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Government, ICT


*Gov’s N250m innovation seed capital yielding results’
The plan by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration to fully transform Lagos State into a smart city and make the State’s economy 21st century compliant is on course, Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Hakeem Popoola Fahm, said on Tuesday.

The Commissioner said the on-going laying of 3,000 km fibre metro network cables and broadband infrastructure across the State was part of the comprehensive Smart City programme of the State Government aimed at driving Lagos into a 24-hour economy.

Fahm spoke of the development in the on-going inter-ministerial press briefing organised by the State Government to commemorate the Governor’s second year anniversary.

He said the broadband infrastructure rollout was to enable rapidity in commercial activities and provide instant access to healthcare, government services and social connectivity, noting that the optics fibre would help the Government to also improve security through inter-connected technological tools.

The high-speed Internet connectivity that will come from metro-network cables, Fahm explained, would be used at homes, schools, healthcare facilities and Government’s offices for improved service delivery, stressing that the infrastructure would also boost e-commerce activities and empower innovation start-ups.

He said: “The unified metro fibre project, which the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu kick-started, is a multi-year Smart City programme in which we are installing 6,000 kilometre fibre optic cables across the State in two phases. In the first phase, which started last year, 3,000km of fibre optics cables are being rolled out within the metropolis.

“The plan is to drop high-speed Internet connectivity into all communities within the State and extend it our public schools, institutions of learning, health centres, and all government offices and parastatals. We will also be using the digital infrastructure to enhance security and safety, as we will be installing security cameras in public places. This will also be deployed in our operations to achieve efficient traffic management.”

As part of the efforts to achieve the Smart City agenda of the Sanwo-Olu administration, Fahm said the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASSRA) had started to implement the rollout of multipurpose functional smart Identity cards developed for easy identity validation, payment of utility bills and collection of internally generated revenue, using unique e-wallet services.

LASSRA, he said, has also improved technical excellence with the introduction of 4.4.2 fingerprint capturing process and development of an effective online platform to aid enrolment process.

“Our real time online registration has been developed and is currently utilised to reduce the time and effort spent in registration for residency cards,” the Commissioner said.

Fahm said the Ministry of Science and Technology had upgraded campus network infrastructure to encourage e-learning and virtual conference, pointing out that the upgrade was implemented with Wi-Fi 6 devices – the latest network.

He said the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), established in 2019, had funded over 50 research, innovation and STEM Projects in the last one year, disclosing that the State was in collaboration with the University of Lagos for development of ambuvent ventilators with high commercial value for the management of infectious pandemic.

The Commissioner said the N250 million seed capital earmarked by the Governor to boost technological innovation and initiatives was yielding good results with the development of local digital solution platforms by tech start-ups. The development, he said, had enhanced access for MSMEs to stress-free digital payment platforms, thereby improving the digitisation of the Lagos economy.

He said: “The innovation seed capital was awarded to young applicants, who required the funds to bring their innovation into reality. The first set of beneficiaries selected to benefit from the seed fund were in the fields of innovation, research and STEM; we empowered the innovators and tech start-ups with N100 million grants, which is part of the N250 million set aside for Science and Technology related ideas and initiatives.”

Fahm observed that the State Government was funding other key intervention projects from the N250 million seed capital, including patent pending research initiatives, agricultural value chain technology, healthcare, construction and manufacturing, among others.

He noted that ‘Start-up Lagos’ – the largest tech ecosystem in the State – had offered retail and institutional investors opportunities to tap into the vast tech driven initiatives and push their ideas Africa’s diverse tech market.

“Our Open Source initiative is a technical programme that will allow for greater local development of smart city application. This is to promote the institutionalisation of technical skills across the software development community in Lagos,” the Commissioner said.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr. Tunbosun Alake, who spoke on the State Government’s support for science students’ innovation and ideas, said Lagos sponsored secondary students to participate in 774 Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award (774-YONSPA).

“This is to boost the interest of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to encourage young people to be inventors of projects and programmes that can resolve challenges in the State, such as infrastructure, environment, waste management and wealth creation,” Alake said.

He said the Art of Technology (AOT) initiated by the current administration was an ecosystem that served as a bridge between the private sector technology system and the public sector. The second edition of the event, he said, focused on deploying smart data to engender smatter Lagos.

Alake said the Ministry was currently supporting digital projects and programmes in the public sector, including ICT Training for content audio-visual creation, restructuring of Government’s digital assets to align with global technology and Smart City goals, implementation of State-wide ICT competencies, and planning of Lagos Science, Technology and Innovation expo.
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ICT
The Federal Government has approved the extension of the deadline for National Identity Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification to the 30th of June, 2021.



The extension was as a result of the virtual meeting chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, and attended by following officials- Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Dambatta and the Director-General/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Azeez.



The postponement of the deadline was also based on the request by stakeholders for an extension till 30th of June, 2021 in order to make it easier for all citizens and legal residents to register.



Significant progress has been made in the NIN-SIM verification process. For example, almost 54 million people have obtained their NIN and this can translate to up to 190 million mobile numbers, since empirical evidence suggests that each unique NIN maps to three to four phone lines.



The much-awaited Android enrolment system is now ready for deployment and this has the potential to significantly accelerate the speed and ease of enrolments.



