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Saturday 1st April, 2023

Telecoms

Danbatta Reveals How NCC, CBN Collaborative Partnership Has Reformed Banking In Nigeria

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Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC (left) and Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has described its collaborative partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a very effective one that has led to the development of various brands of electronic transaction models.

This partnership, the Commission said, has totally reformed banking in Nigeria, making it possible for instant cash transfers to rural dwellers, cutting out waiting times at banking halls, and simplifying online transactions.

In a keynote address at the 2020 Virtual Nigeria Innovation Summit, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said between 2015 and 2020, a lot has been done to put Nigeria on the global map of nations that are electronically driven while delivering financial intermediation.

“Together with our stakeholders from the banking sector, the NCC is actively involved in the application of various electronic portals that continue to drive transactions off banking floor and onto handheld devices or personal computers.

The NCC, through its interventions, has continued to lift the Nigerian economy and create momentum and hope for financial inclusion based on the seamless implementation of the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan,” he said.

Represented at the event by the Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, the EVC noted that the NCC’s Emergency Communication Centres (ECC) have been crucial in the Federal Government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 1,209 COVID-19-related calls made between March and June 2020 from the 19 ECCs across the country.

He added that the establishment of the ECCs by the Commission across the nation was borne out of the need to safeguard all Nigerians irrespective of their geographical locations.

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According to him, “The Nigerian Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has been putting measures in place to ensure the Coronavirus disease is controlled and quickly contained.

“Nigeria’s multi-sectoral Coronavirus Preparedness Group led by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) activated its National Emergency Operations Centre and swiftly swung into action with State governments to contain the spread of the outbreak around the country.”

Danbatta stated that there are lessons to be learnt from the current pandemic, the most important of which is the need to continue to invest in infrastructure development in critical sectors of the economy, particularly the ICT sector, which has become the bastion of modern economies.

“We hope to reap the rewards of the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) in the coming years and provide Nigerians with the comfort of new innovations and new ways of living.

“This would imply that broadband penetration would be improved significantly through deliberate facilitation of investment in fibre infrastructure, Quality of Service will be assured, and the available spectrum would be optimized with full benefits.

“There would be more investment opportunities in the industry, there will be access to strategic collaboration and partnerships, consumers would be fully protected and empowered, and there will be fair competition and inclusive growth,” he assured.

Danbatta pointed out that the socio-economic benefits of the expansion in telecommunications infrastructure embarked upon by the Commission would be of immense benefit to the country, especially with the rollout of the 5G technology which currently is being test-run in about forty (40) countries.

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“This will be a significant upgrade for networks and will be the backbone for the future ICT industry post-pandemic recovery.

“Nigeria is exploring the potential benefits of deploying 5G technology as well as any health implications and once the coast is clear, a massive campaign will begin to enlighten Nigerians on the immense benefits that will be attained through 5G technology,” Danbatta further assured.

On Cybersecurity, the NCC boss noted that with the preponderance of activities now happening online, the vulnerabilities of cyberspace have increased significantly, noting that the NCC adheres strictly with ITU guidelines for the global telecoms industry.

“We have officials at the Commission tasked with monitoring global trends to ensure that NCC is abreast of the changes and the emergence of new technologies.

“With the advent of the Covid-19, ICT has become the major backbone for government activities and local businesses.

“The re-direction of human traffic to online portals for major transactions as a result of social distancing also meant that cybercriminals have a larger audience and a much bigger playground to execute their nefarious activities.

“The NCC, CBN, major financial institutions and Security Agencies, we have diligently ensured that Nigeria’s Cyberspace is secured.

Danbatta remarked that recognizing the need to entrench digital economy thinking in its operational activity, the Commission created a Digital Economy Department principally for implementing programmes and policies aimed at fully supporting and promoting the national digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.

NCC has been the major linkage in the drive for optimum economic development, as it remains the pioneer for all the major disruptions that would drive the nation’s economic reboot, especially the financial systems riding on electronic innovations.

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“These innovations are driven by the availability of a robust communications infrastructure made possible by the Commission’s continuous quest for investment in the sector,” he stated.

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Founder/Editor of www.digitaltimesng.com. He is passionate about technology and how it can be used to transform human life, businesses and services.

