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Artificial Intelligence, Andela and Africa’s looming technology slavery

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Globalization, software and the Internet are changing the world faster than we all can catch up. From election hacking to disruption of transportation to the global domination of US and Chinese technology companies, we are clearly still at the beginning of a new age.

The question every citizen, business or nation needs to answer right now is; “how will all of these affect me?”

African nations are at the risk of undergoing a new form of slavery due to these massive shifts in how markets work and the fact that technology and the Internet will increasingly drive economic growth going forward.

Due to the huge imbalance of technology resources and the value they create, we will have a connected world in which powerful tech companies and governments that control these resources will also control the what, how, when and where of economic development. These companies and nations will be the gatekeepers and the rest of the world will be at their mercy. It will be a classic example of the bible quote “to him who has, more shall be given but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”

Artificial intelligence will play a big role widening this gap as more of our daily activities become automated and data-driven. There will be massive shifts in how we live, work, move around and create value. This will lead to job losses as companies employ fewer people to get better results.

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To survive in this new age, citizens will need to acquire new skills that solve problems that software and machines can’t solve. A 2015 report by Forrester Research predicted that by 2019, some one-quarter of all job tasks will be offloaded to software robots, physical robots, or customer self-service automation.

Now what is Andela’s role in all of this? According to the company, it helps companies scale their software teams with world-class, full-time developers.

What it doesn’t mention is that majority of these companies aren’t local and the implication of that is their model provides western companies with cheaper technology skills making them even more competitive in a global economy by reducing their technology cost and increasing their profit.

This means that more local African technology talent would be developed and organized to focus on solving problems in more developed markets while African businesses seeking such talent can’t access them or find them too expensive to hire.

We already know about Africa’s brain drain in medicine. Many doctors move abroad once they get qualified. With software, engineers don’t need to relocate. They can enjoy the perks of working on exciting projects, earn good pay without leaving their relationships behind.

Andela prides itself in having an acceptance rate of less than 1% out of 70,000 applicants. This doesn’t in any way support the perceived economic value many believe the company adds to the countries it is present in.

What is clear however is that there needs to be an urgent effort backed by African businesses and governments to develop those other 69,300 young minds who are interested in programming and software development for Africa to be able to compete in this age.

This article isn’t a knock Andela’s business model. It is what it is, a business. The objective here is to drive a conversation about Africa’s technology future. Andela’s Distributed Learning Community program to develop 100,000 Africans in tech is an example of initiatives which can potentially position Africa well for the future. We need many more urgently and we need to see them through.

As a continent that barely does any manufacturing we have the opportunity to leapfrog to become a digital and software hub for the world. We need the kind of software revolution that’s happened in places like India.

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The truth is that tech brain drain isn’t just an African problem. There is significant tech brain drain in France so much that in September 2015, a group of successful French startups wrote an open letter pleading with tech whiz-kids who have been lured to Silicon Valley to return to Paris.

But even the US doesn’t have enough tech talent to meet its demands. Google just announced a $1 billion grant to train US workers in high tech jobs. They are doing this because if they don’t find the right talent to do the kind of jobs that will keep them competitive they will find it hard to grow their business.

Dear Africa, what’s your move?

Oduntan Odubanjo is co-founder and head of business at Twinpine, Africa's premium mobile marketing platform. He is also a Partner at Iconway Ventures, a pre-seed stage investment firm.

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MSME

NSE, IFC promote participation of women-owned and run SMEs under the Nigeria2Equal programme

The NSE and IFC hosted the webinar to review support for women-owned businesses.

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CEO NSE, NSE lifts suspension on Omatek Ventures’ shares, NSE launches Comic Book to boost financial literacy, NSE goes public with 2.5 billion ordinary shares in unanimous vote by the members, NSE commemorates 2020 International Women’s Day and rings the bell for gender equality, COVID-19: NSE extends time for submission of financial statements, NSE PUBLISHES GUIDANCE TO FACILITATE EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL MEETINGS FOR STAKEHOLDERS AMIDST COVID-19, NSE Hosts First-Ever Digital Closing Gong Ceremony

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt economic activities all over the world, the informal sector (specifically small and medium enterprises, SMEs), have been at the centre of the crisis.

