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FG appoints Kashifu Abdullahi as new NITDA boss

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The Federal Government on Tuesday appointed Mr Kashifu Abdullahi as the new Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of NITDA confirmed the appointment to the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

Umar quoted a statement signed by Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, on the new NITDA boss appointment and others.

The appointment of Abdullahi was sequel to the nomination of Dr Isa Pantami, the outgoing director general of the agency as a minister designate by the President.

Abdullahi until his appointment was a principal officer at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who was on secondment to NITDA as a Technical Assistant to Pantami.

Born on Feb. 21, 1980, Abdullahi is a graduate from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi state and the fifth director general of NITDA.

He, in the past worked with the Galaxy Backbone Limited and has a number of professional certifications.

Other appointments by the government according to Shehu, included Sen. Basheer Mohammed who replaced Mrs Sadiya Farouk as Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees,Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Dr Chioma Ejikeme was appointed to replace Mrs Sharon Ikeazor as the Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.

Mr Adeleke Adewolu’s name had also been forwarded to the Senate to replace Mr Sunday Dare as Executive Commissioner, Nigerian Communications Commission.

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Science & Technology

COVID-19: NDA to collaborate NITDA on e-learning, capacity building

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The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) on Friday sought to collaborate with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on e-learning and ICT capacity building.

The NDA Commandant, Maj. Gen. Jamilu Sarharm, made the request when he paid a courtesy visit on Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Director General of NITDA in Abuja with his team.

Sarharm said the NDA had over 2,000 cadets and things were changing and affecting modes of learning especially during the lockdown.

“The whole world is now driven by ICT, we want to engage in online training for our cadets.

“We can’t wait any longer than to come around here basically to seek collaboration and more importantly seek for assistance and expertise,” he said.

Respinding, Inuwa commended President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s initiatives toward repositioning ICT to play a critical role in the diversification of the nation’s economy.

According to him, the idea will reduce the negative impacts of the novel Coronavirus on the digital economy.

The NITDA boss stated that the redesignation of the Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, unveiling of its attendant projects which focused on digital capacity building and digital literacy, would reshape the economy in postpandemic era.

“These initiatives have helped because they are emerging globally and in Nigeria.

“What we have learnt from the pandemic or the crisis just made them profound and we are all embracing digital technologies.

“A lot of things are going to change, we are not going to go back to normal life. Some businesses will close down and new opportunities will emerge.

“We don’t want to be left behind, we want to be part of the people shaping the new normal that we are currently facing,” Inuwa said.

He advised Nigerians to explore the opportunities the crisis had provided to accelerate the trend that would shape the digital economy.

He reiterated the need for people to acquire requisite skills needed for digital economy.

According to Inuwa, digital economy means knowledge-based economy which human capital is a key enabler and influences the digital economy.

He added that the agency prioritised capacity building and had diverse collaborations with universities to produce the right skills needed for the digital world.

The director-general therefore assured the NDA team that the agency would galvanise support to the academy in its quest for e-learning, capacity building and ICT infrastructure development.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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COVID-19: NITDA academy admits 14,000 learners

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has admitted over 14,000 active students into its virtual academy to study 47 courses on emerging technologies.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, disclosed this on Thursday in an online meeting organised by the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON).

The meeting focused on the Socio-Economic and Political Impact of COVID-19 on Telecom and ICT sector in Nigeria.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the NITDA Virtual Academy was launched in May by Dr Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The platform was targeted at helping to engage young citizens to spend their time meaningfully and learn new technologies that will help create and shape the post-COVID era.

Inuwa said inspite the effect of COVID-19 in all sectors, there was hope because the crisis had forced people to change behaviour and adapt to new habits.

“Coronavirus has forced us to change our behaviour and adapt to new habits.

“New trends have emerged, we do everything remotely, working, learning, meeting, workshops, zoom party, e-wedding and so on,” he said.

He also said that NITDA had successfully organised various programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Innovation Challenge.

According to him, the innovation challenge is designed to help with ideas that can contain and cushion the effect of the virus as well as keep the economy up.

