Welcome once again to Nairametrics’ weekly tech news roundup. This week, as always, we bring you a compilation of the major tech events and activities that made the news.
We go behind the scenes, focusing on some of the major talking points and backstories just to keep you updated with the latest developments in the tech space.
This column is dedicated to investors, as well as enthusiasts of Nigeria’s growing tech sector.
You know we love feedback, so please keep them coming.
News from Nigeria
NIPOST goes Banking
In recent times, there have been increased efforts by the government to diversify the revenue base of the Nigerian Postal Service and also make it more efficient. As a result, the once-moribund government agency launched the pilot phase of its agency banking service aimed at aiding financial inclusion and banking the unbanked across its vast network of outlets in Nigeria, in collaboration with tier-2 Bank, Wema Bank.
According to NIPOST, the new product, Easy Life Account, was created in line with its bid to leverage new-age technology, to enable it serve Nigerians more efficiently and become an institution that will be integral to the everyday lives of Nigerians through providing valuable services.
It is expected that the postal agency would soon diversify its operations into financial services, insurance, logistics, real estate and e-Government services, in a bid to enhance its revenue.
10,000 hotspot zones going live in Lagos
After its pilot rollout program, Mobi Hunter is working with SWIFT Networks and Google to provide more free Wi-Fi centres in Lagos.
In the pilot phase, some locations including MMA-2, Hard Rock Café, Shiro restaurant, Festival Mall, some Tastee Fried Chicken and Bukka Hut outlets, over 200 BRT Buses, Smart Cabs, Eko Hospital, and VGC Club, benefitted from the free SWIFT Wi-Fi project. According to the company, more locations are being added on a daily basis towards the 10,000 hotspot target in Lagos.
The hotspots can be accessed via the Red Cheetah app which is free to download from Google Play store. Also, users will view adverts at intervals from the sponsors and partners who make the free service possible.
German VC firm announces investment in Nigerian logistics startup
There is more good news in Nigeria’s startup ecosystem this week as Parcel-it, a Nigerian logistics startup, received a huge boost with a new round of funding from venture capitalist firm, GreenTec Capital Partners. Parcel-it, dubbed as the Uber for delivery services, is a Nigerian on-demand logistics startup launched in June 2017. But unlike logistics startups in the ecosystem, Parcel-it aggregates information on courier services and provides a “marketplace” for dispatch-riders.
However, the Germany-based VC company declined to reveal how much it has invested in the one-year-old logistics startup.
Global Tech News
Google appeals EU’s $5 billion fine
Few months after being fined $5 billion for anti-trust issues by the European Union, tech giant, Google, has announced plans to appeal the fine.
EU authorities accused the tech giant of abusing the dominance of its Android operating system to stifle competitors. The company said that it has filed its legal challenge with the General Court of the EU.
In July, EU’s executive commission issued the fine to Google, after it found out that the company forced smartphone makers using Android to install its search and browser apps. It was also alleged that the company paid big phone makers to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app.
Google, however, argued that its free, open-source operating system has led to lower-priced phones and stoked competition with its chief rival, Apple.
Android remains the most widely used mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS. The fine by EU, which follows a three-year investigation, is the biggest ever imposed by the organization on a company for anticompetitive behaviour.
Under the ruling, Google must take measures to fix the problem by the end of October or risk further fines.
WarnerMedia plans to unveil streaming service by end of 2019
AT&T has announced plans to unveil a digital video service featuring WarnerMedia’s films and television shows, by the end of next year. This is expected to move into direct competition with rivals like Netflix, Disney, and Amazon.
This means that blockbuster Warner movies like the Harry Potter franchise and “Wonder Woman” could show up on the service, next to TV shows like “Friends” and HBO hits like “Game of Thrones.”
Google+ is shutting down after data leakage
It could soon be time to wave goodbye to Google+ with its over 5.5 million followers, as Google announced that it is going to shut down the consumer version of google plus over the next 10 months.
The decision follows the revelation of a previously undisclosed security flaw that exposed users’ profile data which was remedied in March 2018. The review revealed that a bug in the software allowed apps access to profile fields that were not marked as public.
