Nigeria Beefs Up Security At All Public Places And Markets


By Paul Ndiho, Abuja, Nigeria
Since the deadly late June blasts at a popular shopping plaza, in the heart of Nigeria’s capital, there has been increased tension in Abuja. The government has beefed up security at nearly all major public places and markets.
In recent months, markets and shopping malls in Nigeria have become easy targets by Boko Haram – the Islamic militant group that has killed hundreds of innocent civilians. In light of the June bombing — Abuja markets management limited – the body that runs all public markets in the city, is upgrading its security systems– including a heavy security presence at all public markets. Both shoppers and vendors are concerned about their safety.
A good number of them have decided to shun public gathering and markets all together and they say that the business is very slow. Peter Uchakaf, is Garki market vendor
“Due to what is happening in the country now, Boko Haram, they are not allowing us to sell now. People are afraid. People don’t come to our market anymore.Nigeria Security_9705269
Osuma Okike another Garki market vendor shares the same view.
“This time around, this is very low because of the circumstances of Boko Haram. So now, if you look into the market, it is so dry. We are having a big problem.
Princess Kofo James, owner of several Garki market shops, says customers need to be aware of their surroundings.
“We need to secure ourselves. When you look at my environment now, I have installed CCTV camera’s to scan people who enter into my shop, and I’m viewing my shops, viewing my environment. So if i see anything strange, i can easily raise it to the authorities. So if there is one thing i can contribute to my environment is to secure them.”
“I’m here in Garki market where security has been heightened because of the security concerns and threats from Boko Haram. The management of this market is not taking any chances — so they have decided to put tighten security at all the entrances of the market.”
Abuja markets management says they are doing everything they can to make sure that shoppers are safe, everyone is subjected to a pat – down security check.
Plus, they’ve installed state-of-the-art closed circuit television CCTV cameras, bomb detecting equipment– and they scan every car entering the market.
Voice of America was given exclusive access to go behind-the-scenes to see how the automated system works. Ismail Aluma is head of automation for Garki Model Market.
“The first thing we want to achieve here is to make sure we have a safe and conducive market environment where shoppers will be happy and be free and be secure while doing their shopping.
“We have security features like when you are picking the card; we have a snapshot of you. And we have it set up at the both of the entrances and the exit, so we know what time you go in and we know what time you go out. The ticket says it all. Once we scan the tickets, it gives you the details of the car and the person driving it and everything.”
Everyone entering the mall is thoroughly searched at the gate and compelled to pass through the entrance gate while entering the market, and follow the exit gate while leaving the market.
No one escapes the security check– and i was no exception.
Ibrahim Yahaya – Joe, the market manager says that any given time security guards are conducting stop-and-search routines with their metal detector scanners on motorists before allowing them to drive into the market.
“We work around the clock to ensure a safe and secure market environment that will be user-friendly, that will be customer friendly, and, in the light what we are seeing in security, to make people as they come in to be secured. What you see is like our second nature. We make it within….it ourselves and we should check, scan every car coming in.
Business analysts say that besides the security upgrades on the market, the automated system helps to generate near 100 percent revenue for the market.

Africa’s Innovation and Technology Channel


Online weekly TV magazine channel to unveil and showcase innovations and technology in Africa

The boom of information and communication technologies in Africa has ignited interesting innovations across the continent. Unfortunately, there is no coherent effort to capture and showcase (introduce) these innovations to the world. Tech Clip

The Africa Innovation and Technology Channel will capture innovations in Africa and introduce these entrepreneurs to the global market with a goal of inspiring the next generation of innovators in Africa. The Technology Channel will also provide these new innovations a platform to expand market reach and exposure to the world markets.

Over the last decade, the role of technology has significantly increased in the lives of Africans. More than700 million Africans have access to mobile broadband.

Startups are emerging and there is an excitement for innovation related stories. Access is becoming easier, mobile is booming and a technology explosion is happening. Analyst say that tech hubs in Africa provide a home for those with new and innovative ideas, create an atmosphere where they are encouraged to try new things and, most importantly, are able to meet like-minded individuals they can grow with.

In the past few years, startups techs in Africa have built amazing products that can compete on the international stage. They have however lacked the platform to showcase these products. To build capacity, these techs need the exposure in order to move from the “start-up” to a fully viable tech industry provider.

From iCOW apps in Ghana; Spark in Nigeria; to BRCK connectivity and mobile gaming in Kenya; to a computer tablet that diagnoses cardiovascular diseases in rural Cameroon, and to a computer tablet that uses local languages in Congo. Young Africans are using access to the Internet to address challenges that affected the continent for decades.

Kenya is now considered a major technology center in the world thanks to the jobless youths who spend a lot of time at iHub in Nairobi ‘playing’ with technology and creating amazing applications.

