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Microsoft delegation meets Osinbajo, to open development centres in Nigeria, Kenya

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday received a delegation from US-based technology giant, Microsoft Corporation, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the delegation was led by Mr Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft.

Spencer discussed about the firm’s plan to set up African Development Centres in two locations on the continent — Nigeria and Kenya.

He said that the African Development Centre would be the 7th Global Development Centre for Microsoft across the world.

“Microsoft has a long-term ambition on the African continent, not only to create a market for Microsoft, but also to create a global centre for excellence and development,” he said.

Osinbajo told the delegation that the Federal Government was exploring all possibilities and opportunities to ensure that broadband connection was available to Nigerians.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration also planned to  use technology to reduce some of the deficits in the healthcare and educational systems.

“The government would be looking forward to the development of the centre, as well as encouraging Microsoft to explore practically every opportunity and possibility in the country,’’ he said.

The meeting was attended by a number of Federal Government and Microsoft officials, including Ms Yewande Sadiku, Executive Secretary of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)..

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign

50 journalists lose job to robots at Microsoft

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About 50 journalists working with Microsoft are set to lose their jobs, as the American multinational tech giant reportedly moves to replace them with robots.

According to local media reports, those affected are contract employees working as curators for the company’s news website, MSN.

They perform functions such as selection of stories, headlines, pictures and other contents from news organisations for the MSN site.

The Seattle Times quoted unidentified insiders as saying the company has notified the affected workers that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30.

From then, artificial intelligence would be used to perform the news production tasks in what Microsoft calls “evaluation of its business”.

“Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis.

“This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others.

“These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” the company said in a statement, according to the paper.

According to the BBC, Microsoft, like some other tech companies, pays news organisations to use their contents on its website.

“But, it employs journalists to decide which stories to display and how they are presented.

However, Microsoft will retain its full-time news producers, whose functions are similar to those of the contract employees being disengaged,” Seattle Times added.

One of those leaving told the paper that their functions had been semi-automated for a few months now.

“It is demoralising to think machines can replace us but there you go,” the unnamed employee said, according to the medium.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujini/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Education

Lagos partners Microsoft to train 18, 000 teachers – Commissioner

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Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, said the state government had partnered Microsoft to train 18, 000 teachers to enhance computer literacy towards achieving a world best teaching and learning practices.

Adefisayo said this while discussing plans of the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration for education on an online show, Covinspiration, moderated by Special Representative to the United Nations, and British Council Global Change-maker, Mr Dayo Israel.

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that the event was to keep the public abreast of the activities of administration in the last one year.

The commissioner said: “This COVID-19 lockdown period avails us the opportunity to improve our teachers. For instance, we partnered with Microsoft and they are teaching 18,000 of our teachers on digital literacy.

“So, they are going to come out of this training, being able to work comfortably with Word and Excel which is going to be done through the Zoom App because of the social distancing order.

“So, first of all, they are learning to be computer literate straightaway.”

According to her, computer literacy is of importance at this point when technology is evolving for the advancement of teaching and learning processes.

Adefisayo added that the introduction of Eko Excel Programme, which was part of the administration’s THEMES agenda, had improved the teaching and learning experiences in classroom between the teachers and pupils.

She added that the government and private sector were investing in online teaching and learning at this trying times, saying devices were being given to students for online learning.

“We have continued to call for devices and people have continued to give us, we are going to start giving them out within a week. Parents will be excited,” she said.

The commissioner said the online digital class would not be stopped after the pandemic, saying it would be used to reinforce teaching and learning.

According to her, the ministry is at the final stage of recruitment processes for 2,000 teachers in order to boost the standard of public primary school education in the state.

Adefisayo said the government, through the ministry, was looking at employing teachers every quarter, saying the rate of retirement of teachers was very high in Lagos.

She said the Sanwo-Olu’s administration had granted the ministry permission to replace retired teachers.

“The most important aspect of learning is the quality of teachers and we did not have enough teachers to actualise the set plan for learning in our public schools,” she said.

