Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Nedbank Group is in talks with about 1 500 employees over potential job cuts at the South African lender’s retail and business-banking division to cope with a struggling economy and increased competition.

The company forecasts that “between 50 and 100 employees are at risk of not being placed in a role,” Johannesburg-based Nedbank said in an emailed response to questions on Friday. “Unplaced employees will then be assisted by the bank to either secure available alternative positions within the bank, which is our first prize, or be equipped for opportunities outside the bank.”

South African lenders are battling to grow revenue faster than costs as they contend with an economy that has shrunk for three of the past five quarters. Consumers have been battered by rampant unemployment, rising taxes, fuel prices and utility bills, pushing them to explore cheaper banking alternatives or digital services. Companies aren’t investing amid uncertainty over electricity supply and surging government debt levels.

“Nedbank is being forced to reshape our operating models and businesses,” the company said. “In doing this, Nedbank actively makes use of natural attrition and a redeployment and reskilling pool. Non-voluntary retrenchments are always the last option.”

The company, which employs 30 577 people, has also been reducing the floor space used by its branches and increasing the use of automation to lower costs. Nedbank expects the process to be concluded after the final meeting with the labor union Sasbo at the end of this month, it said.

 

 

- Bloomberg

Published in Bank & Finance

Soon you might be able to binge-watch your favorite show while in your Tesla — provided your Tesla is parked.

In a tweet on July 27, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that the ability to stream Netflix and Hulu through the car’s display is on its way: “Ability to stream YouTube & Netflix when car is stopped coming to your Tesla soon! Has an amazingly immersive, cinematic feel due to the comfy seats & surround sound audio,” says Musk.

At E3 earlier this year Musk teased that the ability to stream YouTube via Tesla’s display was coming, so the fact that Hulu and Netflix will one day be available as well isn’t exactly surprising.

Enabling streaming video on the vehicle’s central display will happen through a software update. Currently, the screens do not support HTML5, which is required for the services to work. Presumably, version 10 of the software for Tesla’s screens will add that ability. As we noted when Musk made that initial YouTube announcement, by enabling YouTube there was no reason why Tesla couldn’t enable Netflix and Hulu (and other video services) as well.

Tesla has long offered games and other “Easter eggs” on its display. During Musk’s E3 announcement he revealed that Fallout Shelter would be coming to the vehicles in addition to YouTube. Cuphead, 2048, Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Centipede are already available in the vehicles.

Requiring the vehicles to be parked in order to stream video begs the question of when exactly Musk sees the display being used as a video player.

Of course, it makes sense not to allow someone to be streaming Stranger Things while they’re cruising down the freeway, even with autopilot engaged, but are consumers really interested in strapping in for movie time while they’re inside a vehicle? In a follow-up tweet, Musk suggested that streaming on the road might one day be a possibility:

Tesla has long offered games and other “Easter eggs” on its display. During Musk’s E3 announcement he revealed that Fallout Shelter would be coming to the vehicles in addition to YouTube. Cuphead, 2048, Missile Command, Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Centipede are already available in the vehicles.

Requiring the vehicles to be parked in order to stream video begs the question of when exactly Musk sees the display being used as a video player.

Of course, it makes sense not to allow someone to be streaming Stranger Things while they’re cruising down the freeway, even with autopilot engaged, but are consumers really interested in strapping in for movie time while they’re inside a vehicle? In a follow-up tweet, Musk suggested that streaming on the road might one day be a possibility:

Until then, it will be interesting to see how the feature is used. Sure, Teslas have “comfy seats” and “surround-sound audio” as Musk suggests in his tweet, but the display is also positioned in such a way that those in the car viewing a movie might not quite get the “immersive cinematic feel” that you’re after — at least not as immersive as simply getting out of the car and watching the video on your home television instead.

 

Credit: Digital Trends

Published in Telecoms
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that the Nigerian government has set up a task force to ensure effective recovery of over N5 trillion being outstanding debts owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
 
Speaking during a meeting with board members and management of AMCON and selected heads of government agencies, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday evening, Osinbajo said the task force will monitor the top 20 debtors on AMCON’s list.
 
According to a statement released by Laolu Akande, the vice president’s spokesman, the agencies tasked to go after the debtors are Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the permanent secretaries of the justice and transport ministries.
 
