Category archives for: Technology

East Africa: ITU Leads the World in Marking International Girls in ICT Day

International Girls in ICT Day was celebrated today around the globe at hundreds of events showcasing the technological skills of girls and young women. The day highlights the value of women in the field of information and communications technology (ICT), and seeks to encourage more girls to plan for a career in this expanding field.

According to the International Telecommunication Union Website, this year’s event was a virtual international meetup of girls in Geneva, Vilnius and Beirut through a shared game application and video link. This enabled them to explore ICT together in an interactive format in real-time.

In Geneva, the girls demonstrated new digital skills they learned in activities leading up to Girls in ICT Day and had the opportunity to meet women mentors from the tech sector. In Vilnius, the girls enjoyed a robotics workshop, practical demonstrations of virtual and augmented reality, and witnessed a presentation of winning projects from Lithuania’s biggest annual robotics and technology competition, ROBOTIADA.

“The important value that young women bring to ICTs was showcased today at hundreds of hands-on Girls in ICT Day events organized around the globe,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU hopes that Girls in ICT Day will continue to introduce more girls to ICTs and to the real opportunities that exist for them in this innovative and expanding field.”

Other key events also took place around the world:

In Bangkok, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and ITU launched a capacity building program aimed at imparting employable digital skills to more than 100 female university students in 2017, with support from CISCO Systems (Thailand), Microsoft (Thailand), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In Brazil, two Girls in ICT Day events were organized by ITU and ANATEL, and attended by a combined 160 young women, encouraging them to pursue university studies in ICT.

In the Caribbean, more than 90 young female coders took part in a regional hackathon event supported by Cotton Tree Consulting and Change Makers Development Ltd. Throughout the day, young women also engaged in hands-on activities, guided by a tech mentor,that used ICT to create, innovate and generate solutions to various challenges. The activities included mobile app-building, animation, robotics, digital video production and digital artworks, and web development.

In Egypt, ITU together with the German Society for International Cooperation, the International Development Research Centre and the Aga Khan & Continuous Education Center organized an event in Aswan in which girls participated in an ICT training camp, a contest, mentoring sessions and a career fair. The event was designed to provide young women in Aswan with practical insight into the ICT sector and ICT skills that can increase their employability. Eight more similar events are planned between now and 2019, with the goal of reaching a total of 450 girls.

In Ethiopia, ITU, UN Women, UNDP, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the Africa Union Commission organized a Girls in ICT Day conference, sponsored by Huawei, Ethiopia PLC, which brought together girls from several African countries to explore and share together their ICT experiences.

In Tanzania, the entire month of March 2017 was used to conduct trainings for girls attending public school in six different zones in Tanzania. As part of the training, teams of girls developed the concept for an innovative mobile application and then competed against other teams at the local, regional and national levels. The national winners then represent their peers at the ITU Girls in ICT Day conference held in Ethiopia.

In Russia, a regional seminar on women and girls in ICT was held. Participants from across the Commonwealth of Independent States region identified plans to ensure year-long action to increase the number of women and girls in ICT.

Since its inception in 2014, over 240,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 7,200 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 160 countries worldwide.

The annual event is supported by a growing number of governments, community organizations, schools and the business community. In addition to the supporters noted above, Alfa Telecom, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, and Kaunas University of Technology supported Girls in ICT Day 2017.

East Africa: Marking the World IP Day – Microsoft 4afrika Hands Its IP Hub Over to Comesa

By Lilian Mutegi

Microsoft 4Afrika has transferred full ownership and management of its IP Hub to the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), expanding its reach to more African countries in an effort to enable more cross-border trade.

This is according to a statement posted on the COMESA Website dated 26th April 2017 which coincides with World IP Day.

The IP Hub, which Microsoft 4Afrika developed and launched in 2014, is an online learning resource designed to drive awareness around intellectual property (IP) rights. Through a series of modules, it educates innovators on the ins and outs of copyright, trademarks, patents and general IP protection.

“The COMESA IP Hub is a concerted effort between the public and private sector for the development of a regional platform that can contribute to a strengthened national IP protection system, in a manner that promotes innovation, business development and trade,” says Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA Secretary General in the statement.

He also added, “the value of IP and IP protection has not yet been fully utilised within the region. This day marks a shift in our direction as the COMESA region, towards the realisation of the need to protect IP, with copyright protection being the initial step.”

Louis Otieno, Corporate Affairs Director at Microsoft 4Afrika, adds: “We developed the IP Hub with the promise to pilot it and then hand it over to local governments and authorities. This is therefore an exciting milestone for us, especially as we commemorate the 17th annual World IP Day.”

This year’s World IP Day, focused on how IP systems can support innovation that improves lives. According to the new 2017 U.S. Chamber International IP Index, economies with robust IP protection see 80% more knowledge-based, technological and creative outputs, and are 68% more likely to have supportive business climates.

In addition to handing over the IP Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika will continue to collaborate with IP authorities in COMESA member states to automate their IP registration processes.

