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Agency’s  Head Makes  Case For Biosafety Law

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Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, has said that successful operations of biosafety laws in Nigeria will bring significant benefits to farmers and aid rapid economic transformations.
Mustapha said this at the Modern Biotechnology and Biosafety Regulation Sensitisation Workshop organised for NABDA’s Board Members by Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria Chapter in Abuja recently.
“Successful operations of biosafety laws in the country ensures that Nigeria’s well over 70 million farmers will keep reaping continuously, the significant benefits of agricultural biotechnology.
“This is similar to economic transformations currently experienced in Argentina, Brazil, India, Sudan, Togo, Ethiopia and South Africa that have all adopted this modern approach to boost their food and cash crop production,’’ he said.
The Director-General stated that by having a National Biosafety Management Agency in place to ensure safe and responsible practice of the technology, the country would have commenced a silent revolution towards attaining laudable goals.
Mustapha listed these goals to include, transforming agriculture from subsistence to commercial and business levels.
He said farmers all over the world were witnessing improved yield, which also means improved access to food, not only for their families, but also  producing excess for export.
“It should be noted that the adoption of higher yielding biotech crops by farmers across the world will continue to deliver substantial agronomic, environmental, economic, health and social benefits to farmers and society at large,” he said.
He said another goal is to address food security challenges of growing population by not only making food available in sufficient quantity, but in quality, to meet dietary needs for active and healthy lifestyle.
Mustapha also mentioned empowering agricultural research institutes to continue with their work on biotech crops and ultimately commercialise the positive outcome of their research findings for farmers’ benefit.
He further said another goal was consolidating the diversification of economy from oil revenue to a more sustainable revenue generation from massive food/cash crop activities supported by modern agricultural biotechnology.
“The importance of this to a country like Nigeria known as a non-importer of major food items, moving from that to becoming an exporter nation of agricultural produce cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
The NABDA boss said the workshop was to empower and provide an update on the recent developments in the agricultural and biosafety regulation sectors and across the country at large.
“Our expectation is that as stakeholders in this sector, you will join us in the campaign for the enhancement of food security, climate change mitigation, nutritional enhancement, and flattening the curve of Covid-19”, he said.

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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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