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Announcing Ugo: A Homecoming Story, an original documentary featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Today WhatsApp and Giannis Antetokounmpo release Ugo, an original documentary that takes fans of the Greek-Nigerian NBA superstar along on the profound journey to his homeland of Nigeria for the first time.

Ugo: A Homecoming Story, directed by Rick Famuyiwa, is available to view on YouTube and in select markets on Prime Video starting today, January 16. It is WhatsApp’s new feature-length documentary, and its latest original content feature following the 2022 short film Naija Odyssey. Both projects vividly portray the power of familial connection, cultural discovery, and personal identity.

Ugo, titled after Antetokounmpo’s Nigerian birth name, offers exclusive and unparalleled access into the journey of one of the world’s most decorated basketball players of all time. This intimate fly-on-the-wall documentary chronicles Antetokounmpo’s inaugural visit to his homeland, accompanied by his mother, who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago. Together, they delve into their family’s heritage and Nigerian traditions, fostering a profound bond as Antetokounmpo strengthens his connection to his culture.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said: “Growing up in Greece, my Nigerian culture was something my mother made sure we carried with us, but I was never lucky enough to have a direct experience in my homeland. Thankfully WhatsApp helped me stay connected to my family and roots, allowing me to create my own unique version of heritage. To be able to travel back to where she was born, and build a new Nigerian family, has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and only made me more proud of the many cultures that make me who I am. I’m proud to share this journey which I hope many around the world can connect to, showing us that we all have a different meaning of ‘home,’ even when we’re far away from it.”

Above all, Ugo delivers a universal message of self-discovery, emphasizing that regardless of one’s background or proximity to one’s roots, their unique blend of multicultural heritage defines their individuality. The documentary is the latest chapter of WhatsApp’s There’s No One Like Us film series that also serves as a call to inspire the platform’s 2 billion users around the world to embrace their individual identities. With its reach and impact, the global messaging service is proud to have powered the documentary and support Antetokounmpo in his journey from being solely digitally connected with relatives, to being physically and spiritually connected to his homeland.

Vivian Odior, Chief Brand Officer at WhatsApp and herself of Nigerian descent said: “Witnessing Giannis, with his mother no less, on his first journey, to connect with his homeland – Nigeria – in such a deeply personal manner evokes emotions shared by many of our billions of users on a daily basis. It’s a powerful reminder that the quest for identity and roots resonates universally, fostering a connection that transcends boundaries.”

Rick Famuyiwa, the Nigerian-American director of the documentary whose previous directing credits include The Mandalorian and Dope, said: “The first steps you take in your homeland are absolutely unforgettable. They’re life-changing. It was an honor to work with WhatsApp to capture that moment for Giannis and to share a story that not only I can relate to, but so many people across the world can see themselves in, too.”

Ugo is the latest in the partnership between WhatsApp and Antetokounmpo, since the partnership was initially unveiled at the NBA All-Star Game in February 2022. Ugo features appearances from key global Nigerian creatives including Grace Ladoja, entrepreneur and founder of Homecoming; Stephen Tayo, photographer; and Yeni Kuti, the daughter of Fela Kuti.


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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. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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Nigeria’s Public Debt Now N121trn – DMO

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Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt has reached N121.67 trillion within three months.

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The Cable reports that this figure represents an increase of N24.33 trillion or 24.99 percent from the N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Nigeria’s public debt profile consists of the federal and subnational governments’ domestic and external debt stocks — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

According to the DMO, the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“Total domestic debt was N65.65 trillion (USD46.29 billion) while total external debt was N56.02 trillion (USD42.12 billion). Excluding naira exchange rate movements in Q1 2024, only the domestic debt component of total public debt grew from N59.12 trillion on December 31, 2023, to N65.65 trillion on March 31, 2024.

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the N7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the government’s revenue to enhance debt sustainability.”

On June 13, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion. In May, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said the federal government has secured a $500m World Bank loan to boost electricity distribution in the country.

Prior to this, the federal government had received $750 million from the World Bank for humanitarian and social reforms and $1.5 billion for its economic stabilisation plan.


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Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

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Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has declined to renew the license of On Digital Media, the operator behind StarSat, the South African branch of StarTimes Media.

Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

The decision, communicated in a letter to On Digital Media, mandates the company to cease operations by September 18, 2024, leaving the reasons for this decision and the steps required to secure a new license unclear.

Despite the shutdown order, Debbie Wu, CEO,  StarSat assured that the company will not be closing its operations anytime soon and is actively liaising with Icasa to find a resolution.

“We can assure you and the public that On Digital Media/StarSat will not be closing its operations anytime soon” Debbie Wu, CEO, On Digital Media.

“There’s been no notice to staff and StarTimes is still selling StarSat decoders to new customers,” an insider told TVwithThinus.

Reports that Icasa hadn’t renewed StarSat’s licence surfaced in early June 2024.

Icasa claimed it had sent a letter in mid-March to Wu and Ronald Reddy, general manager for legal, risk, and compliance, On Digital Media indicating it may issue a statement to inform subscribers, content providers, and financial stakeholders about the shutdown.

“Take note that Icasa may publish a notice on its website and/or in the Government Gazette advising affected subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the winding up of ODM’s broadcasting services“, the regulator said.

Icasa clarified that it does not have the mandate to consider transfer or renewal applications for expired licenses and instructed On Digital Media to share its plan for notifying subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the service cessation.

Wu stated that the company is exploring all regulatory and legal issues surrounding its licensing and reiterated that StarSat will continue its operations for the foreseeable future.

“Should such an event materialise, which we doubt will happen, we will respect our obligation in terms of the law to notify all interested parties,” Debbie Wu said, according to TVwithThinus.

 


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Climate Action Africa Reinforces Africa’s Urgency for Climate Change @CAAF24 Event in Lagos

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Climate Action Africa Forum 24 (CAAF24) held in Lagos, Nigeria marked a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change, organized by Climate Action Africa (CAA), a leading environmental advocate in Africa. CAAF24 aims to galvanize action and underscore the urgent need for climate action across industries and communities across Africa.

The event, held at the prestigious Landmark Center, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders including government officials, business leaders, academics, civil society representatives and the media.

The theme of this year’s forum, “Green Economies, Brighter Futures,” highlights the imperative for immediate and collective action in mitigating the effects of climate change in Africa and achieving global sustainability goals.

“CAAF24 serves as a critical platform for dialogue and collaboration,” said Grace Oluchi Mbah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CAA.

“With the event, we aim to increase education and awareness on climate change, showcase innovations and projects driving Africa to a sustainable future, and more actively contribute to the expansion of Africa’s green economy.”

The program featured addresses from Her Excellency, Madame Ramatoulaye Diallo Ndiaye, Former Minister of Culture Mali and Founder and CEO of the Great Green Wall of Africa (GGWoA) Foundation who was the special keynote speaker.

There were breakout sessions for panel discussions and workshops that focused on key issues such as the potential of forests and carbon credits, climate financing, Nigeria’s carbon market activation, mobilizing private capital for climate-positive investments in Africa, building resilient and livable African Cities and more. Sessions were designed to encourage interactive participation and exchange of ideas among participants from diverse backgrounds and sectors.

In addition to formal sessions, CAAF24 included networking opportunities and showcased the selection of outstanding innovations from over 800 registerations through the Deal Room, a platform that connected high-impact climate innovators in Africa with potential investors seeking to accelerate sustainable solutions.

Other highlights at CAAF24 were the audacious launch of the Billion Trees for Africa Initiative as part of CAA’s community programs and the unveiling of the Pan-African Green Economy Program (PAGE), a partnership with IDEA AFRICA and the Founder Institute that seeks to grow a new generation of 5,000 green innovators across Africa by 2035.

The selection of Omoniyi Praise (1st position), Treasure Nwosu (2nd position) and Alabi Abimbola (3rd position) as winners for the Climate Champion Quest organised by STEAM Funfest also stood out at CAAF24.

As Africa faces increasingly severe climate impacts, CAAF24 is a platform that is committed to unifying the participation of diverse stakeholders in advancing and achieving climate action in Africa. By reinforcing the urgency of climate change through meaningful dialogue and collaboration, CAAF24 inspires concrete steps towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.


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