Elon Musk’s Starlink to launch direct-to-cell service in 2024
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has announced plans to launch a service called Starlink Direct to Cell, which will allow mobile phones to connect directly to its satellites without any additional hardware. This service will provide text messaging in 2024, and voice, data, and Internet of Things support in 2025.
Starlink Direct to Cell will work wherever you can see the sky, and will be especially useful in areas with no cell coverage or during emergencies. Starlink Direct to Cell will be initially launched on Falcon 9 rockets and eventually, using Starship. In the US, SpaceX will partner with T-Mobile on the rollout. Starlink Direct to Cell is part of Starlink’s mission to provide high-speed internet access to almost anywhere on Earth.
The sky is the limit for your mobile connectivity!
NCC restores regulatory services to Globacom after clearing N154 billion debt
The NCC is the Nigerian Communications Commission, which is the regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The NCC charges telecom operators fees for spectrum allocation, numbering resources, and annual operating levy (AOL). Spectrum fees are the amount of money that operators pay to use a specific frequency band for their services. Numbering fees are the amount of money that operators pay to use a specific range of numbers for their subscribers. AOL is a percentage of the operator’s annual revenue that is paid to the NCC as a contribution to the development of the telecom sector.
According to the NCC, Globacom owed N154 billion as of May 2023 for unpaid spectrum fees, numbering fees, and AOL. The NCC did not disclose the exact breakdown of the debt, but it said that Globacom had failed to pay its dues since 2019. The NCC also said that Globacom had been given several notices and reminders to settle its debt, but it did not comply. The NCC attributed Globacom’s failure to pay its fees to its poor financial performance and management issues. Globacom is Nigeria’s second largest mobile network operator, but it has been facing stiff competition from other operators such as MTN, Airtel, and 9mobile. Globacom has also been involved in several legal disputes with its vendors, contractors, and employees over unpaid bills and salaries.
Globacom eventually paid its debt in October 2023 after the NCC suspended its regulatory services in May 2023. The suspension meant that Globacom could not access any regulatory support or approval from the NCC for its operations. This affected Globacom’s ability to launch new products, expand its network coverage, or renew its licenses. The suspension also damaged Globacom’s reputation and customer confidence. Globacom said that it paid its debt as a demonstration of its commitment to the Nigerian telecom industry and its customers. The NCC confirmed that Globacom had met the conditions for the withdrawal of the suspension and restored its regulatory services.
Globacom is back in business after paying its dues!
Microsoft pledges to support 10 million African SMEs by 2025
Microsoft Corporation has announced its pledge to support 10 million African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by the year 2025. This is part of Microsoft’s commitment to fast-track economic growth in Africa through the transformative power of technology.
Some of the ways that Microsoft plans to support African SMEs are:
- Providing access to the Microsoft Community Platform and SME Skilling Programs to drive capacity building and digitization for SMEs.
- Partnering with fintech and payment companies such as Flutterwave and M-PESA to provide SMEs with the digital financial tools and services they need to succeed.
- Creating new partnerships with accelerators and incubators across Africa, such as Grindstone, Greenhouse, FlapMax and Seedstars, to provide industry-based startups with access to markets, technical skills and funding opportunities.
- Launching the Microsoft Black Partner Growth Initiative, which is dedicated to providing access to a global community, technical enablement, and key resources available through the Microsoft Partner Network for black-owned businesses.
Microsoft: Empowering African entrepreneurs with technology and innovation.
President Tinubu sacks NCC, NIPOST and NigComSat heads in major shake-up
President Bola Tinubu has removed the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, and appointed Aminu Maida as his replacement. Maida is a former executive director of Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems PLC and has a doctorate degree in signal processing.
The removal of Danbatta was part of a major shake-up of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy. The President also sacked the Postmaster General of the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Hon. Adepoju Adeyemi Sunday, and the CEO of Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited (NigComSat), Tukur Mohammed Lawal. He replaced them with Tola Odeyemi and Nkechi Egerton-Idehen respectively.
The President also announced the appointment of a new Special Adviser on Technology and Digital Economy, Idris Alubankudi, and renewed the appointments of the heads of some other agencies, such as the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC).
The President said that these changes were in line with his determination to leverage on Nigeria’s technological and digital economic prowess to reposition the nation’s economy toward greater financial inclusion. He also expressed his confidence in the new appointees and urged them to work hard to deliver on their mandates.
