The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has said the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has instructed telecommunication companies operating in the country to put measures in place to reduce the cost of data in Nigeria.
The minister disclosed this on Thursday.
He said the price of 1GB has been reduced from N1000 to N487 since November.
“The average cost of 1GB of data has reduced from the January 2020 cost of N1,000 to N487.18 in November, 2020.
“This was based on a report by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) submitted to the Honourable Minister following the implementation of the directives,” Dr Pantami’s Technical Assistant, Mr Femi Adeluyi said in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja.
“Adeluyi who is Technical Assistant, Information and Technology said: “The Honourable Minister had inaugurated a Committee that developed the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) on the 16th of December, 2019.
“The Plan was unveiled and launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 19th of March, 2020.
“One of the goals of the Plan is to reduce the average cost of 1GB of data to a maximum of N390 by 2025.
“With the January 2020 baseline of N1,000 per GB, the maximum projected steady decrease for the end of each year was as follows: 2020 (N925), 2021 (N850), 2022 (N775), 2023 (N700), 2024 (N545) and 2025 (N390).
“In line with Dr Pantami’s commitment to under promise and over deliver, the measures have caused the current cost of data to reduce significantly beyond the December 2020 projection of N925.
“Based on the Report by NCC, the average cost of data as at November 2020 was N487.18, which amounts to 47.33% lower than the projected value.
“The Report also indicates that the cost of data in November 2020 was less than 50% of the cost of data in January 2020.
“The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, through the NCC, will continue to ensure that consumers enjoy a price regime that supports fairness and is friendly to consumers.
“Policies are in place to ensure that operators adopt competitive pricing that eschews unjustifiable margins. The general public may also wish to note that complaints about rapid data depletion are also being investigated.
“For more enquiries, the Honourable Minister has directed NCC to respond to all issues raised by our citizens and customers.
“All hands will remain on deck to achieve the goals of the Broadband Plan as the Ministry supervises its implementation in line with our National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria.”
Robotics Innovator Createc to Provide Custom Sensor Integrations for Boston Dynamics Spot
Createc, a pioneering UK robotics and computer vision company that provides solutions to the civil nuclear, defence, rail, marine, and security sectors from its bases in Cumbria and Oxford in the UK, will serve as a technical integrator and commercial reseller of Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots.
Matt Mellor, CEO of Createc which is the holder of two Queen’s Awards for Innovation and International Trade, said: “We are very positive about the future for robotics for nuclear decommissioning and collaborating with a company like Boston Dynamics is in line with that vision.
“The opportunity for robots like Spot to do more and to take more people out of hazardous environments is a very good thing for society.
“Over time we are going to have a lot more robots, and we will have improved collaboration between human and machine.”
The relationship between the companies came about after Createc had been introduced to the capabilities of Boston Dynamics robots while working on research and development projects.
Matt said: “Legged Robots are being increasingly adopted in a range of industrial settings for inspection and intervention; industrial environments are built for people, so robots with legs and arms that mimic the capabilities of people are a great fit.
“We have been using quadruped robotics in our work with Oxford University’s Robotics Institute for survey and inspections in hazardous environments and looking into ways of removing the need to put human operators into those situations. As part of that work we have seen what Spot is capable of.”
Createc, formed more than ten years ago, has an impressive track record of commercialisation of its innovative technology, including its pioneering N-Visage® technology which was used in the clean-up following the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan. The company has since gone on to enjoy global success with a range of innovations.
Createc is widely recognised for its success in innovation and problem solving in computer imaging as well as robotics, pioneering some of the latest technology which is being deployed around the world to provide accurate, and readily available, information, such as for the nuclear industry.
Createc applies its thinking and technologies to any problem to find a solution and takes a flexible approach to applying them – so they can be adapted for a range of industries and a range of situations.
Matt said: “My motivation comes from bringing something completely new to life which results in the world being a better place.
“We look at the way we can do something, not where we can do it. Seeing all the pieces come together and creating this thing which creates an economic benefit and also has a positive impact on the world is really satisfying.”
Matt sees the relationship with Boston Dynamics as providing Createc with a highly mobile solution through its Spot robot, and he anticipates Createc can help Boston Dynamics build new application capabilities and commercial opportunities.
Createc has been working with Boston Dynamics’ Spot – a four-legged agile robot with advanced mobility and perception to navigate stairs, gravel, and rough terrain while collecting 2D and 3D information with on board sensors, automating some common data collection and inspection tasks. The company has been using Spot primarily in nuclear decommissioning applications so far but expects to expand to other industrial uses in the future. .
Matt said: “If you are trying to do things in industrial environments, then robots like Spot give you a big advantage as they can move around obstacles on the floor, or step over obstacles just like a human would, and in a way which wheeled vehicles are not able to. It recognises terrain and is able to adjust its movements accordingly.
