London hopes for bright tech future despite Brexit

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

London has a bright tech future post-Brexit working closely with other European capitals but the government should open up more to immigration, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said.

Launching London Tech Week, dubbed Europe’s largest festival of technology and innovation by its organisers, Khan said in an interview that London must “collaborate” with other European hubs regardless of Britain’s future exit from the European Union.

Almost three weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron hosted talks with 60 tech leaders during a Paris sector fair, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, London Tech Week is delivering more than 200 demonstrations spread out across the capital and bringing together 50,000 participants.

“One of the things about London’s future is that we have to work closely with our partners across Europe,” Khan disclosed on the sidelines of this week’s event.

“I love Paris, I love Berlin, love Barcelona, love Frankfurt, other cities across Europe… We shouldn’t see each other as competitors, always competing. Of course sometimes we do compete but also we should be collaborating, working closer together,” the mayor added.

– London ‘open to talent’ –

He said London would remain a welcoming destination despite Brexit, in order to continue a long tradition of attracting talent.

“London’s openness will always be one of our strengths, our diversity and so if you live in France or live in Germany or live in Poland or live in Italy or live in Spain, or around the world, and you want to fulfill your potential we’ll still going to be a welcoming place,” he said.

In a note of caution, however, Khan called for changes to Britain’s visa rules.

“The visa route for non-EU is very clunky…. But also we’ve got to make it easier for talented people from the EU to come to London.”

As part of London Tech Week, the government on Wednesday announced the creation of 1,600 new jobs and £2.3 billion ($3.1 billion, 2.6 billion euros) of investment into the UK technological economy from the private sector.

“The measures we are announcing… will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future, and in the UK, by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.

The government also plans to create a so-called Start-Up Visa for entrepreneurs.

“This will replace a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to talented business founders,” the statement added.

According to May’s Conservative government, British tech businesses last year attracted $7.8 billion compared with France and Germany’s combined total of $6.0 billion and almost double the UK amount in 2016.

“London has always been a place open to talent. For one thousand years, even before the European Union,” Khan said.

“That’s not going to change. You can come here to study, to be a tourist, to work, to invest.”

Khan, who backed Britain remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum, is hopeful that the country can ride potential Brexit storms.

A post-Brexit transition period to allow companies and people to adapt has been agreed with the EU in principle until 2020 and Khan said it could extend even further.

“The good news is that the transition period is quite a long way off… We’re not going to fall off a cliff edge in March 2019, it will go on to at least December 2020 and maybe longer,” he said

New Tesla software to offer ‘full’ autonomy – Musk

By Business Desk,

SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk announced that an update to Tesla’s Autopilot software will be released in August, “it will enable “full self-driving features” for the automaker’s electric cars”.

Musk’s comments come amid a race by automakers and tech firms to roll out fully autonomous vehicles, but also rising concerns about the safety of robotic systems.

The Tesla founder made the disclosure in a Twitter conversation, responding to a user who complained about issues with Autopilot, which is currently considered semi-autonomous with the requirement that a motorist be at the wheel at all times.

Musk said, the updated “Version 9” coming in August would help address a number of issues.

“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” he said.

Musk offered no details about the system, which could accelerate the effort to put more self-driving cars on the roads in the United States.

Federal safety investigators have been looking into a series of accidents, including at least two datal ones, involving self-driving cars.

Musk has complained about the focus on accidents, arguing that self-driving systems are likely to be far safer than human drivers.

“It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the (approximately) 40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage,” Musk said last month.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report last week that a Tesla operating on Autopilot sped up before a crash into a freeway barrier in California that killed the driver.

In another fatal accident last year, Tesla’s Autopilot failed to detect a truck crossing the road, but investigators pointed out the driver was watching a movie at the time and not paying attention with the semi-autonomous system in operation.

After an Uber self-driving vehicle earlier this year killed a pedestrian in Arizona, investigators said the automatic braking system had been disabled.