Furthermore, the telecom providers and other enrolment agents have also opened several centres across the country to make it easier for eligible citizens and residents to obtain and link their NINs.



It is noteworthy that Sections 27 and 29 of the National Identity Management Commission Act 2007 provides for the mandatory use of NIN for accessing several government services. This is similar to the use of Social Security Number and National Insurance Number for accessing services in the United States of America and the United Kingdom respectively.



The Federal Government has approved the extension as part of its effort to make it easier for its citizens and residents to obtain the NIN and it is important to take advantage of the extension.



Dr. Pantami wishes to thank Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise.



He again reiterated government’s commitment to continually taking decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.
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The Nigerian Press Council (NPC) has restated its commitment towards ensuring high professional standards in the country, urging media  operators to ensure the reflection of nationalism in their reportage.

 

This is contained in a statement on Monday in Abuja, by Mr Francis Nwosu, Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the NPC in commemoration of the 2021  World Press  Freedom Day (WPFD).

 

Nwosu said the theme of this year’s celebration which was “Information as a Public Good” was very apt.

 

He stressed that the NPC  considered the theme very vital and critical in view of global challenges occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

Nwosu emphasised that Information about the virus and efforts by various countries in combating it as well as safety measures had  dominated the print, broadcast  and social media.

 

According to him, the place of information in  sustainable development of nations cannot be under estimated.

 

He said that democratic settings guaranteed freedoms, especially freedom of expression and communication.

 

 

 

The NPC boss maintained that every great information or communication advance in history had been seen in its time as furthering education.

 

He added that such advances also helped in promoting peace and understanding, stressing further that information played  central role in conflict and crisis situations.

 

Nwosu explained that the essence of  the day was to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of the press and to remind governments of various countries of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

“Freedom of the press ought to  be exercised with utmost high sense of duty, responsibility and professionalism. Adhering to the Code of Professional ethics is germane to the integrity and ethos of the profession.

 

“Codes of practice of journalism the world over, share common reverence to the elements of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, fairness and balance in the information they purvey.

 

“We must be reminded to be faithful to our ethics and exhibit  high sense of professional and social responsibility. As media professionals we must shun unbridled sensationalism.

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Economy, Finance

The Federal Government of Nigeria has high expectation on the Lekki Deep Seaport as a significant game-changer in Nigeria’s Maritime economy with corresponding benefits to the West and Central sub-regions of Africa.

 

The  Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Dr Magdalene Ajani disclosed this in a statement by Anastasia Ogbonna, Assistant Director Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, in Abuja.

Ajani made this known when she led a Ministerial Team on a quartely inspection of progress of work on the Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos.

 

According to her, the Port is designed to be the deepest port in West Africa.

 

The inspection comprised of an audio-visual briefing by the management of Lekki Port Enterprises, the contractors (China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd) and the Project Managers (Louis Berger Intl.) as well as a physical inspection of the works on site.

 

Ajani said the developers were working assiduously to meet the deadline of fourth quarter 2022 for commencement of commercial operations as directed by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

The permanent secretary was accompanied on the inspection by the Director, Maritme Services, Awal Suleiman, Director, Legal Services, Pius Oteh, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello. Others include the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala- Usman, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Bashir Jamoh and other technical officers from the Ministry and the Agencies.

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Government

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has approved the establishment of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) to be domiciled at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

 

The Head, Strategic Communication, ONSA, Mr Zakari Usman, disclosed this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

 

Usman said that NCCSALW had replaced the defunct Presidential Committee on SALW and would serve as institutional mechanism for policy guidance, research and monitoring of all aspects of SALW in Nigeria.

 

He said the decision was part of ongoing restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture to address emerging threats and strengthen regional mechanism for the control, prevention and regulation of SALW.

 

According to the him, the impact of the proliferation of SALW across national borders in Africa and the Sahel region has resulted in terrorism, human trafficking, organised crime, and insurrections in West Africa and Nigeria.

 

 “Therefore, as one of the measures in tackling this threat, the new Centre will be fulfilling the requirements of the ECOWAS Moratorium on Import, Export, and Manufacture of Light Weapons as well as the UN Plan of Action to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW.

 

 

 

 “The NCCSALW will serve as the National Focal Point on SALW in Nigeria and lead a multi-stakeholder process involving government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and the civil societies in implementing all national, UN and ECOWAS Plans of Action on the control of SALW.

 

“The Centre will maintain international cooperation and also operate zonal offices in the six geopolitical zones to ensure quick response and effective mobilisation of resources,” he said.

 

Usman also disclosed that Buhari had appointed retired Maj.Gen. AM Dikko as Pioneer Coordinator of the centre.

 

He said that Dikko had served in various capacities in and outside Nigeria.

 

 “He was a Course Director at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre and Chief `Instructor of the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre.

 

“He was also a Military Adviser, United Nation Office for West Africa, Director Peacekeeping Operations Defence Headquarters, Commander Operations LAST HOLD as well as Commander, Operation LAFIYA DOLE, to mention a few.

 

“The pioneer coordinator has vast experience working with the ECOWAS and the UN system and is expected to operationalise the objectives of the NCCSALW,” he said.

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