Tinubu is really shaking up the communications sector for a digital economy.
eSafety fines Elon Musk’s X for ignoring child safety concerns
Australia’s online safety regulator eSafety has fined Elon Musk the sum of $610,500 for failing to answer questions over reports of child sexual exploitation on the platform.
According to the eSafety Commissioner, X failed to comply with the Basic Online Safety Expectations (BOSE) report, which required online platforms to demonstrate how they are tackling online child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). X did not answer some key questions about its response time, detection methods, and prevention measures for CSEA content. X also did not provide accurate or complete information for some of the questions it did answer.
As a result, eSafety issued an infringement notice and a fine of $610,500 to X for its non-compliance. This is the first time that eSafety has fined an online platform under the BOSE regime, which was introduced in 2021. eSafety said that X’s failure to cooperate showed a lack of commitment and responsibility to protect its users from CSEA.
Protecting children online from harm and abuse- eSafety
Yellow Card partners Web3Ladies to empower Nigerian women in Tech
Web3Ladies, a web3 community focused on raising the next generation of female disruptors, has secured $3,000 USD in grants from Yellow Card to train 500 Nigerian women in tech and blockchain skills.
Yellow Card, a pan-African cryptocurrency exchange and fintech company, and Web3Ladies, a women-centric organization aims to empower more Nigerian women with essential tech and blockchain skills. The partnership is part of Yellow Card’s YC Social Good initiative, which is the company’s flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, aimed at promoting financial freedom and enabling access to tech resources for everyone across the African continent.
The partnership will provide a $3,000 grant to Web3Ladies to power their mentorship program, which is an intensive three-month boot camp designed to train designers, engineers, and managers for the blockchain industry. The mentorship program will equip over 500 Nigerian women with the knowledge and skills they need to build innovative solutions using web3 technologies such as smart contracts, decentralized applications (DApps), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and more.
The partnership will also create opportunities for the mentees to network with industry experts, access funding and mentorship opportunities, and showcase their projects to potential employers and investors. The partnership aims to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry, which is currently dominated by men. According to a study published by LongHash in 2018, among 100 blockchain startups surveyed, female employees accounted for only 14.5% of the workforce. The partnership also hopes to contribute to the economic growth and development of Nigeria and Africa at large by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among women.
Raising the next generation of female disruptors in blockchain!
Aminu Maida takes over as NCC boss, promises broadband for all
Aminu Maida, the new Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), assumed office on Tuesday, October 12, 2023, with a promise to focus on ensuring that all Nigerians have access to affordable and reliable broadband internet services. Maida said that broadband is the key driver of the digital economy and that he would work with all stakeholders to achieve the national broadband targets set by the Federal Government. He also said that he would continue the legacy of his predecessor, Prof Umar Danbatta, who had transformed the telecom sector in terms of quality of service, consumer protection, and regulatory excellence.
Maida is a seasoned technical professional with over 15 years of diverse experience in FinTech, Telecoms, and Enterprise Technology. He holds an MEng in Information Systems Engineering from Imperial College London and a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Bath, UK. He was previously the Executive Director of Technology and Operations at Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) and has worked in various roles at Cisco Systems UK, Arca Payments Network, and EE.
Maida expressed his gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for appointing him as the EVC of the NCC and pledged to uphold the vision and mission of the Commission. He also solicited the support and cooperation of the NCC staff, board members, industry players, and other relevant agencies to achieve his goals.
Leading the NCC with vision and mission for broadband access!
Musk says Twitter, now X, is moving to monthly subscriptions
According to a report by the Guardian, Elon Musk said that X, formerly known as Twitter, is considering charging all users for accessing the platform. However, Musk did not confirm whether X would definitely push ahead with a charging policy. X has been contacted for further comment.
One of the reasons for this possible move is to combat the bots, or automated accounts that have become a problem for X. Musk said that bots cost “a fraction of a penny” to set up, and that raising the cost of an account to “a few dollars or something” could deter bot operators.
Another reason for this possible move is to generate more revenue for X, which has been suffering from a decline in advertising income. Musk has said that an advertiser boycott, spurred by concerns over his leadership of the platform and its management of inappropriate or hateful content, has caused ad revenue to drop by 60%.
Currently, X has one subscription tier. Users can pay $8 per month in exchange for premium features such as “blue checkmark” account verification, the ability to edit their posts and the ability to post longer tweets and videos. However, X is reportedly planning to introduce two new subscription tiers: X Plus and X Pro. X Plus will cost $15 per month and will offer additional features such as advanced analytics, custom themes and exclusive content. X Pro will cost $25 per month and will offer even more features such as priority support, verified status and access to special events.