Microsoft and COMESA are also working together to enable the creation of new IP. By promoting a trusted cloud infrastructure – underpinned by relevant policies around cybersecurity and data privacy – the two organisations hope to encourage more people to use cloud technology, develop their own IP and ultimately participate in trade and e-commerce across borders.

The COMESA IP Hub is now live and accessible at http://iphub.comesa.int/.

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Nigeria: Bankers Committee Establishes E-Fraud Database to Blacklist Fraudsters

By Babajide Komolafe

The Bankers Committee, yesterday, said it will establish a database of suspected electronic fraud in the banking industry with the aim of blacklisting suspected fraudsters.

The committee comprise the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC and chief executives of banks.

Addressing a press conference at the end of the committee’s meeting in Lagos, yesterday, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said: “Part of the deliberation was that there is need to create a central depositary which is a database of suspected fraud through the system.”

The press conference was also addressed by Managing Director/Chief Executive, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Charles Kie; Managing Director/Chief Executive, Rand Merchant Bank, Mr. Michael Larbie, and Director, Banking Supervision Department, CBN, Mr Ahmed Abdullahi.

Continuing, Wigwe explained that: “Once that data base is set up and there is suspected case going through the system we can have ways of ensuring there is strong deterrent for people who are known as fraudsters within the system.

On his part, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Charles Kie, said the committee was committed to supporting the economy and help the country get out of recession.

He said: “Overall, what the Bankers Committee also reemphasized was the need for all the banks to continue supporting the economy and ensure that they can effectively help the country get out the recession.”

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Link: Nigeria: ‘E-Commerce Has Potential to Break Stock Market Boundaries’

Angola: Minister Highlights Usefulness of Information Technologies

Luanda — The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha, said Thursday in Luanda that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) represent a useful tool in the development of the daily activities of women, especially in the field of business.

According to the minister, who was speaking at the 5th forum on girls and ICT, many women are nowadays developing their business as the aid of new technologies, which shows their interest in this market.

José Carvalho da Rocha said that nowadays in many parts of the world there are women who create their companies with these tools and do not even need to leave their homes.

Today, with the advancement of new technologies, the minister continued, women have already realized that new information technologies are part of their lives and of their companies and that it is increasingly difficult to live without them.

For this reason, José Carvalho da Rocha explained that the United Nations guides the member countries to encourage women to use more and more information and communication technologies.

The forum aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies.

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Tanzania: Digital Technology to Sensitize Good Governance

Dar es Salaam — Tanzania on Thursday launched a four-year project aiming at sensitising good governance and accountability in Tanzania through digitization.

The project titled “Enabling Improved Governance and Accountability in Tanzania through Digital Technology” seeks to empower communities, through digital tools, to participate in addressing issues that were most relevant to development in their communities.

The project is funded by Belgium government.

Speaking to reporters during the launch of the project, Oxfam Tanzania Country Director, Mr Francis Odokorach, said that innovative use of digital technology will be employed to link community driven engagement to the broader national policy development and implementation.

“Oxfam believes that digital, information and communications technology are an enabler of solutions to development and human rights challenges if implemented in the right conditions,” he noted.

The project is expected to be implemented in four regions namely Kigoma, Shinyanga, Arusha and Mtwara.

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Zambia: School Girls Warned Against Cyber Crime

By Passy Haachizo

THE Zambia Information Communication and Technology Authority (ZICTA) has warned girls in schools against an upswing of abuse through cyber crimes.

ZICTA corporate and communications manager Ngabo Nankonde said in an interview at Kapiri-Mposhi National Technical Secondary School in Kapiri-Mposhi District on the sidelines of the commemoration of Girls in ICT day yesterday that it is sad that most young girls were being abused through the use of social media.

Ms Nankonde noted that the abuse of girls through social media such as facebook and Whatsapp had the potential to distract the girls focus in both academic and social life.

She cited the exchange of seductive messages and pictures as one way through which young girls were lured into illicit activities.

“Today we are commemorating the 2017 Girls in ICT Day, a UN resolution which was initiated in 2010 but implemented in Zambia in 2012 and is held on the last Thursday of every April.

“So it is very cardinal for girls to have information on cyber security and be aware of ICT in general which may help them stay away from being abused emotionally,” Ms Nankonde said.

Ms Nankonde however, said ZICTA had taken advantage of the introduction of ICT in schools to raise awareness on the good usage of technology to enhance skills.

She said ZICTA had also formed over 100 ICT clubs across the Country where learners were acquired skills on the best ways of using ICT to benefit their lives.

Ms Nankonde said it was imperative that social media was used as a tool for transforming lives through genuine business transactions.

She also encouraged girls on social media to ensure that they safeguarded their passwords, saying the move is the only way to protect their personal information from cyber criminals.

ZICTA is also working with ASIKANA organization that deals with girls in ICT sensitization among other organizations to ensure that a lot of sensitization was made among girls.

“If you look at that day when the UN resolution was made in Mexico, Zambia was among the participants and we were only 20 girls but today we have so many girls that have taken the path of ICT,” she said.

