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The Internet, Web Based Security And Social Media: Is Privacy Really Privacy?

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There was a time when we all used to hear that “the world is becoming a global village”. Well, this is no longer the case as the world has long since become a global village and that is the very premise upon which this paper is written. The world has even become even smaller that we thought.

From the humble beginnings of the internet being merely a quick means of communication it has transcended its horizons to become a platform where almost every vital information (ranging from home addresses to credit card numbers) is written and even in most cases stored. Large businesses and corporate organizations use it for business transactions, youths and even the elderly post almost every detail of their everyday lives via pictures and videos through uploading, files and data are stored on the web and shared and this does not even compare to the vast amount of information that can be downloaded at the simple click of a button. Scary isn’t it?

We are fast approaching the 22nd century and it is amazing the amount of rapid development that we have observed from the 19th century. We have such a vast amount of information available at our disposal that almost everyone has access to any kind of information at the click of a button and I mean any kind.

There are more than a million websites providing and receiving access to vast information from job search websites to online libraries and e-book stores to social media websites only to  mention a few. It is also no hidden fact that to register as an online member and enjoy the seeming privileges  of any social platform or even business website, personal information will have to be inputted such as  names, date of birth and emails. Even when purchasing products online which has become the new way to shop, bank accounts and even credit card details are imputed.

The fulcrum of most of these online activities are that online agreements to ‘terms and conditions’ containing voluminous information as to the rights of incoming users are usually in tiny print and are hardly, if ever read by most of the users. This agreements are simply just agreed to with just a click, granting access to personal information by the social media platform or internet service and with a consensual right to do so. Such imputations are then stated to be protected but then again, How truly safe is safe? How aware are we of the so called ‘security arrangements to ensure that confidentiality been put in place?

Is it not persons or organizations headed by persons that are actually in charge of the information that seems to be kept confidential? What rights do we have as online and active internet users on this web based platforms? *pause to consider*

This is not to say that there no numerous advantages of doing transactions online. It’s a very cheap means of communication and getting information across way faster than if it was done via phone calls or having to go deliver a document or a series of documents personally. There is access to a lot of background information concerning agencies, companies and organizations with whom business transactions are to be done with and this allows for proper knowledge about the other party. There is also no time limitation for accessibility to information and it can be accessed outside a formal working environment.

Indeed we live in a world where there is a need to become aware and take advantage of the internet and its many advantages but just as the biblical saying goes,  ‘ Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves” we need to be aware of some of the harsh realities and potential risks of active internet use so as to be properly guided. The truth is that most information that are stored online are permanent and most times non erasable. It may be deleted but then again, not so easily formatted and can be accessed at any time.

E-mails contain a written record of transactions and this can be made public if not properly encrypted. It is a terrible thing when a website of a company or a personal web page containing vital and secret information is hacked into. This can lead to a valuable loss of data acquired over a period of time which can be used for fraud or other illegal purposes. It has commonly been reported by many face book account holders that their accounts have been hacked into and pornographic and other harmful material has been posted on their pages without consent. Not to even mention the offensive and many at times libelous materials are posted online and can spread all over the world in very few minutes despite the fact that such information might be false. Social networking sites are very popular, with hundreds of millions of users between them.

However there has been growing concern over privacy violations caused by such sites. Some concerns relate to media and communications literacy, with many users unaware of the risks involved in revealing personal information to others. Many users do not exercise restraint about who they allow to see their data, and many users are believed to befriend people that they do not know well. This can have considerable implications given, for example, that on Facebook, the average user has 130 friends on the site.

A study was carried out in the UK and it was seen that of 191 largest international companies, 84% gave employees unlimited use of the internet. More than 8 out of 10 employees looked at entertainment, sports news, organized personal finances and booked holidays in working time. Half of the dozen using the internet at work visited chat rooms. This survey was done in the year 1991. The hidden but obvious question now is how did was this information gotten? Obviously there were monitoring systems able to access and track whatever site the employees were accessing. This is the reality of most internet surfing where records of pages and sites visited and can be retrieved. Shocking isn’t it?