GREAT DEALS ON USED SMARTPHONES — GSM VILLAGE ABUJA, NIGERIA


Nigeria Technology_9659543-1 Nigeria Technology_9659543By Paul Ndiho

Scores of Nigerian mobile phone users are heading to Abuja’s Global System for Mobile Communications Village for phone swaps or great deals known as Kankara. The market has become a popular destination in the capital, with clients cutting across all spectrum’s.
Abuja’s GSM Village, also known as the Wuse zone one is the place to be for Nigerians looking to buy a new or used mobile phone – or to trade their current one. The zone is a bustling market for sellers and shoppers of all sorts of phones. Many residents of Abuja and its suburbs frequent this market to buy mobile phones and accessories along with other phone services. But, there is catch!! Almost all the different types of phones sold here are imported from China and other parts of Asia.
“We import them from China, Hong Kong, owners of Nokia, Samsung, HTC, any smartphone in fact, we can do quite well.
All types of phones are brought back to life due to the ingenuity of these mostly young people who are determined to succeed in a country with very few opportunities.
“It takes me less than 30 minutes to put a new screen on iPhone. I taught myself how to do it. I knew I can do it better than I know. Any type of phone I can fix. Any kind of phone, Ipods, iPhones, any kind I can fix. Kenneth, software engineer, is another incredible phone technician.
“I do install applications on locked and unlocked phones. I flash out phones that have malfunctioned; I maintain PC’s or computers. I have a lot of software for blackberries, Samsung, for techno, for HTCs and so on and so forth.”
A visit this market is to witness entrepreneurship at its best, it’s a place where customers get great bargains on the various brands of phones….


“If you’re look for anything to do with a smartphone, a tablet, or if your phone has problems and you want a solution, a quick fix to the problem, this is the place where you come to get your phones, you get your computers fixed.”
“It’s a market where young people will come to get out displaying their entrepreneurial experience. Nigeria is a country where we have entrepreneurial from all sectors, and with the advance of telecommunications, we decide to come together to fend for ourselves.”
The trade entails a buyer handing over an their old phone in exchange of a new one – sometimes you may be asked to add some little money depending on what kind of phone you are looking for. The GSM village offers you the opportunity to get your dream phone according to one of the market officials.
“GSM has been in existence for quite some time now and is a very good market, a market that is full of a lot of youth, so vibrant and hardworking people.”
However, Abuja’s GSM village market is not without its challenges– including a lack of electricity, insecurity and poor infrastructure, such as the availability of parking spaces.
“There are a lot of challenges as you can see. We are a preferring to move and make some arrangements to move this market forward. That is our mission.
Analysts say that Abuja’s GSM Village offers great opportunities for youths, especially young graduates looking for employment.

Nigeria’s IGP says the government is focusing on preventing other attacks


Boko Haram UpdateBy Paul Ndiho, Abuja, Nigeria
Last week more than 60 women and girls managed to escape from the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. They’re among several hundred that have been abducted in different parts of North Eastern Nigeria. However, Boko Haram is still holding more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in April.
Boko Haram triggered an international outcry when it captured more than 200 schoolgirls in Borno State’s Chibok town. It’s been nearly three months and still no news of their release. Parents of the abducted schoolgirls, concerned citizens and human rights activists are still pleading for action. I met up with the group in Unity Park in central Abuja over the girls, chanting: “Bring back our girls now and alive. Moreen Kabrik is one of the activists.

“We’re still carrying on with our campaign because our mission, our purpose of coming here everyday has not been achieved. The essence of our coming out here everyday is to serves as a reminder to each one of us as citizens of Nigeria, that something is wrong; our sisters are still being abducted. They haven’t come back yet to their parents and I think there is a need for us to continue coming out here.

A campaign to “Bring Back Our Girls” is still concerned over the kidnappings, the vulnerability of the girls and the brutality of the attackers. Aisha, another “Bring Back Our Girls” activist says the government is not doing enough.

“Initially the government said that they were doing everything they can, but we want to see results. We don’t want a situation where we see motion without movement. We want movement of the girls back to their parents and basically what the government is doing is trying to fight us.
In light of the recent developments including the bombing carried out by Boko Haram at Banex plaza, a popular shopping centre in the heart of the capital, Abuja — where at least 21 people died and several others injured, the government and security agencies continue to face criticism both at home and abroad – over how they have dealt with Boko Haram militants and the Kidnapped girls. However, the government says it’s fighting back. Mohammed Abubakar is Nigeria’s Inspector General of police or IGP.

