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Lagos to Benefit from £38m UK Mobile Development Programme

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Lagos State Government is to benefit from the United Kingdom’s thirty-eight million pounds extended programme on mobile for development in Nigeria, owing to its socio-economic and political significance as the commercial nerve centre of the country and sixth largest economy in Africa.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign Commonwealth Office who also doubles as Minister of State for Department for International Development, Harriett Baldwin during a courtesy visit on the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

According to the Minister, the Mobile for development programme was to enable a lot of people access financial services through their mobile phones and buy things like solar system for their homes and businesses.

She added that owing to the significant impact of the programme on the people, the UK government was extending the programme to further affect positively the lives of other twenty-seven million people around the world, including many in Lagos, noting that the programme was exactly designed to absolutely impact the grassroots.

In addition, she said, the programme would enable women in the market to use the financial services by investing in solar fridges, solar freezers and something that would really help them in their homes in areas where they did not have access to reliable electricity.

According to her, it would also help everyone with the ambition to ensure that they were able buy health insurance and mobile financial services in the future, emphasizing that Lagos was very often at the cutting edge of some of this investment in technology which was why the UK Government was basing its science and technology centre in Lagos.

Describing Lagos as amazing and vibrant city, Baldwin noted that the UK government was willing to learn from some of the state’s innovation and share some of theirs.

Responding, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat assured the United kingdom team that Lagos State Government was set to collaborate with their government in any area that would be of immense benefit to the good people of the state.

While emphasizing that the programme was an extension, Hamzat stated that the state government would embark on sensitizing her citizens to understand the benefits of the programme and take advantage of it.

He added: “With the population advantage of Lagos, any developmental programme embarked upon would be of great benefits to the residents by empowering them. This would also be of imminence benefits to every Nigerian and foreigners based in the state.”

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JAMB, NSCDC Wage War on Fraudulent CBT Centres, Others

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Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have entered into an agreement to crack down on Computer-Based Test (CBT) centres and ePIN outlets that are charging above stipulated fee in this year’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination’s (UTME) registration exercise.

JAMB, NSCDC Wage War on Fraudulent CBT Centres, Others

The cost of ePIN is N3,500, cost of material is N500 and N700 serves as commission for CBT centre, bringing the total registration fee to N4,700.

Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, registrar of JAMB, stated this during an interactive session with top echelon of NSCDC, representatives of bank and mobile money outlets as well as other stakeholders in Abuja recently.

Oloyede lamented that many people are making money illegitimately from the UTME registration process by charging prospective candidates above the stipulated fee amid the robust commission accruing to them.

His words: “Many people make illegitimate money from the examination and we will be destroying the nation, if we don’t get things right.

“Prior to 2018, we sell form for N5,000; but the Federal Government considers so many things and felt the money was much and in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari decided that the cost should be slashed; which brought the cost to N3,500.

“Also, prior to this time, there were unscrupulous people selling as high as N10,000. We now democratised the sale of the forms, to make it available so that it will not be possible for those selling to hoard the forms.

“The effect of the expansion is that some people are still penetrating the banks, thereby increasing the cost of the sale of form.”

Speaking further, at the event that also witnessed the parade of two elderly men arrested in Delta State by NSCDC for registering candidates for N5,500, Oloyede said the Board has already revoked 11 CBT centres for various infractions.

The JAMB boss, who expressed delight that NSCDC will now play a major role in ensuring that operator of centres that charging above the stipulated amount are promptly arrested, said the Board will made available security device to state commandants of the corps that will detect any reported case of infraction in CBT centres

On his part, Abdullahi Mohammadu, commandant General of NSCDC, expressed the readiness of the corps to arrest and prosecute individuals that engage in unwholesome practices in the ongoing UTME and Direct Entry registration exercise.

The Commandant General, who went down the memory lane on the corps exploits in ensuring the successful conduct of various examinations in the country, assured JAMB of the desired support.

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Financial Inclusion Agents Groan as SANEF Fails To Achieve Interoperability

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Two months after, financial inclusion agents under the network of Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility, SANEF are yet to enjoy interoperability promised them, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek checks reveals.

It would be recalled that Ronke Kuye, managing director, Shared Agent Network Expansion Facility, SANEF, disclosed in October last year at Inlaks digital summit that they will achieve interoperability by November last year. She said that interoperability has posed a major challenge for agents under the SANEF programme as agents are unable to open any bank account for customers from one unit.

“By November (last year) banking agents under SANEF programme will begin to open accounts and make transactions in all the banks from a single unit. By then we would have achieved interoperability,” she said.

However, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that as at this week that feet has not been achieve as financial inclusion agents visited still can’t transact on different bank from one source.

Fasasi Sarafadeen Atanda, managing director, Ecosystem Hybrid Network – a financial inclusion agent, who spoke to us described interoperability as open banking that allows customers at agent banking location to be able to access banking facility of any of their choice of brand bank at a single agent unit.

“Achieving interoperability at agency banking level is something that has to involve a lot of technology integration before they can achieve that as it is now it is still individual agents opening account on individual banks. For instance, if I want to open for twenty banks, I will have to be enrolled as agent by all the twenty banks. I have to be logging out out from one portal to another. That is the situation we are in as at today,” he said.

“As it is today, the major challenge we have is actually interoperability because some banks are not allowing inflow of transactions from banks they don’t have good relationship with or they don’t have good perception about.

“They see it as competition and prevent instant inflow of transactions from such banks to their bank. Also in terms of wallets, today you cannot move money from Paga to Firstmonie or from Opay to Firstmonie. CBN and SANEF need to intervene for banks and wallets to see themselves as partners not competitors for us to deepen financial inclusion in its real sense.

“However, some of these things happening in the field, CBN and SANEF may not be aware; some of these issues I have highlighted may be deliberate for business sense and may also not be deliberate because of technology.

“Because there are no standard set for digital banking in Nigeria, some banks are not supposed to be playing in digital banking space because the level of their technological deployment cannot accommodate huge instant transactions to their bank.

Moreover, if we have to achieve full interoperability, there is needed to set standard for technology deployed by banks, super agents and mobile money operators,” he said.

According to Victor Olojo, National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria (AMMBAN), “Financial inclusion should enable people irrespective of whatever financial institution they are operating. It means, if I have a Paga wallet I should be able to send money from my Paga wallet to Quickteller or PocketMoney wallet. Presently, this is not happening. What we have in the market place today is using different point of sale terminals for different banks, in that regard, I ‘m using 10 PoS for 10 banks. The ideal situation should be one PoS from Bank A should be able to attend to customers from nine other banks.

“That will solve the problem and the money I spent in buying the other nine PoS for other banks could be invested in the business. Imagine investing N900,000 in other areas of my mobile money business that will assist in driving financial inclusion. If interoperability issue is resolved, it means a problem of financial inclusion would have been adequately addressed”.

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Ship Owners to Benefit from $200m Cabotage Fund- Amaechi

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Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation, has announced that Ship owners will now benefit directly from the $200 million Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF).

Ship Owners to Benefit from $200m Cabotage Fund- Amaechi

Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, DG, NIMASA

A committee chaired by Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, director general, Nigerian Institute of Maritime Safety and Administration (NIMASA), has also been set up with guidelines for disbursement of the funds.

Amaechi made this known at a meeting organised by NIMASA for Cabotage Stakeholders in Lagos, Thursday. Speaking to newsmen shortly after the meeting, Amaechi said, “In the past, the money was applied to building maritime university and faculties of maritime in other universities across the country. This would be the first time the money is applied to Ship Owners directly.

“We have also agreed today to set up a committee that will come forward with the proposed guideline which will be presented to the National Assembly. It is the committee that will determine if it will be a single digit or not; and the committee would be chaired by the DG of NIMASA ,” he said.

Amaechi explained that as part of efforts to mitigate the risk involved in disbursing the funds, financial institutions would be involved and the fiscal risk would be borne by the banks involved.

“The banks will be involved in developing the criteria for the disbursement of the fund, so the risk will be borne by the lending institutions,” the minister said.

Amaechi also noted that the committee would determine the percentage interest to be inserted in the procurement of CVFF.

Earlier, director general, NIMASA and head of the Committee, said the meeting was convened on the instance of the minister to discuss the singular issue of CVFF disbursement.

He said after extensive discussions with the relevant stakeholders, it was decided that the committee should come up with the draft guidelines.

Dakuku said, “the minister will study this draft and pass on to the National Assembly for approval in line with the Cabotage Act. Thereafter, we will move to the next phase of actual disbursement, using the banks as platform.”

He also disclosed two factors that would determine the disbursement of CVFF, “One factor will be how soon the National Assembly approves the draft guidelines and the other factor will be that the provisions of the guidelines will have to be followed adequately by the participating banks. So stakeholders have to meet these requirements before the disbursement of CVFF.”

Responding, Mrs. Margaret Orakwusi, chairperson, Ship Owners Forum (SOF) expressed satisfaction at the development, noting that she would look forward to the disbursement of the fund and a better shipping industry where the fund would be utilized judiciously.

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