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Zimbabwe: E-Payments Must Be Universal, Simple

editorial

The shortage of banknotes, including bond notes, in the Zimbabwean banking system, has generated a huge surge in use of the electronic transfer systems, but to give Zimbabweans the practical choice of a totally cashless economy several more steps are required.

In urban areas PoS machines are now almost universal. At the beginning of last year most small businesses and shops declined offers from their bankers to acquire such machines. As shortages of banknotes emerged there was a sudden and huge surge in demand, which meant the banking sector had to arrange large imports, as “swipe shy” businesses suddenly realised that their choices were using such machines or watching their customers migrate to those who did accept debit cards.

But to use these machines a customer needs to have a bank account. Some banks have been rounding up the unbanked with simple no-frills basic accounts, but there are still rules in place that leave some outside the fold.

And there are still retailers who have yet to accept these machines or to have risen to the top of the queue at their bank to have one delivered. However, one huge advantage of PoS machines is that all banks and building societies are on the ZimSwitch network so every card works, at least in theory, on every machine.

But there are other platforms. The RTGS platform, a bit old-fashioned now with its manual inputting at banks, functions well although charges are still unacceptably high for small transactions and at least produces a hard copy duplicate as proof of the transaction and so is popular for larger corporate payments, but still disliked for small personal transactions.

The pressure for cheap and simple platforms has seen dramatic growth and far greater reliance on the Zipit platform, which is run by banking apps on smartphones. But while almost all Zimbabwean-owned banks and the two smaller mobile banking services are on this platform, the foreign-owned banks, with the exception of the Old Mutual stable and the dominant mobile banker, EcoCash, are still absent.

And even in urban areas very small traders, such as kombi drivers and pavement vendors, still want banknotes although mobile services can be used at times.

Electronic banking in rural areas is still largely in its infancy. There is some mobile banking, but few retailers have PoS machines and need some education on how they would function with both customers and their wholesaler suppliers.

One complaint is that mobile phone coverage, while near universal in theory, suffers from power outages and the like in rural areas, implying that the infrastructure needs to be strengthened further.

The large harvests now being reaped and the start of the payment of civil service bonuses are going to put even more pressure on banknote provision unless there is a major campaign to encourage all to use the various mobile and electronic banking services.

This must be coupled with the authorities, probably the RBZ, getting banks and near banks to fill in the few steps still missing. All three mobile banking systems, for example, must be connectable to all bank accounts. All have a relationship with some banks, but need this with all banks so that the banked customers can move money easily between account and mobile wallet and back again.

The Zipit system needs to be more universal, with any doubts by any bank speedily addressed. Those outside the system might have legitimate queries, just as some had with ZimSwitch until modest changes were made.

Zimbabwe is almost at the stage where it is possible for anyone to live normally without banknotes, but we still need the gaps filled so that it becomes a practical choice, not a theoretical possibility that may well require moving money between two bank accounts and two mobile services.

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Africa: Microsoft 4Afrika Hands Its Intellectual Property Hub Over to Comesa

Photo: Elekes Andor/Wikipedia

Microsoft European HQ in Paris (file photo).

Microsoft 4Afrika has transferred full ownership and management of its IP Hub to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), expanding its reach to more African countries in an effort to enable more cross-border trade.

The IP Hub, which Microsoft 4Afrika developed and launched in 2014, is an online learning resource designed to drive awareness around intellectual property (IP) rights.

Through a series of modules, it educates innovators on the ins and outs of copyright, trademarks, patents and general IP protection.

The COMESA IP Hub is now live and accessible at http://iphub.comesa.int/.

“The COMESA IP Hub is a concerted effort between the public and private sector for the development of a regional platform that can contribute to a strengthened national IP protection system, in a manner that promotes innovation, business development and trade,” Sindiso Ngwenya, the COMESA secretary-general, said in a statement.

“The value of IP and IP protection has not yet been fully utilised within the region. This day marks a shift in our direction as the COMESA region, towards the realisation of the need to protect IP, with copyright protection being the initial step.”

Louis Otieno, corporate affairs director at Microsoft 4Afrika, said: “We developed the IP Hub with the promise to pilot it and then hand it over to local governments and authorities. This is therefore an exciting milestone for us, especially as we commemorate the 17th annual World IP Day.”

This year’s World IP Day, marked on Tuesday, focused on how IP systems can support innovation that improves lives.

According to the new 2017 US Chamber International IP Index, economies with robust IP protection see 80 per cent more knowledge-based, technological and creative outputs, and are 68 per cent more likely to have supportive business climates.

In addition to handing over the IP Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika continues to collaborate with IP authorities in COMESA member states to automate their IP registration processes.

Microsoft and COMESA are also working together to enable the creation of new IP.

By promoting a trusted cloud infrastructure – underpinned by relevant policies around cybersecurity and data privacy – the two organisations hope to encourage more people to use cloud technology, develop their own IP and ultimately participate in trade and e-commerce across borders.

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