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Paradigm Initiative Berates African Governments for Stifling Internet Freedom

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By peter oluka

With the recent Internet shutdown in Togo adding to the growing list of Internet shutdowns in Africa, with at least 11 in 2016 and 7 this year already, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), said that it has become easy to see how Internet shutdowns have dominated discussions on digital rights in Africa.

This was contained in a new policy brief, a document obtained by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, in which PIN lamented that in 2017, alone, internet shutdowns and disruptions have occurred in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Morocco, South Sudan and Togo under the guises of preventing examination malpractices, controlling citizens’ protests and others.

Executive Brief of the Document as notified by Babatunde Okunoye & ‘Boye Adegoke, shows that using their power as the sole providers of telecommunications services or with the assistance (sometimes under coercion) of private telecommunications companies, these governments totally cut off or disrupted access to the Internet or specific social media applications such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter within their territories.

“This brief seeks to highlight the impact of Internet shutdown on press freedom while at the same time argues that the media and other stakeholders must-see Internet Freedom advocacy as the new Press Freedom advocacy.

“While it is easy to see the big picture of Internet shutdowns and disruptions, it might also be easy to lose sight of other digital rights violations within Africa, particularly the surveillance and arrests of journalists, or how Internet shutdowns affect the work of journalists across the continent.

“Even though there were numerous arrests of citizens and bloggers by governments in 2016, 2017 has seen a severe onslaught on online journalists in Africa.

“Being an online journalist is fast becoming one of the most dangerous jobs in Africa.

“The extensive government mandated surveillance1 and blocking of news websites in Egypt2 and the arrests of online journalists covering the Al-hoceima protests3 in Morocco are highlights which demonstrate how journalists have become the prime target for state-sponsored attacks in 2017.

“Furthermore, the clampdown on journalists working digitally also extended to citizen journalists. In the heat of political protests and elections, citizen journalists are often the first on the scene to capture and share pictures of police brutality on social media, actions which have incurred jail time and fines across Africa.

“Elections and protests also routinely trigger Internet shutdowns in many African countries, a development that hampers the ability of online journalists to do their job.

“Freedom of expression is a bellwether for other human rights around the world because the state of freedom of expression is a good indicator of other human rights. Journalists, because of the nature of their profession, are guardians of freedom of expression and the conscience of society. The numerous attacks on online journalists and citizen journalists this year hit a new high and must be resisted.

“The world is still searching for solutions to Internet shutdowns. In Africa in particular, civil society groups have explored avenues such as litigation4,5 to make governments accountable for Internet disruptions in their territories. The available evidence shows that these efforts are yet to have the desired effect on government behavior,” a summary of the document reads.

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Turkish Airlines Holds Bowling Tournament in Nigeria

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Turkish Airlines, the airline that flies to more countries and international destinations than any other airline has hosted its Nigerian passenger agencies in both Lagos and Abuja to a bowling tournament. The Abuja bowling took place at the Dome, Abuja while Lagos held at Twin Waters Lagos.

The bowling tournament is designed to appreciate the passenger agencies and to provide a platform to bring the agencies together, ensuring that they build relationships outside the workplace.

The tournament also leverages the enjoyable competition of sports as a communication tool to develop team dynamics and celebrate the spirit of partnership and healthy competition. Nine agencies took part in the tournament in Lagos while ten agencies participated in Abuja.

Commenting on the tournament, Mr. Yunus Ozbek, General Manger, Turkish Airlines Lagos said, “We often focus on work and business, but fun and communication is important to build an environment where business can thrive, that is why Turkish Airlines organized this bowling tournament.

“It is heart -warming to see the Agencies engage in healthy competition and we sincerely appreciate all our travel agency partners that made this tournament both in Lagos and Abuja a success”.

On his part, Mr. Mehmet Asik, General Manager Turkish Airlines Abuja said, “healthy competition, fun and togetherness are some of the values that we are trying to achieve with this tournament.

“At Turkish Airlines, we aim to build a strong relationship with our agents and this bowling tournament provides an excellent platform to do that. We wish the winners a good contest in Istanbul”

At the end of the tournament, Quantum Travels emerged winner in Lagos while Touch Down Travels and Rewards Travel came 2nd and 3rd respectively. In Abuja, Capstone Travels and Tours came 1st place while The Travel Place came 2nd and Eagle Travels came 3rd. the highest scoring team in Lagos and in Abuja will represent Nigeria at the grand final in Istanbul. Other participating agencies include Travel Start, Peacock Travels, Waka Now,

The Turkish Airlines Bowling Tournament started since 2012 and now in its eight year is taking place in 61 countries, across 127 destinations with approximately 1000 passenger agencies and 3000 players participating in the tournament.