On school resumption, the commissioner, who noted that the ministry could not give the exact resumption date, said the government was watching the trend of the pandemic.

“We cannot say specifically that we are going to open on so and so date. We are also working with the federal government because it is not a decision that any state can take unilaterally.

“We are looking at the pandemic. The main thing for us is safety first, safety second, safety third. If we are certain that our children are fairly safe, we will open school,” she said.

On whether there were plans to put COVID-19 school safety protocols in place and ensure strict adherence when the school finally reopened, Adefisayo said the ministry was already working on a paper on this.

She said the ministry was working with the Federal Ministry of Education, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Development Agencies and others to develop a very robust protocol paper for school to reopen.

“Whenever we say the school will start, there will be notice, there will be time for preparations. We are going to have time within which schools will be able to put in place those protocols for children’s safety.

“Office of the Education Quality Assurance is working hard with us to ensure compliance,” she added.

According to her, considering the dynamism of the society needs, the government has also embarked on training of experts/corricullum developers that will fine-tune the curriculum towards preparing students in compliance with current societal needs.

Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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Education

LASG partners with Microsoft to train 18,000 teachers

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The Lagos State Ministry of Education  is to collaborate with ATB Yechsoft Solutions (Microsoft Company) to train 18,000 teachers to boost Secondary Schools in digital literacy  training.

Mr Kayode Suton, the Ministry Public Affairs Officer, in a statement said that the teachers would receive training during the COVID-19 lockdown beginning from April 27.

The programme is tagged ” Work- From -Home, Remote Teaching and Learning for Lagos State Secondary School.

Suton, said that the teachers would reeive digital  training, mentoring, observation, creating and sharing subject specific content, accessing interactive classes from mobile phones and devices.

He said that the teachers would also have knowledge of diagnosing and understanding learning needs,  challenges, assigning homework, give feedbacks, auto-grade quizzes/tests remotely and internal stakeholders engagement.

The Commissioner for Eduation, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said the training would have huge benefits on the overall technology transformation of the school system in the State.

The Chairman, Lagos State Teaching Service Commission, (TESCOM ), Mrs Elizabeth Ariyo, said she was satisfied on the robust course content and its  sustainability on the long-term as part of Microsoft Office Corporate Social Responsibility  ( CSR).

Ariyo noted that the programme was easily accessible via mobile smartphones, Web browsers and robust platform for up to one million students, teachers and officials.

She applauded the efforts of Microsoft Office through their representative, ATB Techsoft Solutions, in utilising the stay at home period to equip, train and engage secondary school teachers.

She said that it would enhance teachers  performances in discharging their duties of imparting knowledge in the younger generations through the use of technology.

The TESCOM chariman further said it was  in line with the Education and Technology Pillar in the THEMES Agenda of governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration and vision for teaching.

BAO /

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

UNICEF, Microsoft launch global learning platform to tackle COVID-19 education crisis

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced the expansion of a global learning platform to help children and youth affected by COVID-19 continue their education at home.

The Learning Passport was originally designed to provide education for displaced and refugee children through a digital remote learning platform. With the spread of COVID-19, it is now being rolled out to facilitate country-level curriculum for children and youth whose schools have been closed due to the pandemic, said UNICEF in a press release.

“We need to come together and explore every avenue to keep children learning and help them through this difficult time. With long-term partners like Microsoft, we are able to swiftly deploy innovative, scalable solutions for children and youth. The adaptations made to the Learning Passport are a powerful reminder of what we can achieve together for children as the crisis deepens globally,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore was quoted as saying.

Kosovo, Timor-Leste and Ukraine — which have closed their schools in the past weeks due to COVID-19 — are the first to roll out their online curriculum through the Learning Passport. The content available to schoolchildren includes online books, videos and additional support for parents of children with learning disabilities, said the press release.

“Just as COVID-19‘s impact has no borders, its solutions must not have borders, as it requires the collaboration across public and private sectors to ensure every student stays engaged and continues learning,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “UNICEF’s Learning Passport is uniquely positioned as a scalable learning solution to bridge the digital learning gap for millions of students to bring their classroom into their home during the pandemic.”

