Mobile Phone Apps Fight Africa’s Sexual Taboos


When Charles Immanuel Akhimien was a medical student he was shocked to learn that a former classmate had died from a back-alley abortion.

The brilliant young woman’s life may have been spared if she had the kind of apps that are available today that discreetly inform young people about sex, Akhimien said.

“When it comes to contraception, the lack of communication generates more and more AIDS infections and unwanted pregnancies. These tragedies could be avoided,” Akhimien told AFP.

In the doctor’s native Nigeria, 3.1 million people are HIV-positive and 34,000 women die each year from botched abortions, according to official statistics.

Akhimien’s app “myPaddi” anonymously connects young people with doctors who advise them on sex and contraception.

The software was among 30 medical innovations showcased at the World Health Organization’s second Africa Health Forum, hosted in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde in West Africa.

Selected from among more than 2,400 submissions, many of the apps address reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases in countries where sex education is often taboo and abortion is generally illegal.

Akhimien’s compatriot Morenike Fajemisin has the same determination to combat the paucity of sex education in Nigeria and to help women claim control over their own bodies.

A pharmacist, the 30-year-old developed a cellphone app called “Whispa” — suggesting discretion — through which women can obtain contraception anonymously, without having to answer probing questions.

“If a young girl asks for the pill at a doctor’s office or in a pharmacy, she might be lectured,” Fajemisin said. “Isn’t she too young? Is she a virgin? How many partners did she have?”

‘No human bias’

“These intrusive questions can block young women, who might be scared to speak about their sexual life to doctors. With a mobile app, there’s no human bias,” she said.

She said a cousin she grew up with would likely not have got pregnant in high school if she had had Whispa.

“She would have continued her studies. She was a brilliant girl. I hope my innovation will allow every girl to make her own choices,” Fajemisin said.

Even when a pregnancy is wanted — and having children is widely encouraged in Africa — few apps are adapted to local traditions and culture.

Examples are the Zimbabwean app “Afrimom”, available in English and local languages, and “My Pregnancy Journey”, being developed by South African entrepreneur Jacqueline Rogers with her own funds.

Rogers’ app, to come out in April, offers advice to expectant mothers, spelling out month by month what they may encounter during the course of their pregnancies.

“I want African women to have access to every possible knowledge about their pregnancy — and influence positively motherhood in Africa,” Rogers said.

“In Africa, the needs for reliable information regarding pregnancy are huge,” she added.

Nine of the world’s 10 countries with the highest infant mortality rates are in Africa, and half the children who die before age five live in sub-Saharan Africa, noted WHO’s regional director Matshidiso Moeti at the start of the Forum.


France To Ban Mobile Phone In Schools

French national assembly president Francois de Rugy speaks during a session of questions to the Government at the French National Assembly in Paris on June 6, 2018. JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP


French lawmakers began debating Thursday a ban on mobile phones in public schools, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign pledges which critics say will do little to counter classroom disruptions or limit cyberbullying.

The issue has tapped into the anxiety among many parents over how to limit their children’s screen time, especially in the wake of revelations about invasions of online privacy by technology companies.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called it “a law for the 21st century, a law for addressing the digital revolution.”

“It’s a signal to French society of the stakes for our society,” he said in parliament. “Being open to technologies of the future doesn’t mean we have to accept all their uses.”

Nine of every 10 French students aged 12 to 17 owns a mobile phone, according to a 2016 survey.

Teachers complain of pupils sending text messages and chatting on social media during class time.

The law being proposed would require primary and junior high students to keep their phones in backpacks or otherwise out of sight.

Already roughly half of the country’s 51,000 elementary schools and 7,000 junior high schools outlaw their use.

“We’re not talking about a big bang, but we backed the legislative route because it reinforces the process,” Philippe Vincent of the SNPDEN union of school directors told AFP ahead of the parliamentary vote.

But the law does not codify any specific punishment for their use, and lawyers have noted that teachers do not have the right to seize non-dangerous belongings from students.

Critics also say the law will prove ineffective, saying students could easily be scrolling through social media or swapping Snapchats while pretending to rummage through their backpacks.

And some teachers chafe at calls for them to put away their phones during school hours as well, noting they are the main source of alerts in case of emergencies.

But Richard Ferrand, head of Macron’s Republic on the Move party in parliament, said the law would be accompanied by efforts to explain the importance of limiting phone use to students.

“When, on a playground, you see young people next to each other all staring at their phones,” the consequence is “to break the link of camaraderie and sharing,” he said ahead of the debate.


Gunmen Abduct CAN Executive Member

GunmanGunmen suspected to be kidnappers, have abducted the Executive Secretary of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN),  Mr Michael Adewunmi, in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

His black Toyota Lexus SUV in which he was abducted was found abandoned with the four doors opened.

The kidnappers were also said to have taken away his Ipad and mobile phones.

