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Minister Advocates Improved School Safety Through Science, Technology

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The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has called for increased partnership in harnessing science and technology to improve the safety of children in schools.
The minister made the call when Amb. Emenike Eme, the National Coordinator, Partnership Action for Safe Schooling (PASS), paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, recently.
Onu said that the priority of the Buhari-led administration was to ensure that children had all the necessary protection needed for their safety.
According to him, the importance of children, being the most vulnerable, cannot be over-emphasised, hence the need for their protection, security and provision of their needs.
The minister assured the Environmental Safety Corps of the ministry’s partnership in support and in the development of children.
He further said that Nigerian scientists were working hard through their researches to make drugs from herbs and plants that could cure ravaging diseases.
He added that deforestation was very dangerous, emphasising that the cutting down of trees without replacement could be harmful to economic development.
“We are in working with the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment towards finding a lasting solution to deforestation in Nigeria,” Onu said.
Meanwhile, Eme had earlier said that the purpose of his visit was to seek partnership in harnessing the enormous wealth of science and technology, particularly towards improving school safety.
Eme expressed concern at the increased rate of  insecurity around the school across the country which he said could be detrimental to the educational sector.
He pledged his support, especially in the area of effective policy formulation and implementation in line with its mandate.
“I will ensure that both human and material resources are mobilised to realise NASRDA’s basic objectives for the overall benefit of Nigerians.”
The Director-General of NASRDA, Dr Halilu Shaba, made a presentation on the current status of Nigeria Sat-2 which, he said, needed to be replaced because it had outlived its designed lifespan.
Shaba, however, said the satellite was still functioning effectively and supplying relevant data.
He updated the meeting on the progress made on building and plans to launch two very important satellites, the Synthetic Aperture Radar, Nigeria SAR -1 and Nigeria Sat-3, an optical earth observation satellite.
According to him, the satellites will go a long way in providing relevant data on mapping and geospatial information for decision makers in addressing issues of urgent national importance like security and economy growth.
Shaba also appealed for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to actualise its set objectives for the technological advancement of the country.

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Ekiti Poll: Improve On BVAS Innovation, Group Urges INEC

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A socio-cultural group, the Ladies of Substance, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the innovation of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to ensure it performs optimally during the 2023 elections.
The group’s Team Lead, Mrs Mojisola Akinbohun, told The Tide’s source in Ado-Ekiti recently that it would make future elections in Nigeria to be credible.
Akinbohun said the use of BVAS for Ekiti election showed a significant improvement over the previous elections.
“This is a great opportunity for INEC to showcase its preparedness for the 2023 general elections with the test of functionality and effectiveness of the BVAS. I commend INEC for its quick response to resolving all challenges observed during the election in Ekiti,” she said.
Akinbohun disclosed that the group had deployed its members to monitor the election across some loycal Government Areas for independent monitoring.
She said that there were tremendous improvements in the timely arrival of election materials to the polling units as well as responses to any issue raised by the electorate.
The team lead said the group, however, observed cases of vote buying during the election, adding that it remains a monster in the electoral system in the country, which must be checked.
Akinbohun also commended the electorate that shunned and resisted attempts and temptations to sell their votes to political agents during the election in the state, and lauded the security for their presence, which ensured utmost calm and peace within and around the polling units and some local governments visited by the group.
The Team Lead said the group observed that there was an impressive turnout across the council areas the group monitored.
She commended the people of Ekiti for their maturity, especially for putting behind the string of violence and not entertaining fears against early predictions that the election might be marred by violence.

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Firm  Wants Blockchain For Dispute Resolution

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A Fintech Software Engineer ing  Firm, Appzone, has called on banks to adopt blockchain technology  for increased visibility and transparency to resolve dispute claims between customers  and financial  institutions.
Co-founder of Appzone, Mr Uche Elendu, said in a statement that it was needed, with the increased rate of fraud and dispute claims between customers and financial institutions across Nigeria.
Elendu noted  that the adoption of blockchain technology was not only to decentralise the process of moving money from one bank to the other .
According to him,  it would help to  increase the level of visibility and transparency of the procedure.
“As more Nigerians get financially included, customers have continued to move away from cash and checks toward electronic payments,” he said.
This trend, he said, is a positive development for banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to him, card and online transactions grow as well as  the number of disputable transactions and the incidence of fraud, putting pressure on dispute processes.
“Financial institutions across the continent have continued to evolve, leveraging technology.They have metamorphosed from the days of a heavy analogue process to a more digitised era.
“With the continuous increase in the volume of banking transactions, it remains pertinent to continuously adopt newer and more sophisticated technology infrastructure to remain dependable, especially with payment settlements.
“For us at Appzone, we are firm believers in blockchain technology,” he said.
He continued that its decentralised nature not only made it faster, cheaper, and transparent, but also makes it sophisticated enough to enable real-time settlement.
Elendu said having rolled out Zone – Africa’s first blockchain platform for payment processing in 2021, partner banks that had onboarded have seen a drastic change in their payment settlement process.
He said that Zone’s innovative architecture would reduce complaints from customers and provide banks with an opportunity to deliver delightful experiences on payment channels while also driving down costs.
He further stated that it developed in line with Appzone’s recent evolution into a payment infrastructure company.
Noting that Zone is Africa’s first decentralised payment network.he said t allows inter-bank transactions to be processed directly between banks on the vlockchain without the involvement of any intermediary.
According to him, with Zone, players in the industry should expect a reliable and scalable payment network that enables frictionless and instant payments, within and between every African country.
The Tide’s source reports that Appzone Layer-1 Blockchain network digitises Fiat payments, and enables the transition to digital currencies while connecting previously excluded financial institutions into an all-inclusive payment ecosystem.

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‘FinTechs  Important In Ecosystem Growth In Africa’

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A financial expert, Dr Segun Aina, says policy makers and financial regulators need to evolve with the growth in financial technology companies  (FinTechs) space to establish a sustainable ecosystem and financial inclusion in African countries.
Aina said this at a two-day virtual forum of the 2022 Maiden CABS FinTech, organised by the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) in partnership with Africa Fintech Network (AFN).
The forum had the theme: “Opportunities and Challenges of FinTech Development in Africa.”
Aina, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the future was bright for the continent, especially for the growth of FinTechs.
The banker said the AFN was committed to making contributions that would positively impact the growth of the ecosystem.
He noted that there was need to work directly with the Association of African Central Banks, particularly the committee of African banking supervisors to achieve such impact.
Aina said the financial subsector had recorded an unprecedented growth with huge investment, mostly by foreign investors.
He said FinTechs were trending with presence in different countries and also contributing to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“As people continue to embrace digital banking, FinTech startup became bigger in terms of valuation (market value) amid challenges of corporate governance”, he said.
According to him, this is evolving despite the opportunities that abound across the entire FinTech ecosystem in Africa.
Aina, however, noted that regulators were attempting to catch up to FinTech as they had realised the need to play in the digital innovation space.
He also said FinTechs and startups in the same space had gained prominence in the last 10 years, which was driven by advancement, enabled by internet and mobile phones.
This development, he said, had made banks to set up FinTech subsidiaries, while their former senior regulators serve on the boards of fintech companies.
The former CIBN boss said mobile money indicator showed that 500 million people subscribed to mobile phones in Africa and 245 million use mobile internet.
Aina also said the continent continued to record the highest year-on-year growth in internet penetration and with the support of funding from outside Africa.

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