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ICT

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has identified Nigeria as arguably the first Africa country with data protection regulation, saying data under the  Federal Government is 99.9% secured due to it data protection regulation.

 

Speaking at the NITDA 20thAnniversary lecture and Unveiling of NITDA Strategic Road Map 2021-2024 in Abuja, he tasked the agency to intensify its efforts in the IT clearance of public sectors. About N24.65 billion was said to have been saved by the agency through IT clearance projects of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).

 

 

 

He said, “When it comes to IT surveillance we need to increase more, so that we will able to fight corruption through reducing the price of IT executed by the federal public institutions.”

 

On data regulations, he said, “We need to improve when it comes to Nigeria data protection regulation, this is subsidiary legislation. Nigeria arguably is the first country in Africa to have Nigeria data protection regulations in place. Nigeria was the first to come up with a subsidiary legislation that is why when it comes to data privacy, data security Nigeria is in the forefront.”

 

Pantami however, charged the agency to create more awareness with regards to Nigeria data protection regulation and what it contained.

 

 

 

In his welcome remark, Director General NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa said the agency was established to implement the Nigeria National IT policy, has delivered 100% with higher and deeper impacts on the economy.

 

According to him “Now, we talk of resilience because NITDA sees digital technologies as a source of inspiration to reinvent and meet the digital age challenges in an increasingly dynamic and competitive world.

 

“There is no doubt that NITDA has made a difference and touched the lives of more than 2.5 million Nigerians. Our impact is visible across the country, and this can be attested to by the outcomes. Just recently, our sector, the ICT sector bailed Nigeria out of a covid-induced recession that was predicted to crush the Nigerian spirit.

 

 

 

 “We have attracted more foreign investments into the digital economy sector than any developing country globally. Our developmental regulations have created new economic industry such as business process outsourcing, data protection and a robust software industry.”

 

He said, despite the modest achievements recorded by the Agency, “we are not oblivious of the multi-dimensional challenges confronting our country. But we believe there is a silver lining for innovation to create prosperity for all. We have an excellent opportunity to leapfrog into the future through the 4th industrial revolution.

 

“We are blessed with the most prominent black diaspora, resilient and resourceful youths, solid and diverse culture, abundant natural resources etc. The NITDA of the next decade is prepared to act as an institutional catalyst to actualise the long-held dream of every Nigerian to build a Nation where peace, prosperity and justice shall reign.”

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ICT

The Nigerian Communications Commission has published a research report on the ethical and societal impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As a way of enlightening the public, the paper, sponsored by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), looked at AI, its impact on society and the ethical considerations concerning its wide deployment.

According the report published on the Commission’s website the technology comes with its merits and demerits.

 “It is apparent from this Research study that the transformative effect of AI on countries can have far-reaching economical, legal and regulatory implications that reinforce the fact that there are always unexpected and unwanted consequences when new technology is introduced. This technology also comes as a double edged sword, with rising concerns over its harmful effects and ethical implications such as security concerns, lack of standardizations and accountability, and bias.”

The report calls for human adjustments, “Human intelligence influences AI and iteratively, in the near future, AI will improve human intelligence by reeducation of humanity to understand the technology’s mechanisms and consequences. In order to accomplish that, there has to be a shift in human ability to interact with AI in sustainable terms to yield positive impact. Coupled with thorough ethical examination of AI systems to ensure moral codes, privacy, fairness and safety, the use of AI systems will revolutionize many industries in the future and might change the future as we know it.”

“It is important to note that AI is constantly changing, hence, the legal and regulatory environment is also ever- evolving. This means that policy and regulation concerning AI should embody an iterative system, involving all crucial stakeholders. The future of AI will ultimately be set by the ability of the world to strike a balance between reaping its benefits and addressing its fallouts; and this balance is dependent on adaptable regulatory structures that can ensure the prosperity of the Industry.”

It recommended that regulators have an obligation to brave new regulatory frontiers to drive the benefits unleashed by new and emerging technology.