The victim’s vehicle, with number plate “ONDO ANG 149 AA”, was reportedly discovered by men of the Ondo State Police Command and taken to the Ijapo Police Station in Akure.

Reports gathered revealed that the abductors were yet to make any contact with the family of the victim.

When reached on the telephone for comments, the spokesman for the State Police Command, Mr Wole Ogodo, said the Command had commenced investigations on the matter and would soon rescue the victim.

Police Parade 30 Crime Suspects In Ondo

policeThe Ondo State Police Command has paraded 30 crime suspects, including two among the armed robbery suspects that escaped during the jailbreak in Ekiti prison in 2014.

The State Commissioner of Police, Isaac Eke, who gave details about the crime suspects at a media briefing, disclosed that 12 were suspected armed robbers, five were cultists, three were kidnappers, two were burglars, and seven were caught for motorbike snatching, among others.

Stolen items recovered by the Police from the suspects include one laptop computer, mobile phones, and two motorcycles.

The Police Commissioner‎ commended the efforts of the new Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and other sister security agencies in the state for the efforts made in combating criminality in the nation and the state respectively.

According to him, the two inmates that escaped during the Ekiti jailbreak, Tope Daramola and Banji Adedayo, equally confessed to committing other robbery crimes.

“On interrogation, they confessed to committing the crime and other robbery cases, including Ekiti bank robbery and that both were inmates that escaped during the Ekiti jailbreak,” he said.

APC Decries Disruption Of Its Registration In Rivers

The All Progressives Congress, APC, has said that the disruption of its registration process in Rivers State is a shot to the heart of democracy and a breach of the country’s constitution.

The APC claims that one person has been killed in the process, where it alleges about 50 hoodlums stormed some of the registration points in the state shooting sporadically.

The party also said that the armed hoodlums hijacked registration materials, mobile phones, cameras and also beat up registration officials in the process.

The APC is accusing a group it called the grassroots development initiative and the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for spear-heading the attacks.

The party is asking the President to act on the situation as it claims Rivers State is the only state where such has happened since it commenced its registration exercise.

Unknown gunmen allegedly stormed a registration point in Degema area of Rivers State, opened fire and killed a youth on the spot.

This is the latest face off in the political situation in the state and it comes barely 24 hours after the Inspector-General of Police redeployed Mr Joseph Mbu the Police boss in the state after several months of agitation from the pro Amaechi group.

Mr Mbu and 22 other senior Police officers were redeployed on Thursday.

Etiquette For Cellphone Users

Cellphones are ubiquitous and research shows that although most users think they have good mobile manners, many people report being irritated or annoyed by the use of the phones in public places.

Clearly there’s a lack of understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of cellphone etiquette. Following is a list of do’s and don’ts:

– Do respect those who are with you. When you’re engaged face-to-face with others, either in a meeting or a conversation, give them your complete and undivided attention. Avoid texting or taking calls. If a call is important, apologize and ask permission before accepting it.

– Don’t yell. The average person talks three times louder on a cellphone than they do in a face-to-face conversation. Always be mindful of your volume.

– Do be a good dining companion. No one wants to be a captive audience to a third-party cellphone conversation, or to sit in silence while their dining companion texts with someone. Always silence and store your phone before being seated. Never put your cellphone on the table.

– Don’t ignore universal quiet zones such as the theater, church, the library, your daughter’s dance recital and funerals.

– Do let voicemail do its job. When you’re in the company of others, let voicemail handle non-urgent calls.

– Don’t make wait staff wait. Whether it’s your turn in line or time to order at the table, always make yourself available to the server. Making servers and other patrons wait for you to finish a personal phone call is never acceptable. If the call is important, step away from the table or get out of line.

– Don’t text and drive. There is no message that is so important.

– Do keep arguments under wraps. Nobody can hear the person on the other end. All they are aware of is a one-sided screaming match a few feet away.

– Don’t forget to filter your language. A rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t walk through a busy public place with a particular word or comment printed on your T-shirt, don’t use it in cellphone conversations.

– Do respect the personal space of others. When you must use your phone in public, try to keep at least 10 feet (three meters) between you and others.

– Do exercise good international calling behavior. The rules of cellphone etiquette vary from country to country.

Good cellphone etiquette is similar to common courtesy. Conversations and text exchanges have a tendency to distract people from what’s happening in front of them. Cellphone users should be thoughtful, courteous and respect the people around them.

Apple Unveils iTunes Radio, Revamps iOS

Apple Inc unveiled a music streaming service called iTunes Radio and new mobile software on Monday, in the biggest redesign of its operating system since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007.

The new software, designated iOS 7 and announced at Apple’s annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, sports a streamlined design, employs translucency and a fresh palette of colors, and features animation in apps.

Apple’s iTunes Radio, one of the more highly anticipated features of the new iOS 7, comes free, supported by ads across many devices including iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV.

