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MTN Foundation Boosts National Production of COVID-19 with Test Kits

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With the emergence of new coronavirus (COVID-19) variants driving continued global concern, testing remains critical to slowing the spread of the virus and mitigating its threat to lives and livelihoods.

L-R: Odunayo Sanya, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health and Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) at the handover and commissioning event which took place at the NIMR auditorium on August 13, 2021,

As part of Its ongoing support of the national pandemic response, MTN Nigeria through its foundation has donated Oligo-synthesizer equipment to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR).

This equipment will aid local development of primers for indigenous production of test kits for COVID-19 and other diseases.

The handover and commissioning event took place at the NIMR auditorium on August 13, 2021 and had in attendance dignitaries and experts in the health industry like the Honorable Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, Chairman, MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi (OFR, mni), Director-General, NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya, amongst other stakeholders in the health sector in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora, minister of State for Health, said, “Our gathering is a testimony to our desire not to be left behind in the global resolve to confront the situation at hand that is COVID-19.

“It is a battle that can be won through collaborative effort like the one we’re witnessing today with MTN Foundation.

“Nimr has surpassed our expectations as the foremost medical research facilities in Africa and appreciate MTN Nigeria for this donation.”

Speaking about the initiative, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, chairman, MTN Foundation said, “Working with public and private sector partners to provide solutions that alleviate some of our society’s biggest problems and create lasting change in communities across the country is at the heart of what we do.

“As we celebrate 20 years of operations in Nigeria, we are further motivated to implement projects of maximum impact in our communities.

“As an organisation, we embark on projects with a clear goal – To improve the quality of life of Nigerians. In line with this, we are pleased to have partnered with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in establishing the Oligosynthesis laboratory.”

The Oligo-synthesizer is extremely useful in current laboratory practice as it provides rapid and inexpensive access to custom-made DNA or RNA molecules of the desired sequence.


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Telecom

Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

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Telecommunications subscribers have waxed angrily at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for pretending that everything was fine while subscribers grapple with unreliable internet and call services.

Subscribers Decry Poor Service Delivery by Telcos, Accuse NCC of Playing the Ostrich

They want the regulator could do more by compelling Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), also known as telcos, to improve their service.

Some of the major complaints are connection failures, poor data service, fluctuating network, data roll over challenges, illegal credit deductions and uncompleted calls.

Experts said that the drop in service quality has been attributed to the fact that three out of the four mobile network operators failed to meet the industry standards for network service.

In separate calls; Association of Telephone, CableTv, and Internet Subscribers of Nigeria (ATCIS-Nigeria) and National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOM) urged the NCC to live up to its responsibility of protecting subscribers.

Sina Bilesanmi, president, ATCIS-Nigeria, accused the NCC of pretending that everything was fine while subscribers groaned.

He said that ATCIS-Nigeria members have not only complained about drop calls and inability to originate calls, but they are also unable to access their airtime balance after recharging.

Bilesanmi argued that now that service quality has nosedived, there was no ground for telcos to justify any demand for a tariff increase.

He said that “ I have been inundated with complaints about low service quality from my members.

“ It is worrisome and the NCC is pretending that all is well. This low service quality is coming at a time when the MNOs are asking for a hike in tariff and our members were beginning to show understanding because, quite frankly, the tariff has remained the same for over a decade.

“The operators should tell us if they have any challenges.”

Elsewhere, Deolu Ogunbanjo, national president, NATCOM, said the service rendered by the MNOs had become  ‘’so bad’ that subscribers now lament openly.

He added that the telcos, on their part,   complained about their constraints to expand capacity.”

He said: “It(service delivery) has been so bad. It was one of the issues raised last Thursday but the telcos complained about their constraint to expand capacity and the need to raise tariff.”

Ogunbanjo said he supported the demand for an increase in tariff because it was overdue.

He, however, said an increase must be marginal in order not to asphyxiate the industry.

 

 


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Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

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Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp and Facebook, is preparing to appeal a decision by Nigerian regulators to impose a $220 million fine against it for alleged market power abuse and privacy violations.

Meta Disagrees with $220m Fine, Sets for Appeal

The company said that “We disagree with this decision as well as the fine and we are appealing the decision,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not specify where and when the appeal will be lodged.

It will be recalled that the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) published the fine last week, capping a three-year investigation.

The inquiry focused on data sharing practices on WhatsApp, the most widely used messaging service in Nigeria.

The commission claimed it found evidence of “multiple and repeated, as well as continuing infringements” of the country’s data protection and competition laws and imposed the fine as a final resolution.

Meta was ordered to “immediately reinstate the rights of Nigerian users to self-determine and control” data sharing, and stop sharing WhatsApp users’ information “with other Facebook companies and third parties” without users’ active consent.

It was also required to pay $35,000 to cover the cost of the commission’s investigation, in addition to the $220 million penalty. Both amounts are to be paid within 60 days from July 18.

Nigeria began looking into WhatsApp, which has an estimated 51 million users in the country, in May 2021.

That was four months after the app updated its global privacy policy on messaging between individuals and businesses, and how users’ data may be shared with Facebook.

Meta began responding to concerns detailed in Nigeria’s report around March this year, pledging to cooperate towards “reaching an amicable resolution,” according to the commission.

A “remedy package” proposed by Meta and sent mid-April proved unsatisfactory to the commission, however, its report said.

It is not clear what this package is — an email for comment to the commission was not responded to. Nigeria still expects Meta to implement it and publish it on WhatsApp’s website within two weeks, in addition to the fines.

Beyond complying with its laws, Nigeria’s aim with the penalties is to get Meta to “cease the exploitation of consumers and their market abuse,” the commission said.

 

 


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WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

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The West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has said that the digital economy currently contributes around $30 billion annually to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

WATRA Says Digital Economy Contributes $30Bn Annually to W/African GDP

WATRA also called for lower cost of internet access to enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region.

Mr Aliyu Aboki, executive secretary, WATRA, who disclosed this during a virtual press conference at the weekend also said the West African telecommunications market is now valued at $63.17 billion with over 400 million mobile subscribers.

However, Aboki said WATRS is working on initiatives to facilitate infrastructure sharing among West African countries to lower the cost of internet for telecom subscribers across the region.

According to him, infrastructure such as gateways, and data centres are facilities that could be shared by countries in the region.

Admitting that the cost of internet across West African countries is still high, Aboki said a lower cost of internet access would enhance the digital economy for the respective countries in the region and increase the consumption of data by the citizens, which in turn generate more revenue for the telecom operators.

“We are exploring regional initiatives to share infrastructure and reduce cost. For example, we have infrastructures like gateways, data center servers, and so on. These are infrastructures that can be shared and used by different countries without necessarily having everyone building the same infrastructure.

“So, we are collectively looking at these rich regional initiatives that enable us to share infrastructure to bring down the cost of Internet ultimately,” the WATRA scribe said.

 

 


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