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NOUN begins free virtual training for 600 participants

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The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) has began virtual lectures and hands-on-laps training for 600 participants through its Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning, (ACETEL).

Mr Ambrose Gowong, Communications Officer, ACETEL, in a statement said the training was a  partnership between ACETEL­-CISCO Academy and the Directorate of Learning Content Management System (DLCMS) of NOUN.

He said  NOUN Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, Prof. Justus Sokefun, who declared the training open, said the training was part of ACETEL mandate of running short digital courses designed to identify and bridge the digital need in skill-based courses in the society.

Sokefun declared the training open on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdalla Adamu.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has now directed the minds of most people to the all encompassing use of technology which all the while was a primary tool at the NOUN.

“Now things are changing with this pandemic; accordingly we need to start developing things our own way. With this training, it is an eye opener that NOUN can do things our  own way.

“I am glad with the leadership the vice chancellor has given to the university. He has given us the latitude to explore and express ourselves in our own way,  hence about the synergy between ACETEL and CISCO”.

Also speaking, Prof. Grace Jokthan, Director, ACETEL, said the centre has been mandated to run academic programmes, skill-based courses and also a research centre.

“We have about 14 skilled-based courses that the centre intends  to run, but the ones we are commencing with today are; IT Essentials, Internet of things and Get started.

“Bulk data, cyber security, open data and so on are also short courses the centre intends to run in due cause.

“Since the ICT spectrum is dynamic, the centre will not be restricted to only these courses mentioned; we will continue to look out for harvest and run trending courses with specific focus on the needs of the environment and society at large.

“The goal of running all these (academic programmes, short courses and research centre) at ACETEL is to be able to produce a pool of digital experts and skill based graduates in software research and development.

“It also provides safe and secure digital environment for the conduct of virtual activities in the university and provides support to other institutions in West Africa to become world class resource centre for e-learning and virtual learning,” Jokthan said.

She added: “We are glad today to have commenced with the short courses training; hopefully by the middle of the year,  we will kick start academic activities in artificial intelligence, cyber security and management information systems at both Masters and Ph.D. levels.”

Representative of CISCO Networking Academy,  Mr Imoh Akpan, congratulated ACETEL and NOUN for bringing the partnership and training to fruition.

Akpan was quoted as adding that the academy was established to serve as a corporate social responsibility by CISCO,  haven seen that ICT was key in achieving digital economy and transformation.

“For the programme, they will be exposed to the length and breadth of technology with skills to job learning experience. This provides you with the foundation you need to survive in the technology space,” he said.

Akpan added that the idea behind the partnership was to collaborate with government, institutions and academy even employers of labour to explore and ensure opportunities for relevant skills for the job of the future.

He assured that CISCO certification would grant job seekers access to employers of labour which should be an added advantage to students.

Dr Adewale Adeshina, Director, Learning Content Management System, NOUN, was quoted as saying that the ACETELCISCO networking academy was a collaborative effort between ACETEL and CISCO.

“The thinking behind this partnership and training is to have digital literacy within the population, in and across the country and even beyond especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Digital literacy is one of the  components of being a digital citizen which grants you the ease of doing a lot in our today digitally driven environment; banking, e-learning, e-commerce and so on.

“So there is  need to know how to interact with people around the world hence the need to know how to use technology responsibly which forms the basis for citizens to be digitally literate.

“Digital technology helps family and friends to communicate effectively due to the high constraints of today’s world; it also helps in getting jobs and places an individual on an advantage position in today’s world.

“So the ACETELCISCO networking programme is a comprehensive e-learning programme that provides students with internet technology skills essential in today’s economy.

“It delivers web-based content, online assessment, students performance tracking, hands-on-laps, instructor training and support, preparation for industry and even standard certification”.

Prof. Samaila Mande, Dean Postgraduate schools, stated that the programme was supposed to be for between 30  to 50 people for a pilot scheme when we advertised for it but it had been oversubscribed.

“As it is now, this is a bumper harvest programme; this tells you the trust people now have in NOUN,” he said.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

Foreign

Egypt announces new oil discovery in Western Desert

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A new oil discovery was made in Egypt after drilling a well in the Western Desert that would produce massive amounts of crude oil and natural gas, an Egyptian petroleum company said in a statement on Wednesday.

The discovery was achieved by Borg Al Arab Petroleum Company at Abu Sennan concession after drilling Al Salemia Well-5 in the Western Dessert, according to the statement.

“The new discovery has been put on the production plan at a rate of 4,100 barrels of crude oil per day and 18 million cubic feet of natural gas per day,” said the company.

