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 community.
You know we love feedback, so please keep them coming.
MasterCard invests in Flutterwave as CEO steps down
We begin this week with cheering news from Nigeria’s Fintech startup, Flutterwave, announcing the completion of its Series A Extension round of financing. Investors from this round of investment include Mastercard, CRE Ventures, Fintech Collective, 4DX Ventures, and Raba Capital among others.
Flutterwave was launched in 2016 and the platform has processed over US$2.3 billion in payments across 60 million transactions and partnered with the likes of Standard Bank, FirstBank, and Ecobank. Clients include Transferwise, Flywire, Booking.com, JumiaPay, and Uber. Till date, the startup has raised a total funding of more than US$20 million.
Also, as part of the financing, current Green Visor Capital Chairman and general partner, who is also former Visa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Joe Saunders, has joined the Flutterwave board of directors.
During the week, Flutterwave CEO Iyinoluwa Aboyeji also announced that he was stepping down as the CEO, while its co-founder, Olugbenga Agboola, will take over as the new CEO.
The platform says that it is building modern payments technology and infrastructure for Africa to enable people and businesses to connect with the global economy.
Flutterwave provides an end-to-end payment technology and infrastructure that enables payment service providers, global merchants, licensed money transfer operators and Pan-African banks to process payments across all available payment options in Africa.
At the FirstBank Fintech Summit, Team Cashflow won the star prize of N3 million for the FirstBank Hackathon. The team had presented a solution on a smart ledger invoicing platform for banks to discount SME invoices.
Other teams that won prizes were Team Ace (second position) and Team Cybersmart (third position) which won N1.5 million and N750,000 respectively. The hackathon event had 10 contesting teams, of which Team Cashflow emerged winner.
Team CyberSmart uses AI to analyse Big Data for detecting and combating fraudulent financial transactions, while Team Ace’s solution integrates AI and USSD with the aid of voice command to provide banking services.
CBN reaffirms its position on bitcoin and blockchain
At the just concluded FirstBank Fintech Summit in Lagos, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Deputy Director of Banking and Payment Systems Department, Musa Itopa Jimoh, reaffirmed the apex bank’s stance on cryptocurrency, saying that since it does not have control over bitcoins, it cannot guarantee the safety of its transactions and in the event of fraud, CBN does not have a recovery policy.
Mr. Jimoh also said that they are looking into blockchain technology; they intend integrating some transaction processes into blockchain.
Africa Code Week gets underway in Nigeria
Africa Code Week (ACW), a continent-wide initiative of SAP, supported by partners such as Google, UNESCO, BMZ, Camden Trust, and Cape Town Science Centre has commenced a 2-week training for students in Lagos.
Organisers say hundreds of thousands of students will be trained on coding language. The training, which started on the 15th of this month, will run till 26th of the month.
Some state governments have already thrown their full weight behind the program, with a common goal of ensuring that all students in post-primary education are introduced to coding during the 2 weeks.
Facebook set to clamp down on ‘fake news’ in Nigeria
Social media giant, Facebook, has launched a Third-Party Fact-Checking program to help curb the spread of fake news in Nigeria and reduce the spread of misinformation on its platform, few days after the launch of the program in Kenya.
Facebook said that it will partner with Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation and AFP, a news organisation, to achieve this. Both mediums are part of a global network of fact-checking organisations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network.
The fact-checking program relies on feedback from the Facebook community as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review.
Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of the fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will feature it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.
Facebook Shareholders are calling for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as chairman
These are not the best of times for Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as pressure continues to mount on him to step down as Facebook chairman after several major shareholders called for more accountability following a string of controversies.
These controversies include the sharing of personal data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica, the platform’s role in US election meddling, and propagating violence in Myanmar, India, and South Sudan. It also comes just a week after Facebook revealed that cyber attackers had stolen data from nearly 30 million users.
The shareholders, which include the lead investment officers of several US states, as well as the privately-owned firm, Trillium Asset Management, demanded on Wednesday that the roles of CEO and Chairman be split. Zuckerberg, who co-founded the social media giant, currently holds both positions.
Shareholders say Facebook’s governance structure puts investors at risk and should fall in line with other major tech firms like Google, Microsoft, and Apple in having separate CEO and Chairperson roles.
Oracle aims to reach over 1.5 million students across 10,000 academic institutions
Oracle Academy announced a new collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria (FMOE) to create new computing education pathways for local students.
Through the agreement, FMOE plans to integrate Oracle Academy computer science curriculum and resources across 10,000 academic institutions across the country, reaching over 1.5 million students within the region.
Over the next three years, Oracle Academy will also facilitate the training of 4,000 educators at the Secondary and Higher Education levels to teach computer science.
Africa’s first novel masters in machine intelligence launched
African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) launched its African Masters in Machine Intelligence (AMMI) at its AIMS Rwanda Campus, in partnership with Facebook and Google.
