Why Nigeria and other African countries are blocking cellphones | Fin24 – News24

This week, Nigeria blocked millions of its citizens – who haven’t linked their lines to their ID numbers – from making phone calls.Other government also want citizens to register their phones.But there’s a distrust by residents to hand over their details to the government.This Monday, millions of Nigerians woke up to find that they
had been barred from making phone calls. The number of disconnected lines is
reported to be as many as 75 million, more than a third of the total 198
million lines nationwide.But the move has been a long time coming.In December 2020, Abuja issued a directive for all SIM card
carriers to link their lines to a unique National Identity Number, citing a
need to tackle the plaguing insecurity in the country.That deadline was postponed numerous times but last week’s
attack on a train by armed groups was a wake-up call. When reports started
surfacing online that the attackers had started calling families of abducted
passengers for ransom, the government swung into action, fulfilling its almost two-year-old
promise to cut off non-compliant citizens.On social networks, many – especially southerners – are
debating the connection between SIM card linkage with the national identity
number and the actions of these groups, known locally as bandits, whose axes of
focus are swaths of the northwest and central Nigeria.In 2015, the Nigerian government fined MTN,
one of the continent’s biggest telecom players, US$5.2bn for defaulting in
cutting off unverified customers.The National Communications Commission (NCC) had previously
instructed the telecom giant to deactivate between 10 and 18.6 million
lines. But government swung into action after the high-profile kidnap of a
former Nigerian finance minister; police say the kidnappers used MTN lines to
contact his family members.ALSO READ | MTN must verify users in Nigeria by
year end or face blocked SIM cardsAcross the continent, there is a lengthening line of
governments embarking on a mass disconnection drive citing, among other things,
domestic security. In March, Zambia announced it had deactivated two million
SIMs cards to stem the volume of fraud carried out using mobile lines.Kenyan media have also reported an April 15 deadline by
authorities in the East African country for the deactivation of unregistered
SIM cards – the third such deadline in the past 10 years. In 2013, it switched
off more than two million SIM cards after an attck by the armed group
al-Shabab.Last year, Tanzania said it had blocked 18,000 SIM cards
involved in criminal activities. In a bid to also curtail mobile scams, Ghana
issued a directive for every SIM card carrier to re-register their SIMs with
the Ghana Card, the national residency card, or lose them.In faraway Hong Kong, a proposal from last year to
impose new restrictions on phone line registrations was approved this March.What are the issues?With Africa having a 44% mobile penetration rate, SIM cards
are one of the most ubiquitous technologies around.At least 50 of Africa’s 54 countries have mandatory SIM
registration laws in place, but most have barely been enforced – until now.
Registration usually involves the submission of personal data and the capture
of citizen biometrics.The rationale is that this registration will help create a
vast database to help track criminal activity. Officials say SIMs, accessible
even on the streets for sometimes as low as US$1 (~R14), are frequently bought
and discarded by suspected criminals, without any – or not enough – details of
their personal identity to trace and monitor them.”Since 9/11, in many countries, if you want to get a
SIM card, you have to show some [form of] identification,” Rebecca
Enonchong, Cameroonian tech entrepreneur and founder of AppsTech told Al
Jazeera. “It is rather normal that the government should require those who
are using cell services [to] register with the operators and the
telecommunication companies should know who is connected to their
services.”YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE| OPINION | Yes, the regulator wants
mobile operators like Vodacom and MTN to store your biometricsOn the surface, this sounds like a quick and cheap solution
for many governments in a continent where most countries have no unified
operational national database.But multiple SIM ownership is prevalent across Africa for
many reasons including varying data prices, connectivity speeds and signal
strength. In 2018, four African countries were among the top 10 globally, with
dual or multi-SIM mobile phones. Kenya even once had plans to institute an
ownership cap of 10 SIM cards per person. Telecom operators also often tailor
registration processes in order to sell more prepaid SIM cards.Experts say the outcome is that the data gleaned from SIM
registrations are not as accurate or neat as they ought to be.”The ID systems [in Africa] are not really backed by
technology, there are no linkages, so there is no verification process,”
Enonchong said. “If the telecommunication companies themselves don’t
enforce that, it is really very hard for the government to make use of the
data.”How did we get here?At the root of it all is a mass unwillingness to register
SIM cards due to a seeming lack of distrust by residents to hand over their
details to the government.Unsurprisingly, there are concerns about data privacy and
the inestimable capacity of government to use data collected for one purpose
for another, given the historical intolerance for dissent in some of these
countries.There is also a legal void around government handling of
data.A 2021 report by Collaboration on International ICT Policy
for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), claimed that only half of African
countries have adopted laws to protect personal data.Repeated registration exercises have also weakened the will
of the people, experts say.Over the years, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and
its economic powerhouse, has instituted multiple mandatory identity
registration schemes, including Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National
Identity Number (NIN), alongside more widespread IDs like voters’ cards,
international passports and others.Yet, the government is insisting that the way forward is for
every SIM card to be linked with an NIN, a policy that many Nigerians say will
be just as cumbersome and bureaucratic as its predecessors – and possibly end
up achieving nothing too.”This is a trend of policy laziness,” Gbenga
Sesan, head of Lagos-based digital rights advocacy nonprofit Paradigm Initiative,
told Al Jazeera. “The problem does not lie with the lack of a central
database; it is about impunity. If I know that if I commit a crime and I know I
would be punished for it, then I will likely think about it twice.”In Kenya, citizens are also complaining about the redundancy
of multiple registrations. The new registration warrants the submission of the
phone number, copy of passport or visa and biodata page, exit stamps and
scanned ID – items they claim to have submitted during the last exercise in 2018.The bigger fear, however, is of government surveillance
under the guise of national security, leading to a widespread reluctance to
willingly submit personal data which can be used to monitor their everyday
activities.”The issue of data privacy transcends Africa,” Ken
Ashigbey, the CEO of Ghana Telecommunications Chamber, noted. “The concern
about Big Brother sitting somewhere and using your data to spy on you is always
going to be there, [and] when you bring it into the examples of Africa where
our governments all seem to have total power, definitely there are risks,”
he said.The risks also extend to small and medium-scale enterprises
(SMEs) in a digital era where SIMs and the world of possibilities on the
internet are helping empower many in the absence of social welfare schemes.Already, SMEs account for 84% of employment and make up 96%
of businesses in Nigeria. Shutting millions of people out of seamless
communication could adversely affect the economy, Sesan warned.”What we are going to lose is roughly one-third or
about 35% of connected lines that we have [and] there will be major economic
consequences [but] there will be no gain in terms of security,” he said. Go to the Fin24 front page.Go to the Fin24 front page.