The winners from each city will be joining other winners from the 132 competing destinations to compete at the grand tournament in Istanbul. The champion of the tournament will win a flight ticket and a vacation in Antalya while other agencies in the rank will enjoy other lovely surprises at Istanbul.

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NOUN to Benefit from NCC’s Education Grants

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The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) says the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) will benefit from its education grants for tertiary institutions in the country.

Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC gave the assurance in Abuja on Thursday when a delegation from NOUN visited him in his office to explore ways of collaborating with the commission.

Mr Ephraim Nwokenneya, Director, Research and Development, NCC, who represented the Executive Vice Chairman, said the grants were part of the commission’s strategy to encourage Nigerian students in their studies.

He said about 11 universities from various parts of the country would benefit from the education research grants.

“Even though there are researchers in those universities who are conducting the research, the grants are given to the universities so that they can be able to moderate what happens.

“It underscores the current focus of NCC which is setting up framework to collaborate with the academia and seeing how we can deepen growth in the industry.

“NOUN is going to tap from the rich knowledge resource the commission has on ICT, they will also get possible research grants on some issues that will be of mutual benefit to NCC and NOUN as well as the Nigerian public.

“This is because the commission recognises the need that we can deepen growth, facilitate innovations in the industry through research and because there are a lot of resources that abound in tertiary institutions in the country.

“So, what we have done is to facilitate research with the academia. We have received a lot of proposals from the universities; we have evaluated and selected for grants those that are of paramount interest to our current focus.

“Each of those research proposals has got a prototype from which we can work to commercialise them for the benefit of the industry,” Danbatta said.

NOUN Vice Chancellor, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, who was represented by Prof. Nebath Tanglang, said the university was working to enhance learning through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

This, the VC said, would be achieved through the World Bank funded African Centre of Excellence and Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL). He also said that plans have been concluded to ensure women participated in the programme.

“This is a World Bank sponsored project and World Bank is always interested in issue of gender particularly in this programme, and one of the things we try to do is to ensure that each of the programme we run whether on research or other programmes, there must be space for women.

“We realised that what they do at NCC is almost what we do at NOUN and the purpose of our coming is to collaborate with them.

“At the African Centre of Excellence and Technology Enhanced Learning, we are going to run post graduate programmes on artificial intelligence, cloud computing as well as research.

“We are glad that even at NCC, there are component of research and we are going to leverage on that especially in the area of telecom research.

“We are glad that they are willing to collaborate with us and by the time we finish the arrangement of the collaboration, I know that the programme will take off in full,” Prof. Adamu said.

Prof. Grace Jokthan, Director ACETEL, explained that NOUN cannot make programme in using technology to deliver education without working with NCC.

She noted that ACETEL was deploying education using multimedia format and conferencing, to ensure students have access to things that otherwise they would not be able to do.

“We want to use the ICT sector to be able to engage in the education service delivery,” she added.

 

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Tech Innovations That Can Help Tackle Youth Unemployment In Nigeria

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke,

High unemployment, especially among the youths, has negative consequences on the economy of the country and population. Finding the right solution to this problem isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires the cooperation and contribution of everyone. Fortunately, technology may be able to provide some solutions. Here are some tech innovations that can help tackle youth unemployment in Nigeria.

Investment in IT infrastructure

Good technology infrastructure is the most important requirement for any technology-based solution. It is crucial to invest more in good internet connection, computer and mobile equipment, and other IT-related supports. All these can be harnessed to train and retrain young Nigerians on relevant digital skills.

Technology in schools

The importance of technology in African schools and universities is central. Many local schools have poor access to computers and the Internet. It is significant to integrate technology into school curricula. Technology is evolving rapidly and the demand for digitally skilled workforce will continue to grow in the future. Technology skilled workers have less trouble finding the right job or taking advantage of business opportunities in Nigeria and beyond.

eCommerce

eCommerce has grown significantly over the years in Nigeria. It was ably pioneered by Jumia, Nigeria’s no 1 shopping destination. The eCommerce platform has empowered many entrepreneurs by connecting them with millions of consumers across Nigeria and they are able to earn a living. Beyond this, many young Nigerians have seized the opportunities presented by the Jumia Sales Force programme which allows them to earn a commission on every completed sales transaction.

Using mobile technology

Fighting youth unemployment with mobile phones sounds like a questionable approach. However, mobile technology could be the right solution. The power of mobile technology is often underrated. You just need a mobile phone with a sim card and it can be used to connect employers and job seekers via SMS. Unemployed individuals would receive an SMS notification about available jobs and they could reply by sending their skills and experience.

Online education

E-learning platforms are one of the most popular forms of education today. Studying has never been easier and accessible. It provides access to quality study materials in the world. There are unlimited resources for free training materials on the internet. You just need an internet connection and a computer. You can leverage this to hone your skills and use it to apply for available jobs.

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