In view of the strong representation of female entrepreneurs within the SMEs space, The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) hosted a webinar in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation to address the theme, Supporting SMEs and Women-Owned Businesses in Corporate Value Chains.

Speaking at the webinar, the Divisional Head, Shared Services, NSE, Bola Adeeko noted, “Entrepreneurs in Nigeria face significant challenges in accessing finance to sustain or expand their businesses. With the high level of female participation in entrepreneurship (OECD in 2019 puts female participation at 58% compared to male’s 45% male), experts anticipate that the COVID-19 crisis will hinder the progress made in advancing women’s entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

“To this end, we are pleased to have brought together an expert panel of discussants who have made an indisputable business case for gender-inclusive practices in corporate value chains and highlighted strategies for improving the participation of women owned and run SMEs.”

Looking at the current SMEs landscape, the Executive Director, Fate Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi indicated that, “When we look at the micro segment, we see that the number of women-owned businesses is equal to men-owned businesses.

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“However, as we move on to the SMEs segment, we see a drop in female participation to less than 25% which suggests that women are either dropping off or not growing as quickly as their male counterparts.”

In identifying some of the constraints female entrepreneurs face, Nigeria Country Director, WeConnect International, Yeshua Russel said, “While it is imperative that concerted efforts are made to link women to the value chains of large corporations in order to empower them, there are barriers that must be addressed which include inadequate technical capacity; low level of collaboration among women-owned businesses; and lack of access to finance.

“Consequently, we need to create more structures and systems that can educate and incorporate women to raise their level and quality of participation.”

The Director, Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Business, Ghana and Nigeria, Unilever, Soromidayo George further expounded on this saying, “From our experience with Ebola and other epidemics, the economic impacts of a health crisis will have a disproportionate impact on women which will widen the gender inequality gap.

“This is particularly attributable to the harmful social norms that limit the expectations of what women can and should do especially along familial and business spectrums. We must, therefore, articulate organised ways to tackle these expectations and lay the right building blocks to achieve gender equality.”

All the panelists during the session agreed on the fundamental needs of businesses, particularly women-owned businesses as articulated by Executive Director, Business Banking, Access Bank, Ayodele Olojede.

She noted that, “In building and nurturing women-owned businesses, it is important to adopt a holistic approach that focuses on the four fundamentals of finance, information, market and technology.”

Taking this a step further, the Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Lagos Business School. Peter Bankole emphasized, “Capacity building must go beyond training in the development of women-owned businesses. Women are fast and adaptive learners but must also be given the support of mentoring and hand-holding to reach their highest potential.”

In closing out the event, the Head, Corporate Communications, NSE, Olumide Orojimi emphasised the need to continue the conversation beyond the webinar.

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He said, “Bridging the gender inequality gap is a journey and it is one we must all contribute to actively. We at the NSE are proud of our efforts at advancing female participation within our operations and our ecosystem and our collaboration with IFC is one of the efforts we are truly proud of.”

It would be recalled that The Nigeria2Equal initiative was kicked-off in May with a webinar that explored the gender implications of COVID-19 for women as employees.

The conversations that ensued during that webinar highlighted the differential socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on men and women, with women predicted to face more negative impacts.

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Explainer: The 5 allegations against CAMA

CAMA has its issues but these 5 allegations against it are overblown.

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The 5 allegations against CAMA, company and allied matters act, COVID-19: Buhari orders shut down of all international airports for 4 weeks, FG suspends evacuation of Nigerians in Diaspora

Two weeks ago I had to correct a widespread mischaracterisation of the concept of waiver of sovereign immunity. Today I see myself again forced to discuss the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020. So far the reviews I have read appear not to be from a standpoint of legal knowledge but pure sensationalism.

The yet to be gazetted CAMA 2020, which has no commencement date, for now, comprises a whopping 870 sections! A comprehensive review of the Act is therefore no mean feat. Indeed I do not know one person who has. But that has not stopped piecemeal reviews.

