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eNigeria Delegates Decry N868bn Spent on Importation of Hardware, Software

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Delegates at the just concluded 2017 eNigeria Conference and exhibition have expressed dismay that Nigeria spends a whooping sum of N868 billion ($2.8bn) annually on importation of hardware and software products and services annually.

This was revealed in a six page communiqué issued at the end of the three day annual ICT event held at the International conference Centre, Abuja and read by Dr. Collins Agu, the director of Corporate Planning and Strategies at NITDA.

The delegates expressed concern that such expenditure has led to capital flight and massive job loss in the country.

The communiqué also noted that the Nigerian economy is making digital transition which is evident from the sheer volume of online financial transactions in the country which stood at over N56 trillion in 2016, and 204 percent increase in internet transactions between 2014 and 2017 – from N5.41 billion to N16.45 billion.

The delegates further decried low patronage of Made-in-Nigeria ICT goods and services, which they said had resulted in considerable capital flight out of the country.

They described digital economy as an important enabler of economic growth since digital skills and technologies have the capacity to boost the productivity of every nation with such skills and technologies projected to contribute $2 trillion to the global economy by 2020.

The communiqué reads: ‘‘We are concerned that a whopping $2.8 billion is expended on the importation of hardware and software products and services annually to the country which had led to capital flight.

‘‘We also note that the Nigerian economy is making digital transition which is evident from the sheer volume of online financial transactions in the country which stood at over N56 trillion in 2016, and 204 percent increase in Internet transactions between 2014 and 2017 – from N5.41 billion to N16.45 billion.

‘‘Digital economy is an important enabler of economic growth since digital skills and technologies have the capacity to boost the productivity of every nation with such skills and technologies projected to contribute $2 trillion to the global economy by 2020;

‘‘We note all efforts of NITDA on local content development, infrastructural deployment, capacity building as well as creation and review of existing regulations for effective ICT sector in the country;

‘‘We equally note that in 2017, NITDA saved the sum of N2.5billion for the Federal Government of Nigeria through the IT Project Clearance initiative.

‘‘ICT deployment in Nigeria is growing at a very high rate thus positioning the country as one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Sahara Africa, with the sector contributing about 12.58 percent to the GDP in 2017.’’ Continuing, the communiqué noted: The importance of a thriving Local Content Policy through ability to develop a “home-grown” digital economy which is dependent upon the development of ICT-capacity of Nigerians,

‘‘The directive of the Federal Government of Nigeria for all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to patronize “Made-in-Nigeria” Information Technology (IT) products and services.

‘‘That the digital economy comprises economic activities resulting from the billions of online connections leading to increase in revenue, empowerment of citizens, reduction in corruption and the creation of jobs.

‘‘The serious efforts of countries which experienced a high level economic growth through growing their digital economies.

‘‘The efforts of NITDA at collaborating with relevant government organisations such as the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP); the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation should be intensified to ensure that the certificates issued are used to assess the level of compliance of IT projects.

‘‘The giant strides made by NITDA in the development of Rulemaking Process aimed at stakeholders participation in the development of regulations, policies, and guidelines.’’

The theme of the 2017 eNigeria conference, ‘‘Fostering Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulations’’, was predicated on three segments of using ICT to reduce unemployment, enhance national security and promote ICT local content development through effective regulations.

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Court Adjourns Hearing of BVN Suit to March 1

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The Federal Government on Tuesday requested for an adjournment over suit challenging its forfeiture order it secured from a Federal High Court in Abuja, to take over of monies not linked to Bank Verification Number (BVN).

The case was instituted by Access Bank and 19 other banks on behalf of the depositors affected by the interim forfeiture order by the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The lead counsel to the Federal Government,  Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN), leading two other Senior Advocate of Nigeria told the court that he and his team just took over the case file and needed time to study it.

Counsel to Access Bank and others, led by Paul Usoro (SAN) did not raise any objection to the respondents request for adjournment and the trial Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba adjourned the matter till March 1, 2018, for hearing.

It would be recalled that Justice Dimgba on October 17, 2017, granted all the nine reliefs sought by Abubakar Malami (SAN) , Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, including an interim forfeiture of all monies not linked to BVN, to the Federal Government.

