Low Income, Bane Of Women Participation In Technology
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has stated that women’s exclusion from the digital world has reduced one trillion dollars from the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of low and middle-income countries.
Tallen, who said this recently at a news conference in Abuja, in commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day (IWD), said this occurred over the last decade.
The theme of this year’s edition, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, she said, which was aimed at bringing women and other marginalised groups into technology, has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.
“The lack of women inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs and according to the UN Women 2022 Snap Short Report, women’s exclusion from the digital world.
“This has reduced one trillion dollars from the GDP of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade.This loss will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action”, she said.
The Minister also stressed the need for gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education that could increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement.
She further called for the adoption of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses by girls to address discrimination, gender bias and improve participation in all spheres.
“I therefore ask that teachers and educational institutions be supported to consciously remove gender biases and stereotypes in our educational environments, textbooks and didactic materials.
“It starts with making women’s contributions to STEM visible, including through connecting young women and girls with STEM professionals and mentors”, she said.
Also, Mr Marthias Schumale, UN resident Coordinator, said they would enhance involvement of women and girls in technology to increase gender inclusion.
“We will continue to invest into technology. And as we do that, we will prioritise women and girls because collectively we can make the world of technology and innovation inclusive by working together,” he said.
Ms Uller Mueller, UNFPA Country Representative, harped on the role technology plays to expand networks, opportunities, and minds.
Mueller, represented by Ms Erika Goldson, UNFPA Deputy Representative, however, noted that technology was increasingly misused and weaponised, with women and girls disproportionately targeted.
“This can take the form of image-based abuse, sextortion, harassment, hate speech, cyberbullying and doxing.
“Data tell us that 97 per cent of girls between 11 to16 years in Nigeria have experienced unwanted sexual approaches in chat rooms, social networking sites or emails.
“Over 7.89 per cent of this group have been sent sexual images or content, 57 per cent of women have had their videos or images online abused or misused”, she said.
She added that UNFPA was developing safety and ethics guidelines for practitioners designing technology for gender-based violence prevention and response.
Mueller said that technology companies are engaged to involve women in design processes from the outset.
“Technology is essential to advancing gender equality. When women and girls can access and use technology safely, they can amplify their voices and exercise their agency and autonomy.
“This is giving them a platform that can transform their future – and ours,” she said.
Also, Prof. Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said they would train 200 women on ICT and digital economy in March to reduce the gender gap in technology innovation.
Pantami was represented by Mrs Iklima Musa, Special Assistant to the minister on Strategy and Innovation.
Ms Kemisola Bolarinwa, President, Women in ICT Foundation, launched the prototype of a “Smart Bra Device” to detect abnormalities like cancer cells.
Bolarinwa also added that they invented a wrist watch and necklace to track movement, in a bid to curb insecurity, particularly kidnapping.
Centre Introduces Mark Hack 2.0 For Marketing, Media Professionals
Eko Innovation Centre has said that it has launched MarkHack 2.0, a platform for marketing, media professionals and students in order to explore new and innovative ways to disrupt the creative industry.
The founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Afolabi said this during the launch of the second edition of Mark Hackathon in Lagos last weekend.
Afolabi noted that the initiative was aimed at fostering collaboration, creativity and critical thinking among participants and also provide a platform for them to showcase their ideas to potential investors.
According to him, participants would be split into teams of five and required to work together for a period of three weeks, brainstorming and ideating new concepts based on their focus areas.
The founder, said each team would also pitch their ideas to a selection of jury and the best 10 teams with the most viable concepts would go head-to-head at the finale to win a prize pool of 10,000 dollars.
The CEO , hinted that they would also get the chance to join an acceleration programme to get their products ready for the market.
Speaking on the creative industry, he said it was the country’s second largest employer and has the potential to produce seven million jobs by 2025, with a major contribution from entertainment and media.
“The entertainment and media growth will be seen in the development of the metaverse and the use of non-fungible token.The metaverse could contribute around 40 billion dollars to the economies of sub-saharan markets like Nigeria”, he said.
The Managing Director, Redwood Consulting, Mrs Hannah Oyebanjo, said the creative industry held the potential to create jobs for young people
Oyebanjo based her point on a research, which according to her, showed that the creative sector currently has employed about 4.2 million people across five industries including media, entertainment and others.
Oyebanjo, however, informed that the Nigerian creative industry had its challenges which included lack of appreciation for intellectual properties, access to reliable data, weak marketing knowledge and access to funding, among others.
Also, the Managing Director of Entod Marketing, Iquo Ukoh, commended the innovation centre for organising hackathons such as the MarkHack to give several talents opportunities to bring their ideas to reality.
Ukoh, however, said that soon, solutions would come out of the hackathon that would disrupt markets in Nigeria.
Telecom Operators Move To Disconnect Banks Over N120bn USSD Debt
Telecommunications Operators in Nigeria have notified, that they have been granted approval by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to disconnect banks over N120 billion Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) debt.
This was made known in a statement signed by the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr Gbenga Adebayo in Lagos and obtained by The Tide Source in in Port Harcourt recently.
Adebayo in the statement, said Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) would disconnect banks if they failed to pay the debt owed.
He said the approval was granted because in spite of the multi-party stakeholder efforts to resolve the situation and prevent any impact on services, banks continued to incur greater debt, without making the commensurate payments.
According to him, members of the public would recall that MNOs and banks had protracted disagreements concerning the appropriate USSD pricing model for financial transactions, transparency of charges, mode of collection and liability for payment of the outstanding and continuous service fees due to the MNOs.
“Due to the inability of MNOs and banks to reach an agreement on the issues, MNOs in 2021 sought to disconnect banks due to the unpaid debts which stood at N42 billion as at that time”, he said.
Adebayo noted that It was pertinent to note that the contract between MNOs and banks on the use of USSDs for banking transactions was strictly commercial and MNOs were at liberty to withdraw the services if the transaction was unprofitable to them.
He also explained that MNOs have invested billions of naira in expanding their systems to accommodate the USSD needs of banks over the years.
Adebayo said this had resulted in more Nigerians having access to banking services in addition to enabling banks to trim down costs by requiring less branches to service their growing customers.
He said that unfortunately, MNOs were not getting paid for their services and the debt that stood at N42 billion in 2021 had now risen to over N120 billion.
Rivers ICT Department Bounces Back
The Rivers State Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department said it has resumed operations in order to maintain its lead in ICT training and teaching in the state.
The Head of the ICT Department, Mrs Aleruchi Akani, disclosed this when she spoke at the Student Project Presentation at the ICT Centre at Aba/Port Harcourt Express Way in Port Harcourt last Friday.
Akani, who spoke through the Head of Operations, Mr. Austin Dimpka, said part of its challenges was funding, but have made necessary adjustments and moved on.
Apart from funding, its target was human capacity building which the centre has been excuting judiciously.
She said the programme was the second phase since it resumed full operations.
By: King Onunwor
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