“People don’t have a basic understanding of what terror is. You need to understand what terror is, their belief. It’s an ideological belief that they believe in and as far as I’m concerned, I know we have done so much. Not only as the police but all the security agencies, particularly the police as the lead internal security agency. So much is being done in terms of deployment, in terms of intelligence and terms of surveillance – Otherwise, the attacks could have been much more than this…”

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has increasingly targeted civilians in its bloody five-year insurgency. Critics of the government say there are raising public anger over government’s inability to protect citizens from violent attacks. The Inspector general of police and other security agencies are focusing on preventing other attacks

“In recent times, we have had several arrests made in different states that prevented other attacks. But generally we’re doing everything to reassure the public that the government is on top of the security situation and we’re not overwhelmed by such situations.” Boko Haram Update-1

I was given access to Banex Plaza shopping centre, the scene of a bomb blast that had killed 21 people in the upscale neighborhood.

“ The whole place has been cordoned off for security reasons of course and as you can see there is no business activity taking place at this time.

I spoke to Adrian Uchena, a trader and one of the eyewitnesses; who narrowly survived the powerful blast that shuttered the entire shopping mall. He explains what really happened on that fateful day.

“What happened here a couple weeks ago is that– – we experienced these unprecedented happenings by Boko Haram people. They want to come in here, and security refused them to enter with their jeep they pretended that they’re going to bank. When they refused them the second time, that’s when bomb blow up.”

Last Month’s bomb attack was the third on the capital since April, but the other two – car bombings of a bus station and street both in the suburb of Nyanya that killed about 90 people between them – did not strike at the heart of the city.
Security analysts say, a spate of deadly bombings outside of its northeastern heartlands – in Jos, Kano and Abuja – suggests Boko Haram is trying to push its sphere of influence outwards across Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.
Today the government says it’s doing everything in its power to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again. People are getting back to their normal routine; renovations are taking place and hopefully things will change for better.

U.S – Power Africa Initiative


Power Africa_9407386By Paul Ndiho

Nearly a year ago, U.S President Barack Obama unveiled a new “Power initiative for Africa” with the goal to dramatically increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. Government officials, African energy ministers, along with representatives from more than 30 U.S companies in the energy and petroleum sectors recently met Ethiopia to discuss energy policies and energy efficient technologies.
More than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is without electricity and more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas lack access to power. The Power Africa Initiative is expected to build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy.
President Obama explained the need for the 7 billion dollar initiative last year while speaking at the University of Cape Town.
“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It is the light that children study by. The energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. The lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs. And it’s the connection that is needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy. You got to have power,”
The program was formally launched last week to make power more accessible to Africans who are not being serviced by their national grids, through small scale energy solutions dubbed ‘Beyond the Grid’. The initiative will use partnerships with 27 investors and energy companies committing to investing over 1 billion US dollars to grow off-grid and small scale solutions on the continent.
“Our Power Africa program already supports over 25 small-scale energy projects, but Beyond the Grid will expand this significantly facilitating over 1 billion in new private sector investments.”
According to the International Energy Agency, the region will require more than 300 billion U.S. dollars in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.
The Power Africa Initiative aims to install 10,000 megawatts of new generation capacity, connect 20 million new customers, and improve electric reliability across the continent. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Desalegn Hailemariam welcomed the initiative saying private sector investment in energy had been slow.
“Until recently the private sector has not shown much interest to invest in power sector in Africa due to its long return period. We the African governments also have not created the necessary environments to ease the risk associated with long term investment.”
Africa is rich in energy. There are enormous untapped resources of gas, oil, coal, geothermal, solar and wind power that could easily meet the region’s requirements.
Analysts say the big obstacle to electrification in Africa is not constructing power stations and building overhead power lines. It is working out how to help the region’s households – many with limited and irregular cash flows, little collateral and no access to credit – to pay for the huge investment needed to bring electricity to them.
“Power Africa basically gives every developer who is trying to build power in Africa a red phone a red line directly to the US agencies and say ‘hey I have a project in Africa can you look at it?’ And what it does is it moves your project to the front of the line.”
Critics say that another major problem for investors is that customers often fail to pay utilities. Unless the payment and credit problem can be resolved, electrification is unlikely to make much progress.

Nestle To Invest 70 Million Dollars In Nigeria


By Paul Ndiho

Nestle the world’s leading nutrition, health and Wellness Company will invest 70 million US dollars in Nigeria this year to grow its food business. And the multinational company and plans to expand its distribution network in one of Africa’s biggest economies.

Swiss transnational food and Beverage Company headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland — and perhaps the largest food company in the world, is set to invest 70 million dollars in its local subsidiary in Nigeria.

In the past six years, the company has invested 400 million us dollars into its food and cereals business in Nigeria Nestle Nigeria

As part of its efforts to expand its distribution base, nestle Nigeria launched 10 mobile vans in Nigeria’s commercial capital this year. It’s also looking to capitalize on Nigeria’s booming internet retailers, to develop online sales capacity.

