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Tech: NDITDA Bill Must Not Be Allowed to Destroy the New Oil Well

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By Joel Popoola

In tech terms, 2007 was a thousand years ago.

YouTube was a little over a year old. Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist. TikTok wouldn’t go international for another decade.

That’s why it’s only sensible that we update out technology laws to reflect the Nigeria we live in now.

But this regulatory refresh must not come at the expense of our economic future.

This week has brought news that the National Information Technology Development Agency is apparently seeking to extend powers granted in 2007 to provide the Nigerian tech sector with advisory guidelines to a fully-fledged regulator with the powers to determine which businesses are allowed to operate.

Under the proposals, companies would also have to pay a 1% levy on their profits to NITDA. Companies failing to comply with the rules would risk jail time or minimum fines of 30 million naira.

In the aftermath of the government’s banning of both cryptocurrency and Twitter, insiders fear the move may have the effect of hindering innovation in Africa’s fastest growing tech ecosystem.

This must not be allowed to happen.

Tech is a sector which has defied the stagnant economy which has defined Nigeria in recent years. The internationally-renowned Financial Times recently branded Nigeria “Africa’s hottest start-up scene”. Of every five dollars invested in venture capital funding in Africa in 2020, one dollar went to Nigeria. In Flutterswitch and Intersave our nation is home to two of Africa’s four unicorns- companies valued at over $1billion. Investors poured $1.6billion into the Nigerian tech scene between 2016 and 2020.

It is this reason why tech’s role in the Nigerian economy has been called “the new oil”. And as the world adapts to a post-oil future, it’s something which is only going to become more and more critical. We must not intentionally destroy the new oil’s well.

As the Financial Times writes, the Nigerian government’s “byzantine structure, endemic corruption and penchant for free speech crackdowns” already inhibits innovation and discourages investment. Heavy handed regulation will only encourage investors and businesses to look elsewhere.

Fintech – digital banking – is one of the most significant divers of the Nigerian tech boom, and in a nation where 60 million people do not have a bank account and where 96% of transactions still take place using cash, the sector is only going to expand – democratising money as it does. No-one is seriously suggesting this area should be an unregulated free-for-all. Consumers need to know that they are investing in a reputable and regulated organisation and not a digital pyramid scheme.

Regulation which supports instead of strangling innovation is the key to prosperity. But the Nigerian tech sector has all-too-often found both the NDITA and other governmental bodies remote, inaccessible and even antagonistic.

This approach is symptomatic and symbolic of the digital divide between decision makers and ordinary Nigerians.
At the digital democracy campaign I lead we are trying to bridge that divide with technology.
We have developed a free app called Rate Your Leader to help elected officials better engage with both technology and the people who elect them.

The app allows direct person-to-person communication between verified voters and confirmed local leaders. As a result, Rate Your Leader allows the rapid raising of issues and concerns and the sharing of information, allowing communities to collaborate to make local areas better and helping politicians understand what matters most to the people who elect them. Rate Your Leader’s abuse-proof technology ensures that this communication is always courteous and civil.

Rate Your Leader also lets local people rate politicians for accessibility, transparency and honesty – building trust in both politicians and political institutions.

The Nigerian tech sector is alarmed by the prospect of a bill which seems to give a single agency the power to decide which businesses can operate and which technologies can come to market, and baffled with a bill which seems to entirely contradict the Nigerian Startup Bill, a tech industry–led initiative much better targeted at delivering a more startup-friendly business environment.

As with so many aspects of the Nigerian political landscape, the key to overcoming these concerns is better engagement – engagement that new technology ironically makes it a lot easier to facilitate.

If we are to safeguard a more prosperous future, it is engagement which must take place at the earliest opportunity – and at Rate Your Leader, we are willing to support that engagement in any way we can.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and founder of the Rate Your Leader app. He can be reached via @JOPopoola

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FG Endorses Groundbreaking Clean Cookstoves Project, Partners GreenPlinth Africa

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In a landmark move towards sustainable development and environmental conservation, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Council on Climate Change has officially endorsed a revolutionary initiative aimed at addressing global climate crisis, environmental challenges and improving livelihoods across the nation.

