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Osun Threatens to Shut Down MTN over N399m Debt



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The Osun State Government said it would be forced to confiscate the base stations of MTN Nigeria, mobile telecommunications’ operator, following its refusal to pay the right of way permit fees due to the state government to the tune of N399.4 million

The base stations had on April 7 been seized by the officials of the state Internal Revenue Service (IRS), but was later released two days after following the intervention of Mr. Emmanuel Seton, one of the top management of the telecommunications outfit.

Mr. Dayo Oyebanji, acting chairman and CEO  of the state IRS, in a standing order statement released in Osogbo, said the state government would be forced to shut the services of the company in the state following the failure of the organisation to pay the outstanding right of way permit fees.

The revenue service lamented that the organisation had reneged on its promises to pay the permit fees on or before  April 8.

The revenue boss who drew the attention of the management of MTN to the assessment bill with reference number HW01/MT/09/66 dated February 19, 2014, and the notice from IRS dated  March 26, in respect of the outstanding payment of right of way permit on the optic fibre operation in the state.

The letter read: “Please be informed that the issue of non-payment constituted one of the reasons why we distrained five of your mast base stations in our state on  April 7, which were released on April 9,  based on the mutual understanding with Mr. Samuel Seton during our meeting on April 8 that the payment should be effected on or before April 15.

“We therefore wish to express our disappointment on the failure of your organisation to fulfill your civic responsibility in respect of this payment despite several demand notices.

“In this regard, we are therefore left with no other option than to confiscate your base stations in our state provided we do not receive payment on or before the close of business on April 25 to the coffer of the state government.”

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How Scammers are Using Fake ChatGPT Apps to Fleece Users Out of Thousands of Dollars – Sophos Reports



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Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, on Tuesday announced that it had uncovered multiple apps masquerading as legitimate, ChatGPT-based chatbots to overcharge users and bring in thousands of dollars a month.

As detailed in Sophos X-Ops’ latest report, “’FleeceGPT’ Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash,” these apps have popped up in both the Google Play and Apple App Store, and, because the free versions have near-zero functionality and constant ads, they coerce unsuspecting users into signing up for a subscription that can cost hundreds of dollars a year.

“Scammers have and always will use the latest trends or technology to line their pockets. ChatGPT is no exception. With interest in AI and chatbots arguably at an all-time high, users are turning to the Apple App and Google Play Stores to download anything that resembles ChatGPT. These types of scam apps—what Sophos has dubbed ‘fleeceware’—often bombard users with ads until they sign up for a subscription.

“They’re banking on the fact that users won’t pay attention to the cost or simply forget that they have this subscription.

“They’re specifically designed so that they may not get much use after the free trial ends, so users delete the app without realizing they’re still on the hook for a monthly or weekly payment,” said Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher, Sophos.

In total, Sophos X-Ops investigated five of these ChatGPT fleeceware apps, all of which claimed to be based on ChatGPT’s algorithm. In some cases, as with the app “Chat GBT,” the developers played off the ChatGPT name to improve their app’s ranking in the Google Play or App Store.

Fleeceware ChatGPT danger

While OpenAI offers the basic functionality of ChatGPT to users for free online, these apps were charging anything from $10 a month to $70.00 a year.

The iOS version of “Chat GBT,” called Ask AI Assistant, charges $6 a week—or $312 a year—after the three-day free trial; it netted the developers $10,000 in March alone.

Another fleeceware-like app, called Genie, which encourages users to sign up for a $7 weekly or $70 annual subscription, brought in $1 million over the past month.

The key characteristics of so-called fleeceware apps, first discovered by Sophos in 2019, are overcharging users for functionality that is already free elsewhere, as well as using social engineering and coercive tactics to convince users to sign up for a recurring subscription payment. Usually, the apps offer a free trial but with so many ads and restrictions, they’re barely useable until a subscription is paid.

These apps are often poorly written and implemented, meaning app function is often less than ideal even after users switch to the paid version. They also inflate their ratings in the app stores through fake reviews and persistent requests of users to rate the app before it’s even been used or the free trial ends.