Each computer, mobile phone or other device attached to the Internet has a unique IP address, which provides unique identification for every device and which means in turn that they can be traced. The ability to locate any device creates significant new privacy challenges. Let me shock you more…. Statistics from the ITU, show that between 2005 and 2010 alone, the number of Internet users doubled. In 1995 only 0.4% of the world’s population had access to the Internet, by March 2011 that percentage had erupted to 30.2%.15. This corresponds to more than two billion Internet users, 1.2 billion of whom are in developed countries. The rise in usage of mobile phones has been even more extraordinary. Today there are more than 5.3 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide. Access to mobile networks is available to 90% of the world’s population, and some commentators believe that universal availability may be achieved within the next five years.

Currently there are about 5 billion online users of internet facilities. The current facebook Third quarter 2015 summary of active users Daily Active Users were 1.01 billion on average, an increase of 17% year over year. Mobile Daily Active users were 894 million for September 2015, an increase of 27% year over year. And by this time tomorrow it would have increased still. It makes users vulnerable to unilateral changes made by Facebook and also other social networks to their privacy policies and privacy practices. Users are sufficiently locked-in to the social network that even if they fundamentally disagree with social network privacy policies, they are unlikely to leave the network. This substantially increases the leverage of the social network over their users’ privacy.

In developed countries it as recently reported that there are more mobile subscriptions than there are people (113.6 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants), and while the number is much lower in developing countries, it is still very high, with 56.8 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. One can only imagine the rapid growth of ICT now in the year 2015.

Even  Internet service Providers (ISP’s)  have also been culprits in the way personal information has been exchanged and used. Due to the fact that most ISP’s are state owned and is subject to licensing agreements that mandate them to provide data to public agencies, they become more vulnerable to share and give large amounts of personal data to state authorities for some reasonable amount of consideration such as more and exclusive access to  additional internet content.  Other forms in which privacy of data has also become a concern is through forms such as cloud computing; where large amounts of personal data are being stored in an online ‘cloud’, personal data is transmitted across the Internet and this most definitely poses a risk to how that data is controlled  by that individual. Some of the risks of this is that a “cloud provider may, without notice to a user, move the user’s information from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from provider to provider, or from machine to machine.”

Another source is the use of search engines, this resource allows persons to navigate through an incredible amount of data and information online so it will not be strange to find out that they would have vast amounts of personal data available due to the nature of their business model.

Similarly, mobile phones which also include smart phones give undeniable access to personal data and can negate the concept of user privacy and this includes unique mobile device (IMEI) and SIM card (IMSI) identifiers, the ability to regularly ascertain the approximate geographic location of mobile device and the ability for third parties to intercept wireless mobile communications as they travel through the air. This is the situation as long as the mobile phone is connected to the internet.

Social media and networking also poses its challenges to privacy as it can be sufficient for personal data to be publicly available only for a short period of time before it is already distributed onto many other sites and online spaces.

With current technological advancements there is no doubt that the Internet, in turn, inevitably reshapes what we understand privacy to be in the modern world.  A UNESCO publication series on internet freedom recently stated that and we will all agree that :

There are significant new developments in biometrics, such as facial recognition, finger scanning and iris-scanning, which are becoming increasingly popular as a method to secure identification. Such biometric devices have a wide variety of uses – they are used  to prevent fraud by retailers and restaurant owners, to identify voters in elections, to provide immigration access (rather than use a passport), to maintain attendance records in workplaces or to gain access to high-security areas. While there is a great deal of social utility in these applications there are concerns about the control of such digital data, particularly questions of storage and access. There has been a particular controversy about whole body imaging used at airports following attempts by terrorists to smuggle

bombs on planes inside their clothing. Many travelers dislike the use of technologies which penetrate clothing and produce what is essentially a nude image of an individual which is viewed by others. Many find this to be an invasion of their privacy. Against these privacy concerns must be balanced the safety of passengers of course but in these fast moving circumstances striking the right balance is fraught with difficulties.