X has not officially announced the details or launch dates of these new subscription tiers. However, some users have spotted them in the app’s settings and have shared screenshots on social media. It is unclear how these new subscription tiers will affect the existing users who are not paying anything or paying $8 per month.
ALTON urges the government to review telecom tariff regime
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), which is the umbrella body of telecom operators in Nigeria has said that the current tariff regime in the telecom sector is discouraging further investments and limiting the operator’s capacity to deploy more infrastructure.
According to ALTON, the current tariff plan fixed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which is the telecom regulator, is too low compared with the rising cost of operations. ALTON has argued that the pricing regulatory framework in the telecom sector has not been reviewed to account for changes in macroeconomic conditions and reflect the current cost profile of operators. ALTON has also compared the telecom sector with other highly regulated sectors such as power and insurance, which have implemented price increases over the last year.
ALTON has appealed to the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, to issue policy guidance to the NCC to commence the implementation of targeted interventions starting with an upward review of the Mobile Termination Rate for voice services and the institution of an interim adjustment of the industry floor price for voice and data services pending the conclusion of a cost study and issuance of a substantive pricing regulatory framework in this regard.
ALTON has also requested the Minister to liaise with relevant stakeholders such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the institution of intervention measures to support the telecommunications sector. Such interventions could include the introduction of a special foreign exchange window for the industry, set-up of long-term, low-interest infrastructure funding schemes, etc.
Fair pricing for better service delivery and sustainability!
US official advises Nigeria to develop tech talents beyond Lagos
Ms. Joy Basu, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs of the United States made the statement during her visit to Vibranium Valley Tech City in Lagos, where she participated in a panel discussion on “Empowering Youth: Opportunities in Entrepreneurship and Innovation” on October 21, 2023.
Ms. Basu said that Nigeria has a lot of potential in terms of tech talents, but most of them are concentrated in Lagos, which is the commercial and innovation hub of the country. She said that the Nigerian government should look beyond Lagos and be intentional about developing tech talents across the 36 states of the federation. She said that this would help to solve not only Nigeria’s problems, but also Africa’s and the world’s challenges.
Ms. Basu also spoke about the importance of gender equity and inclusion in the tech sector. She said that the United States is committed to increasing access to funding and opportunities for women, especially those in underserved communities. She said that women have incredible diversity of talents and often have solutions for their communities.
US-Nigeria: Building bridges for tech talents across the nation!
Lloyd’s warns of $3.5 trillion loss from cyber-attack on global payments system
Lloyd’s of London, the world’s leading marketplace for insurance and reinsurance, on October 18, 2023 reports the global economic impact of a hypothetical but plausible cyber-attack on a major financial services payments system, resulting in widespread disruption to global business and potential global economic losses of $3.5 trillion.
The report is part of Lloyd’s systemic risk scenario series, which aims to explore the potential consequences of low likelihood, high impact risks that could affect multiple sectors, societies, or national economies. The report is based on a scenario developed by Lloyd’s and its partners, including the University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, CyberCube Analytics, and Guy Carpenter.
The scenario assumes that a sophisticated cyber threat actor launches a coordinated attack on a global payments system provider that processes transactions for thousands of financial institutions and millions of customers worldwide. The attack exploits a zero-day vulnerability in the provider’s software and injects malicious code that causes the system to malfunction and corrupt data. The attack also triggers a ransom ware demand that threatens to delete all data unless a payment is made. The attack affects the provider’s operations in 15 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, and disrupts the flow of payments for several days.
The report estimates that the direct losses from the attack would range from $1.2 trillion to $6.9 trillion, depending on the severity and duration of the disruption. The indirect losses from the knock-on effects on other sectors and regions would range from $2.3 trillion to $9.6 trillion. The total economic losses would range from $3.5 trillion to $16.5 trillion. The report also estimates that only 8% to 12% of the total losses would be covered by insurance, leaving a huge protection gap for businesses and governments.
The report highlights the systemic nature of cyber risk and the need for greater collaboration among stakeholders to enhance resilience and mitigate potential losses. The report also provides recommendations for insurers, policymakers, regulators, and customers on how to prepare for and respond to such a scenario.
Cyber risk is systemic risk. Be prepared and protected!
Credit: Ebuka Adimora