Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 18 June 2019
The European Union (EU) has warned Nigeria not to take its democracy for granted.
 
The commission, which said Nigeria did not have a perfect electioneering process in the past general elections, added that there is room for improvement.
 
But EU noted that for this to happen, there needs to be above all the participation of youths, who he said are more than 60 percent of Nigeria’s current population.
 
Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen said the union was impressed by the amazing work the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members did during the general elections.
 
Karlsen spoke yesterday in Abuja, the nation’s capital, while presenting Information Technology (IT) equipment to 75 corps members involved in this year’s general elections at the NYSC camp.
 
He said: “We wanted to make the process leading to the elections about the youths. More than 60 per cent of the population in Nigeria comprises of youths. A vast majority of the voters are youths. So, we wanted to maximise, to an extent possible, the engagement of youths in the elections and we did that by reaching out to them in the six geopolitical zones.
 
“Now, we have come on the other side of the elections; if you have watched the news, you would have seen that we have just been concluding the observation mission of the EU. We have observed every general election since 1999. Today is about telling everybody that whether in Europe or Africa – and certainly Nigeria – you should not take democracy for granted.
 
“Did we have perfect elections? Of course, not. Is there room for improvement? Of course, there is. But for that to happen, we need, above all, to see the participation of youths. That is what today’s event is all about.
 
“Just immediately after the elections, we sat down and brainstormed on what to do to thank the corps members who participated in the general elections.
 
“I saw youth corpers keeping calm while people were fighting around them during the elections and young women calmly addressing angry crowds. You are the backbone of democracy; the elections would not even be possible without the participation of youth corps members.
 
“So, we sat back and said what can we do to thank you? We were able to convince the EU to do something that has never been done before, which was that the equipment used during the observation mission would be handed over directly to 75 youth corpers that participated.”
 
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said the commission realised that youth corps members are the most dedicated election duty workers.
 
He stressed that the commission was working on offering automatic employment to NYSC members who were exceptional during the elections.
 
The chairman promised that the offer will be extended to corps members that will participate in the upcoming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
 
Yakubu said: “Let me join the EU ambassador in appreciating particularly the youth corps members. There cannot be any election in Nigeria without the NYSC. I’ve said it before that youths corps members are the most dedicated, educated and patriotic election duty workers in Nigeria. It is not just the elections but electoral processes as well.
 
“Anytime an election is conducted, no one in the INEC sleeps until we have accounted for every Election Day worker, particularly the NYSC members.
 
“In addition to what the EU is doing today, the commission has embarked on the review of the 2019 elections. There are many corps members who did very well during the elections. We will reward those who have done excellent during the elections with automatic employment, including those who will participate in the two major elections that will be conducted in November: the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.”
 
Published in World

Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi had just addressed the court, speaking from the glass cage he was kept in during sessions and warning that he had “many secrets” he could reveal, before he collapsed and died.

A judicial official who did not want to be named said Morsi collapsed a few minutes afterward in the cage, about which he had constantly complained about.

The judicial official said Morsi had asked to speak to the court during Monday’s session. The judge permitted it, and Morsi gave a speech saying he had “many secrets” that, if he told them, he would be released, but he added that he wasn’t telling them because it would harm Egypt’s national security.

Madour, the defense lawyer, said Morsi spoke for around five minutes before collapsing inside the cage.

“He was very calm and organised. He summarised our argument in three to five minutes. He insisted on a special tribunal as he is the president of the republic,” Madour said.

The Islamic Brotherhood has accused the government of “assassinating” Morsi through years of poor prison conditions during which he was often kept in solitary and barred from visits. Egypt’s chief prosecutor said a team of forensic experts would examine Morsi’s body to determine the cause of his death.

In audio leaked from a 2017 session of one of his trials, Morsi complained that he was “completely isolated” from the court, unable to see or hear his defense team, his eyes pained by lighting inside the cage.

“I don’t know where I am,” he said. “It’s steel behind steel and glass behind glass. The reflection of my image makes me dizzy.”

In his final comments on Monday, Morsi, 67, continued to insist he was Egypt’s legitimate president, demanding a special tribunal, one of his defense lawyers, Kamel Madour told the Associated Press.

