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Committee sets to improve Nigeria’s STI global ranking

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Prof. Okechukwu Ukwuoma,Chairman of National STI Databank Committee, says the committee is making move to improve the country’s ranking in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) via data banking.

Ukwuoma said this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Tuesday.

The 27-member committee was inaugurated by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu in September.

Ukwuoma noted that Nigeria did not perform well in the indicators used in the 2019 Global Innovation ranking.

Nigeria ranks 114 out of 129 countries, according to 2019 Global Innovation Index (GII) published by World Intellectual property Organisation.

GII said its ranking took into consideration business sophistication, human capital research, infrastructure, market sophistication, creative output, and institutions.

The chairman, however, said that Nigeria was ranked low because of lack of authentic databank; a development he said necessitated the inauguration of the committee.

“The data put for Nigeria is not authentic data in the 2019 ranking.

“Also, we don’t have good input in terms of skills, intellectual capacity; we will not be able to produce intellectual property.

“The one we do not measure is intellectual capital, the engine room of research,’’ he said.

Ukwuoma, who is also the Director-General, National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), said the committee would come up with the national databank that would help improve Nigeria’s ranking in STI.

He said that NACETEM was working on STI indicator survey, adding that the data would be used for the national database.

“It is a research that we are carrying out yearly.

“We are doing it in collaboration with African Union. We rely on the data we receive from the Union, and data on other agencies.’’

According to him, the committee will help to harmonise pocket of data in different Ministries Department Agencies (MDAs).

NAN reports that the Terms of Reference (ToRS) of the committee will be to study and review the already developed concept note on establishment of Science and Technology databank.

The ToRs also includes developing a framework for harmonisation of the ministry’s agencies activities and databases and draw out implementation strategy and plan for the establishment of the National STI databank. (NAN)

CIA/ACO/DUA

 

Edited by Abiodun Oluleye/Dada Ahmed

Science & Technology

Committee urges FG to tackle challenges in NIGCOMSAT

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House of Representatives Committee on ICT on Wednesday, called on the Federal Government to address the challenges in NIGCOMSAT in order to boost the digital economy in the country.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Lado Suleja, made the call during the House of Representatives Committee on ICT members’ oversight and familiarisation visit to NIGCOMSAT in Abuja.

” I was amazed and disappointed, in the other hand , from what I have seen here and the kind of negligence, I felt disappointed due to some dilapidating structures.

” If this structures were properly put in place, we can generate trillions of naira and will not have to depend so much on oil.

“We have gone round and we have seen what is on ground and we will do the needful and see how we can put heads together to NIGCOMSAT come to reality,” he said.

Suleja said there was need to urgently address policy and funding of NIGCOMSAT as well as proper intervention.

Earlier, the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Ms Abimbola Alale, said the company was established to manage critical ICT infrastructure; beginning with NIGCOMSAT 1 launched in 2007 and NIGCOMSAT-1R launched in 2011.

” We have been managing NIGCOMSAT 1R since December 2011, by next month, it would have been eight years in the orbit.

“The satellite, which is geostationary orbit, would have have passed the mid life span,” she said.

Alale lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for the new Ministry of Communication and Digital economy.

She said the company could contribute favourably to building the digital economy but needed intervention of the committee and support of Federal Government to revive and reposition for improved performance.

Nigeria News Agency reports that NIGCOMSAT Ltd, is a satellite communication service provider, wholly owned by the Federal Government  aimed at providing secured broadband, broadcast network and ancillary services in Nigeria, Africa and beyond.

The company, incorporated on April 4, 2006, currently manages and operates Nigeria’s communication satellite – NigComSat – 1R.

Edited by Dada Ahmed (NAN)

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commission urges scientific community to take Africa from poverty to prosperity

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The African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission (AUSTRC) has urged the Scientific Community in Africa to take the continent from poverty to prosperity.

Dr. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, AUSTRC said this while briefing participants on modalities at the African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC) meeting with the theme “Freeing Africa from Poverty, Hunger and Diseases“ on Wednesday in Abuja.

“We need you people to solve our problems in a creative way, in a way that if we sit in our offices to work for Africa for 10 years we will not be able to achieve.

