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Lagos Unveils ANPR to Track Traffic Violators

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  • Lagos Unveils ANPR to Track Traffic Violators

Lagos State Government has rolled out an e-inspection technology application to tackle traffic and vehicle documentation violations. The new effort, which takes fines to violators’ doorstep, will eventually ensure that only healthy vehicles are on the roads, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE

Imagine a return of the banned Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) to all roads in Lagos State. Also, imagine that your location is not only captured by Google map, but that you are actually being monitored by VIO right on the road. What will you have done rightly?

You can no longer hide, so long as you ply Lagos roads. This is because technology will fish you out if you commit a traffic offence.

Some Lagosians have had a bitter taste of this technology. Some of them, Tiamiyu Mohammed, a Uber operator and Moses Adeife, a car owner, are among the hundreds, who have been caught by this technology deployed three weeks ago after a long period of test-runing to restore sanity to Lagos roads. Interestingly, offenders are rushing to pay their fines.

Deploying technology to drive traffic compliance is no longer a dream in Lagos State. If you drive a vehicle that is not road worthy on Lagos roads, or you drive with expired driver’s or vehicle licence, or you do not have hackney or inspection/testing permit, or any other documentation that authorises you to ply the roads, the sanity of your vehicle, you may be the next victim.

Gone are the days, when VIOs chase vehicles round the streets. That era stopped last year vide an executive order when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode ordered them to get off the roads.

Their presence, as it were, has been replaced by the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and Closed Circuit Monitor (CCTV) devices to track vehicle administration offences and traffic violations.

The VIS has these two categories all over Lagos. They are the fixed monitors, which are installed on all major roads and highways in all the 57 Local Governments Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and the mobile units installed on all VIO vehicles moving round locations not captured by the fixed units.

The feat, according to the VIS Director, Hafiz Toriola, an engineer, is the culmination of a three-year research, which has taken officials of the agency round the world to understudy the technology in other developed societies where such had been in use for decades.

It was also the crystallisation of the e-inspection and e-billing, launched last year by the Ambode administration. It is meant to use street cameras to identify vehicles plying the roads without valid documents.

Automatic number plate recognition according to Wikipedia can be used to store the images captured by the cameras as well as the text from the license plate, with some configurable to store a photograph of the driver.

The systems commonly use infrared lighting to allow the camera to take the picture at any time of day or night, with the ANPR technology taking into account plate numbering variations from place to place.

ANPR was invented in 1976 at the Police Scientific Development Branch in the United Kingdom. Prototype systems were working by 1979, and contracts were awarded to produce industrial systems, first at EMI Electronics, and then at Computer Recognition Systems (CRS) in Wokingham, United Kingdom (UK). Early trial systems were deployed on the A1 road and at the Dartford Tunnel. The first arrest through detection of a stolen car was made in 1981.

However, ANPR did not become widely used until new developments in cheaper and easier to use software were pioneered during the 1990s. The collection of ANPR data for future use (i.e., in solving then-unidentified crimes) was documented in the early 2000s. The first documented case of ANPR being used to help solve a murder case occurred in November 2005, in Bradford, UK, where ANPR played a vital role in locating and subsequently convicting killers of Sharon Beshenivsky.

Critics have described the ANPR as a form of mass surveillance. Concerns about the system centered on privacy as citizens feared that government was tracking their movements. There are also cases of misidentification, high error rates, and increased government spending.

How Does It Work?

According to toriola, both the fixed and the mobile variant, work by capturing vehicles at random and the details of the vehicle would run automatically through the various databases such as the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA), Police and the Nigeria Insurance Association (NIA) and the Lagos State Transport Department, all of which are already configured into the operating system, and instantly, a result of the vehicle’s compliance of violations would emerge. Where all details; such as road worthiness, vehicle licence, and for commercial vehicles; hackney permit, the Lagos State Drivers Institute certification (LASDRI) are in order, the vehicle is certified okay, but where one or more documents is invalid either because it has expired or not available, the system generates a fine/bill, which will first be sent as a text message to the offender, and the hard copy taken to the offender’s house address as captured on the data base.

According to Toriola: “In a case where we are unable to get the address of the owner, maybe due to relocation or as a result of fake address, we would blacklist the vehicle and flag it, so that we would begin to monitor it and enforce arrest and compliance anytime the vehicle gets back on our roads.”