State TV said later Morsi died before he could be taken to the hospital.

It was a dramatic end for a figure who was central in the twists and turns taken by Egypt since its “revolution” — the pro-democracy uprising that in 2011 ousted the country’s longtime authoritarian leader, Hosni Mubarak.

Mohammed Sudan, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in London, said Morsi was banned from receiving medicine or visits and there was little information about his health condition.

“This is premeditated murder. This is slow death.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director with the Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet that Morsi’s death was “terrible but entirely predictable” given the government “failure to allow him adequate medical care, much less family visits.”

Morsi’s son, Ahmed, confirmed the death of his father in a Facebook post, saying, “We will meet again with God.”

Freedom and Justice, the Brotherhood’s political arm, said in a statement on its Facebook page that prison conditions led to Morsi’s death in what amounted to “assassination.”

“They placed him in solidarity confinement throughout his detention which exceeded 5 years, prevented medicine and provided poor food,” it said. “They prevented doctors and lawyers and even communicating with his family. They deprived him from the simplest human rights.”

After Mubarak’s ouster, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful Islamist group, won the elections held, considered the first free votes the country had seen. First, they gained a majority in parliament, then Morsi squeaked to victory in presidential elections held in 2012, becoming the first civilian to hold the office.

Critics accused the Brotherhood of seeking to monopolise power, enshrine an Islamist constitution and using violence against opponents, and soon massive protests grew against their rule. In July 2013, the military — led by then-Defence Minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi — ousted Morsi, dissolved parliament and eventually banned the Brotherhood as a “terrorist group.”

El-Sisi was elected president and re-elected in 2018 in votes human rights groups sharply criticised as undemocratic.

He has waged a ferocious crackdown that crushed the Brotherhood but also almost all other dissent, arresting tens of thousands, banning protests and silencing most criticism in the media, while the military has come to dominate politics behind the scenes.

Since Sisi took over, Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have been in prison, put on multiple and lengthy trials. Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of ordering Brotherhood members to break up a protest against him, resulting in deaths. Multiple cases are still pending. Monday’s session was part of a retrial, being held inside Cairo’s Tora Prison, on charges of espionage with the Palestinian Hamas militant group.

Morsi was held in a special wing in Tora nicknamed Scorpion Prison. Rights groups say its poor conditions fall far below Egyptian and international standards. Morsi was known to suffer from diabetes.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry did not answer calls seeking comment, AP reported.

Morsi, an engineer who studied at the University of Southern California, was an unlikely figure to be thrust into Egypt’s central stage. He was never considered a major thinker in the Brotherhood and instead rose through its ranks as an efficient, if lackluster, loyalist.

The group only put him forward as its presidential candidate in 2012 after a more prominent and powerful figure, Khairat al-Shater, was declared ineligible to run.

When elected, he made gestures toward the secular pro-democracy activists who led the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. But over the course of the year, opponents accused his Brotherhood of hijacking the revolution and using elections to entrench their own control.

Major protests erupted, particularly over the process of writing a new constitution in which critics said the Brotherhood was sidelining other factions and allowing Islamists to write a charter largely on their terms. Brotherhood supporters cracked down violently on some protests.

Still, the Brotherhood never managed to control all levers of power, facing opposition within courts and in the powerful security forces. As protests grew, the military stepped in: Army commandos took him and other Brotherhood leaders into custody.

The subsequent crackdown has all but completely dismantled the Brotherhood, with hundreds killed and thousands imprisoned, with most other active figures fleeing abroad. Throughout his trials, Morsi insisted he remained Egypt’s legitimate president. In early court sessions he gave angry speeches until judges ordered him kept in a glass cage during sessions where they could turn off his audio.

Published in World

Nigeria's Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has issued a final order on tariff review to MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners of DStv and Gotv.

The latest order primarily focused on the company’s increased subscription rates to its cable television services.

Mr Babatunde Irukera, director-general of the Commission, in a statement in Abuja, noted that on June 17, 2018, the Consumer Protection Council, (Now Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission; FCCPC) filed an action against MultiChoice before the federal high court in Abuja.

