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Google to train 60 African startups in equity-free support, others



Google says it will train 60 African startups for three years, representing over three million dollars in equity-free support, working space and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley and Africa.

Mr Fola Olatunji-David, Head, Google Startup Success and Services, made this known at the commencement of Class Four Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa in Lagos on Thursday.

A startup is a company that is in the first stage of its operations.

These companies are often initially bankrolled by their entrepreneurial founders as they attempt to capitalise on developing a product or service for which they believe there is a demand.

Olatunji-David said that Launchpad had addressed some big challenges, including access to financial services, education and agriculture.

The Class Four Google Launchpad Accelerator comprises startups from six countries spanning six sectors.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Google’s first regionally-based startup accelerator programme, Launchpad Accelerator Africa, runs out of a dedicated space in Lagos, announced in 2017.

Olatunji-David said that participants would also receive travel and PR support during each three-month programme.

He said that this class was particularly strong, having collectively earned in excess of 600,000 U.S dollars in revenue over the past six months.

The startup official said that Google was impressed by the quality of startups that applied to the Launchpad Accelerator Africa programme.

According to him, Class Four is no exception, and we expect them to build on the successes of the previous three classes.

”Since Launchpad Accelerator Africa was first announced in the late 2017, the programme has helped 35 startups to achieve growth, raise millions of dollars in investments and create hundreds of jobs across the continent.

“With every class, we have been able to refine the programme, improve our support for the participating startups and understand the contexts they operate in.

“These startups have worked hard to grow their businesses, understand what they needed to do and in some cases pivot their entire model,” he said.

Olatunji-David explained that with each class, all the selected startups received working space and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa.
According to him, they also received travel and PR support during each three-month programme.

He said Afara Partners (Nigeria) was one of the 12 selected startups. It offers platforms that provide services to the financially underserved and excluded.

Others, according to him, include: REACH (Nigeria), which recognises, categorises and interprets transaction data from SMS and other sources, making this data available as individual financial and market insights.

He also mentioned TradeBuza (Nigeria), a cloud-based web and mobile application, which digitises contract farming and trade.

Another one was XEND (Nigeria) which allows users to make and receive payments, offline or online.

Edited by Kevin Okunzuwa/Olagoke Olatoye

Science & Technology

Science ministry calls for partnership with UKAID- Africa on STI




Abuja, Nov. 21, 2019 ( NAN) The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has called for stronger partnership between the Ministry and UKAID-Africa to boost knowledge in transfer of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

The Minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Burris Nabasu, made the call when he received a delegation of UKAID UK-Africa Science Partnership in the Ministry in Abuja on Thursday.

The minister said that Federal Government’s determination to lift more than 100 million people out of poverty,in the next 10 years could only be realised through the platform of science and technology.

He also said that inputs of UK-Aid was crucial to the realisation of such objective.

Onu, who said government initiated major policies in Science, Technology and Innovation to help drive economic diversification of the country appealed to the organisation to assist in the area of their implementation.

“We are not short of capacity but it is the implementation of such capacity,“ he said.

He disclosed that Nigeria could not achieve meaningful progress unless the tools of STI were put to good use.

The minister commended the organisation for using technology to improve the fortunes of the ordinary citizens of Nigeria.

Earlier, the Head of UKAID, UK-AFRICA, West African Team leader, Leanne Jones, said the objective of the meeting was to support and partner with countries such as Nigeria to harness science and technology for improved economic opportunities.

The head of the team said UK would deploy technology, to address poverty reduction employ digital technologies to expand broadband and internet options in Nigeria.

Dr Nee-Joo Teu, the Head of the UK Knowledge Transfer Technology, said partnership with the federal government was essential to build suitable technological models for Nigeria.

According to Teu, technological models will be friendly to the Eco-system and eventually grow Nigeria’s economy.

Edited by Modupe Adeloye/Dada Ahmed (NAN)

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Science & Technology

Italian company seeks partnership with NCC to deepen telecom sector



The Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS) says it is seeking partnership with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to deepen business partnership and be a player in the Nigerian telecom sector.

The Deputy Head of Mission to the Italian Embassy, Mr Tarek Chazli, made this known during a courtesy visit at the NCC’s Head Office in Abuja on Thursday.

Chazli, who led the delegation stated that TIS, known as a leading player in international telecom business, recognised the place of Nigeria in Africa’s telecom ecosystem and desired to be a player in the telecom sector.

He noted that Nigerians and Italians were great users of mobile communications, adding that Nigeria was a regional leader in mobile communications, a strategic market and an important hub.

“It is just natural that TIS is interested in the Nigerian market, and it is going to add value to the Nigerian market,” he said.

Mr Stefano Olivieri, Head of Sales, Africa and Middle East, TIS, said that the organization was a key player in the Italian, Brazilian, Burundian, Tanzanian and other telecom markets.

According to him, TIS’ entry into the Nigerian market holds a great promise for deepening the transformation of Nigerian telecom ecosystem.

Olivieri, however, said that the company had huge contents to promote robust data services and cause expansion in businesses for the benefit of Nigerians.

“TIS is particularly mindful of security of contents and applications on its networks.

“Many globally-used ICT applications are already on TIS backbone, he said.

Responding, Mr Adeleke Adewolu, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management (ECSM), NCC expressed delight over the team’s visit and thanked the members for TIS’ passion and enthusiasm toward the Nigerian telecom industry.

Adewolu told the team NCC had made many strides and commitment toward ensuring pervasiveness of broadband in the country.

The ECSM, however, promised to transmit the letter from TIS to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta and the Management for consideration.

He directed the NCC’s Director of Licensing and Authorisation, Mohammed Babajika, to hold a discussion with TIS on its proposal, pending application for license.

“NCC has licensed infrastructure companies that will ensure the cascading of terrestrial fibre to every local government area of Nigeria.

“Very soon, a blueprint will be unveiled by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami, defining the roadmap for deepening the digital culture in Nigeria,” he said.

Edited by Dada Ahmed (NAN)

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Science & Technology

Committee urges FG to tackle challenges in NIGCOMSAT



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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Science & Technology

commission urges scientific community to take Africa from poverty to prosperity



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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Science & Technology

NCC inaugurates Multi-Sectorial Committee on e-Fraud



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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Science & Technology

ASRIC congress: Council wants science and technology sector strengthened




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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