“Fleeceware apps are specifically designed to stay on the edge of what’s allowed by Google and Apple in terms of service, and they don’t flout the security or privacy rules, so they are hardly ever rejected by these stores during review. While Google and Apple have implemented new guidelines to curb fleeceware since we reported on such apps in 2019, developers are finding ways around these policies, such as severely limiting app usage and functionality unless users pay up.

While some of the ChatGPT fleeceware apps included in this report have already been taken down, more continue to pop up—and it’s likely more will appear. The best protection is education. Users need to be aware that these apps exist and always be sure to read the fine print whenever hitting ‘subscribe.’ Users can also report apps to Apple and Google if they think the developers are using unethical means to profit,” said Gallagher.

All apps included in the report have been reported to Apple and Google. For users who have already downloaded these apps, they should follow the App or Google Play store’s guidelines on how to “unsubscribe.” Simply deleting the fleeceware app will not void the subscription.

Learn more about these scam ChatGPT apps and how to avoid them in ’FleeceGPT’ Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash on

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Meet the 2023 MTN Media Innovation Fellows



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School of Media and Communications, Pan-Atlantic University, has announced the 2023 fellows for the second edition of the MTN Media Innovation Programme (MIP). The 20 successful fellows emerged from over 2,700 applicants.

The MTN MIP seeks to expose fellows and empower media practitioners with the knowledge to transform their industry. At the end of the six months of training, the fellows will have a greater understanding of Nigeria’s technology sector and the nexus between media and technology.

They will also join an exclusive network of professionals with access to resources and mentorship from SMC’s erudite faculty.

Tobechukwu Okigbo, Chief Corporate Services Officer, MTN Nigeria, while Congratulating the Fellows, said “The world is constantly changing, and media practice has been altered with advancements in technology.

“The modern media practitioner needs to remain innovative, which is the essence of the MIP.

“We have seen the impact of the programme among media practitioners and are motivated by the value this cohort will bring to media practice in Nigeria” .

The fully funded programme includes a certificate fellowship, a study visit to the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa as well as to MTN Group Headquarters.

Here are the 2023 Fellows:

  • Abbas Jimoh, Assistant Editor, Media Trust Group (Daily Trust Newspapers);
  • Abdulrasheed Hussain, News Editor, Premier Radio 102.7 FM, Kano;
  • Adediran Olufemi Adeleke, Correspondent, New Telegraph Newspaper;
  • Anuoluwapo Temitope Odubanjo, Founder/Content Writer, FabWoman Nigeria;
  • Ayomide Oguntimehin, Chief Editor,;
  • Babajide Awoyinfa, Principal Correspondent, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN);
  • Basit Jamiu, Human Interest and Diaspora News Editor, Legit Nigeria;
  • Chinedu Chidi, Editor, Special Projects, Ripples Nigeria;
  • Chinenye Francisca Anuforo, ICT Correspondent, The Sun Newspapers;
  • David Michael Oputah, Managing Editor, BizWatch Nigeria Limited;
  • Efunnuga Oluwaseun Yemisi, Marketing and Content Associate, Pulse Nigeria;
  • Elizabeth Modupeoluwa Musa, TV Producer/Presenter, News Central Television;
  • Emmanuel Erhunwhunse Paul, Managing Editor, TechPoint;
  • Ezinne Glory Alozie, Reporter/Editor/News Producer, Darling 107.3FM;
  • Frank Eleanya, Head of Technology Desk, Business Day;
  • Okonji Emmanuel, ICT Editor, ThisDay Newspapers;
  • Okoye Ukamaka Perpetua, West Africa Correspondent, Deutsche Welle (DW);
  • Todah Opeyemi, Senior Editor, Zikoko Citizen;
  • Victor Ogunyinka, Managing Editor, Online, Nigerian Tribune;
  • Victory Wilson Chinedum, Newscaster, TV Presenter & Producer, Silverbird Television.

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6 ways Google is working with AI in Africa



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Lounging on Labadi Beach, browsing the shops on Osu’s Oxford Street, ending the day with a meal in a local chop bar: This is Accra, Ghana’s bustling capital city. It’s also where, in 2018, we opened our first AI research center in Africa.