This is the million dollar question, Do individual Internet users have control over their own personal data, including over how it is collected, retained, processed, used and disclosed?

At this point it will be wise to state that the word privacy in its real sense is related to internet and cyber space can be regarded as having a dual aspect – it is concerned with what information or side of our lives we can keep private; and also with the ways in which third parties deal with the information that they hold – whether it is safeguarded, shared, who has access and under what conditions. This however differs in definition to what is known as data protection.

Data protection on the other hand  although it is related to the concept of privacy and the internet, it is of more recent origin as a result of the increase in how personal data of individuals was collected by the government. The idea behind data protection is that individuals have the right to control the collection and use of data by which they are identified. This simply means that the gathering and holding of personal information by public or private bodies must be regulated and individuals can as of right choose who holds their information, for what purpose and what kind of information might be held.

One of the exception towards this is police investigations into crime here personal information will definitely be needed and gotten. However, there is a slight distinction, data protection principles are not totally subsumed under the human right to privacy as will be popularly thought, its principles can however be derived from it and this is recognized on an international scale. Data protection rules are also different from privacy, both in their scope and substantive rules. Data protection applies to all personally identifying data, while privacy, although it has never been comprehensively defined, applies only to a narrower scope of information, normally information about which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This simply means that data protection is limited in  relation to processed information while privacy in itself relates to any event or matter an individual expects should be kept private.

Despite the challenges of  protection user information due to the transnationality of the internet and some of the issues raised above, many states have enacted data protection laws since the 1980’s even till now but then again it should be noted that legislation and public policy have had significant difficulty in keeping up with rapid growth of technology.

Let us see some international and domestic legislation on these concepts ;

Privacy finds direct and explicit protection under international human rights law. Article 12 of the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) states:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Within the United Nations, General Assembly Resolution 45/95, Guidelines for the regulation of computerized personal data files, sets out ten key principles on data protection. These are relevant primarily to national legislation but are also binding on intergovernmental organizations, with appropriate modifications. They apply to publicly and privately held computerized files containing data on individuals, and may be extended to cover manual files and/or data on legal persons. Some of the guidelines of this law include; Lawfulness and Fairness which states that the collection of data should be fair and lawful and not contrary to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Accuracy which means that information gotten should by data controllers should be checked regularly to ensure that information gotten are relevant and accurate and should be complete for the purpose for which it was collected. Purpose-Specification meaning that the purpose for which data is collected should be legitimate and brought to the attention of the data subjects, the data should not be used for other, incompatible, purposes, and the data should only be kept for as long as necessary to serve this purpose. Interested-Person Access meaning that data subjects have the right to know when their data is being collected or processed, to access that data in an intelligible form, without undue delay or expense and to make appropriate rectifications or deletions.

Non-Discrimination which states that any exceptions to these principles may not be discriminatory in nature. Security, a guideline which states that appropriate measures should be taken to protect data against both natural and human risks, including unauthorized access, misuse or physical contamination. The Guidelines recognize that there may be a need for exceptions from the first five principles, but only as necessary to protect national security, public order, health and morals, or the rights and freedoms of others.

Here in Nigeria, Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides:

“The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”

Section 45, however, provides that this shall not invalidate any law that is “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society (a) in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom or other persons.”

However there is little jurisprudence on how these actually applies in practice in relation to this internet law in practice.

Section 12(4) of the Computer Security and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Bill, 2005 does provide for a very limited form of data protection as follows:

“Any data retained, processed or retrieved by the service provider at the request of any law enforcement agency under this Act or pursuant to any regulation under this section, shall not be utilized except for legitimate purposes. Under this Act, utilization of the data retained, processed

or retrieved shall constitute legitimate purpose only with the consent of individuals to whom the data applies or authorized by a court of competent jurisdiction or other lawful authority.”

