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Airtel commits over N1.9bn to combat COVID-19

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Airtel Nigeria, on Sunday announced a commitment of over N1.9 billion towards the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Mr Segun Ogunsanya , the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria made this known in a statement.

Providing a breakdown of the pledged sum, Ogunsanya noted that  N200 million would go towards the  provision of an Isolation Centre and another N120 million for buying over 100,000 respiratory masks for health workers across the country.

He said that Airtel has also partnered with leading e-learning platforms to offer data-free access to their sites, empowering young Nigerians to benefit from quality education during the COVID-19 period.

“These  e-learning platforms include the Oyo State Government’s e-learning portal and services; ULesson, a  platform offering lessons for SS1-SS3 in the STEM subjects of Mathematics, Physics, Biology and Chemistry).

“Others are  Myschool.ng,  PASS.NG, which are exam preparation platforms for SSCE, JAMB, NECO, Common Entrance, ICAN, JSCE and also  Screenclass, an emerging learning platform offering tutorials in key subjects for Junior and Senior Secondary School, Common Entrance.

“Our  priority during this COVID-19 period will be the wellbeing and safety of all  employees, customers, their family as well as every Nigerian.

“At the same time, our hearts go out to those at the front line: medical staff and caregivers who put themselves at risk to do all it takes to serve others, “Ogunsanya said.

The managing director also noted that Airtel staff voluntarily contributed N20 million to be donated to Lagos State Government during the week for provision of food items to needy families.

Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
(NAN)

 

 

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NBC urges newly licenced television outfit to abide by broadcasting codes

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The Acting Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof. Amstrong Idachaba, has urged operators of the newly-licenced free television station to abide by the nation’s broadcasting codes.
Idachaba spoke on Friday when the management of the station known as ‘Our TV’ paid him a courtesy visit and formally presented the station’s set-up box to the commission in Abuja.
He said broadcasting in Nigeria came with responsibilities of abiding by the broadcasting code and carrying contents that were devoid of divisive tendencies.
Idachaba thanked management of ‘Our Tv’ for demonstrating uncommon commitment to the promotion of local content in Nigeria.
He assured the station of the support and cooperation of NBC management in making sure it succeeded.
He encouraged the organ to be focused and dedicated in the promotion of unity among Nigerians and to ensure that they represented Nigeria well at the global stage.
‘‘We commend you for your continued commitment to the broadcast industry. I am quite sure you have invested your resources, time and energy in promoting broadcasting in Nigeria.
‘‘We are glad that part of what you are putting up is largely indigenous, production line for set-up boxes. I take cognisance of the fact that you are already creating jobs for the Nigerian youth.
‘‘Be sure that whatever contents you carry must promote image of Nigeria, culture and conditions. You must bring Nigerians together; you must not bring hate or divisiveness.
“We hope you become good ambassadors representing us at international hub.
“When you do that I can assure you that the current management of NBC and even in the future will give you all the support that you require,” Idachaba said.
Earlier, Mr Onochie Amasiani, the Managing Director, Trefoil Networks, Owners of Our TV, said they were at the commission to formally inform the management about the station and present the set-up box to the commission.
Amasiani solicited for NBC’s support and promised to partner the commission to meet with the company’s corporate social responsibilities as guided by the enabling Act and regulations.
He described ‘OurTv’ as an expression of local content, adding that the TV was fully integrated in Nigeria by Nigerians, transmitted on the Nigerian satellite Nigcomsat1R, received by set-up box made in Nigeria, and managed by a Nigerian company.
‘‘We are here to present the baby that NBC licenced to us a couple of years back and to inform the commission that it is alive and kicking and healthy and ready to go.
‘‘We are the pioneer users of NigComSat because we believe in Nigeria and confident that this has come to stay.
“The local content and progress made so far has reinforced our belief that this is the way to go,” Amasiani added.

Edited By: Razak Owolabi/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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COVID-19: Nigeria records breakthrough as NCDC validates viral RNA extraction

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The country has blazed a trail in Africa with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) successfully validating the first phase of the viral Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) extraction which should enable local production of cheap testing kits for coronavirus.

The validation took place on Thursday in the laboratory of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.

The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, told the News Agency of Nigeria after the exercise that the success of the validation was important not only to Nigeria but Africa as a whole.

“The success of this validation shall enable us to massively produce test kits so that more people would be tested for COVID-19, not only in Nigeria but in Africa.

“The immediate aim is to produce reagents for real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and remember, recently the lack of reagents stalled work in Kano and molecular diagnosis could no longer take place,’’ Akpa said.

He also recalled that the absence of the same reagent equally stalled COVID-19 diagnosis in Lagos for many days.

“This project is, therefore, designed to enable not only Nigeria but the whole of Africa to put the issue of shortage of reagents behind,’’ the director-general said.

He disclosed that that the project was a Pan-African project whose partners include Ethiopia, NCDC and the University of Sheffield, U.K., among others with funding to come from African Development Bank.

Dr Ndodo Nnaemeka, Chief Molecular Bioengineer, National Reference Laboratory of NCDC, said he was mandated by the NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, to “launch this wonderful project.’’

According to Nnaemeka, the project is designed to solve the problem of RNA extraction kit which had become a global issue.

He said there were serious concerns for the need to have more extraction kits in-country, and that there was growing demand worldwide for extraction kits.