African refugees see racial bias as US welcomes Ukrainians – WXYZ

(AP) — African refugees say the recent decision to grant refugee status and other humanitarian protections to Ukrainians fleeing war underscores the racial bias inherent in American immigration policy. Wilfred Tebah says he and other immigrants from Cameroon have long been deserving of similar humanitarian considerations. They also argue that Congo and Ethiopia should qualify because of their ongoing conflicts, as should Mauritania. The Department of Homeland Security said it continues “monitoring conditions in various countries.” President Joe Biden recently announced the U.S. would take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and grant Temporary Protected Status to another 30,000 already in the country.

African countries respond to global inflation [Business Africa] | Africanews

In Africa, governments are stepping up their efforts to mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis on their citizens’ wallets. According to UNCTAD data, no less than 25 African countries import more than a third of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine; 15 import more than half and two countries, Benin and Somalia, import 100%. So how is Africa trying to limit the impacts of this crisis?
Ghana presents robust digital economyGhana has recently embarked on the transformation of several public services. An identity card serves as a biometric passport and tax identification number. In this way, the country intends to mobilise domestic revenue and prosecute all those who evade taxes before the end of the year. This digital policy, which affects all sectors, should be a response to financial exclusion and the predominance of the informal sector.
Burundi coffee sector struggles to reboundIn Burundi, coffee accounts for nearly 40% of export resources, and supports 8 million Burundians. With the failure of the privatisation of the sector, the state has been running the sector since 2019, but production figures remain low, dropping from 34,000 to 6,000 tonnes for the 2021-2022 growing season. Coffee growers’ discontent is growing, as well as the lack of traceability of all actors involved in the sector.

Africa's five teams going to the Qatar World Cup confirmed – Futbol on FanNation – Sports Illustrated

The five African nations heading to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were confirmed on Tuesday night. Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana and Senegal will represent CAF in the first ever November/December World Cup. All five qualifiers booked their places at Qatar 2022 by winning two-legged playoffs. Those playoffs turned out to be largely close…

Can African oil producers help the world end reliance on Russian Oil and Gas?

