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Pandemic Has Spurred Need for Digital ID Systems to Reduce Physical Contact

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Digital ID systems, a prerequisite for developing functional e-governance platforms, have been on the agendas of many emerging economies for quite some time.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasized the importance of eIDs in providing social, medical and financial support to households and businesses.

Electronic identification allows citizens and businesses to prove their identity and access the governmental services online. It enables fully digital processes and eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming manual operations. Such functionality has been crucial during the pandemic, especially for developing countries.

For example, in April Chile pre-enrolled millions of new recipients in social welfare programs, while Thailand, where over 28 million people applied for a new benefit for informal workers affected by the pandemic, filtered out those who had already received assistance from other projects. All of this, including the improved accessibility to medical services, has helped to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on both the economy and the people.

“The pandemic has put electronic identification at the top of the priority lists of many developing countries,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies, a global IT consortium specializing in e-solutions developing and consulting. “It has become a necessary component of digital transformation initiatives for governments around the world, ensuring transparency, security and efficiency of e-public services they are eager to deliver to citizens. The importance of eIDs will only grow in the coming years.

“However, while economies are steadily moving towards digitization, more than a billion people, half of them in Africa, still lack basic unique IDs—a precondition for citizens to exercise the range of human rights set out in international laws and conventions. In the absence of identification systems, people have difficulties opening bank accounts, voting, obtaining formal employment and accessing education or healthcare, while states themselves struggle with government administration, tax collection, response to emergencies, disasters and epidemics, border management and security,” said Mindaugas Glodas.

One of the developing nations that has recognized the importance of unique and digital ID systems is Samoa, previously one of the least digitized countries in the world. Working together with NRD Companies, the Polynesian country has been determined to bring its people an accessible and highly secure identity management system. When the pandemic first hit, the Samoan government decided to continue with the consultancy project remotely even in unfavorable circumstances—a move that speaks to the urgent need for innovation. The new project is expected to help support the economic recovery and serve as a foundation for a digital government platform.

According to Vaidotas Ramonas, a digital identity, electronic signature and trust services expert, identification is the basis for building inclusive societies, where every individual has access to services provided by the state with no one left behind. Once countries have implemented unique ID frameworks, the next logical step is to introduce digital ID systems. There are multiple paths governments can take to initiate and encourage the use of eID platforms.

“The government can start providing eID services by, for example, digitizing some of the most widely-used, costly or inconvenient-to-use public services—ice-breakers, as I call them,” said Vaidotas Ramonas. “Digitization would make the services cheaper, easier and faster to use, which could possibly attract more people to try them out. Also, the government can simply announce, independently, that some service will be available only through e-government for which the citizens will need to set up eIDs. It is possible that at first there will be some discontentment, but experience shows that people eventually see that eID saves time, money and energy, and later refuse to give it up.”

As emerging nations tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their economies, they have a unique opportunity to use the crisis as a springboard and introduce innovative digital solutions. With all of the advantages it brings to the table, building unique ID infrastructure is a good place to start a journey toward national eID platforms.

NRD Companies, with the support from its global partners—such as the World Bank, AfDB, European Commission and others—often organizes govtech-related events seeking to educate policy makers and encourage sustainable change. The next event, an international webinar on national digital identity, is scheduled for September 17th. However, for those unable to attend, the company is more than happy to share a link to watch the event at a later time, thus encouraging any interested peers to reach out.

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.

Technology

CEOs of Major Tech Companies Have Sold Over $6 Billion of Their Stocks in 2021

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Data acquired and calculated by Finbold indicates that CEOs of the five selected major tech firms have sold $6.36 billion worth of shares between January 1 and May 10, 2021.

Jeff Bezos leads, having offloaded AMZN shares worth $4.9 billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sold $1.2 billion of his stock. Cumulatively, the two executives have offloaded $6.1 billion worth of shares from their respective companies.

Elsewhere, Nvidia CEO Huang Jen Hsun has sold $77.28 million worth of shares to rank third. Microsoft chief executive Nadella Satya has offloaded $65.44 million of MSFT stock, while Alphabet’s Pichai Sundar has sold $33.05 million. Among the top tech companies, only Tesla and Apple CEOs have not sold any of their stock in 2021.