Also during the week, Google unveiled its new line of Pixel devices at its ‘Made by Google’ media event. The new devices include a set of Google Pixel phones, Chromecast, Pixel Slate and other devices. The global tech giant which celebrated its 20th year recently used its “Made by Google” event to exhibit its range of hardware and cutting-edge gadgets.
WHO gives condition for approving Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine as the vaccine gets a name
Russia has named its first approved COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V for the foreign markets.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that any form of approval of prequalification of the Russian vaccine will require rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data.
This disclosure was made by the spokesman of the WHO, Tarik Jasarevic, during a United Nations briefing in Geneva about clinical trials.
He said that the UN health agency and the Russian health authorities are currently discussing the process for possible WHO prequalification for its newly approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Tarik Jasarevic, during the UN briefing in Geneva said, “We are in close contact with Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO prequalification of the vaccine, but again prequalification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data.”
Meanwhile, in a related development, Russia has named its first approved COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V and it is available for foreign markets. The name references the world’s first satellite, which marked a symbolic accomplishment for the USSR during the cold war and space race era. Now, the Russian Government basks in its success at becoming the first country to approve a vaccine for COVID-19.
The head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) pointed out that Russia had already received requests from more than 20 countries for 1 billion doses of its newly registered COVID-19 vaccine.
Nairametrics had earlier reported today the announcement of the registration of the first COVID-19 vaccine in what could be described as a step ahead of other vaccine developments. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who made the disclosure during a televised government meeting, said that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than 2 months of human testing.
However, the speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some western countries and international scientists to question whether the Russian government is putting national prestige ahead of solid science and safety.
Nigeria signs African Trade Insurance Agency agreement
The African Trade Insurance Agency was launched to provide risk solutions for investors.
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the instrument of accession agreement for Nigeria for the establishment of the African Trade Insurance Agency. This was announced by the Federal Government on Monday night.
President @MBuhari has signed the instrument of accession of the agreement for the establishment of the African Trade Insurance Agency; sequel to the directive of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), that the instrument be prepared and forwarded for execution.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) August 10, 2020
The agreement is coming after the Federal Executive Council ordered that an instrument be prepared and forwarded for execution.
The African Trade Insurance Agency was launched in 2001, to provide risk solutions for investors, after the East African economic Union (COMESA) executed a World bank funded study to discover why Africa does not attract more Foreign Direct Investments.
The organization said it added credit insurance to its portfolio in 2006 after its members identified global trade as a major pillar of growth in the continent which has seen it grow as a market leader for risk mitigation in Africa. The ATI also attracts funding from the African Development Bank and World Bank
Nigeria joining the agreement would provide Nigeria with the necessary insurance financing to increase investment inflows into the country and improve economic productivity.
Russia announces the registration of the first COVID-19 vaccine
Russian President made the announcement in a televised government meeting.
Russia has announced the registration of its first COVID-19 vaccine in what can be described as a step ahead of other vaccine development.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who made the disclosure, called it effective protection against the deadly pathogen and revealed that one of his own daughters had already received it.
Putin in a televised government meeting said, “As far as I know, this morning the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection in the world was registered,”
The announcement is seen as a propaganda coup for the Russian government against the west amid a global race to develop vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 750,000 people, infected more than 20 million and crippled major global economies.
Pharmaceutical firms like AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc. are still conducting final-stage trials of their vaccines in studies that are expected to soon yield results.
Nairametrics had about 2 weeks ago reported that Russia had concluded plans to register a coronavirus vaccine between August 10 and August 12 in what would be regarded as the world’s first official approval of a vaccine against the coronavirus pandemic.
It also announced plans for a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease from October after disclosing that it had completed trials for the vaccine.
This vaccine which is being developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund started phase 3 trials last week. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Tatyana Golikova, who was at the meeting, disclosed that medics could start receiving the vaccine by the end of the month.
Russia, which is reported to be the fourth most affected country globally, has recorded almost 900,000 COVID-19 cases with over 27,000 coronavirus-related deaths