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eVoting Innovators Demand N77Bn from INEC, FG for Alleged Suppressed Proposal

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Dr Adah Edache Obekpa, US-based medical professional, and Renaissance Network Africa (RNA) have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) over alleged suppression of their contributions to the introduction of electronic voting (E-voting) in Nigeria.

eVoting Innovators Demand N77Bn from INEC, FG for Alleged Suppressed Proposal

Dr Obekpa stated that RNA, an organisation working for the unification of Africa and its Diaspora through trade, tourism, and innovative endeavours, claimed to have proposed the E-voting system to INEC in 2010 and presented the “Renaissance I-voting Proposal for INEC” to Prof Mahmud Jega on behalf of INEC in October 2010.

A statement issued on Sunday, April 2, 2023 by Jonathan Akeme, the innovator’s lawyers, further noted that Dr. Adah Edache Obekpa and Renaissance Network Africa (RNA), firmly believe in the rights of creators to benefit from and be recognised for their innovative contributions,”.

“They view INEC’s actions in circumventing their pioneering I-voting proposal as a violation of these fundamental rights.

The statement further noted that: “Our legal action seeks to protect not only our clients’ interests but also to uphold the principles of transparency, justice, and fair recognition for inventors and innovators.

“It is our belief that these values must be honored and defended in this matter,” he ended.

The proposal, prepared by Layer3, was given comprehensive media coverage with a special news briefing on the subject matter hosted by Dr Obekpa at the Unity Hall of Reiz Continental Hotel, Central Business District, Abuja, on October 23, 2010.

According to Dr Obekpa and RNA, the I-voting proposal for INEC is the same in contents, features, design, and operation as the Biometric Verification System (BIVAS) tech device and INEC online result viewing portal (IReV).

They alleged that the failure of the BIVAS and IReV, as well as the lack of complete transparency in the just-concluded 2023 general elections, is a result of INEC’s refusal to adopt salient security features contained in the I-voting proposal submitted to the commission.

The plaintiffs alleged that INEC jettisoned the system protocol’s transparency features, including using another iPhone as a hidden camera discreetly placed in the polling booth where the ballot box resides.

Its purpose is to record the whole electoral process and the voters as they vote. They also allege that the sharing of polling unit results with political parties and the media in real-time when the results are sent to INEC’s server was not adopted by INEC.

Dr Obekpa and RNA are aggrieved that they have neither received any credit from INEC nor been recognised by the FGN for being the first to introduce the E-voting system to the commission as far back as 2010.

They claim that INEC deliberately suppressed all information relating to them as originators of the idea leading to the introduction of the BIVAS and IReV portals.

Dr Obekpa and RNA have accordingly approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court (FHC) for redress in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/391/2023 before Justice I. E. Ekwo of Court No. 7. In the said Suit instituted on their behalf by their lawyer, Jonathan Akeme, Esq, they are praying the court to direct INEC and FGN to compensate them in the sum of N77 billion for their novel and innovative I-voting proposal, which birthed the BIVAS and IReV, and to be publicly recognised.

INEC and the FGN are yet to respond to the allegations levelled against them by Dr Obekpa and RNA.


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PalmPay Named Among Top 250 Fintech Companies in the World by CNBC and Statista

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Africa-focused fintech platform, PalmPay, has been included in the 2024 edition of CNBC and Statista’s prestigious list of the “Top 250 Fintech Companies in the World.” This recognition underscores PalmPay’s rapid growth and significant contributions to advancing financial inclusion.

The CNBC/Statista list honours fintech pioneers significantly transforming the financial services industry through technology. More than 2000 companies were evaluated globally based on general and sector-specific KPIs to determine the final selection.

In 2024, some of the most influential fintechs in the world were included in the list, including Alipay, Nubank, Monzo, and Revolut. Six other African firms made the list: Flutterwave (Nigeria/US) – Payments; Kuda (Nigeria/UK) – Neobanking; MTN (South Africa) – Payments; Piggyvest (Nigeria) – Financial planning; and Yoco (South Africa) – Payments.

PalmPay has developed an integrated platform that caters to consumers and businesses in the African market. The startup, which has been operating since 2019, pioneered a unique model in Nigeria that provides financial services such as money transfers, bill payment, credit services and savings via a one-stop-shop fintech ‘superapp’ and mobile money agents.

This dual approach of easy-to-use digital banking, combined with offline touchpoints for those without smartphones, has contributed to driving financial inclusion in a market where more than 40% of adults remain unbanked.