“The western world prioritises their own interest first by making sure that they meet their local needs before exporting to other countries, so there was really need for it,’’ he said,

The NCDC chief molecular bioengineer said the first phase of the evaluation results he carried out with the NABDA scientific team was “awesome and successful.’’

“The kits compete favourably well with other international kits we are using, in fact, it scored highly in purity and in quantity of extraction and we are thinking of scaling production,’’ Nnaemeka said.

He clarified that to be able to conduct test, the viral information which comes as the RNA has to first be extracted and without this extraction, no test can be conducted.

“What will tell you that the virus is there is contained in the RNA, so RNA is required for you to be able to detect COVID-19,’’ he said.

He added that as scientists, they would soon carry out the second phase of the evaluation which would involve real sample of COVID-19.

Similarly, Dr Rose Gidado, a scientist at NABDA and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said the exercise was historic.

She said the validated RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19 was developed by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, a Nigerian scientist at the University of Sheffield, U.K.

She corroborated that the African Development Bank was taking over the manufacture of the test kits so as to expand Nigeria’s testing capacity with emphasis on farmers’ health.

Gidado also disclosed that the new test kit could test more than 20,000 people per day.

“If we set up more testing centres, we can easily do 50,000 with automation,’’ the scientist said.

She added that the project was a partnership involving NABDA, NCDC, Ethiopia, NVRI Vom, NIMR and the Ministries of Science and Technology, Health and Agriculture.

NAN reports that the evaluation and validation of the RNAswift Test Kit for COVID-19  was carried out in the immunology laboratory of the NABDA.

It was done in the presence of a donor, Mr Bolaji Akinboro of Cellulant Nig. Ltd, and Mr Richard Mbaram, the Technical Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, among others.

Edited By: Peter Ejiofor/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

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Telecom association hails Ekiti, Imo for implementing ROW price

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The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), on Thursday commended Governors and Houses of Assemby of Imo and Ekiti states for the implementation of the approved Right-of-Way (ROW) price.

Ajibola Olude, Secretary of the Association, gave the commendation in a statement in Lagos.

He hailed the orders issued by Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Ekiti Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and Sen. Hope Uzodinma, Governor of Imo.

The association noted that both states had approved right of way price from a high price to an industry and investment friendly price of N145 per liner meter approved by the Federal Government.

ATCON also appreciates these states for considering its letter which was sent to them in the beginning of the year recommending that telecom and ICT infrastructure must be seen and treated as a component of development in their respective states.

“With this move by the governors, their leaderships have attested to the fact that the socio-economic development of their respective states is not mutually exclusive to broadband and ICT infrastructure development which has been one of the basis of our advocacy initiatives,” he said.

He, however, stated that some of the benefits that are accruable to states that adopted and implemented the harmonised ROW price will unlock the inherent digital potential of the states.

He said that such states were set to enjoy and maximise the opportunity that pervasive broadband penetration could offer as their people could now leverage on uninterrupted telecommunications services which were not enjoyed before.

“The reason for this is that telecom infrastructure would give them the opportunity to express their gifts and talents.

“Fast pace of development enabled by robust Telecom and ICT Infrastructure, the direct multiplier effect of this pragmatic executive order, is that these states will experience a noticeable development both in the private and public sectors.

He added that it would push the revenue of the states forward.

“It will also make companies that do not have presence in these states to consider opening a branch in the states which will lead to employment generation thereby reducing rural-urban migration,” he said.

ATCON, therefore, advised other states yet to implement the approved harmonised ROW price of N145 per liner meter to take a cue from these states, to enable telecom and ICT infrastructure to speed up the needed development in Nigeria.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Google partners Viacom, MTV Base on Africa Day concert

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Google on Thursday in Lagos said it was partnering Viacom and MTV Base to host an Africa Day benefit concert to commemorate the Africa Day.

Mr Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google Communication Officer, West Africa, said in a statement that the collaboration was through a two-hour special benefit concert to raise funds to support food and health needs of children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Africa Day is an annual event to commemorate the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union, celebrated annually on May 25.

According to him, the Africa Day Benefit Concert At Home would be streamed and broadcast to millions of viewers in Africa and around the world on MTV channels and on the MTV Base Africa YouTube channel.

Kola-Ogunlade said the concert would be hosted by Idris Elba, an English actor and would bring together a star-studded line up including performances from Burna Boy, Sauti Sol, Sho Majozi and Diamond Platinum on YouTube at 7pm on May 25.

‘’Hear Africa – YouTube Music has released a special Africa Day playlist, which takes the love of afrobeat, a bit of house and the soul of Africa to allow you to travel through the continent from your couch.

“The playlist includes some of the most listened to songs on YouTube, featuring sensations like Eddy Kenzo, Lady Zamar, Sauti Sol and Wizkid.

‘’It also takes you back to the sounds of great African voices we have lost, like Fela Kuti, Hugh Masekela and Johnny Clegg,” he said.

According to him, in Explore Africa, Google Arts and Culture has curated a special Africa Day exhibit that features various pieces and collections from all over Africa.

He said this digital exploration of the African continent takes one through 26 collections and 194 stories including the magical world of Nigerian food.

Kola-Ogunlade said in Discover Africa, as one listens to the sounds of Africa through YouTube, and explores its culture with Google Arts and Culture one could head over to Google Search to learn more about the wonderfully diverse and colourful place called home.

