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Sterling One Foundation Commits to the African Union Year of Education 

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Sterling One Foundation has reiterated its commitment to investing in foundational learning and working with the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and partners to boost education in Africa.

L-R: Albert Nsengiyumva. Executive Secretary, Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), Olapeju Ibekwe, CEO, Sterling One Foundation, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Former Minister of Education, Nigeria and Founder, Human Capital Africa, John Ntim Fordjour, Deputy Minister of Education, Ghana and Dr. Benjamin Piper, Director of Global Education, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the 2023 High Level Policy Dialogue on Foundational Learning in Zambia recently.

This commitment was made at the 2023 High Level Policy Dialogue hosted in Zambia by ADEA and the Zambian Ministry of Education to inform policy and decisions on foundational learning, foster dialogue and peer learning, and share good practices on what works in foundational learning in support of the African Union Year of Education scheduled for 2024.

Over the years, development experts have bemoaned the dire situation facing Africa’s youth, given the inefficient education system in place to cater to them, coupled with the rapid rise in their population. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the State of Global Education Update reports that only 10% of 10-year-olds are able to read basic story texts or solve simple arithmetic problems, thus placing the region as the lowest in terms of numeracy skills and foundational literacy in the world.

With this challenge at the front burner, ten African Ministers of Education and some other country representatives agreed to prioritize foundational learning and develop a foundational learning starter pack model for the 2024 African Union Year of Education (AUYoE) and beyond, as an urgent step towards tackling the challenge.

The starter pack is expected to serve as a uniform resource material that will help the participating countries develop a sustainable solution for the problem. Furthermore, the model will prioritize data collection and analysis of the data in partnership with ADEA and other key policy partners to improve laws and bring to fore policies that foster more efficiency, peer learning and best practices in support of the AUYoE.

Sharing her perspective on the resolutions from the Dialogue, Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe, ceo of the Sterling One Foundation hailed the ideas and strategies put forward, stating that it will strengthen the work of private sector and civil society organizations contributing to the solutions.

“Policies are crucial to sustainable development work in Africa and we are glad that the deliberations here have fashioned out ways to improve the work being done across the early childhood and primary education value chain. At our Foundation, we support the work of different stakeholders through grants, technical support and strategic engagements, and we are excited to see how the mainstreaming of the resolutions here will improve that work,” she added.

Some of the key aspects the decision-makers at the Policy Dialogue hope to address in the immediate future include adoption of structured pedagogy for the continent, introduction of more age-appropriate teaching methods and use of technology to improve teacher quality, through training and performance monitoring and improvement.

The Minister of Education of Zambia, Hon. Douglas Munsaka Syakalima while stressing the importance of all stakeholders taking the resolutions seriously mentioned that education, especially foundational learning is at the base of what will drive Africa’s development.

“It is by building people that we will derive the resources to craft a new vision and bring such a vision to life. Without foundational skills in numeracy and literacy, there can be no further learning quality,” he said.

Participants at the High-Level Policy Dialogue got the opportunity to review some of the solutions and insights from the participating countries to see what works and where improvements and adaptations are possible. There were also school visits organized for participants to get some firsthand experience of play-based learning and other important concepts made possible by the right policies.

During his remarks, the Executive Secretary of ADEA, Mr. Albert Nsengiyumva highlighted the need for a collective commitment to tackling the crisis the continent faces, stating that: “Africa is the continent most affected by the learning crisis, and it is where the solutions must be developed.”

He thanked the participating Ministers of Education and other stakeholders for the work they have done so far, and urged them to continue on that momentum to ensure the acceleration of progress.

Some other leaders who spoke at the Policy Dialogue include Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Founder of Human Capital Africa and Co-convener of the Foundational Learning Ministerial Coalition, and Dr Benjamin Piper, Director of Global Education at the Gates Foundation, both of whom advocated strongly for data-driven decisions and scaling what has worked.


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Extradition Efforts Underway as Arjarwalla, Fugitive Binance Executive Located in Kenya

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Nigerian Government has traced Nadeem Arjarwalla, Binance executive to Kenya following his escape from custody and is currently taking steps to extradite him back to Nigeria.

