Science & Technology

YouTube makes new appointment to fuel growth



YouTube on Tuesday announced the appointment of Alex Okosi as Managing Director of Emerging Markets for YouTube in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to further drive expansion and fuel growth in these areas.

Okosi will be responsible for running YouTube’s business and partnership teams across emerging markets in EMEA including Russia, the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Head, YouTube EMEA, Cecile Frot-Coutaz. based in London office, said Okosi would be responsible for running YouTube business and partnership team across emerging markets in EMEA including Russia, middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Frot-Coutaz said that Okosi would resume in April 2020 and will be reporting to her to the London office.

“I look forward to welcoming Okosi to our YouTube EMEA leadership team.

“He brings a wealth of experience in the content industries and has a track record for building businesses and audiences in established and new markets.

“Okosi will be leading our existing teams in Russia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa (MEAN) to drive further expansion in these key markets,” she said in a statement.

According to her, Google and YouTube have long invested in growing its business across its EMEA emerging markets with some recent milestones.

She said that the milestone included most recently at the annual Google for Nigeria event in July 2019, YouTube announced its commitment to support emerging talents across Nigeria.

Frot-Coutaz said it was by teaming up with Mr Eazi and the emPawa initiative to support 10 emerging Nigerian music artists to build their craft, increase their fan base and connect with the world through YouTube.

She said throughout the years, YouTube had played an essential role in the discovery and development of African sound and exporting African music to listeners worldwide.

According to her, in fact 70 per cent of the views from the 25 most-watched Sub-Saharan African artists come from outside the continent.

She said that in September 2019, YouTube successfully launched YouTube Music and YouTube Premium in MENA which further exemplified the opportunities offered by this high-growth region.

She said that Russia was one of YouTube EMEA’s highest growth markets with the number of YouTube channels with more than one million subscribers growing by more than 70 per cent in the last year.

‘’Alex’s appointment will only further fuel the development of our creative ecosystem in the region,’’ Frot-Coutaz.

Okosi, incoming Managing Director of Emerging Markets, YouTube EMEA, said that YouTube is a game-changing platform that plays an increasingly important role in our lives today.

He said that it was through the dynamic content and innovation that it delivered.

‘’I am very excited to be joining Frot-Coutaz’s leadership team to continue empowering creators and elevating value for viewers and partners across the region,’’ Okosi said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that prior to joining YouTube, Alex served as a long-time TV Executive.

Most recently he was Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Viacom/CBS Networks Africa & BET International.    

Edited by: Nick Nicholas/Adeleye Ajayi

General news

96% customers feel protected from falling victims to fraudsters- HP Survey



A multinational information technology company, HP,  says its recent survey in EMEA shows that 96 per cent of customers feel protected from falling victim to fraudsters.

It also said that over 97 per cent of customers see Customer Delivery Inspections (CDIs) as a valuable service for their business.

The company, in a statement made available to newsmen, said that this was part of the outcomes of a survey it carried out.

According to the statement, the Customer Delivery Inspections, which are a free and effective feature of HP’s Anti-Counterfeit and Fraud (ACF) programme, offer customers a reliable way to confirm the authenticity of their stocks.

“They involve on-site checks of suspicious large or mid-sized cartridge deliveries in response to reports initiated by HP customers.

“If dubious deliveries are found, the HP ACF Team are proactively alerted, and can follow up with appropriate action.

“Amid the COVID-19 disruption, HP has also offered photo-based CDIs, if circumstances do not allow for an on-site visit,” it said.

The statement said the survey also discovered that 60 per cent of customers planned to take steps to purchase safely in future, directly following with the HP CDI guidance.

“As a result, 98 per cent of customers surveyed would recommend HP CDIs to other customers.

“At HP, we are incredibly proud of the positive feedback our customers have given in response to our Customer Delivery Inspections.

“Unlike counterfeit goods, HP Originals are designed to meet our strict quality and reliable standards and to deliver superb performance and consistent results.

“Our high standards go beyond our products.

“With our survey finding that 91 per cent of surveyed customers believe counterfeits present a risk to their business.

“It is important that we continue to fight fraudulent activity and ensure our customers have access to a reliable source of information, and advice so that they have a peace of mind when buying HP products.

