Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Microsoft Partners Kenya Copyright Board To Tackle Piracy


Microsoft has signed a three year deal with the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) to conduct a joint raid and arrest organisations that are not using genuine software.

The partnership will enable them work together to activate continuous programmes and campaigns for educating the public on the risks and penalties associated with infringement of software copyrights and trademarks.

The three year deal will also see Microsoft support KECOBO to acquire the necessary skills and tools to assist in the fight against piracy and help to reduce software piracy as well as spur economic growth in Kenya. The two organizations will also invest in training of journalists, software reseller channels and government procurement managers in order to create awareness around the effects and dangers of pirated or counterfeit software.

“We want to educate Kenyans on the benefits of genuine software to businesses in terms of reliability and security as well as other associated risks for businesses and consumers when using counterfeit software,” KECOBO Executive Director Marisella Ouma said at the signing of the MoU.

Microsoft will deal with resellers that bring in the counterfeit softwares and also track individual who are using unlicensed software and put them to question.
Microsoft Kenya Country Manager, Kunle Awosika, Microsoft is losing billions to pirated software usage.

“Seventy-eight percent of Kenya is pirated, even if you reduce that to five percent, the impact of the economy will be huge, we are losing billions to this and it must now be addressed,” Awosika said.

“Millions of shillings are lost every year through pirated software in our markets. When Intellectual Property Rights are infringed, software developers and other creative authors, as well as entrepreneurs who rely on income from solutions they have created suffer immensely as they cannot earn from their work,” said Daniel Kamau, Microsoft’s Anti-piracy lead for the West, East and Central Africa Region added.

Fake Software Users Pay Dearly: IDC

A study conducted by market research company, International Data Corporation (IDC) on behalf of Microsoft this year(2013) revealed that software piracy is not only costing the software manufacturers, developers and resellers money, but that consumers and businesses are losing billions of dollars due to losses they suffer because they have used counterfeit software. In the end, it would have often cost less to just buy the real software.

Most of the victims are actually honest consumers who buy seemingly great computer deals from rogue sellers, it said.

The IDC study, called: "The Dangerous World of Counterfeit and Pirated Software", found that the chances of infection due to unexpected malware are one in three for consumers and three in 10 for businesses.

It also stated that consumers would spend an estimated 1.5 billion hours and $22 billion identifying, repairing and recovering from the impact of the malware, while it would cause global businesses to shell out approximately $144 billion in 2013.

Potential losses from data breaches could reach nearly $350 billion this year, the research company said.

Pirated software refers to software that has been knowingly and illegally duplicated and distributed, and is unlicensed.

Counterfeit software is fake software presented as the genuine article, and it often contains a nasty surprise in the form of malware that has already been embedded into it, which is why it puts so many consumers' and businesses' machines and networks at risk.

Microsoft XP Users Advised To Switch Before April 2014

Here is what will happen to Microsoft XP users who refuse to switch before April 2014:

“Security patches will no longer be released, leaving PCs running XP vulnerable to cyber-attacks and almost 14 times more likely than those running Windows 8 to become infected with malware and that to avert this it is advisable to start planning to migrate to the latest version of Windows 8.1 software.”

-The Head of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Nigeria.

Windows 8 is Microsoft’s latest operating system for modern businesses, building on Windows 7 fundamentals such as speed, reliability and security while creating a modern platform designed for new generation of hardware experiences from tablets and innovative touch devices to traditional desktops and laptops.

“Migration is taken for granted until it is experienced. It is therefore wise for customers and partners to move with the changing technology trend by migrating to the Windows 8 and Office 2013 platform within the 8-month period,” Awawu Olumide-Sojinrin, Acting Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria said.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

US Dept of Justice Fine Julius Berger $32m For Bribing Nigerian officials

German-based international engineering company, Bilfinger SE and its subsidiary, Julius Berger Nigeria, have been issued a N5.1billion ($31.9m) fine on Tuesday by the United States Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s anti-corruption provisions.

The construction company was accused of bribing government officials to obtain and retain contracts related to a joint venture with Willbros Group in a pipeline project it did for the Eastern Gas Gathering System (EGGS) in 2003. The project was valued at $387m.

According to the complaint filed in the US Court, from late 2003 through 2005, Julius Berger had conspired with Willbros Group Inc., and others to make payments totaling $6m to unnamed Nigerian government officials to obtain EGGS contracts.

Sahara reporters reported that Julius Berger and Willbros formed a joint venture and inflated its bid by three per cent to cover the cost of the bribe. Part of the conspiracy involved Julius Berger’s employees bribing Nigerian officials with cash sent from Germany.

The firm has however agreed to pay the fine issued on a three-count criminal charge filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation.

The department agreed to drop criminal proceedings against Bilfinger after three years on condition that Bilfinger further implement rigorous internal controls continue cooperating fully with the department, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

Speaking on the issue, Bilfinger Chief Executive Roland Koch said: "We are pleased that we have now been able to put these events from the distant past behind us."

Bilfinger had reduced its investment in Nigeria last year by cutting its stake in Julius Berger Nigeria PLC from 49 percent to 33percent.It has also sold 90 percent of its shares in Julius Berger International GmbH to Julius Berger Nigeria.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Oando Partners German Bank In €5m Deal

Oando Marketing plc, a subsidiary of Nigeria indigenous oil and gas company, Oando Plc has partnered with KFW, a German government-owned development bank based in Frankfurt, to invest €5 million (over N1bn) in production of cooking gas for low income earners.

The agreement which was signed by KFW’s director of the department, Africa Regional Programmes, Thomas Duve and Abayomi Awobokun, Oando marketing’s CEO in Frankfurt will enable easy and more durable access for its customers to cooking gas.