It disclosed that essentially, the case was necessitated because MultiChoice acted in bad faith in preempting the FCCPC after a broad investigation, and a proposed mutually agreed Consent Order.

The statement said the Order addressed broad consumer protection and service responsiveness/quality issues that were lacking and had become the subject of incessant complaints by consumers.

“ A key mutual understanding in the jointly agreed Consent Order was that no material terms of the subscription agreement between MultiChoice and its subscribers would change during an agreed period of supervision by FCCPC, to ensure that the crucial issues in repeated complaints, and that were covered by the Consent Order were sufficiently addressed under the existing terms and rubric of expectations by consumers,” it pointed out.

However, it was noted that instead of abiding by that understanding and executing the Consent Order at the proposed time agreed, MultiChoice rather increased subscription rates in preemption to executing the Consent Order.

The statement said the FCCPC considering this a demonstration of bad faith engaged MultiChoice unsuccessfully, and as such, ultimately filed an action to enjoin MultiChoice to return to honouring the mutual understandings with the Commission, and subject itself to the authority and jurisdiction of the FCCPC.

“The court granted interim injunctive relief prohibiting MultiChoice from proceeding with the conduct that the Commission alleged constituted bad faith. MultiChoice failed to obey the injunctive order of the court, preferring instead to challenge the validity and proprietary of the order and powers of the court. The court order became the subject of appeal to the Court of Appeal,” it explained.

It however observed that considering that consumers were not receiving the benefits of the proposed modification of MultiChoice’s approach to consumer protection while the case remained pending, the Commission after broad legal consultation and interpretation of the law decided to proceed with entering an order against MultiChoice anyway.

“Although, the possibility of resistance and argument by MultiChoice that the entire subject matter was subjudice, and the Commission unable to proceed or enforce any such order existed, the Commission sufficiently believed there was adequate legal authority to still modify MultiChoice’s conduct while the case remained pending in court,” it stated, noting that on January 25, 2019, the Commission entered a Final Order against MultiChoice.

The statement said the directives in the Final Order were no longer a matter of consent or mutual agreement with MultiChoice, stressing that they were directives, the compliance to which the Commission believes it was capable of legally enforcing.

Specifically, the Commission ordered that:

MultiChoice shall, subject to prevailing regulatory and telecommunications industry practices and constraints, commence toll free technical and customer service helplines, including inter-network.

The company shall also operate fully resourced call centers 24 hours, and 7 days a week, including public holidays and shall develop and publish a clear complaints resolution process describing the process for receiving, addressing and resolving complaints.

In addition also, the company is to include an appeal and escalation process as well as timelines and is expected to clarify and expressly state in its compensation policy that subscribers would be compensated for the inconveniences experienced in addition to the compensation for disruption of services resulting from failed, faulty, poor, or unprofessional installation by its agents.

The Final Order also demands that MultiChoice shall create multiple and additional social media platforms where subscribers can easily upload proof of payment when service is not restored immediately after payment, this is also in addition to providing subscribers the option of periodically suspending subscription no less than three times annually for up to 14 days in each instance.

MultiChoice was also asked to ensure that all subscribers have free and automatic access to the prevailing selected local free-to-air channels, in addition to also The carrying out periodic customer sensitisation about changes made pursuant to the Commission’s Orders during the monitoring period and in a manner that adequately satisfies a reasonable and measurable degree of subscriber awareness;

The statement said MultiChoice shall be under the Commission’s monitoring for a period of 12 months of this Order and shall provide prior notice of proposed changes or modifications of material terms and conditions of service that are the subject of this Order.

Published in Telecoms

Mark Zuckerberg's Libra cryptocurrency project may just strengthen his stranglehold on our user data. Financial stability is another huge concern.

Regulators will be watching closely when Facebook Inc. unveils its cryptocurrency project this week. Their vigilance is warranted.

Mark Zuckerberg, the social network’s founder, isn’t going to gamble with what remains of his public image by replicating the worst excesses of the Bitcoin craze. He’s not trying to create a speculative currency; a potential wave of mom-and-pop investment losses is the last thing he needs. He just wants a digital medium of exchange for use on his apps. Nevertheless, his bid to launch an online payments revolution carries plenty of risks, from antitrust concerns to the threat that it might pose to financial stability.