He said one could ask Google about the true origin of jollof rice, learn about the national dish of Ethiopia or find out how far the Sahara stretched.

Edited By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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GBB says virtual FEC meetings not run on deprecated operating system

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The Galaxy Backbone (GBB), has debunked rumours of holding virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC), meeting on a platform running a deprecated operating system thereby presenting potential security issues.

The virtual meeting was coordinated by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

The Managing Director, GBB, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, debunked the rumour in a Statement signed by him and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.

Abubakar said GBB executed the virtual meeting with support of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as the regulator of the sector and Nigerian Communication Satellite (NigComSat) accordingly.

He said  the virtual FEC meeting was held on cutting-edge technology infrastructure with up-to-date computer components, robust network security system  and Next Generation Firewalls forming a ring fencing around it.

Abubakar said the computers, which supported the network monitoring system were 10 and had extended Windows 7 Security Updates uptil 2023.

“We would not have responded to the write-up, but in the interest of the reading public, we are compelled to provide some clarifications.

“The photo of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy which precipitated this wrong assertion was taken in the Network Monitoring Centre (NMC), of the Uptime Institute Tier 3 certified National Shared Services Centre, a data centre, operated by Galaxy Backbone Limited.

“The screen is a display of monitoring activities around our network across the country. The computing systems running this monitoring are offline.

“There are systems that are specially designed such that absolutely no feature changes can be tolerated for the life of their devices, examples are medical control equipment, PoS systems, ATMs, Digital Signage among others.

“Such systems typically have a 10-year servicing and support lifecycles. This is where our network monitoring system belongs,” he said.

Abubakar said that Nigerians should visit https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4527878/faq-about-extended-security-updates-for-windows-7 for further details.

He said GBB had  ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 certifications, and took Information Technology security management very seriously and upgraded its systems based on standards.

Abubakar also said that GBB was made up of seasoned, well-trained and experienced ICT professionals, determined to continue to provide the best infrastructure to support the Ministry’s initiative.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Minister directs NIPOST to produce report on fire incident

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed management of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) to produce a report on the fire incident that occurred at its corporate headquarters on Wednesday.
Pantami gave the directive when he paid a visit to the NIPOST headquarters to assess the extent of damage at the office.
He directed that a comprehensive report about the fire incident be put together and forwarded to his office for further action.
The News agency of Nigeria reports that Pantami was received by the Postmaster-General, Dr Ismail Adewusi, the Chairman, NIPOST Governing Board, Mrs Maimuna Yaya-Abubakar, and members of the management.
The minister expressed happiness that the fire was contained early enough.
”Thank God that the fire was quickly contained and prevented from spreading to other offices in the building and from destroying sensitive documents of the organisation,” he said.
Adewusi had earlier told the minister that the report of the Federal Fire Service Report, which would reveal the cause of the fire incident, was being awaited.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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NigComSat partners with Trefoil Networks to promote local content programming

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Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), in collaboration with Trefoil Networks, on Wednesday launched an indigenous television network to promote local content programming.

The launch was held during a news briefing in Abuja.

The Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Mrs Abimbola Alale, said from the satellite distribution service to the local manufacturing of the set up boxes and local programming content is totally Nigerian.

The MD, who was represented by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs Directorate, Mr Adamu Idris, called on other potential clients to take advantage of the resources on board NigComSat-1R satellite, to achieve their ICT related goals and objectives.

“We have available capacity on C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band for Transponder lease, capacity on demand, satellite broadband, DTH services and others,” she said.

The Managing Director of Trefoil Networks, Mr Onochie Amasiani said the new satellite TV is a hybrid platform that offers completely Free-to-View channels with no monthly subscription, PVF and IP to watch YouTube and other Over-the-Air.

“We started the journey some years back and has culminated into what we are all proud of and to be associated with it.

” We know there are various players in the market but OurTV has a unique value proposition, which every Nigerian, home, family and business will be proud to associate with.

” Every Nigerian home will ask for OurTV for entertainment, relaxation, news, education, kids, and for everything you value from Television,” he said.

The Head of TV, Trefoil Networks Limited, Miss Braide Sayaba said the launch of the new digital satellite TV transmitting via NigComSat 1R known as ‘OurTV’ is the first and only H265 DTH Satellite TV in Africa with 18 exciting channels.

” We started our first transmission in 2015; today, Trefoil Networks is flagging off sales of OurTV decoders nationwide.

“Our customers can get our exclusive channels without monthly subscription. All they need is to buy the decoder which costs N11,900.

” OurTV is the definition of local content. Homegrown content, aggregated by Nigerians, transmitting on a Nigerian Satellite and being received through decoders made in Nigeria.

” The contents of the channels are safe for both children and adults. These channels cut across all demographics and genres.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports Trefoil Networks Limited is a Technology Company with focus on Information and Communication Technology, Broadcast, Network and Internet Solutions.