Awobokun explained that the funds invested through the agreement will be made available to selected micro finance institutions who will then lend the funds out to end users of cooking gas as well as micro, small and medium sized enterprises for their liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) investments.

Foresight MFB, Lake MFB, Channel MFB, Esusu MFB, Capstone MFB and Infinity MFB, Sunrise MFB, Acute MFB, Strong Alliance MFB and Global Initiative MFB, among others; are some of the MFBs participating in the scheme.

Awobokun said the investment deal marks a new dawn altogether for gas usage in the country, particularly for the low income earners as Oando was committed to making life more comfortable through unhindered access to affordable cooking gas.

Other benefits of switching the nation to gas according to him include provision of a cleaner and safer fuel option for lower income households, reduction of indoor air pollution that causes significant health problems, a decline in carbon emissions caused by dirty fuels and a decrease in the rate of deforestation in Nigeria.

Oando Marketing plc which recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nigeria’s National Association of Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in alignment with the sole objective of making a cleaner and safer cooking fuel more accessible to Nigerians said the MFB partnership will help to extend the company’s 3-in-1 3kg O-Gas cylinder to intending users.

UBA Partner MFBs In Nigeria To Aid Financial Inclusion

Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has partnered with Microfinance Banks in Nigeria to introduce its Prepaid Cards, UBA Africard, to the 70 percent unbanked population of the country’s 160 million population.

This is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s cashless policy which aims to encourage financial inclusion among the unbanked population.

The UBA Africard is a pre-funded and re-loadable debit Naira denominated card which can be used on visa platforms and point of sale terminals around the world.

Speaking at the UBA Prepaid Card partners’ forum for Microfinance banks in Lagos, UBA Head Prepaid Card, Esaie Diei, the bank has introduced the Prepaid Card in 19 African countries and the Card has been adopted by at least 20 percent of the populace in countries such as Burkina Faso and Cote D’Ivoire.

According to him, the Prepaid Card holds immense potential and it has witnessed phenomenal growth within the short period of its introduction into Nigeria.

UBA Prepaid Card merchant business project Manager, Itohan Iyalla, also stated  that the microfinance banks have the opportunity to make money since Nigeria has a huge market.

He urged the microfinance banks to embrace this initiative and also encourage their customers to do same. “We have to encourage customers to embrace cashless dispensation.

Local newspaper, BusinessDay reported that UBA will be launching various forums with Microfinance bank in the country to encourage financial inclusion through the introduction of its prepaid cards to financial institutions.

“Our plan is to first extend this opportunity to our majors business partners in the financial industry to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria”, he said.

The State that will benefit from the partnership include Ogun, Kogi, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Onitsha, Warri, Benin and Port-Harcourt among others.

Microfinance involved in the deal have the benefit to earn money by educating customers about the UBA prepaid Africard, and doing all the functions that come with the card such as loading card with money, card replacement, card to card transfer and pin reset.  
In a related development, the bank has expressed utmost interest in supporting the Nigerian and Africa cinema/movie industry.

Speaking on the bank’s support for Nigerian and African cinema, Charles Aigbe, Deputy Head, Marketing and Corporate Relations said: “Films remain a great platform to showcase Africa’s rich cultural heritage to the world. We have and will continue to identify with initiatives that promote and encourage the film industry”.  

Jumpstart Africa Launch Campaign To Revolutionise How The World Supports Africa

Jumpstart Africa has launched its indiegogo campaign to raise needed funds to complete the build of its revolutionary crowd funding platform, Jumpstart Africa.

Pioneering in every way, Jumpstart Africa is the first to imagine a better way in which the world can lend its support to the continent's brightest minds to help them raise money for their innovative and creative projects.  The Indiegogo campaign, which starts today, has a funding goal of $40,000USD to also provide the needed resources to find and help local African entrepreneurs in making their dreams and projects a reality. 

Bridging the gap between Africa's current banking system that fails to help innovative African entrepreneurs emerge, Jumpstart Africa will operate with complete transparency so that those who contribute via the platform will always know exactly where their money goes – to the African entrepreneurs, innovators and artists it was meant for. 

"Many avid supporters of Africa believe that aid given to Africa actually hurts Africa," said Ahmed Zikrem, CEO & founder, Jumpstart Africa.  "We propose a new way of giving directly to an entrepreneur who is going to start a business that will solve a problem, provide jobs and stimulate local economies.  We want to empower the people of Africa – not give them a fish but help them to fish on their own."

Jumpstart Africa has built strong relationships with top innovation centers, incubators, and associations throughout Africa to help people reach out and support its initiative.  Some of the exciting projects that will be on at launch include:
-Unmanned Ariel Vehicle: Moses Gichanga from Kenya has developed a low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology to help monitor and prevent poaching and the slaughter of wildlife in Africa.
-Solar Cooking Stove: Rose Twine from Uganda has developed a low-cost smokeless solar stove that can also charge your phone and light your house for the price of only two months of regular charcoal consumption.
TeaBag Water Filter: Professor Eugene Cloete and his team at Stellenbosch University in South Africa have developed an affordable water filter called a "teabag" that fits into the neck of a standard sized water bottle.

"Did you know that many of the products used on a day-to-day basis by consumers around the world were invented by Africans - the traffic light, the elevator and the pressure cooker?  Obviously, these kinds of ideas have greatly impacted people worldwide and we have noticed that Africa's talented entrepreneurs are growing in numbers and are creating innovative solutions that will propel Africa's future," Zikrem concluded. 

Press Release