“We are working with the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 and Nigerian Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) to identify some of the ideas they think are relevant for them.

“The ideas can be used as a testing ground to help the initiatives by the start-ups develop their ideas into products,” he said.

He added that the challenge had over 2,000 applicants, while five start-ups were selected to pitch at the Open Demo and Prize Giving Day, and three emerged winners.

Abdullahi stressed that it was part of the agency’s initiatives to identify youths with innovative ideas, take them to innovation hubs, incubate and accelerate their ideas into products or services.

He said the agency does that through its Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Scheme.

He added that they were working with relevant stakeholders to identify hubs as well as start-ups that can enjoy the initiative.

Commenting on using new technologies in farming, the director-general stated that the Nigerian Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) would encourage farmers to focus more on digital platforms and precision smart farming.

“To ensure significant improvement in crop yield, quality of farm produce, efficiency and productivity, increased profit margin, we need harvest focus, sales of farm produce and eco-friendly agricultural practice.

“We are working with 150 farmers to start the pilot project, because the agriculture value chain contribute the highest percentage to our Gross Domestic Product.

“With ICT as an enabler, we can help boost its projection,” he added.


Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Commandant commends Environment Minsitry for decontanminating Academy

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The Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Maj.-Gen Jamil Sarham, on Thursday commended the Federal Ministry of Environment for undertaking the decontamination of the Academy.

A statement issued in Kaduna by NDA Public Relations Officer, Major Abubakar Abdullahi, said that the Commandant gave the commendation during a courtesy visit to the ministry in Abuja.

He told the Minister of Environment, Dr Muhammad Abubakar, that the Academy still needed the ministry’s support in getting seedlings for the NDA Green Concept Initiative.

The statement said that the minister expressed willingness to assist NDA in areas of afforestation and general sanitation.

According  to the statement, Sarham was also at the Ministry of Water Resources, where he met with the Minister,  Engr. Suleiman Adamu.

The minister expressed delight over the visit of the Commandant and described the occasion as a motivation to do more for the NDA.

He promised to look into any request from the NDA for support in areas of training  and water conservation at the Academy.

While in Abuja, the Commandant also met with the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Kashifu-Abdullahi.

The DG described the visit as a good stride towards strengthening collaboration between the two organisations in building IT capacity and infrastructure.


Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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Science & Technology

NITDA presents national outsourcing strategy to stakeholders

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Thursday presented its draft on National Outsourcing Strategy for Nigeria (NOSN) to stakeholders in an online engagement workshop for a better service delivery.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said at the workshop in Abuja that the aim was to ensure the effective implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the Federal Government.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the strategy is a follow up to the Nigerian National Outsourcing Policy, which was launched in 2007.

Inuwa said that in 2019, Grand View Research had valued the global business process outsourcing market size at 221.5 billion USD and at a compound annual growth rate of eight per cent from 2020 to 2027.

He said that outsourcing market due to COVID-19 had forced organisations to cut cost by leveraging on the benefits of outsourcing for some business processes and focus on core competencies.

“Business process outsourcing offers services such as administration, supply chain management, sales, paralegal, marketing and customer care services.

“Players in the business compete by providing reliable and cost-effective services across industries and sectors such as government, healthcare, manufacturing, IT and telecommunications.

NITDA embarks on this journey to accelerate digital economy and transformation targeted at creating over a million jobs in Nigeria by 2025,” he said.

The director-general added that the strategy was in line with government initiative and priority projects such as the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and digitisation of government services.

According to him, the strategy will lift Nigerians out of poverty and transform the country to a knowledge-based economy in the wake of the current global pandemic.

He stated that the strategy implementation processes focused on seven pillars, which included development of infrastructure, skill and human capital, branding and promotion, digital finance and incentives.

He said others were innovation and entrepreneurship, trust, privacy and security, as well as multi-stakeholder governance engagement.

Inuwa called on the stakeholders to synergise with the agency to make Nigeria a better place and a force to reckon with in the global business outsourcing market.

