Friday, 17 May 2019
Friday, 17 May 2019 13:06

Court jails Facebook hackers 3 years

Justice A.A. Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State has convicted and sentenced two Facebook hackers, Odion Destiny Osas and Eroh Emmanuel Benadine to three years imprisonment each for internet fraud.

Their journey to prison started when one Ncheta Omerekpe petitioned the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on their illicit online activities.

According to Ncheta, the convicts had in June 2018, hacked into his Facebook account, impersonated him and sent several distress messages to his friends and associates asking them for money, which some of his friends actually sent to the convicts.

When they were first arraigned on February 8, 2019, they pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence, preferred against them by the EFCC.

The prosecution, through its counsel, J.O. Abolarin opened trial and presented a witness, Mustapha Suleman, an EFCC detective, who tendered several documents including a signed printout of their First Bank statements of account and the written statements of the nominal complainant among others, which were admitted in evidence.

At the resumed sitting the convicts opted to change their pleas, which the court granted. They both pleaded “guilty” to the three counts.

Justice Okeke, thereafter, convicted the hackers and sentenced them to one year imprisonment on each count without the option of a fine, and ordered that the punishments run concurrently.


Published in Telecoms

Chinese firms are eyeing partnerships with Turkish construction firms in Africa and are also looking to take stakes in Turkish companies, the head of the Turkish Contractors Association said.

Mithat Yenigun said he had discussed possible acquisitions by Chinese companies with a Chinese business representative, without giving details of which firms could be involved.

“They asked if we could sell stakes or cooperate,” he told Reuters. “They want to partner up with us, they are very willing to work with us. They also have unlimited money. That is what we lack.”

Turkish firms, which thrived in a domestic economy fueled for years by cheap credit and a construction boom, are now faced with economic recession at home. Those that took out foreign currency loans have found their debts soaring as the Turkish lira slumped last year.

Turkish contractors are second only to Chinese companies in terms of international contracts, according to the Engineering News Record (ENR) which carries out annual surveys of the world’s top contractor companies.

Yenigun said Chinese firms had a 10-15 year headstart in Africa. They now see Turkish firms as potential rivals, he said, but are also looking for opportunities to work together. He gave no specific examples of companies or projects but said that Chinese contractors want to work in projects in sub-Saharan countries with Turkish companies.

Turkish contractors had proved themselves in the region, Yenigun said, with large infrastructure projects which provide jobs by employing local workers during construction.


At their peak, Turkish companies won around $30 billion worth of international contracts a year in 2012 and 2013, according to the contractors association. Business declined as conflict in Libya and Iraq cut back infrastructure projects there, and strained ties with Moscow affected business with Russia.

Last year Turkish contractors registered $19.4 billion of work abroad, with Russia accounting 25% of those projects and Saudi Arabia another 19%. Since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year, relations between Ankara and Riyadh have deteriorated.

Approval processes for construction tenders won in Saudi Arabia now take longer than they used to, Yenigun said.

“We feel the coldness when it comes to the relations with the government. An official process that previously took three months, now takes a year over there,” Yenigun said.

Turkish companies now aim to reach an annual volume of $50 billion with potential business in Africa, Russia, and Iraq, where they hope Ankara’s pledge of $5 billion credit for the reconstruction will boost business.

Turkish contractors are expected to build roads, highways, railways, Mosul airport, a hospital as well as mosques and residence projects.


- Reuters

Published in Engineering

Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development said that the government would continue to collaborate with International financial partners to revamp the sector.

Bwari sais this in a statement issued by the Director, Press, Mr Edwin Opara on Thursday in Abuja.

The minister of state, while receiving a team from the Mining and Metals Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Bank, and Stanbic IBTC said that the collaboration would help in repositioning the sector.

He said it would also help the sector to take its pride of place as first among equals in terms of contributions to the national economic growth.

The minister of state reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to accord the sector priority that would enhance sustainable economic growth.

Bwari informed the team that funding had been one of the major factors mitigating against the development of the sector, adding that the interest of the banks to fund mining in the country was a welcome development.

“One of the potent areas we are looking forward to is funding, and I am sure that you are going to be a pace setter when it comes to funding mining operations in Nigeria,” he said.

Bwari assured the Executive Secretary, Solid Mineral Development Fund, Hajia Fatima Shinkafi, who facilitated the visit and the team that government would give the necessary support to ensure that the collaboration bring about the desired result.