Children and young people continuing their education online can do so through a country-specific platform, accessed via their country’s Learning Passport page.

The platform for each country provides a digitized curriculum with textbooks and a selection of supplemental content, in national languages, that is jointly curated at the country level to best serve learners’ and educators’ specific needs.

The Learning Passport, which started off as a partnership between UNICEF, Microsoft and the University of Cambridge, captures a record of the curriculum subjects each student learns and guides learners with little additional support needed.
(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Microsoft disrupts world’s most active botnet

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Microsoft and partners from 35 countries have succeeded in disrupting the world’s most dangerous botnet, Necurs, which the company says had infected more than 9 million computers.

After eight years of preparation, the software giant and partners undertook coordinated legal and technical measures to disrupt access to the botnet, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Tom Burt said.

Burt said Microsoft had succeeded in locking criminals out of key elements of the infrastructure needed to conduct cyber attacks.

Botnets are made up of a network of many hacked devices.

The malware they rely on can infect personal computers but also smart internet-connected devices such as household electronics.

Necurs, the most active botnet world wide, is one of the largest generators of spam emails, with victims in nearly every country.

During the Microsoft-led investigation into the botnet, one infected computer was observed sending out 3.8 million spam emails to more than 40.6 million potential victims over a period of 58 days.

Necurs is believed to be operated from Russia and has been implicated in a number of dating scams and fake spam emails.

It is also been implicated in so-called pump-and-dump stock scams, where investments in certain stocks are hyped up in order to artificially inflate the price to the benefit of the scammers.

Necurs has also been used to attack other computers, steal online account details, personal information and confidential data, Burt said.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Maureen Atuonwu
(NAN)

 

 

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Agriculture

NIRSAL partners Microsoft to reduce agricultural risks, attract investors

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The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) has entered into partnership with Microsoft to deploy a technological platform called Microsoft Azure FarmBeats to help Nigerian farmers reduce risks as well as attract investors to the sector.

The Head of Corporate Communications of NIRSAL, Anne Ihugba, made this known in a statement in Abuja.

Ihugba said NIRSAL and Microsoft had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to that effect, to give more precision to farming.

She added that with the platform, farmers would be able to predict weather and other factors that hitherto contributed to the risks suffered by farmers.

She stressed that the development would further make farming more productive, cost effective while ensuring sustainable agriculture and better agricultural outcomes.

Ihugba explained that elimination of such risks across the agricultural value chain to foster more sustainable investment into the industry was a key mission and objective of NIRSAL.

She said, NIRSAL, 500 million dollar non-bank financial institution, wholly-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, was established in 2013.

She stressed that the institution was established to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments.

This, she said, the institution did by de-risking agribusiness finance value chain, fixing agricultural value chains, building long-term capacity, and institutionalising incentives for agricultural lending through risk sharing, insurance, technical assistance, incentives and rating.

“By organising four million hectares, owned by eight million farmers, into 16,000 NIRSAL AgroGeoCoops of 250 hectares each, NIRSAL aims to remove barriers to better financing for farmers.

“This will also allow for easier and more affordable deployment of modern technology for AgroGeoCoops.

“NIRSAL has turned to Microsoft Azure FarmBeats as perfect platform for Comprehensive Farm Monitoring, critical to NIRSAL Credit Risk Guarantee (CRG) to financiers and investors to minimise risks associated with agriculture and agribusiness finance and investments.”

“Microsoft’s Azure FarmBeats is a purpose-built, agricultural cloud platform that enables the aggregation of agricultural data.

“It also enables generation of actionable insights into farm health and conditions, soil moisture, crop layout and farm population.

“This is by harnessing power of Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Cloud technology.

“Agriculture is one of the longest-standing practices in the world, and yet it remains unpredictable, ” she said.

She further noted that “farmers use their instincts and experience to know when to plant crops, how much and where, but external and uncontrollable factors can impact the productivity and profitability of farms.

