adequate metering of Lagosians and in turn Nigerians, would increase willingness to pay for electricity, improve productivity, and more importantly, continue to improve the living conditions of our people.”

“Now, as we launch the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020, we call on all relevant stakeholders – electricity sector players, technology experts, investors, regulators – to support this worthy cause as we strive to ensure sustainable electricity for all in Lagos,” he disclosed.

In his keynote address, Jedy-Agba explained that local design and production of affordable meters will be transformational for the industry and the economy at large and therefore urged all to support it.

“Lagos is an important state in Nigeria in terms of size, economy and resources. With a population of over 20million and the 5th highest GDP in Africa, Lagos is by far the biggest economy in Nigeria. Therefore, getting access to electricity right in Lagos is critical for access to electricity in the entire country.

“Electricity is an essential service, and we need to ensure that the benefits of smart meters flow to everyone. I call on all relevant stakeholders in the sector to support this innovative and impactful initiative– industry regulators, electricity sector players, technology experts, and fund providers.”

Similarly, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olalere Odusote said the initiative is expected to provide access to affordable smart meters for Lagosians to improve electricity supply, monitoring, and trust between electricity providers and end users while preventing revenue leakage. It is also expected to drive innovation and creativity while generating new interest in young people for the sector.

“Over the years, despite significant investments and resolutions around power generation and distribution, there remains a huge metering gap of over 60% of electricity consumers in Lagos and Nigeria. This metering gap is what we are seeking to bridge through the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon”.

“In line with the objectives of the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu (BOS) Administration to make Lagos a 21st century economy, we have identified the need to intervene and support the facilitation of effective metering across the state, to ensure the provision of reliable electricity for Lagosians and Nigerians in the long-term,” he stated.

Doja Ekeruche, Advisory Board Member, Eko Innovation Centre explained that a call for application has been sent out to local talents in the tech community to submit their proposed hardware and software solutions using the guidelines stipulated on the Lagos Smart Meter website. All concepts will be assessed based on strict but transparent criteria to identify the most viable concepts proceeding to the next stage.

Furthermore, she highlighted that, “Judges with knowledge and expertise within power and tech ecosystem will review the entries and shortlist teams to proceed to the hackathon event. Final Winners of the Hackathon, in both the hardware and software categories, will win N7million. They will also be a part of the co-creation phase with other experts, and then proceed to the production and testing stage before the full commercialization of the smart meter”

Other participants at the event included the deputy governor of Lagos state, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Olatunbosun Alake, Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology; other Commissioners, Special Advisers and Heads of Parastatals from the Governor Sanwo-Olu administration; key representatives from the Energy and Technology Industry, journalists and other stakeholders.

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Truecaller Launches Call Reason, SMS Scheduling and Message Translation for 250 Million Users

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Truecaller Launches Call Reason SMS Scheduling and Message Translation for 250 Million Users, SiliconNigeria

Building upon its core proposition of making communication safer and more efficient for their users, Truecaller has rolled out three highly anticipated features: Call Reason, Schedule SMS and SMS Translate for users globally.

Truecaller has been the pioneer in the mobile identity space, and has pushed the innovation of Caller ID to great heights. Consumers trust Truecaller to tell them who is calling but now they will also know why they are calling. Call Reason enables users to set a reason for their call, enabling the receiver to check what the call is about, whether the incoming call is personal, business or something urgent. This would increase pick up rates, especially when callers are calling from new numbers.  

The new ‘Schedule SMS’ extends the platform’s Caller ID feature to enable users to schedule a message reminder of any events, meetings, or what groceries you need to pick up at the end of the day. Additionally, the SMS Translate feature allows users to instantly translate the content of their messages directly in Truecaller without leaving the app. This feature works for both SMS and instant messages (IM). All these features will be free for all consumers.

