On Thursday, September 9, during plenary, the House considered and passed the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022 with amendments.
What’s wrong with the bill?
According to the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), it’s a “blow to online civil liberties”.
In July, a member of the Ugandan parliament, Muhammed Nsereko, proposed an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act of 2011, arguing that the present act doesn’t take into consideration sharing information across social media.
The bill wants to amend Section 12 of the act and criminalise hacking another person’s electronic device and publishing information obtained from the hack. The bill also proposes that no person shall write, send or share information which is likely to ridicule, degrade or demean another person, tribe, religion, or gender.
The bill proposes the adoption of penalties of a UGX 15 million ($3,900) fine, imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or both for the listed offences.
While these amendments would naturally help national cohesion and deter cybercrime, countries like Uganda can and have used them to suppress free speech and digital rights.
For example, social critic, Stella Nyanzi, has been arrested and jailed at least twice for “insulting” Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, on social media—once for calling him “a pair of buttocks” in a Facebook post. More recently, acclaimed novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, was detained and tortured after he made a series of tweets criticising Museveni and calling his son “plump” and “pigheaded”.
Legal critics also claim that the bill is filling a gap that isn’t there. CIPESA, for example, explains that the bill duplicates existing the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010, and Data Protection and Privacy Act, both of which already speak to unlawful interception and unlawful access of personal information.
Many Ugandan critics don’t trust the motives of the bill, and they’re backed by the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) which called for the withdrawal of the bill.
Unfortunately, their call fell on deaf ears.
The bill has been passed by parliament but not without a few changes.
The parliament reportedly removed clause 7, the clause that lists out heavy penalties of fines, imprisonment and— unsurprisingly—disbarment from holding public positions for 10 years.
The bill will now be passed on to Museveni for assent, after which it’ll become law in Uganda.
JUNIOR ACCOUNTANT WHO ALLEGEDLY STOLE OVER $3 MILLION FROM MTN PLEADS NOT GUILTY
Ruth Moshabane, the junior accountant who allegedly stole R53 million (~$3 million) from MTN in the period from December 2010 to April 2017, has pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against her.
According to court documents, state prosecutors revealed that Moshabane stole an average of R7.6 million (~$435,000) rands a year through 90 transactions over the almost seven-year period.
How did she do it?
The accused allegedly transferred money from MTN’s bank accounts to hers under the guise that she was paying for services to be provided by Mutual and Federal, and Guardrisk Insurance.
Moshabane had access to 76 MTN bank accounts used to pay its vendors.
A case of greed
Moshabane reportedly first transferred R60,000 on December 13, 2010 and an additional R42,500 two days later.
In January 2011, she transferred R117,000 to herself but increased the amount the following month to more than R577,000.
The amounts only increased from then on including three transactions in August 2011, totalling R600,000. Two million rand was transferred in November 2013 and two R1.6 million transactions were actioned in September 2015.
She then proceeded to steal an average of R1.5 million each month for over a year.
Moshabane’s crime spree ended on April 2017 when Standard Bank notified MTN of the unusual transactions, leading to her arrest on April 11, 2017.
She faces 16 counts of fraud.
Zoom out: According to court documents, Moshabane reportedly had five properties registered in her name at the time of her arrest. MTN is pursuing compensation for the stolen funds as well as interest and legal costs.
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Over the next six months, South Africans will enjoy free internet connection, courtesy of everyone’s favourite video streaming app, TikTok.
Well, TikTok has partnered with South African public WiFi company, ThinkWiFi, to pilot 50 free WiFi hotspots spread across the country.
The areas included are Soweto, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, and Bushbuckridge. According to a statement seen by TechCabal, this is a move by the entertainment platform to drive awareness for digital literacy inclusion and advocacy for bridging the digital divide.
Speaking on the initiative, CEO of ThinkWiFi, Janine Rebelo, stated that the company is delighted to contribute towards promoting internet accessibility and reducing digital inequalities in our country.
“We are excited to be making a contribution to one of the most important needs of our people today. Opportunities on the internet for our youth are endless, but many South Africans do not have access to digital hardware, digital literacy skills, and internet connectivity. The latter reality is exacerbated by the high cost of data and the limited availability of infrastructure to support broadband penetration targets,” she added.
For TikTok, Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, director of government relations and public policy for sub-Saharan Africa, said: “We understand that as an entertainment platform accessible on mobile devices, TikTok plays an important role in the digital world. With this pilot, we hope to encourage more people to join digital spaces such as ours to not only create content but to learn new skills and educate fellow community members about their passion and interests.”
Zoom out: At 78%, internet penetration in South Africa, is higher than the intra-continental average of 18%, and global average of 30%. Data in SA, however, is on the high side with 1GB costing an average of R34 ($2.04), slightly higher than the R27 ($1.54) national average daily cost of living. While it’s debatable if TikTok’s new initiative will change that, it’ll certainly bring some relief to many South Africans.
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Sixty African startups have been selected for the second cohort of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. They will receive between $50,000 – $100,000 in equity-free funding, totalling $4 million, as well as up to $200,000 in Google Cloud credit.
Here are the other deals this week:
Nigeria-based fintech company, NowNow, raised $13 million in a seed round to improve financial inclusion across Africa. The round was led by NeoVision Ventures, DLF Family Office, and Shadi Abdulhadi.
Metaverse Magna, a Nigeria-based blockchain gaming platform by Nestcoin (incubated in partnership with Old Fashion Research), raised a $3.2 million seed sale token round. This saw participation from Wemade, Tess Ventures, LD Capital, Taureon, Gumi Cryptos Capital, HashKey, AFF, Polygon Studios, Casper Johansen (Spartan), and IndiGG.
Egyptian e-commerce website, El-dokan, raised $550,000 in pre-seed funding from a cluster of investors, including EFG EV, Flat6Labs, 500 Global, and Hala Ventures.
Egyptian auto-tech company Carzami raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed equity and debt funding round. The round was led by a contact financial holding leading a group in providing non-bank financial solutions and services, which will allow the startup to grow its inventory.
At the last edition of the Future of Commerce, we looked at all the changes coming to how we buy and sell, exploring trends across four key sectors—fintech, e-commerce, logistics, and mobility.
This year, the conference is targeted at Africa’s informal sector and the focus is on payments, logistics, mobile money, agent networks, informal trade, BNPL, and social commerce—all topics that tug at the heart of the African consumer and the stakeholders serving them.
Ever walked down the street to use a POS machine? Or added your card to streaming services like Netflix or Spotify? Maybe you’ve even used the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) option to buy a new gadget. These payment trends are taking over, and they’re not slowing down.
On September 23, 2022, at the Future of Commerce, we’ll be talking about these trends and how everyone can leverage them.