Photo L-R: Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, being presented with an appreciation award by Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, Chief Medical Director, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano, during the courtesy visit.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that robust digital infrastructure and literacy are key to reaping the transformational benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across public and private institutions in the country.
Danbatta stated this when he received a delegation of the top management committee of the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano (AKTH), who paid him a courtesy visit at the Kano Zonal Office of the Commission at the weekend.
During the visit, the AKTH team also presented an award to the EVC “as an expression of the hospital’s appreciation for the enormous contributions of the EVC and the Commission to the development of health institutions over the years in the country.”
Speaking during the visit, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of AKTH, Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, who led the delegation, said, “the objective of our being here today is to appreciate your contribution in person and as EVC of NCC to the growth and development of the teaching hospital.”
According to Sheshe, through the support and donations from Kano people like the EVC and institutions like NCC, the hospital has increased its bed capacity from 250 to 700, as well as performing 57 successful transplant surgeries.
“You have also made enormous contributions in this regard and that has helped us to get new dialysis machines through your assistance and these machines are being put to use, aside from other state-of-the-art equipment already in place,” he said while appreciating the EVC.
The CMD, however, sought NCC’s support in the area of a Health Information Management System (HIMS) and digital capacity for staff.
Responding, however, Danbatta thanked the hospital management for the visit and the award, noting that the Commission supports federal institutions with necessary ICT equipment across the country and is ready to assist AKTH in this regard.
“As a Commission, we are working to bridge the infrastructure divide, which is an element of the entire digital ecosystem. We do this via a lot of ongoing regulatory initiatives. And, through our training arm, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), we provide digital literacy to critical sectors of the economy, including the health sector, we also intervene through our Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme,” he said.
According to Danbatta, digital divide can be bridged by making computers available and ICT services accessible to people and key sectors of the economy.
“Infrastructure that can host this massive flow of information and knowledge is broadband infrastructure and this is top-most in the agenda of the Commission. Indeed, ICT is transforming every sector of the economy and the earlier we embrace the vast opportunity brought by ICT the better,” the EVC pointed out.
Driving Digital Inclusion to Promote Global Equality
Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital technology adoption around the world, but also revealed the depth of the digital divide worldwide. For millions of people living in Africa, who do not have access to the internet or laptops and smartphones, the pandemic has resulted in greater social and economic isolation.
In 2020, 56.3% of South Africa’s 60-million population were internet users. This figure is expected to increase to 57.8% this year, up to 62.3% by 2025 . Internet World Stats figures suggest that by December 2020, about 634 million people in Africa were internet users, amounting to 47.6% of the continent’s population.
Many factors play a role in entrenching the continent’s digital divide, most notably the high cost of technology and connectivity, which is exacerbated by the lack of reliable network infrastructure.
The pandemic, with its lockdowns and restrictions, has hit Africans hard, leading to job losses, food insecurity, entrenched poverty and – perhaps most worryingly – major setbacks in education delivery.
One organisation that is committed to driving digital inclusion in Africa and globally is media and telecommunications software and services provider, Amdocs. The company employs 26,000 people around the world and creates opportunities for 70,000 more through its operations and supply chain.
Its initiatives in Kenya and Mexico have assisted hundreds of thousands of people during the pandemic. Currently in the planning phase, the company is currently working on another digital inclusion project in South Africa.
Amdocs, VP: Customer Business Executive, George Fraser says the company’s overriding social impact strategy is to provide digital solutions that address world problems. “As a company that creates digital journeys for our customers, we have the skills and capabilities to pay it forward to the communities that need us the most. The past year has resulted in just about everything going remote, and our ability to accelerate digital inclusion has become our number one focus.”
One of its key projects – conducted in conjunction with Safaricom Foundation – was to provide internet access to children in Kenya. “The initiative is a perfect example of how employee engagement and social impact can meet,” explains Fraser.