There is a need for Nigerian legislation to keep up with the current rate of technological development and just as other countries have established frameworks to ensure that the society is kept abreast of the legal implication of internet and illegal use of it, there is indeed a call for the respective governments to make up to date legislations and Nigeria is not excluded.

Also Read Interview With Street Global Venture Capital Partners, Alysia Silberg And Christian Meyers

We also have the Cyber Crimes Law in 2013. This enactment of this bill is to curb the activities of internet scammers who always give the country a bad name locally and physically, it also ensures protection of critical national information infrastructure and therefore allows for detection, prevention and prosecution of cyber crimes and other related matters. The criticism against this enactment however was the fact that it was observed the CEO of Mobile Software solutions Chris Uwaje that the law is fundamentally flawed by the fact that the foundation for the ICT Legislation Architecture of Nigeria which is the “National Information Technology (IT) Bill” and its enabling acts has not been laid.

This is a very important observation to look into because like the legal saying goes  “you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand”. It is my suggestion that a basic foundational frame work and adequate legislation to cover lacunas of the previous laws should enacted be must adequately be taken care of. Some of the recommendations I suggest are:

Firstly, our legal frame work should be well equipped to handle and clearly point out the extent, limits and restrictions towards the use of personal information by both private and public organizations alike. The United Nations, General Assembly Resolution 45/95, Guidelines for the regulation of computerized personal data files should be if not already enacted into our domestic laws, this will go in no small way to define the concept of privacy and its relationship to data protection. Constitutional safeguards to individual privacy must be respected and should be backed up with providing for recourse to civil action for breaches of privacy.

Secondly, states should put in place strong data protection regimes which should also include broad applicability, the right of consent, the right to  access and correct, obligations on data controllers and the right of redress.

Thirdly, corporations should commit to developing clear privacy policies and make users of this various social media outlets be aware of their existing privacy policies and notify the users if there will be any change in such policies. Corporate and public initiatives should also do well to ensure the encryption of data information through the use of strong encryption technologies.

Finally in this 21st century the biggest role player in tackling and handling this issue is the media and the educational system. The media should play a role in informing the public about the importance of internet privacy and the various challenges that arise as a result of the development of the internet, such as the sometimes careless approach towards privacy some of which has been pontificated in this paper. Journalism has a vital role to play here as well as they need to be aware and create awareness on how the rate of development of internet technology can affect the public in relation to its privacy concerns.

Also Read Interview With The co-founders Of Vuuqa, Horesia Nyawade and Tshiwela Ncube

There is also the need to be updated about current user privacy policies being used by corporations and companies alike many of whom provide internet and  social media services.  An example of this can be done through developing awareness campaigns, raising resources and making them accessible online and in other places where adults can access them. Nigeria as a country should include Media and Internet literacy as a basic life-skill in the education system, starting from quite an early age to even the university level as part of broader civic education or human development courses so as to be equipped with the requisite technical knowledge.

Parents should not neglect teaching their wards on proper use of the internet and its facilities and the dangers of improper use.

When the government including Domestic and International state actors, the media, corporate bodies and companies including Internet Service Providers and even parents cooperate,  there will be a sizeable achievement towards the protection of privacy not only domestically but on a  global scale.

 

Author:

Rosemond Phil -Othihiwa (LLB.HONS. BL)

 

REFERENCES

  •  Ani, L. Cyber crime and national security: the role of the penal and procedural law T.G. George-Maria Tyendezwa , Legislation On Cybercrime In Nigeria: Imperatives And Challenges.
  • Facebook, (2012) “ Statistics” published online http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
  • Turow, J. Americans and Online Privacy: The System is Broken
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center. (2011). Face Recognition. (EPIC). Retrieved December 13, 2011, from https://epic.org/privacy/facerecognition/ http://www.securitymanagement.com/archive/library/Anneberg_privacy1003.pdf
  • Toby M, Andrew P, Ben W, Dixie H, Natalia T, UNESCO SERIES ON INTERNET FREEDOM, Cultural Organization, Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression communication and Information Sector, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • Privacy International, (2006) “Privacy and Human Rights 2006: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Developments”http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtml?cmd[347]=x-34765435&als[theme]=Privacy%20and%20Human%20Rights
  • Privacy International. (2006). Privacy International 2006 – Executive Summary. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from https://www.privacyinternational.org/article/phr2006-executive-summary
  • Hargittai, E. (2010). Trust online: young adults’ evaluation of web content. International Journal of Communication, 4.
  • Google. (2011). Google Transparency Report. Google. Retrieved December 13, 2011, from https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/
  • Fitzpatrick, M. “Mobile that allows bosses to snoop on staff developed” BBC News 10/03/2010 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8559683.stm