“With this in mind, HP maintains its commitment to protect customers through our Anti-Counterfeit and Fraud programme, as shown by our quick action to adapt CDIs in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Suanne Schoewitz-Franchi, Global Lead of Supplies Anti-Counterfeit and Fraud Programme, said.

In the statement, the survey showed that across EMEA over the last five years, HP had supported local law enforcement authorities to seize around 12.5 million items, including counterfeit cartridges, hardware products, and components.

It said that most recently, between October 2019 to March 2020, HP, together with local authorities in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania,  successfully obstructed a number of counterfeit trading programmes.

“It also removed close to 200,000 illicit products from the African region, including fake HP printer cartridges and components to assemble further counterfeits.

“HP is dedicated to empowering channel partners, customers, and enforcement authority representatives with the knowledge to identify fraudulent supplies and protect business.

“In EMEA, close to 7,000 stakeholders have attended HP’s dedicate Education and Prevention activities.

“The company also cooperates closely with local and global law enforcement authorities to detect and dismantle illegal operations that produce counterfeit HP printing components,” the statement said.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
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Netanyahu under fire as Israeli economy suffers worst hit in decades 



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came under fire on Monday after the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published the worst economic drop in decades.

Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 28.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, according to an initial estimate published by the CBS on Sunday.

That means the Israeli economy is now officially in recession, defined as two consecutive quarters with a drop in GDP.

GDP shrank by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, which was only partially affected by measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Israel imposed a lockdown in mid-March, which it gradually lifted in May, only for a second wave of the virus to hit the country.

The closing of and restrictions on businesses have wiped out four years of growth as the Israeli economy has regressed to the same level as the fourth quarter of 2016.

A full economic recovery is expected to take half a decade.

The coronavirus-induced slump is the worst since at least 1975, if not since Israel was founded in 1948.

“Netanyahu responded to the terrible new economic figures by saying, “This is very good economic news.”

“That’s not just detached, it’s dangerous,” opposition Leader Yair Lapid said.

“He denies reality. The emperor fiddles while Rome burns,” he told lawmakers of his centrist Yesh Atid party.

“Businesses will go bankrupt, people won’t be able to pay their mortgage … Unemployment is at a record high,” he said.

Netanyahu argued on Sunday that the drop in Israel’s GDP was mild, compared to the EU and United States

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
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Fight over United States Postal Service underscores challenges it faces



The current stand-off between President Donald Trump and Congress about the United States Postal Service is rekindling a long-standing debate.

The debate is abouth to overhaul the postal service, which is delivering more packages from online shoppers, but not enough letters to overcome a mounting revenue decline and growing retirement costs.

Bipartisan calls from lawmakers to cut a big check for the service – as much as 25 billion dollars – are playing out as a Trump ally now serving as postmaster general makes big changes to its leadership.

Trump, who has referred to the Postal Service as Amazon’s “delivery boy,” said on Thursday he wanted to starve the agency of more funding to prevent people from voting by mail.

Those comments escalated the demands for funds to increase election security, even as prospects for deal on a broader coronavirus relief package are murky.

Letters from postal service leaders recently sent to election officials in most states warned that ballots cast by mail might not be delivered in time to be counted by election day.

And Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins sent a letter on Thursday to  United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy warning that recent changes and reported service issues could harm constituents and “ultimately harm its long-term financial viability.”

She also told Portland, Maine, CBS affiliate WGME that she disagreed “very strongly” with Trump on his comments, saying the service was “absolutely essential”.

A Wednesday letter signed by all Senate Democrats called on DeJoy to provide a more thorough accounting of what is being done under his leadership to long-standing practices at the postal service.

The letter demanded answers on reports of increased delivery times and costs for election mail, and urged him to avoid further steps that would make it harder and more expensive for states to mail ballots.

“Since you assumed the role of postmaster general, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail,” the letter read.

“Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” it added.

Democrats have criticised DeJoy’s moves to reorganise leadership and reduce costs related to overtime and transportation amid the pandemic.

The agency gets no tax dollars for operating expenses and funds operations through sales.

In a letter sent earlier this month to DeJoy, Senate Minority Leader Charles  Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the changes were “unacceptable and counterproductive and must be reversed.”

They also requested more documentation of changes made, and more information about possible impacts of operational changes on mail delivery and how the Postal Service plans to safely and securely deliver 2020 election mail.

