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COVID-19:  Group Urges Employers To Prioritise Welfare Of Journalists

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With the world losing over 15, 000 to death due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the number of people infected rising, an advocacy group under the aegis of Times Journalism Alumni Association(TJAA), has called on employers of journalists globally, especially those under whose employ its members serve, in Nigeria and Africa to place a high premium on the welfare of this category of workers who risk their lives daily to inform, educate and entertain the world.

 

Intervening against the backdrop of increasing cases of the COVID-19 infections worldwide, , Clifford Agugoesi, chairman of TJAA  noted that journalists are always on the go and must really stretch themselves to limits to be available where the news is happening and to be able to report this accurately, timeously and this peculiarity of their job exposes them to great risk and many have actually paid the supreme prize in the pursuit of professional duties and excellence.

 

“We urge employers of journalists to treat them with greater respect, compassion and dignity as no time in the history of mankind has the vulnerability and gullibility of humans, particularly our colleagues and members, being so exposed as under the COVID-19 crisis period.

 

“We specifically call on employers of journalists and our members in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular to prioritise their welfare more than ever before.

 

“As actuality reporters, we cannot pretend that all is well with our members. They are not immune from pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, physical, emotional and psychological violence and cannot be left to their devices.

 

“Our employers owe us a duty at this time to empower us to work efficiently and effectively because it is only under this milieu that their maximum productivity is guaranteed.

 

“While we appreciate the role of the World Health Organisation(WHO), global experts, governments, private sector employers and  development partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus and to provide timely advice on measures to protect people’s health and prevent the spread of this outbreak, we appeal to employers of our members in Nigeria and Africa to up their games on our members’ welfare which,  at best is currently despicable and, at worse,  non-existent at all in some cases.

 

“We cannot afford to play the ostrich at this time as COVID-19 has virtually met two of the three factors for a pandemic -rapid sickness and death and sustained person-to-person transmission and analysts saying the third criterion-worldwide spread of the virus, seems like just a matter of time.

 

“There is no gainsaying fact that journalists face a direct threat to their health and lives and this is an opportune time for employers to show serious concern on their plight.

 

“Journalists are the most important resource wherever they are employed and their employers must, as a matter of priority, provide them with the requisite tools and conducive environment to work in and avail them  of appropriate protective gears to keep them safe and secure in the course of work, especially at this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“They must also put in place policies that promote the highest level of state of health of mind and body of reporters and reduce to the barest minimum, pressures borne by those who fall sick in the course of active service while putting in place a good retirement regime for those who retire.

 

“To prevent or halt global spread, several countries have imposed travel bans to and from China and other countries and many events around the world have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely.

 

“For journalists, this means fewer events to cover. All journalism beats are impacted although in varying degrees.

 

“From sports, maritime, aviation, religion, capital/money markets, insurance through technology, labour, defence et cetera, their experience is the same and confounding for most reporters.

 

“It is a known fact media professionals face a direct threat to their health and lives as well and the situation is more dire in many developing countries who lack the resources to test and identify those infected with the virus and put up with the nagging fear that the virus may already be circulating in the local population.

 

“Our thoughts go out especially for the freelance community, some of whom have to be on the go to meet their basic needs.  Infact, these are the worst-hit since they have neither health insurance nor leave benefits and need to be out in the field often which compounds an already bad case of meeting extra expenses such as working with facemasks and sticking to the safer and therefore costlier eating places to grab a quick bite.

 

“For this category of reporters, preventive measures such as density reduction, social distancing and their likes are neither here nor there because remaining at home equates with literally committing suicide.

 

“We have gone at length to bring these concerns in the public space and passionately appeal to stakeholders in journalism to be more responsible and responsive to reporters who keep the world informed, educated and entertained on a regular basis.

 

‘We appeal to governments at all levels to do all within their powers-policy, regulatory and legal, among others, to ensure that journalism and journalists had the best working environments and enjoyed the best working conditions that conduce to increased productivity and a buoyant economy.

 

“On their part, we advised reporters themselves to understand they are humans and must be guided by rules and regulations that lead to a safer and more secure humanity.

 

“It might be nice to see productivity maximised while working remotely via telecommuting and engaging in virtual office meetings.

 

“Instead of running face-to-face interviews, it might be a good idea in the era of COVID-19 to do online interviewing and limit as much as possible, contacts with their interviewees, except where adequate safety and security measures have been certified by relevant professionals.

 

“Online press coverage needs to be seriously considered to minimise human contact and exposure and enable reporters to carry on even while confined to bed.

 

“In addition, for reporters to always sanitise their microphones and recording gadgets with respect to broadcast journalists whereas maintaining the prescribed one (1) meter distance with others”.

 

 

 


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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.

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Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

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The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), has started to broadcast a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) signal over Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI), providing its first open service in the region via NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite managed and operated the by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd., under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Satellite Operators Push New Signal across Africa, Indian Ocean Regions

This early open service is provided as part of the programme, which pursues the autonomous provision SBAS services in Africa, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

With improved accuracy to within a meter, and boosted integrity, availability, and continuity of safety-related applications, these SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, and also benefit the economy in many areas as land, sea, and rail transport, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable development.

The launched open service essentially aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024. It will also include early Precise Point Positioning (PPP), and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through other demonstrations.

The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union, and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 per cent), and Leonardo (33 per cent).

The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the European EGNOS (1) developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA.

The system prototype uses as reference stations the SAGAIE network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcasted via the SBAS payload on NigComSat 1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite, and an uplink station deployed in Abuja, Nigeria.

It is compliant to the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the minimum operational performance standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation.

It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, managing director/chief executive officer of NIGCOMSAT, said: “we are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent.”

