Dr. Chris Uwaje, is president of Global Network for Cyber Solutions (Organisers of the Conference) and first vice president of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON). He is also managing director of Connect technologies Limited. A valuable asset to the ICT industry, Uwaje is a well sought after speaker globally and consults for the federal government on a number of projects. Uwaje spoke to chike Onwuegbuchi
First, let me congratulate Nigeria CommunicationsWeek for coming out with a very educative and informative concept in what I would call ‘technology reporting,’ which has been missing over the last decade. What we have around generally is regular reporters and they cannot be blamed because they have not being exposed to technology reporting skills. That is why I want to congratulate you for being different. Now, to your question about what informed the cybersecurity conference or my initiative with respect to involvement in cybersecurity; it dates back to 1999. Consequently, with my project leader initiative as a consultant for the First Bank Nigeria PLC, as a software engineer, I saw a lot of vulnerabilities in the daily operations and when I had the opportunity in year 2000 to pioneer the National Policy Transformation of Technology, I was privileged to have incorporated cyber police units as far back as 7 years ago. The issue of cybersecurity that has now taken centre stage globally – it is not just about the security content but it is about the sovereignty of the community of people.
That is why the issue of cybersecurity is very important. As we speak, I am dealing with a cybersecurity issue here; I have been communicating with some cyber criminals who are posing as a friend of mine. They say he is stranded in a 5 Star hotel somewhere outside Nigeria and has lost his international passport and need some money, I have been trying to make them give me a bank account number where l will make the payment but they have insisted that I send the money through Western Union Money Transfer. This communication started about 2 weeks ago; these miscreants hijacked the email of one of my friends. What they do is send a message saying that your Yahoo! account is being reconstructed and you should renew your identity and password. Once you do that, they hijack that mail box and you cannot have access to it anymore. Now they begin to operate with that mail box and some people fall prey to their schemes. This is about technology and Nigeria has what is called technophobia syndrome. Nigerians are very shy of technology; it is not their faults because Science and Technology has been on the downturn. If it had been upground, the issues we are facing today would not have been strange. So, there is need to involve Science and Technology contents in our everyday lives.
It is very important to ensure that Nigerians understand what technology is. Nigerians have created a fallacy of technology definition; it is not just computing, aeronautics, automobile, electronics; these are the products of technology. Technology is the concept and process that creates the product; so we should concentrate on the core content of technology. But we neglect the process and go for the product only and that is why about 80% of what Nigerians consume is imported, and with such a scenario, it shows that we are not creative entities.
Fighting Cyber Criminals
The issue really is that there are two ways Nigeria can get herself set. One of the ways is the institution of critical infrastructure and of course, massive capacity building for knowledge workers and ‘code warriors.’ For Nigeria to be prepared in terms of dealing with the cyber criminality of the world it needs to produce a reserved pool of nothing less than 1 million code warriors from our tertiary institutions, secondary and primary schools, as well as industry. Because e-Government has to be protected, businesses have to be protected; even our cultures have to be protected. What we are witnessing today is no different than what our ancestors witnessed about 500 years ago. Technology has the centre stage today. Some people believe that Slave Trade is just about the ship, the cargo and the Whiteman. That is not so. What is at the centre of Globalization, which is Slave Trade 500 years ago, is the compass – the face of technology. Ideally, without the compass, those sailors of that time would not have ventured into the seas. So, the centre of globalization has always been technology. Indeed, technology is another word for the internationalization of trade and commerce. So, the cell phone of today has security content for Nigerians; the computer of today has security content for Nigerians; the Internet of today has greater security content for Nigerians; and there is going to be more ferocious attacks on this sub-region. We learnt that during the time of the 9/11 attacks, Al-Qaeda used some of the IP addresses within Nigeria to wreak some havoc. So, we should be prepared. It is important and paramount – above all, professionals should be put in place to engage these cyber criminals that are almost ruining us.
If Nigeria knows IP and cybersecurity issues, they should domicile them at the footstep of the professionals in the CPN, the NCS and Atcon. These are people who have been trained in the area of informatics and information technology development; they should be the experts advising Government. How can we have a nation that does not have an IT adviser to the president? And you want to safeguard your country from digital attack. There must be a special assistant to the office of Mr. President, who would be a senior adviser on information technology. These are the things that need to be put in place in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is very strategically imperative that we need to do as fast as we can. There is no reason why we should not have an Institute of Cybercrime Monitoring; there is no reason why we cannot have Cyber Engineering in our institutions; there is no reason why we should not inculcate the cybersecurity curriculum from primary school upwards. Just the same way we used to have the civic lessons of the old, cybersecurity and cybercrime can be introduced at the primary and secondary schools levels.