It is incorporated in Nigeria and licensed by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

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NIPOST says work goes on notwithstanding HQ’s inferno, awaits report

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Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST), on Wednesday said the organisation would continue to discharge its responsibilities to the populace in spite of the inferno at its corporate headquarters on Wednesday morning.
The General Manager, Communications, Mr Franklin Alao, gave the indication in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria .
NAN recalls that the head office of NIPOST in Garki 2 was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday causing chaos for some hours in the busy area of Abuja.
According to Alao, Nigerians rely on the organisation for many services even as NIPOST is engaged with the distribution of palliatives to the citizens bugged down by the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in the country.
He said, however, that the organisation was awaiting the report on cause of the fire outbreak that engulfed its HQ in the morning.
He gave gratitude to God that there was no causality as the fire service was quick to come and put out the fire immediately it received the distress call.
”The fire started from the second floor and firefighters had put out the fire.
”It started as a smoke from the human resource department on the second floor just as we resumed work to continue our services this morning around 8am.
”But the fire service was quickly called in and the personnel have put out the fire, there was no casualty.
”We are awaiting the report as to the cause of the fire,” he said.
NIPOST headquarters, located at Garki 2 of the FCT, is a government-owned establishment responsible for providing postal services in Nigeria.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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COVID-19: Ericsson highlights importance of connectivity during pandemic

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The Head of Networks, Middle East and Africa at Ericsson, Chafic Traboulsi, says that it is important that service providers consider the significance of planning and optimising their networks during uncertain times.

 

He said this during a webinar organized by the organization to discuss network capacity, performance and digitization, as service providers prepare for unprecedented situations presented by the pandemic.

 

The Ericsson webinar spotlight the importance of maintaining mobile communications as critical infrastructure.

 

It also presented how Ericsson had been working with telecom service providers to manage their networks and face continued changes in traffic patterns.

 

According to Traboulsi, the webinar is a way of staying close to customers and supporting them in managing capacity and performance during the pandemic.

 

“During these challenging times, service providers are focusing their attentions on solving the myriad of challenges that have been created.

 

“Cellular, fixed broadband and wireless technologies are all essential for helping businesses of all sizes to keep things running remotely,” he said.

 

The webinar also afforded the organization the opportunity to highlight some of the major trends that had emerged in the telecommunications sector since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

They include different traffic patterns, utilisation on the rise, and higher bandwidth demand.

 

Traboulsi said that the pandemic had caused a reduction in mobility, changed utilisation patterns, with high concentration on suburban areas.

 

“Fixed and mobile telecommunications networks have experienced major shifts in traffic as more lockdowns mean a decrease of data traffic in urban areas and an increase in suburban and residential areas.

 

“The lockdown also puts a dramatic day-long pressure on home connectivity due to work-from-home, online education, among others.

 

“As people are moving less, and working from home more, the largest share of traffic increases is being absorbed by the fixed residential networks,” he said.

 

He said that videoconferencing, gaming and streaming services were also experiencing major increases in usage.

 

Traboulsi said that Ericsson’s network design and optimization response had helped service providers handle the changing traffic patterns to sustain high-performing connectivity.

 

According to him, this is done through a multi-pronged approach which covers an immediate network uplift, planning and dimensioning and a virtual drive test.

 

He said that some of the new and improved solutions would play a key role in saving lives, while others would help save businesses, support public health and welfare services, and ease recovery after the crisis.

 

“The pandemic has led to a boom in the use of network-based communication and collaboration tools.

 

“It has made it easier to see beyond the efficiency-related, economic benefits of digitalization and recognize its broader benefits to society and humanity as a whole,” Traboulsi said.

Edited By: Peter Dada (NAN)

 

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UNICEF, Airtel partner to provide remote learning for children in Africa

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The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says it has partnered with Airtel Africa to provide access to remote learning for children in 13 sub-Saharan countries.

Fayaz King, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Field Results, who made the disclosure on Wednesday said they would also provide cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.

King said that UNICEF and Airtel Africa would use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The partnership aims to benefit children and families in Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“The adverse effects of school closures on children’s learning are well documented.  Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost or even reversed completely.

“In most poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.

“Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF’s response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home,” he said in a statement

King noted that Airtel Africa would zero-rate selected websites hosting educational content, which would provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.

According to him, COVID-19 is affecting access to information and education at an unprecedented scale and worldwide, most children are not in school.

He said that children not going to school could lead to a number of increased vulnerabilities and setbacks.

UNICEF is partnering with Airtel Africa to deliver better outcomes for children and families affected by widespread closures.

“The partnership will also provide UNICEF with a means to facilitate vital cash assistance to alleviate financial barriers for some of the most vulnerable families across the region.

“This includes many affected by the growing socio-economic hardships resulting from suspension of income-earning activities.

“This will help ensure families have additional resources to cope with the ongoing health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” King said.

Similarly, Raghunath Mandava, Airtel Africa, Chief Executive Officer, said that some effective ways to cushion families from the effects of the crisis was by providing free internet access to selected educational websites.

He said this would help children keep up with their learning during the school closures.

“Alongside various other COVID-19-related initiatives and support that we are providing to governments and the community, we are glad to also collaborate with UNICEF to support children,” Mandava said. 

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zoho Corporation announces fixed local pricing for SMEs in Nigeria

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A Global technology company, Zoho Corporation on Tuesday, announced that all its over 45 business software applications were available at a fixed Nigerian Naira price.

Andrew Bourne, Country Manager, Africa, Zoho Corp., said that the move was part of the brand’s global survive-and-serve strategy which sought to ease the impact of currency fluctuations, especially on small businesses.