Weekend media leaks suggest that Facebook’s “Libra” project will be a continuation of its past efforts to expand its payments business and keep customers within the walled garden of its social media apps by creating their very own money.

While Zuckerberg is poised to unveil a team of partners – reportedly including eBay Inc., Farfetch Ltd., Spotify Technology SA, Uber Technologies Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc – so far this feels very much like Facebook’s baby. Tellingly, it’s not one that the big banks or the other Silicon Valley and Seattle giants seem ready to adopt quite yet, unless Zuckerberg surprises us with some bigger names at the launch. The target customer base for these new digital tokens looks certain to be the 2.6 billion-strong users of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

While Facebook will no doubt assure us that this project is all about making the lives of its customers ever easier, giving them the ability to actually buy stuff in a way that Bitcoin has rarely offered, it’s hard to square it away with the political effort to curb Big Tech’s monopolistic tendencies (regardless of that roster of launch partners and their $10 million participation fees).

It’s crucial that Libra doesn’t become a protective glue that binds Zuckerberg’s social networks even more closely together at a time when many regulators want to break them up. Libra will be presented as an open-source partnership whose benefits are available to all, but to what extent will it really be held at arm’s length from the Zuckerberg empire? Indeed, if the financial and business benefits of using Libra accrue mainly to Facebook, it will merely enshrine its market dominance.

As such, regulators must find out who will own the giant new datasets. They might even want to push the case that this kind of data should be made available to governments or rivals to avoid the problems of the past, where a handful of companies ended up owning all of the information about our online activities.

While Facebook barely makes any money from its payments business today – with payments and other fees accounting for less than 2% of last year’s $55.8 billion of revenue – some analysts reckon Libra could change things. Barclays is reportedly predicting $19 billion in additional revenue by 2021 if the tokens gain traction. Libra is scheduled to launch across a dozen countries in 2020. That’s a lot of potential data and new sources of revenue.

Financial stability is a worry too and regulators should ask for transparency on how Libra is structured. The token is expected to be a “stablecoin,” which is pegged to existing fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar or the euro. That will damp price volatility, unlike the free-wheeling Bitcoin, whose price in the past five years has gone from $600 to $19,000, and now to $9,000. Regulatory oversight of which currencies are held in reserve to back the Libra coin would go some way to building faith in Facebook’s capacity to redeem tokens when customers ask for it.

While no one wants to choke innovation unnecessarily, Facebook hasn’t exactly done much to earn everybody’s trust in recent years. Any chance to put the necessary controls in at the beginning, rather than firefighting down the road, should be grabbed by the regulators.

 

Read More: Bloomberg

Published in Telecoms
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 07:50

Challenges of shopping online

Gone are the days of travelling vast distances to find a specific product and no more standing in long queues to pay. Online shopping has certainly changed the way we shop, but it doesn’t come without its own challenges. This is according to Bluegrass Digital managing director Nick Durrant.

Consumers make split-second decisions about whether to stay on a website or leave. Finding out that shipping was too expensive or not finding exactly what they were looking for are the top two reasons they’ll abandon a brand’s site or mobile app without making a purchase. This is according to a study from Episerver, the company transforming digital experiences.

Here are a few ‘must-haves’ and challenges that customers still have to face while shopping online.

Inaccurate Information

Shoppers are more willing to visit new websites in search of the perfect gift. However, inaccurate or incomplete content dissuades shoppers from completing online purchases. Also, since there is no context in which to trust the company, any element of a web page that seems “off” will send them packing.

Compelling content

Most shoppers leave without buying because there wasn’t enough information about the product to determine it was right for them. Content needs to be prioritised by retailers, they need to deliver material that is relevant to who the shopper is, where they came from, why they are there and how they have behaved on-site before.

Device friendly

Most online shoppers consider a website that works well on their mobile devices a must-have feature. Retailers desperately need to get their mobile strategy right, there is a huge need for a mobile friendly or responsively designed website.