Insider selling follows a surge in tech stocks

The highlighted companies have recorded a spike in the stock value over the past year, and the research report notes that:

“The sales come in the wake of tech sector stocks surging to new highs amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the pandemic, with wide-scale lockdowns, the companies run by the CEOs played a key role by offering services and products to help people manage the effects of the health crisis. The attention on these services drives the stock prices to record levels.”

Although insider trading is increasing in popularity, the activity is an essential indicator for investors to predict future price movement.

Overall, insider trades offer the overall market and investor outlook. When a single executive increases selling activity but others hold their shares, it does not call for alarm among investors.

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Telecommunications

MTN Nigeria Resumes SIM Card Sales, Activation

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MTN Nigeria has resumed the sales of SIM cards across the nation, according to the latest report from the leading telecommunications company.

In a statement released on Monday, MTN Nigeria said customers can walk into any of the stores listed below to buy and activate their SIM cards.

Customers are therefore advised to visit with their National Identity Number (NIN) and any of their voter’s card, driver’s license and international passport.

The statement reads “We are delighted to inform you that SIM card sales have commenced in some select MTN stores.

“Simply walk into any of the stores listed below to buy and activate your SIM.

“Thank you for choosing MTN

“To make your experience at our store seamless and make the process faster, please be kind to come with the following:

1. Your National Identity Number (NIN) is mandatory by law for registering and activating your new SIM.

2. In addition, please come along with any one of these valid, government issued IDs:
i. Your NIN slip
ii. Your Voter’s Card
iii. Your Driver’s License
iv. Your international passport.

SIM registration cannot be done by proxy.

If you do not yet have a NIN, please click on this link Enrolment Centres – CUSTOMER NIN CAPTURE (mtnonline.com) to find the nearest enrollment center

“We look forward to seeing you, and welcoming you to the Yello Family soon!”

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Telecommunications

MTN Nigeria Issues First Telco Bond in Nigeria

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Regarded as the second-largest corporate bond issuance in Nigeria’s history. Leading telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria has announced the successful issuance of N110 billion Series 1, 7-Year 13.0% Fixed Rate Bonds due 2028, (Series I Bond) under its N200 billion Bond Issuance Programme.

This new development marks MTN Nigeria’s debut in the domestic bond market and makes it the first Nigeria’s telecommunication company to achieve this feat with the Series I bond being the largest corporate bond issuance in the debt capital markets thus far in 2021. The signing ceremony took place at MTN’s corporate head office on Thursday May 6, 2021.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Bolaji Balogun, CEO Chapel Hill Denham (the lead issuing House/Bookrunner); said “We are extremely thankful to MTN Nigeria for the opportunity to deliver on a transaction of this magnitude especially in difficult market and economic conditions. We are proud to be associated with the MTNN’s success story. It is the second largest bond issuance in our market and the largest issuance this year. In the coming days, it will be clear that we all did some incredible work together. I am really proud to have worked with all of these colleagues that you chose to work alongside with us.”

Commenting on the bond issuance, Karl Toriola, CEO, MTN Nigeria said “We live in testing times and we can’t take for granted that we work in an industry that first of all allows us to enhance and serve the society and allows us to continue to sustain ourselves, our families and contribute a great share to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s economic development policies.”

“I want to thank everybody for the work done in preparing all the documentation and securing approvals for the relevant capital market  regulatory authorities. I am aware of the level of commitment that has gone into this. It will help secure MTN’s future in terms of having predictable funding and cost of capital structure going forward, diversifying its funding sources and help in the joint agenda that my team and I have set in being bold in creating opportunities for Nigerians. It also reaffirms our standing both in the capital market and the larger society that we operate in,” he added.

Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Limited acted as the Lead Issuing House while Stanbic IBTC Capital, DLM Advisory, FCMB Capital Markets, FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, and Vetiva Capital Management acted as Joint Issuing Houses.

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