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.

Africa News Highlights — April 8, 2022

DENVER — (AFRICA NEWS MATTERS)  AFRICA NEWS HIGHLIGHTS — April 8, 2022. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? April 7, 2022 — The New York Times The New York Times: A Covid Mys­tery in Africa. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/07/podcasts/the-daily/covid-cases-africa.html April 4, 2022 — FIFA FIFA.com: Third time lucky for Cameroon?. https://www.fifa.com/news/cameroon-brazil-fifa-world-cup-draw-reunion April 4, 2022 — My Broad­band South Africa’s top 10 news publications…

U.S. Allows Hunters to Import Some Elephant Trophies From African Countries

After set­tling a law­suit filed dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice grant­ed six per­mits to bring ele­phant parts into the coun­try. It may approve more in the com­ing months. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice informed some hunters last month that it would allow the import of six ele­phant tro­phies into the…

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 affairs as…

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