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Bishop Oyedepo approves $2 million for road repairs in Ogun and Lagos State.

Izunna Okpala

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The recent road repairs currently being undertaken will cost the Living Faith Church a whooping sum of N650 million naira (about $2 million).

The roads which cover the old toll gate bordering Lagos and Ogun States as well as stretches of the Idi-Iroko expressway from Oju Ore to Iyana Iyesi as well as Sango itself began to undergo repairs as executed by the Church recently.

Traveling along the road to the border as well as Agbara and other towns had become a harrowing experience for both worshippers at the Church and non-worshippers alike every day of the week. This led the Church to intervene in order to give the people a respite

This is not the first of such interventions, however it is the biggest single intervention till date and has helped in no small measure per time to relieve road users.

Speaking yesterday, Bishop Oyedepo announced that the sum of N650 million was approved and released for the repairs, adding that Canaanland where the Church is situated is the birthplace of giants where many have gotten their spiritual and physical needs met for the past 20 years.

IT Tools

#TwitterBan: Nigeria’s House of Rep concludes its probe but remains silent on reversing the ban.

Izunna Okpala

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Three weeks after forming a committee to review the Twitter ban, Nigeria’s House of Representatives has completed its probe and issued recommendations. It did not, however, remark on the lifting of the prohibition.

On June 8, 2021, the Joint House Committee on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, as well as National Security and Intelligence, was established to look into the circumstances surrounding the ban. It was also to determine the ban’s legal foundation.

The panel was supposed to report on its findings ten days after it was formed. However, the findings were finally scheduled for House consideration on July 1, 2021.

The Committee highlighted in the report that the Nigerian government had already began negotiations with Twitter, emphasizing the benefits and drawbacks of social media.
It was suggested that “time be granted for the Federal Government of Nigeria and Twitter to join into the already ongoing conversation process, in order to create room for an acceptable settlement on the matter.”

The panel also requested that the government take into account the harmful impact that the suspension of Twitter has had on Nigerians who rely on the network for their livelihood.

The Committee warned the government to better clarify its goals to Nigerians while also emphasizing that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. While liberty must always be safeguarded, it must also be weighed alongside national security concerns.

On some matters, the Committee mirrored remarks made by Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila on the day it was formed.

The microblogging site was shut down after a tweet from Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, was removed for breaking its terms of service.

The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered media outlets to stop using Twitter indefinitely as a result. Also, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, ordered the arrest of persons found using the platform after the ban.

Recall that on June 22, 2021, the ECOWAS Court barred the Nigerian government from putting new restrictions on Twitter. On July 6, 2021, the case will be heard. To get over the prohibition, Nigerians have resorted to using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). As we’ve seen, this is a practice with far-reaching effects.

While Nigerians wait for answers, it’s worth noting that when the Committee was formed, Gbajabiamila stated that the report will guide the House of Representatives’ next steps.

Legislative bodies vote on reports as soon as they are placed before the House, as is customary. This situation, however, appears to be unique.

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Health

HealthPlus is experiencing a power struggle 2 years after obtaining $18 m from Alta Semper Capital

Izunna Okpala

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A press release apparently released on September 25 by the Board of HealthPlus, one of the largest integrated pharmacy chains in West Africa, confirmed that the company no longer needed the services of its founder, Bukky George, as CEO.

The decision to terminate the appointment of George came with the announcement of Chidi Okoro, the interim leader.

Okoro, a renowned pharmacist and management executive, is to take on the position of Chief Officer of Transformation. Okoro, akin to the position of a CEO, can simplify day-to-day management, help the company scale, and achieve profitability.

And a letter that appears to be from the board of HealthPlus to the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) states that George “remains a shareholder of the company, a member of the board of the company, and may engage at board level in the company’s decision-making process.”

Afsane Jetha and Zachary Fond, Managing Partner & CEO, and Director of Alta Semper Capital, respectively, have signed it off.

