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CommsWeek, CBT Develop App to Fight Hate Speech

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Communication Week Media Limited, publishers of Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, and Core Business Technologies Limited (CBT) have developed mobile phone application to enable the public to report hate speech in a bid to curb the spread of extremism and sectarianism.

 

Hate speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.

 

According to Ken Nwogbo, a Nigerian newspaper columnist, ICT Journalist and founder, Communication Week Media Limited, the App aims primarily to tackle the impunity of hate crimes.

 

“Hate speech is clear and present evil, the many wars across the world were caused by the crimes of hate speech, that was why we partnered with CBT, arguably one of Nigeria’s solution-oriented, dynamic and indigenous Information Technology and Solutions service provider to develop this App” Nwogbo added.

 

Compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems, the App called “Pana” tackles hate speech by establishing monitoring and evaluation units in the App.

 

Edward Essien, CEO of CBT, said “I do not support capital punishment for hate speech, that is why we developed the App to nip it in the bud. By sentencing hate speech offender to maximum penalty, the government is inadvertently promoting hate speech”

 

“By that, the government is promoting one section of the society against the other, the best thing to do it trace and trap such speech” he added.

 

The app enables citizens to report anonymously extremist speeches, banners or activities wherever they notice them. Users can send pictures, audio, video or a written message.

 

Such data and information received can be shared with police and other law-enforcement and regulatory authorities.

 


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Lagos State Government, Interswitch Group Sign MoU Smart Health Information Platform

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The Lagos State Government has officially signed a concession agreement with one of Africa’s leading integrated technology enablers, Interswitch, through its Healthtech subsidiary, Interswitch eClat, to develop and manage the Lagos Smart Health Information Platform (LAGSHIP).

Nigeria’s healthcare industry remains grossly underfunded with several other challenges, lacking a truly national/integrated framework for healthcare service delivery due to fragmentation among health stakeholders.

A recent report from Knight Frank estimates Nigeria would require about $82 billion of investment in health-care assets to reach the global average. Healthcare institutions continue to struggle with daily operations due to a myriad of constraints and process inefficiencies.

The foregoing is the backdrop against which this latest public-private partnership milestone championed by the Lagos State Government is being launched with a view to positioning Lagos, Nigeria’s largest economic hub as a model for sub-nationals in strategic healthcare delivery interventions.

The Executive Governor of Lagos State, H.E. Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu highlighted the significance of the Lagos State Smart Health Information Platform Project as one unprecedented in Nigeria till date.

The Governor, in his remarks asserted that “The signing of the Concession Agreement between the Lagos State Government and Interswitch for the implementation of the Smart Health Information Platform (SHIP) is a ground-breaking development which signifies the start of a comprehensive technological overhaul in Lagos State’s health sector, aimed at enhancing residents’ access to healthcare services.”

Governor Sanwoolu further remarked that “I believe that this platform represents a significant and innovative approach to utilizing technology for accessing health information. It is poised to deliver numerous benefits and eliminate payment barriers, thereby encouraging citizens to actively engage with the process.”

Capitalizing on over 2 decades of experience and strategic expertise digitizing transactions and aggregating technology platforms across Africa, by virtue of this concession, Interswitch will support the State Government in securely leveraging data harnessed from electronic medical records deployed across all hospitals (public and private) and allied locations within the industry value chain, to create enhanced experiences for all stakeholders, from administrators to medical personnel, patients, as well as for better planning and policy-making, ultimately.

The strategic objective is to address gaps within the healthcare delivery system by creating an ecosystem that facilitates deeper connections between stakeholders and essentially addressing fragmentation by connecting patients to doctors, practices to public offices and patients to their medical data, thereby solving the operational problems of hospitals and healthcare providers through the robust over-arching technology infrastructure that LAGOS-SHIP represents.

Commenting after the signing ceremony, which was jointly signed by the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Akin Abayomi and the Special Adviser to The Governor on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Mrs. Bukola Odoe, and witnessed by the Executive Governor and selected members of the Lagos State Executive Council at the State House, Marina, Mitchell Elegbe, Founder and Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, remarked:

“22 years ago, we set out with a clear vision to solve social problems in Nigeria, starting by digitizing the use of cash, making it available to Nigerians just-in-time. Today, despite the incremental efforts of Interswitch and other players over the years, digital payments are estimated to be still less than 20% of total transactions in the economy.

This realization suggests that there is tremendous value, financial and otherwise, locked up in sectors and areas where government is a key player, particularly in the aspects of healthcare, transportation, and other basic social services.

This vision we had from the outset underpinned our acquisition of eClat Healthcare 5 years ago, and initiatives such as Lagos-SHIP are unfolding strategic interventions along that transformational roadmap.

We are highly delighted that after a rigorous selection process, the Lagos State Government has deemed it fit to partner with us at the Interswitch Group on this epoch-making journey to digitize the healthcare system, uniting disparate elements into one holistic platform that creates value and enhances the experience of all stakeholders, just like we’ve done in the sphere of financial services, leveraging technology.”

Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Managing Director for Interswitch eClat, Interswitch’s Healthtech Venture, Dr. Wallace Ogufere opined that the Lagos State Government’s pioneering initiative in the form of LAGOS-SHIP is significant in terms of advancing the outlook for Healthcare Management and Administration in a frontier-market such as Nigeria, and moving closer to what obtains in developed economies.

In his words “The go-live of the Lagos Smart Health Information Platform will significantly close many identified gaps in electronic medical records management, essentially addressing long-standing constraints including process inefficiencies, limited transparency and inadequacy of necessary tools and supplies, among other challenges.”

This partnership between the Lagos State Government and Interswitch represents a unique model for public-private partnership in the healthcare delivery space, and one which is expected to be a veritable reference point for national and sub-national governments in Africa going forward.


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NITDA Proposes New Act to Regulate Tech Sector, Levy 1 Percent Tax

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National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is actively pushing for the passage of a new bill that would transform the agency into a regulator for Nigeria’s tech sector and grant it the power to levy a per cent tax on technology companies.

The proposed NITDA Bill, first introduced in 2021, seeks to repeal the existing NITDA Act of 2007 and enact a new National Information Technology Development Agency Act.

One of the key provisions in the bill is the introduction of a one per cent profit-before-tax levy for companies operating in the tech sector with revenues exceeding 100 million naira.

According to NITDA, the new act is necessary to provide an effective regulatory framework for the development of Nigeria’s digital economy.

The agency argues that the current act, which established NITDA as a development agency, is outdated and inadequate to oversee the rapidly growing technology industry.

“The role of NITDA under the proposed Act would have no direct conflicts with other regulators in the industry,” stated Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele, Executive Secretary of the Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI), which supports the bill. “NITDA 2022 Bill will stabilise the regulatory environment in the telecom sector in Nigeria and attract the much-needed foreign direct investments as well as domestic investments in the telecom and ICT sector in the country.”

However, the bill has faced significant opposition from stakeholders within the tech ecosystem.

During a public hearing held in December 2022, 14 out of 31 submissions opposed the bill, citing concerns about its potential impact on the industry’s growth and its compatibility with other technology-related legislation, such as the proposed startup bill.

Critics argue that the one per cent tax provision could be a significant burden for smaller tech companies and startups, potentially stifling innovation and entrepreneurship.

There are also concerns about the broad regulatory powers the bill would grant NITDA, with some stakeholders fearing it could lead to overlapping or conflicting regulations with other agencies.

Despite the opposition, NITDA remains undeterred in its push for the new act.

The agency believes that the bill will not only provide a much-needed regulatory framework but also foster innovation, empower businesses, and promote the use of technology in various sectors, including education and agriculture.

The NITDA Bill has already been considered by the Federal Executive Council and is currently awaiting further action from the National Assembly. .

As the debate over the bill continues, the tech industry and stakeholders remain divided on whether the proposed changes will ultimately benefit or hinder the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.

Credit: Leadership


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Nigeria’s Headline Inflation rises to 33.95 in May

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National Buereau of Statistics says Nigeria’s inflation rate increased to 33.95 per cent in May 2024.

In its latest report released today June 15, the bureau stated that there was an increase of 0.26% points when compared to the April 2024 headline inflation rate.

The data revealed that on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.54% points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023, which was 22.41%.

This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in the month of May 2024 when compared to May 2023.

On the contrary, on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in May 2024 was 2.14%, which was 0.15% lower than the rate recorded in April 2024 (2.29%).

This, according to the NBS, means that in the month of May 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is less than the rate of increase in the average price level in April 2024.

The NBS report also revealed that the Food inflation rate in May 2024 was 40.66% on a year-on-year basis, which was 15.84% points higher compared to the rate recorded in May 2023 (24.82%).

It added that the rise in food inflation on a year-on-year basis was caused by increases in prices of the following items: Semovita, Oatflake, Yam flour prepackage, Garri, Bean, etc (which are under Bread and Cereals Class), Irish Potatoes, Yam, Water Yam, etc (under Potatoes, Yam and other Tubers Class), Palm Oil, Vegetable Oil, etc (under Oil and fat), Stockfish, Mudfish, Crayfish, etc (under Fish class), Beef Head, Chicken-live, Pork Head, Bush Meat, etc (under Meat class).

“Like the month-on-month headline inflation, the month-on-month Food inflation rate in May 2024 was 2.28%, also shows a decrease of 0.22% compared to the rate recorded in April 2024 (2.50%).

The fall in the Food inflation on a Month-on-Month basis was caused by a fall in the rate of increase in the average prices of Palm Oil, Groundnut Oil (under Oil and Fats Class), Yam, Irish Potatoe, Cassava Tuber (under Potatoes, Yam & Other Tubers Class), Wine, Bournvita, Milo, Nescafe (under Coffee, Tea and Coco Class).

The average annual rate of Food inflation for the twelve months ending May 2024 over the previous twelve-month average was 34.06%, which was 10.41% points increase from the average annual rate of change recorded in May 2023 (23.65%).” the report stated


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