Local Software and Patronage
I have spoken about technophobia. First, let me point out the difference between indigenous software and local software. The former are those that are developed and politically managed and supported by Nigerians, for Nigerians without the transfer of foreign exchange. Whereas foreign software is one hundred percent transfer of our local currency, in other words, this transfer does not have the potential of capacity building. We are creating jobs and labour for other people externally. It is the duty of every nation to protect its indigenous software. I can put it to you that there is no software that is developed for external use; they are developed for resolution of the challenges in the immediate environment. It is technophobia and a fallacy to say that foreign software is better than indigenous one. It is sheer ignorance and a lot of people do not understand software because it is an intangible thing that one cannot see. But they buy computer; now they are saturated with hardware and they then see that the hardware itself has not solved their problems and they are still where they are. There is a difference between computerization and automation. They must automate and that is when the software starts to drive them. When we say foreign software, we are talking about application software and services; not system software because that is still far away. There are lots of services that Nigerians can render as outsourcing entities to fellow Nigerians and other African countries, much better than people from elsewhere. An example is our payroll – our payroll was based on our state and national structure and foreigners from India and the U.K are finding it difficult to sell payroll here because their own structure had informed the development of their software. They were developing for their region. Digital colonies would be built this century and the way they are going to build it is to take control of the software engines that run the lives of the entire people of a community, nation or sub-region. That is why we are passionate when we say that ISPAN needs grants – Government grants, individual grants, if you take say, ten companies today and tell them to give us a software that can run in Nigerian banks in about six years from now, I can assure you that that can be done. That is what other countries do; they create what is called ‘failed projects’ in software development and when these projects are done, people learn from them because they can always experiment. We shy away from research and development in software because nobody is ready to invest. It is high time our Governments understand the imperative of indigenous software and also know that Nigerians are capable of producing world-class software.
In fact, a lot of Nigerians are working in laboratories abroad. If they can do that there, why can they not do same here? ISPAN has been campaigning and of course, it has yielded a little result by ensuring that we created IT departments in the ministries as a pilot. We have gotten a circular from the last regime that indigenous software should be considered before any foreign one for use within government departments. We have an agreement with Government that 50% of the cost of every foreign software imported into this country should be charged as a tariff to check their influx into the country. There is a lot of software – the core banking applications, among others, that have failed in this country. Nobody talks about them and Nigeria is losing money. The cost of these failed software is enough to build software institutes, is enough to provide superlative employment for software code warriors all over the country.
FG Mulls Renewable Energy for Improved Power Supply
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, has said that the federal government plans to diversify the country’s energy supply sources to include renewable energy towards accelerating socio-economic development.
Onu stated this when he declared open the forum on ‘Scaling-up interconnected mini-grids development in Nigeria’, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-GEF) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria, in Abuja.
He said that renewable energy will help the nation meet its electricity needs in a functional and sustainable manner, adding that it will also improve the quality of life in the country.
“Nigeria is endowed with substantial energy resources such as coal, crude oil and natural gas; renewables such as hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, waves and tides, as well as biomass.
“The challenge before us, has always been on how to efficiently transform these resources into adequate and reliable energy for national development using our enormous capacity in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship”, he said.
The minister explained that since the inception of the present administration in 2015, electronic power generation capacity had increased at an annual rate of about 390 megawatts per year.
He, however, said that while this is commendable, it could not adequately meet the needs of the country’s population and sustain the desired level of economic development.
Onu further observed that Nigeria’s desire to industrialise cannot be realised without adequate power supply.
He stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that homes, offices, factories, schools, hospitals and laboratories in the country have adequate, reliable and affordable electricity supply.
“Renewable energy could meet Nigeria’s energy needs in the area of job creation and improved standard of living in rural areas,” he said.
He added that the development of solar photo-voltaic (Pv) in the country triggered by increase in demand for rural water supply, lighting, health services and micro-enterprise needs to be regulated to stimulate private sector participation.
ROAM Africa Reports Over 2,400 Candidates Applying for One Role as Jobs Stiffens
ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), the leading digital classifieds group in Sub-Saharan Africa, has released figures that highlight the current state of the jobs market in Africa, with one standard role attracting 2,417 applications.
Analysing 69,511 jobs listings from January 2019 to August 2020 across 5 African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda), ROAM Africa’s data sheds more light on the challenges facing both job seekers and employers in the African jobs market.
The standard job listing that attracted 2,417 applications was for a Receptionist/Admin Assistant in Kenya while another listing for call centre agents and team leaders attracted 2,283 applicants.
Similar is observed also for other markets: In Ghana, 2,299 people applied for an Administrative Assistant role and 2,265 people in Tanzania applied for a Sales Representative role.
In Nigeria, the highest number of applications for a single role was 2,095 and it was for a Sales Representative role.
According to ROAM Africa’s data, Kenya contributed the highest amount of new job listings in 2019 with 33%. Nigeria was in second place with 31% and Uganda was in third place with 17%. However, so far in 2020, Nigeria is leading the way with 40% of new job listings, with Kenya in second place with 28% and Uganda in third place with 13%.
A closer look at ROAM Africa’s data reveals that, apart from Nigeria, there was a drop in overall job listings across all job levels during the last months.
