On Monday, Better Angels, an initiative formed by a group of tech entrepreneurs, announced the decision to suspend its crowdsourcing of relief funds launched to support Nigerians during the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown in the country.
The suspension of wearetogether.ng, its website, was announced via its twitter handle and came on the same night that the Federal Government declared a gradual easing of the lockdown.
This is not the last time you will hear from us but with heartfelt gratitude & for the opportunity to serve, we are suspending this campaign. Read this! https://t.co/O9oCJ6iXIZ – please take care of yourselves. A toast to health, to trust, to transparency & to a healthy planet
— We are Together (@wearetogetherhq) April 27, 2020
In an official statement on its website, titled ‘A sense of a beginning,’ the group appreciated the Nigerian tech community for buying into the idea and rallying to provide the needed support for giving succour to Nigerians.
“From ideation to going live took us about 3 days and while our amazing developers did their thing, We reached out to the wider tech community and without fail almost all came in,” it said in appreciation.
(READ MORE: Tech Roundup S02E16)
Why the suspension?
It was noted that the suspension of the relief programme, which had been expected to run till December 2020, was necessitated by the inability to raise more funds.
“We are not an NGO (this hurt our ability to raise more money), we are not even a company… It felt foreign, but let us all take solace in the fact that in the not-too-distant future this will be the norm.
“We suspend wearetogether.ng with a debt of gratitude to all, but most importantly to the recipients – we will continue this work. We will sunset it, but get it into the hands of academics, researchers and think tanks” it said.
The tech experts who came together to launch the crowdsourced relief funds were simply identified by their first names in the statement:
“Ebun, Chidozie, Iby, Favour, Wale, Koye, Albert, Maria, Theo, Mark. Iyin, Oo, and all the donors and everyone who played a part.”
11 days of achievement
The fund was launched on April 17, 2020 with a message on its social media handles.
We are tech entrepreneurs who are using the technology we developed for our companies and leveraging the power of networks to crowdsource a fiscal stimulus for Nigeria. Get involved, donate now! https://t.co/MxCn0rEOaE #wearetogetherng #stimulusforNigeria #crowdsourcestimulus pic.twitter.com/b3yTlZlJKm
— We are Together (@wearetogetherhq) April 17, 2020
Need a little help? Apply to access funds from the "We Are Together" initiative with these easy steps https://t.co/sNZ22UK5I4#wearetogetherng #getinvolved #stimulusforNigeria #crowdsourcestimulus pic.twitter.com/AVJud42iea
— We are Together (@wearetogetherhq) April 17, 2020
While it lasted, the disbursement which was done on a daily basis, required applicants to enter their account numbers and Bank Verification Numbers to apply, after which qualified applicants were credited the sum of N10,000 each.
The narrow window for applying barely lasted more than few minutes and some applicants had complained about not being qualified despite repeated applications. According to the group, the windows were closed as soon as all received monies were disbursed.
we are so sorry about this and trust us if we had all the money in the world, we would just give it out (with some sense of course) but we are working with limited funds, not enough to go around. https://t.co/WCNF2PTeyp
— We are Together (@wearetogetherhq) April 23, 2020
According to the audit report on the site, https://wearetogether.ng/audit, the group received a total of ₦17,701,318.62 from 189 donations, and gave out ₦17,390,000 (N10000 to 1739 recipients) for the 7 days which disbursements was done.
Also, a total of N409,500 was spent on BVN validation charges, according to a post on their Instagram handle. BVN validation was a prerequisite before any payment was approved.
Although it lasted 11 days, disbursements were only done on working days of the week.
In its farewell statement, the group said, “We do not buy into the “government vs private sector” narrative – both sides must work together.” It also promised that the tech community would continue to “build solutions that create jobs, build a wider umbrella, and reduce needless suffering.”
US imposes $15,000 visa bond on 15 African countries, others
The US has issued a visa rule requiring tourist and business travelers in some countries to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees.
The outgoing administration of US President, Donald Trump, on Monday, November 23, 2020, issued a new temporary visa rule that requires tourist and business travelers from 15 African countries and others to pay a bond of up to $15,000 in addition to the visa fees, which ranges from $16 to $300, in order to visit the United States.
