The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has reiterated the importance of collective efforts by all stakeholders toward enhancing the security of cyberspace for Nigerians, who now depend increasingly on digital tools and platforms to carry out their daily activities.
The Minister stated this while delivering a keynote address at the 2020 International Legislative – Stakeholder Conference on Cybersecurity at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, on Monday, 12th October, 2020.
Represented by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Minister said, the conference was timely, as it was slated for the month of October, dedicated globally to raising awareness on online safety and cybersecurity.
According to Pantami, “Cybersecurity awareness has become imperative due to the attendant risks that emanate from the appreciable migration of several transactions, meetings, lectures and other forms of interaction to online and digital platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He further noted that while there are adequate laws, policies and frameworks in the country on cybersecurity, collective efforts at fast-tracking the implementation of their instruments have become more central in view of the pandemic.
One of such instruments, he said, is the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria, developed by the Ministry, with eight pillars, which include developmental regulation, digital literacy & skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development & promotion, soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies, as well as indigenous content development and adoption.
According to Pantami, the sixth pillar of NDEPS aligns with the theme of the conference, as it essentially aims at ensuring that Nigerians are secure online.
“Furthermore, Section 106(1(c)) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, states the role of the Nigerian Communications Commission in the protection of consumer information. Similarly, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Act 2007 Section 6(l) states the role of NITDA in promoting the development of information technology to enhance national security,” he said.
He also stated that the Nigeria National Cybersecurity Framework also prescribes guidance for public and private sector organisations for instituting measures for enshrining cybersecurity culture and enthrone cyber-resiliency in Nigeria.
Speaking further, Pantami said in addition to the NDEPS, the Ministry has also developed the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and its implementation plan, adding that efforts in this direction is in line with the Ministry’s Solid Infrastructure pillar.
“While all these ground preparations for a digital future were going on, unexpectedly, the world was struck with COVID-19 pandemic which changed the way we live. The impact of the pandemic led to many measures taken by governments the world over to contain the spread of the ravaging virus. Restrictions of movement as part of the measures to abate the spread gave credence to our Digital First Ideology”.
“Our plan is to move all parts of the economy tothe digital platform. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the transition to more digitally-enabled lifestyles and ways of working has brought about a ‘new normal’ globally with new opportunities and possibilities being unlocked by digitization,” he said.
He further stated that in view of the increased migration of services online, the Ministry’s various initiatives are helping to enhance digital literacy and skills of Nigerians.
“We are also working to ensure the privacy of their data online, as the Ministry is working hard towards making Nigeria the digital economy capital of Africa by 2023. There are several other ongoing initiatives geared towards supporting the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years,” Pantami said.
Independence Day, #EndSARS, Ondo Election Results Top Nigeria’s October Search Trends
A milestone anniversary, calls to shut down an allegedly brutal police department, and state election results were among the top trending Google searches in Nigeria during October. These searches partially crossed over into the most asked questions, which concerned a leading activist, the whereabouts of the president, and the winner of Big Brother Nigeria.
On 1 October, Nigeria celebrated the 60th anniversary of its independence from Great Britain. What would ideally have been a day of celebration instead turned into a day of protest across the country’s major cities as people expressed their anger over corruption and increases to petrol and electricity prices. Nigeria Independence Day was, nonetheless, the top search for the month.
Protests continued throughout the month as the #EndSARS campaign gained momentum. The campaign called for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police. After SARS was disbanded, protests have continued over police brutality and other issues. As the protests dominated news headlines, online interest grew. As a result, “end sars” was the second most searched term for the month.
Staying with politics, “ondo election result” was the third most popular term for the month. The poll saw Oluwarotimi Akeredolu reelected as governor of Ondo state. Despite heavy criticism from opposition parties, Akeredolu won by a significant margin.
Other topics trending in October included actress Eniola Badmus, who was falsely rumoured to have been shot during the #EndSARS protests; activist Aisha Yesufu, who has been at the centre of the protests; and rapper Lil Frosh, who was arrested in early October for the alleged assault on his girlfriend Gift Camille.
These were the top 10 searches for the month:
1. Nigeria Independence Day
2. End sars
3. Ondo election result
4. Eniola Badmus
5. Aisha Yesufu
6. Lil Frosh
8. Room 306
9. Boyfriend day
10. Soro soke / soro soke meaning
Yesefu also featured among the most asked questions for the month, topping the list. Nigerians were also keen to know where President Muhammadu Buhari was. The national leader, who is frequently overseas for medical treatment, waited days before addressing Nigerians on the protest, before finally urging citizens to spurn the protestors’ efforts.
It wasn’t all serious politics, however. Nigerians also took to Google to find out who the winner of BBN 2020 was, as well as to ask practical questions around tracking stolen cellphones and to find out who Anonymous is.
Top ten trending questions for October 2020:
- Who is Aisha Yesufu?
- Where is Buhari now?
- Who is the winner of BBN 2020?
