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Google deletes over 1.7 billion ads in Nigeria, other African countries

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By Francesca Iwambe

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Global tech giant, Google, has disclosed that it deleted over 1.7 billion ads, restricted over 5.7 billion, and suspended over 5.6 million advertiser accounts in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

In its latest statement on Africa, Google pledged commitment to access to information.

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It stated that governments worldwide are demanding stiffer information and private internet restrictions.

Google says users remain the central focus of its policy formation.

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Google Africa Managing Director, Nitin Gajria, revealed that it blocked 1.7 billion publishers’ pages that breached a number of the company’s open information rules.

“We also blocked or restricted ads from serving on 1.7 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on approximately 63,000 publisher sites.

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“At Google, we are committed to making the ad-supported web safer and more private for everyone in Africa. By giving people control over their data and investing in privacy-safe advertising, we can secure a future for the ad-supported web that benefits everyone”, he said

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Digital banking and the hiccups within

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By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

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Despite the beauty associated with the advent of digital banking ,the pitfalls are unbearable to victims.

From about 1987,when banks introduced technology into their banking operations ,it was received with excitement by Nigerians who saw this as prayer answered.
Their reasons were practically understandable especially coming from the drudgery of “tally number “a common experience in the days of analogue banking when customers had to wait in long queues for cashiers to leaf through dust-caked ledgers to fish out account holders details and balances before they could be paid.

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Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) were not readily available until 1989 when National Cash Register (NCR) West Africa Limited carried out a pilot phase for Societe General Bank,(now defunct ) which was the pioneer in ATM services.It was closely followed by First Bank Nigeria PLC in 1990.

Before then,customers were limited to banking halls dogged by long hours wait to pick their money.
Painful as the experiences were,life had to go on.

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Then the banks began the electronic banking (e-banking) processes to herald new experiences especially for ease of transactions through digital means.

Post Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) era was when Technology began to make meaningful inroads into the banking sector even when the conservatives had their own misgivings /reservations and held back,not accepting it immediately.

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But Nigeria must creep away from the outskirts of globalization and the banks and financial institutions manifested this early enough.

And the entry of Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM) in 2001 changed many things as the platforms brought together what was unimaginable and added meaning to just everything available and the banking industry dived into technology acquisition with frenzy gripping it with every conceivable might.

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At some point,it appeared,the banks were in a long distance race in competition to see who introduces what and how it runs.

Know Your Customers (KYCs) became easier through proper documentation including biometrics,fingerprints,photos of customers and later,the Bank Verification Number (BVN) leading to complete integration of the banking systems.

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From the comfort of the homes and offices,just everywhere there was telecommunications coverage,banking transactions are now possible ,easy and smooth.

Internet banking has become very popular as many banks create platforms for that purpose since the internet is now available no matter the speed.Smart devices and computers in the homes and offices are now very important tools for digital banking.

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Shortly after,the more robust and flexible Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) was introduced thus creating more flexible ways to banking as the customers smile at every successful transaction.

Where ever there is a network coverage by telecommunications operators and service providers,bank transactions are possible.
All a bank customer needs is the bank,s USSD code for his/ bank and pronto,transactions take place effortlessly.
With USSD,the banks and telecom companies have very strong bonds and handshakes at every point.
But that is where the beauty stops .
And as times go by ,banks and bank customers have become victims of smart alecs or better put,”yahoo boys “ or fraudsters some of whom allegedly collaborate with insiders to defraud unsuspecting customers.
Eight banks lost nearly N2billion to scammers in 2021.Who bears the burden of these losses and how do the victims recover their moneys without any form of insurance cover.
A survey carried out by Agusto&Co in 2022 revealed that 59 per cent of bank customers sampled indicated that they have fallen victims to fraud.
The survey revealed that 41 per cent of this figure said their accounts hadn’t been compromised, “however, the remaining had been victims through phishing emails, data breaches, unauthorised access to accounts through USSD, and others.”

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The report tagged ‘2022 Consumer Digital Banking Satisfaction Index’ specifically called for investment in cyber security and awareness to avert bank customers falling victim to breaches in their accounts.

Data by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) shows that fraud attempts via mobile channels saw a 330 percent increase year-on-year (YoY) between 2019 and 2020, while attempts via web and POS channels saw a 173 percent and 215 percent increase YoY. In those nine months, nine out of every ten attempts were successful, and there were 46,126 of such attacks.

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Only recently a Lagos State resident and former Zenith Bank employee, Chiamaka Agim lamented how over N4 million strangely disappeared from her Zenith Bank account.

The lady narrated her ordeal in a video uploaded on her Twitter page on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

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She stated that she was relaxing in her apartment on the evening of January 9, 2023, when she received three alerts for debits which added up to N4.039 million.

She also said she opened the bank account that was cleared of all her savings while she was working at Zenith Bank.

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She was quoted as saying “when I received the first alert around 8.25pm I actually thought it was a WhatsApp message. I checked it and was shocked to see that it was an alert of N3.715 million,” she said.

Fraud and unauthorised debit on customers accounts among Nigerian banks are seemingly on the surge but the frustrating aspect is the attitude of banks when responding to such incidents.

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Miss Agim ,s case is particularly pathetic as her case brings to the fore flaws in the system after she was debited N4.039 million in a single day without initiating any transaction.

“Unauthorized transactions were done last night at about 8:40pm on my Account and everything is gone, over 4 million naira debited. And @ZenithBank is not saying anything serious. This is my life savings. Please I need legal help,” she lamented on micro blogging site Twitter.