 

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The Launch of the Guinea-Bissau Accelerator Lab, a UNDP Initiative

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Accelerator Lab Guinea-Bissau Launch event: Panel debate about innovation

“We are pleased to open the launch of the Accelerator Lab, which is a UNDP initiative with the aims of improving the development sector in the country, working very closely with the community and its local inventors, thus creating local solutions for their needs.”

And so it began, the opening of the Accelerator Lab by the Bissau-Guinean band Tabanka Djaz, on December 9th, which took place at the Hotel CEIBA in Bissau with a limited number of participants due to COVID-19 restrictions. The event had a hybrid structure, physical and virtual, to reach the widest possible audience.  Tabanka Djaz, a very popular band, with a wide range of influence in the country and the diaspora, it was therefore imperative to have them open the event and attract their audience and increase the visibility of the Lab. The Lab’s initiative is supported by two main investors; the Federal Republic of Germany, through the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the State of Qatar, through the Qatar Development Fund.

Event opening and musical performance by the famous Guinean band Tabanka Djaz

The Accelerator Lab Event summary

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Suzy Carla Barbosa, gave a brief speech welcoming the Accelerator Lab and praising the UNDP initiative, followed by Tjark Egenhoff, UNDP Resident Representative in Guinea-Bissau, who delved into the global network’s background, stressed the urgent need to rethink development for the 21st century. The German Ambassador to Guinea-Bissau Stephan Röken sent a video message congratulating UNDP for being one of the most recent to join the global network of Accelerator Labs. The Ambassador also spoke about the strong cooperation between Germany and UNDP and the importance of the global community going beyond “business as usual”,  efforts, and supporting innovation in this sense, because based on current trends, we are still very far from achieving the goals of the SDG Agenda (Sustainable Development Goals).

After the opening, there was a brief presentation by the Accelerator Lab team, where the frontier challenge was discussed, which has been identified as “the lack of basic and quality services” in the case of the Lab in Guinea-Bissau, and its main focus. Take a look at the documentary video about Guinea-Bissau Accelerator Lab here

Speech by Suzy Carla Barbosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcoming the initiative of the Accelerator Lab in Guinea-Bissau

The need for innovation in Guinea-Bissau

After the presentations, an innovation panel was moderated by the Resident Representative accompanied by Magda Robalo, High Commissioner for COVID-19 in Guinea-Bissau, José Carlos Varela Casimiro, Secretary of State for Budget and Nadine Perrault, UNICEF Representative. The panel introduced an interesting discussion around the need for innovation in Guinea-Bissau, asking the speakers “what are the ways that we can leverage innovation for development in the country?”.

Some responses included, new investment opportunities in innovation for development in the regions of Guinea-Bissau, as well as forging a connection with the government for more sustainable development. The panel’s questions were not limited to the speakers, the guests in the audience were also encouraged to contribute their ideas.

One of the participants, Ricardo Cá, winner of the African Salon of Invention and Technological Innovation award, spoke about his innovation, the cashew nut peeling machine, which works without electricity, only on pedals and with the ability to produce up to 15 kilograms of clean cashew nut per hour.

The second participant, Domingos da Silva, also known as “Kasacou”, spoke about his invention of the recycling area, which consists of recycling glass bottles and making them into building blocks. 