Borg Al Arab Petroleum Company is a joint venture between the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Kuwait Energy Egypt, and it is responsible for operations at Abu Sennan concession in the Western Desert.

The company said that its chief reported the new discovery to the Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek al-Molla.

In late 2019, the company announced a petroleum discovery in ASH-2 area of oil rich Abu Sennan, with an average production rate of 7,000 barrels of crude oil and 10 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Egypt saw a 7-percent surge of oil and gas production in 2019 by producing some 650,000 barrels of crude oil and 7.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, according to a former statement by the Egyptian oil minister.

Egypt’s largest Zohr offshore gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, which was discovered by Italy’s giant Eni in 2015, greatly contributes to the country’s natural gas production as it produces alone about 2.7 billion cubic feet on a daily basis.

(XINHUA)

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Bank of Canada announces unchanged interest rate

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The Bank of Canada announced on Wednesday it would keep its interest rate at 0.25 percent.

The Canadian central bank said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy appears to have peaked, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty.

The pandemic has led to historic losses in output and jobs, but the country’s economy appears to have avoided its worst-case scenario presented in the bank’s April Monetary Policy Report, the bank said.

The bank now expects the country’s GDP to decline between 10 percent and 20 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, down from the 15 percent to 30 percent decline forecasted in April.

However, there is some reason for optimism, the bank noted. “Decisive and targeted fiscal actions, combined with lower interest rates, are buffering the impact of the shutdown on disposable income and helping to lay the foundation for economic recovery.”

While the outlook for the second half of 2020 and beyond remains heavily clouded, the bank said it expects the economy to resume growth in the third quarter.

The bank also announced that it is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations and purchases of bankers’ acceptances citing improvements in short-term funding conditions.

It said other programs to purchase federal, provincial, and corporate debt will continue unchanged. “As market function improves and containment restrictions ease, the bank’s focus will shift to supporting the resumption of growth in output and employment.”

(XINHUA)

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Turkey, Azerbaijan announce visa exemption for citizens

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Turkey and Azerbaijan on Wednesday announced on the official gazette mutual visa exemption of three months for their citizens who hold passports with validity of at least six months.

The decision was agreed upon by the two government on Feb. 25.

With the new visa agreement, the exemption period between the two countries is increased from 30 days to 90 days.

The move aims to strengthen the “friendly relations and cooperation” between the two countries, aiming to facilitate the travels of citizens of Turkey and Azerbaijan, said the statement.

(XINHUA)

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Finland announces record-high supplementary budget to counteract COVID-19 impact

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The Finnish government on Tuesday announced a record-high supplementary budget of 5.5 billion euros (6.16 billion U.S. dollars) to counteract the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said.

With this budget, the debt taken by the government this year increased to 18.8 billion euros (21.04 billion dollars), Kulmuni said at a press conference.

The government also decided to extend the target timing of stabilizing the ratio between public debt and gross domestic product from 2023 to 2030, Kulmuni said, adding that the longer time frame would ease the pressure.

The senior official said Finnish universities will be authorized to add 4,800 students to this year’s enrollment.

According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland confirmed a total of 6,887 COVID-19 infections by Tuesday afternoon, with 320 virus-related deaths and at least 5,500 recoveries.

The country reopened restaurants and cafes on Monday, with opening hours shortened and capacity of service halved. The new restrictions are supposed to stay until the end of October.

(XINHUA)

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Minnesota governor announces civil rights probe into Minneapolis Police Department

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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday that his state is launching a civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), of which four police officers were involved in the brutal killing of unarmed black man George Floyd last week.

Walz said the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has filed the civil rights charge against the MPD and will investigate its “policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine if they engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.”

“My administration will use every tool at our disposal to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in Minnesota,” the governor said on Twitter following a news conference. “This effort is one of many steps to come in our effort to restore trust with communities that have been unseen and unheard for far too long.”

Floyd died on May 25 after being pinned to the ground by four MPD police officers, who arrested him for allegedly using a fake 20-dollar note to buy cigarettes. All of the officers have been fired, and Derek Chauvin, the one who kept his knee down on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes even as Floyd pleaded desperately for his life, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

“This is not about holding people personally criminally liable,” said Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, who will lead the just-announced investigation. “This is about systems change.”

Floyd’s death instigated nationwide protests against police brutality and racism that have persisted for a week now.