Extradition Efforts Underway as Arjarwalla, Fugitive Binance Executive Located in Kenya

According to a report from Punch, sources from within the office of the Nigerian presidency disclosed that Arjarwalla went into hiding once he arrived in Kenya.

The Nigerian government is collaborating with Interpol and Kenyan police to bring Arjarwalla back to Nigeria to face charges leveled against him.

Anjarwalla arrived in Nigeria in February following claims that the exchange manipulated the country’s fiat currency, the Nigerian naira. Arjarwalla was detained alongside another Binance executive after a meeting with the Nigerian government.

Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) heads up the investigation and slammed the exchange and its two executives with five counts bordering on money laundering. However, Anjarwalla reportedly escaped custody on March 22 and was able to board a flight out of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Anjarwalla reportedly flew out of Abuja on a Middle East airline. However, it is unclear how he managed to board the international flight, as his United Kingdom passport, with which he entered Nigeria, remains in the custody of the Nigerian authorities.

According to an immigration official, the Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport, and authorities are now trying to determine how Anjarwalla acquired the passport, as he had no other travel documents while in custody.

While Arjarwalla remains out of the country, the other Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, pleaded not guilty to the charges, with his wife and others calling for his release after several weeks in detention. Gambaryan’s wife has launched a petition to bring him back to the United States, which had 3,373 signatures at the time of publication. However, Gambaryan’s case has been adjourned until April 19.

On March 5, Binance announced that it intended to cease all naira transactions, effectively exiting the market. Binance also mentioned that Binance’s peer-to-peer platform delisted all naira trading pairs in late February.

On Feb. 27, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria argued that crypto exchanges in Nigeria were suspected of handling illicit transactions, also pointing to “suspicious flows” of funds at Binance.

 


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NGX Sanctions Julius Berger over ‘Insider Dealing’

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Nigerian Exchange (NGX) has sanctioned Julius Berger Nigeria (JBN) Plc for engaging in inappropriate insider dealing in shares.

NGX Sanctions Julius Berger over ‘Insider Dealing’

Insider dealing is the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one’s own advantage through having access to confidential information.

Incorporated in 1970, Julius Berger Nigeria became a publicly quoted company in 1991 and has more than 10,000 shareholders.

NGX Regulatory Company (NGX RegCo), the self regulatory organisation (SRO) that regulates activities at the NGX, stated that JBN breached certain provisions of the listing rules and was thus sanctioned accordingly.

According to NGX RegCo, JBN violated provisions on “closed period”, in breach of the construction company’s commitment to adhere to listing rules and standards.

The NGX had tightened its rules and regulations to checkmate boardroom intrigues and block information arbitrage that tend to confer advantages on companies’ directors.

The amendments expanded the scope and authority of corporate financial reporting while eliminating gaps that allowed companies to sidetrack relevant rules in stage-managing corporate compliance.

The enhanced framework provided clarity and greater disclosures on directors’ trading in shares, corporate liability for accuracy and compliance of financial statement, dissuade bogus dividend payment and other sundry boardroom’s maneuverings that tend to favour insiders.

The amendments came on the heels of noticeable increase in violations of rules on ‘closed period’, a period when directors are banned from trading in the shares of their companies.

Rule 17.17 of the NGX disallows insiders and their connected persons from trading in the shares or bonds of their companies during the ‘closed period’ or any period during which trading is restricted.

This period is mostly at a period of sensitive material information, like prior knowledge of financials, dividends or major corporate changes, which places directors and other insiders at advantage above other general and retail investors.

A review of the disclosure violations at the stock market had shown that all violations in 2021 were related to violation of Rule 17.17 on ‘closed period’.

Under the amendments, in addition to the provisions of relevant accounting standards, laws, rules and requirements regarding preparation of financial statements, companies are now required to include several specific declarations on securities transactions by directors, changes in shareholding structure, self-assessment on compliance with corporate governance standards and internal code for directors on securities transactions among others.

According to the rules, in relation to securities transactions by directors, a company shall disclose in its quarterly financial statements, full year audited financial statements, and in corporate governance report contained in its annual report whether the company has adopted a code of conduct regarding securities transactions by its directors on terms no less exacting than the required standard set out by the market.