It advised that in order for the Nigerian Communications Commissions to drive for a safe and enabling environment for the deployment of AI systems to maximize its potentials while curtailing its negative effects, the following recommendations are emphasized:

“With the increasing emergence of AI enabled technology, there has to be a set of requirements to ensure only authorized businesses/ service providers would offer AI enabled services to the public. This would not only ensure the safety and security of customer data, but also serve as a monitoring mechanism to make sure only ethically and legally compliant AI systems are deployed, whilst limiting third-party use of the technology. The Commission can achieve this via the Licensing Department, by formulating a new class of license to be made available for AI providers. Ideally, licenses would provide an avenue for regulatory examinations which would force the providers to guarantee security compliance and eliminate errors, bias.”

“The Commission should drive collaboration toward informed and effecting regulation with relevant stakeholders such as Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy, NOTAP and NITDA. Constant collaboration would establish information sharing and boost stakeholder involvement.”

“Considering the plans to establish an Agency for robotics and AI (RAI), the Commission can establish a partnership to confer and deliberate on the regulatory needs for a RAI license for AI in the future.”

“In order to keep up with the continuous challenges and solutions concerning AI in terms of societal and ethical impact, the Commission should study and localize international best practices by other Nations to enforce global standardization.”

“The Commission should consistently engage with the ITU on AI standardization efforts for replication at the National level.”

“The Commission can render support and collaboration to center for Robotics and AI upon its launch, in order to carry out a holistic 31 needs and challenges review, as well as the creation of a White paper on Robotics and AI for Nigeria.”

“Collaborate and partner with Academia and Research Institutions to drive constant and intensive research in the field of Emerging Technologies such as AI. This partnership would also foster sensitization and educational reform of Nigerian school curriculums to include ICT and digital skills for retool and reskill of Nigerians for this new era of emerging technology.”

“The ITU regulatory Tracker76 was launched by the organization to aid Regulators analyze the ICT sector for their regulatory environments. NCC can use this tool, via the Research Department to identify, monitor and resolve gaps in existing regulations in the area of Emerging Technology.”

“The Commission should drive Public- Private Partnerships (PPP) via a roundtable with captains of the ICT Industry in the field of Emerging Technologies to encapsulate information sharing and foster inclusive collaboration in policy formulation.”

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Agriculture, Government
*34,000 young graduates deployed in 8,000 LGA wards nationwide as digital farm mapping associates

*6 million small-holder farmers registered & mapped to farmlands

*100,000 new extension agents being trained for farmer advisory service delivery

Nigeria is prioritizing innovation and technology investments in agriculture so as to transform the sector by attracting young people and also scale up productivity, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in his remarks delivered virtually at the 2021 High-Level Dialogue on Feeding Africa.

The event is organized by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the CGIAR System Organization with the theme “Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovations.”

Highlighting the programmes of the Federal Government to ensure agricultural transformation in Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo listed three initiatives namely;

*The Economic Sustainability Plan

*The National Livestock Transformation Plan

*The Green Imperative Project

According to the Vice President, “at the heart of Nigeria’s post COVID-19 recovery plan, or what we describe as our Economic Sustainability Plan is an Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP) where we seek to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria especially in the light of the economic, health and food supply chain devastations caused by the pandemic. Implementation is well underway and we have quite a few impressive results already.”

Speaking further, the Vice President said “during the COVID lockdowns, we trained and deployed over 34,000 young graduates all over the country, covering over 8,000 local government wards in 774 Local Government Areas. Each of these young men and women had a locally developed app on smartphones and electronic tablets to digitally register farmers and map out their farm GIS coordinates.



“So, we have registered and mapped about 6 million small-holder farmers to their farmlands and we are also currently collecting 200,000 composite soil samples from these farms to be analyzed in 22 local soil laboratories to guide local fertilizer blending.”



Continuing, the VP said “on the back of the farmer-farm database which we developed, we are creating a digital Agriculture Exchange Programme (AgExchange), working with the Alliance Rabobank and MasterCard in collaboration with some local FinTech companies. These FinTech companies (FarmCrowdy, Infinera, CropIT) are run by young Nigerians.



