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MTN Unveils “We’re Good Together” Initiative

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MTN Group on Monday launched its “We’re good together” initiative aimed at demonstrating how, in partnering with their various host countries, they can change lives by improving digital access, driving financial inclusion, empowering and enabling SMEs, creating jobs and broad community development, among many others.

 

As a pan African company with roots that are deeply anchored in the continent, MTN is telling its story that doing good business extends far beyond corporate social investment initiatives.

 

Speaking about the role of MTN on the continent, Rob Shuter, group CEO and President, MTN Group said: “To harness the potential of Africa and ensure our youth are productively employed we need affordable, safe and relevant digital services which are matched with the required digital skills.

 

“This in turn will support the global development agenda and national priorities. As one of the major infrastructure investors across Africa, MTN through partnership and collaboration, can accelerate this digital inclusion.”

 

He stated that, global telecommunications industry has made significant progress on the Sustainable Development Goals but more still needs to be done to bridge the digital divide and MTN is prepared to do its part.

 

He noted further that since inception 25 years ago MTN has been a significant contributor to the economies and communities within which they operate. A lot of this has been with respect to the infrastructure that is the backbone of the economies that we operate in, and often, that enables connectivity of people in the most remote areas.

 

He added that their operations have also increasingly become a broader part of the economy through varying efforts including employment creation as well as Mobile Money.

 

“Over the last 25 years MTN has built high-speed networks covering 560 million people, created jobs for over 5 million people and through MTN Mobile Money connected 30 million people to the benefits of easy, cost-effective mobile financial services across the continent,” said Shuter.

 

MTN has also worked to use this extensive mobile reach and technology to enable access to education with the goal of promoting and enabling digital teaching and learning.

 

This has been driven by our aim to empower students with the knowledge required to seize opportunities, improve their quality of life and realise their ambitions.

 

“MTN only succeeds if Africa succeeds. Being a partner in development also means that we have a responsibility to enable the youth to unlock economic opportunities in every country we operate in.

 

“We have therefore enhanced our focus on more actively demonstrating what can be achieved if we work together to enable a shared value system and drive a prosperous Africa,” added Shuter.

 

 

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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Nigeria Ranks 5th Worst for SIM-Card Registration Laws

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Nigeria has been ranked as the 5th worst among over 150 countries by their SIM-card registration laws exploring data that is collected, what happens to the data and other restrictions such as number of SIM-cards allowed.

Nigeria Ranks 5th Worst for SIM-Card Registration Laws

A recent report by Comparitech, an organisation which compares tech services around the world, Nigeria was placed alongside countries where invasive biometric data is mandated for SIM card registration particularly for the reason that the length of time this data is held by the collating body is unknown or unclear.

The report found Nigeria scoring 13 out of a possible 20 (20 being the worst score) thanks to, among other things, the collection of biometric data.

With fresh reports that National Identification Numbers (NIN) may soon become necessary for SIM registrations, it is important to start asking how well the telcos and the industry regulatory agency, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have structured their agent networks to ensure sensitive data does not fall into wrong hands.

With more than 5.1 billion global mobile phone users accounting for some 70 percent of the world’s population, a number of governments have looked into implementing SIM-card registration laws to prove identity and collect user data, writes Comparitech.

Mandatory SIM-card registration with real name and personal details is necessary in most countries, but governments lack transparency when it comes to data use.

The laws for subscriber identification module (SIM) registration in Nigeria and fourteen other countries are considered the most invasive in the world, according to a new study by Comparitech, an online platform that provides tech research.

The study examines privacy in mobile phone usage in 150 countries and how national governments impose SIM-card registration laws to collect data on their citizens.

The report identifies the requirement of biometrics in the registration process as one of the factors that determine the level of intrusiveness of the laws.

Nigeria is among countries that currently have biometric registration laws.

According to Comparitech, SIM-card registration in Nigeria requires both fingerprints and a facial image.

Other countries with biometric requirement in the registration process are China, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, and Venezuela.

Tanzania is at the top of the ranking of countries with the worst SIM-card registration laws, scoring 19 points out of the maximum of 21 points. Next on the ranking is Saudi Arabia (17 points), followed by North Korea and Uganda (15 points each). Lebanon, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka have a score of 14 points; while Nigeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates scored 13 points.

Other indicators used in the study to determine the level of intrusiveness of SIM-card registration laws include whether the data collected is stored by telecommunication providers or shared with government agencies; the requirement by law enforcement to gain access to the data; for how long the data is stored; and whether or not there are data privacy protection legislations.

Apart from biometrics, photo ID is a requirement to sign up for phone service in some countries. Other requirements are a permanent address, date of birth, nationality and gender.

“In China, anyone registering a new phone number now needs to submit a facial scan. This is also happening in Singapore,” said Paul Bischoff, a tech writer at Comparitech.