Justice Dimgba who gave the order following a motion exparte brought before him by the Federal Government also ordered banks to disclose any investment made with funds from accounts without BVN in any product,  interest incurred and other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts.

The court ordered all the 19 Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) operating in the country to release to federal government names of accounts not yet connected to BVN; account numbers; their outstanding balances; domiciling locations; and domiciliary accounts without BVN and where they are domiciled.

Nigeria deposit money banks that were listed as respondents in the ex-parte suit are Access Bank, Citi Bank, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank and First City Monument Bank.

Others are: Guarantee Trust Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, United Bank for Africa, Unity Bank, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

The banks were also directed to publish all bank accounts not linked to BVN in national newspapers with a 14-day notice for individuals with interest in such accounts to come forward and justify why their funds should not be forfeited to the Nigerian government.

Justice Dimgba also ordered the CBN, which was joined as 20th respondent alongside the 19 DMBs, to appoint an official who will examine all the details submitted to the apex bank for compliance.

The government argued the matter under Section 3 of the Money Laundering Act, 2011, which provides that, banks must, “Ensure that documents, data or information collected under the customer due diligence process is kept up-to-date and relevant by undertaking reviews of existing records, particularly for higher risk categories of customers or business relationships.”

The BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposed the policy to capture customers’ data for financial transactions and check fraud in the banking system.

Registration for BVNs commenced on February 14, 2014, across the country and the apex bank has disclosed that over 20.8 million customers enrolled 40 million bank accounts before the October 31, 2015, final deadline for customers residing within the country.

The CBN extended the deadline for Nigerians in the diaspora to December 2016 to sign up for the BVN system.

But hundreds of thousands, home and abroad are still believed to be left behind.

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Visa Launches Pilot Test of Biometric EMV Cards

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Visa has initiated the first commercial test of an EMV dual-interface payment card with on-card biometric ID, according to a press release.

Tests will begin in early 2018 at the Bank of Cyprus and Mountain America Credit Union, as Visa seeks to assess the biometric technology and the cardholder experience in various retail environments.

The Bank of Cyprus will pilot test technology from Gemalto;  Mountain America Credit Union will test a product from Fingerprint Cards and Kona-I.

To use the card, the cardholder places his or her finger on the sensor, which compares the live fingerprint against a template of prints obtained during cardholder enrollment and securely stored on the card. If the prints match, the card an integrated light will flash green. If not, the light will flash red, the release said.

“The world is quickly moving toward a future that will be free of passwords, as consumers realize how biometric technologies can make their lives easier.

As electronic payments expand dramatically around the world, Visa is committed to developing and investing in emerging capabilities that deliver a better, more secure payment experience,” said Jack Forestell, head of global merchant solutions at Visa.

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Internet Solutions Connects to Microsoft Azure Network

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Pan-African Internet services providerInternet Solutions has incorporated its CloudConnect colocation connectivity solution into Microsoft’s Azure ExpressRoute network.

With Internet Solutions’ carrier infrastructure, Azure ExpressRoute users in Africa will link directly to the Microsoft Cloud – including Azure, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics 365 – hosted in Microsoft’s South African data centres when they come online in 2018.

“The ability to link directly and securely to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform locally will significantly increase the performance of our customers using Microsoft’s cloud services in South Africa,” says Gopal Govinder, executive at Internet Solutions.

“We anticipate that this will encourage companies to move more of their workloads into the cloud, so they can take greater advantage of the benefits that cloud technology offers.”

Govinder explains that average latency between SA and London is currently less than 180 milliseconds, while Internet Solutions’ terrestrial network latency is under 20 milliseconds nationally.

According to Govinder, this is a significant boost in regards to accessing critical cloud services such as client account information or stock data.

Internet Solutions will continue to connect organisations to Microsoft’s products through London and Amsterdam exchange points.

“We’re moving towards a global digital economy where enterprises and their service offerings have global reach, but in many ways it is more important than ever to localise delivery. This is what Microsoft is offering by investing in data centres in South Africa,” Govinder says.

Ross Ortega, partner manager, Microsoft Azure Networking at Microsoft, says: “We’re pleased to add Internet Solutions as an option for companies to connect to Microsoft Azure through Azure ExpressRoute. The Microsoft Cloud delivered from Africa through partners like Internet Solutions will help developers build new and innovative apps, and support our mutual customers in their cloud journey.”

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