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Artificial Intelligence essential for banks to remain competitive — Access Bank boss



Banks and Financial Technology (FinTech) operators have been urged to leverage technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remain competitive.

Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, gave the advice on Thursday in Lagos during the Africa FinTech Foundry (AFF) Disrupt 2019 conference, powered by Access Bank.

The theme of the conference is ”Digital Gold Rush: Building a Sustainable Tech-Economy”.

“Leveraging such technology as artificial intelligence and utilising data analytics is imperative if banks and Fintechs are to remain competitive.

“Today, becoming an intelligent bank is not an option, it is a necessity, as technology is redefining the way banks operate,” Wigwe said.

He said that AI, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Virtual Reality, robotics, Cryptocurrency – all brought enormous opportunities for banks to significantly improve the way customers’ access and manage finances.

According to him, with automation technology, banks and Fintechs are able to grant credit in seconds.

He said that a manual review of 12,000 documents used to take 360,000 hours, but today, this could be done in seconds using AI.

The chief executive officer said that blockchain could be used to execute smart contracts, eliminating manual costs of transactions.

He said that robotics technology was used to serve customers in banks, and there was so much that could be done with data, as big data analytics helped an intelligent bank understand its customers.

Wigwe said that from a business perspective, and with the benefit of hindsight, traditional banking environment did not provide opportunities for scalability.

He said most years, it was business as usual, as banking processes were manual and in-branch, creating the need for brick and mortar branches with their expensive overheads, and in the case of Nigeria, low level of financial inclusion.

“Technology has changed everything. Not only is this continuing, the rate of development and evolution is speeding up exponentially.

“Technology-driven financial institutions will disrupt traditionally-run banks by taking advantage of any inherent weaknesses in their business models.

“They will do this by offering better value propositions to their customers.

“Today, it is our task to brainstorm these weaknesses and uncover opportunities in our current business models that technology will help us solve.

“Today is a gathering of the best technology brains ready to re-define the future of intelligent banks and Fintechs and create new disruptions for our industry,” Wigwe said.

Segun Adeniyi, Head of AFF, said that the evolution of technology and the 4th Industrial Revolution were about opportunities.

Adeniyi said that it was about using the power of technology to harness the opportunities that was available in Africa.

“We aim to help innovators harness the power of their innovations, give them platforms to test and go to market.

“We provide them with unparalleled access to global financial, technology, business and investor partner networks,” he said.

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Artificial Intelligence helps us make better decisions in business – Expert



A Communication Expert, Mr Lanre Adisa, has acknowledged the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a tool in helping both brands and consumers in making better decisions in business.

Adisa, the Chief Executive Officer of Noah’s Ark Communications, made this known on Monday during a Virtual conference organised by GAGE Award Online platform.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that GAGE Award is an annual award that spotlights the most innovative individuals and brands in the digital space in Africa.

According to him, AI has helped both brands and consumers in making better decisions, as opposed to speculations in some quarters that it may have a devastating effect on lives.

“We must be big on ideas that solve clients’ problems and Artificial Intelligence will help us gain better insights and understand behavioural patterns, which will help us make informed choices.

“It will make us better at aiming well and shooting our targets as desired.

“Working from home has been a blessing to the business, as it has drastically reduced our running cost.

“This pandemic is something we did not prepare for but it has made us see work differently. It has brought to us the future of work,” Adisa said.

In his view, Mr Johnson Anorh, Chief Executive Officer of GAGE Awards, said the impact of the pandemic, which had made his team members to work from home, had been a blessing.

He advised agencies and stakeholders to heed the need for collaboration, especially during the pandemic time.

“No one can have it all; this is an era where we must embrace collaboration and merger,’’ he said.

Edited By: Moses Solanke/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)


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UNESCO asks experts to draft ethics guide for artificial intelligence



United Nations science and culture agency UNESCO on Wednesday set up an expert group to draft international guidelines on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI).

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement that the group is made up of 24 experts from around the world and would draw up a first draft of what UNESCO says would be “the first global standard-setting instrument’’ on AI ethics.

“It is our responsibility to lead an informed universal debate in order to enter this new era with our eyes wide open, without sacrificing our values, and to establish a common global base of ethical principles for artificial intelligence.’’

The agency said the final text of the guidelines should be adopted by member states at UNESCO’s general conference next year.

Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim

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Science & Technology

Edo Agency trains over 500 youths on data science, artificial intelligence



The Edo Skills Development Agency (EdoJobs) says it has trained over 500 youth in the three senatorial districts of the state on Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

This is contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to Edo Governor on Media and Commission Strategy, Mr Crusoe Osagie, on Friday.

It quoted the Managing Director, EdoJobs, Mrs Ukinebo Dare, as saying that the trainings were targeted at equipping the youth with the right skillsets to build careers in Nigeria’s technology scene.

Dare said that 50 participants were currently undergoing courses on data science and artificial intelligence, while 500 others had participated in the programme since its commencement.

She said that the next phase of the training would take place in Auchi, Ekpoma, Irrua and Igbesanmwan communities, with each centre training about 33 people.

The director said that EdoJobs had continued to lead in extensive skills development programmes across the state.

“Edojobs has contributed significantly to the over 150,000 jobs created by the Obaseki-led government.

“The State has leveraged on human capacity building in creating the skilled manpower required to drive its industrialisation plans.”

“We are confident that these trainings will equip our youth with skills and the expertise to pursue careers in science and technology while providing them with the needed insight to thrive in the ICT-dominated digital world.”

She said that the skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development programmes were opportunities for more youth to gain sellable skills that would make them stand out as entrepreneurs and employers of labour.

She continued: “Entrepreneurship development will further address the problem of poverty, hunger, unemployment, and ever-rising criminality among the youth.

Dare added that several training programmes were ongoing at the Edo Innovation Hub in Benin, the Edo capital.

Edited By: Nick Nicholas/Donald Ugwu

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Thai artificial rainmaking operations to begin sooner to fight drought



The Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Friday told newsmen it has assigned the rainmaking division to start artificial rain-making operations sooner this year as drought is spreading fast in the dry season.

According to the Deputy Agriculture Minister, Thammanat Prompao, the ministry’s Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation is now conducting maintenance work for aircraft and training personnel so that they can fly the skies to create rain.

“The artificial rain making missions will start on Feb. 17, sooner than the normal schedule on March 1.

“The operations will cover 25 river basins across the country,’’ Prompao said.

He also said that thorough check-up and maintenance of aircrafts involving 26 rain-making planes will be completed before the end of January.

Surasee Kittimonthon, the Director-General of the Royal Rainmaking and Agriculture Aviation Department, said that in the meantime, five aircraft are operational for the missions to create artificial rain in the areas affected by drought and ultra-fine dust air pollution.

“Flight trainings are being undertaken before the beginning of the mission to fight drought this year,’’ the deputy minister said.

Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Expert urges govt. to fund artificial intelligence research to boost ICT



An IT Expert and Executive Director, NETSAT Media, Mr Collins Nnabugwu, on Monday, called on government to provide more funding for artificial intelligence (AI) research so as to revolutionise ICT development in the country.

Nnabugwu, who is the Country Ambassador for the Global Startup Ecosystem, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

He said that artificial intelligence was the way to go for ICT development in the present age, as it touched all the spheres of life.

“AI is has, for some time been, and is going continue to be, the centre of all our activities, from education to health and to all other sectors without exemption.

“AI collects the algorithm information and stores same; it can predict what our daily activities may be.

“AI can solve most of the problems we have now; an example is Google that can provide almost all the questions given to it, because it contains the entire information store on it.

`An information that can take a whole warehouse can be stored in a tiny chip and also processed in a split second,’’ he said.

Nnabugwu, an alumnus of the Beijing International Studies University, urged the government to take the issue of artificial intelligence seriously, saying it was the only way to catch up with the developed countries.

“AI should be taught in schools, from primary to tertiary; it must be made compulsory so that by the time the young ones get to the peak of their career, AI has already been sunk into their system.

“Government needs to invest in data because it is life; data is the new oil; nobody cares about oil now but technology.

“It will help the country to grow the economy, especially agriculture, industry, tourism and many others.

“Government should start with the introduction of AI in schools, because education is the bedrock of development. It will then trickle down to health, economy and other research centres,’’ he said.

Nnabugwu added that the satellite which Nigeria launched into the space could help solve many data problems, especially in the storage of data and demography useful for economic development.

“The satellite from information is being put into metrological use, but not much of AI; there should be synergy between government agencies and the private sector, especially about satellite.