Nigeria mobile subscriber hits 149mn – NCC

By Business Desk

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed growth in active mobile lines’ users from 148 million in February to 149 million at the end of the month of March.

However, the NCC, which disclosed the development through its monthly Subscribers Operator Data posted on its website, said that active mobile lines increased from 147,961,791 in February to 148, 854,338 in March.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), for active mobile lines, however, recorded 217,566 users in March, same as February.

According to NCC, the number of Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) also rose from 81,498 recorded in February to 85,185 in March.

The report said teledensity increased marginally from 106. 00 in February to 106.64 in March.

Teledensity is the number of connected telephone lines for every 100 individuals living within an area, which varies across the country.

The NCC also said the number of connected mobile lines in March rose from 237,621,583 in February to 238, 116, 977.

The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) for connected lines for March was 3,586.095, the same figure with January, the subscribers’ data revealed.
The report said the number of fixed wired/wireless for connected lines in March increased from 345.195 in February to 355,485 as at March.

Similarly, it said Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) for connected lines rose from 515,231 in February to 542,063 in March.

The report, however, said the number of fixed wired/wireless for active mobile lines decreased from the 137,570 recorded in February to 136,781 in March.

NCC declares N49.7bn as revenue generated during 2018 1Q

By NewsDesk,

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has remitted N49.7 billion to Federal Government as first quarter of 2018 revenue generated by the commission.

It explained  that the remittance was in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 (FRA 2007) and that the figure represented the “Payment on Account” in respect of operating surplus for period.

Through a statement issued on Thursday by the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, its stated that the NCC remitted the figure which payments were to be made every year after preparation of Audited Accounts.

It indicated that the NCC has taken the initiative to be making payments on account as it generates revenue,’’ Ojobo said.

“Section 22, Sub section 1 of the Act states that notwithstanding the provisions of any written law governing the Corporation, each Corporation shall establish a general reserve fund and shall allocate thereto at the end of each financial year, one fifth of its operating surplus for the year.

“Section 22, Sub section 2 of the Act is clear about this – the balance of the operating surplus shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government not later than one month following the statutory deadline for publishing each Corporations Account.’’

It said:  “The funds remitted were besides “Spectrum Assignment fees which are remitted 100 per cent to the Federal Government in line with Section 17, Sub section 3 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA 2003).’’

According to the statement, the section states that “the Commission shall pay all monies accruing from the sale of Spectrum under Part 1 of Chapter VIII into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CFR).”

The telecommunications sector impacted the Nigerian economy positively. For instance in the first quarter of 2017, telecommunications contributed N1.45 trillion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while the figures rose to N1.549 trillion in the second quarter of 2017.

“This performance at a period of recession is very remarkable,’’ Danbatta had explained.

 

He said the NCC was working hard to achieve the 30 per cent penetration in line with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) from 2013 to 2018).

Fidelity Bank to discusses digital revolution before SMW’s audience

By NewsDesk, 

Fidelity Bank has disclosed that it would be taking over floor at ongoing 2018 Social Media Week (SMW) to discuss how technology has been revolutionizing and shaping financial circle in Nigeria and world at large,  including future of banking with advent of social medial.

It added that its team would, on Friday, hosting audience on a focused session tagged ‘The Millennial Takeover; How Millennials Are Changing The Financial Landscape”.

According to the financial institution,  the bank’s decision to participate in the week-long conference was borne out of need to further deepen ongoing conversations around social media and technology in relation to its impact on business, society and culture around the globe.

However, SMW Lagos is a conference that provides the ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world.

The event features a central stage for keynotes and panels, multiple rooms for workshops, master-classes and presentations, and an area dedicated to co-working, networking and interactive installations. Its mission is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information.

Through a statement issued by the bank on Thursday, the Top official from the bank’s , Gbolahan Joshua, indicated that rapid advancement in technology has resulted in a shift in consumer behaviour and that Fidelity Bank, being a first time sponsor of the event, was committed to facilitating the digital revolution in the technology eco system in Nigeria and by extension Africa.