“We have our competitive edge in the market, but to create and capture value in the global market we need to own this strategy and make it easier to implement by all,” he said.

Mr Ben Ewah, the Deputy Director, e-Government Development and Regulations Department of the agency, while elaborating on the expectations of the strategy, said it was designed as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.

Ewah said the strategy would target the onshore and offshore outsourcing markets and promote local, foreign direct investments in digital outsourcing infrastructure development.

“The outsourcing strategy will develop an export-oriented digital product and service industry with improved funding of Research and Development.

“It will develop a globally competitive Information Technology Enabled Services sector in Nigeria toward making the country a digital outsourcing hub globally,” Ewah said.

Edited By: Joe Idika/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Science & Technology

COVID-19: NITDA boss tasks ICT experts on post-pandemic innovations

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Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has called on ICT experts in Africa to prepare for post-Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic innovations that would boost economies.

Inuwa made this appeal during the Africa Tech Leaders webinar series organised by Digital Jewels, with theme: “COVID-19 Pandemic: The Africa Leaders’ Outlook”, monitored on Tuesday night in Abuja.

He said it was obvious countries across the globe, including Africa, were embracing digitisation as alternative means of boosting their ecomomies with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, postCOVID-19 pandemic will witness another wave of digitisation and technology driven processes.

“Digital transformation has positively played a big role during this pandemic in accelerating the trends of digital technologies and how it will also help us to address the changes.

“The promising silver lining in this pandemic is accelerating technology trends and shaping the future of digital economy and transformation in general.

“It is time Nigerian and African technology experts got ready for innovations and ideas after the world might have defeated the Coronavirus that is ravaging our economies,” he said.

Inuwa said that President Muhammadu Buhari, on assumption of office in 2015, set up a committee on Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which identified ICT as a key enabler.

He also said that the Ministry of Communications was redesignated to Communications and Digital Economy in 2019 to help achieve targeted objectives toward digital growth.

The NITDA boss further said the agency, in that line and since the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, had initiated some programmes to cushion the economic impact of the disease.

“We initiated Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge that brought innovators together to proffer digital strategies and how to contain the spread of the virus and prepare us for postCOVID-19 era.

“The Federal Executive Council set up a policy that is being cascaded to Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), while NITDA is issuing regulatory instruments that can help MDAs to perform its work better.

“We issued guidelines, standard and frameworks for government policy makers and other stakeholders to deliver their technological services efficiently,” he said.

He reiterated that NITDA made sure all IT projects from MDAs were being cleared according to the law, guaranteeing the value for money and local content compliance,  which aligns with National e-Government Masterplan.

According to him, NITDA has conducted extensive capacity building training for MDAs and citizens in general on how to adopt and embrace digital technology.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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COVID-19: Pantami wants NITDA,others to source research grants for digital solutions

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Dr Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has called on the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other agencies to source research grants to support digital innovation on COVID-19.

Pantami made the call on Thursday in a virtual demonstration of NITDA’s Innovation Challenge on COVID-19’s possible solutions monitored in Abuja.

News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the challenge was targeted at leveraging on using indigenous innovative technology to address the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAN also reports that the NITDA committee on COVID-19 Innovation challenge was set up in April 3 and they received 1,519 applications, while the best five were selected to demonstrate their solutions.

The first three successful applications were awarded and they include Algorizmi Health, an application that would address scaling up the availability of ventilators as first position.

Smart Disinfection Chambers, an application on smart tunnel for disinfection of perdons entering a location stood out at second position.

MyClinic.ng, an application that enhances remote patient management took the third position.

The solutions were accessed based on potential impact of innovation with regard to COVID-19, adaptability, scalability, creativity and presentation skills.

The minister recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, last year launched the National Digital Economy Strategy which was expected to be implemented between 2020 and 2030.

According to him, part of the strategy was to focus on promoting research and innovation locally.

NITDA, the Nigerian Communications Commission, other parastatal agencies under the ministry should look into their budget and find a way of raising research grants for the support of innovative ideas.

“Their support should be basically on digital solutions because we need to promote research to eradicate COVID-19 in Nigeria, Africa and globally,” Pantami said.