Bourne said in a statement that it also aimed to significantly reduce barriers to entry of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who were considering multiple solutions from different global vendors.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Zoho Corporation is a global technology company offering over 45 business software applications ranging from sales and marketing to customer support and accounting, all tailored to solve business challenges.

Bourne said that Zoho, through the Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Programme, was also offering its existing, qualifying small business customers a three-month waiver on their subscription fee.

According to him, a number of additional initiatives and resources have been launched for businesses to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis.

The country manager said that this includes `Remotely’, a remote working toolkit, freely available to all businesses until July 1, 2020.

“Serving our local communities and businesses is a key focus for Zoho and we recognise that the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to adopt digitisation much faster than they might otherwise have.

“Zoho seeks to make this adoption both simple and affordable by providing its world-class software solutions at a fair price, protected from exchange rate fluctuation.

‘’Customers are also guaranteed privacy and security of their data,” he said.

Bourne said among Zoho’s top-selling products in the country were Zoho One and Zoho Workplace:

He said that Zoho One is an all-in-one integrated suite of over 45 applications that could run an entire business in the cloud.

Bourne said with Zoho One, a company could manage all its functionalities from marketing, sales, and support to Human Resources Accounting and back-office operations, making it a true operating system for business.

It is available from N7,800 per employee, per month (billed annually).

The country manager said that Zoho Workplace offers a suite of productivity apps catering for the needs of today’s modern, distributed workforce.

According to him, it comprises email, file storage, word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, employee intranet, team chat and online video conferencing tools and is available from N780 per user, per month billed annually.

He said that Zoho conducted free seminars and training sessions aimed specifically at the African market and educated users about how to adopt cloud technology to grow their businesses.

Bourne said that after the success of its first-ever African Zoholics Zoho’s User Conference event in Johannesburg in September 2019, the company hosted another Zoholics in Cairo, Egypt, in February this year.

According to him, Zoho has plans for long-term growth and expansion in Africa, having seen 35 per cent growth in the region in 2019-2020 which included integration with top payment gateways in the continent.

He said it was with a view to support local e-businesses and online retailers.

According to him, it is also expanding its partner footprint in order to support more local businesses.

“Partners have helped increase Zoho’s reach, contributing to over 55 per cent of Zoho’s overall revenue for the region.

“In addition to Nigeria, localised pricing has also been announced for Kenya, South Africa and Egypt, ‘’ Bourne said.

He noted that there were further opportunities in the pipeline as Zoho planned to scale up its workforce on the continent over the next two years.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

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Plentywaka launches staff bus solution for corporate companies in Lagos

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Plentywaka, a Tech-driven premium bus-hailing service, has announced launch of its ‘Staff Bus Solutions’ for corporate companies to minimise employees’ risk of contracting  COVID-19.

Mr Johnny Enagwolor, Plentywaka Managing Director, said in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos that the service would be providing a safer and more convenient means of transportation for workers in Lagos State, post-lockdown.

He said that with all buses cleaned and fumigated on a daily basis, the Plentywaka staff bus solutions would deliver a service in line with the state government’s directives.

Enagwolor noted that the staff bus solution would also enable the vital Lagos workforce to safely return to full capacity.

“The new service allows companies to either lease buses directly from Plentywaka or have their staff picked up and dropped off from designated points.

“Options include a driver approved by Plentywaka as well as access via mobile to a dashboard for real-time monitoring and data collection.

“While the easing of the lockdown provides some assurances, we still need to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to avoid community spread of the virus.

“The launch of the staff bus solutions enables us to offer assurance to  business owners anxious about traveling, by providing a safer alternative for them to achieve their 2020 plans,” the managing director said.

He said that after the brief pause due to COVID-19, Plentywaka resumed  services on May 5 and was seeking to build on its  previous successes.

Enagwolor noted that from May 18,  the platform would be rolling out their buses on two new routes to boost their current services from five to seven routes.

“As part of the new launch, Plentywaka is offering new and existing users free rides on the new routes for a week via their app. The offer will be available from  May 18 and will end at 6 p.m. on May 23.

“Similar to most businesses, COVID-19 created a major hurdle for us but this is the time to be dynamic in meeting customers’ needs, especially those around safety.

“Commuters across Lagos need transport operators that take their wellbeing seriously and that is why we are expanding our services,”Enagwolor said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that PlentyWaka is a bus sharing solution that offers commuters convenience, safety and comfort in their daily rides.

The app allowed commuters to book, pay for fast and convenient trips in real-time.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

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NITDA issues supplementary guidelines to data protection regulation

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has issued the Management of Personal Data by Public Institutions in Nigeria 2020 guidelines, as a supplementary to the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) of 2019.

Its Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs Hadiza Umar, disclosed this on Monday in a statement issued in Abuja.

Umar said the guidelines were to enable the agency to implement its regulatory mandate.

“The guidelines stipulate the requirements for the processing of personal data by public institutions in Nigeria.

“It is issued to reinforce the implementation of the NDPR, while all the principles and provisions of the NDPR remain valid and applicable to all Nigerians including public institutions.

“The guidelines require all public institutions and any entity co-owned by the government to process all personal data of Nigerians and Data subjects in the country in line with best practices and highest standards.

“It takes cognisance of the fact that some public sector data processing may be founded on vital or public interest, so it requires public data controllers and processors to be ethical and professional.