Telecoms

NCC Committed To Strengthening Regulation Of Telecom Sector, Says Danbatta

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L-R: Nnena Ukoha, Head, Corporate Communications, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Reuben Muoka, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; Dr. Funmi Akinyele, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, Food Basket Foundation International (FBFT) and Chairperson, Safeguarding Online Civic Space Group; Chidinma Okpara, Project Officer, FBFT and Nafisa Rugga, Head, Digital Media, NCC, during a courtesy visit by FBFT to the Commission in Abuja recently.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the regulation of the country’s telecommunication sector, particularly by providing solid infrastructure and general industry regulations.

In this regard, the Commission said it would continue to consult stakeholders on issues affecting telecommunication services deployments and developments, in line with its culture of inclusiveness, collaboration, and partnership as predicated in its strategic focus.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission (EVC), Professor Garba Danbatta, gave the assurance while receiving a delegation of Food Basket Foundation International (FBFI), led by its Chief Executive Officer, Funmi Akinyele, during a courtesy visit to NCC Headquarters in Abuja.

While commending the Commission’s regulatory excellence, highlighting its effort in ensuring there are regulations, frameworks and guidelines to guard the telecoms sector and online civic space, Akinyele expressed concerns about the state of social media with uncontrolled content.

She said the visit to the regulator was to explore areas of collaboration in its programme to protect the digital civic space by combating misinformation and disinformation while mitigating risks to the digital civic space to ensure electoral integrity before, during and after the 2023 General Elections.

This initiative, she explained, comes under one of FBFI’s projects, dubbed ‘Safeguarding Digital Civic Space for Electoral Integrity (SDSEI).’

But Danbatta who was represented at the event by Reuben Muoka, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, informed the team that the Commission is not responsible for the content of the social media as there are other government agencies that are responsible for that.

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However, the Commission he said, has engaged in several aspects of protection of the users of the Internet, such as initiatives towards Child Online Protection (COP), deployment of the Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT), set up to monitor cyber-attacks in the Nigerian cyberspace, in addition to the activities of the Commission’s department of New Media and Information Security set up to address issues of cybersecurity.

“We have tried not to be a closed organisation. We give lots of premiums to consultations and collaborations, especially in the areas that will ensure that the consumers and stakeholders understand what is going on and make input that enriches the quality of regulations, as well as being able to access the information they may require to safeguard themselves and the society,” he noted.

Muoka also invited the group to join the NCC in carrying out enlightenment campaigns to educate telecom consumers on their roles and responsibilities in order to use the Internet and telecommunication platform safely to counter misuse and abuse.

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Telecoms

Beware Of Pirated YouTube Software-Related Malware- NCC-CSIRT Warns

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The Nigerian Communications Commission’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (NCC-CSIRT) has warned that those looking to acquire pirated software and resources risk becoming victims of cybercriminal gangs that are using AI-generated YouTube videos to distribute malware.

The NCC-CSIRT further warned in its advisory that falling victim could be significant for individuals and organizations, resulting in critical damage like data theft, financial loss, identity theft, system damage, and reputation damage.

The advisory additionally warned that unsuspecting victims who watch these AI-generated tutorial videos will be duped into clicking on one of the links in the video description, which usually results in the download of data-stealing malware, noting that the number of YouTube videos containing such links has increased by 200-300% months on month since November 2022.

“To stimulate the interest of potential victims, video tutorials on how to pirate sought-after software such as AutoCAD, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, and other similar paid-for software are created. These videos are created with AI and feature humans with facial features that research has shown other humans find trustworthy.

“The tutorials in these videos are frequently bogus and steer viewers to links in the description that led to information-stealing malware like Raccoon, Vidar, and RedLine,” the advisory revealed.

The advisory disclosed that malicious actors can create AI-generated videos that include hidden or disguised malware, noting that these videos may appear to be harmless or even entertaining, but they can contain malicious code that can infect a viewer’s device when the video is downloaded or played.

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“Cybercriminal actors can also use AI-generated videos to trick viewers into downloading malware. For example, they can create a video that appears to be a legitimate software update or security patch, but it contains malware that infects the viewer’s device.

“They equally use AI-generated videos to distribute phishing scams. They can create a video that appears to be from a legitimate company or organization and prompts viewers to click on a link to enter their login credentials or personal information. Once the viewer clicks on the link, they are directed to a fake website that steals their information.

