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People say Facebook’s Libra undermines the dominance of America. Zuckerberg says they got it all wrong

Izunna Okpala



Facebook has a new strategy to persuade U.S. lawmakers to embrace their plan to launch a digital currency: appealing to their nationalism.

Regulators should see Libra as an instrument of American geopolitical power, argued CEO Mark Zuckerberg several times at the House Financial Services Committee’s six-hour hearing on Wednesday.

The prospective currency has been referred to as a threat to the dominance of the US over the global financial system. Because the dollar is the most common reserve currency in the world, other nations need access to it to trade with each other, and a great deal of global trade flows through US banks. That means the country’s government has a unique power over other states and international organizations.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, chair of the Committee on Financial Services, said she was concerned that the dollar would “rival” Libra if it were allowed to launch. California’s Congressman Brad Sherman, also a committee member, was perhaps the most outspoken critic. He argued that Libra has the ability to “transfer power from the U.S. government to sanctions and tax evaders, terrorists, and drug dealers while weakening the value of the U.S. dollar as the reserve and commercial currency.”

Zuckerberg said the opposite was true in his opening testimony on Wednesday. Libra will be backed by a reserve consisting of several sovereign currencies, as currently envisaged. But as the fund would “mostly” be dollars, Zuckerberg said, it should be seen by regulators as an opportunity to “expand the financial leadership of America as well as our democratic values and regulation around the world.”

He also referenced one of the real rivals of America. China “moves quickly” to release a digital version of its currency “in the months ahead,” Zuckerberg said, adding that it plans to “sell” its currency worldwide.

But while Chinese officials have previously suggested that the digital renminbi is “near,” they have said “no timetable” for its launch more recently.

That doesn’t say that he’s right with the aspirations of China. Some foreign policy analysts believe that China can encourage countries to adopt its currency as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, a global trade infrastructure development strategy.”If America does not innovate, there is no guarantee of our financial leadership,” said Zuckerberg at the hearing.

Why should a private entity be trusted in creating a global currency, even if he is right? The potential risks raised by the widespread adoption of something like what Facebook said it envisaged in Libra are not fully understood as a new report from the Group of Seven highlights.

Ultimately, many people argue that the state should be responsible for issuing and managing currency. Can we see virtual dollars being released by the Federal Reserve to compete with China? The bank’s representatives have said, at least for now, that’s not in the cards. But this scene is rapidly changing. Patrick Harker, president of the Philadelphia Fed, said earlier this month it is “inevitable” that central banks including the Fed will eventually issue digital currencies. Still, he said, “I don’t think we should be the first mover as a nation to do this.”

Source: MIT TechReview


Facebook empowers 7,000 women with digital competencies in SSA

Izunna Okpala



Facebook app

In 2019, Facebook trained more than 7,000 women-owned businesses in digital skills across sub-Saharan Africa.

Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa, said Facebook is committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, creative industries, tech ecosystems and many other communities.

“I am excited about the future of Facebook and our family of apps here in Africa, as well as the potential of this young, mobile and dynamic continent. I also look forward to creating partnerships in 2020 and beyond.”

The tech company has hit its 45th developer group, now in 17 African countries with circles representing over 70,000 participants.

When celebrating the region’s key achievements, Facebook said some of its investments have translated into significant support aimed at increasing the developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and other communities ecosystems. In a document called’ 2019 Year in Review,’ Facebook revealed its approach towards making the world a global village and celebrated 79 meetings with community leaders with over 2,650 people in attendance.

To combat fake news in Nigeria, Facebook in collaboration with MainOne launched Dubawa as a participant in its Third-Party Fact-Checking program. In Edo and Ogun States, this was to build and operate more than 750 km of terrestrial fiber network for metro fibre connectivity.

“Facebook hosted the first-ever iD8 Nairobi Conference with over 400 African developers and startups in attendance, expanded Third-Party Fact-Checking across 10 African countries, announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by Facebook AI researchers to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies; and much more,” the statement added.

In addition, in collaboration with satellite hubs across Nigeria, Facebook initiated an eight-week incubation program at NG Hub, focusing on mentoring and practical training for prospective entrepreneurs. The position of Safer Internet Day 2019, which has partnered with over 20 African Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) across 16 countries, should not be forgotten.

“We unveiled our first pop-up in Africa with ‘it’s Your Facebook: Lagos’, a creative space for visitors to explore our products and attend various training. We announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by Facebook AI researchers to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies. In the same year, we celebrated one year of NG Hub and our digital skills training in Nigeria – with over 526 events held, 11,490 attendees, and partner events with Co-creation Hub, US Consulate, SheLeadsAfrica, Paystack, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Women in Tech Africa.”

In the University tour aimed at boosting recruiting across the country, South Africa was not left behind and collaborated with the Dream Factory Foundation and the Youth Fellow Nadine Maselle Facebook Community Leadership Program to open a computer lab at Salt River High School in Cape Town. Facebook opened in collaboration with Samasource its Content Review Center in Nairobi and employed up to 100 local language content reviewers.

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Injini, South African EdTech Incubator Calls for African entrepreneurs to apply for their Fourth Cohort Program

Izunna Okpala



For its fourth cohort program, the EdTech incubator, Injini, has opened applications. The program is opened for start-ups in Africa and will be closed on 10 December 2019. In the meantime, a final screening round will be decided in January in which only 12 applicants will be selected during the same month to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.

In a statement made on Wednesday, October 23rd, Injani said it would help up to eight EdTech companies throughout the program with funding and advisory services. Next year, the program itself runs from March to August.

In partnership with the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Southern Africa Innovation Support Program, as well as the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) Incubator will run the program.

In addition, Injani said it is looking for solutions that tackle key issues facing the education sector in Africa. In addition, at least a number of feasible products or models must be included in the solutions. Most specifically, selected startups have had previous work experience with leaders with good academic or technical backgrounds.

Yet mature EdTech startups with post-revenue, solidified business models, or at the beginning of scaling, are also encouraged to apply for the program.

Startups must have been licensed with at least one full-time creator who is fluent in English and able to travel to South Africa during the particular phases of the program in order to be eligible to participate in the program.

Selected start-ups will each earn grant funding access to R100,000. They will also have the ability, in addition to grant support, to follow-up Injani’s equity investment up to R1 million.
The program will allow participants to connect with Injani’s team and network of mentors and coaches in various sectors, including edtech, education, business and technology, and access to a collection of personalized research and data insights.


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