Ricardo Cá, local innovator and winner of the African Salon of Technological Invention and Innovation, intervened in the discussion about local innovation

Introducing the “Solutions Mapping” approach

During the event, a new approach from the Lab was also presented, focussing on the mapping of solutions, seeking innovative localized solutions to understand local needs. The people directly affected by the problem are the ones who create these basic innovations, it is not really a single solution, but the need that these solutions try to address,  Governments and NGOs do not always understand the complexities of local limitations. The event united this ecosystem, consisting of Ricardo Cá and Domingos da Silva ”Kasacou” among other innovators and grassroots organizations, and included them in the discussion, in order to highlight their solutions, but also their challenges faced on the ground. 

Brief presentation by the Guinea-Bissau Accelerator Lab team, explaining the goals, objectives and methodology of the Accelerator Lab network.

The next steps for the Accelerator Lab 

One of the main objectives of the Lab is to map existing solutions, through interactions with communities where the Accelerator Lab team will be able to raise a dialogue with grassroots innovators and other innovators who generally fall outside UNDP’s radar. The next steps for the Accelerator Lab include producing a six-week workplan, through which the team will develop strategies and ways to engage with the frontier challenge. The importance of narrowing the frontier challenge lies in the understanding that, although challenges can be resolved in collaboration with the community, many limitations already have solutions in place. These existing solutions need to be mapped and it’s  understood, to see what works and what does not work, in order to introduce new solutions. 

The launch of the Accelerator Lab was very important to introduce the initiative to Guinea-Bissau. It was also an opportunity to have face-to-face interactions, to build synergies with future partners and involve local innovators and grassroots initiatives for the future functioning of the Lab. The event was recorded and broadcasted live to those interested, in the diaspora, as well as to those in the country who were unable to attend due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The event has had over 600 streams on Zoom and Facebook, broadcast the full event here; and give us your opinion or collaborate with us through a message to info.acclabgw@undp.org. In addition, if you know any Guinean innovators in the country or in the diaspora, please enter their details using this form.  

Source: UNDP Guinea-Bissau

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Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)

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Thabo Mashegoane

The President and Board Chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), Thabo Mashegoane, has been elected as Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA).

Formerly the Vice-Chairman of AfICTA, he succeeds Engr. Hossam Elgamal from Egypt to become the third Chairman. AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of ICT Associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa, aims to fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa by encouraging dialogue and fostering ICT enabled development.

During an electronic election at the AfICTA Annual General Meeting on 25 November, Mashegoane was elected chair, while IITPSA Past President and Non-Executive Director Ulandi Exner was also elected AfICTA Vice-Chair for Southern Africa.

The election named the following board members and officers: Paul Rowney, Deputy Chair; Opeyemi Onifade, Treasurer; Dr. Waudo Siganga, Vice-Chair for East Africa; Engr. Assem Wahby, Vice-Chair, North Africa; Adetola Sogbesan, Vice-Chair, West Africa; and Eric Sindeu, Vice-Chair, Central Africa.  

Thanking his predecessors for their service and leadership in the Alliance to date, Mashegoane noted that AfICTA was an organisation with a vast network, impact on critical policies, and reputation that took years and hard work to build. “Mine is to take the baton and continue where the honourable Engr. Hossam Elgamal has taken this organisation to. Of importance is the platform to enable African countries to collaborate and share best practices and lessons learnt with an objective of not leaving anyone behind in development. This is a vision we will continue to uphold. We stand in a critical position to influence attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through ICT.”

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Speaking after the election, Mashegoane said digital inclusion and ICT-enabled development was also a key mission for the IITPSA in South Africa.  “The IITPSA shares the vision and ethos of AfICTA. IITPSA has also stated that we need to step up efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, among other things, seeks to bridge the digital divide and harness technology to address major global challenges such as poverty, climate change and conflict, we need to work harder. At IITPSA, we believe this means we have to collaborate across industries, across countries, to deploy the benefits of ICTs for the good of all,” he said.