The AMMI program is a one-year intensive foundational masters that will offer Africa’s talented scientists and innovators world-class training in machine intelligence, preparing them to figure out new ways to solve local and global challenges.
Uber Launches New Safety Features in South Africa
Ride-hailing app, Uber, has launched new safety features for its South African customers and drivers.
The new features are being introduced in 38 countries and will be rolled out in the next few weeks to riders, drivers and delivery partners using the app across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The new feature includes: Emergency button, Trusted Contacts, Safety Centre, and Speed Alerts.
Youtube Outage this week
In the early hours of Wednesday, Google’s video sharing platform, YouTube, experienced a major outage across the globe. Users could not access the website on Tuesday evening and the website inaccessibility extended to Wednesday morning.
This is coming barely two weeks after Instagram also experienced an outage on its platform. Services have been restored on the platforms.
Aviation Unions threaten to shut airspace on Monday, as NLC insists on strike
All aviation workers are directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide on 28th September 2020.
Major aviation unions in Nigeria have threatened to shut the nation’s airspace in support of the Organised Labour nationwide industrial action expected to commence on Monday, September 28, 2020.
The unions are the National Union of Air Transport Employees, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals.
This was disclosed by the General Secretary of the National Union of Aviation Employees, Aba Ocheme, in a statement, according to Vanguard.
The unions reportedly asked their members to withdraw services from all aerodromes nationwide indefinitely.
He said, “As such all workers in the aviation sector are hereby directed to withdraw their services at all aerodromes nationwide as from 00hrs of 28th September 2020 until otherwise communicated by the NLC/TUC or our unions. All workers shall comply.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday also insisted that it will go on with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday, September 28.
In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest the increase in fuel and electricity prices.
The order was given despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government, barring the NLC and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.
Ugboaja explained that the NLC has asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2,000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.
Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.
It would be difficult to find loans to finance rail to Niger Republic – Cheta Nwanze
Finding loans to finance rail to the Niger Republic would be difficult, says Cheta Nwanze.
Cheta Nwanze, Lead Partner at socioeconomic research firm, SBM Intelligence, says that it would be difficult to find loan financiers for the proposed $1.9 billion rail project from Kano to Maradi in Niger republic.
Cheta, in an interview with Nairametrics on Friday, explained that it appears that Nigeria is more keen on the project than Niger Republic.
Back story: Nairametrics reported this week that the Federal Executive Council has approved the disbursement of $1.96 billion, for the railway line from Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic.
According to the report, the President is also expected to commission the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo, and Delta States.
“Nigeria is investing so much in this rail line, given that we are Niger’s 4th largest trading partner,” Cheta said.
He added that Niger, although being landlocked already, has an existing infrastructure for its imports and export services, which is much better utilized than Nigeria’s export infrastructure.
“The majority of their imports from France, China, and the USA come in via the port of Lome, precisely because the port in Lome works, and the rail link in Togo is much better than ours.
“Nigeria, on the other hand, has let its Apapa port to become a wreck, while transportation between Lagos and Kano/Jibia is a nightmare, if we’re being charitable with words.”
According to him, with the reality of the Apapa congestion and other factors, finding fund for such project, when debt to service ratio is high and amidst reduced oil revenue, will be difficult.
“With these realities in mind, I find it difficult to imagine who will extend such a loan to Nigeria, especially since, as far as all the information available to me indicates, Niger does not seem as keen on pushing this as Nigeria does,” he added.
However, the media aide to President Buhari, Garba Shehu, disclosed that the Federal Government is not constructing a rail line from Nigeria linking Kano-Dutse-Maradi into the Niger Republic, as it will only stop at the designated border point.
Maradi is 55km from the Katsina border Town of Jibia.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 58,062 confirmed cases.
On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 10,526 samples across the country.
To date, 58,062 cases have been confirmed, 49,606 cases have been discharged and 1,103 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 494,577 tests have been carried out as of September 25th, 2020 compared to 484,051 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 25th September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 58,062
- Total Number Discharged – 49,606
- Total Deaths – 1,103
- Total Tests Carried out – 494,577
According to the NCDC, the 213 new cases are reported from 17 states- Lagos (51), Plateau (51), FCT (29), Rivers (18), Ondo (12), Oyo (9), Osun (8), Gombe (7), Ogun (7), Kaduna (5), Enugu (4), Edo (3), Jigawa (3), Kano (3), Benue (1), Delta (1), Sokoto (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 19,174, followed by Abuja (5,644), Plateau (3,373), Oyo (3,248), Edo (2,620), Kaduna (2,389), Rivers (2,305), Delta (1,801), Ogun (1,796), Kano (1,737), Ondo (1,620), Enugu (1,289), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,028), Abia (881), Gombe (864). Katsina (848), Osun (826), Borno (741), and Bauchi (692).
Imo State has recorded 566 cases, Benue (481), Nasarawa (449), Bayelsa (397), Jigawa (325), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (259), Adamawa (237), Anambra (234), Sokoto (162), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (87), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.