From investment and partnership to a fight for power

Alta Semper Capital LLP is a private equity (PE) company that invests in Africa-wide healthcare and consumer businesses. In 2017, the PE company invested in Macro Pharma, a medicated cosmetics company in Egypt.

It made deals with HealthPlus and the Moroccan oncology and radiology clinic, Oncologie et Radiologie du Maroc (ODM), the following year.

The letter from Alta Semper Capital to the PCN

Source Techpoint

The HealthPlus investment was $18 million.

HealthPlus, founded by George in 1999, has expanded to more than 90 retail outlets, employing over 850 employees, including more than 150 pharmacists. In Nigeria, the company claims to be present in 11 of the 36 states in the world.

Operating branches in strategically placed suburban areas, airports, and shopping malls are also recognized.

Alta Semper Capital ‘s investment was to help HealthPlus grow its store footprint. In addition, to attract more talent, grow fulfillment centers and pursue initiatives in eCommerce.

The cash inflow, however, is said to have given the PE firm a majority stake in the company, which is one of the reasons why the company is facing problems at the moment.

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Apps & Services

The Adoption rate of the Apple-Google COVID-19 tracker feature in Nigeria

Izunna Okpala

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The COVID-19 exposure tracker has recently been rolled out by Google and Apple on every Android and iOS device globally. According to the notice released in May, this was done in an effort to fight the spread of the virus through contact tracing — a technique used to stay aware of exposure to an infected person.

When enabled, the feature allows your Smartphone to receive notification of likely COVID-19 exposure.

However, there is a disclaimer that the software is an API that can only be enabled when the device has installed a third party tracking app.

According to the statement, the feature will remain dormant until it is activated by a COVID-19 contact tracing app, which can be deactivated at any time.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature cannot be activated without an installed contact tracing app

Google and Apple therefore say that the devices won’t be theirs thus saying that the identity of the user won’t be shared with other users.

To ensure this, Google announced that “Access to technology will only be provided to public-health users. Their applications must meet strict Privacy, Protection and Data Use requirements.”

Still, app creators should be committed to minimise the vulnerabilities of their products.

On Android phones, the feature can be found in ‘Google‘ under ‘Settings‘ where ‘COVID-19 exposure notification‘ is displayed. For Apple devices, ‘COVID-19 exposure logging‘ is found under ‘Health‘ in ‘Privacy settings‘.

Apple-Google COVID-19 Exposure Notification feature

By design, this technology is meant to support the efforts of governments and private players that are building contact tracing apps. When an app is used to opt in, it generates randomly changing IDs based on location. Through Bluetooth, it periodically checks other IDs to confirm if any is associated with the infection. And if it finds any, it sends a notification.

For this to work, a person who is affected or has been exposed to the infection needs to share their IDs with the app, which will immediately alert all that have come in contact with them.

While countries like India make contact tracing apps compulsory for residents, only a few startups have made an attempt at this technology in Nigeria; this explains why adoption is low.

In fact, on the Google Playstore, there’s currently no authorised contact tracing app available in the country currently. Conversely, on the Apple app store, it shows two apps, one of which has already been disabled.

Despite some countries already putting the pandemic behind them, infection cases are unfortunately still increasing across Nigeria. Currently, the figure stands at 25,694, with Lagos state  — 10,510 confirmed cases — still the epicentre.

As economic activities resume fully in states that were previously on mandatory lockdown, this appears to be the time for the adoption of massive contact tracing tools to reduce citizens’ chances of infection.

Recall that before now the use of smartphone tracking and surveillance for COVID-19 tracing have been adopted across the world in China, Hong Kong, Israel, and even in Rwanda.

But there are concerns that this feature has privacy risks, disproving Google and Apple’s promise. Considering past events, this scepticism is not misplaced.

Google, like other tech giants, has at some point been accused of turning user data into narrowly targeted ads without consent. This is often possible because users are usually unaware of the data they are agreeing to share and the company’s plan for the information.

While these privacy concerns remain, we cannot undermine the possible positive impact of the tools this Apple-Google feature will effectively support. Perhaps, it is a case of choosing the lesser evil.

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