Commenting on the feature, Rishit Jhunjhunwala, Chief Product Officer at Truecaller said, “We are thrilled at the launch of Call reason, Schedule SMS and SMS Translate. We have been working towards building an innovative communication suite for our users and these three features are the next big step in line with this mission. Communication in 2020 is easier in many ways, but also complicated by the vast ways in which people connect for information. As a brand, we strive to stay true to the core principle of building a product for masses while always acting in the public interest. We are constantly listening to our users and want to help them by putting more power in their hands.”

About Call Reason

The new Truecaller is bringing your communication home, by organising everything for you more easily and smartly. Call Reason was one of the most requested features in 2020 from Truecaller users around the world. With this, the new feature extends the platform’s Caller ID feature to help users to send a note in their outgoing calls. This would empower users in higher pick-up rates on outgoing calls as the receiver would know “what reason the call has been placed”. Businesses can set a customized text before every call which would increase engagement with their customers .

This feature will start rolling out today to all Android users and will be launching for iOS early next year.

Schedule your SMS

Users can schedule SMS by simply selecting the icon while messaging and choose a date and time. Your message will be sent then, and you will always be able to see it scheduled in your chat. This feature is available for Android users only.

SMS Translate

The app automatically detects if a foreign language is used in the messaging screen and will show that a translation is available. This feature is powered by Google’s ML Kit and all messages are processed locally in the phone, which means the content of your messages never leaves your device. Language packs are downloaded to your device before translation begins. Users can also download additional languages to use them offline, anytime and anywhere. SMS Translate will only be available for Android.

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s Difficult Road to Recovery

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s Difficult Road to Recovery, SiliconNigeria

By ABEBE AEMRO SELASSIE, Director, African Department, IMF

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented health and economic crisis for sub-Saharan Africa. Within months, the spread of the virus has jeopardized years of development and decades-long gains against poverty in the region while threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

In our latest Regional Economic Outlook, we project -3 percent growth in sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP in 2020, representing the worst outcome on record for the region. The drop will be even larger for economies dependent on tourism and commodity exports. Growth in the region should rebound modestly in 2021 to 3.1 percent, but for many countries, a return to 2019 levels won’t occur until 2022-24.

Countries in the region acted swiftly to protect their people from the worst of the crisis, but lockdown measures came with high economic and social costs. Policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa now face the added challenge of rekindling their economies with fewer resources and more difficult choices.

As the region looks toward the future, uncertainty over the path of the pandemic continues to loom over an enduring recovery.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Difficult Road to Recovery, SiliconNigeria

Confronting policy constraints and hard choices

The top policy priority should be saving lives and protecting livelihoods through health spending and income and liquidity support for households and businesses. Even with limited funds, policymakers acted swiftly with what they had.

However, countries in the region entered the crisis with significantly less fiscal space than they had prior to the global financial crisis of 2008-09. COVID-19 related fiscal support in sub-Saharan Africa has averaged 3 percent of GDP—markedly less than what has been spent in other regions of the world.

Advanced economies have had the space to do “whatever it takes.” In sub-Saharan Africa no such luxury exists, as countries struggle to do “whatever is possible” with their scarce resources.

Limited resources will ultimately force difficult choices.

Fiscal policies needed to boost the economy will have to be balanced against debt sustainability—already a daunting challenge for many countries in the region. The need to support growth through monetary policy will need to be matched against maintaining external stability and longer-term credibility. Financial regulation and supervision measures are needed to address crisis-affected banks and firms but should not compromise longer-term growth.

All the while, efforts to stabilize and grow economies must be weighed against the need to maintain social stability while preparing for sustained and inclusive growth over the long term.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Difficult Road to Recovery, SiliconNigeria

Calling on the global community for support

Without significant additional financial assistance, many sub-Saharan African countries will struggle to simply maintain macroeconomic stability while meeting the basic needs of their populations.

The IMF has taken swift action to cover a significant portion of the region’s needs by providing about $16 billion financing this year alone to 33 countries and immediate debt service relief to 22 of the poorest, most vulnerable sub-Saharan African countries. We are working with countries to put in place governance mechanisms to help ensure that the funds benefit their people as intended.

