Recent news reports that the Federal Government has launched a new National Broadband Plan for 2020-2025 in order to promote the dynamics of the Nigerian Digital Economy.
The launch targeted at achieving 90% broadband penetration by 2025 was inaugurated by the President himself and is in progress at the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy Complex in Abuja. The mandate, however is perceived as difficult in terms of actualization giving the current state of telecoms and broadband infrastructure in the country.
Over the next five years, the government is also planning on connecting all tertiary institutions in the country to the internet. The plan includes a 50 percent reach for secondary schools and 25% for primary schools ensuring that these institutions are located within five kilometers of fibre infrastructure or fixed connection.
The plan also highlights that one general or major hospital per local government area as well as Federal medical centers across the country would have access to internet connectivity. Telecommunication industry stakeholders will increase internet download speed from a minimum of three megabytes per second to 25 megabytes per second in urban areas this year and by 2025 will be delivering a minimum of 10mbps in rural areas.
(READ MORE: A Post-COVID Economy)
President Muhammed Buhari urged mobile network operators to ensure full attainment of the targets set in the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 by giving special attention to the unserved and underserved areas when deploying telecom services.
Although there were expressed concerns about the challenges faced by operators in the country, particularly with the vandalism of telecommunications equipment, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami was directed to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full protection of critical national infrastructure.
With the relentless commitment of the Federal Government in ensuring that all stake holders have the right environment to ensure the successful implantation of the broadband plan, there could be potentially relevant gains to the Nigerian economy in its entirety.
It is no wonder why governments around the world increasingly view broadband as the “fourth utility” alongside water, heating and electricity, many are implementing comprehensive nationwide plans, as well as more tightly focused broadband programs similar to this.
What we stand to gain?
- The power of broadband has been confirmed by recent research, showing that broadband fosters GDP growth, creates jobs and stimulates innovation, while also enabling improvements in education, health care, and other social services. When combined with strategies that ensure the availability and affordability of ICT, these efforts help countries reap the benefits of broadband more quickly and make these services affordable for citizens.
- Increased broadband access associated with higher productivity. The rural areas are underserved by fast unlimited broadband services. Enhancing connectivity with a plan like this can broaden their employment base beyond traditional industries, individual benefits with more job opportunities and communities benefit from higher employment while nations benefit form communities being self-sufficient.
- Affordable and improved broadband access can improve the economies of rural areas that way driving up incomes, improving lifestyles, and reducing the need and desire to move to cities hence decongesting these already overcrowded cities.
To conclude, a higher broadband reach has the transformational power to boost local economies, lift communities out of poverty, and provide a better outlook for growth.
Facebook takes on Zoom with its new video chat feature
Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million.
Virtual Meetings have exploded in recent months with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing people to start working and socializing from home. Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million in April.
Another popular option, the Houseparty, owned by Fortnite-maker Epic Games has been downloaded more than two million times as at the beginning of March and other apps, such as Microsoft Teams, offer premium features for free.
With the current trend and the need to meet the demands of teleconferencing, Facebook is jumping into video chat game with its product feature, Messenger Rooms, a new feature that will allow up to 50 people to take part in a video chat, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts.
Facebook has had a long and notorious history of expanding its features to emulate major competitors, from first launching stories on Instagram in 2016 as a clone of Snapchat. Now Facebook wants more of the video market and is trying to take on the now popular video sharing platform, Zoom (ZM).
Previously, the messenger video calls were limited to eight people but with this new video feature ‘Messenger Rooms,’ users can currently host a meeting with up 50 people at once with no time limit on its messenger app, it will also be added to the company’s other applications- WhatsApp will see that the maximum number of people who can simultaneously join a video call will increase from four to eight.
This new feature will be available on beta versions of WhatsApp for both Android and iOS. For making a video call with up to eight people, your WhatsApp must be running version 2.20.133 on Android and version 188.8.131.52 on iOS. The other condition is, the other participants that you’re looking to video and voice call, must also have the same beta version of WhatsApp running on their devices.
What’s the Catch?
Although these Messenger Rooms won’t be completely private, WhatsApp video and voice calls with up to eight people, will be end-to-end encrypted so no one else can view or listen in on private conversations, not even Facebook. Basically, end-to-end encryption is one of the main Unique Selling Points (USP) of the new video feature. Facebook is working to bring the security protocol to Messenger and Instagram Direct, so users will potentially be able to cross-platform chat across all these services one day, it’s easier said than done.