“It is not enough for Nigeria to have the satellite; what is more important is putting it into optimum use and engaging all the personnel to benefit from it to bring the needed innovations,’’ he said.


Edited by Tayo Ikujuni and ‘Wale Sadeeq








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—-Expert calls on govt. for support of Artificial Intelligent for ICT revolution



An IT expert and Executive Director, NETSAT Media, Mr Collins Nnabugwu has urged the federal government to improve funding of Artificial Intelligence (AI) research to revolutionise development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the country.
Nnabugwu, the Country Ambassador for the Global Startup Ecosystem made the call on Monday in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.
He said that AI was the way to go for ICT development in the present age because it touches all the spheres of life.
“AI for some time has been and going to continue to be the centre of all our activities; from education, to health, to all other sectors without exemption.
“AI collects the algorithm information and store it for that, it can predict what our daily activities might be.
“AI can solve most of the problems we have; now an example is Google that can provide almost all the answers to questions given to it because it contains the information store on it.
“An information that can take a whole warehouse can be stored in a tiny chip and also processed in a split seconds,’’ he said.
Nnabugwu, an Alumnus of the prestigious Beijing International Studies University, urged the government to take the issue of AI seriously because it was the only way to catch up with the developed countries.
“AI should be taught in schools from primary to tertiary, it must be made compulsory, so that by the time the young ones gets to the peak of their career, AI has already been sunk into their system.
“Government needs to invest in data because it is life, data is the new oil, and nobody cares about oil now but technology. More institutes teaching artificial intelligence and what has to do with AI.
“It will help the country to grow the economy both agriculture, industry, tourism and many more.
“Government should start with the introduction of AI in schools because education is the bedrock of development, of course, it will then trickle down to health, economy and others research centres, he said.
Nnabugwu said that the satellite Nigeria launched into the space could help solve many data problems especially in the storage of data and demography useful for economic development.
“The satellite from information is been put into metrological use weather forecast, but not much of AI, there should be a synergy between all the government agencies about this satellite especially the private sector.
“Nigeria having the satellite is not enough but putting it into optimum use engaging all the personnel to benefit from it to bring innovations,’’ Nnabugwu said.

Edited by Edwin Nwachukwu/Bayo Sekoni

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Sheep farmers seek artificial insemination technology for animal production



The Sheep and Goat Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (SHEGOFAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to provide an artificial insemination technology for its members to enable them boost quality animal production.

The SHEGOFAN National President, Alhaji Wahabi Salami, made the appeal in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Ibadan.

NAN reports that artificial insemination is the process of collecting sperm cells from a male animal and manually depositing it into the reproductive tract of a female animal

Artificial insemination is commonly used instead of natural mating in many species of animals because of its many benefits.

Salami said that the artificial insemination technology would help in quick production and multiplication of quality animals.

“If you have 100 animals or more to conceive at once, it’s easier to use the artificial insemination technology.

“The animals can give birth at same time within the week of gestation, which is unlike the normal cross breeding of animals.

“The price is too high for most farmers to afford; many local farmers don’t even know about it, let alone having access to it; so government should make it available for the local farmers,” he said.

He also urged government to provide dairy farms in different local governments in the country where milk would be produced for the benefit of the people.

Salami emphasised that providing necessary facilities such as water, pastures, nomadic schools, hospitals and markets would keep the animals healthy and alleviate the plight of farmers.

“The federal government can do this in Oyo state, for instance, where we have gracing reserve of about 13,500 hectares of land.

“We need fence for our farms for security purposes; we also need borehole water throughout the year, while soft loans and grants will help us a great deal.

“We also need the establishment of veterinary clinics in our farms, good management of the farms by experts as well as training of farmers on how to make wealth from waste.

“We have been doing our best in our little way such as organising trainings and workshops for farmers, but we really need government and stakeholders to help tackle these challenges,” he said.

The national president called for the replication of livestock improvement programmes in the South-West zone by the federal government. (NAN)


Edited by Abiodun Oluleye and ‘Wale Sadeeq


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Don underlines importance of artificial blood



Dr Musa Muhibi, Associate Professor, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Edo University, Iyamho, Edo State, says artificial blood has a component that could arrests bleeding, in lieu of platelets and plasma proteins that perform that function in human blood.