The Vice President told all the agencies to re-strategize to achieve the desired results.
 
“The key is collaboration. We need a small team comprising these agencies to look at the next steps that we need to take, especially the criminal aspect, forfeiture, and all of that,” he said.
 
According to Muiz Banire, AMCON chairman, 67% of the N5 trillion debt is owed by the top 20 debtors.
 
Some of the stakeholders present at the meeting were Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the EFCC; Bolaji Owasanoye ICPC chairman; Modibbo Tukur, NFIU director; Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary at the ministry of transportation
Published in Bank & Finance
Data obtained on Monday from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) has revealed declined transactions on Point of Sales terminals all over the country.
 
This decline also listed failed PoS transactions at 256,228, indicating a high failure rate of 18.9 per cent out of a total of 1,354,658 transactions conducted as of 9.35pm.
 
136,834 of these failed transactions was attributed to errors committed by customers.
 
According to the data, the customers contributed the most to the failure of the transactions as 136,834 of the failed transactions were attributed to errors they committed.
 
The statistics indicated that 68,874 errors emanated from the issuer bank and 46,147 errors, which originated from the acquirer bank. This also contributed significantly to the failed funds transfer carried out by retailers and merchants across the country.
 
However, the updates showed that the NIBSS platform and security breach had not in any way contributed to the unsuccessful payments while the processors errors contributed minimally at 0.27 per cent.
Published in Bank & Finance

Ethiopian officials believe they set a world record on Monday by planting more than 200 million trees in a single day.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led Monday’s effort which is aimed at countering the effects of deforestation and climate change in Ethiopia. The effort is part of his Green Legacy Initiative, which is taking part in 1,000 places across the drought-prone country.

Public offices were closed to allow civil servants to participate in the project.

According to the statistics from the United Nations, Ethiopia’s forest coverage declined massively from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria says the goal is to plant a total of four billion trees.

The current world record for planting trees in a single day is held by India, which used 800,000 volunteers to plant more than 50 million trees in 2016.

 

- CGTN-Africa

Published in Agriculture
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that it is unnecessary for it to pay the 60 per cent ($1.8bn) lease renewal fees, which is its equity contribution in the Oil Mining Leases 67, 68, and 70.
 
This, it said, was because the corporation was representing the Federal Government in the joint venture.
 
The NNPC said this while responding to the alleged underpayment of lease renewal fees on the OMLs 67, 68, and 70 by ExxonMobil, adding that the company paid $600m, which was its equity contribution of 40 per cent to the joint venture agreement.
 
A statement issued by the spokesperson for the national oil firm, Ndu Ughamadu, on Tuesday quoted the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, as giving the explanation to the chairman and members of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) at the NNPC headquarters in Abuja.
 
SPIPRPP had reportedly summoned Kyari over alleged $1.8bn owed the Federal Government by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (ExxonMobil).
 
The summons signed by the panel’s Chairman, Okoi Obono-Obla, had directed Kyari to appear before the panel “unfailingly” on July 30.
 
But while addressing members of the panel in Abuja, the NNPC GMD stated that it was unnecessary for the corporation to pay the 60 per cent renewal fee.
 
“Ordinarily, the NNPC would have contributed the balance of 60 per cent of the amount which literally meant government paying money to itself. There was no need for that,” Kyari told his guests.
 
Published in Business

There is growing concern about the potential for the message and media sharing platform WhatsApp to undermine democracy in a number of countries across the world including Brazil and India.

Because WhatsApp is encrypted – and so offers users far greater protection from prosecution than Twitter or Facebook – it has become particularly notorious for spreading “fake news”.

This is a major concern in Africa, where WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in 40 countries. This is due to its low cost and the ability to easily share messages with both individuals and groups.

But is this really how WhatApp is used? And if it is, to what extent does this compromise the quality of elections?

A joint team from the Centre for Democracy and Development (Nigeria) and the University of Birmingham (UK) has spent the last few months researching the impact of WhatsApp on the 2019 Nigerian elections held in May.

Their report comes to conclusions that are both troubling, as well as encouraging.

The research reveals that the platform was used to mislead voters in increasingly sophisticated ways. But it also shows that Whatsapp strengthened democracy in other areas.