Fast & Free Shipping

Many commerce companies think fast and free shipping cuts too much into their profit margins. The fact is, however, that the number one reason for abandoned purchases is that shipping was too expensive. Consumers will dump their purchases if retailers don't reduce shipping costs and speed up shipping.

Guides

Many consumers consider guides a must-have website feature. When content meets commerce, shoppers feel as if they are being delivered an experience and don’t need to turn to social networks like Pinterest to know which paint colours complement the other, which shoes would look best with the shirt they are viewing or how an apparel item might fit their body type. Brands that develop guides (whether it’s for sizing or for suggestions on how to pair products] are offering an experience consumers won’t soon forget.

“Shop the Look” guides, for example, offer editorial-like experiences with ecommerce functionality. With evidence suggesting that holiday shoppers buy as much for themselves as they do others, retailers can quickly develop guides that both complement gift giving and self-giving. The guides can be in the form of product pairings on a product page, a navigation option on a website that leads to product search results and/or an email campaign with selected items.

Images

Regardless of device, consumers count images (products in use and products not in use) as the most important type of content when purchasing a product on a brand’s website or mobile app. Providing multiple image types (lifestyle, still) and views is a sure-fire way to increase conversions and reduce returns since expectations are met.

Knowledgeable Agents

Whether it is a bot or a person, consumers want quick and accurate answers to their inquiries. Often this means enabling employees and systems with complete visibility into an organisation so a customer can get anything they need from the touchpoint they are asking it on.

Location

As the saying goes, location is everything. When it comes to using location for website experience, consumers have a few expectations and preferences such as shopping in their own language and seeing localised imagery and products. At the very least, retailers need to ensure store information is correct on their website.

Digitally mature companies should also use a shopper’s location to deliver relevant promotions and pages to them as they browse a site and make their intent known. On their next visit, the site should remember them and the local elements presented to them before.

On-Site Search

Second only to free shipping, most consumers indicate that easy-to-use product search function is the most important feature on an ecommerce website. Retailers that invest in site search are the ones that will have conversion success. If nothing else, they need to make sure that searches ending in “no results” have suggested content instead whether it is complementary products or a gift guide, which can help extend the customer journey versus abruptly ending it.

Quick Site

A fast website is a must-have feature for ecommerce sites. A site that requires visitors to wait while it loads doesn’t invoke a lot of trust for shoppers. Image optimisation and code minification are two ways to very quickly speed up a site while using skeleton screens is another. Skeleton screens show the user that the site is loading by displaying the website’s outline similar to how Facebook loads when there is a delay.

Personalisation

Retailers that personalise customers’ online experiences win in the form of more first-time conversions as well as repeat purchases. True personalisation requires several scenarios to make it work successfully (i.e., an ecommerce platform that can pull in customer data and surface it through a CMS), but last-minute personal touches can be made such as displaying a “Welcome Back” banner to returning visitors and immediately surfacing the products they viewed last time.

Returns Info

Brands shouldn’t take it personally but shoppers don’t trust retailers they’ve never done business with before. As they look for the perfect gift, they are also looking for reasons not to buy. Ambiguous or missing information will frustrate most shoppers who think returns information is a must have feature of an ecommerce website and for consumers who look at the returns info when visiting a site for the first time. Savvy retailers display trust indicators like “Free Returns” in prominent places on their site.

Shipment Tracking

Shipment tracking is a must-have element on ecommerce websites, consumers want to know where their shipment is at any point in time.

Website Security

The media is full of stories about data breaches and other security incidents, so it is no wonder that website security is top of mind with consumers. Using software that automatically mitigates hacking attempts can give businesses the reassurance they need to conduct business safely. Shoppers also want to feel secure about a company’s data collection processes.

To provide more personal info, consumers demand greater transparency into how their information will be used to benefit them, how it will be stored and secured and who has access to the information.

Third-Party Payment Providers

Integrations with third-party payment providers are crucial for generating conversions. Retailers need to splash these partnerships across relevant pages to ensure consumers know there will be no friction when getting to the payment step. With this high level of intent, retailers need to move out of shoppers’ way and let them check out with their preferred payment method.

Published in Telecoms
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