Unlocking Africa’s oil and gas potential is now imperative against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the resulting crude, diesel, and gas supply crunch. This has rendered European dependence on Russian energy untenable, creating a major opportunity for Africa to position itself as a crucial option to increase the supply to the global energy markets. However, significant challenges remain for the continent’s hydrocarbon producers to suddenly ramp up their production due to infrastructure, finance, and technology deficits.
Countries with major LNG resources, such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, and Algeria, suffer from limited and underdeveloped pipeline networks, refineries, jetties, terminals, and ports. Additionally, incentivizing foreign investment is often problematized by a host of risk factors, including political instability, local insecurity issues and financial institutions shifting investments from fossil fuels to renewables. Finally, securing the latest technology to facilitate local content development has proven cost prohibitive given the reliance on foreign intellectual property and the continual brain drain of key local human capital.
All the above issues will be discussed at the 8th Africa Petroleum Congress and All the above issues will be discussed at the 8th Africa Petroleum Congress and Exhibition (CAPE VIII) taking place from 16-19 May 2022 in Luanda, Angola. The congress is organized by the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), the government of the Republic of Angola (for the first time), and AME Trade Ltd. The three-day event will be centered around the theme of “Energy Transition: Challenges and Opportunities in the African Oil and Gas Industry,” and assemble experts from the national, regional, and international energy and oil and gas industries to deliberate the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition and the future of the oil and gas industry in Africa.
CAPE VIII will unfold against the recession of the global pandemic that exacerbated record production declines across African hydrocarbon producing countries from 2020 to 2021. The annus horribilis was compounded by under-investment in exploration activities, leaving several of the continent’s biggest energy players struggling to cope with the post-lockdown surge in demand for hydrocarbons. Fortunately, APPO’s ambition to establish the continent as an energy hub regained significant headwind with a stellar upstream development outlook for 2022 and beyond.
The congress will be the ideal platform for Africa’s leading oil and gas producers to confront the foregoing challenges and engender solutions to maximize its oil and gas resources. Amid the drive by developed economies towards decarbonization and net-zero policies, attending energy stakeholders will have the opportunity to reinforce the case for regional integrated supply chains and pooling resources to leverage the catalytic power of hydrocarbons in a sustainable manner.
Supported by countless multinationals across the energy value chain and national oil companies, CAPE VIII will feature illuminating insight from a range of illustrious keynote speakers, who will mold the future landscape of energy in Africa and beyond.Source: AME Trade Ltd

Africa mostly quiet amid widespread condemnation of Russia – The Columbian

KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently remarked that Russia’s war on Ukraine should be seen in the context of Moscow being the “center of gravity” for Eastern Europe.
His son, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, was more forceful, declaring that most Africans “support Russia’s stand in Ukraine” and “Putin is absolutely right!”
Amid a worldwide chorus of condemnation, much of Africa has either pushed back or remained noticeably quiet. Twenty-five of Africa’s 54 nations abstained or didn’t record a vote in the U.N. General Assembly resolution earlier this month condemning Russia.
The reason? Many nations on the continent of 1.3 billion people have long-standing ties and support from Moscow, dating back to the Cold War when the Soviet Union supported anti-colonial struggles.
Those relations have tightened in recent years: As U.S. interest in Africa appeared to wane under President Donald Trump’s administration, Russia — along with China — expanded its influence, enlarging its economic footprint to include everything from agricultural programs to energy plants. In 2019, dignitaries from 43 African nations attended a summit with Russia, which also has become the dominant exporter of weapons into sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Google internet cable lands in Africa, promising fast connection | Reuters

DAKAR, March 18 (Reuters) – A subsea cable owned by Google (GOOGL.O) that promises to double internet speeds for millions in Africa arrived in Togo on Friday, the company said, the latest step in a multi-year project to provide cheaper access to users across the continent.The Equiano cable, the first of its kind to reach Africa, has wound its way from Portugal and will double internet speed for Togo’s 8 million residents, Google said in a statement.That may be a taste of things to come for other countries set to benefit in a region where internet use is rising fast but where networks are often cripplingly slow and are a drag on economic development.Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterThe new line will also make land in Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa, with possible branches offering connections to nearby countries. It is expected to start operating by the end of the year.Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s least-connected region, with around a quarter of the population still lacking mobile broadband coverage compared to 7% globally, according to a 2020 report by GSMA Intelligence.Most countries in West Africa are at the bottom of a World Bank global ranking on internet penetration. read more Togo will be the first to benefit. The cable is expected to reduce internet prices by 14% by 2025, according to an Africa Practice and Genesis Analytics assessment commissioned by Google.Google said the cable will indirectly create 37,000 jobs in Togo by 2025 and boost GDP by $193 million.Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterReporting by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Edward McAllisterOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