He awarded the first three successful entries with N1,000,000, N750,000, N500,000 respectively and urged NITDA to facilitate the incubation of the solutions for COVID-19.

Pantami also urged NITDA to facilitate making a presentation of the solutions to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for possible ways of leveraging them to address the pandemic in the country.

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Mr Kashifu Inuwa,D-G NITDA (right) and participant at the online innovation challenge.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, in his welcome remarks earlier, said the pandemic had presented the world with health and economic crises.

According to Inuwa, the lockdown needed to contain the spread of the virus that had degenerated to economic crisis but digitising industry processes could resuscitate the economy.

Inuwa added that the agency was deploying several strategies to address the COVID-19 crisis which includes the Innovation Challenge.

He, however, expressed hope that the solutions presented through the challenge would address problems associated with the pandemic.

Prof. Charles Uwadia, Chairman-in-Council, Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), commended the initiative.

Uwadia said that it was a way of projecting Nigeria positively to the global community.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Science & Technology

COVID-19: FG commissions virtual academy centre to boost learning

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The Federal Government on Wednesday commissioned a virtual academy learning centre, an initiative of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Dr Isa Pantami,the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, while commissioning the academy, in a Webinar monitored in Abuja, said it was part of FG’s efforts toward building the country’s economy post COVID-19 era.

The academy would be supervised by NITDA in collaboration with Microsoft, Oracle, CISCO, Huawei and Harvard University among others.

Pantami said that the academy became necessary because there was a major disruption in the activities of humans with the emergence of COVID-19.

He recalled that the disease had affected about three million people and killed no fewer than 200,000 persons globally.

The minister said it was only necessary that Nigeria joined the commity of nations in ensuring that its economy did not enter into recession.

He said it was important to put measures in place and leveraging on local innovations to mitigate against economic recession.

“The academy will enable the ministry to create a pool of trained and skilled youths, encourage continuous learning at home, build, upgrade and integrate our capacity among Nigerians.

“It will bridge the gap between the academia and the industry, add value to millions of skilled and unskilled Nigerians to prepare them for the post COVID-19 economy era.

“With over 3.1million people having contracted the virus globally and 217,000 dead, it has started changing the world completely.

“For the first time we are commissioning a project in Nigeria virtually, this is what COVID-19 has caused,” Pantami said.

Pantami further said that due to the ongoing lockdown, the ministry and its relevant parastals were working to create a virtual meeting platform for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.

According to him, the FEC meetings need not be interrupted because it is an avenue for the government to take decisions on issues affecting Nigerians.

“The commissioning of the academy being unprecedented, we are working to conduct the FEC meetings virtually.

“Particularly, if there is a critical issue, the President will go online and conduct meeting virtually. We are waiting for the approval of the President.

“The ministry, NITDA and Galaxy Backbone and a few others are working day-in day-out to ensure we begin to have our FEC meetings virtually,” he said.

He further urged the NITDA to support building the capacity of more Nigerians, particularly in the area of emerging technologies in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

Pantani, however, called on all the citizens to utilise the opportunities provided by the COVID-19 era adding that there were lots of underlying opportunities especially in the tech ecosystem.

He also advised students in secondary schools and higher institutions to leverage on the platform provided by the NITDA Academy to acquire more skills.

“I encourage our students to key into this initiative because today, it is no longer about the skills they acquire but about the skills and capacity.”

Earlier, the Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, said the academy was conceived to mitigate the effects of the lockdown engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inuwa said that NITDA was promoting digital literacy strategy for the post COVID-19 era in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The country Manager of CISCO, Mr Olakunle Olatimeyi, said the launching of the academy was an important journey for Nigeria in the future.

Olatimeyi tasked the ministry to ensure it carried service providers along,as well as offering them subsidy to avail services to more Nigerians.

NAN reports that the academy training would be free to interested candidates,adding that it was categorised in three segments.

It is designed to equip public servants to acquire needed skills they needed to fit into the emerging post COVID-19 economy era.