“It also mandates the use of secure technology and automated processes for personal data by Public Institutions, in line with the requirements of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy,” she said.

Umar added that all public institutions holding and processing personal data were required to securely digitise all personal databases within 60 days from the issuance of the guidelines.

According to her, public institutions are required to maintain the highest level of information security to guarantee confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of all databases within their control.

She also recognised that there could be need for collaboration between the public and private sector to tackle emergencies or other state-led interventions for the benefit of citizens.

The official, however, said the guidelines provided a strict framework for such collaborations to ensure that the privacy of Nigerians was not unduly infringed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has brought up the need for more personal data use to limit the spread of the virus.

“While we recognise the existence of constitutional limitations on privacy rights in the interest of public health and safety, such limitations must be based on defined frameworks.

NITDA implores all concerned parties to comply strictly with the requirements of these guidelines and seek professional guidance from licensed Data Protection Compliance Organisations,” Umar said.

She aidd that the agency would ensure adequate compliance to the NDPR and other guidelines through monitoring, as well as sanction defaulting institutions as provided in NITDA and NDPR Act.

Umar urged all concerned parties to study the guidelines diligently, apply them accordingly and reach out to the agency for further clarifications.

She encouraged data processors and controllers to find available regulatory guidelines on the agency’s website: www.nitda.gov.ng.

The NDPR outlines the need to safeguard the right of natural persons to data privacy, fosters safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of Personal Data, prevents personal data manipulation among other objectives.

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Science, innovative, engineering boost space exploration — NASRDA boss

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Dr Francis Chizea, new Ag. Director-General, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), on Monday, reiterated that indepth science, innvotive and engineering enhanced space exploration.

This is contained in a statement by Dr Felix Ale, Head, Media and Corporate Communications of the agency and issued to newsmen in Abuja.

The acting D-G made the assertion during his first official meeting with the management staff of NASRDA.

News Agency of Nigeria recalled that Chizea took over the leadership of NASRDA over the weekend, following the retirement of his predecessor, Mr Jonathan Angulu.

“Space exploration is a global endeavour that has global best practices as the only acceptable methodology that it understands.

“Space exploration everywhere is based on rigorous cutting-edge science and innovative engineering that solves man’s problems in a sustainable way,” Chizea said in the statement.

He also identified capacity building and productive synergy among the various activity centres of the agency.

According to him, synergy will promote efficiency and productivity of space exploration for the overall benefit of the nation.

He, however, called for the cooperation and support of the entire management and staff members in order to enable the agency to achieve its mandates.

Chizea, before his new appointment was the Director, Policy, Planning and Research of NASRDA, and had been part of the agency’s developmental strides from inception.

NASRDA was established on Aug. 1, 2001, with a primary objective of establishing a fundamental policy for the development of space science and technology in the country.

Edited By: Chinyere Nwachukwu/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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NABDA proposes viable agro-entrepreneurship for post-COVID-19

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The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said it would support the Federal Government’s job creation policy for 100 million people, through economically feasible agro-entrepreneurship, for a postCOVID-19 era.

NABDA’s Director-General, Prof. Alex Akpa, stated this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.

Akpa said the activities lined up for this participatory agro-entrepreneurship programme would include the commercial scale production of biotech (bt) cotton seed and cotton lint.

“Bt cotton seed will be produced in commercial quantities and distributed to farmers to enable them to produce bt cotton lint massively, to support Nigerian Textile Mills and ginneries,’’ he said.

The director-general noted that massive production of quality cotton lint would revive textile industries in Nigeria, with the capability to create one million jobs, and an average return on investment of three years.

Similarly, the professor said that the agency would commercialise the maruka (pod borer) resistant biotech (bt) cowpea to farmers.

“This will help to enhance food security in Nigeria and increase export income from the commodity, with three years average return on investment,’’ Akpa said.

He noted that this medium scale operation had the potential for creating 100,000 jobs, with an average return on investment of three years.

According to the director-general, development of commercial integrated aquaponics facility for production of fish, fish feed and vegetables, is another activity the agency plans to embark upon.

He stated that the facility was intended for use intensively for the production of fish and vegetable in confinement, as well as import substitution for fish and exotic vegetables.

Akpa said that the medium scale operation was capable of creating 50,000 jobs, with average return on investment of three years.

He noted that the agency would also develop commercial hydroponic facility for the production of improved ruminants including cattle, sheep and goats, and bio-products such as meat, milk among others.

“The facility is intended for use in fodder production for intensive ruminant farming in confinement, for meat and milk production.

“It shall also be used for import substitution for fodder, milk and meat as well as elimination of community clashes over animal feed resources.

“This also has potential of creating 50,000 jobs, and two and a half years average returns on investment,’’ he said.

Akpa hinted on the development of commercial aeroponics facility for the production of disease-free and high-yielding yam seedlings and seeds, bio-fertilisers, bio-fungicides and bio-pesticides.

The professor noted that the facility was intended for use in advanced yam production, for commercial scale agriculture, to meet foreign and domestic markets.

According to him, it will also meet the industrial demand for quality yam seed and seedling, as well as other high grade farm inputs.

“This has the potential of creating up to 100, 000 jobs, with an average return on investment of two years.”

Akpa said the agency would develop facilities for vegetables and fruit storage, processing into concentrates and concentrate storage and marketing.