“The AgExchange will be an ecosystem or one-stop-shop for providing a range of services and products to small-holder farmers such as real-time e-subsidies, credit-connect by providing credit score of farmers on the platform and linking them to financiers, insurance services, market place services for connecting producers, aggregators and off-takers based on competitive market prices. Input suppliers, weather, pests, and disease indexing services will be provided on the exchange as well. The budget for the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan AFJP is $1.5billion.”



On the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), Prof. Osinbajo noted that the focus is on “transiting gradually from nomadic system of cattle production to the more sedentary method of ranching. This will involve training pastoralists in new ways of producing and rearing cattle sustainably to address the challenges of resource-based violent conflicts between crop farmers and cattle herders, and the generally low milk and beef productivity of indigenous cattle breeds.”



The VP explained that “an indigenous technology company has developed a microchip for tracking the cattle and we are working on a pilot project with one of our development partners – the Netherlands government.”



“All the energy on the ranches will be from biogas from cattle dung and solar power. The ranch will be an integration of crops, pasture, and trees. The crops for the need of the pastoral household, the trees to fight desertification and enhance carbon sequestration rather than emission.



“Funding for this is from budgets of the Federal and State governments and bilateral support from development partners such as the Netherlands. The initial sum is in the order of 280 million USD,” Prof. Osinbajo added.



Regarding the Green Imperative Project (GIP), the Vice President said that the €995 million, a 5-year project which is funded by the Import/Export Bank of Brazil (BDES) with support from Deutsche Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and others, will aim at agriculture technology transfer from Brazilian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Research and Training Institutes to Nigeria’s entrepreneurs, Research Institutes and businesses.



His words: “the project involves the reactivation of dormant or partially operational privately owned agricultural equipment, assembly plants, establish 632 privately-owned primary production support service centers to sell farm mechanization services to smallholder and commercial farmers to address low productivity issues.



“Part of the plan also is the establishment of 142 privately owned agro-processing service centres which will be to address post-harvest losses, path to market and supply chain challenges, and train about 100,000 new extension agents to address farmer advisory service delivery challenges with new technology and practice adoption.”



“An important feature of our strategy is encouraging our young techprenuers into agriculture and AGRO services and we are enjoying some success with the technology for our AGRO exchange, and our Central Bank is also licensing FinTech companies using mobile technology platforms.



“Some of them have been able to give non-collateral credit using credit scoring algorithms to determine credit worthiness of farmers. This is a very important part of our whole financial inclusion project because these FinTech companies are able to reach farmers practically anywhere, rate them using their credit scoring algorithms and get credits across to them in many of the far-flung areas,” the VP explained.



Other African leaders who spoke at the event included President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo; President of Senegal, Macky Sall; President of Mali, Bah N’Daw; President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré; Prime Minister of Sudan, Dr. Abdalla Hamdok; President, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde; Prime Minister of Sudan, Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, among others.



Other speakers included President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina; Former UK Prime Minister, and Executive Chairman of the Institute for Global Change, Mr Tony Blair; President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo and the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on 2021 Food Systems Summit, Ms Agnes Kalibata, among others.
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Education, Government
Says administration’s quest is for LASU to be among 10 World Best Universities
As LASU partners US-based Cornell University for Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes
Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has reiterated his government’s commitment to quality and affordable education in the State, declaring that education occupies a prominent place in the six-pillar development agenda of this administration, tagged T.H.E.M.E.S.

He said his administration is cognisant of the fact that the Greater Lagos Dream can only be achieved through substantial investment in human capital development, innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship skills development, and public finance management.

Speaking on Thursday during the launch of the collaboration between Lagos State University and Cornell University, New York, United States for Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes, Governor Sanwo-Olu said his administration will do everything possible to uphold the outstanding reputation of the State-owned Lagos State University (LASU) to make it one of the 10 best universities in the world.

He said the establishment of the LASU/ Cornell University Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes will give students from the State the opportunity to gain global skills that will make them relevant, employable, and globally competitive.

Governor Sanwo-Olu assured the partners from Cornell University that this administration will respect all agreements under the partnership between the university and LASU, adding that Lagos State Government will do everything possible to uphold the outstanding reputation of both institutions.