He said the camera of either the fixed or the mobile units on VIO vehicles will take the picture of the vehicle, zoom in on the number plate of the vehicle and when the offence was committed. It will state the offence(s) and give the offender seven days to seek redress (in case of doubts) or payment.

The VIS Director said the agency has started billing offenders who have been coming to pay. “Most offenders were shocked at the level of sophistication and detailed capturing of their offences, which has rightly put Lagos alongside countries that are deploying the best global standards in driving its transportation architecture,” Toriola added.

He said from the back end, the agency can see any vehicle anywhere in the state, see its state of health and can put an off the road sticker on any vehicle delivered to the home of the owner of such vehicle.

He said: “We now have so many of these cameras on our roads across the state. And our message for now is that our people should obey the law and maintain their vehicle. They should get all the prescribed particulars for their vehicles and obey traffic rules and regulations. If they do this, they need not be afraid of this new innovation which is meant to drive sanity down our transportation system,”Toriola added.

Another revelation according to him, is that the device has exposed the cartel that runs a ring of fake vehicle particulars in the state. “The device is helping us to detect a lot of fake documents; such as fake driver’s licence, fake vehicle licence and fake insurance and road worthiness licence. Those, who fall victims of these are calling their agents and we are now hearing so many funny confessions.”

He said the ANPR would be complementing the computerised vehicle inspection system, which was rolled out last year, where vehicles can undergo comprehensive diagnosis, away from the manual checking, which VIS men, hitherto carried out, and the acquisition of the Magneto Optical Device, a technology, which helps in diagnosing any vehicle’s details.

According to Toriola, the future of seamless transportation in a state with above the national average of vehicular density. With the right technology, according to him, Lagos is moving away from manual inspection, testing and billing as electronic alternatives are being deployed and more loopholes which make the system dysfunctional are being identified and blocked.

Throwing his weight behind the innovation is a road safety advocate and founder of Safety Without Borders, Patrick Adenusi, who commended the state for blazing an uncommon trail. To him, the innovation ought to be a national agenda.

Adenusi said Lagos, in driving its transportation architecture with ANPR, was 35 years late. “It is the global best practice and one should say that it is not only Lagos, but all the federating states and the security system, including the FRSC, the police and other security agencies that ought to be on the system.

He said the system has attracted excellent ratings across the world in countries like United Kingdom, US, Canada, Switzerland, France, UAE, Germany, Netherlands and several others where it has been introduced because it has not only contributed significantly to curtailing traffic infractions, it has also helped to burst criminal activities, especially car thefts.

According to him, every vehicle like human being, has a name and identification numbers, which is called the Chasis number. He said though engine numbers may change, chasis number never changes as it is the identity of the vehicle. People can attempt to alter the vein number of stolen vehicles, but they are often exposed once they are captured by the ANPR device.

In the US, the ANPR is being manned by the police. As one passes a police patrol with such device, the police officer will just capture your number plate and input this on the software on his laptop or ipad and instantly all one’s details are available to him. Where one is not supposed to be on the road as a result of a violation; either of non-inspection, or carrying an expired document, he issues a bill and send same to one’s mailing address or phone number, same way that Toriola had stated that the VIS system runs.

He said: “If we are adopting the same thing in Nigeria it is excellent as it would help everyone to do the right thing.”

Adenusi observed that there are quite a number of vehicles operating in Lagos and across the country without valid papers. Citing the instance of a situation where a VIO had stopped a woman, who claimed she was a civil servant and works at the state’s secretariat, Alausa, but whose particulars expired five years before.

He added that a check of the military, para-military and other security personnel would also reveal that so many of them ride freely on the roads without any valid documentation. “They just did the initial registration and thereafter, you will see them fix stickers of their stations, either Airforce, Navy, Police, Army or any other security outfit and brazenly go about the violations in a who-dare-accost-me manner. Many would not even use seat belt and some would put their beret on the dashboard. But does being in any of these say you should flout basic laws that guarantees safety?” he asked.

He said though this kind of innovation is salutary, ensuring compliance of all categories of citizens without having sacred cows, will determine how successful it could be.

According to Adenusi, if we want the government to provide basic infrastructure that meets global standard without going aborrowing, one of the ways is to support this kind of avenue where only those, who are able to maintain their vehicles can only keep them on the roads.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Bolt Bags €20 Million From World Bank’s IFC to Expand Operations in Emerging Economies

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Bolt, the leading European mobility platform, announced new funding of €20 million received from World Bank’s IFC.

“We’re delighted to announce that we’ve received €20 million in funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group”, Bolt said.