“Every year, we conduct an organisational health survey, which is open to all employees. In 2020, we incentivised employees to take part by promising internet access to one child in Kenya for every survey completed. The response was astonishing. Employees received the initiative really well and there was a significant increase in the number of surveys completed last year,” notes Fraser.
Amdocs employees reported that the initiative made them feel more connected and engaged with the company and its initiatives. It made them feel proud to work for an organisation that was making a tangible impact in other peoples’ lives.
Another highly successful project was the creation of an app to connect food insecure people in Mexico to businesses with excess food. The app is currently helping more than 400,000 people access food. The project is entirely volunteer-run – in collaboration with local authorities – and is Amdocs’ most impactful initiative to date.
In addition, the company runs digital skills training aimed at specific target populations, whether it is showing the elderly how to use communication platforms to connect with their loved ones or teaching women and children basic – or more advanced digital skills – to increase their digital literacy or enhance their employability.
Amdocs is currently running an internal competition for its employees to get ideas on how to take digital inclusion forward and help solve problems the world is facing. “We are also looking for two projects in Africa to support this year – they need to be legitimate organisations, such as universities or NGOs, that can demonstrate viable solutions to social challenges. Our role will be to bring the technological expertise to the mix,” notes Fraser.
He says Amdocs’ role does not stop with its own programmes. “We also help other organisations to find ways to address social issues in their respective countries and regions, for example, we assisted an Australian company in its drive to provide free data to students.”
Digital inclusion is so high on the agenda at Amdocs that shareholders are updated on progress in this area – alongside business and financial results. “Our company’s purpose is ‘enriching lives and progressing society’. This is not just our CSR purpose. We are profoundly aware of the inequality that the digital divide creates; the massive gap between the privileged and underprivileged; and the inequality in their access to education and other services.
“That’s why we are committed to providing life-changing help to people who need it the most, for example, giving children access to the internet or device when they cannot go to school. This could mean the difference between losing a year at school, maybe even giving up, or advancing to the next year and progressing in life,” concludes Fraser.
Mastercard and Uber Boost Payment Digitization and Advances Financial Inclusion across MEA
Uber’s long-term partnership with Mastercard continues to grow with a new strategic initiative focusing on digital payments and advancing financial inclusions which will be facilitated by Mastercard across the Middle East and Africa (MEA).
As a regional first, the partnership with Mastercard will enable Uber to drive digitization across their business operations, leveraging Mastercard’s single infrastructure to meet all types of payments needs across Uber Rides, Uber Eats, Uber Pass, and Uber for Business.
It is intended that the partnership will boost cashless payments, drive digital payment acceptance, reward loyalty, while supporting Uber’s continued social impact collaboration.
The Economy 2021 report released by Mastercard notes that the economic impact of COVID-19 has introduced permanent changes in digital consumer spending habits, growth of online banking, fintech disruption and opportunities to boost financial inclusion. Through the partnership, both companies can bridge the financial inclusion gap through a broad range of efforts.
Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President Market Development, Mastercard, MEA explains: “Mastercard continues to partner with digital players across the value chain to build a more connected world. Enabling secure, immediate movement of money for individuals in the gig economy workers and customers is especially vital as we support economic recovery efforts.
“ Through our growing partnership, we are enabling the company’s long-term business growth as a result of improved operational efficiencies, driving greater financial inclusion and innovation across the region, and ultimately boosting the growth of digital economy in MEA.”
Last year, Uber in South Africa launched a product called Uber Pass, which will now be available across most cities in MEA, with Mastercard becoming a key distribution partner to help drive adoption.
Tino Waked, Regional General Manager, Middle East & Africa, says: “This is the largest partnership for us across MEA, and we are proud to be working together to bring key financial solutions to driver-partners across MEA. Driver’s well-being is a top priority and putting opportunities they want within reach is important to us.”