He said: “It is an exciting day for us in Lagos State and in LASU because today marks the beginning of an extraordinary partnership that will lead to the transformation of lives, the positive redirection of professional trajectories and the birth of innovative entrepreneurs who will fulfill their potential and make a mark on the global scene.

“Our collaboration with Cornell University further reflects our commitment to the provision of quality and sustainable education that meets the educational needs of the citizenry and also acts as a catalyst for individual growth and rapid socio-economic development.

“Education occupies a prominent place in the Six-Pillar Development Agenda of this administration (T.H.E.M.E.S), and our educational policies are greatly influenced by the National Policy on Education for sustainable growth and individual development. We are cognizant of the fact that our Greater Lagos Dream can only be achieved through substantial investment in human capital development, innovation and creativity, entrepreneurship skills development, and public finance management.

As we build a 21st Century Economy, we must continue to ensure that our schools produce students who are truly prepared for the future. The establishment of the LASU/ Cornell University Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes will give our students the opportunity to gain global skills that will make them relevant, employable, and globally competitive.”

Stressing the need for the partnership between the two institutions for Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “We made the decision to collaborate with Cornell University, a private Ivy League Institution because it is renowned for innovative excellence, entrepreneurship skills development, exceptional research practice and human resource development: key attributes that are required to sustain LASU’s pedigree and high academic profile as the second best university in Nigeria and one of the best 600 Universities in the world (Times Higher Education Impact Ranking Year 2020 and Year 2021 Emerging Economies University Ranking).

“I am confident that our reputable partners and visitors to this great University will continue to play the leadership role needed to reposition LASU, increase its present rating, and make it a University of Choice in the whole of Africa.

“Through this collaboration with Cornell University, we will, in record time, produce professionals needed to develop our State and Nation in different areas of human endeavors such as leadership, management, human resources development, data science and statistics, financial management, and entrepreneurship skills development.

“I assure our partners from Cornell University that this Administration will respect all agreements under this partnership, and we will do everything possible to uphold the outstanding reputation of both institutions. Our goal is to make LASU one of the 10 best universities in the world by the next ranking.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the LASU /CORNELL University Post Graduate Professional Certificate Programmes will offer admission to students in diverse courses that will lead to the award of the LASU/ CORNELL Executive Professional Certificate in Entrepreneurship Skills Development, Human Resources Training and Development, Innovation and Creativity, Management Studies, Marketing, Data Science and Statistics, Leadership skills, Management, among others.

“Most of the courses being offered on this collaborative platform are online, which means prospective students do not have to expend resources on travelling to the United States for the same certificate they will be issued once they have successfully completed any course of their choice,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu also commended the Special Adviser on Education, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab and his team for their creativity, passion, and commitment to moral and academic excellence in all the Lagos State owned-higher institutions.

The Governor, who also appreciated the Acting Vice Chancellor and Members of LASU Academic Community for keeping the flag flying, charged them to treat the partnership with Cornell University like a new baby that must be well nurtured and protected against any harm.
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Government, ICT
The elevation of the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Networks Limited, Mr Segun Ogunsanya, to MD/CEO of Airtel Africa Plc, has received plaudits from President Muhammadu Buhari, who says the flag of Nigeria has been hoisted proudly across the African skyline once again.

Congratulating Ogunsanya, the President says the appointment has once again proven that Nigeria has a surfeit of quality professionals, who can hold their own in any part of the continent, and even beyond.

President Buhari is sure that, with the cognate experience of the new MD/CEO for Africa, which spans consulting, banking, fast moving consumer goods, and telecommunications, he would acquit himself creditably in his new role, and repeat the strides that made him position Airtel Nigeria as the second largest telecommunications company by revenue, serving over 50 million customers.

He urges younger Nigerians to draw inspiration from Ogunsanya, saying with focus, dint of hard work, and resourcefulness, they would reach the peak of whatever careers they have chosen for themselves.

The new Chief Executive Officer, an electronics engineer and chartered accountant, joins the board of Airtel Africa Plc from October 1, 2021.

“The reward for hard work is more work,” says President Buhari, as he wishes Ogunsanya greater successes ahead.
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