“Because we are talking to the grassroots of the pyramid, which are the scientists, you are on the top of the pyramid by the way, that is the reality.

“We are politicians, we sit, we develop nice programmes, projects, agenda 2063 amongst the others, but if we do not have the backing of

the scientific community, you people, we will not go anywhere.

“So, I am calling upon this meeting to be open minded, create clusters of science, virtual labs, work together to solve our problems, to take us from poverty to prosperity.

“All nations that achieve prosperity, they use Science and Technology, and the soldiers of development are the scientists, like it or not this is your own responsibility“

Hamdy said the flagship projects which will be developed during the course of the meeting should be able to address problems that are more inclusive to bring services to the African Communities.

According to him, more participation of scientists in the continents database is crucial for success, and noted that out of 16,000 scientists in Africa, Nigeria takes the lead with the most number of scientists.

“We need projects that are market driven; we need more participation of scientist in our database today.

“We have about 16,000 scientists from all over the continent, the largest number are coming from Nigeria, and thanks to the Nigerian Academy of Science for the good work.

Secondly, we have from Ethiopia, and thanks Ethiopia for the good work; the Chairman of the Egyptian Academy, Egypt is the second largest producer of knowledge in the continent.

“Let me plead with you once more and say please publicise our work in your academy, call your scientists to work with us in the Africa Union method of sciences.

“I know Egypt is doing a lot, but we need more, South Africa too, so, I need to call on those countries where 60 per cent of our knowledge is coming from, the countries are Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya

and Tunisia“.

The Executive Director also noted that the African Union Science and Technology Innovation Fund (ASTIF) is functional, and appealed to

Prof. Raleno Mechieka to educate his country on need to champion science and technology.

He said as Africans, we are the problem and also the solution, and urged everyone to join hands to achieve the Africa we envisage.

Similarly, Prof. Raleno Mechieka, Chairman, African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC), appealed to the scientific community to strive to get the specific project that can make an impact in the continent.

“Let us all complement and interact with each other in this meeting by coming up with strategies that can help in implementing the flagship projects of ASRIC,“ he said.

Nigeria News Agency reports that this is the second edition of the AUSTRC Meeting to be held in Abuja, the first edition was held in 2017.

Edited by Felix Ajide (NAN)


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NCC inaugurates Multi-Sectorial Committee on e-Fraud

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated multi-sectorial Committee on e-Fraud to drastically curb crime in the country.

Inaugurating the multi-sectorial committee on Wednesday in Abuja, the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the committee would develop a plan for the implementation of the MoU aimed at checking e-fraud among others.

Danbatta assured that the commission would work closely with critical stakeholders and other relevant agencies to implement technical and operational solutions in checking e-fraud.

He said that the Customer Service and Fraud Operations team in Banks and Mobile Network Operators needed stronger processes and tighter guidelines on how to detect potentially fraudulent activities.

The NCC boss also said that victims should be compensated when prevention mechanisms failed, emphasising that effective collaboration between government agencies and private organisations was pivotal in tackling electronic fraud.

Danbatta said, “With the attainment of 35.4 per cent broadband penetration, cyber criminals, hackers and other unscrupulous elements are exploiting platform vulnerabilities to gain illegal access to bank accounts.

“Illegal access through phishing and other social engineering ploys, such as fraudulent SIM swaps to bypass authentication systems, regardless of whether the transactions are conducted via mobile phone, desktop browser, or point of purchase.

“With this in mind, members of the committee have been carefully selected to provide broad perspectives and leverage their diverse experience to successfully deliver on this critical assignment.

“Understandably, our expectations are high and we look forward to a comprehensive and all-encompassing output from the committee.”

Earlier, Mrs Felicia Onwuegbuchulam, Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, NCC, said prior to the Stakeholders Forum, financial fraud, using telecom platforms, was pervasive crossing borders and boundaries as well as industry spectrum.

Onwuegbuchulam said the negative implications of such frauds were not only huge in financial losses but also high in “reputational damage to telecoms operators, financial institutions, regulators, security agencies and the nation.“

“The commission has also been inundated with complaints on the unceasing cases of financial fraud via the use of telecom platforms.