According to the report, while most countries require mandatory SIM-card registration, this requirement does not exist in about 45 countries and jurisdictions. Countries without mandatory SIM-card registration laws include United Kingdom, United States, Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Portugal, and Sweden.

Discussing how SIM-card registration threatens people’s privacy, Bischoff said, “Creating a database of citizens and their mobile numbers restricts private communications, increases the potential of them being tracked and monitored, enables governments to build in-depth profiles of their citizens, and risks private data falling into the wrong hands.”

Comparitech said mandatory SIM-card registrations also pose the risk of identity theft and abuse of data. Criminals can use someone else’s photo and personal information to sign up for a new SIM, potentially causing a lot of trouble for the impersonated individual.

The tech researchers also said without laws to protect registration data, people’s personal details can be shared with other third parties, such as advertisers and tax collection agencies.

Since 2011 when the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) launched its nationwide compulsory SIM card registration, the process has continued to unravel like a taut game of hide and seek between the commission, telcos and the millions of subscribers across the country.

From 2014 when the commission rejected the data of about 37.79 million subscribers citing inconsistencies in the collected data to 2019 when reports quoted the NCC as saying 63.2% of the total registered SIM card registrations in its database was invalid, a figure the commission denied.

Over the years, NCC has continuously embarked on awareness programmes urging Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to sensitise their dealers/agents to desist from fraudulent SIM registration activities.

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Airtel Cleared to Increase Overseas Funding

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Bharti Airtel received approval to boost the percentage of overseas investment in the company to 100 per cent, a move which could help the third-largest mobile operator in India attract capital from outside the country.

Airtel Cleared to Increase Overseas Funding

In a stock market filing, the operator said the Department of Telecommunications gave it the green light to increase the limit of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 per cent of its paid-up capital.

The previous limit was set at 49 per cent, with the operator’s current non-domestic ownership at about 44 per cent.

Airtel issued shares in early January worth up to $2 billion and opened the sale of $1 billion in bonds to non-domestic investors, as it embarked on a massive fundraising effort to cover controversial fees demanded by the government.

In October 2019, the Country’s Supreme Court ruled operators’ adjusted gross revenue (AGR) covers all revenue, including non-telecoms related activities.

The decision burdens Airtel with INR355 billion ($4.99 billion) in additional licence and spectrum usage fees.

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Sub-Saharan Africa has the Most Expensive Broadband Prices – Report

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The 2020 Global Broadband Pricing Report by Cable.co.uk reveals vast disparities between rich and poor nations.

The report analysed data from 3 095 fixed-line broadband packages in 206 countries between 28 November 2019 and 8 January 2020.

It says war-ravaged Syria offers the world’s cheapest broadband, with an average cost of $6.60 per month.

The East African nation of Eritrea is the most expensive place in the world to get fixed-line broadband, with an average package price of $2 666.24 per month.

Sub-Saharan Africa fared worst overall, with almost all of its countries in the most expensive half of the table.

Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) was the cheapest in the region, coming in 34th overall with an average package price of $21.73.

Equatorial Guinea ($259.38), Burundi ($283.73) and Mauritania ($694.63) join Eritrea as the most expensive countries in the region, and all sit among the 10 most expensive countries in the world.

Falling prices

SA ranks number 101 out of 206 countries with an average cost of $44.77 per month.

“The price of fixed-line broadband globally continues to fall, while speeds continue to rise,” says Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk.

“In our worldwide broadband speed comparison, released in July of last year, similar disparities were apparent to those seen here. The countries with slow, patchy broadband infrastructure that supplies only a fraction of the population tend to be the most expensive. Likewise, those with exceptional, often full-fibre infrastructure supplying the majority of the population tend to be the cheapest, if not in absolute terms, certainly on a cost-per-megabit basis.”

Three of the top five cheapest countries in the world are found in the former USSR (Commonwealth of Independent States, including the Russian Federation itself) with an average package cost of just $7.35 per month.

Conversely, the US has the most expensive broadband in the world, coming in 119th place with an average monthly package cost of $50.

Within Western Europe, France is the cheapest, with an average package price of $27.81 per month, followed by Germany ($28.74), Andorra ($32.65) and Italy ($33.28).

The UK came in sixth cheapest out of 29 Western European nations (and 71st cheapest worldwide), with an average package price of $15.90 per month.

However, due to lower average speeds compared to much of Europe, it fared far worse in terms of value for money, coming in 23rd of 29 countries in Western Europe, and 81st in the world, with a cost per 1Mbps of bandwidth, per month, of $1.07, the report says.

In the Near East region, Howdle points out war-ravaged Syria came in the cheapest with an average monthly price of $6.60 per month (and ranked first overall), with Saudi Arabia ($82.85), Qatar ($109.87), United Arab Emirates ($115.97), Bahrain ($145.89) and the Yemen ($2 466.67) providing the most expensive connectivity in the region.

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