On his part, Benoit Broudy, vice president, Navigation Business at Thales Alenia Space in France, said the longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS1 SBAS in Europe, and KASS SBAS in Korea, combined with the new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies make Thales Alenia the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently.

“The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution,” he stated.

Mohamed Moussa, director-general of ASECNA, said the provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI region, and in the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa.

He said: “It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky.”


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ipNX, USTDA Ink Partnership Deal to Develop Nigeria’s ICT Infrastructure

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ipNX, Nigeria’s pioneering and leading information, communications and technology (ICT) company and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have signed a partnership deal that will further support the development of Nigeria’s ICT and broadband infrastructure and help ipNX expand its fibre-optic network to more than 200,000 residences in Lagos and other locations, including Abuja and Port Harcourt.

A virtual signing ceremony that signalled the beginning of this far reaching relationship between the two parties was held on Thursday, September 17, 2020.

Through this innovative initiative, the USTDA is supporting ipNX to promote inclusive, secure and sustainable connectivity across the nation.

The agreements were made possible as a result of several engagements between the USTDA delegation to Nigeria and the leadership of ipNX; and will advance the goals of the recently updated Nigerian Broadband Plan.

At the Signing Ceremony, Ejovi Aror, group managing director of ipNX, said: “We believe that world-class connectivity and broadband internet access will be pivotal to the digital transformation and socio-economic development of Nigeria.

‘We are very positive that this project will play a crucial role in making our belief a reality.”

Aror added that with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for a vibrant ICT sector has never been stronger and the new partnership will bring ipNX a step closer to achieving its mission to continually leverage technology to create innovative solutions that help mankind thrive, while making a crucial impact to the lives of Nigerians across the country.

Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said’ “These projects will support the development of Nigeria’s telecoms infrastructure and help to achieve the goals of the National Broadband Plan.

“The U.S. Government has committed significant resources to improving telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria and this support is crucial as we believe that investment in critical ICT projects will strengthen the resiliency outlined in Nigeria’s economic sustainability plan.”

Also present at the virtual event, the Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Bako Wakil, who spoke on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, said: “The support this grant will provide to the telecommunications sector, in particular broadband, is in line with the National Digital Strategy and the National Broadband Plan.

“The NCC would like to congratulate ipNX as it shows the company’s integrity and commitment to be selected for this grant”.

ipNX also revealed that it intends to continue to work with USTDA beyond the preliminary stage, to execute many more projects into the future that will bring about the digital transformation and socio-economic development of major cities in Nigeria in alignment with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

With their partnership, both parties fully agree that further development of the nation’s broadband infrastructure is key to unlocking the potential promised by Nigeria’s digital economy.

According to the World Bank’s ‘Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report’ released in 2019, Broadband is a key enabler to harness the digital economy transformation and high-speed broadband has the potential to accelerate Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

 


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Manfa, ANSICTA Boss Pledges to Collaborate with NITDA for Establishment of Zonal Office in Anambra State

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Mr Theo Manfa, managing director/chief executive officer, Anambra State Information and Communication Technology Agency, (ANSICTA) has hinted that they are ready to collaborate with National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) for the establishment of the agency’s South-East Zonal office in the State.

 

He stated this when he led ANSICTA delegation to NITDA’s head office in Abuja recently.

 

Mr Manfa explained that the call for special requests by the state is necessitated by the fact that the state “has long been known as a home of innovation and entrepreneurship, through the various markets like Onitsha and Nnewi and the plethora of locally produced goods they spawned over time.”

Dr Vincent Vincent Olatunji, Director E-Government and Regulation NITDA receiving an award on behalf of the DG from Theo Manafa MD ANSICTA

He said that innovation and entrepreneurship are important elements to drive the digital economy which the nation is striving to create adding that the state has been watching with keen interest the activities of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and NITDA which necessitated the intended partnership.

 

He requested NITDA’s partnership with ANSICTA in building an ICT Hub in Anambra State; hosting a NITDA regional office; hosting NITDA events and programs as a State and region; trainings and Skills development programs of NITDA where the State hopes to train 40,000 residents in the next 2 years in Digital skills; establishment of cooperation on the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) and the provision of the Unity Board where 150 units were requested for a program for secondary schools in Anambra.

 

ANSICTA also presented an award to the Director General for his “Outstanding Achievements in Driving theDigital Economy” which was received by Dr. Vincent Olatunji on behalf of the DG.

 

Dr. Olatunji responded along with comments from some of the Directors and said NITDA would be glad to cooperate with the State.

L-R: Theo Manafa, MD/CEO of ANSICTA, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, DG of NITDA and Michael Orekyeh, COO of ANSICTA

He said it was gratifying to note that Anambra State now has an ICT Agency as Gov Willie Obiano had visited NITDA 6 years ago and the agency had worked with the State in developing an ICT policy for Anambra.

 

The success of that exercise is the take off of the agency (ANSICTA) which is the execution arm of the policy developed by NITDA.

 

He further said ANSICTA was by the speech of its MD really in tune with the affairs and mandates of NITDA and stated that ANSICTA should make a formal application for the things requested at this meeting will be looked into by Management for approval by the Director General.

 

He also thanked ANSICTA for recognizing the hard work of the DG through the award they presented, which he said was most encouraging.

Michael Orekyeh; chief operating officer of ANSICTA was part of the delegation from Anambra State. while the Director General of NITDA, Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi was represented by the Director E-Government and Regulation, Dr. Vincent Olatunji; Director Office of ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship – OIIE, Dr. (Mrs.) Amina Sambo Magaji; Deputy Director of IT Infrastructure, Dr. Saidu Kumo; SA Technical to the DG, Dr. Mohammed Yahaya; Corporate Strategy Department, Dr. Taofik Yekini and other Directors and Key Management Staff.

 

 

 


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