House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn  Maloney has also called on DeJoy to appear before her committee for a September hearing on the operation changes.

Michael Plunkett, who spent more than 25 years at the postal service and is now president of PostCom, a non-profit association of businesses reliant on shipping packages and mail, said it was expected DeJoy would do some level of reorganisation.

“I think if the previous (postmaster general) had done the exact same thing a year ago, it would not have even been a story,” he said.

In a letter sent on Thursday to postal service employees and provided to CQ Roll Call, DeJoy said the changes being made to improve its “dire” financial condition “will not be easy, but are necessary.”

The postal service board of governors confirmed DeJoy to his post earlier this year. He started in June.

By implementing changes now, the service “will increase our performance for the election and upcoming peak season and maintain the high level of public trust we have earned for dedication and commitment to our customers throughout our history,” his letter read.

DeJoy asserted that the postal service has been able to move more mail on time and on schedule since he took the helm.

“And, we accomplished this in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

But DeJoy’s letter conceded that some of these initiatives have had “unintended consequences that impacted our overall service levels.”

Data on mail delivery in April, May and June, which came out last week, found that service numbers were already down from the same quarter last year, but it was only after the reorganisations that rumblings about mail delays have gotten louder.

For April through June of this year, first-class mail was 90.82 per cent on time, marketing mail was 89.50 per cent on time and periodicals were 76.91 per cent on time.

That’s down from the same period in 2019 when first-class mail was 93.38 per cent on time, marketing mail was 91.13 per cent on time and periodicals mail was 87.86 per cent on time.

“Even before the pandemic, there were many stories of mail being late. During the pandemic, there were more of them,” said Stephen Kearney, who spent more than three decades at postal service headquarters, and is now executive director of the non-partisan Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers.

His organisation has acknowledged that changes are likely needed at the service, but it criticised the agency in a recent report for what it said was “a poor job of communicating its cost-cutting initiatives to rate-paying customers, the mailing industry, Congress, the media, and the general public.”

Media coverage has focused on anecdotal stories of delays in mail delivery and equipment being removed from facilities, but data on whether delays are really up between July and September won’t be available until later this year.

On Aug. 8, Sen. Steve Daines sent a letter expressing concerns that some of the changes, especially one concerning the holding of late mail until the next day, will “negatively impact mail delivery for Montanans and unacceptably increase the risk of late prescriptions, commercial products or bill delivery.”

Montana’s other senator, Democrat Jon Tester, in a Friday statement cited reports that postal service collections boxes may have been removed from several towns in his state and demanded answers on DeJoy’s plans for the state.

Later in the day, he said the service had paused its removal of the mail collection boxes.

For years, people have suggested that because there isn’t agreement on how to overhaul the postal service, the funding for such change will only be revisited when there’s a crisis, Kearney said.

The agency, which had operating revenues of 71.1 billion dollars for fiscal 2019, reported a 3.2 per cent, or 547-million-dollar, increase in the third quarter of fiscal 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.

But even so, the postal service still posted a net loss of 2.2 billion dollars for the quarter.

The service’s package revenues continue to grow, especially as e-commerce has exploded as Americans hunker down.

But the package and shipping division has been a rare bright spot for the agency struggling under major losses in its letter mail volume.

“Shipping and Packages revenue increased by 2.9 billion dollars, or 53.6 per cent, on a volume increase of 708 million pieces, or 49.9 per cent, compared to the same quarter last year,” the agency’s fiscal 2020 third quarter report released in August noted.

Kearney said one alternative to a large one-time appropriation (as proposed in the most recent House-passed coronavirus aid package) would be to define and fund the post service’s “universal service obligation,” leaving the remaining business to be self-sufficient.

The agency defines the obligation as a “collection of requirements that ensure all users receive a minimum level of service at a reasonable price.”

“You need to clearly define what the public service obligation is at the postal service and then you can measure how much that costs,” he said, adding: “Then you can appropriate the money to cover it.”

Recent attempts at getting bipartisan bills through the House and Senate have stalled, without becoming law.

A report published in May by the postal service inspector general examining the obligation (USO) concluded that it is still not clearly defined, and “a further defined USO would protect postal customers while providing guidance to the Postal Service about what changes it can implement.”

