Darling Dear readers, I look forward to seeing you in 2022! We live in an exciting century; yes, a time marked by overwhelming technological advances. As you know, the ICT Clinic column has always sought to disentangle existing and new technologies in the context of their application in Nigeria as well as across Africa. Now in its ninth year, the ICT Clinic’s column continues its tradition of propelling the Nigerian economy, empowering startups, calling for unfavorable, draconian policies while advocating for those who are positively impacting the country and keeping up with current trends in technology.
As in previous years, I would like to begin with an interesting point. The ICT Clinic Column 2022 opens with a two-part examination of the most important contents of the past year, which have penetrated deeply into our socio-economic reality. In the order they appear, I’ll share five excerpts from 2020 publications, ranging from data security issues to sequential bans that threatened to add an air of dictatorship to our democracy and economy.
About data security and WhatsApp fiasco
We live in an insecure world where people are reluctant to share their data with platforms because they fear that their information will be sold to third parties or, worse, hacked.
But very early in 2021, WhatsApp announced its updated Terms of Service, which will force over two billion of its users to share their details, including phone numbers and geolocation, with Facebook, its parent company, or to delete their account at the end of a set deadline if they do not adhere to it. In my ICT Clinic column on Sunday January 29, 2021, I wrote that the decision to endorse or disapprove a social media platform for any reason should not be made irrationally.
CBN imposes ban on cryptocurrency trading
As soon as the words “Happy New Year” left our mouths in February, the Nigerian government cracked down on cryptocurrency trading despite the opportunities it offers the young population. If you ask why, I wrote this on the subject: “The CBN claims that the purpose of restricting cryptocurrencies is to protect Nigerians and the country’s financial system from the illegality of such currencies and the risks associated with theirs Trade related.
We live in a country where shepherds in various states are rampaging, kidnapping and other cruel activities, but the government cannot act fast enough. Instead, it decides to fight cryptocurrencies instead of launching a full-scale attack on the looters who are defaming Nigeria. ”
Since Nigerians are not unfamiliar with the unwise policies of the government, I have made several recommendations. One is that the CBN creates central databases that curate the identities and custodian addresses of crypto users for access by authorized financial intelligence services. Another option is to look for practical ways to regulate and monitor the use of cryptocurrencies as much as possible, rather than imposing a total ban.
Attack on freedom of the press and unpopular politics
When citizens think they have seen and heard everything, something even more ridiculous comes in. In my column in the ICT Clinic on Sunday February 28, 2021, I commented on the government’s drive to disinfect media practices in the country.
The bill, titled The Nigerian Press Council Amendment Bill, 2019, aimed to upgrade qualifications for journalistic practice in Nigeria to ensure that only those with degrees or diplomas in media-related courses can practice journalism.
As a journalist myself, I asked some relevant questions on the subject. “What will become of tech media companies, including popular ones, that neither have founders with a media degree nor make it a prerequisite for recruitment? Does your failure to graduate ruin countless hours of research and work that you have put into bringing the remarkable achievements of African startups to the world? “
Rather than directly criminalizing non-graduate journalists from media-related degrees as a panacea for spreading fake news and misinformation, I have explored possible proposals the government might want to consider.
A law for national innovation institutions? Completely unnecessary!
In my column on the ICT Clinic on Sunday, March 28th, 2021, I questioned the appropriateness of the government’s proposal not to introduce a startup act, my friends, but a completely irrelevant bill to set up a national innovation agency when an active innovation ecosystem consisting of entrepreneurs, startups, researchers, investors and other relevant stakeholders already exists.
In my words, “We live in a country that already has a bloated civil service, where efficiency and effectiveness are not properly driven by technology, but the government is busy building more civil service structures, especially with this new proposed facility . ”
Even from a distance, smart citizens could see that the proposed agency had no new role to play. In the best case scenario, it would be a replica of several existing agencies and in the worst case scenario it would be a trick for embezzling funds. After carefully examining the bill in its entirety, I made a number of recommendations. You can reread the March 28 article to learn what these are.
Twitter ban: an outrage for the masses
In a negative but historic move, the federal government of Nigeria decided to shut down one of the most widely used social media platforms in the country.
In the June 13 article in the ICT Clinic column, I wrote that the government’s Twitter ban is a dangerous slide into dictatorship that is returning Nigeria to a reign of terror during past military regimes.
My comments go like this: “Our government claims to be democratic, but this practice shows that nothing could be further from the truth. What the Nigerian government may find annoying is the discipline Twitter administers under the direction of its Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey as the country’s president. ”
Although the Nigerian government is supposedly democratic, outrage from citizens and civil society organizations shows that restricting citizens’ freedom to use Twitter is a dangerous descent into dictatorship.
I ended the article with an appeal to the government to lift the suspension of Twitter and find less threatening ways to combat hate speech, misinformation and disinformation without sacrificing our constitutional rights.
There is no doubt that the year that has just ended has been an interesting one. Looking back from the last few days to the last hour in 2021, the anticipation in the air was undeniable. Some couldn’t wait to return to their new jobs. Others spent their time thinking of innovative ways to reinvent themselves and make more impact. Still, we cannot ignore those who believe that 2022 will be a year like others before and shouldn’t be weighed down with so many expectations.
Whatever you want to believe, make sure that only you can determine what the new year means to you. I see 2022 as an opportunity to do something amazing in a different way. Pay attention to the final part of this series. Happy New Year!
CFA is co-founder of techbuild.africa & blockbuild.africa, platforms for deepening the African tech ecosystem & godohub.org, a social enterprise that supports innovation in Africa.
Didi Global’s losses continue amid the Chinese crackdown
Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Global’s losses continued after Beijing ordered online stores not to offer the company’s app.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the company posted an operating loss of $ 6.3 billion for the first nine months of the year as revenue in China fell five percent in the third quarter. The company’s dispute with China began a few days after its stock market debut in New York in late June.
In December, the company announced that it would move its stock listing from the US to Hong Kong. In the past few months, Didi has become one of the most prominent targets in Beijing’s crackdown on the country’s tech industry.
Restrictions on the company by authorities in China have hit US stock prices hard. The company’s value on the New York Stock Exchange has fallen 65 percent since it debuted less than six months ago.
In its most recent report to investors, the company announced that its board of directors authorized it to seek listing of its shares on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Didi said, “The company is executing the above plans and will update investors in due course.” That announcement came on the same day that the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had established rules that mean that US-listed foreign companies can be delisted if their auditors respond to requests for information from regulators not comply.
Since Didi has been subjected to intensive scrutiny by the Chinese supervisory authorities, Didi now faces stiff competition in its home market from the ride-hailing services introduced by the car manufacturers Geely and SAIC Motor.
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