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Curiously,she claimed that her debit limit was N200,000 and wondered “how they (the bank)authorised a N4m transaction.”

If her debit limit is N200,000 as she claimed,at what point did the bank authorize payment without her consent?Analysts fear that there may have been insiders abuse in this regard as certain loopholes may have been noticed and taken into consideration before suspected fraudulent movements of the money took place.

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In her efforts to recover her money she visited two Zenith Bank branches (at Herbert Macaulay and branch in Alagomeji, Yaba) in Lagos and wrote two separate letters of complaints.

It took public spirited intervention before respite came her way as it is revealed that the bank had responded positively to Miss Agim.

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Her case is one of several cases reported as many victims like hers have resigned to fate but unlike her,these Victims remain as the name implies “victims “.

There are many victims languishing and some took the option of suicide since life made no meaning to them after the losses due to no fault of theirs and many have no fallback conditions for redress the situation as the case may be.That is a bigger tragedy.

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Danbatta Bags Vanguard’s Regulator of the Year Award

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The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, was at the weekend in Lagos, decorated with the 2022 Regulator of the Year Award at the prestigious 11th Edition of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Award where men and women who have distinguished themselves as achievers of excellence in their various fields of endeavours were honoured.

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The award was conferred on Danbatta in recognition of the EVC’s effective regulatory achievements through cutting-edge initiatives, especially during his first five years in office during which Nigeria’s telecom sector has shown spectacular landmarks, at a glamorous ceremony at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos on Friday.

According to Vanguard Newspaper Limited, the organizers of the event, his initiatives strengthened the role of the telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as telecoms investment inflows from $36 billion in 2015 to over $70 billion.

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Danbatta also spearheaded a campaign to improve Nigeria’s broadband penetration from the paltry five percent at the time of his appointment to about 30% in 2018. The EVC is currently among those leading the charge for the realisation of the new national broadband penetration target of 70 percent by 2025 since his reappointment in office in 2020.

While presenting the award, Chief Abiola Dosunmu, the Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, said Danbatta was eminently qualified and deserving of the distinct recognition conferred upon him.

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Other eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in professional excellence and service to humanity in the private and public sectors were conferred with various categories of awards at the event including the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who won the Personality of the Year Award.

Other awardees include the Kwara State Governor, Abdulraham Abdulrazaq and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde who were present and decorated and the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello Koko who won the Public Sector Icon of the Year.

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Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa was represented by the Deputy Governor of the State, Barrister Kingsley Burutu Otuaro while Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

Distinguished guests at the event were the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande; the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of the NCC, Adeleke Adewolu; some other members of the Board as well as Management and Staff of the Commission.

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Signed
Reuben Muoka
Director, Public Affairs
29th January 2023

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NCC Boss to Receive Vanguard’s Regulator of the Year Award today 

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The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, is set to receive the 2022 Regulator of the Year

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Vanguard Newspaper Limited, the organizers of the event, has said that Danbatta would receive the award category at a ceremony to be held in Lagos on Friday, January 27, 2022 based on the recognition of the professor’s transformational and inspiring leadership, which brought the effective regulatory regime in the telecoms sector, impacting positively on Nigeria’s digital economy ecosystem.

Alongside other prominent personalities including state governors like Babagana Zulum of Borno State, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Abdulraham Abdulrazaq of Kwara, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State as well as the Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and other Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in professional excellence and service to humanity, Danbatta will stand tall before Nigerians on Friday to receive his category of award.

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Profoundly described as Africa’s Regulatory model, Prof. Danbatta has become a model to other African regulators.

A respectable scholar and distinguished academic, Danbatta has displayed a no-nonsense mien in discharging regulatory functions, yet he is generally viewed in the industry as a calm and calculative leader who takes fair but firm decisions in his drive to steady the Nigerian telecom environment. This has, no doubt, inspired many African regulators to adopt Nigeria’s model in order to revamp their regulatory activities.

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A professor of telecommunications engineering, Danbatta, before his appointment, had been the Acting Vice Chancellor at the Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), and as a lecturer he has supervised more than 60 PhD, M.Eng and B.Eng projects in diverse areas of telecommunications.

Danbatta, however, was not entirely new to the industry before he bacame the NCC boss, as he had a stint at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) an international centre for advanced communications studies established in 2004 by the NCC for capacity building in diverse areas of Information and Communication Technology as the Vice President of the institute.

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His first five years in office witnessed an effective regulatory regime through cutting-edge initiatives, strengthening the role of the telecommunications sector as a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

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Currently leading the charge to achieve the Nigerian National Broad Plan 2020-2025, Danbatta was acclaimed for spearheading the predecessor campaign, which Nigeria attained and surpassed the 30% national target in 2018, from paltry 6% when he took over.

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The multiple award-winning professor also midwifed a highly successful 5G spectrum auction last year, while his strides in reviving the Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) and the introduction of harmonized national emergency communication number (112) helped the NCC to win the International Public Relations Association Golden Award in the year 2021, because of a pivotal role they played in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

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His stellar leadership style was recently rewarded by the organizers of the prestigious Zik Prize, as they bestowed on him the Zik Prize award for Professional Leadership.

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Danbatta earned BEng, MSc degrees from the Technical University of Wroclaw in Poland and received his PhD from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. Yet, in spite of his towering achievements, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, remains an epitome of modesty and humility.

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Signed:

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Reuben Muoka

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Director, Public Affairs

January 26, 2023

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