In 2023, PalmPay announced a major milestone of reaching 30 million registered users on its smartphone apps and 1.1 million businesses in its network of mobile money agents and retail merchants. A third of PalmPay customers report that the platform was their first-ever financial account.

PalmPay has quickly grown to become a market leader in Nigeria thanks to its user-friendly interface, reliable transactions, and focus on driving market share through fee-free transfers and promotions. PalmPay processes 15 million transactions on its consumer app daily and maintains a 99.5% transaction success rate.

To achieve this scale in a market where 10% transaction failure rates were common, the company built out its payment infrastructure, channel integrations and transaction routing systems. In addition to its consumer wallet, PalmPay offers services to businesses that leverage the PalmPay platform via its suite of POS machines, APIs and checkout solutions.

“It’s an honour for PalmPay to be recognised by CNBC and Statista as one of the World’s Top Fintech Companies,” said Sofia Zab, Global CMO, “This recognition validates our unique approach to financial services and our commitment to driving financial inclusion. We are actively expanding PalmPay’s reach and offerings, ensuring more people have access to essential financial services and promoting economic development in emerging markets”

PalmPay operates in several key markets across Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania, with plans to expand further in the region and other emerging markets. The company has global HQs in China and London.


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WiDEF Launches Round of Technical Assistance to help Close the Gender Digital Divide

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The Women in the Digital Economy Fund (WiDEF) announced today the launch of its second competitive round, this time inviting applications from large private sector enterprises seeking technical support to scale proven solutions to significantly close the gender digital divide.

Announced by the White House in March 2023, WiDEF is a joint effort between USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate progress on closing the gender digital divide, managed by CARE, Global Digital Inclusion Partnership and the GSMA Foundation.

This round of support takes the form of tailored technical assistance to scale products, services or approaches that can significantly increase women’s access to and usage of the internet. It follows WiDEF’s     first round of funding and support that closed on May 6th 2024 for local organisations.

The technical assistance on offer aims to help to unlock opportunities to significantly close the gender digital divide, rather than supporting an enterprise’s ongoing “business as usual” activities. Examples of the kind of technical support private sector enterprises might apply for might include:

–  Research into the principal barriers and needs of underserved segments of women to inform actions to better support them to access and use digital technology and the internet

–  Evaluation of existing products and services for women to inform their evolution and wider usage

–   Testing specific approaches and services to ensure they best meet the needs of underserved women

–  Product adaptation and iteration, including the analysis of service usage data, user feedback and further design research

Business modelling and support for scaling products and services

“From our experience, we have seen how the right technical assistance can truly help companies unlock impact at scale.

“Through this new round, we believe we can deepen the private sector’s contribution to the closing of the gender divide across low- and middle-income countries, in line with the GSMA Foundation’s unwavering commitment to addressing this challenge,” said Max Cuvellier Giacomelli, Head of Mobile for Development, GSMA.

WiDEF will provide successful applicants in countries where USAID operates with tailored technical assistance for up to two years valued in the range of $50,000 to $150,000 USD. This support will be provided by the WiDEF Consortium and third-party suppliers engaged by WiDEF.

WiDEF aims to support commercially sustainable, scalable and evidence-based solutions to help close the gender digital divide. Successful applicants will need to articulate how their solution – and the technical assistance they draw on – will address at least two of the following core priority areas for WiDEF:

Improved access to affordable devices and online experiences

Increased availability of relevant products and tools

Elevation of digital literacy and skills

Enhancement of safety and security

Additionally, all applications will need to generate insights and data that expand the collection and use of gender-disaggregated research and analysis.

Full eligibility criteria and the application process can be found here. Applications are due by September 12, 2024.

 


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Reps to Donate 50% of Salaries to Fight Hunger

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House of Representatives at a plenary session on Thursday pledged to give up 50 per cent of their salaries for six months to address the hunger across the country.

During the session presided over by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas, Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu amended the motion, urging his colleagues to sacrifice 50% of their salaries. He made this plea when it was his turn to speak, seeking their support for this gesture.

“This government is doing its best but one year is not enough to address the challenges of this country. I want to plead with our colleagues to sacrifice 50 per cent for a period of six months.

“Our salary is N600,000 a month. I want to plead that we let go of 50 per cent of our salary for a period of six months,” Kalu said.

With each member paying N300,000 into a common purse, the legislative chamber will be contributing N108m monthly to the Federal Government and N648m for six months.


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