It is therefore in response to the piecemeal review of the CAMA especially the most widely circulated one by a respected writer that I am forced to issue the following observations. A more comprehensive review of the Act remains a work in progress.

To put my observations in perspective, it is pertinent to acknowledge that there is a near breakdown of trust of our leaders by the people and it must be said that the current administration (both at the Federal and State level) have not painted themselves in gold in terms of their regulatory legislations.

READ: How new CAMA 2020 will enhance SMEs’ ease of doing business

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But to hold the government to account or to take them to task when they have done wrong, we can’t afford to get it wrong ourselves or be guilty of sensationalism. Otherwise, you throw them a lifeline, divert attention to your embellishments, and cast doubt on your credibility. I now begin my response to the five allegations contained in the Article, in reverse order.

Allegation 5 is that CAMA 2020 in section 78 mandatorily requires foreign companies to register EXCEPT Chinese companies. This is as laughable as it is mischievous. To be honest I don’t understand the basis at all. All I will do is to reproduce the text of the 1990 and 2020 Acts.

It is clear that Sections 78 & 79 CAMA 2020 are mere reproductions of Sections 54 & 55 CAMA 1990. The only difference as far as I can see between the provisions of Section 80 CAMA 2020 and Section 56 CAMA 1990 is that the application for exemption is now made to the Minister.

Despite my limited knowledge of the law in general and the principles of interpretation of statutes in particular, I have tried painstakingly albeit unsuccessfully to read into the sections the exemptions exclusively accorded to Chinese companies.

Allegation 4 is that “The CAC is Now Above The Law – Literally”. The ground on which the allegation is brought is that section 17 CAMA provides that a suit shall not be commenced against the CAC unless a 30-day Pre-Action Notice has been served on CAC by the intended plaintiff.

Is that all?

This is the sort of accusation that my former boss would hear and scream, “you are pulling my legs” or “you are kidding me!”

Granted that it appears that the Pre-Action Notice requirement was not provided for under CAMA 1990 and is now required under the new CAMA. But does that make the CAC above the law? The answer must necessarily be answered in the negative.

Any law student about to write Bar Finals & who claims not to have heard of Pre-Action Notices ought not to be allowed into the exam hall let alone being called to the Nigerian Bar. A simple search of the word “Pre-Action Notice” in Law Pavilion returns 1650 results in 0.02 secs.

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Nigerian law is replete with instances of Pre-Action Notice requirements in similar legislation. For the sake of time and space, I will restrict my examples to four – NPA, NIMASA, NNPC, and NAFDAC. Can we also argue that those Agencies are “above the law – literally?”

Despite my misgivings about the Pre-Action Notice requirements in Nigerian laws and their occasional abuse by officials, in the context of the allegation that it makes the CAC, “above the law – literally”. I am only able to arrive at one verdict.

Allegation 3, and which is the most dangerous of all the allegations in my view, is the allegation that CAMA 2020 criminalised the informal sector and thereby rendered 21 million Nigerians as criminals! Haba!!

Some people complained that lawyers needlessly attacked the writer & claimed that the interpretation of statutes is the exclusive preserve of lawyers. Without going as far as that, I don’t know if anyone on here will take me seriously if I issue medical advice with magisterial authority.

There’s a reason why the interpretation of statutes is an art and why people have written textbooks or enunciated principles on the interpretation of statutes. Allow me to explain to you why and how the writer fell into a schoolboy error in his construction of section 863 CAMA 2020.

Section 863 CAMA provides that a person or association of persons shall not carry on business in Nigeria AS A COMPANY, LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP OR UNDER A BUSINESS NAME without being registered under this Act. This is punishable on CONVICTION to a fine.

There are a number of principles that we call in aid when faced with a statute for interpretation. One is that provisions of laws must be given their ordinary interpretation. Another one is that statutes are not interpreted in isolation but on a combined reading with other sections.

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Firstly, the section DID NOT make it compulsory for all Nigerians intending to do business (including those in the informal sector) to register under the Act. Far from it. That is not the literal interpretation of that section. The writer read into the section, what was not there.