African Billionaire To Launch Bid For Chelsea – Soccer Laduma

An African billionaire is reportedly close to launching a bid for Chelsea after outgoing owner Roman Abramovich recently announced the club was for sale.
Report: Tuchel Makes Final Decision On Chelsea Future
According to the Daily Mail, Ghanaian businessman Bernard Antwi Boasiako has confirmed he is eager to buy the London giants amid the ongoing crisis at Stamford Bridge. 
Last week, the UK government imposed major sanctions on Russian-Israeli oligarch Abramovich, who has been Chelsea’s owner since 2003. 
His relationship, however, with Russian president Vladimir Putin has landed him and other mega-rich Russian businessmen in hot water in England, with the billionaire currently thought to be in the process of selling the club. 
Below are the 10 highest-paid at Chelsea: 

Rumours recently emerged that Boasiako, who made his billions being a goldmine owner, was exploring an offer for the Premier League giants due to his fond feelings towards the Blues. 
A spokesperson for the wealthy business has since appeared to confirm his interest: “Bernard Antwi Boasiako is exploring a potential offer for Chelsea. Discussions with various parties involved in the sale have taken place.
“Chelsea has a lasting legacy in Africa, players like Didier Drogba and Michael Essien are legends of the club; the opportunity to enhance the club’s reputation in Africa is a very tempting prospect.
“Restoring stability and ensuring there are no job losses are among the priorities.”
Below is where Abramovich currently ranks among the wealthiest Premier League club owners: 

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CERAWEEK 'Energy transition? Leave us out,' say African energy leaders | Reuters

A vertical gas flaring furnace is seen in Ughelli, Delta State, Nigeria September 16, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/FilesRegister now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterHOUSTON, March 9 (Reuters) – Developing countries should not have to target renewable energy sources and turn away from fossil fuels, Nigerian and Equatorial Guinea energy officials said on Wednesday, joining other emerging oil-producing nations reluctant to embrace the global energy transition trend.Emerging economies must contend with higher fuel costs at a time when millions lack access to reliable energy sources while also dealing with extreme climate events.Some 900 million people in the world, most of them in Africa, still have no access to energy for basic needs, Nigeria’s oil Minister Timipre Marlin Sylva said during the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegister”We are still in transition from firewood to gas,” Sylva said. “Please allow us to continue with our own transition.”Equatorial Guinea Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Gabriel Obiang Lima echoed those concerns, saying pressure over renewables is “very unjust”, with a discussion on how to transition only possible after the energy security crisis is over.The 38 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), some of the richest countries worldwide, along with Russia, China and India, account for more than two-thirds of the world’s oil demand. The rest, which includes Africa, most of Asia and Latin America, accounts for just 31%, according to OPEC data.”Every emerging economy has to have the right to access reliable, safe energy,” said Tengku Muhammad Taufik, president and CEO of Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas.Other countries with oil discoveries still in development, including Ghana, Guyana and Suriname, also have said they cannot be expected to give up the chance to benefit from oil and gas that helped build more developed economies.”They want all of us, including those of us without food, to carry the burden of transition,” Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) general manager Bala Wunti said.Nigeria now faces a double blow from high prices of gas for cooking that it imports and lack of investment in its oil industry, Sylva said, as banks and funds have been pushing to restrict investment in oil globally to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.Nigeria has had to cut oil production from 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 1.5 million bpd due to lack of financing to maintain its facilities, Sylva said.That lost production could have helped contribute to global supply as the world now seeks alternatives to Russian oil after buyers halted purchases over its invasion of Ukraine, he said. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.Investors backing renewable fuels have cut financing for oil projects, reducing production of oil, gas and coal faster than renewable sources of energy could replace them, pushing prices up, he said.”It was expected we were going to arrive at this point where we have an energy crisis,” Sylva said. “There is a gap.”Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.comRegisterReporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David GregorioOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.