Africa ICT Alliance

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AI Media Group launches The Deal Room – Africa’s first AI-focused, free investment matchmaking service

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The AI Media Group has launched The Deal Room, Africa’s first artificial intelligence (AI) focused, free investment matchmaking service which aims to connect African AI focused startups to interested investors and venture capitalists (VCs).

AI Media Group is the publisher of AI and Data Science quarterly magazine Synapse, the AI TV YouTube channel, as well as the curator and organiser of AI Expo Africa — Africa’s largest B2B / B2G trade-focused AI, Robotic Process Automation and Data Science conference — which has been a great success over the last three years.

The annual expo has seen AI Media Group amass a database of over 1000 companies, most of which are Africa-based tech startups, scale-ups or small and medium sized businesses. The company has regularly been asked by some of these firms to make introductions to investors and also observed the challenges faced by startups, such as access, transparency, intermediaries and fees.

Although AI Media Group has been able to connect some of these companies with investors in the past, the number of requests have been on the rise and the firm now wants to improve on this service in terms of scale, process formalisation and automation through the launch of The Deal Room.

The Deal Room will be hosted on the AI Expo Africa domain — www.aiexpoafrica.com —  which is a popular platform for Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) community with over 3 million hits a year allied to a vibrant LinkedIn Group with more than 4 000 members. The Deal Room’s primary aim will be to direct 4IR, AI and smart tech companies seeking funding to investors, VCs and organisations who are interested in backing firms in this rapidly growing sector.  

The Deal Room has attracted six launch investment partners, namely; Cirrus AICape AI VenturesKnife CapitalE4E AfricaBritegaze & Intelligent Impact, with more set to join in the coming months.

Nick Bradshaw, CEO AI Media Group and co-founder of AI Expo Africa explained, “The main idea behind The Deal Room platform is to facilitate rapid matchmaking between an investor and 4IR / AI focused startups and scale-ups that align with the firm’s stage of growth. It’s often a minefield to find the right investor so we curated a group of like minded investors that are interested in this space or who have a track record of similar investments to date. This is a long awaited value add service for our community with no strings attached, no “middleman” and total transparency.”

The Deal Room’s launch investors cover a broad spectrum of the investment lifecycle and include; Cirrus AI CEO Gregg Barrett; Cape AI Ventures co-founder Pieter Boon; Knife Capital co-managing partner Andrea Bohmert; E4E Africa Ventures principal Bakang Komanyane; Britegaze CEO Reshaad Sha, and Intelligent Impact founder Aunnie Patton Power.

Sha stated, “BriteGaze Fund One’s primary purpose is to assist AI businesses to accelerate their growth in South Africa and across the African continent through the provision of growth funding and advisory services to expand into new verticals as well as new geographies.”

Boon stated, “We expect that the Deal Room could be a catalyst for startups in Africa!”

Power stated, “There is such a need for greater transparency for startups that are raising capital. We are excited to have this tool available to the market!”

Bohmert stated, “Investing in companies who solve real world problems applying deep AI capabilities is what we are looking for. We are very excited about The Deal Room and its ability to match startups with investors, embracing a partnership journey that is equally more about substance and less about the hype”. 

Komanyane stated, “The Deal Room will help us identify new 4IR-focused companies that align with our investment goals in this sector, its a great innovation for the Africa tech scene and one we are proud to be associated with”

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Barrett stated, “The Deal Room by AI Media Group will assist in the development of Africa’s AI ecosystem and is therefore an initiative that we are enthused to support and participate in.”

Bradshaw concluded, “The Deal Room’s biggest selling point is there is no complicated paperwork, costs or loss of equity for companies looking to use the platform. They simply answer a set of confidential questions on the nature of their investment needs, details about their company, products or services and the AI Media Group then passes them on to the most appropriate investor(s). Just like internet dating, our goal is to make a perfect match and speed up the process of investment capital flowing into the African 4IR tech sector. We can’t wait to see the results!”

Startups and scale-ups looking to submit their requests for funding can do so via The Deal Room online submission process HERE

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