The center houses research labs that explore how we can use AI to help solve pressing problems affecting millions of people both locally and globally, like mapping buildings in remote locations to provide better electricity. Our local researchers collaborate with research teams across the globe to work on AI-based tools to create change for communities worldwide, including in various countries across Africa.

Here are six AI projects we’re working on, in our Accra research center and beyond, and how we’re hoping they’ll make a difference.

1.Mapping buildings

Even with satellite imagery, it can be difficult to map buildings in remote locations. When these buildings go unmapped, it can make things like planning infrastructure difficult. Our Open Buildings dataset project, launched by a team in the Accra research center, combines AI with satellite imagery to pinpoint the location of buildings. That helps governments and nonprofit organizations understand the needs of residents and offer assistance. In Uganda, for example, the nonprofit Sunbird AI is using the dataset and working with the Ministry of Energy in Lamwo district to study villages’ electrification needs, and plan potential solutions, such as prioritizing electricity in important areas like commercial centers. And we’re continuing to expand our Open Buildings dataset to see how it can help communities in more areas. In addition to various countries in Africa, the dataset now covers 16 countries in Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh and Thailand.

2. Forecasting floods

The United Nations has reported that half of the world’s least-developed countries lack adequate early warning systems for disasters, including floods. In West and Central Africa specifically, where flooding can be severe, early warning systems could enable better preparation and potential evacuation. Lifesaving technology, like our Flood Forecasting Initiative, can help residents stay safe and give governments time to prepare. We’re using AI models to predict when and where riverine floods will occur in 80 countries worldwide, including 23 in Africa. Our Flood Hub platform displays the forecasts up to seven days in advance, with detailed inundation maps — showing different water levels predicted in different areas — so people know what to expect where they live.

What is the Google FloodHub?

3. Predicting locusts

Locust infestations can have a devastating effect on food crops. Through collaborations with AI-product focused company InstaDeep and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, our team at the Google AI Center in Ghana is helping to better detect locust outbreaks and enable farmers to implement control measures. The AI Center team is working on building a model that forecasts locust breeding grounds using historical data from the FAO and environmental variables like rainfall and temperature.

4. Improving maternal health outcomes with ultrasound

Ultrasounds can be crucial for identifying potential complications during pregnancy. In recent years, sensor technology has evolved to make ultrasound devices significantly more portable and affordable. Globally, we have been working on building AI models that can read ultrasound images and provide important information to healthcare workers. In Kenya, for instance, we are partnering with Jacaranda Health to help improve our ultrasound AI technology, with a focus on using handheld ultrasound devices that don’t need to be attached to larger machines. This can help people who aren’t trained to operate traditional ultrasound machines to acquire and interpret ultrasound images and triage high-risk patients, simply by sweeping the handheld probe across the mother’s belly.


5. Helping people with non-standard speech make their voices heard

We built Project Relate, an Android app that uses AI research, to help people with non-standard speech communicate more easily. After recording 500 phrases, users receive a personalized speech recognition model. Now available for user testing in Ghana, it can transcribe speech into text; use a synthesized voice to repeat what the speaker has said; and engage Google Assistant to complete tasks, such as asking for directions, playing a song or turning on the lights.

6. Teaching reading to children worldwide

Due in part to the effects of COVID-19, it’s estimated that about two-thirds of 10-year-olds globally are unable to read and understand a simple story. Read Along, Google’s AI-based reading tutor app and website, is helping to increase child literacy. Diya, the in-app reading buddy, listens to the speaker reading aloud, offering support when they struggle, and rewarding them when they do well.

Over the past three years, more than 30 million kids have read more than 120 million stories on Read Along. That progress helps the children, but it also affects their families. For example, one of our Lagos users, William, began using the app when he was 10 years old. He went from being able to read for three minutes at a stretch to reading for 90 minutes at a time. “I am more confident about William’s future because he can read well,” said William’s mom, Martha, “Not just reading well — he now loves to read.”

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