The investment came less than three months after the Estonian company raised €150 million in a round led by D1 Capital Partners.

Through this investment, Bolt will continue to develop mobility solutions that create earning opportunities, stimulate entrepreneurship and improve access to transportation in emerging economies. One of the shared goals of Bolt and the IFC is to empower women and improve their access to mobility.

According to Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Senior Vice President of Operations,  “Technology can and should unlock new pathways for sustainable development and women’s empowerment.”

“Our investment in Bolt aims to help tap into technology to disrupt the transport sector in a way that is good for the environment, creates more flexible work opportunities for women, and provides safer and more affordable transportation access in emerging markets.”

Recently, Bolt introduced a women-only ride-type in South Africa for her customers to address safety needs, enable women passengers to connect with women drivers, improve women’s mobility and access to earning opportunities.

Markus Villig, CEO of Bolt, said the goal of the company and its partnership with IFC is to Provide strategic value to emerging economies

“We are looking forward to partnering with IFC to further support entrepreneurship, empower women and increase access to affordable mobility services in Africa and Eastern Europe.

“Together with the investment from the European Investment Bank last year, we are proud to have sizable and strategically important institutions backing us and recognising the strategic value Bolt is providing to emerging economies.”

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Crowdyvest Attracts New Investors and Appoints Tope Omotolani as CEO

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Crowdyvest Limited, an impact-driven fintech platform, launched in 2019 by Onyeka Akumah and four other Co-Founders has today announced a big change in its leadership and additional investment in the company, in a bid to scale up as a digital savings company.

Crowdyvest was created to provide all-in-one financial solutions for individuals and businesses to achieve short or long-term goals while facilitating impactful growth in line with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Fintech company went live in beta-stage in August 2019 but launched fully as a crowdfunding platform in January 2020 where its users and sponsors can sponsor high-impact opportunities that yield good benefits through its pooled sponsorships and individual projects.

Today, however, the company announced Onyeka Akumah will officially step down as the CEO of Crowdyvest and Tope Omotolani who is currently the Managing Director and also a co-founder, will become the new Chief Executive Officer of the startup, effective immediately. Notwithstanding this change in leadership, all the management and staff of Crowdyvest will be retained. And as a result of the new investment in Crowdyvest, the fintech startup will completely exit the EMFATO Holdings group and also transition from its previous crowdfunding model to making strides as the go-to digital wealth management and savings platform under Tope’s leadership.

Onyeka Akumah speaking on this development said, “I have taken this decision to step down as the CEO of Crowdyvest as a result of the new investment in the company which gives it good footing for scale. Today, Crowdyvest is exiting fully from EMFATO Holdings and we are very happy about the new investors led by Tope, and excited to see how Tope will lead this business to new heights. I will now focus more on leading Farmcrowdy and Plentywaka as CEO of both companies into new markets in 2021. Tope is a strong and amazing leader and I see her leading Crowdyvest to become one of the leading wealth management companies in Nigeria within the next 3-5 years. I wish her and the team all the best and will continue to advise them on their journey when needed’’.

The new CEO, Tope Omotolani also said, “It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be able to lead the team to the next level and next chapter of the business. Onyeka founded this company on the ethos of integrity and strong customer satisfaction and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue to lead this technology company into it’s next chapter. Our major goal and focus as Crowdyvest is that we see a lot of people become financially free and we’re able to do this by the products that we create on the platform”.

The emergence of female leaders has become a centrifugal force for good in the world and many organisations. For the first time, we’re seeing examples of female leaders emerging from across the generations to cross-weave their knowledge and drive for change and Crowdyvest is joining the wave of change having a Female Leader and CEO.

Crowdyvest is today launching the Crowdyvest Savings Platform to give savings options to over 10,000 subscribed members on it’s platform. This savings platform will give its members a variety of plans to help build a savings culture based entirely on their pace, so they can reach their life goals faster.

This savings platform has four products that are properly tailored to fit all categories of individuals, including the Millenials, Gen Z, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, and each of these products have their unique features and benefits. They are;

Flex Savings which speaks to our young and trendy Gen Zs and Millenials, gives them the opportunity to save as much as they like with the option of withdrawing their money at any time during the year with a withdrawal fee of 2%. The Flex savers also have the opportunity of 7 official withdrawal days which comes without a withdrawal fee.