Muhibi, Secretary General, Haematology and Blood Transfusion Scientists Society of Nigeria, said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency(NAN), on Friday in Abuja.

Artificial blood is a product made to act as a substitute for red blood cells. While true blood serves many different functions, artificial blood is designed for the sole purpose of transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body.

NAN reports that a team of scientists at Japan’s National Defense Medical College created artificial blood to be used on any patient, regardless of their blood type.

The team boasts that if it moves into human trials, the invention could prove extremely useful in cases when blood of a certain type is not available.

The Don, while speaking on the discovery, said that efforts to produce artificial blood started in the 1600s and reached its peak in 1883 with production of “Ringer’s solution,” now called `blood volume expander’.

Muhibi noted that the role of white blood cells in providing defence against “microbial invasion infection” seem not catered for in the most brands being paraded currently.

“This is not a problem, as long as the immune system of the patient remains functional and his/her body will respond appropriately to infection.

  because the blood-like materials have no antigens or antibodies to contemplate reactions against each other.

“Artificial blood are, therefore, universally administered without considering blood types of recipients.

“Advantages include safety from transfusion of transmissible infections because artificial blood has no pathogen, prolonged shelf life of up to a year, and non-cold-chain-dependent nature of the products with no refrigeration required.”

He said that the future of blood transfusion,where safety and availability in abundance would be sustained, depended largely on production and certification of artificial blood.

The don observed that cost of procurement may be a challenge at initial stage, but would come down as the market becomes more competitive.

(NAFDAC), it will curtail blood-related deaths.

“Patronage of touts as commercial donors, avoidable death due to loss of blood, expenses on screening of donors for TTIs and coercion of relatives to replace blood units used on patients will all end progressively,” he said.

He, however, said that researchers would pay attention to transnational research on production of artificial blood.

NAN recalls that the blood consists of platelets and red blood cells that can be safely stored at room temperature for more than a year.

Platelets ensure that the blood can clot and heal over time, while red blood cells ensure that oxygen reached vital organs.

The Japan team has confirmed that it had successfully carried out clinical test of the blood in rabbits and managed to save most of them from trauma-induced massive hemorrhage.(NAN)



Edited by Hawa Lawal and Ephraims Sheyin

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Science & Technology

FG to establish agency for artificial intelligence, robotics – Onu



) Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, says the Federal Government plans to establish an agency that would be in charge of artificial intelligence and robotics.

He made this disclosure on Monday in Abuja when the Nigeria Science Academy (NSA) visited him in his office, to officially invite the Ministry to their forthcoming programmes to boost the sector.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a general term that implies the use of a computer to model, including: robotics, natural language processing (NLP), computer vision and it is sometimes called machine intelligence .

Onu disclosed that for a very long time his ministry has been working to establish the agency, and it has passed through a lot of processes.

According to him, the ministry is close to achieving its aim and when it is fully achieved it would be made public to Nigerians.

“We are very committed to ensure that we have at least one research institute, centre or Agency that will concentrate on artificial intelligence and robotics,” he said.

Onu said this has become imperative because with the establishment of artificial intelligence the level and quality of research, universities, and industrial laboratories in the country would increase and could compete favourable with international standard.

He expressed the hope that the private sector would show interest and at the end it would be commercialised, saying that positive ideas could be translated to products and services available in the market place.

According to Onu, it will also help create jobs, grow the economy and boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

“The institute once established would be useful and Academy of Engineers that would work closely with the ministry to attain maturity.

Onu appreciated the Academy’s effort to hold a workshop on Big Data and artificial intelligence.

He said the Ministry had partner with Women in Science group, saying that they need to go to the rural schools to encourage the girl child to be interested in reading Science related courses.

The minister, however, urged the president of the Academy to work with relevant stakeholders for country to attain level of greatness.

Earlier, the President of NSA, Prof. Mosto Onuoha said the academy will hold an event on ‘Big data and artificial intelligence’ scheduled for Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 in Lagos.

He added that Women in Science and Technology Group is also organising an international programme scheduled for Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 in Abuja.

A fellow from the academy, Dr Kehinde Ladipo said there was need to instill the knowledge of how modern technology works, skills and competencies in the youths.

“Our focus, therefore, is to bring all the stakeholders together to let them think on the level of preparedness for the modern age data analytics and artificial intelligence,” he said.( )

Edited by Hawa Lawal/Felix Ajide


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