We have also worked with the G20 to suspend debt service payments to official bilateral creditors and welcome the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

But more help is needed. Sub-Saharan Africa faces additional financing needs of $890 billion through 2023. Private financial flows are expected to fill less than half of that need, while current commitments from international financial institutions and bilateral donors will cover only one-quarter of the need. Under that scenario, the region still faces a projected financing gap of $290 billion through 2023.

 No country should have to choose between paying their debt or providing food and medicine for their people. To prevent the loss of decades-worth of development gains, the region will need access to more grants, concessional credit, and debt relief.

Looking toward a brighter future

Despite an uncertain outlook, the potential of sub-Saharan Africa and the resourcefulness of its people remain clear. Now is the time for lasting transformational reforms.

Sub-Saharan Africa will find its way back to a path of green, sustainable and inclusive development. The pandemic has presented a historic opportunity to build a better future and the international community has an important role to play.

Fostering better transparency and governance to improve trust in rule of law, strengthen business conditions and encourage external support will be a key element for developing a better future. Transformative domestic reforms to improve revenue mobilization, digitalization, trade integration, competition, social safety nets, and climate-change mitigation will be critical for the region’s resilience, growth and job creation.

Nelson Mandela once said, “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” The long climb out of this crisis won’t come easy, but the actions and choices of today will be vital for a prosperous and resilient future for sub-Saharan Africa.


Culled from IMF Blog

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NCC, NITDA Chiefs, Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum

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NCC NITDA Chiefs Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum, SiliconNigeria

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, and Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi will attend the 2020 edition of the Nigeria ICT Impact Forum (NIICF).

These personalities will join other confirmed high-profile speakers for the event which will hold on November 27, 2020, at the Oriental Hotel Lagos.

NCC NITDA Chiefs Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum, SiliconNigeria

Dr. Isa Patanmi. Hon. Min. of Communications & Digital Economy

According to a statement from the organiser and signed by Mr Tayo Adewusi, NCC CEO will deliver the keynote while the NITDA DG will present one of the Lead papers.

The annual event themed 5G: the Future is Here will attract government officials, regulatory bodies, industry players, and all the crème de la crème in the country’s tech space.

NCC NITDA Chiefs Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum, SiliconNigeria

Prof. Umar Danbatta, EVC, NCC

Other confirmed speakers include the CEO of VDT, Engr. Biodun Omoniyi, the President of Medallion Communication, Engr. Ike Nnamani, the CEO of MTN, Ferdi Moolman, the Managing Director of Inlaks, Africa Operations, Engr. Femi Adeoti.

Others are the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Limited, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar while the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami is the Special Guest of Honour at the event while the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the Chairman and Chief Host.

NCC NITDA Chiefs Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum, SiliconNigeria

Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, DG, NITDA

Other dignitaries expected at the event include the Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong who is the co-Chairman and the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule is the guest governor. The Editor-in-Chief of ICT Watch Magazine, Adewusi, said the Impact CEO Forum is envisioned as the foremost impactful meeting of top-level executives to assess the impact of ICT on their businesses and make projections into the future.

NCC NITDA Chiefs Others Confirm Attendance for CEO Impact Forum, SiliconNigeria

Tayo Adewusi. Publisher ICT Watch Magazine & Events Convener

“It is a must-attend event for those interested in the deployment of ICT to improve efficiency and productivity. This year’s event in keeping with Covid -19 social distancing protocols, it will strictly by invitation and other guests can join via various social media platforms to be provided”. Adewusi added that the event will hold concurrently with the Africa Digital Awards (ADA), through which the distinguished individuals, government agencies, state governors who have been “using the potent power of ICT” to execute differently ideas would be honoured.

He said the Impact CEO Forum offers an opportunity to expand the business network of “contacts, identify potential partners and share experiences and valuable time”.

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