“This, in turn, can affect a farm’s viability and accessibility to funding and investment.

“With this partnership, NIRSAL is now able to help farmers analyse weather conditions, temperature, weather conditions and so much more in real-time.

“This is to inform better decision-making to optimise agricultural output and therefore lessen the risks to investors and attract more funding in Nigeria.”

Ihugba pointed out that Aliyu Abdulhameed, NIRSAL’s Managing-Director at the signing ceremony, said, “Agriculture remains the foundation of Nigeria’s economy and is the main source of livelihood for most Nigerians.

“Therefore, the sustainability and growth of the agricultural sector is crucial for the development of the country and its people.

“We are certain that Azure FarmBeats will be the tool that will help us to analyse the data being produced from these farms and all the possible ways we can use it to stabilise the agricultural value chain.

“We are also confident that it will boost the confidence of investors to eliminate barriers to the free flow of finance and investment to agribusiness in Nigeria.”

She further noted that Mr Akin Banuso, Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria Limited, while speaking at the ceremony, said, “Microsoft is excited to be working with NIRSAL.

“To promote precision agriculture by leveraging experience and field structure established by NIRSAL to transform agricultural space and empower those who work within it by using Microsoft’s purpose-built, industry-specific cloud platform FarmBeats to drive innovation in the industry.”

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola

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Foreign

Microsoft to invest $1.1bn in Mexico over next 5 years — CEO

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Microsoft (MSFT.O) Chief Executive Satya Nadella said the technology giant will invest 1.1 billion dollars in Mexico over the next five years, the Mexican government said on Thursday.

According to Nadella, the investment is focused on expanding access to digital technology for people and organizations across the country.

Microsoft will build a new data centre to deliver client services to help every organisation to really get an advantage.

“Also drive digital transformation,” added Nadella, who met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2019.

“The U.S. company will also invest in training labs and skills programmes,’’ Nadella said.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Wale Ojetimi

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APO

MDXi to unveil first locally available Microsoft Stack Cloud offering at Nerds Unite 2020 in partnership with Microsoft and HPE

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MDXi, MainOne’s (www.MainOne.net) data center subsidiary, will announce the local offering of Microsoft’s Azure Stack to its customers as part of its ‘Managed Cloud Services’. The Stack platform provided in partnership with Microsoft and HPE will be unveiled at MainOne’s 5th annual gathering of customers, partners and tech professionals, called Nerds Unite.

With the introduction of the local offering of Microsoft’s Azure Stack services, MDXi will be the first data center in Nigeria to offer the Cloud service commercially to customers in Nigeria. This latest Cloud offering by MDXi into the Nigerian market, will reinforce MainOne’s leadership positioning in the Cloud market, enabling the company to offer its customer a broader suite of cloud solutions. Ranging from managed Cloud deployment on public and private Cloud services in the MDXi data center, to management of offshore deployment on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure, in addition to Express Route services that enable secure, reliable communications to cloud services offshore.

Showcasing at the launch will be some of the benefits of MDXi’s Azure Stack in processing in-country data and applications thereby reducing customer latency to under 10ms and resulting in better experiences for end users. The demo will also showcase cost effective data storage solutions that allow businesses meet all their data sovereignty requirements with locally domiciled infrastructure.

The new Cloud services platform will offer enterprises and businesses the choice of a scalable, flexible computing platform to enable them to migrate critical applications from legacy technology to modernized and more efficient technology without having to go offshore.

“MDXi has been in the business of providing Cloud services to its Enterprise customers for over 5 years, with skilled and certified engineers. We are the data center of choice for Enterprise looking to host data locally in the Cloud. With the introduction of the Azure Stack solution, we further demonstrate our commitment to investing in Cloud infrastructure in order to continually meet the changing and growing requirements of our customers in Nigeria, and indeed across West Africa. Our partnership with Microsoft and investment in HPE infrastructure to deploy the Cloud platform continues to position MDXi as the West Africa’s leading communications solution provider, delivering world-class quality services to our local customers.” said Gbenga Adegbiji, General Manager, MDXi.