Much like rival Pandora Media Inc’s Internet radio, the service – which launches in the fall, months after Google Inc’s “All Access” on-demand competitor debuted – allows listeners to customize their own radio stations by genre, skip songs multiple times, or just tune in to some 200 featured stations.

Apple has been talking to record companies for the past year in hopes of getting the service off the ground, seen as crucial to retaining users as music consumption grows alongside smartphone use. It will also come free of ads for customers who subscribe to Match, another Apple music service.

Executives also showed off a new line of Macbook Air computers. They gave a sneak peek at a cylindrical Mac Pro desktop, in a rare preview of upcoming hardware. And, in a continuation of efforts over the past year to wean itself off arch-rival Google’s services such as maps, Apple’s updated Siri voice software on the iPhone will turn to Microsoft Corp’s less-popular Bing as its default in-app search engine.

Previously, Siri handled Web search queries by asking users if they would like to access Google, which dominates Internet searches. With iOS 7 however, users can still choose to ask specifically for Google results.

The latest Macs will run a new computer operating system christened OSX Mavericks – named after a famous California surfing spot and a departure from Apple’s penchant for naming software after big cats like Mountain Lion.

The real makeover was reserved for iOS 7, a smartphone and tablet platform overhauled by resident creative honcho, Jonathan Ive. It comes with a new edge-to-edge look that uses translucency to highlight underlying content, new typefaces, and new icons. Apple plans to release iOS 7 in the fall.

It will support multitasking for all apps.

“It’s the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone,” said Chief Executive Tim Cook.

Robert Brunner, founder of design consultancy Ammunition and a former design head at Apple, said it was past time Apple changed the look of software that had become “busier and busier” visually and, to some degree, busier and busier functionally.

“The iOS look and feel had become long in the tooth,” said Brunner, who hired Ive while he was at Apple. “So what Jony has done is really gone in and cleaned it up. He made it feel more sophisticated, more modern.”

“It seems like quite a lot to have done in a relatively short period of time,” said Brunner, who uses an iPhone.


The conference, whose tickets sold out in just over a minute after they went on sale in April, comes as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd solidified its lead in the smartphone market in the first quarter with a 33 percent share followed by Apple with 18 percent, according to market research firm IDC.

Cook is under pressure to show that the company that created the smartphone and tablet markets is not slowing as deep-pocketed competitors like Samsung and Google encroach on its market.

Investor concerns center on whether Apple will be able to come up with more groundbreaking products as the smartphone and tablet markets get more crowded. In April, Apple reported its first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade.

Marketing chief Phil Schiller offered the audience a sneak peek at Apple’s upcoming new Mac Pro, its top-of-the-line computer. The computer has a sleek cylindrical chassis that he said will feature several times the processing and memory speed and power of the previous generation.

It will be released later this year and be assembled in the United States, Schiller said.

“Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” Schiller said as he showed off the new Mac Pro. “This is a machine unlike anything we’ve ever made.”

Apple’s stock has fallen 37 percent after touching a high of $705 in September as competition in the smartphone market escalated. Some investors believe the company is struggling to come up with original new products since the death of cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs in 2011.

The redesigned iOS comes after Cook ousted former chief mobile software architect and 15-year Apple veteran Scott Forstall last November, in a sweeping management move that also gave Ive more control of the look-and-feel of both hardware and software.

Some industry experts have criticized Apple’s mobile operating software, which has retained its general look and feel since its inception, for looking somewhat dated.

“The iPhone was the first real smartphone for a lot of people so it had to be really basic,” said Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, which makes note-taking software for smartphones. “Now the training-wheels are starting to come off a little bit.”

Among some of the other features introduced was “activation lock,” an anti-theft security enhancement that prevents unauthorized resetting of the device.

Cook told the audience of developers that Apple’s App Store now has 900,000 apps that have been downloaded a total of 50 billion times.

Apple’s stock dipped 0.66 percent to close at $438.89 on the Nasdaq.

UK mobile operators in talks over 4G networks

For most of the mobile networks, the 4G Networks were meant to have been running in the United Kingdom but owing to Ofcom’s action termed as being ‘Sluggish’ towards the introduction and it is seen as frustrating. But prior to the meeting, O2 was optimistic about the chances of a summer 2013 launch.

EE has so far withheld any firm dates of the public release of its 4G service, but today’s discussions could pave the way for an October launch.

The other networks, particularly Vodafone and O2 were enraged by EE’s 4G head start; however, if they decide to set up a legal challenge they would risk further reducing the speed of their own progress.

However, Three might take over a portion of EE’s 4G spectrum next September with the stand of things right now.

O2 and Vodafone will be able to offer 4G services only after gaining control of the other parts of the radio spectrum when they are eventually freed up and sold off and Ofcom could speed things up by bringing the auction, which is expected to happen in January.

This would mean that 4G networks could be launched by May or June, rather than the latter part of next year. This would also confine EE’s period of exclusivity to around half a year.