This new partnership builds on existing work between the two organizations. In a joint initiative last year, Mastercard committed 120,000 free trips and meals to those supporting communities across the Middle East and Africa, which was facilitated through Uber. This strategic partnership between Mastercard and Uber spans across the region and through key partnerships, supported cities, hospitals, front line workers and marginalized communities with free rides and meals.
While vaccines are a reality, communities are still in need of various support. Mastercard and Uber remain committed to helping people around the world navigate these challenging times and stand ready to support cities whether it be logistics or free rides.
The work undertaken with Uber plays a key role in advancing Mastercard’s worldwide commitment to financial inclusion and the company’s pledge to bring a total of 1 billion people, 50 million micro and small businesses, and 25 million women entrepreneurs into the digital economy by 2025.
Visa Expands Cardless Payments For Fintechs, Banks, SMBs
Visa Inc. has expanded cardless payments for fintechs companies, corporate banks and small and medium businesses (SMBs) with the introduction of Visa Direct Payouts, allowing its clients and partners around the world to use a single point of connection to push payments to eligible cards for domestic payouts, and eligible cards and/or accounts for cross-border payments.
Bill Sheley, SVP, Global Head, Visa Direct, Visa said, as digital commerce accelerates, Visa is innovating to give financial institutions, governments, individuals and businesses new ways to pay and get paid beyond the card.
He said “The launch of Visa Direct Payouts marks an important milestone in Visa’s expansion of its account-to-account capabilities to now reach an additional two billion bank accounts around the world. Backed by the operating scale and performance of VisaNet, the solution integrates Visa’s acquisition of Earthport to transform how Visa’s clients deploy and optimize global money movement programs.”
Flexible Visa Direct Payouts APIs reduce complexities often associated with managing and sending money across multiple networks and intermediaries worldwide.
The solution provides operational simplicity to move money globally through a single connection to VisaNet, enabling financial institutions, fintechs, remittance providers and corporate banks to capture new payment flows for growth and value creation.
Visa Direct Payouts supports real-time2 domestic and cross-border person-to-person (P2P), business-to-small business (B2SB) and business-to-consumer (B2C) use cases, such as insurance disbursements, marketplace seller payouts, providing workers faster access to their earnings, as well as remittances.
Visa’s clients and partners around the world are launching new money-movement programs enabled by Visa Direct Payouts.
- Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited is enhancing its digital International Transfer services for its retail banking customers
- MoneyGram is launching an enhanced money-movement optionality for its customers who are sending and receiving money to loved ones across borders
- KyckGlobal, a Visa fintech partner, enables a variety of B2SB and B2C use cases through its payments engine, including insurance claims payouts, fast funds settlement for SMB marketplaces and quick access to earned wages for independent contractors and hourly workers
“With 152% year-over-year cross-border digital transactions growth for MoneyGram Online in 2020 and an impressive 650% transaction growth for Visa Direct in the fourth quarter3, consumer demand for our digital P2P payment capabilities continues to skyrocket,“ said Alex Holmes, MoneyGram Chairman and CEO. “Our continued expansion with Visa Direct is an important component of our customer-centric strategy to provide a streamlined, frictionless customer journey and real-time transfer capabilities to millions across the globe who rely on our essential service.”
“Our clients work with a diverse set of payees, including contractors and gig economy workers, each with different payment needs, such as a commission payment, expense reimbursement or insurance claim payout,” said Ashish Bahl, KyckGlobal CEO and Founder. “With Visa Direct, we are able to ensure our customers’ clients are paid quickly and securely wherever they access funds, which is more important than ever in today’s economic environment.” With the addition of Visa Direct Payouts, Visa Direct now provides multi-rail access to 5 billion cards and accounts combined across more than 200 geographies, supporting 160 currencies, connecting to 16 card-based networks4, 65 domestic Automated Clearing House (ACH) schemes, seven Real-Time Payment (RTP) networks and five payment gateways. For Visa Direct transactions, Visa offers value-added services, including security and tokenization, bringing peace of mind for SMBs and consumers as they pay and get paid, and move money
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