He noted that the session’s theme was germane considering that millennial were transforming the banking industry by demanding extraordinary out of the box solutions and creating upgraded digital services that exceed their own increasingly high service delivery expectations.

“As a Bank, our mission is to make financial services easy and accessible to our customers. Digital technologies for us hold an enormous opportunity for greater financial inclusion”, Joshua explained.

“Participants at the Social Media Week 2018 should make out time to visit Fidelity Bank’s lounge to enjoy a superior digital banking experience. Closing the SMW Lagos, the Bank will treat attendees including existing and prospective customers to the mixer session (party) anchored by DJ Sose and Chuey Chue.

“The panel discussion which will be moderated by Producer, radio & television host, Folu Storms will have Mo Abudu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), EbonyLife TV; Bayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation officer (CTO), MTN Nigeria; Shola Akinlade, Co-Founder/CEO, PayStack; Gbolahan Joshua, Chief Operations & Information Officer (COIO), Fidelity Bank Plc; Layi Funsho, Head, Mobile & Web Payments, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ndidi Nwuneli, Founder/Director, LEAP Africa; Sam Onyemelukwe, Managing Director, Trace and Oluwole Oyeniran, Technology & Digital, Deloitte & Touche, as panelists”.

Microsoft launches technology solution in Nigeria

by NewsDesk,

An American Technology company, Microsoft, has  launch 365 Education, designed as single, affordable technology solution built for education in Nigeria.

Microsoft revealed on Tuesday in Abuja at a ‘Windows in the Classroom’ event, in partnership with Sidmach, an ICT firm that the solution would bring together Office 365, Windows 10, Intune for Education, Minecraft: Education Edition and Enterprise Mobility + Security, in a single cloud-based package.

Ms Jordan Belmonte, Education Programme Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, said that Microsoft provided easy and skillful modes of modern teaching.

“With mounting pressure on educational institutions to continually improve students’ achievement and prepare them with skills they will need when they enter the workforce, the aim of Microsoft 365 Education is to get schools up and running faster through simplified acquisition and deployment.

“This eliminates wasted time and delivers new capabilities to teachers and students to help them learn and work in new ways.

“Microsoft 365 is able to connect all the teachers in the world. Some of the features embedded like One Note, aids multiple language learning and has features suitable for special needs of children.

“With Skype, for instance, teachers can also connect their classrooms to other classrooms around the world, making for an immersive and interactive learning,’’ she said.

On his part, Mr Mark East, Microsoft Regional Leader for Education in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that schools want simple to purchase, simple to manage, secure and efficient systems.

Consequently, Microsoft 365 Education was designed to deliver on that need, he said.

“Millions of teachers and students are already using Office 365 for Education to communicate and collaborate with each other every day.

“With Microsoft 365 Education, we are providing a complete solution for schools in a single purchase that is a less expensive option than purchasing the same products individually.

“It is also part of our drive to simplify and modernise our licensing programmes ,” she said.

In her presentation, Mrs Jaye Richards-Hills, Senior Director, Digital Education Transformation, Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa, said that gone were the days when the teacher was an all-knowing instructor, as the pupils had access to knowledge through technology.

She said that there was a shift from the traditional teacher-led mode of learning to a more collaborative mode.

According to her, Microsoft looks at what the teachers wanted and build them to pedagogical tools.

“The desire to prepare students for the future is what is propelling Microsoft to build technology that’s easy to use and empowering for both teachers and students,’’ she said.

Microsoft 365 Education makes it possible to unlock creativity in each student with immersive and engaging apps like Minecraft: Education Edition.

It enhances independence and efficiency for students of all abilities using intelligent tools built into office apps.

Teachers drawn from selected secondary schools participated in the event.

Airtel subscribers decreases, 9mobile records 4,579 incoming porters in Oct.