“Boston Dynamics is developing new levels of autonomy and we see advantages in collaborating to build new inspection tools and systems that enable tasks in hazardous environments to be carried out more safely, more efficiently and more cost effectively.”
Employing almost 30 people in a diverse, agile team of technical experts from fields such as Computer Vision, Robotics, Nuclear Measurement and Optics, Createc can efficiently build prototype systems and develop them into full products.
Bank CEO Speaks to Cultural Change Required as Economy Moves Toward Digitization and CBDCs
Last month, the Kenya Bankers Association had their regular CEO Chat, this time with Alakh Kohli, CEO of M Oriental Bank. During the exchange, he was questioned about the move towards digital products and services, which would include cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and central bank digital currencies. He noted that there was a significant educational component to the change, and that while many in the economy were already participating in it, a greater cultural shift would need to occur as we trend towards digitization.
“Kohli is certainly right, in terms of the need to create cultural change as our financial system further digitizes. There is a sizable segment of the population in every country which prefers in-person transactions. That is exacerbated by the threat of hacking and identity theft, particularly among the eldest in our societies. In places like Africa, that is even more pronounced because of lesser access to digital devices,” noted Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.
In the interview, Kohli noted that “one of the challenges we are seeing is that while there is a lot of interest and focus on getting digital products, there are always a group of clients that still prefer to do their transactions physically…one of the biggest challenges we face is introducing such clients to digital banking and encouraging the uptake of these products for such clients. We have done this through one on one sensitization and educative trainings and discussions with our clients. It speaks to a culture change which is required.”
“As we begin to see governments move towards CBDCs, and we will, there will be a necessary shift in cultural preferences. Older citizens and those without access to smartphones may find themselves outside the mainstream as central banks issue digital currencies. Even during the pandemic, when areas found themselves with a coin shortage, some businesses discouraged — or even stopped accepting — cash. Governments will favor the digitized currency for the many advantages it will provide, not the least of which will be a less expensive and more centralized financial infrastructure. The citizenry will likely find significant benefit, as well. For example, imagine how much faster stimulus payments, in places where they were issued, would’ve been processed if there was already a CBDC in place,” said Gardner.
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.
“While there will be a cultural and educational aspect to any CBDC rollout, I think that the populace will, by and large, enjoy the benefits of digital assets. Even beyond central bank digital currencies, the ability to participate in digital assets will be huge. For example, the ability to chop up real estate investments into small chunks will allow Main Street investors an inexpensive way to own a piece of a strip mall or multifamily development in a much more liquid fashion than any investment vehicle currently available. That’s the technological power of blockchain,” explained Gardner.
Lack of Digital Infrastructure and Mobile Services Affecting Remittance Risks Leaving Millions of Rural Families in Poverty – IFAD
Despite a massive increase in migrants sending money home via digital transfers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of their rural family members struggle to access mobile banking services which could help lift them out of poverty.
The President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has called for urgent investments in digital infrastructure and mobile services in developing countries to ensure rural families are not left behind.
“Migrants have shown their continued commitment to their families and communities during the pandemic with more remittances transfers made digitally than ever before,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, speaking on the International Day of Family Remittances. “Unfortunately, families in rural and remote areas – where remittances are a true lifeline – the battle to access cash outlets or even more convenient alternatives such as mobile money accounts. Governments and the private sector need to urgently invest in rural digital infrastructure to address this.”
Mobile remittances increased by 65 percent last year, rising to US$12.7 billion. This change was driven by a switch from cash due to lockdowns that limited informal channels and social distancing rules for senders and recipients alike. In spite of the global economic recession due to the pandemic, migrants continued to send money home to their families, with remittances in 2020 reaching $540 billion – a drop of only 1.6 percent compared to the previous year.
However, in many countries, people living in remote rural areas have sparse local access to banking services or limited mobile connectivity. In addition, there is limited availability of agents offering mobile money services such as payouts in cash. Often mobile money service providers are only located in urban centers. This means millions of poor, rural people have to travel long distances to towns or cities, often at significant cost, to receive the cash sent digitally by their migrant family members.
Digital transfers are cheaper than traditional cash transfers, and mobile banking services also provide the opportunity for migrants and their families in their countries of origin to access useful and affordable financial products to better manage their finances, including savings, loans and insurance.
Across the globe, 200 million migrants regularly send money to their 800 million relatives. This plays a crucial role in their lives and livelihoods. Almost half of these families live in rural areas of developing countries, where poverty and hunger are highest. Families use the funds sent by migrant workers to cover basic household needs such as food, housing, school and medical bills, as well as to start small businesses. These resources can often transform both families and local communities.
“While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital transfers and mobile money accounts, it also highlighted pervasive gender inequality,” said Pedro de Vasconcelos, the head of IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances. “Research shows that women are 33 percent less likely than men to have a mobile money account. We must focus on closing the gap by addressing the barriers that prevent women from accessing and using mobile financial services.”
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