“As a result, NCC is poised at seeking initiatives aimed at creating greater awareness on the issues as well as creating ways of mitigating problems arising from their occurrence.

“The Stakeholders forum is indeed one of the initiatives put in place by the commission to harness ideas and solutions toward solving the menace,” she said.

NAN reports that the stakeholders comprise Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) among others.

The committee is made up of members from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, National Inter Bank Settlement System.

Others are:National Identity Management Commission, Telecom Service Providers (ALTON), Banks, Security agencies and Ministry of Justice.

The Nigeria News Agency recalls that the MoU, proposed January this year in Abuja, is one of the resolutions of the Stakeholders Forum of Financial Fraud using Telecoms Platforms.

Edited by Dada Ahmed (NAN)

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ASRIC congress: Council wants science and technology sector strengthened

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STI

Abuja, Nov. 20, 2018 Prof. Ratemo Mechieka, Chairman of African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC), Abuja has urged participants at its four-day congress to develop frameworks to strengthen the science and technology sector in Africa.

Mechieka gave the advice on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing participants on modalities at ASRIC congress, entitled “ Freeing Africa from poverty, hunger and diseases.’’

He also urged NGOs, government establishments, academia, media stakeholders present at the occasion to interact and come up with ideas that could help achieve the theme of the congress.

“I call on everyone present here-academia, NGOs, private and government establishments and the media to exchange information and ideas that can address the challenges in the science and technology sector, especially in Africa.

“Let us all compliment and interact with each other in this congress, by coming up with frameworks and strategies that can help us in implementing the flagship projects of ASRIC,’’ he said.

He lamented the climate change pollution bedeviling African continent and called for participants contributions on how it could be addressed.

He said ways on funding from civil society, private and government donors are welcome to support the African Union Science and Technology Innovation Fund (ASTIF).

 

“Funding will help achieve the mandate of ASRIC to free the Africa from Poverty, hunger and diseases.’’

Also addressing the participants, Dr Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director of African Union, Scientific Technical Research Commission (AU-STRC) said the congress was a free zone meeting for exchange for ideas.

He urged participants, mostly scientists in various fields of science, to come up with innovative ways in addressing science and technology challenges confronting Africa.

He expressed pleasure at the presence of government establishments at the congress, adding that the development would help in enacting and effecting policies that would advance the growth of science, technology and technology (STI).

Hamdy stressed the need for the congress to address challenges found at the grassroots where hunger, poverty and diseases were more prevalent.

“ The poor are more affected with effects of climate change, diseases and hunge, so the congress should come up with innovative ways of addressing the issues and make impact on them.

“ We need all the aspects of the scientific committees; from business scientists, environmental scientists, medical scientists, food scientists, energy scientist amongst other scientists in civil societies, private and government establishments.

“They should come together and enhance the development of STI sectors in Africa,’’ he said.

He noted that there was a need for commercialisation of STI by-products in Africa as it would help in addressing poverty through job creation.

He said the role and participation of African capitalists could not be overemphasised, adding that they were needed to champion and fund the growth of STI in Africa.

“ ASTIF is functional and science and technology cannot grow without us calling on industrialists, capitalists, financial institutions, government institutions, business communities for funding.

We need them to achieve the Africa we dream of,’’ he said.

NAN reports that not less than 150 scientists across African countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia and Nigeria are attending the congress.

Over 40 papers, addressing various aspects of science such as environment, food, soil, public health, space, business and water will be presented by academics.

 

Edited by Dada Ahmed/Dada Ahmed (NAN)

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DSN unveils AI book, plans to raise 1m experts

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Data Science Nigeria (DSN), an NGO, on Wednesday unveiled the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) book for primary and secondary schools as part of its plan to raise one million AI experts.

The unveiling which was done at a Summit in Lagos was to promote knowledge in AI and related fields for socio-economic development of Nigeria.

In computer science, Artificial Intelligence, sometime called Machine Intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans.

The Convener, DSN, Dr Olubayo Adekanmbi. said that as a nation of 200 million people, with median age at 18 years, it was important to prepare the young people for the future by exposing them to the right skills.