“”The facility is intended for the deployment of biotechnology in utilisation and management of in-season and off-season Nigeria’s abundant fruit and vegetable resources

“This will enable value addition and all-year round availability,” he added

“It will also ensure all-year-round availability of Nigeria’s fruits and vegetables, reduce post– harvest losses, and uplift rural livelihood, and this shall create about 55,000 jobs,’’ Akpa said.

He said the agency was planning to develop commercial scale facility for the production of bio-energy digester that had been designed, developed and patented in Nigeria, for use in producing electricity.

Akpa said the facility could also be used for domestic cooking and bio-fertiliser, for crop production.

According to him, the facility is intended for the production of biogas digester units,  that could be sold to households, markets, farms and restaurants operators among others, to produce biogas for domestic heating and electricity.

“It will also support energy access for all, especially in areas not covered by the national grid (off-grid), reduce indoor pollution and minimise deforestation, from use of inappropriate energy sources such as wood.

“This has the potential of creating 50,0000 jobs, with an average returns on investment of three years,’’ Akpa said.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Experts urge FG to improve digital technology, leveraging on pandemic

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Two information and Technology experts on Saturday, urged the Federal Government to improve the digital technology and digital transformation of the country, leveraging the COVID-19  pandemic.

The IT experts made the appeal in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.

They said that the such opportunity would keep the country going.

Mr Ismail Haruna, an IT Officer with Lead Capital PLC,  said that if government did the needful then Nigeria would gain from this pandemic through technology to ensure robust  economic and general activities.

Haruna said that if government should fail to do the needful, the country would be back to status quo or even be worse off after the pandemic which  would be disastrous.

According to him, there is need to transform this pandemic to an opportunity because countries that position themselves well with the digital transformation plan are actually appreciating it.

He said a harder situation of post COVID-19 must be averted,  especially as the pandemic had stalled most economic activities.

‘The education sector is on absolute stall  because we do not have digital technology transformation plan  to  spring up our  schools.

“Government needs to  leverage on the situation to bring in digital transformation, digital technology that will  allow people to do things from the comfort of their homes and stop unnecessary morbidity.

‘The pandemic is more like a blessing in disguise especially for Nigeria because of what we are lacking,” he said.

According to him, as a tech person,  I have been very busy configuring mobile phones and other mobile devices to enable people to work.

He said that over 250 mobile devices had been configured for colleagues, office and friends and all working from homes,  discussing and resolving issues.

Haruna said the pandemic had taken  the country to  a level that we could  achieve a lot  with technology, hence  for a tech person,  it is a blessing in disguise.

The expert, however, urged other people who were not technology inclined to take the opportunity to be technology savvy as not doing so might affect them in the long run.

He advised  that people should think out of the box and see a way they could be relevant by bringing technology into whatever they did to avoid their businesses going extinct.

Also, Mr Jide Awe,  former Chairman of Nigeria Computer Society, Lagos Chapter,  said that government could also help out by making the necessary technology tools available to people.

Awe noted that most Nigerians could not afford the facilities such as data, thus making participation in digital technology difficult.

He reiterated that businesses in the country could have totally shutdown if not for technology.

The IT expert said that people were able to work from home and some schools and government launched online schooling  which was not totally inclusive either for lack of funds in some homes, unavailability of equipment or  lack of knowledge.

According to him, you can see that a lot of  online seminars are going on now which  may not have been possible without technology especially during this lockdown.

He, however, emphasised  the need for government to make Internet readily available so that it would be at the reach of all,  especially to encourage  online schooling.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

 

 

 

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9mobile, Mobihealth extend telemedicine to combat COVID-19 in Kano

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9mobile and telemedicine provider, Mobihealth, on Thursday announced that they had partnered with the Association of Resident Doctors of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and Northfield Health Services to curb COVID-19 in Kano State.

The Chairman of 9mobile, His Royal Highness Alhaji Nasir Bayero, made this known in a statement.

Bayero said that the partnership was part of the concerted efforts aimed at protecting healthcare workers and citizens by providing access to telemedicine consultation.

He said this would curb the further spread of the coronavirus disease in Kano State.

He noted that the service would enable doctors to diagnose, conduct investigations, treat and remotely monitor patients for general medical problems.

Bayero said the service would also help to decide the order of treatment for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related illnesses.

“Citizens and residents of Kano would have access to highly-trained and experienced medical doctors for primary care consultation via web, app, voice or video call.

“This would be done from the comfort of their homes simply by downloading Mobihealth Consult app or dialling the toll-free lines for consultation.

“Mobihealth’s telemedicine service marks a new beginning for the people of Kano because it provides them access to doctors both in Nigeria and diaspora.

“We encourage residents to download “Mobihealth Consult app” from their device app store or by registering on app.mobihealthinternational.com to enjoy the service, ” Bayero said.

Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19: ICT expert advice entrepreneurs to empathise with employees

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An Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, Mr Jide Awe, has advised entrepreneurs to embrace innovation, creativity culture and empathy for employees toward enhancing productivity in their businesses.

Awe gave the advise during an online COVID-19 Entrepreneurs Diet meeting coordinated by Young Innovators Nigeria (YIN), with the theme, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship: During and Post Pandemic”.

The expert, who focused on Human Relations and Engaging the Workforce, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had created societal and human impact that disrupted activities.