“Additionally, malicious actors can use AI-generated videos to distribute ransomware. They can create a video that appears to be harmless, but when the viewer clicks on a link or downloads a file associated with the video, their device becomes infected with ransomware that locks them out of their files and demands payment to regain access,” the advisory further revealed.

NCC-CSIRT said that to avoid becoming a victim, telecom consumers should avoid downloading pirated software because they are generally harmful and illegal.

Furthermore, the advisory recommends the installation of antivirus software with internet security and keeping it up to date, installing an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution that is comprehensive, and thinking before clicking any link.

 

 

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Telecoms

7 Months After Ministerial Objection, FG Removes 5% Excise Duty For Telecoms Sector

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L-R: Jacqueline Olowolayemo, Senior Administrative Manager, Mafab Communications Ltd.; Prof Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Dr. Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau and Anas Galadima, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, MTN Nigeria, during a press briefing by the Presidential Review Committee on Excise Duty in the Digital Economy Sector in Abuja on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Seven months after the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami led objections to the proposed application of 5 per cent excise duty on Nigeria’s telecom sector, the Federal Government Tuesday officially announced the removal of excise duty for the telecom sub-sector of Nigeria’s Digital Economy Industry.

The removal of excise duty in the sub-sector, Digital TimesNG learnt, is in line with the recommendations of the Committee the Federal Government constituted to review the applicability of the Duty to the telecom sector which is considered already overburdened with taxation and sundry levies.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, disclosed this good news on Tuesday at a press briefing organised to provide updates on the status of the 5 per cent excise duty, whose applicability to the telecom sector was objected to by the Minister in August 2022.

Recall that in response to this objection, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the application of excise duty to the telecom sector and set up a Presidential Review Committee on Excise Duty in the Digital Economy Sector.

Pantami, who is the Chairman of the Committee, specifically set up for the purpose of reviewing the proposed excise duty in the telecom sector, said the Committee had carried out its national assignment and accordingly submitted its report to the President, justifying why the sector should be exempted.

The Minister said the Committee’s submissions can be summed up in three arguments put forward to justify why additional burden in form of taxes or any level should not be imposed on the telecom sector to prevent a reversal of the important contribution the sector is making to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

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“Our justifications are based on three premises: First, is the fact that operators in the telecoms sub-sector of the digital economy industry currently pay no fewer than 41 different categories of taxes, levies and charges; secondly, that telecoms have continued to be a major contributor to the Nigerian economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product Contribution (GDP).

“The third ground for contesting the Excise Duty in the telecom sector is the fact that, despite the increase in the cost of all factors of production across the sector, and naturally leading to increase in costs of products and services, telecom sector is the only sector where the cost of service has been stable and in many cases continued to go down over the past years and therefore, adding more burden will destroy the sector,” the Minister said.

Pantami also informed the gathering that the President, having looked into the arguments put forward by the Committee and relying on the provision of Section 5 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, as amended, has therefore, exempted the telecom sector from the list of sectors to pay the excise duty as stated in Finance Act of 2021 and other subsidiary legislations, all of which are not as superior as the Constitution which permits the President to grant such waiver.

“I am happy to report to you that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the exemption of the digital economy sector from the five per cent excise duty to be paid and this is because of the strength of the argument presented to him by the Committee that additional burden on telecom sector will increase the sufferings of Nigerians and that other sectors that are not making as much contribution to the economy should be challenged to do more and pay the 5 per cent excise duty.”

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The Minister assured Nigerians, who are telecom consumers, that the presidential exemption given to the telecom sector shall be sustained by the incoming administration as “the decision by the President is not about any political party or any administration but about Nigeria and welfare of Nigerian citizens.”

The Minister further noted that the Digital Economy Sector has continued to contribute significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy, having contributed 14.07 per cent to the GDP in the first quarter of 2020; 17.79 per cent in the second quarter of 2021; and 18.44 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.

He said the sector has also increased its quarterly revenue generation for the government from N51 billion to over N480 billion, representing a growth of 594 per cent; while the cost of buying data has also reduced from N1,200 in 2019 to N350 presently, despite the increase in the cost of operations, including the energy challenge that has caused mobile network operators to power base stations with over 32,000 power generating to provide seamless services to their teeming consumers.

 

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