The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has emphasized the important role played by women in the country’s socio-economic and political space while underscoring the need to empower them in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabler for social change.
Danbatta stated this while delivering a goodwill message at a webinar organised by Zinari Communications Limited with the theme: “Mainstreaming Rural Women Enterprise Development into Digital Economy Initiative: The Opportunities, Strategies and Constraints,” which held on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
According to Danbatta, who was represented by the Head, Online Media and Special Publication, NCC, Grace Ojougboh, there is no doubt that women have been historically central to socio-economic and political development of any nation and stressed the need for nations to focus more on how ICT can be leveraged for increased empowerment for women.
He said: “There has been a general concern that unless the gender divide between men and women is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may worsen existing inequalities between women and men which could create new forms of inequality.
“However, if the gender dimensions of ICT in terms of access and use, capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment are explicitly identified and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for political, economic and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality.”
He advocated increased collaboration between public and private-sector stakeholders toward advancing gender equality and women empowerment, notably by encouraging young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The EVC said the Commission will continue to play a front-seat role in driving the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy document (NDEPS), 2020-2030; the Nigeria National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and similar policies aimed at increased connectivity to all the citizens to bridge gender digital disparity.
Danbatta said the Commission constantly provides the necessary infrastructure that will guarantee ubiquitous access to telecoms services through the implementation of these policies while listing other initiatives undertaken by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), all aimed at boosting connectivity and provision of ICT tools among citizens, regardless of gender, across the length and breadth of Nigeria. He listed the initiatives to include the Community Resource centers (CRS), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), E-accessibility projects, among others.
“There is no doubt that these efforts will facilitate development of a vibrant digital ecosystem where rural women can play very important roles in our socio-economic and political space,” he added.
NCC, NigComSat Sign MoU on 5G Spectrum to Propel Nigeria’s Digital Economy
Photo: L-R: Director, Spectrum Administration, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Oluwatoyin Asaju ; Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT),Mr. Hadi Muhammad ; Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (NCC),Mr. Adeleke Adewolu ; Executive Vice Chairman/CEO (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta; Member, NCC Board of Commissioners,Chief Uche Onwude ; Managing Director/CEO, NIGCOMSAT,Dr. Abimbola Alale ; Executive Director, Technical, NIGCOMSAT, Prof Abdu Bambale, and Executive Commissioner, Technical Services (NCC), Engr. Ubale Maska, during the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCC & NIGCOMSAT for the use of C-Band Spectrum for 5G Services in Nigeria in Abuja.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will facilitate the release of contiguous bandwidth in one of the most suitable frequency spectrum bands for early deployment of fifth Generation (5G) Network services in Nigeria.
The MoU signing ceremony was the high point of discussions by the two organisations on how to relocate the NG-1R satellite of NigComSat to the standard C-band 300MHz (3.9GHz – 4.2GHz) portion of the band, which is considered more suitable in terms of satellite service offering because of the advantage of cheaper terminal devices for end users.
Accordingly, such relocation will leave the non-standard C-band 400MHz (3.5GHz – 3.9GHz) portion of the band for 5G use while the cost of relocating the NG-1R is expected to be offset from the proceeds of the auction of the 5G spectrum.
Speaking at the epoch-making event at the Commission’s office in Abuja on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, appreciated the leadership of NigComSat “for demonstrating that the interest of our dear country is paramount to our organisational or personal interest”
According to him, the Commission initiated negotiations with NigComSat to make some adjustment to its satellite operation and release part of its spectrum holding in the band to facilitate the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.
“Among the Frequency Spectrum bands used for 5G, the C-band (3.4GHz – 3.9GHz) stands out because its balancing point between coverage and capacity provides the perfect environment for 5G connectivity. The C-band is most suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of device ecosystem with 60-70 per cent of global commercial 5G network deployment currently in the band, thus the importance of this Spectrum for early deployment of 5G services in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized.
“For optimal 5G service performance, an average of contiguous 100 MHz of spectrum in the C-band is required by an Operator. However, in Nigeria, only 120 MHz of the band (3.4 – 3.52) GHz is available for mobile services while the remaining 680 MHz (3.52 – 4.2) GHz of the band is used by NigComSat (NG-1R) satellites,” he said.
Danbatta, while stating that the MoU will go a long way in making positive impact on the Nigerian economy, also said it will offer a new chapter of cooperation, collaborations and mutual assistance that will further spur the growth of the telecommunications ecosystem in the country.