He said that the societal impact was redefining nature of work resulting in job loss, low income, economic stability, volatile labour force, remote working and innovations among others.

Awe noted that the COVID-19 era had businesses being less or totally unproductive but adapting to the change and adopting creative technology elements could turn things.

He said that learning from inevitable challenges at work made it more productive, engaging for employees, especially in the pandemic era.

“Owners and managers of businesses must be sincere facilitators and mentors who lead by example because human relation is a leadership priority that requires full commitment.

“Ideas shared are not formula, employee policies and systems will vary but uncertain times call for empathetic, practical and creative measures.

“Business owners should appreciate future of work, bearing in mind there is no permanent jobs, no permanent life and embrace new forms of work,” Awe said.

He further said that entrepreneurs should ensure their employees’ well-being and safety, which could encourage them.

The expert also said that the pandemic period was filled with uncertainties adding that entrepreneurs should empower employees with working tools for either physical, on-site or remote working.

According to him, fostering clear constructive communications, building confidence in employees, promoting focus on substance and flexibility will boost productivity.

He said that it was time to change the archaic, dysfunctional and inhuman approaches to work and embrace opportunities in emerging technologies.

“Entreprenuers having challenges this time should know that times of disruption require creativity and there is no particular template to address the COVID-19 poor productivity.”

Mr Mayowa Ajiboye, President of YIN, said leaders, employers needed to have the sincerity of purpose in dealing with employees.

Ajiboye emphasised that employers’ relationship with their staff members could foster enhanced productivity.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

 

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YouTube highlights 5 channels to keep homes tidy

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YouTube on Thursday highlighted five video channels that could help keep homes tidy and in the process exercise to fight stress and anxiety.

Mr Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communication Officer, Google West Africa, said in a statement in Lagos that one way of fighting stress and anxiety according to experts is the act of cleaning as an exercise.

Kola-Ogunlade said that with personal and home hygiene gaining increased importance in recent times, the following YouTube channels were jam-packed with inspiration for getting your house in order room by room literally.

He said that `Simply Nikki’, `Jessica Tull’, `Clean my Space’, `Jansen’s DIY’ and `Belinda Selene’ were the five YouTube channels.

According to him, Simply Nikki, a messy pantry happens to the best of us, unless we happen to have a healthy dose of OCD.

“Nikki Thot of Jamie and Nikki fame, shares how she’s using her time at home to clean up her pantry and make it look like something out of the pages of a magazine.

‘’Bathrooms and small spaces in general can very quickly get very out of hand.

‘’The folks over at Jansen’s DIY a channel dedicated to home improvement, life hacks and DIY-related topics, have compiled a list of 20 ways to organise and create storage space in small bathrooms,’’ he said.

Kola-Ogunlade said if one had been tossing old newspapers, cardboard boxes, plastic bags, old tools and useless toys in garage for years and “wants to stop the cycle, Jessica Tull is here for you’’.

According to him, get inspired as she transforms her complete disaster of a garage into an orderly sanctuary.

The communication Officer said that a cluttered, untidy and dirty bedroom could be affecting your quality of life without you even realising it.

Kola-Ogunlade said that waking up to a tidy and organised bedroom could increase your productivity, improve your mood and even help you sleep better.

He said that Melissa from Clean My Space not only showed you how to clean your room, but also how to do it like a cleaning professional.

According to him, If you feel inspired enough to take on an extreme home clean, clean along to Belinda Selene.

Kola-ogunlade said Selene had decided to use her social distancing time to give herself a kickstart in productivity and take her mind off things.

Edited By: Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

 

 

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A successful post COVID-19 economy needs home-grown technologies -NABDA DG

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Prof. Alex Akpa, the Director-General, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), says a successful post COVID-19 will rely on adaptive and home-grown technologies to sustain and develop the Nigerian economy.

Apka said this would ensure minimal need for FOREX  and expatriates with high potential for exports in areas of the country’s comparative and absolute advantage.

He made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

He recalled that the economic recovery, which followed the Swine Flu pandemic of 1918, had a characteristic requirement for participatory development and a strong need for local content.

According to him, the ravishing COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for the agency to strategically intervene in the interest of the nation.

Akpa said NABDA was ensuring the development, adaptation and deployment of appropriate biotechnology in products and services to meet established and evolving national needs in the present crisis confronting the nation.

“We are strategically mandated to intervene at times of high levels of uncertainty when conventional technologies need be adapted to sustain an existing system or initiate a transition through uncharted territory of national needs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges that are poorly understood globally because it is a departure from conventional knowledge of viral infection.

“Hence, its management requires innovative approaches and necessitates the invocation of the strategic mandate of NABDA with special emphasis on development of cutting edge bio-techniques in testing and managing new cases,’’ he said.

The NABDA boss said that a successful management of coronavirus pandemic brought to mind the reality of a post COVID-19 era and its attendant challenges.

He assured that the agency was not unmindful of this historical fact, while designing its interventions.

“The immediate area of attention of the agency is to ensure food security during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our present focus is food security which is achievable through enhancement of agricultural yields, commercialisation of new and improved seeds and value addition to farm produce through sound agro-processing and entrepreneurship,’’ he said.

NAN reports that NABDA was established in 2001 under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to coordinate the develop adaptation and deployment of biotechnology in Nigeria’s health, agricultural, industrial and environmental sectors for national growth and development.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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