The mobile vans would be stationed at housing estates and colleges with large populations and little retail presence.

“Over many years we have managed to build a formidable sales structure and route to market. Ideally the strength of that is really finding local partners and local partners I mean, local Nigerian distributors who have their own businesses across the spectrum, so today we have over 70 distributors who we consider to be partners and together we invest in improving the skills, so we do a lot of training, a lot of development, we bring new sales tools to assist them, we teach good practices in terms of distribution, in terms of warehousing so our model is really “

Nestle’s seasoning product, Maggi, reaches 20 million Nigerian consumers every year. The company hopes to sell even more of the product by reaching into the growing towns and villages, using the mobile vans.

“If you think about the challenges every business has, it’s containing operating cost and becoming more efficient, becoming smarter at the way you procure raw materials, driving efficiency in manufacturing is certainly the strategy because at the end of the day, the consumer will not pay for our waste and the more inefficient we are, it means that we have another option of what is in existing price and this is not what we believe and we believe that consumers seek value and one of the ways we will deliver value in addition to doing things right in terms of the nutrition, in terms of having healthier tastier choices is to drive down cost which means you can offer consumers better value at more competitive pricing,”

Nestle is also investing 25 million US dollars this year to double its water bottling capacity in Nigeria to 200,000 liters, as it tries to meet growing demand in the north of the country and expand its 6 percent market share.

BLACK SOUTH AFRICANS STILL STRUGGLING 20 YEARS LATER AFTER THE END OF APARTHEID


By Paul Ndiho

April 28th, 2014

South Africans head to the polls on May 7, with elections falling nearly exactly on the 20th anniversary of the first post-apartheid elections, held on April 27, 1994 – formally ending the racist regime known as apartheid.
April 27 marked the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first multiracial elections, which ended three centuries of white domination – and 46 years of formalized oppression of the black majority under the apartheid system.

Aparthied South Africa PKG
Here in the United States, civil rights organization and activists alike stood in solidarity with the people of South Africa and the ruling African National Congress – ANC, which spearheaded the fight against apartheid, and has remained in power since 1994. Nicole lee is the president of Trans Africa, the organization that lead the free south Africa movement in the U.S. She says the country has not changed much.
“I think apartheid in itself was evil. It was built not only an ideology, but built upon structures. And so there was a lot of structural violence within the apartheid. That the fact that the political system is overturned that doesn’t mean the economic system is changed very much”
Critics of the government say that unemployment in South Africa is very high, at around 25 percent and labor unrest frequently halts production in the mainstay mining and auto sectors.
The violence at the Marikina platinum plant in 2012 still weighs heavily on the minds of many citizens. Police killed 34 miners who were striking for better wages.
Graphic images of bullet-riddled bodies of the workers were reminiscent of the country’s racist past and lee says the nation still has a long way to go.
“I think that the situation in South Africa still remains economically grave for many South Africans especially black South Africans, the lack of jobs, the lack of adequate health care, the lack of education, that’s still is a major factor.”
Despite the significant strides made in the last couple years in the areas of civil society, woman organizations, and community organizations, Nicole Lee explains that more needs to be done.
“There are a lot of changes that need to be made. And one of the things that Trans Africa does now we stand inside with the people of South Africa, with the civil society organization that are pushing for change. And we really think that is the appropriate place. That is where we stood during the partied and we stand there today.”
During the apartheid struggle, many Americans kept the anti-apartheid movement alive, particularly members of the African American community. They staged demonstrations in the churches, on campuses, in corporate boardrooms and trade union halls. Cecelie counts, was one of the protesters. She says it was a natural reaction for most African-Americans, because of the history of black people in America.

“In 1984 when the apartheid regime cracked down once again and it was broadcast on television we just had to channel that energy in protests. It was those actions of the apartheid government and the slowness of our own government to change its policy and recognize that it was wrong to support in the name of constructive engagement the apartheid regime that caused us to start civil disobedience. They were sit-ins, they’re arrests. It wasn’t just demonstrations, the demonstrations had been going on for some time – what was new was the civil disobedience.”
The fight to end apartheid was a global fight that had roots here in the United States. Key players in the anti-apartheid movement; including people like Randall Robinson, founder and former president of Trans Africa forum, advocates who later became members of congress like Maxine Walters, and others, led protests and called for U.S. sanctions against south Africa.
“The fact that apartheid ended with the help of the international community just gives us some hope that when people come together they can force change.”
The most prominent person of the apartheid era was the late nelson Mandela. The anti-apartheid hero died last December at the age of 95, but his legacy to South Africa and the world was his unwavering courage, forgiveness and hope, that touched and inspired people around the world. He showed that the dream of a just society is possible – and he challenged future generations to lead the way towards it.