The section says you must register if you want to carry on business as a company or a partnership or a business name. Do you think it is like six and half a dozen? Read the next sentence.

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READ: CAC discloses why it proposed law amendment 

Section 19 CAMA as an illustrative example stipulates that no association or partnership of MORE THAN 20 PERSONS shall be formed for the purpose of carrying on business for profit or gain without registration as a company under the Act. The section also provides exceptions.

What this means is that 20 persons OR LESS can come together and do business WITHOUT THE NEED for registration under the Act. If more than 20 persons come together to do business for profit without registration, they thereby contravene section 863. Nothing more nothing less.

Similarly s. 814 CAMA provides circumstances under which a person or group of persons must register as a business name e.g. when they want to do business with a name that is not their true surnames. In other words, Okafor & Okafor can do business without compulsory registration!

Above all, s. 863 CAMA ends by providing that where an alleged offence has been committed by a person or group of persons under that section, such persons can only be punished if convicted (obviously by a Court of competent jurisdiction) and the punishment is fine.

The corollary of the point being made is that the allegation that s. 863 CAMA criminalised the informal sector & rendered 21 million Nigerians criminals so wide off the mark that I think the writer must in good conscience withdraw that article.

Allegation 2 is that the lawmakers were guilty of legislative cronyism by expressly naming The Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria (BRIPAN) as the government-recognized body which insolvency practitioners must be registered with in order to practise.

For me, this is the first potent allegation against the new CAMA but it is not that easy to conclude whether the allegation is grounded or baseless. Once again, let me explain.

The basis on which the writer quarrelled with the insertion of BRIPAN in the Act is that BRIPAN is a private company limited by guarantee which was registered in 1994. The writer then proceeded to peek behind the veil to reveal a company registered as Insolvency Practitioners Association Nigeria Ltd/Gte. For the avoidance of doubt, Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria is the same as Insolvency Practitioners Association Nigeria Ltd/Gte. I have confirmed that.

I do not speak for BRIPAN, I am not even a member and have no experience or interest (yet) in insolvency practice. But it is important to interrogate what’s wrong with the insertion of BRIPAN in the Act. Although the National Assembly is not sovereign, and laws passed by National Assembly are not supreme, the yardstick to measure the validity or otherwise of a law is whether or not such law contravenes the provisions of the Constitution, expressly or by necessary implication and is thereby unconstitutional, null and void. To date, I am yet to read anyone saying what precisely is unconstitutional about the insertion of BRIPAN in the CAMA.

For the record, CAMA does not say that only members of BRIPAN can be Insolvency practitioners. It says in addition to being a lawyer or accountant or of any other relevant discipline, you must be authorised either by BRIPAN OR OTHER professional bodies to act as an insolvency practitioner.

Please read sections 705 & 707 for yourselves. That’s why I said earlier that it is better to err on the side of caution and state the facts as there are so you don’t give the government leeway to say but it is not restricted to BRIPAN alone. You get the point.

In concluding this penultimate point, I think the writer has a point about the express insertion of BRIPAN in the Act. I agree that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth but I would not call it corruption based on what I know for now. I stand to be corrected.

Allegation 1 is that the CAMA is NGO Bill in disguise because what NASS failed to do before through the NGO Bill they have now achieved through the backdoor. I agree that the legislative & regulatory agenda of the present NASS as illustrated in several of their proposed legislations appear aimed at attacking freedom of speech & civil space and to abrogate property & economic rights.

However, I strongly disagree with the writer’s conclusion that s. 839 CAMA means that “the CAC may remove and replace the trustees of a CSO if it determines that it is in “the public interest” to do so – in its sole opinion and based on criteria nobody else has access to.”

The above interpretation is doing damage to the literal interpretation of that section. Once again for the record, a community reading of the said s. 839 of CAMA shows that an order of court is required to suspend the trustees of an NGO under that section. Additionally, the extant principles of Nigerian administrative law are adequate to ensure that the wrongful exercise of the regulatory powers of the CAC are brought under the supervisory control of the courts.