Senators from rural areas weren’t satisfied with a deal announced in late July between the Treasury Department and the Postal Service that would allow the mail service to tap into a 10-billion-dollar loan, which was included in March’s approximately 2-trillion-dollar coronavirus aid package.

The more than 3-trillion-dollar House-passed package approved in May contains 3.6 billion dollars for election assistance, but members of both parties have expressed support for providing the agency with 25 billion dollars more.

Maine’s Collins introduced legislation with bipartisan support in July that would provide the postal service with 25 billion dollars. She more recently submitted an amendment to a legislative vehicle for coronavirus aid brought to the Senate floor.

Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia expressed concern in a July letter to the postmaster general about potential branch closures and emphasised the importance of mail service to rural Americans, especially those who rely on prescriptions and other essential goods delivered to their doorsteps.

In a July 31 response to Manchin, DeJoy said the closure notices placed at 12 post office locations were done prematurely because a feasibility study had not yet been conducted.

But DeJoy said the study would still go forward.

He also said the notices placed at 24 locations set to have reduced hours was done prematurely, and signage had been removed “pending further review.”

“While I am relieved to hear that these locations will not be closing at the end of August, I have more questions now than before I got this response,” Manchin said in a July 31 statement.

On Friday, Manchin visited post offices in West Virginia as a show of support, saying in a statement, “The administration is launching an all-out war on the United States postal service.”

When the Treasury Department announced terms of the 10-billion-dollar loan, DeJoy said in a statement it “will delay the approaching liquidity crisis.”

He added that the service is on an “unsustainable path” and will continue focusing on “operational efficiency and pursuing other reform.”

It is unclear how the loan will be used. Postal Service spokesperson Dave Partenheimer told CQ Roll Call on Thursday the agency did not have the loan money or updates on how the money would be spent.

As the fall election heats up, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden stepped into the debate Monday amid reports that veterans’ prescriptions were being delayed – sometimes by weeks.

“President Trump keeps attacking the United States postal service, and now hundreds of thousands of veterans aren’t getting their life-saving medications on time. It’s despicable.

“I promise you that as president, I will never put politics over the care of our nation’s veterans,” he tweeted.

And, despite Trump’s contention that mail-in voting is rife with fraud and an avenue for his opponents’ victories, the president and first lady this week asked election officials in their official home in Palm Beach County, Florida, for mail-in ballots for next week’s primary elections.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
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Oil steady after IEA lowers demand forecast, United States stocks fall



Oil prices held steady on Thursday after the International Energy Agency lowered its 2020 oil demand forecast, following unprecedented travel restrictions and data showing a decline in United States inventories provided some support.

Brent crude fell 12 cents, or 0.3 per cent to $45.31 a barrel by 1027 GMT and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was down seven cents or 0.2 per cent to $42.60 a barrel.

“The oil market enjoys some calm summer weeks, seemingly taking a break from the turbulent times earlier this year,’’ said Norbert Rücker, an analyst at the Swiss bank. Julius Baer.

The International Energy Agency cut its 2020 oil demand forecast, on Thursday, and said reduced air travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic would lower global oil consumption this year by 8.1 million barrels per day (bpd).

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) also said, on Wednesday, that world oil demand will fall by 9.06 million bpd this year, more than the 8.95 million bpd decline expected a month ago.

Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, said on Thursday, he did not expect any hasty decisions on output cuts when a monitoring committee of OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, meets next week as the oil market has been stable.

Last month OPEC+ eased the cuts to around to 7.7 million bpd until December from a previous reduction of 9.7 million bpd, reflecting a gradual improvement in global oil demand.

Prices found some support as United States crude oil, gasoline and distillate inventories dropped last week as refiners ramped up production and demand improved, a government report showed.

Oil prices have been range-bound since mid-June with Brent trading between $40 and $46 per barrel and WTI between $37 and $43.

“The market moved from chronic oversupply in April-May to a deficit by June,’’ said Ehsan Khoman, head of MENA research and strategy at MUFG.

“The underlying oil market deficit is becoming more evident and, along with a broader reflation narrative, is keeping oil prices on an even keel.’’

Markets are still awaiting a breakthrough on a United States stimulus package and keeping watch on frayed United States-China ties ahead of trade talks on Aug. 15.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
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