Google has announced five Nigerians and 29 other recipients of the Third Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge drawn from Africa, Middle East, Israel and Turkey.
Head of Innovation, Google News Initiative, Ludovich Blecher, said in a statement that the recipients were selected for their initiatives in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the journalism industry.
Blecher said the 34 projects of the recipients from 17 countries were chosen to receive $3.2 million in funding.
Accordingly, he noted that the GNI innovation challenge was part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era.
Also, he revealed that he has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives, demonstrating new thinking.
“This year, we seek to broaden our criteria to include digital innovation initiatives that promote goals like reader engagement, new reader income, subscriptions, disinformation among other things.
“Following a thorough assessment, a round of interviews, and a final jury selection, 34 projects from 17 countries were chosen to receive $3.2 million in funding.
“The recipients met all the five criteria requirements, including impact on the news ecosystem, equity and inclusion, inspiration, innovation, diversity, and feasibility,” he said.
He hinted that some of the recipients include Kenya’s WANANCHI Reporting, Nigeria’s Dubawa, and South Africa’s Quote This Woman+.
The Tide’s source learnt that WANANCHI Reporting provided features that allowed both the unserved and underserved Kenyans from remote and excluded areas to tell their stories.
He said the features of the unserved and underserved highlighted diversity in a manner that avoided misrepresentation by allowing them to contribute to the news ecosystem, through their technology-driven interactive platform.
Blecher said that Nigeria’s Dubawa is a digital platform that helped newsrooms source and license quality images from local African photographers and photojournalists.
It was further gathered that starting with Nigeria, ATLAS looked to host relevant news images and editorial images, curated from local African photographers and photojournalists which anyone could instantly download.
NITDA Opens Portal For 1m App Developers Training
As part of efforts to make Nigeria the hub of digital talents in Africa and the world at large, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has urged Nigerians to apply for its much-awaited training programme on software development, NITDA Developers Group, NDG.
The Tide’s source had reported that NITDA had announced plans to train one million software developers in various areas of application development.
A statement by the Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA, Mrs Hadiza Umar, at the weekend, said the project, which would be undertaken through NITDA’s subsidiary, National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), in Wuye District, Abuja, is in partnership with relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem.
According to the statement, Nigerian youths residing or having accommodation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, including National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, Secondary School Students, and undergraduates who are on holiday are eligible to apply.
It noted that interested applicants should please visit: https://bit.ly/3zUuBY1 to get their slot or contact firstname.lastname@example.org;
The statement reads: “The programme is in line with National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) of the Federal Government, and NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2021-2024) pillar of Emerging Technologies.
“Trainees will go through a series of coaching, and lectures to develop programming skills in Python for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics and Data Science.
“The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, has directed NCAIR to run the programme under 24/7 operation schedule within the Centre, including an internship programme that will provide intensive training to Nigerian youths with the goal of producing software developers.
“NDG Training is divided in to two batches (A&B). Batch A will run from Monday to Wednesday, Batch B will run from Thursday to Saturday, and Sunday will be independent study day, and Certificates will be issued to the students/trainees at the conclusion of the programme.
“Classes will be held six (6) days a week in 3 clusters (24 students each), with 12-hour sessions for independent study and working on exercises and projects between 8pm and 8am daily.”
Organisation Bemoans Technology Use For Crime In Nigeria
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has expressed concern over the use of technology to increase activity of human trafficking in Nigeria.
The IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission, Prestage Murima, expressed the concern in a message to mark the 2022 World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDATIP).
Murima in a statement by IOM’s Senior Communications Assistant, Mrs Mariam Owoeye, said the theme for this year’s celebrations was “Prevent, Protect and Prosecute to Highlight the Need for Action and The Importance of Having an Integrated Approach in Addressing Trafficking”.
According to her, “the increasing use of technology has enabled human trafficking, with numerous tricks deployed and with greater speed, accuracy and anonymity to recruit, exploit and control victims.
“They also organise their transport and accommodation, advertise victims and reach out to potential clients, communicate among perpetrators and hide criminal proceeds.
“Traffickers use social media to identify, groom and recruit victims, including children.
“E-mails and messaging services are used for the moral coercion of the victims and online platforms allow traffickers to widely advertise services provided by victims”.
She said since technology was a tool that could both enable and impede human trafficking, “IOM interprets this theme in terms of how technology can be harnessed as a preventive tool and for facilitating protection”.
She explained that it will take a comprehensive approach to address trafficking in persons, hence the organisation’s decision to join the United Nations System to raise awareness under the global theme: “Use and Abuse of Technology”.
According to Murima, persons seeking better economic opportunities, asylum seekers and refugees fleeing crisis are vulnerable to the risk of trafficking with traffickers profiting from the desperation and separation of people, particularly women and children, from support systems and family members.
“However, in the use of technology also lies great opportunity. Future success in eradicating human trafficking will depend on how law enforcement, the criminal justice systems and protection actors can leverage technology in their responses, by aiding investigations to shed light on the modus operandi of trafficking networks, enhancing prosecutions through digital evidence to alleviate the situation of victims in criminal proceedings, and providing support services to survivors”, she said.
She continued that on this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, that people should have a heart for the victims of human trafficking and join the campaign against human trafficking.
Murima also noted that advocating for rights and protecting the physical, mental and social well-being of individuals and their communities, and promoting sustainability through institutional capacity development and partnerships were at the centre of the organisation’s counter-trafficking efforts.
“This theme is at the centre of the institutional approach in combating trafficking and protecting the rights of migrants, through the ‘Theory of Change”, she said.
According to her, Nigeria is an important locus as a source, transit and destination country in the trafficking process.
Murima, however, revealed that IOM operates from the outset that trafficking in persons needs to be approached within the overall context of managing migration for the benefit of all with interventions centered on the needs of the victims.
“Since 2017, IOM Nigeria has coordinated the return of over 27,000 Nigerian migrants from 82 countries.Out of this number, 3,599 are victims of trafficking, while 1,726 victims of trafficking had received in-kind support to start businesses of their choice”, she added.
The WDATIP is a day set aside to raise awareness on the plight of victims of human trafficking and to promote and protect their rights.
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a crime and grave human rights violation of enormous scale, which is prevalent in situations of vulnerability.
DG Pleads For Startup Growth Drive
The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, has stressed the need for a union to drive the growth of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.
Inuwa stated this via a statement by the Agency’s Spokesperson, Hadiza Umar, and made available to the The Tide’s source in Port Harcourt recently.
It was further learnt that the statement was made during a dinner meeting with some key stakeholders of Lagos Ecosystem, including representatives from Microsoft, MasterCard, Norebase, among others.
Reiterating NITDA’s commitment to giving the ecosystem the needed support to boost the sector’s contribution to the economy and strengthen the value chain, he stressed the need to build trust between the government and the ecosystem.
He also emphasised the need for collaboration to drive innovation and overcome existing issues around investments, partnerships, commercialisation of innovations, enabling policies, and acquisition of relevant skills, as well as training.
The NITDA DG also explained that the Start-up Bill would deal with the bottlenecks and fast-track the anticipated growth of the ecosystem.
He added that the Code of Practice for Interactive Platforms would engender appropriate monitoring to enforce compliance with established regulations guiding the sector.
“We need to decide what and what the right regulations are so that every startup and industry player would have a Code of Practice that works for everyone and is adhered to the latter. Also, I think we need to form a union for Startup Ecosystem”, he said.
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