Mr Mark Buncombe, the Global Sector Head, Mining and Metals, Standard Bank, who led the team said that the purpose of their visit was to explore areas of collaboration with the sector

He said that the collaboration would no doubt make positive impact in the sector

Published in Business

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday set up a committee for the revival of the country’s cotton, textile and garment industry.

This followed the earlier restriction of official forex supply to textile importers to boost local cotton/textile production.

The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, at the inauguration of the Textile Revival Implementation Committee (TRIC), noted that the target was to revive and set up at least 50 textile companies by 2023.

“Nigeria remains a big market for textile industry. We need to reclaim this industry from smugglers. We need the support of customs and other authorities,” Emefiele said.

Part of the responsibility of the committee will include resuscitating the country’s cotton belt, identifying textile clusters, improving cotton production nationwide and boosting power supply to textile firms across the clusters.

The CBN governor mentioned that, if this happens, the over $2 billion annual loses to textile smuggling will be reversed.

He reiterated the commitment of the apex bank to partner with the Nigerian Customs Service to curb smuggling of textile goods; ensure general reduction of cost of doing business by eliminating multiple taxation; as well as ensure zero per cent duty for machineries needed by the textile industry.

He added that the bank had already engaged 100,000 cotton farmers to cultivate 100,000 hectares of cotton for the 2019 season. He noted that CBN was committed to resuscitate the sector as timeline had been set to achieving this.

Published in Bank & Finance

Britain’s Boris Johnson confirmed Thursday he will seek to become prime minister when Theresa May quits, reports said, as she promised to set out a departure timetable early next month.

“Of course I’m going to go for it,” the former foreign minister, ex-mayor of London and leading Brexit campaigner told a business event in Manchester, northwest England, the BBC and Sky News reported.

The decision comes as little surprise as Johnson, one of Britain’s most identifiable politicians known simply as “Boris”, has long been known to covet the top job.

But it effectively fires the starting gun on a race that already has more than a dozen runners and riders — even though there is no official vacancy.

May has promised to step down once the first stage of Britain’s exit from the European Union is secured, but this has been put in doubt by repeated Brexit delays.

At a meeting of senior members of her Conservative party on Thursday, May resisted growing demands to set out a detailed plan for her departure right now.

But Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, said May would do this after a parliamentary vote in the week beginning June 3 on legislation to approve her EU divorce deal.

“We have agreed that she and I will meet following the second reading (first vote) of the bill to agree to a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party,” he said.

Many of May’s ministers and senior lawmakers are already making moves for the leadership, holding photo opportunities and giving wide-ranging speeches that go well beyond their official briefs.

Johnson, who botched his chance to run against May when she took office after the 2016 referendum, has long been assumed to be a candidate but has recently kept out the limelight.

Known abroad for his gaffes and accused of misleading voters over Brexit, he is nonetheless loved by many ordinary members of the ruling Conservative party, who will have a say in their new leader.

Johnson quit as foreign minister last year over the government’s Brexit strategy and has been an outspoken critic of the divorce deal May struck with Brussels last November.

The deal has been rejected three times by the House of Commons, forcing May to delay Brexit twice.

She announced this week she would put it to MPs for a fourth time in early June, in the form of a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

May hopes the bill could be passed by July, allowing Britain to leave the EU at the end of that month, and is expected to step down at that point.

If the plan is rejected again next month, however, few expect her to hold on that long.

Published in World

In a bid to support the further growth of SMEs in South Africa, Maersk has announced plans to offer digital trade finance in South Africa.

Global Head of Trade Finance for Maersk, Vipul Sardana, stated this in a statement released by the company.
According to him, “Focusing more on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) represents a strong opportunity for Maersk to introduce more customers to our end-to-end supply chain and logistics products, services and solutions. In that sense, South Africa is a critical market for us.”

Launched as a response to simplify customers’ supply chain, Maersk Trade Finance represents a different way of financing containerised shipments.

“Cape Town, South Africa, May 13, 2019 – Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are productive drivers of inclusive economic growth in South Africa and around the world. Researchers estimated that in South Africa SMEs make up 91 per cent of formal businesses, provide employment to about 60 per cent of the labor force and total economic output accounts for roughly 34 per cent of GDP,” he said.
“While contributing significantly to the economy, SMEs often face difficulties in accessing finance. According to the ICC Banking Commission, there is a massive trade finance gap in Africa, which sits between $110 billion and $120 billion.

“While trade finance has been a catalyst for expansion, for most SMEs, access to funds has been restrictive due to strict collateral requirements and credit background checks. As digital trade finance develops into an essential alternative, SMEs will be able to access additional capital for their growth,” explained Dirk Van den Berg, Head of Maersk Trade Finance in South Africa.