According to TheCable, the US State Department said the visa bond pilot programme, expected to take effect from December 24 and end on June 24, 2021, is targeted at countries whose citizens have higher rates of overstaying B-2 visas for tourists and B-1 visas for business travelers.
The Trump administration said the six-month pilot program aims to test the feasibility of collecting such bonds and will serve as a diplomatic deterrence to overstaying the visas. Hence, overstay places significant pressure on Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.
The visa bond rule will permit U.S. consular officers to request tourist and business travelers from countries whose nationals had an overstay rate of 10% and above in 2019 to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000.
The countries whose tourist and business travelers fall into this category and subjected to the bond requirements are 24 countries, including 15 African countries. While these nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively fewer travelers to the United States.
The countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen,
Nigerian travelers escaped paying the temporary visa rule, as their overall score was below the threshold of 10% and above overstaying rate.
Senate approves issuance of N148bn promissory notes to Bayelsa, 4 others
Promissory notes worth N148,141,969,161.24 has been approved by the Senate as refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun and Rivers States
Promissory notes worth N148.141billion have been approved by the Senate as a refund to Bayelsa, Cross River, Ondo, Osun, and Rivers States for projects executed on behalf of the Federal Government.
The approval which was given by the Senate at the plenary on Tuesday, 24th November 2020, came after the presentation of a report by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, led by Senator Ordia Clifford (PDP-Edo).
According to a news report by NAN, this is a go-ahead to the Federal Government, who had sought the approval of the Senate for issuance of promissory notes for a refund on federal projects executed by State governments.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan by President Muhammadu Buhari, and read at plenary. The Senate referred the matter to the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for further legislative input.
Senator Ordia Clifford, while presenting the report of the committee, said the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Federal Commissioners of Finance and Works in the five states, had briefed the committee on details of the projects.
He said the Committee was presented with documents relating to the approvals of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for the execution of the projects and certificates of completion, amongst other documents.
At the plenary today, Senator Ordia moved the motion that the Senate approves the Committee’s recommendations by approving the issuance of the promissory notes to the State governments.
According to him, the amount due to the five states is N148.14billion.
- Bayelsa was allotted N38.40billion
- Cross River was allotted N18.39billion
- Ondo was allotted N7.82billion
- Osun was allotted N4.57billion
- Rivers was allotted N78.95billion
What they are saying
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, disclosed that records showed PDP states had the highest refund, he said: “If you look at the list of states, only two are APC states and they have the least in terms of refund, this is fantastic and a mark of leadership by the Federal Government. This shows tolerance and leadership by this administration.”
Interswitch Group becomes Finastra’s lead technology partner in Nigeria
nterswitch Group has unveiled a consolidated partnership with Finastra, one of the world’s most influential Fintechs.
In a bid to further develop its market and expand, Interswitch Group has unveiled a consolidated partnership with Finastra, one of the world’s most influential Fintechs.
This is according to a verified post by Interswitch Group on Linkedin, as seen by Nairametrics.
What this means
The strategic partnership enables Interswitch to become Finastra’s lead technology partner and will avail the latter the opportunity to bring the broadest set of financial software solutions to financial institutions in Nigeria and across Africa, in conjunction with Interswitch’s strong understanding of the local banking and payments landscape, as well as the ability to deploy solutions across these markets.
Some of Finastra’s financial software solutions that will be incorporated into Interswitch’s digital solution include: Fusion Kondor and Fusion Trade Innovation, which will consolidate Interswitch’s position as a hub for financial solutions, including treasury and trade solutions.
What they are saying
Commenting on the partnership, the Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch, Mitchell Elegbe, was quoted by Tech economy saying: “Our partnership with Finastra is consistent with our strategic growth plan and we both share the vision of deepening access to financial services by providing world-class technology and innovative solutions.
“The partnership enables Finastra to seamlessly deploy its technology in this market. For Interswitch, we will be leveraging our proven success and expertise in delivering transaction banking solutions to support Finastra in localizing and implementing their technology in this region.’’
On the other hand, the Head of Partner Ecosystem MEA & CIS at Finastra, Hamid Nirouzad, said: “Interswitch has a proven track record of delivering solutions to commercial banks, as well as, a strong understanding of the local banking landscape across Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.
“Finastra is committed to providing its solutions to financial institutions across the world, and partnerships such as this will result in successful projects, with rapid delivery at a reasonable cost.”