Nerds Unite, MainOne’s flagship event of the year, brings together IT professionals, influencers, and decision makers in an environment for one full day to connect, discover opportunities, collaborate, and learn new techniques and breakthrough trends in the global IT industry. This year’s edition will feature presentations and panel discussions on Cloud adoption, Cloud migration and all things Cloud with global leaders across West Africa, making it the perfect platform for MDXI to unveil its new Cloud services.

MDXi builds and operates Tier III data center campuses across West Africa to meet the rapidly expanding global demand for certified data centre facilities. It’s Tier III data center in Lekki, Lagos-Nigeria, is the largest purpose-built commercial data center in West Africa, designed with a strong focus on high availability, security, and open access connectivity. Its facilities have operated with 100% uptime since inception.

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Science & Technology

MDXi to unveil first locally available Microsoft’s Stack Cloud offering

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A Data Centre Subsidiary of MainOne, MainData Nigeria Ltd. (MDXi) on Tuesday said it would announce the local offering of Microsoft’s Azure Stack to its customers as part of its ‘Managed Cloud Services’.

Gbenga Adegbiji, Managing Director, MDXi said that the Stack platform provided in partnership with Microsoft and HPE would be unveiled on Feb. 21 at Nerds Unite, MainOne’s 5th annual gathering of customers, partners and technology professionals.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Azure Stack is a hybrid cloud computing software solution developed by Microsoft based on the company’s Azure cloud platform.

Azure Stack is designed to help organisations deliver Azure services from their own data centre.

Adegbiji said that the introduction of the local offering of Microsoft’s Azure Stack services, MDXi, would be the first data centre in Nigeria to offer the Cloud service commercially to customers in Nigeria.

He said that this latest Cloud offering by MDXi into the Nigerian market, would reinforce MainOne’s leadership position in the Cloud market, enabling the company to offer its customers a broader suite of cloud solutions.

The managing director said that it would range from managed Cloud deployment on public and private Cloud services in the MDXi data centre, to management of offshore deployment on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure.

According to him, it would be in addition to Express Route services that enable secure, reliable communications to cloud services offshore.

“MDXi has been in the business of providing Cloud services to its enterprise customers for over 5 years with skilled and certified engineers.

”We are the data centre of choice for enterprise looking to host data locally in the Cloud.

”With the introduction of the Azure Stack solution, we further demonstrate our ability to invest in Cloud infrastructure to meet the changing and growing requirements of our customers in Nigeria and indeed across West Africa.

”The partnership with Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to deploy this platform demonstrates a concerted effort toward accomplishing the vision of being West Africa’s leading communications solution provider, delivering world-class quality services to our local customers.” Adegbiji said in a statement.

He said that the launch would showcase some of the benefits of MDXi’s Azure Stack in processing in-country data and applications, thereby reducing customer latency below 10 minutes which would result to a better experience for end users.

According to him, the demonstration would also showcase cost effective data storage solutions that allow businesses meet all their data sovereignty requirements with locally-domiciled infrastructure.

Adegbiji said that the new Cloud services platform would offer enterprises and businesses the choice of a scalable, flexible computing platform to enable them to migrate critical applications from legacy technology to modernised and more efficient technology without having to go offshore.

Nerds Unite, MainOne’s flagship event of the year, brings together Information Technology professionals and decision makers to connect, discover opportunities, collaborate and learn new techniques and breakthrough trends in the global Information Technology (IT) industry.

This year’s edition will feature presentations and panel discussions on Cloud adoption, Cloud migration and all things Cloud, with global leaders across West Africa, making it the perfect platform for MDXi to unveil its new Cloud services.

NAN reports that MDXi builds and operates Tier III data centre campuses across West Africa to meet the rapidly-expanding global demand for certified data centre facilities.

Its Tier III data centre located in Lagos is the largest purpose-built commercial data centre in West Africa, designed with a strong focus on high availability, security and open access connectivity.

Its facilities have operated with 100 per cent uptime since inception.

Edited By: Adeleye Ajayi

 

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

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