Adekambi said that especially when it was known that most of the jobs today would go into extinction in the next five to 10 years.

According to him, the question was what becomes of the country with so much young people who were lacking in the right skills for the ‘future jobs?

”That informed the whole idea of Data Science Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Skill Building. It has become a mandate.

”We have taken up the responsibility to say that children in this country have access to the same knowledge that students in San Francisco, Paris and London have by creating a book that will be distributed free.

”We are not going through the traditional model ‘I buy for my child’ rather ‘you buy for a community or the whole school’.

“The approach is: “make knowledge in a simplified manner,’’ he said.

Adekanmbi said that it was also to build a system that would pass on knowledge and that informed working with various state governments to run a lot of ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes to equip the teachers.

He said that DSN was going to train the teachers in batches on AI as well as giving them a few copies of the book so as to pass on to the children till every part of the country is reached.

The convener said that government could be a part of the process to raise one million inspired young people to change the country’s narrative and make Nigeria the AI destination in future.

He called for integrating AI as part of the national curriculum which would generate more attention by the students toward learning the discipline.

He, however, urged government to support the effective production of the book which was being given out free so that every Nigerian child would be exposed to the possibilities of AI.

”Let them build the right skills and let’s get our nation ready for the opportunities that AI presents; shaping opportunity creation, innovation, invention research, and transformational possibilities,’’ Adekanmbi said.

Also at the Summit, in a keynote presentation titled, ‘Artificial Intelligence for Development’, Prof. Thomas Dietterich, described AI as a catalyst for economic advancement.

Dietterich, Director of Intelligent Systems Research, Oregon State University, said that AI presented opportunities for economic transformation in unique ways.

According to him, although, the developing economies still lack in some areas with regards to AI adoption and applications.

“However, organisations such as DSN had shown clear roadmap capable of putting the country on the right footings and build the national competitiveness, given the right skills, ’’ Dietterich said.

He noted that developing AI enabled weather management solutions that would assist the continent address some challenges faced by farmers, thereby leading to improved food production and sufficiency.

The don said that with the growing community of AI enthusiasts and learners, Nigeria and indeed Africa would witness a major boost in skills needed for research and development.

He said the skills would focus on bringing applied Artificial Intelligence solutions to existing community problems.

While applauding the First AI book for Primary and Junior Secondary School students in Nigeria, Dietterich urged experts and stakeholders to rave-up DSN’s mission of delivering positive impact to the society using Artificial Intelligence.

NAN reports that the highlights of the event were the unveiling of the book as well as the impromptu debate on Artificial Intelligence by students.

The debate was won by Julliard Academy, 422 points; second position was Chrisland School, 412 points; and the third was Atlantic Hall, 399 points.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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British High Commission seeks partnership with NCC on digital access

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The British High Commission (BHC) says it is seeks partnership with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to deepen conversations in execution of Global Digital Access Programme initiated by Her Majesty’s Government.

Mr Guy Harrison, Head of Prosperity, BHC, made this known during a courtesy visit at the NCC’s Head Office in Abuja on Monday.

Harrison, accompanied by Mr Idongesit Udoh, Digital Access Programme Adviser and Mrs Grace Olomiwe, the Digital, Press and Public Affairs Officer at BHC, informed NCC about components of the Programme.

According to him, the central interest is digital access.

“Peripherally, the programme will also involve security support as well as support to the business ecosystem.

“The implementation of the programme will be expressed in form of technical assistance on policy that focuses on expanding digital access, to enhance job creation and economic development in Nigeria,” he said.

Responding, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta expressed appreciation to BHC for the initiative.

Danbatta noted that NCC efforts were aimed ensuring connectivity across Nigeria, especially to link identified access gaps with existing connectivity networks.

He said that the assistance came at an auspicious time and promised that the commission would review the proposition and liaise with the appropriate departments of the Nigerian government to institute processes.

Danbatta explained that the processes connected with partnership would help to ensure proper and speedy take-off of the programme.

“The NCC will review the proposition and liaise with appropriate departments of the Nigerian government to institute processes, which will ensure proper and speedy take-off of the programme,’’ he said.

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Dada Ahmed

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