He added: “This new digital trade finance solution of Maersk provides customers easy access to capital in foreign currency for international trade to finance their business needs when they need it; a simple, end-to-end digital solution removing the paper trail from traditional financing options, and faster release of funds at gate-in.

“In other words, this one-stop-shop provides a more effective way to manage the ocean leg of end-to-end global supply chains, both financially and operationally, ”Van den Berg added.

Since 2016, Maersk Trade Finance has disbursed $0.7billion in loans to over 200 customers worldwide.
“The growing Maersk Trade Finance network of offices stretches from India to Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United States (all states other than California).”


Credit: ThisDay

Published in Bank & Finance

The world’s developed economies are facing a decline in fertility so pronounced that some will see their populations -- and economies -- shrink in years ahead. Sub-Saharan Africa faces the opposite situation: Its population has more than doubled in the past three decades and is expected to triple again by the end of this century.

While the growing number of young, working-age people creates economic opportunities, it’s not clear how governments will manage the boom and whether the path to prosperity followed by other developing regions -- shifting into manufacturing -- is still available. Will the benefits of a more crowded Africa outweigh the drawbacks, or are its problems too dire and its governance too weak?

1. Why the surge?

Population growth in sub-Saharan Africa owes primarily to better medical care, which has slashed infant and child mortality and raised average life expectancy from 50 to 61 since 2000. The population has soared to about 1.1 billion and it could hit 4 billion by 2100, says the United Nations. Nigeria alone is predicted to double to 400 million people by the middle of the century, making it the world’s third-most populous country after China and India. Sub-Saharan Africa’s per-capita gross domestic product has climbed 40% since the start of the century to $1,652, compared with $1,987 in India. However, oil and mineral riches mean a handful of nations are 10 or more times wealthier than a score of others that remain desperately poor.

2. How could Africa benefit?

Almost 60% of sub-Saharan Africans are younger than 25, compared with one-third in the U.S. This “youth bulge” could translate into an ample and energetic workforce. But the benefits accrue only when greater prosperity reduces fertility rates. If the next generation has fewer babies than their parents, the proportion of working age people would rise relative to the number of their dependents -- mainly children and the elderly -- creating a so-called “demographic dividend.” Smaller families allow more women to secure paid work, and parents and governments are able to invest greater resources in each child. That’s what happened as Asia and Latin America developed, but Africa’s fertility drop-off is forecast to take much longer due to deep-seated cultural attitudes and pervasive poverty.

3. What’s the biggest challenge?

Jobs. The African Development Bank estimates that more than 10 million new jobs must be created each year just to absorb the number of young people entering the workforce. Increased automation in manufacturing might squeeze off a traditional source of employment growth, so some countries are pinning their hopes instead on services. Call centers and other kinds of outsourcing operations have opened in South Africa and cities such as Lagos, Nigeria and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Tourism has overtaken coffee and tea exports as the top foreign currency earner in Rwanda.

4. What needs to change?

Education. Almost a third of children in sub-Saharan Africa don’t attend school, and on average just 4% of the population completes university. The region also struggles to feed its population, with one in four classified by the UN as malnourished. To move beyond subsistence agriculture, politicians must invest billions in public services and infrastructure such as water and electricity to serve a rapidly urbanizing citizenry. Mali and Uganda have improved roads and transport links to boost exports of mangoes and fish, while Ethiopia is building Africa’s largest hydroelectric plant, on the Blue Nile, to control flooding and generate power. Governments also must tackle environmental degradation, including worsening pollution and deforestation.

5. Can Africa’s population growth be slowed?

Yes, though progress has been slow compared with other regions. Women have 4.8 live births on average, down from 6.8 in the late 1970s but still nearly three times the number in Europe and North America. Rwanda encouraged family planning and made contraceptives available at clinics, driving its fertility rate down by more than half, to 3.8 over the past 20 years. But many other countries still fall short: on average, sub-Saharan African women have two more children than they want to, and in 14 countries, they average five or more children.

6. What if Africa can’t absorb all those people?

Overcrowded countries such as the Philippines, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia have seen waves of workers move abroad to fill jobs in more developed places and send earnings back home. While Africans are starting to follow suit, the outflows come as doors that were open for others may already be closing. In Italy, populist leaders are responding to rising anti-immigration sentiment by turning away the boatloads of Africans trying to reach Europe illegally across the Mediterranean.


Credit: Bloomberg

Published in Opinion & Analysis
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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