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Commission Vows to Prosecute Online Service Providers for Copyright Infractions



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Online service providers, including hosts of e-libraries, would be held responsible for any copyright infractions on their platforms, according to John O. Asein, director-general, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC)


Asein, who spoke  during deliberations with the newly elected executive of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA)  on a courtesy call at the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja, disclosed that the Commission was paying more attention to online activities with a view to curbing the sale of pirated books through online stores.

Addressing a seven-man delegation led by Camillus Ukah, new ANA president, accompanied by its immediate past President, Denja Abdullahi, Asein called on ANA to constitute an anti-piracy committee to interface with the Commission for proactive, sustained and effective anti-piracy campaign.

He decried contract gaps between authors and publishers in the country and indicated that the Commission would collaborate with ANA to develop model contracts to ensure proper rights clearance and adequate remuneration for authors in the book industry.

Noting that the absence of proper contractual agreements between authors and publishers has left many authors with unpleasant experiences, the Director-General also observed the necessity for new business models to ensure adequate recompense for authors, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stressing the importance of the literary field, Asein noted that creative writing was the bedrock of the wider creative industry, including Nollywood.

In his words: “The movie industry could not have been where it is today without the literary talents turning out excellent film scripts.

“The author of the film script is often unsung, but they set the tone for good films and, like the faces of Nollywood, these scriptwriters also deserve to be celebrated.”

The Director-General gave special commendation to the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, for recently demonstrating his unalloyed commitment to copyright values and lending his voice to denounce copyright infringement and abuses.

Asein said the Commission would be pleased to adopt the Nobel Laurette as a Copyright Champion to help fight book piracy in the country.

He called on other notable authors to also step up support for the campaign against copyright piracy.

The Director-General urged ANA members to take advantage of the Commission’s copyright e-registration system and avail themselves of the whistleblowing policy of the NCC by alerting the Commission on suspected pirates for effective enforcement.

He said: “We should not allow rogues to take over the copyright space.

“ANA should intensify its copyright enlightenment campaign and encourage its members to sound an alarm wherever they find pirates at work.

“The Commission, on its part, pledges to always respond promptly to any alarm.”

While calling on the new executive to upscale the association’s reading campaign, the Director-General urged ANA to support the efforts of the Nigeria Association of the Blind to make more books available in accessible formats for the benefit of blind and visually impaired persons.

Asein further thanked ANA for helping to sustain the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria and expressed hope that REPRONIG would be assisted further to become a viable collective management organisation for the benefit of Nigerian authors.

“When CMOs are threatened with extinction, we owe them a lifeline to keep afloat,” he said.

Asein commended the enviable legacy of visionary leadership in ANA, adding that the Association has demonstrated quality leadership, worthy of emulation in the creative industry.

Ukah stated that the Association was committed to reforms and strengthening of the copyright regime to address gaps in a bid to promote the economic interests of authors and advance the literary industry.

He expressed appreciation for the Commission’s proactive measures towards checking piracy, citing its recent timely intervention to curb the online piracy of books belonging to the literary icon, Prof. Wole Soyinka.

Ukah lauded the Commission’s long-standing cooperation that the Association has enjoyed, particularly during the reform of the copyright system and assured of its continued collaboration with NCC.

The ANA President further assured the Commission that the new executive would work closely with the NCC to promote copyright knowledge among authors and ensure that literary authors continued to use the copyright system optimally.

Representatives of the Commission and ANA were constituted into a working group to identify areas of immediate interest and facilitate collaboration.

Other newly elected ANA executives in attendance were Farida Mohammed, Vice President; Mark Ortserga, General Secretary; Freeman Okosun, Assistant General Secretary; Torlafia Benjamin Terhile, Legal Adviser; and Umar Yogizaj, Publicity Secretary, North.

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EFCC Confirms Attack on Commission’s Website



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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday admitted that its official website was attacked by yet-to-be identified cyber criminals during the weekend.

EFCC Confirms Attack on Commission’s Website

A group of activists with a motto: ‘We are anonymous’ had last Friday announced on Twitter in a series of tweets that it had gained access into some critical federal government agencies’ websites in solidarity with #EndSARS protests going on in the country.

The agencies, as announced by the activists included websites of EFCC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) among others.

Checks revealed that the commission’s website on Friday showed it was offline due to an internal server error.

The activists also announced that they had gained access to the Twitter account of National Broadcasting Corporation via the victim-agency’s account, where they also posted #EndSARS protest materials on the agency’s Twitter timeline.

Confirming the attack, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the commission, in a tweet said the attack was successfully repelled.

He wrote, “Though there were attempts, over the weekend, to compromise the website by some cyber criminals the attacks were successfully repelled. The EFCC website is up and running.”


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Catalyst Fund, Others Launch $4.3M Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator



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Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), announced the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, a program aimed at scaling digital commerce companies in Ghana to support the digitization of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the country.

The two-year program will improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of MSEs in Ghana, that have been impacted by COVID-19, by enabling access to digital commerce platforms and access to market.