Under the auspices of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, in collaboration with strategic partners, an ambitious Article 6.4 project has been launched to distribute 80 million clean cookstoves free of charge to households throughout Nigeria.

This initiative, the largest single clean cooking systems project in the world, marks a significant step forward in combatting the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with traditional cooking methods, such as indoor air pollution and deforestation.

The provision of clean cookstoves is set to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians, particularly women and children, who are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of traditional cooking practices. The adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves by households will lead to improved indoor air quality, reduce respiratory illnesses, and largely contribute to mitigating climate change through lower carbon emissions.

In a statement by Dr. Olawale Akinwumi, president and CEO of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru recently issued a formal Letter of Endorsement (LoE) for the Improved And Efficient Cooking Energy Solution For Nigeria – a Programmatic Article 6.4 Project.

Dr. Dahiru, who is also the Designated National Authority (DNA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Focal Point in Nigeria averred that the project would result in greenhouse gas emission reduction and more importantly lead to sustainable forest development and job creation in Nigeria.

According to him, besides reduction in domestic emissions, the project will decrease upper respiratory infections, thereby leading to improved health conditions; and equally enhance the nation in achieving sustainable development and the goals of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Speaking on the importance of the project, Dr. Victor Fodeke, vice president and GMD of Greenplinth Africa Limited stated that the initiative will particularly benefits vulnerable communities, women, and children, who bear the brunt of health issues linked to traditional cooking practices. “Nigerians will experience tangible benefits while collectively contributing to global efforts in combating climate change”, he said.

Dr. Fodeke, a former Technical Adviser on Climate Change to the African Union (AU), declared that in addition to the deployment of clean cookstoves, the project includes an ambitious afforestation campaign, with plans to plant a staggering 4 billion economic trees across the nation. This initiative not only aims to combat deforestation but also to promote sustainable land management practices, enhance biodiversity, and create economic opportunities for communities across Nigeria – stimulating economic growth by creating new avenues for employment and income generation.

“The Article 6.4 Clean Cookstoves Project will be a foreign exchange earner for the Nigerian economy. This is first time anywhere in the world that efficient clean cookstoves project of this magnitude is being launched to be fully funded for every household, and 100% financed by Carbon Credits.

“Our PANDA Cookstove is also the first clean cookstove in the world to be launched with the co-benefit of Innovative Tree Planting and Nurturing to eliminate or reduce Poverty, Hunger, and Diseases,” he concluded.

The Federal Government’s endorsement of this groundbreaking Article 6.4 initiative underscores its commitment to fostering sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the well-being of its citizens.

The Improved and Efficient Cooking Energy Solution for Nigeria is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) registered Initiative.

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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail

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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, refused to grant bail to an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering before Emeka Nwite, judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant is a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this is a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting Gambaryan bail, especially as he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.

After the ruling, the EFCC called its first witness, a staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Governor Adeleke Felicitates with Dele Momodu at 64

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The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has felicitated with the celebrated journalist, and Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Akinrogun Dele Momodu on the occasion of his 64th birthday, describing him as “a pride of the media industry.”

Governor Adeleke noted Akinrogun Momodu’s heartwarming contributions to a just and equitable society, saying he has touched the minds and hearts of countless people with insightful words, logistic support and unwavering dedication to truth and justice.

The Governor appreciates the Ovation Magazine Publisher’s sustained commitment to informing and enlightening the public as a weapon of nation building, acknowledging him as an inspirational figure, who has empowered readers to think critically, and engage meaningfully.

“I congratulate my dear friend, Akinrogun Dele Momodu, on the auspicious occasion of his birthday. The Aare Tayese of Iwoland is a unique personality, who has touched lives positively and brought smiles to countless faces,” the Governor was quoted in a congratulatory message, signed by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed.

“On this auspicious occasion, I honour both your wonderful life and exceptional contributions to the media sector and the larger society. I note, with admiration, Akinrogun Momodu’s deep sense of commitment to a better Nigeria, which is manifest in columns and public discourse.

“On behalf of my family, I convey best wishes to Akinrogun Momodu on his birthday and it is my prayer that God grant him many celebrations in good health and happiness while also bestowing him the grace to give more to humanity.”

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