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

Activates’ record of Nigerian mobile network providers showed that no fewer than 3,408 subscribers Airtel Nigeria in October, as against 4,840 that deserted the network in September, the development of which led to 9mobile gaining 4,579 additional users.

However, the report showed that in spite of  loan repayment challenge faced by 9mobile subscribers still have confidence in the network, hence, moving to its services.

In proven the development, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) released that there were 19,419 porting activities in October, and that 9,713 were incoming porting activities, while 9,706 were outgoing.

The regulator on Saturday unveiled activity of mobile network providers in its Incoming and Outgoing Porting Activities of Mobile Network Operators Report posted on its website, through which it indicated that in the month of October, 2,777 customers moved from MTN Nigeria, showing a decrease of 1,848 subscribers, against 4,625 that left the service provider in September.

It added that  2,409 subscribers ported from Globacom Nigeria in October, representing a decrease of 1,905 customers that left the network, as against 4,314 that left in September, and that 2,926 users of 9mobile dumped the service to other networks within the same period, an increase of 162, when compared with 3,088 users that left in September.

According to the it,  on incoming table, 9mobile led with an additional 4,579 customers joining its network in October and MTN Nigeria came second on the gainers’ list with 2,394 subscribers; 1,978 subscribers moved to Airtel Nigeria, while Globacom Nigeria got 762 customers.

Nigeria’s Mobile Number Portability (MNP) activities carried out by telecommunications operators decreased to 19,419 in October.

The commission said, in the report, that 33,514 subscribers ported within the networks in September, hence, a decrease of 14,095 activities in October.

It said that in the outgoing table, 1,432 subscribers moved from Airtel Nigeria to other networks through MNP in October.

NAN reports that the MNP was flagged off on April 22, 2013 by NCC, with the aim of deepening competition in the industry.

Australian firm woos FG on technology base gold mines operation

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

Nigerian gold mines may soon start receiving a new dimension if Federal Government keys into an Australian Company, Africa Mutual Resources, declared willingness to partner with the country on use technology in the sector.

However, the firm pointed that adoption of technological system known as  Blockchain, in the mining of gold, would boost the sector diversification drive and achieve sustainable economy, sighting Israel system as a reference

The Director, Africa Mutual Resources, Lee Purves, after hinting on the readiness of the firm to partner with Nigeria on proposed use of technology at gold mines, explained that the blockchain technology, was a digital ledger system, created with smart and transparent solution that would give buyers and sellers confidence in the gold business.

Purves, who spoke with Journalists on Tuesday in Abuja disclosed that the solution also absorbs data from along a supply line, whether it is gold, digital location or the source and put it in the blockchain.

It added that parties, as well as stakeholders, involved in the chain would access to content and that there would not be need for both buyer and sellers argue over quantity .

“If I am a gold seller or gold buyer, you don’t need to trust me anymore because the trust is in the system. You will see all the documentation. You can see what you have and I will see what you have,’’ he said.

On his part,  the Chairman,  Africa Mutual Resources, Dr Ade Kukoyi said the country belong to part of global community that should key into the technology and that his company had carried out research on Nigeria and that the country had been losing a lot of revenue to artisans not working in the mainstream.

He indicated that,  Nigeria has been losing revenue to activities of those that were in shadows and operating in the mainstream.

According to him, specifically gold and reported Nigeria is losing as much as 1.4 billion dollars in activities surrounding the illegal gold mining.

The company’s head stated that the blockchain technology was reformatory and that it will transform way business was done and underline theme of the technology was trust.

To him, distrust activities would be brought to an end through blockchain technology if government adopt the proposed solution ,’’ he said.

He assured that company would work with the government to elevate the status of the two gold laboratories in the country to attract world economy.

Kukoyi expressed concern state of two gold laboratories in Kaduna and Jos that had led to non-recognision of the facilities by world market economy.

“Similar laboratory is in Ghana but it is recognised so we have presented our proposal to the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office that Africa Mutual Resources will work with the Federal Government to elevate these institutions.