The accelerator will select and scale six digital commerce and innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs to reap the benefits of digital commerce, leveraging Catalyst Fund’s existing proven model to combine:

 . flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000 per company;

.deep, bespoke, expert-led venture acceleration support;

.portfolio meet-ups and curated cohort-based workshop sessions with local expertise and operational support by MEST;

.a commitment to sharing best practices, toolkits, learnings, and insights with the digital commerce sector;

.connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors (65+) and Circle of Corporate Innovators; and

. ecosystem acceleration to create a more enabling investment and business environment in which digital commerce companies can prosper.

The first expansion of Catalyst Fund beyond its flagship Inclusive Fintech program will officially launch via a virtual event and company pitch showcase on November 4th.

All participating companies in the pitch will be selected by an expert Investment Advisory Committee. Selection is informed by market research conducted to identify the barriers and opportunities for expanding inclusive digital commerce in Ghana. Initial research findings will be released at the official launch event on November 4th.

Speakers at the launch will include: Alex Bram of Hubtel; Lexi Novitske of Acuity Venture Partners; Albert Biga of Zoobashop; Kweku Fleming of MEST Scale; Jane del Ser of BFA Global; and more.

The event will conclude with a pitch showcase from four leading digital commerce companies across Ghana, which will be held at the MEST Accra Incubator.

“We’re thrilled to announce the first Catalyst Fund expansion program, which builds on lessons learned on supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years.

“Through the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, we aim to impact informal MSEs in Ghana who, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, lack access to a financial safety net and find their livelihoods impacted when physical commerce suffers.

Along with support and deep local expertise from the Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital commerce space to better reach informal MSEs so they can leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future,” said Catalyst Fund Managing Director Maelis Carraro.

Country partner MEST brings deep market knowledge, leveraging 12+ years of training and incubating tech entrepreneurs on the ground in Ghana.

“The opportunity to partner with an experienced organization like Catalyst Fund with support from the Mastercard Foundation, is in equal parts exciting and aligned with MEST’s scale strategy in Ghana, and beyond. Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through our training program, seed fund, and incubator programs.

“The Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator provides an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures which are strategically seeking to better reach and serve informal MSEs, leveraging our local knowledge, networks, and expertise,” said MEST Strategic Director Greg Coussa.

US$4.3 million commitment to support the financial resilience of MSEs

Surveys conducted by BFA Global and by Ghana Statistical Service found that MSEs in particular are suffering as a result of the pandemic. A BFA Global survey of low- and middle-income individuals found that 44% of self-employed people had lost their jobs or could not find work.

A recent tracker from the Ghana Statistical Service found that microenterprises are faring worse than large and small enterprises; among businesses that are open, 92.2% of microenterprises report decreased sales (compared to 89% of small and medium enterprises, and 45% of large enterprises), noting that sales have fallen 60.9% relative to last April.

“Micro and small enterprises are the bedrock of Ghana’s economy. They are also the most impacted by COVID-19, putting livelihoods and economic gains made over the years at risk. Accelerating access to markets through digitization and e-commerce platforms provides MSEs the opportunity not only to scale, but to strengthen their resilience at the other side of the pandemic,” said Nathalie Akon Gabala, Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa, at the Mastercard Foundation.

In a parallel effort to accelerate the expansion of the digital commerce ecosystem and increase coordination, Catalyst Fund will be building an open database of digital commerce companies operating in Ghana. Companies who wish to express interest in being considered for the accelerator may also choose to be included in the database. All interested companies should complete the form found here.

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CWG Set to Deploy 100,000 Smart Meters for IBEDC



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As a licensed Meter Asset Provider, CWG Plc has been given a contract worth $11.1million by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Companies (IBEDC) to deploy over 100,000 smart meters in Babaoko, Omu Aran and Jebba Business Hubs.

Mr. Emmanuel Ilori, CWG’s Business Development Manager, Corporate Development, disclosed this recently in a chat with some Journalists in Lagos.

According to him, the contract is a fall out of CWG’s utility business, having the full regulatory bodies’ recognition as it has both the NEMSA and MSP certificates, all of which lend credence to its metering business and positioned the company to harness the inherent opportunities within the electricity value chain.

“The Meter Asset Provider license from Nigeria Electricity Regulation Company (NERC) enables us to initiate business discussions around metering with a several Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria. Notable among this discourse is the business contract we concluded last year with IBEDC, a contract sum in excess of $11.1m in which three business hubs were ceded to us for the deployment of electricity meters. We are to deploy over 100k plus meters in Babaoko, Omu Aran and Jebba Business hubs of the IBEDC,” Ilori revealed.

He added that the deployment and installation of the meters are currently ongoing in all of these locations with the company’s team of installers on ground, massively driving the process of the installations.

This is also an opportunity to notify the IBEDC customers within Omu-Aran, Babaoko and Jebba business Hubs to go their respective IBEDC business hubs to register and pay for their meters and get it installed in 10 days of the regulatory installation circle.

The CWG’s Smart Meter Solution, which has been described as a unique solution because of its efficacy within the electricity value chain is presently being deployed in different locations across Nigeria, especially in Real Estate companies’ projects, Estate Management firms and Utility companies for the effective management of energy monitoring and usage.

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