A proper reading of the CAMA in its entirety will reveal that the CAC also has supervisory powers over other types of entities like companies, partnerships, and business names. Is the argument that NGOs (e.g. churches) are above any form of supervision? If so let us say so.

In the final analysis, I also do not think there is merit to the allegation that the CAMA 2020 is the NGO Bill in disguise.

It is imperative to conclude as I begun, there appears to be a near breakdown of trust between our leaders by the people and this must be fixed if we are to make progress as a country. In the meantime, however, to hold the government to account or to take them to task when they have done wrong, we can’t afford to get it wrong ourselves or be guilty of sensationalism. If we do so, we unwittingly throw the government a lifeline, divert attention to our embellishments, and cast doubt on our credibility. This would be neither good for us nor the country.

The author of this article, Orji Uka, is a Lagos based legal practitioner. Nairametrics obtained his permission to publish on nairametrics.com.

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Nigeria witnesses about 300,000 phishing attacks in Q2 and SMEs are main target

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Nigeria witnesses about 300,000 phishing attacks in Q2 and SMEs are main target

Kaspersky, a cybersecurity company, has found that about 300,000 Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises witnessed phishing attacks in the second quarter of 2020. This was disclosed in the Kaspersky’s new spam and phishing in Q2 2020 report.

The report also revealed that a number of new tricks have also been found – from HR dismissal emails to attacks disguised as delivery notifications. As a result of such tendencies, the report detected 2,023,501 phishing attacks in South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Phishing is one of the oldest and most flexible types of social engineering attacks. They are used in many ways, and for different purposes, to lure unwary users to the site and trick them into entering personal information. The latter often includes financial credentials such as bank account passwords or payment card details, or login details for social media accounts.

READ MORE: Crypto-Scammers stole $24 million worth of BTCs in 2020  

Breakdown of most influenced nations

  • South African users have been influenced the most by this type of threat: there were 616,666 phishing attacks detected in 3 months in the Nelson Mandela country.
  • Kenya 514,361 phishing attacks
  • Egypt 492,532 phishing attacks
  • Nigeria  299,426 phishing attacks
  • Rwanda 68,931 phishing attacks
  • Ethiopia 31,585 phishing attacks

Phishing is a strong attack method because it is done at such a large scale. By sending massive waves of emails under the name of legitimate institutions or promoting fake pages, malicious users increase their chances of success in their hunt for innocent people’s credentials. The first six months of 2020, however, have shown a new aspect to this well-known form of attack.

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READ: BTC scammers breach Twitter accounts of Bill Gates, Obama, Google, Apple, Uber

SMEs are main targets

As Kaspersky analysis has indicated, in Q2 2020, phishers increasingly performed targeted attacks, with most of their focus on small companies. To attract attention, fraudsters forged emails and websites from organisations whose products or services could be purchased by potential victims. In the process of making these fake assets, fraudsters often did not even try to make the site appear authentic.

Once a fraudster has gained access to an employee’s mailbox, they can use it to carry out further attacks on the company the employee works for, the rest of its staff, or even its contractors.

READ: Twitter freezes password reset to address cyberattack

New tricks

The news agenda, following the COVID-19 outbreak, has already influenced the “excuses” fraudsters use when asking for personal information. This includes disguising their communications with unsuspecting users as:

Delivery services: At the peak of the pandemic, organisations responsible for delivering letters and parcels were in a hurry to notify recipients of possible delays. These are the types of emails that fraudsters began to fake, with victims asked to open an attachment to find out the address of a warehouse where they could pick up a shipment that did not reach its destination.

Postal services: Another relatively original move used by fraudsters was a message containing a small image of a postal receipt. The scammers expected that the intrigued recipient would accept the attachment (which, although it contained ‘JPG’ in the name, was an executable archive) as the full version and decide to open it.

Financial services: Bank phishing attacks in the second quarter were often carried out using emails offering various benefits and bonuses to customers of credit institutions due to the pandemic. Emails received by users contained a file with instructions or links to get more details.

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