- Where is Tinubu now?
- How to track a stolen phone?
- Who is Anonymous?
- Who is Tompolo?
- How to prepare jollof rice?
- Who is leading in Ondo election?
- Who is DJ Switch?
Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what Nigerians have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live search data is available on the Google Nigeria Trends site.
IFC Doles Out $4bn Financing To Help Businesses Fight Pandemic
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) said it has disbursed $4 billion out of $8 billion to businesses in poorest countries to fight the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The IFC Board in March 2020 had approved the $8 billion in IFC COVID-19 fast-track financing. The remainder will help to support the fight against COVID-19 across other developing countries and emerging markets.
World Bank Group President David Malpass said, “Supporting the private sector will be crucial to helping developing countries achieve an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery and stem the current rise in extreme poverty.
“Our goal with IFC’s fast-track COVID-19 facility is to provide needed liquidity for corporate and financial institution clients, which will provide working capital, support jobs and facilitate trade,” Malpass added.
IFC, the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets, has since fully deployed the $2 billion allocated under the trade-finance envelope of the fast-track facility. This support is helping client financial institutions keep liquidity flowing to businesses that depend on trade, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), a major source of employment.
Interim Managing Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of IFC, Stephanie von Friedeburg, said, “IFC’s fast-track COVID-19 facility was designed to provide immediate liquidity to our financial institutions and real sector clients to preserve jobs and prevent short-term damage.
“By supporting private sector clients and interventions, we are hoping in the longer term to help reignite economic growth, paving the way for a better, more resilient and sustainable future once COVID-19 recedes.” IFC said it has committed an additional $2 billion under the facility, benefiting every region in which IFC operates. This financing is being used for a range of purposes, from bolstering healthcare providers to helping the battered tourism sector and keeping viable businesses afloat, thus saving jobs. Another $623 million has been mobilized for these clients from private sector partners.
Additionally, the IDA Private Sector Window (PSW), a tool developed by the World Bank Group to catalyze private-sector investment in the world’s poorest countries, has provided $281 million in guarantees supporting trade-finance and working-capital loans to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in eligible countries since March.
IFC’s response is part of the World Bank Group’s effort to take broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response, increase disease monitoring and improve public-health interventions. The World Bank Group has the financial capacity to deploy $160 billion over the next 15 months, including a potential $47 billion from IFC in overall support for the private sector.
Looking ahead, IFC will work with its partners to help restructure and recapitalize viable businesses and set the stage for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery. In August, IFC also launched the $4-billion Global Health Platform, which is helping developing countries expand access to medical supplies such as masks, ventilators, test kits and, eventually, a COVID-19 vaccine.
MTN Nigeria Reports N973.8bn Revenue, 75m Subscribers In 9 Months
MTN Nigeria Communications (MTNN) Plc, has said its mobile subscribers’ base increased to 75 million while service revenue increased by 13 9 per cent to N973.8 billion in the first nine of 2020.
Details of the development are contained in the unaudited results of the company’s nine months 2020 report made available to the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), yesterday.
The report stated that mobile subscribers increased by 3.9 million to 75.0 million, while active data users increased by 17 million to 30.7 million
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 9.1 per cent to N497.9 billion, while EBITDA margin declined by 2.3 percentage points (pp) to 51 per cent.
Profit before tax declined by 0.6 per cent to N211.6 billion, while earnings per share (EPS) declined by 3.3 per cent to N7.10.
Speaking on the results, the CEO of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said: “The year 2020 was a challenging period for everyone. During the period under review, we saw volatility in both voice and data revenue, affecting the trajectory of our overall service revenue, as well as pressure on costs, which continues to impact our operating margins, dampening profitability.”
According to him, data revenue rose by 57.0 per cent, with an increase in data usage and traffic. Revenue from digital and fintech services rose by 114.3 per cent and 28.3 per cent respectively, while voice revenue growth was 4.2 per cent.
“We saw a significant increase in our subscriber base with the addition of 3.9 million customers in Q3, bringing total subscribers to 75 million. Cumulative net additions totalled 10.7 million in the nine months to September 2020, the first time we have exceeded 10 million additions in an annual cycle with one quarter remaining. We also connected 1.7 million new users to the internet in Q3, bringing our active data subscribers to 30.7 million,” he pointed out.
On the outlook, Moolman, said, despite the relaxation of the lock down restrictions, the operating environment remains challenging, promising that the firm will continue to build on its operational and financial resilience and execute its strategy to position the business for sustained growth over the medium and long term.
The availability of foreign exchange remains a constraint even as we strive to minimise its impact on the business. In the remaining quarter of 2020, we will build on the momentum from Q3 to further expand 4G coverage and broaden rural connectivity. This, backed by our revamped acquisition offers, will help to boost subscriber acquisition as well as support the continued growth in voice and dota revenue,” he said.
The company recently announced the appointment of Mr Kari Toriola as the CEO designate for MTN Nigeria with effective March 1, 2021.
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