The company is also required to disclose, having made specific enquiry of all directors, whether its directors have complied with, or whether there has been any non-compliance with, the required standard set out in the Exchange’s rules and in code of conduct regarding securities transactions by directors.

 

Cerdit: The Nation

 


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IMF says Rising Cyber Threats Pose Serious Concerns for Financial Stability

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that cyberattacks have more than doubled since the pandemic. In a blog released during the week, it pointed out that while companies have historically suffered relatively modest direct losses from cyberattacks, some have experienced a much heavier toll.

Specifically, US credit reporting agency Equifax, for example, paid more than $1 billion in penalties after a major data breach in 2017 that affected about 150 million consumers.

“As we show in a chapter of the April 2024 Global Financial Stability Report, the risk of extreme losses from cyber incidents is increasing. Such losses could potentially cause funding problems for companies and even jeopardise their solvency.

“The size of these extreme losses has more than quadrupled since 2017 to $2.5 billion. And indirect losses like reputational damage or security upgrades are substantially higher.

“The financial sector is uniquely exposed to cyber risk. Financial firms—given the large amounts of sensitive data and transactions they handle—are often targeted by criminals seeking to steal money or disrupt economic activity. Attacks on financial firms account for nearly one-fifth of the total, of which banks are the most exposed,” IMF said.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, incidents in the financial sector could threaten financial and economic stability if they erode confidence in the financial system, disrupt critical services, or cause spillovers to other institutions. “For example, a severe incident at a financial institution could undermine trust and, in extreme cases, lead to market selloffs or runs on banks.

Although no significant “cyber runs” have occurred thus far, our analysis suggests modest and somewhat persistent deposit outflows have occurred at smaller US banks after a cyberattack.

“Cyber incidents that disrupt critical services like payment networks could also severely affect economic activity. For example, a December attack at the Central Bank of Lesotho disrupted the national payment system, preventing transactions by domestic banks.

“Another consideration is that financial firms increasingly rely on third-party IT service providers, and may do so even more with the emerging role of artificial intelligence.

“Such external providers can improve operational resilience, but also expose the financial industry to systemwide shocks. For example, a 2023 ransomware attack on a cloud IT service provider caused simultaneous outages at 60 US credit unions,” it added.

The Fund said with the global financial system facing significant and growing cyber risks from increasing digitalization and geopolitical tensions, policies and governance frameworks at firms must keep pace.

The global lender added that because private incentives may be insufficient to address cyber risks—for example, firms may not fully account for the systemwide effects of incidents—public intervention may be necessary.

However, according to an IMF survey of central banks and supervisory authorities, cybersecurity policy frameworks, especially in emerging market and developing economies, often remain insufficient. For example, only about half of countries surveyed had a national, financial sector-focused cybersecurity strategy or dedicated cybersecurity regulations.

To strengthen resilience in the financial sector, authorities should develop an adequate national cybersecurity strategy accompanied by effective regulation and supervisory capacity that should encompass: Periodically assessing the cybersecurity landscape and identifying potential systemic risks from interconnectedness and concentrations, including from third-party service providers.

Encouraging cyber “maturity” among financial sector firms, including board-level access to cybersecurity expertise, as supported by the chapter’s analysis which suggests that better cyber-related governance may reduce cyber risk.

Improving cyber hygiene of firms—that is, their online security and system health (such as antimalware and multifactor authentication)—and training and awareness.

Prioritising data reporting and collection of cyber incidents, and sharing information among financial sector participants to enhance their collective preparedness.

As attacks often emanate from outside a financial firm’s home country and proceeds can be routed across borders, international cooperation is imperative to address cyber risk successfully.

It stressed that while cyber incidents will occur, the financial sector needed the capacity to deliver critical business services during these disruptions.

To this end, financial firms should develop, and test, response and recovery procedures and national authorities should have effective response protocols and crisis management frameworks in place.

It also hinted that IMF actively helped member countries strengthen their cybersecurity frameworks through policy advice, for example as part of the Financial Sector Assessment Programme, and through capacity-building activities.


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