Misinformation and disinformation

The term “fake news has become widely used over the past few years. However, it is problematic because it lumps together very different kinds of information and behaviour. For example, we need to separate out deliberate attempts to mislead others by creating false stories (disinformation) from the innocent sharing of made up stories by people who believe it to be true (misinformation).

The 2019 Nigerian elections saw both disinformation and misinformation. We studied this by conducting 46 interviews in the states of Abuja, Oyo and Kano, as well as seven focus groups and a survey of 1,005 people.

During the course of conducting the research candidates consistently told us that they predominantly used WhatsApp to share information about their qualities and campaign pledges. But many WhatsApp users said that at a high proportion of the messages they received were designed to undermine a rival leader’s reputation – to "decampaign” them.

There were some high profile examples of disinformation. The most notorious story circulated on social media was that the president had died while undergoing medical treatment outside of the country, and had been replaced by a clone from Sudan.

Other fabricated communications were less outlandish but no less significant. Many ordinary citizens shared these messages, in some cases because they knew they were false and wanted to amplify their impact, but in many cases because they thought they were true.

The most effective decampaigning strategies were those that shared messages that resonated with individuals because they contained an element of the truth, or played on recent experiences.

WhatsApp takes over

The political influence of WhatsApp has expanded rapidly in line with its growing penetration. As a result, it has become part of the fabric of election campaigns and is now a key mechanism through which political leaders seek to communicate with their campaign teams and supporters.

Fully 91% of the people we interviewed were active WhatsApp users; as one person put it:

I use WhatsApp more than I use the toilet.

In Nigeria, election candidates were already using the platform to push messages in 2015. But the people we interviewed agreed that the 2019 elections saw a significant step up in terms of how the leading parties organised their social media strategy.

Politically, WhatsApp was used in an increasingly sophisticated way at the presidential level. In 2019, the two main presidential candidates – President Muhammadu Buhari and opposition leader Atiku Abubakar – both had dedicated teams pushing out messages over social media: the Buhari New Media Centre and Atikulated Youth Force. By forming hundreds of Whatsapp groups of 256 members, these organisations could send messages to tens of thousands of people at the touch of a button.

Buhari’s effort was better funded and particularly impressive. It established a network of local and regional representatives connected to a “central command” in Abuja. This enabled the campaign to rapidly send messages from the national to the local level, while also responding to hostile messages and rumours shared by its rivals.

While those in power typically had more money to invest in their campaigns, many opposition leaders pointed out that in important ways WhatsApp had created a more level political playing field. Those who had been involved in politics for some time explained that “fake news” was nothing new in Nigeria, but that in the past it was sometimes impossible to counteract these messages because there was no way to get airtime on government aligned radio.

WhatsApp had changed this situation. Opposition leaders now have a cheap way of fighting back. It has also been used to coordinate anti-corruption campaigns and election observation, strengthening democracy.

Evolution or revolution?

It’s also important not to overstate the significance of WhatsApp. Things look very different below the national level, for example, where campaign structures were less developed and a significant proportion of activity remained informal.

We found that while candidates for Governor and Member of Parliament did set up WhatsApp groups, they were much less organised. In many cases, candidates relied on existing networks and social influencers to get the message out.

Candidates were also keen to stress that while they used WhatsApp during their campaigns, they did not rely on it. Voters expect to see their leaders on the ground, and expected them to provide a range of services for the community. Advertising good deeds over WhatsApp could help a leader get credit, but only if they had fulfilled their responsibilities in the first place.

In other words, WhatsApp can amplify and complement a candidate’s ground campaign. But it cannot replace it.

Throwing out the water but keeping the baby

These findings suggest that solutions to the power of social media platforms like WhatsApp isn’t to ban them, or to allow governments to censor them. This would merely exaggerate the vast advantages of incumbency that ruling parties already enjoy.

A better solution would be to promote digital literacy, develop social media codes of conduct around elections, and empower WhatsApp uses to control which groups they are added to, and what information they receive.

 

 

The research was conducted, and publications authored by, Jamie Hitchen, Idayat Hassan, Jonathan Fisher and Nic Cheeseman.The Conversation

Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Telecoms
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