As demonstrations escalated into violent unrests in some parts of the country, United States President Donald Trump on Monday threatened the use of the military to clamp down on the protesters, a response that drew immediate condemnation from his political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump is all but certain to face off in the general election later this year.

(XINHUA)

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Britain announces £160m in humanitarian aid to Yemen

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Britain announced on Tuesday 160 million pounds ($201 million) in humanitarian aid to Yemen, James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister for the Middle East and North Africa said.

Cleverly told a pledging conference to help the war-torn country of the British government plans to assist Yemen with the fund.

Saudi Arabia hosted a virtual U.N. conference to help raise some 2.4 billion dollars to counter funding shortages for aid operations in Yemen.

The conference is aimed at raising 2.4 billion dollars to keep aid flowing to Yemen.

“Unless we secure significant funding, more than 30 out of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen will close in the next few weeks,’ UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a videoconference.

“Today’s pledges will help our UN humanitarian agencies and their partners on the ground to continue providing a lifeline to millions of Yemenis,” he added.

He added that aid agencies “are in a race against time” in Yemen.

He said that reports indicate that mortality rates from COVID-19 in Aden, the temporary seat of the Yemeni government, are among the highest in the world.

IAA

Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

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Morocco announces 37 mln USD aid package for drought-hit farmers

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Morocco on Tuesday announced that an aid package of 37 million U.S. dollars has been paid to drought-hit farmers.

According to a report of the ministry of agricultural, the payment was started in mid-April, in an effort to mitigate the impact of a rainfall deficit on farmers.

This year, Morocco has been facing unfavorable climatic conditions, characterized by high temperatures and irregular rainfalls, which decreased by 40 percent compared to the normal season.

(XINHUA)

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Canadian protesters, officials denounce racial discrimination, police brutality

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Several Canadian cities have seen protests, some of which involved elements of violence, following massive protests across the United States over the death of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Montreal to denounce racial profiling and police brutality in both Canada and the United States.

Even the city’s police force, in tweeting a call for a peaceful demonstration, commented on the events surrounding police involvement in the homicide of 46-year-old Floyd, as the Minnesota county examiner announced on Monday.

“Both the action taken and the inaction of the witnesses present go against the values of our organization,” the Montreal Police said on Twitter on Sunday. “We respect the rights and the need of everyone to speak out against this violence and will be by your side to ensure your safety.”

But about three hours after the peaceful march and rally ended in the province of Quebec’s largest city, tensions flared as people threw rocks and projectiles at the police, who responded with pepper spray and tear gas.

Store windows were smashed, fires lit and shops looted, resulting in the arrest of 11 people — nine of them on charges of breaking and entering.

On Twitter, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante condemned the actions of the looters whom she said “had nothing to do with” the otherwise peaceful protest.

During his daily briefing with reporters on Monday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault also chastised “those who took advantage to loot and vandalize” and “must face the legal consequences.”

But while he said he supports the stance against racism, Legault said he does not believe there is “systemic discrimination” in Quebec, where black people represent the largest visible minority — or about 10 percent of the population — in Montreal.

However, at his daily COVID-19 news conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “we can’t pretend that racism doesn’t exist” in Canada.

“Anti-black racism is real; unconscious bias is real and systemic discrimination is real — and they happen here in Canada,” he said.

One of his cabinet ministers, Somali-born Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development, shared a personal perspective on anti-black racism via Twitter.

“I have heard from people who have said that we should not worry about what is happening in the US because that is not our problem,” he tweeted on Saturday. “As a Black man & a father of 3 young boys, I can tell you it is a lived reality for Black Canadians.”

(XINHUA)

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United States Texas announces prosecution for protest agitators violating federal law

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United States Texas Governor Greg Abbott, along with all four United States attorneys in Texas, announced Monday that individuals coming to Texas from other states to engage in violence will be subject to federal prosecution.

According to a release from the governor’s office, anyone who is arrested and charged with such offenses will be transferred to federal custody.

The United States attorneys in Texas will be working with local prosecutors and law enforcement officials to aggressively identify crimes that violate federal law, said the statement.

“Texans must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights without fear of having agitators, including those coming from out-of-state, hijack their peaceful protest,” said Governor Abbott and the U.S. attorneys. “Today’s announcement will ensure there are harsh consequences for those breaking the law and that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

A massive protest is being organized for Tuesday afternoon in downtown Houston to show solidarity with George Floyd. Local police have warned the public of not parking the car in the street and avoiding downtown area when the protest takes place.

Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the United States after a video went viral of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the midwestern United States state of Minnesota a week ago.

(XINHUA)

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

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