“We want the government to have the company as enabling partner so that we can be the mouth piece of the country internationally,’’ he said.

African Mutual Resources (AMR) was established to increase efficiencies of scale within Africa’s resources and infrastructure.

It sees the technology, infrastructure and mining industries as complementary, and will seek to capitalise on their emerging relationship in the new markets.

 

Local contractors will get preferential treatment – FG

By Abolaji Adebayo

The Federal Government has perfected plans towards favouring the local firms over their foreign counterparts in the awards of contracts as a way to boost indigenous technology and encourage Nigerian entrepreneurs.

This gesture, which would serve as incentives to Nigerian firms, according to the government, would have positive impact on the economic development of the country as dependence on importation would be reduced.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who gave the hints maintained that Nigerian firms would now be given preference in the scheme of things.

While delivering a keynote address at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and 2017 Conference of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abuja recently, the Minister emphasized that Nigerian firms and companies would henceforth be given priority in the award of contracts, and that where Nigerian firms lack the skills, they would be encouraged to partner with foreign firms that possessed same.

Onu, who informed that expatriate quota visas would henceforth not be granted to foreign firms at will where Nigerian professionals abound, bemoaned the paucity of indigenous engineers in Nigeria.

“If expatriate quota is given to foreign firms, at least three Nigerian professionals must be made to work with them from conceptualization to commissioning of the project so as to develop local capacity.”

He called on Nigerian engineers to utilize their skills in view of the prevailing global revolution which put premium on engineering in economic activities, noting that the richest people in the world are those who used their brain to create wealth.

The minister also urged Nigerians to show interest in the commercialization of research findings, saying that it would help create wealth, provide jobs, reduce poverty as well as stop capital flight.

He disclosed that the recently-launched Science, Technology and Innovation roadmap 2017-2030 would trigger industrialization and promote competiveness in raw materials to add value to the local raw materials and guidelines that would guide projects and contracts.

He also said that with the National Strategy to promote competitiveness in raw materials, about N3trillion would be saved by the Federal Government, adding that capital flight would be drastically reduced.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President, National Society of Engineers, Engr. Otis Anyaeji, urged the federal government to unbundle some ministries so as to make government business more effective.

He also advised the federal government to formulate and implement policies on agricultural mechanization, noting that development starts with infrastructural development.

NCC warns telcos against customers’ abuse

By Abolaji Adebayo

The Nigerian Communications Commission has warned telecommunication companies in the country over abuse of customers’ rights and privileges, assuring the subscribers in the sector that it is set to toughen its fight against all kinds of abuse.

Customers had complained about mistreatment by some telecoms companies operating in Nigeria in form poor service delivery, unsolicited sms, unauthorized deduction of money on their networks and some others.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, insisted that the customer remained King, deserved to get value for money and be treated as a very important stakeholder in the scheme of things, as far as service delivery was concerned.

Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, Danbatta said the agency was committed to protecting consumers from unfair practices, warning that it would protect their rights at any point in time through availability of information and education to make informed choices in the use of ICT services.

He stressed that the objective of the agency was to engage, empower, educate and inform the consumers about their rights and responsibilities, opportunities and solutions that are available in the industry.

“We have put the service providers on special notice about our current monitoring of user experience on issues of poor reception, wrong billings, deductions, and automatic roll-over, among other issues. And if they fail to improve services to the detriment of the consumers, they will face appropriate regulatory actions and sanctions.”

He reiterated that the commission would soon issue a directive to the service providers to give a 14-day window to the subscribers to enable them roll over their unused data, even if they do not renew on the date of expiration of the current subscription.

The Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Abdullahi Maikano, explained that the telecom consumers should be the target beneficiaries of all NCC’s activities.

Maikano maintained that the consumers enjoyed primary focus in terms of ensuring that they got good quality services, value for money spent, timely and fair redress of complaints and protection from unwholesome practices of some service providers.