The training also had various courses that would lead to certification by partners on the initiative.

Edited By: Franca Ofili/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Group lauds Communications Minister over National Broadband Plan on economy

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The Telecommunications Watch Group (TWG) has lauded the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Issa Pantami, for the successful completion of the mega projects to boost Nigeria’s economy.

Its Convener, Paul Adefarati and Secretary, Christie Nwachukwu, made the commendation in a statement on Monday in Ibadan.

It was coming few days after President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 with the inauguration of the communications and digital economy complex.

The group leaders said the inauguration and unveiling of the broadband plan was timely, adding that it came at a time when oil, the country’s major income generation was facing global downturn due to the ravaging Coronavirus (COVID-19).

They said that Pantami’s appointment was justified, having displayed high level of competence toward turning the sector to economic hub of the nation.

According to them, the sector will in a couple of years rival the current national earnings from the oil sector and surpass same, given the relentless efforts of the minister to revolutionise the communications sector.

They recalled that Pantami, as Director-General of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), performed creditably well, saying such accounted for the high hopes that he would perform as a minister.

“At NITDA, Pantami’s innovations significantly helped the industry and the Nigerian nation to grow the IT sector.

“His successor, Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, is building on the successes recorded

to help grow the nation’s IT sub-sector,” the leader said.

They urged the minister to double its efforts on repositioning and transforming the communications industry which recently assisted in slashing the data rates for consumers.

The TWG also urged the minister not to pander to the threats of the dissidents and Boko Haram elements who were out to frustrate him.

The group leaders decried allegations that Pantami was waging proxy war to undermine Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In a related development, Dr Henry Nkemadu, the NCC Director of Public Affairs, said that no agency of the Federal Government gives subvention to another agency.

“By extant laws of the government, every agency makes its budget and gets approval for appropriation from the National Assembly, and such budgets are spent according to the appropriation of the National Assembly,” Nkemadu said.

He said in a statement that the NCC budget does not contain any allocation for subvention to a sister agency, adding that they could not create a provision in the budget for another agency to implement.

According to him, subventions to all agencies are done by the Federal Government with resources domiciled in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), even salaries to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) come from there.

He said that NITDA, as an agency of the government, also draws its budget and spend same to execute programmes.

Nkemadu said that the minister had since the advent of the new administration encouraged good working relationship and close synergy with parastatals under the purview of the ministry.

He said that the minister had facilitated support at the highest levels of government to programmes and activities of the commission.

“The minister facilitated meetings with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on issues of Right of Way for expanding the telecommunications infrastructure and declaring telecommunications infrastructure as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI),” he said.

Nkemadu said that they do not receive any directive from Pantami and digital economy on funding any activity of NITDA and no approval was given in that regard.

He said that NCC had not entered into any partnership with NITDA to warrant any subvention for capacity building let alone implementing one.

Nkemadu said that aspect of creating budget for subvention does not arise.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Science & Technology

FG will leverage on ICT to create jobs –Pantami

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami says the government will leverage on Information Communications Technology and Entrepreneurship to increase job creation for the youth.

The minister made the promise at the inauguration of members of the Advisory Board of the Abuja Team for Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Like most of African nations, 60 per cent of the population is youth; but there are not enough regular jobs (in government or companies) for the population.

“Though we have a good base of small and medium entrepreneurship, we need to play in the new economies for they are the drivers of future job growth.

“While regular small and medium entrepreneurs may employ from five to 10 persons, a scaled-up entrepreneurship can make that number 50 or more,’’ he said.

The minister said that the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme was not a short-term gimmick but that which actions emanating from it can begin to take root now.

Earlier, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General, National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), commended the minister for this great initiative and assured the minister that the agency would work closely to achieve the best.

Inuwa, who has been advocating for the adoption of digital technological skills in the educational sector, was made one of the co-champions of the initiative.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the purpose of the programme is to adopt the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s proven frameworks on accelerating innovation to create localised strategies for developing and sustaining enterprises.

Edited By: Kayode Olaitan (NAN)

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

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