However, there was an increase in graduate trainee and ‘no experience’ roles in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana from May to July 2020, which offers some hope for new entrants into the jobs market.
Interestingly, recruitment agencies contributed the most roles, with 16% of overall jobs, closely followed by IT and Telecoms with 15% and Advertising media and communications with 12%.
Some candidates have also reported applying for more than 20 jobs a day for multiple months and only getting to the interview stage on a handful of occasions. This is why ROAM Africa’s jobs platforms Jobberman (Ghana and Nigeria) and BrighterMonday (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) are focused on matching technology.
The company’s technology helps employers to identify and score the right candidates faster. Suitable candidates are made visible to prospective employers, and helped across the finish line by providing data driven career development tools and training programmes.
Job seekers using the platforms can expect to improve their CV, gain interview tips and sign-up for online training courses designed to bridge the gap between education and employment.
Commenting on the data, Clemens Weitz, CEO of ROAM Africa said, “The high ratio of applications per job listing really highlights how challenging the jobs market is for employers and job seekers. Both employers and job seekers are struggling to connect with the right opportunities and more needs to be done to address this.
“Employers must rethink their hiring strategies and clearly define what they are looking for, based on data and insights. Job seekers must also invest in personal development that will make it easier for them to stand out in such a crowded and competitive market.”
Weitz also added that, “We believe that Africa’s greatest asset is its people and their entrepreneurial spirit. With the expected growth in the continent’s population, we must begin to put structures in place that will make it easier for African businesses to make the most of this resource.”
According to Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa’s Jobs platforms, “With the current state of the jobs market, Africans cannot afford to continue with the antiquated recruitment processes that are commonplace in many organisations.
We must prioritise a digital approach to recruitment, which brings transparency to Africa’s labour market while connecting people to work opportunities that will improve their livelihood.
We must also embrace objectivity in the recruitment process by incorporating innovation that makes it easier to fairly and consistently sort for the best candidates. This will ensure that only qualified candidates are applying for roles and employers get an accurate picture of jobseekers’ capabilities. A win-win for both job seekers and employers.”
“Our data highlights both the challenge and opportunity that come with the African jobs market. We must address the challenge of rampant unemployment but also embrace the opportunity to transform how recruitment is done. By doing this, we will not only be addressing the current problems but also future-proofing our businesses and organizations for generations to come.”
FG Offers to Support TStv to Relaunch with Pay per View Model
National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has pledged to give necessary support to TStv Africa as the indigenous digital satellite TV service begins full operation with pay per view model on October 1, 2020.
Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of NBC, made the promise on Monday in Abuja when the management team of TStv paid him an official visit.
The visit was to inform him of the company‘s readiness to commence full operation across the country on October 1.
TStv Africa is a wholly-owned Nigerian innovative multi-channel outfit which had promised to operate a pay per view model for the benefit of Nigerians.
Idachaba said: “We promise on our side that we will continue to support you.
“At this time, I think that the major issue confronting the PayTv sector is the area of giving Nigerians option of deregulating purchasing capacity in terms of pay as you go concept.
“We believe this will give you the visibility if you remain committed to the idea.
“We welcome that option and wish that it serves as a stimulant and as a progressive index for other pay-TV operators to adopt.
“Some of them have come up with a lot of excuses why pay per view is difficult and why it is not doable.
“We want you to be the galvaniser to prove the naysayers wrong that this is doable in the interest of Nigerians.
“Once you begin and you make a success of it through increased subscription base, we are sure that others will be drawn into it as it happened in the telecommunication sector.”
Idachaba said the NBC is committed to promoting local participation in the nation’s broadcasting industry, especially in the pay-TV sector, to create jobs and provide diversity for Nigerians.
He acknowledged the challenges TStv had faced over the years and encouraged the company to remain focused.
“We are aware that it has been very challenging for you.
“All over the world dominant players will always want to remain in a dominant position.
” Those who want to survive will also have to take the courage to do so,” he said.
The Acting Director-General, however, admonished the firm to refrain from any activity that would give Nigeria a bad name.
“If you are acquiring rights, you must make sure that your rights are legitimately acquired.
“You must make sure you follow the rules of engagement strictly, study the broadcasting code strictly to have a robust future ahead of you,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Echefu Bright, managing director and CEO of TStv, said they were at the NBC to seek the commission’s support to have a peaceful roll out on October 1.
He said the outfit also visited the NBC to officially present samples of its decoders to the commission and thank the management for its support.
Bright gave an assurance that the novel pay per view concept was sacrosanct.
“The model is what we have experimented and implemented and it works and we have done everything we need to do for it Nigerians to benefit.
“Beyond that, we have enough boxes on ground that will cover the entire country,” he said.
Bright also gave an assurance that with the Oct.1 roll out, every part of the country would be covered.
“We currently have a dealership in virtually every state in Nigeria and as I speak to you now our goods are already with them for October 1 rollout. The coverage from day one will be across Nigeria,”
On sports products, he said the firm has Laliga as well as the FA Cup and Euro Cup 2021 rights.
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