TechCabal Daily – Solving Nigeria's kidnapping problem – TechCabal
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In today’s edition:
Two Nigerian schoolgirls, Chioma Abone and Emmanuela Ilok, have developed an anti-kidnapping technology that could help tackle kidnapping in the country.
Their solution is a company called Paramount Guard which includes an app called AirGuard and its supporting wearable, both of which alert family members and friends of the wearer whenever they’re in critical situations.
The tech was developed as part of the Young Tycoon Business Challenge, a competition where secondary school students compete for $960,000 worth of prizes: $10,000 in cash and $950,000 in benefits.
Why is this important?
Nigeria has a kidnapping problem, and it’s not new.
In 2014, two-hundred and seventy-six (276) girls were abducted from their secondary school beds in Chibok, a town in North-Eastern state Borno, Nigeria. As of now, fifty-seven (57) of the girls have escaped, one hundred and seven (107) have been released, seven (7) were found in various locations, but one hundred and twelve (113) still remain in captivity, seven years after.
Since then, Nigeria has experienced constant kidnapping sprees led by various criminal factions including Boko Haram, road bandits, and everyday citizens looking to make a quick buck.
As of 2021, there have been hundreds of kidnapping incidents from all over the county involving school children, travelers, and even government officials. In fact, the first half of 2021 saw over 2300 people falling victim.
So far, at least $19.96 million in ransom has been demanded from relatives and loved ones, some of whom never see the victims again.
A solution for the whole world.
Abone and Ilok, who are students of Greensprings schools in Lagos, emerged as finalists out of the 7,000 participants from 80 countries who participated in the Challenge. The team has said that their solution is not for Nigeria alone but for the whole world.
“We decided to work on an idea about a company called Paramount Guard, which seeks to offer security services to school students, not only in Nigeria but all over the world,” they mentioned.
Zoom out: I think it’s a good idea but I’m concerned about the practicability of it. Wearables are the first things seized in a kidnapping. If the technology does go public, won’t kidnappers just take the devices off their victims? What do you think?
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Bitnob, a trading platform that simplifies Bitcoin saving and investment for Africans, is working with Strike to launch a free, 10-second remittance transfer service for Africans through Bitcoin Lightning Network.
Michael Ajifowoke, Tech-Cabal’s West Africa Reporter, caught up with Bitnob’s CEO, Bernard Parah, to learn how the super-fast global money transfer technology works.
Tell us about the Lightning Network connecting Strike and Bitnob. How does the technology work?
The Lightning Network is another layer, like flyovers that are built over the main road to help ease the traffic and get people moving faster. The network is built on the original layer. In the same way flyovers make commuting faster by reducing traffic, the Lightning Network speeds up Bitcoin transactions which are instantly settled, regardless of where you’re sending Bitcoin from. This is because it’s not moving on the Bitcoin blockchain itself.
Won’t there be delayed settlements if there are huge volumes of transactions on the Lightning Network?
By design, the Lightning Network is supposed to ease transactions from the main Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions can never get too much because what causes traffic on the Bitcoin blockchain is the fact that it uses blocks. In a block, you have a certain number of transactions which take around 19 to 20 minutes for confirmation. Within those minutes when several people are doing a lot of transactions, it piles up and the Bitcoin itself processes around seven transactions per second. But by design, the Lightning Network can process more than one million per second. So it eases the traffic to a significant extent and it never gets crowded because the transactions are settled instantly.
Can a user receive any amount or there are limits on transactions?
When you’re receiving, there’s no amount. You can receive less than $1. For senders, the limit will vary based on the availability of liquidity and KYC standards. You can’t just say you want to transfer $1 million. We have to watch out for things like that. So there are limits and levels based on your access level.
The instant remittance service is free. How and why?
We have other services on Bitnob that we make money from. People do automatic savings, buy and sell Bitcoin, take loans, etc. And on the Lightning Network, there’s a number of ways to make money as a node. So we don’t worry about the fees on remittances. Whatever amount you’re receiving, it’s coming totally free.
Read more of this conversation in Michael Ajifowoke’s feature with Bitnob’s CEO, Bernard Parah.
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Ethiopia has begun developing its own social media platforms to rival Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Zoom.
The Ethiopian government wants to create a platform where they can moderate information and conversations about Ethiopia. The Director-General of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Shumete Gizaw, has even accused Facebook of deleting posts and profiles that portrayed Ethiopia’s true identity.
Backstory: Ethiopia is presently consumed in a ten-month civil war ignited in November 2020. The war is between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the Tigray region in the country’s north.
Supporters of both sides have since taken to social media to lead conversations and inform the public on occurrences. In some cases, pieces of information shared are either incorrect or inflammatory.
In June, Facebook pulled down sixty-five (65) Facebook profiles, fifty-two (52) pages, twenty-seven (27) groups, and thirty-two (32) Instagram accounts that posted misleading information about Ethiopia’s general election which was scheduled to hold at the end of the month.
Most of those accounts were linked to individuals associated with INSA.
Users promoting peace and unity
In his rebuttal, INSA’s DG Shumete said that Facebook blocked users who were promoting national unity and peace.
Not many countries like it when rules of engagement don’t benefit the incumbent administration.
Nigeria banned Twitter after the platform deleted a tweet from its President which inferred extrajudicial actions. Earlier this month, Zambia shut down access to social media platforms during its national elections in order to ensure that citizens didn’t share information irresponsibly.
In Ethiopia, there’s been an on-again-off-again social media blackout with the government partially restricting access to social media since last year. Facebook’s latest move didn’t quell that fire and now, Ethiopia is working on creating a platform relying solely on local expertise.
Read more in Facebook pulls down fake accounts targeting opposition figures ahead of Ethiopia’s election
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Written by – Timi Odueso
Edited by – Daniel Adeyemi
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