In her remarks, the Managing Director of NigComSat, Dr. Abimbola Alale, said her organisation was happy about the collaboration, which will ensure a win-win relationship between both agencies of government as well as benefit the government in its drive to facilitate the development of Nigeria’s digital ecosystem.
“We are happy with this agreement; the Commission has assured us of a win-win engagement which signals a major step towards the development of the Federal Government’s digital economy drive,” she said.
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, who was represented by a Board member, Chief Uche Onwude, commended the two agencies for taking a bold step in the right direction to release contagious quantum of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band for early deployment of 5G.
He said in recent times, precisely from the last quarter of 2019, several administrations have begun to license Spectrum for commercial deployment of 5G. “As we speak today, 5G services have already been deployed in United States of America, South Korea, United Kingdom, China, South Africa, Kenya and many more.
According to Akande, “this type of collaboration is commendable as it ensures synergy amongst agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and will consequently foster the deployment of 5G and enable Nigeria to tap its full potential like other advanced countries which have deployed 5G technology on a full commercial scale.”
The epoch-making event was attended by Board members and senior management staff of the two organisations.
Afrikrea Launches ANKA to Power Global African E-Commerce
Afrikrea, the e-commerce platform for “all things made of Africa”, is launching ANKA – an all-in one SaaS solution to provide a seamless ecommerce, payments and global shipping online service for thousands of micro retailers and businesses on the continent and around the world, as it continues to power e-commerce for Africa.
Launched to coincide with Afrikrea’s fifth anniversary of operations, ANKA (meaning “Ours” in Bambara and Djoula) allows merchants to easily:
- Sell via a customised online storefront (like Shopify), social media platforms or by links such as on Gumroad and also the Afrikrea marketplace. This is carried out via an omnichannel dashboard with a single inventory, orders and messages management.
- With just 2 clicks, international shipping is offered at the best rates with the best partners. For instance, a 2kg parcel from Nigeria can be shipped to the US or UK for less than $20 – this includes DHL pickup and global tracking
- Facilitate and centralise payments (global and local) via a secure online wallet and receive payouts according to the merchant’s preference. A dedicated Afrikrea VISA card is also available.
Powered by Afrikrea, ANKA is the first of its kind global e-commerce aggregator of services for African micro retailers, and has been developed to reduce the friction of the global sales process for the 7,000+ sellers on the Afrikrea platform, as well as open new routes to market for sellers.
Speaking on the launch of ANKA, Moulaye Taboure Co-Founder and CEO of Afrikrea says. “We see Afrikrea as the bridge between Africa and the world, empowering thousands of micro retailers and their clients globally. Those entrepreneurs currently lose time and energy managing multiple channels of sales, and also lose money through the multiple intermediaries needed to ship their orders or get access to their funds. ANKA enables them to sell anywhere as well as get paid – seamlessly, from one place.”
In a bid to power and support the entire sales life cycle, from point of sale to receipt of goods, Afrikrea partnered with leading global logistics partner, DHL in 2019 to ensure world-class delivery service for its vendors. Since then, ANKA has become the largest e-commerce exporter on the continent, with over 10 tons of cargo shipped every month out of Africa. Using the ANKA service, vendors can search for competitive shipping rates; this is not limited to sales on the Afrikrea platform. Dropshippers looking to create jobs, produce goods and ship from the continent will also have the opportunity to manage their flow of business and get paid globally using the platform.
ANKA costs EUR10 [approximately $12] a month and the platform will also connect with MPesa, Orange and MTN, so customers looking to pay merchants can do so via mobile money, mobile banking, PayPal and a host of international payment cards. Merchants will also be able to transfer the funds from their wallets in any method of their choice, including their dedicated physical VISA card. From there, they can instantly pay or withdraw funds at an ATM as and when they prefer..
The African technology platform is at the forefront of a shift in the commerce sector, using tech and scalable software to create localised customer experiences without the need for global storefronts. Euromonitor has estimated the African fashion and apparel market to be worth $31billion in recent years. Afrikrea estimates the yearly spend of its major markets to be worth $12.5 billion. The African diaspora in Europe ($1 billion), those in America and the Caribbean ($9 billion) and non-Africans with links to the continent ($2.5 billion). By building the technical infrastructure for global African culture and allowing its merchants to reach the world using proprietary technology, Afrikrea expects to power and empower tens of thousands more independent businesses inspired by African fashion and artisan items.
