Nigerian scientists and experts have called on the government to create an enabling environment for biotechnology to thrive in order to build, boost and sustain a national economy.
The experts made the call recently at a Biosafety and Biotechnology Sensitisation Workshop for North Central farmers and Agricultural Extension Agents in Abuja.
The Director General (DG) of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, in his presentation, said a quarter of the world population expected to rise by 9.5 per cent in 2050 would be in Africa.
According to him, to aid in the building and boosting of a Nigeria’s national economy, the biotechnology and biosafety space must be encouraged to thrive.
Noting that present food production does not match the current population growth rate, Mustapha said Nigeria and Africa each year lose exponential amount in foreign exchange due to incessant food imports from developed countries.
“Transformation of agriculture in Africa requires a new approach focusing on Science, Technology and Innovations to increase productivity and generate surplus for trade and export”, he said.
The DG urged that Nigeria and Africa must wake up to the reality confronting the continent regarding food insufficiency and supply by investing in the biotechnology and biosafety space.
He stated that the challenges of low food production, poor harvest, degraded soils, limited access to finance, dysfunctional markets, unconducive policies, climate change, among others, could be overcome.
Mustapha also said some of these challenges were self-inflicted and could be surmounted with zeal in the application of modern biotechnology and safe application of biosafety measures.
StartUps Attracted $4bn Into Nigeria’s Economy – NITDA
Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa, has said Nigerian StartUps attracted over $4 billion into the economy in terms of investments.
Inuwa disclosed this recently in Abuja, while speaking at the Innovation Support Network (ISN) 2023 annual summit with the theme: “Unlocking Potential: Collaborating for Growth and Impact’’.
He said NITDA currently has over 500 Startups that had either gone through its programmes, or those that ran in partnership with other stakeholders within the ecosystem.
Based on statistics, he said, Nigeria had over 3000 startups, which was a far cry looking at the 200million population of the country.
He said the theme of the gathering was not only appropriate, but also underscored the reality that collaboration was an innovation leading competitive edge across all spheres of socio-economic activities.
Inuwa commended the efforts of ISN in sustaining the annual event, adding that its contribution to the growth of tech innovation ecosystem remains invaluable.
He also congratulated ISN on the successful launch of ‘Omniverse’, the premier ecosystem platform for tech, innovation, and connected industries on the continent.
The Director General said the initiative would go a long way to build collaborations, connections, community, and content that drive the entire ecosystem to scale investments and share knowledge for a positive, lasting impact.
He said there were quite a lot of challenges in terms of regulation and policies.
“The StartUp Act aims to address the challenges in the ecosystem, providing funding, capacity building and infrastructure to the StartUps.The tech industry thrives on collaboration”, he said.
He, therefore, stated that collaboration was no longer an option, but a necessity for progress and growth.
Inuwa urged that all levels of government, corporations, investors, Venture Capitalists, the academia, hubs, and entrepreneurs must deepen their collaboration.
In her address, the Legal Partner to ISN, Beverly Agbakoba, said by organising the summit it wanted to boost home grown and organic tech businesses, starting from home and stepping out to the larger world.
Agbakoba, who described ISN as the “Hub of hubs” in Nigeria, said over 200 hubs across Nigeria were gathered at the summit, with capacity building support, skill acquisition to engage other youths in job and wealth creation.
‘‘These hubs have done a lot of advocacy training for over 7000 girls in the north. We are also here to give guidance to the hubs. For us, future leaders are all in this room and are ready to contribute their quota to the economy.
“The cardinal focus of gathering was to encourage and strengthen collaboration towards assisting innovators in discovering innovative and efficient solutions to the various problems confronting the economic, social, and governance realms”, she said.
G20 Summit: Nigeria, India Collaborate On Digital Economy Growth
The Federal Government of Nigeria, as part of its participation at the just-concluded G20 Summit, joined forces with the Indian government to understudy their digital economy,share knowledge and foster more collaborations.
The move was to ensure that the vision of President Bola Tinubu of creating one million digital jobs by 2025 was achievable.
The Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mrs Hadiza Umar, stated thus in a statement in Abuja.
The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, was represented by Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of NITDA in India.
Inuwa met with the Director General of the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), India, Dr Madan Tripathi, to drive the discourse.
Speaking on behalf of Tijani, Inuwa expressed his optimism about the prospects of mutual growth, while underscoring the importance of leveraging India’s vast expertise in digital technologies to bolster Nigeria’s digital economy.
Leaders from both Nigeria and India emphasised that the partnership was not only about bilateral cooperation, but also about contributing to the broader global digital ecosystem.
They expressed the belief that by joining forces, they could accelerate their respective digital transformations, while also playing a more influential role in shaping the global tech space.
In a related development, the Nigerian delegation paid a working visit to the headquarters of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).
The Vice President, Mr. Shivendra Singh Global Trade Development, highlighted India’s thriving software and service industry, which had earned a global reputation for excellence.
Singh expressed enthusiasm for working with Nigeria to identify trade partners and explore synergies that could benefit both nations.
He also acknowledged Nigeria’s growing influence in Africa’s technoogy ecosystem and expressed the willingness to facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange between Nigerian and Indian tech companies.
Following the positive meetings, the Nigerian and Indian teams agreed to build an execution plan on the identified areas of cooperation.
The areas included skills development, technology transfer, business partnerships aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and promoting sustainable digital economy development.
‘NIN Harmonisation, Major Way To Crime Control’
Minister of Interior, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has said the harmonisation and management of National Identity Number (NIN) is a major means of mitigating and controlling crime.
He said this at the 5th Identity Day commemoration organised by National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Abuja recently.
The theme of the day was “Identity as a catalyst for Nigeria’s development: Examining the role of identity in key government programmes of social safety net, financial inclusion, promotion of good governance, and transparency”.
“With a database of over 100 million National Identification Numbers in the National Identity Database (NIDB), and NIMC providing essential access to attaining this goal along with other major stakeholders”, he said.
Tunji-Ojo noted that all Nigerians were stakeholders in ensuring the successful implementation of positive policies regarding national identity as it affects government social safety net and financial inclusion programmes.
“We live in the modern digital age where a secure and verifiable identity is vital for any set system to work. Think about it, you can’t access bank services and get ATM cards without proving your identity”, he said.
The acting Director General of NIMC, Abisoye Coker-Odusote, said the day held exceptional importance, adding, “it provides everyone with an opportunity to reflect on the pivotal role that identity plays in our lives and its profound impact on society.
“It is a day to recognise the transformative power of identity in shaping our destinies, safeguarding our rights, and connecting us as global citizens”.
She said, in the face of emerging technologies and evolving threats, there is need to remain vigilant in safeguarding the integrity and security of identity systems.
According to her, the newly launched “Self service online solution” App would address the challenges associated with registration of NIN, saying it would give easy access at the comfort of people’s homes.
“We are trying to bridge the gap. This is the basis and approach in introducing the self service solution to reduce the time cost of registration”, she said.
Coker-Odusote further said so far, 102 million Nigerians had been captured in the NIN, and assured Nigerians of easier access to registration.
The Managing Director of Barnksforthe Technologies, Mr Adebayo Bankole, who designed the App, said it would address issues associated with NIN registration.
Stories Compiled by King Onunwo
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