Vault Savings here, users have the opportunity to safely deposit money into their vaults and lock it for a period of time (3 months, 6 months, or for years). Funds deposited in the vault will be locked and ineligible for withdrawal throughout the locked period. The vault savings is for long-term savings and is targeted at pensioners, trust funds savings, legacy savings, etc.

Pace Savings, savers have the opportunity to deposit money as they wish for a set target. The pace savings option is recurring starting with the least period of 3 months. The money can be deposited automatically into the plan or manually based on the saver’s preference. The plan is targeted at salary earners, entrepreneurs, etc.

Flex Dollar Savings gives savers the opportunity to save and earn returns in dollars. Crowdyvest Members have the opportunity to grow their savings in a more valuable & stable denomination.

Every saver enjoys the benefits of good interest rates from 12.5% to 15%, zero bank charges, plans tailored for everyone, and effective and prompt customer service. We also have referral opportunities where you can earn as much as NGN 1000 for every person you refer to Crowdyvest. For more information, visit the Crowdyvest website.

Previously as a crowdfunding platform, Crowdyvest was able to create an impact by funding 24 projects across various sectors including Agriculture, Real Estate, Transportation, etc, has worked with 9 project partners, has operated in 17 states with over 10,000+ active sponsors, over 90,000+ total users, and over 8,000 Monthly Active Users. Today, the company is a Digital Savings platform with closed membership, Crowdyvest will provide financial solutions for her community of individuals and organizations that are committed to long-term growth and financial freedom.

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FirstWave Signs Level 1 Partner Agreement with pan-African technology company Moja Access

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Neil Pollock, CEO, FirstWave Cloud Technology - investorsking.com

Leading Australian-headquartered, global, cybersecurity-as-a-service company, FirstWave Cloud Technology Limited (ASX: FCT) (FirstWave), is pleased to announce the signing of a three-year Level 1 Partner Agreement with Moja Access, part of CSquared Group (www.csquared.com), a pan-African technology company.

Moja Access is the Kenya-based operating company of CSquared, a joint venture between Google LLC, Japan-based Mitsui & Co, investment firm Convergence Partners, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC, part of the World Bank Group), with the goal to make commercially driven investments to improve and increase connectivity and internet access in Sub-Saharan Africa.

CSquared currently operates fibre and last mile WiFi networks in several cities across Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia, with over 40 mobile operators and internet service providers relying on its infrastructure for serving mobile consumers and corporate customers. These four African nations had over 10 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and over 70 million internet users at the end of 2020.

In the initial phase of this partnership, FirstWave has deployed its recently launched FirstCloud™ WebProtect DNS platform for each of CSquared’s four territories for use by CSquared’s operating companies and Level 2 partners. CSquared’s operating companies’ partners and their end-customers will get the web security solution as part of their internet service on an “opt-out” basis.

As a consequence, revenue generation will commence immediately, and end-customers can ‘opt-out’ if, for any reason, they decide they do not want the service. Moja Access is currently in conversations with customers for uptake of this service.

The Partnership Agreement is for a 3-year term with rolling 6-month extension options thereafter and in keeping with FirstWave’s unique service proposition – democratising enterprise-grade cybersecurity-as-aservice – the vast number of MSMEs and Internet users across these 4 African nations can now be protected on CSquared’s network from cyber intruders, on a consumption basis, at an affordable monthly price.

FirstWave’s business head for EMEA & North America region, Sundar Bharadwaj, said, “CSquared Group’s Kenya-based entity Moja Access is a truly innovative partner for FirstWave in Sub-Saharan Africa with excellent credentials with its Telco and ISP client base. We look forward to expanding the reach for our Enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions to small and large end-customers through this partnership.”

Lanre Kolade, Group CEO of CSquared, said, “We are very excited to have signed this partnership with FirstWave. Our clients, including Telcos and Internet Service Providers, will benefit from FirstWave’s differentiated SaaS products. It will allow us to rapidly deploy and sell on a consumption based monthly pricing model, enterprise grade cybersecurity services to all our clients and their end-customers, large and small.”

FirstWave’s CEO, Neil Pollock, said, “I’m delighted to welcome CSquared Group’s Moja Access as our 8th Level 1 partner and see initial revenues already flowing from the partnership. CSquared is a fast-growing pan-African service provider backed by two large global corporations Google LLC and Mitsui & Co. CSquared already delivers robust fibre connectivity and internet access to thousands of end-customers via its 40+ mobile operator and ISP clients. With revenues already delivered, the partnership has had a really positive start.”

This announcement has been approved for release by the Board of Directors.

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