Founded in 2016, Afrikrea as a marketplace for selling and buying African-inspired clothing, accessories, arts and crafts has increased its transactions to over $15 million in 170 countries worldwide, with sellers from 47 out of 54 African countries. The platform currently records over 500,000 visits a month with the majority of customers located in Europe and North America.
Taboure concludes, “In much the same way that international technology companies like Shopify and Alibaba have been central to inspiring and powering a new wave of global online retailers, and have created wealth for thousands of entrepreneurs via access to amazing ecommerce software, our plan is to achieve much the same, but for the growing and dynamic African market. By handling a safe and seamless process for our vendors – sales, payments, shipping – we expect to grow with them and power commerce for thousands more online marketplaces and sellers who have a passion for Africa”.
Ajua Acquires WayaWaya for Seamless Payments Integration
Ajua, the integrated Customer Experience Management solution for businesses in Africa, has acquired WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) known for its innovative Janja platform, that enables borderless banking and payments across apps and social media platforms, for an undisclosed sum.
WayaWaya founder and lead Janja product builder, Teddy Ogallo, joins Ajua as VP of Product APIs and Integrations.
The acquisition of WayaWaya allows Ajua to integrate Janja to automate much of the customer experience journey by integrating janja.me product into their product stack, closing the customer experience loop as the smart AI and ML built by WayaWaya gives SMEs the ability to automate responses and give the customer what they want, when they want it.
WayaWaya currently helps both individuals and businesses with intelligent messaging, across a number of social platforms, including Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, Telegram, and others, and allows its users to automate customer support and take cross-border payments. As well as its vast reach with social platforms, WayaWaya is also integrated with global and African financial leaders including Mpesa, Airtel Money, Bankserv, First Data, Interswitch, Stripe, Flutterwave, Visa and MasterCard.
Launched in 2012, Ajua was built to solve the customer experience gap for businesses on the continent to drive business growth. Ajua combines technology with customer experience, and has built a number of innovative products that deliver real time customer feedback at the point of service, for small and large businesses across Africa, with the goal to digitalize and power growth for over 45 million SMEs. Current Ajua infrastructure partners and clients include GoodLife Pharmacy, Standard Chartered, FBNQuest, Safaricom, Total, Coca-Cola and Java House.
The acquisition of WayaWaya comes just one month after Ajua announced its partnership with Nigeria’s MTN for MTN EnGauge, an agile application that offers innovative customer management solutions. The platform enables businesses access to digital payments using a unique USSD code, CRM tools, customer feedback channels, debt management and tracking, business and product promotions through mobile and social media channels. Through its new product roll-out with MTN, Ajua is generating more data for its thousands of users, much of which can now be better automated and monetized through the products and services WayaWaya has built, including cross-border digital transfers, payments services and intelligent finance bots.
Speaking on the acquisition, Ajua Founder and CEO, Kenfield Griffith says, “The acquisition of WayaWaya is an important milestone for us, as we make a significant leap in ensuring the customer experience journey for businesses across the continent is seamless. Integrating WayaWaya’s technology significantly complements our product suite and gives us the ability to automate our clients’ businesses and grow their revenues, which is an extremely powerful proposition for our customers of all sizes, across Africa. From our experience in this area, we understand the CX fundamentals that drive growth for our customers and we want to bring this intelligence to SMEs across the continent.”
“The additional reach this acquisition brings allows Ajua to scale significantly within the SME vertical, as we provide our customers today, and in the future, the tools they need to grow in Africa and beyond. We continue to be bullish on the point that customer experience and customer engagement are the engine for growth for businesses across the continent and they are disciplines that are critical factors in driving productivity and revenue growth”.
The SME market in Nigeria alone is valued at $220 billion annually and projections reveal that businesses with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have bolstered their productivity by 40 percent. Ajua, the leader in the technology-powered customer experience market for the continent, uses data and analytics to connect companies with their customers in real time, helping businesses to better understand the nature of their customers and subsequently increase sales through smarter experiences.
Teddy Ogallo, founder of WayaWaya and new VP of Product APIs and Integrations for Ajua adds, “Ajua’s focus on introducing and scaling customer service and customer experience for the continent – and essentially how they help businesses deliver excellence for their customers – is something my team andI have long admired. Seeing how WayaWaya’s technology can complement Ajua’s innovative products and services, and help scale and monetize businesses, is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are happy that our teams will be collaborating to build something unique for the continent”.
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