Like house party, the messenger rooms will let people drop in and out of the group video chats while the “room” is open just the way people have the ability to bump into each other in the physical world. Another catch of the new video feature is that users can create a Messenger Room that will be able to keep their room private, block unwanted participants, and send invitations to people who are not on Facebook.
Facebook is working to prevent the reoccurring issues its competitor’s faced like the “Zoombombing problem,” which let uninvited guests drop into video calls to abuse participants or share pornography. The company is working with cryptographers to make the links for the Messenger Rooms difficult for hackers to guess. Although, publicly discoverable rooms will be listed at the top of the Facebook news feed and chats will not be end-to-end encrypted. Possibly, this would be one of the reasons why Facebook may successfully take on Zoom with its security and end-to-end encrypted tactics.
Other features of the new video feature include:
- The ability to add eight people to a WhatsApp video call – up from four.
- The return of “Live With”, which lets users host Facebook Live streams with another person, to bring guests or performers on to their show.
- The ability to watch Instagram live videos on desktop computers.
- Participants will be able to use augmented reality filters and change their background in real-time.
Tech Roundup S02E19
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports
We conclude our Fintech Roundtable series, this time with a discussion on Fintech related investments.
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports show that over $400 million went into Fintech startups in 2019, and amid Covid-19, Nigeria based Fintechs have announced new rounds of investment this year but will this trend continue.
To help us unpack this, this panel discussion was led by Deji Sasegbon, Director of Platforms at EchoVC and a returning guest on
We covered several topics but focused on what investors might be doing differently going forward and how Investments in Fintech ideas and businesses across Africa might be impacted going forward.
Hope you find the episode interesting.
Digital Financial Literacy, a must for every Nigerian in Post-COVID
Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy.
The importance of digital literacy in the furtherance of Nigeria’s economic growth is a topic that has proven to be extremely paramount especially in these forced changing times.
Truth is, talent training outlets are not in short supply in Nigeria; from Decagon to Learn Factory; there are a number of programmes offering advanced and specialized digital literacy skills in fields like software development, machine learning etc.
As a matter of fact, Nigeria has set a 95% digital literacy target for the next ten years under a Digital Economy Strategy in order to ramp up the contributions of the ICT sector to the Nigerian economy and last year, the sector accounted for 13.8% of the nation’s GDP which is more than the oil and gas sector on which the country has previously been heavily reliant.
The Lagos State Government since this pandemic collaborated with Microsoft Office to train 18,000 secondary school teachers on digital literacy in order to equip, train, and engage them to deliver on their duties through technology during this lockdown period.
(READ MORE: Digital financial services amid COVID-19)
However, digital financial literacy is a niche that still has not become mainstream as many would assume. For the reason of the evident gap in the country, we have companies like NetPlusDotCom organizing webinars to educate Nigerians on the importance of an inevitable shift to digital payments and financing post-COVID-19.
Unfortunately, there are a few challenges hindering the growth of digital financial literacy in Nigeria, they include:
- Policy Implementation: Already set regulations geared towards promoting digital literacy are not readily implemented.
- The regular school curriculum does not reflect a component of digital literacy skills that would be relevant in the future of work.
- High costs of infrastructures such as the Internet and power is one of the challenges faced in promoting digital financial literacy in Nigeria.
- There is a digital divide due to the existence of unreached communities who are not aware of the concept of digital literacy.
- Digital literacy has been termed too difficult to conceptualize resulting in unnecessary complexity for the understanding of the process to a layman.
- Resistance to Change: The general attitude of people towards change and what digital literacy offers, is a hindrance in promoting digital financial literacy.
- Skepticism of many unenlightened Nigerians.
- More citizen engagement and awareness of existing and new policies on digital literacy.
- Investment in research and development by the government and other institutions to help Nigerians be more conversant on international standards as it concerns promoting digital literacy.
- There should be a collaboration between organizations whose works are centered on digital literacy with schools in actualizing a more robust curriculum.
- The government should provide tax incentives/ reliefs for telecoms to enable them to reduce the costs of data. Telecoms can also provide ICT parks to allow for access to the internet.
- On inclusion, collaboration between Government, Multilateral organizations, and civil society groups should be considered to reach underserved communities possibly in the local language so as to avoid the language barrier.
- To ward off resistance to change, there should be orientation programs on the need and importance of digital literacy using the bottom-top approach of reaching out to grass-root individuals.