Expert Seeks Innovation To Improve Livelihoods
The Supervisor at Centre of Excellence in STI, African Union Development Agency (AUDA –NEPAD), Prof Olalekan Akinbo, has called on Nigeria and other African countries to take advantage of innovation in order to improve livelihoods of citizens.
Akinbo made the call while responding to questions on genome editing technology from The Tide source in Abuja, recently.
“Since Africa is naturally agrarian, the opportunity this technology offers should be utilised. This is by adding value to the available rich natural resources through innovation, in order to improve the livelihood of the citizenries”, he said.
Akinbo stated that many African governments have strong policies for innovation as a milestone that would improve the economy and create enabling environment to support innovative ideas.
“I’m talking about innovation in technology, agriculture, petrochemical, among others, because innovation is the pathway that many African countries have now taken in trying to improve the lives of citizens.
“A case in point are countries that have established ministries and parastatals that focus specifically on innovation, and some of these ministries have added innovation to the name of the ministry.
“That shows government’s commitment to innovation and in most of the AU decision process, there have been decisions that support innovations for the improvement of livelihoods”, he said.
According to him, Government has been making efforts to ensure that they are part of the agenda, by creating enabling environments to enhance innovation.
“Nigeria is an example, Nigeria is a leader and we witnessed how the Ministry of Science and Technology was changed to Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, indicating that the government supports innovation.
“There are also many start-ups in Nigeria these days and Nigeria is actually a leader in so many things in Africa, especially in the area of innovation and creating enabling environment”, he said.
He also noted that, out of the 55 member states in Africa, South Africa has taken advantage of innovative way of breeding plants.
Akinbo listed other countries that have also moved in this direction to include: Ethiopia, Malawi and Eswatini, all of which have adopted biotechnology crops.
He said Kenya has not only adopted biotechnology crops, but went further to establish a research institutes that focuses on biotechnology.
The AU Official further informed that Nigeria has adopted two biotechnology crops, both for feed and food while others were in the pipeline.
“Looking at this, for a government to have approved these biotech crops is indicative of its willingness and even establishing an agency that sees to the safety”, he said.
He said Nigeria’s National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) was also responsible for the approval of biotechnology related products.
Akonbo said Africa, especially Nigeria, has given a supportive role to the improvement of biotechnology adoption which would also influence the pathway genome editing technology would go.
The expert said genome editing was an emerging technology with an innovation that would help in various areas of improvements.
They include: agriculture, climate change, and health, with all geared towards improving livelihoods.
“There is always a phobia surrounding the emergence of a new technology and that the area people seem to be skeptical of is safety.That something is new doesn’t mean it is not safe”, he said.
According to Akonbo, some food crops that people initially thought to be unsafe are now being used by them.
He said cassava, which has become a staple food in numerous homes in Nigeria, contains cyanide acid, adding, “but, due to its importance, scientists were able to manage this acid through processing for safety.
“Though nothing is safe as people are bound to be skeptical, genome editing, which is yet to produce a product in Africa, does not include any external introduction”.
Akinbo assured that the technology of genome editing make use of information stored in the DNA to improve on its usage.
“So, from the scientific point of view, genome editing is safer compared to other imagined technology that had been in existence”, he stated.
Akinbo, however, revealed that apart from Nigeria that had already developed the guidelines for the adoption of genome editing, Ethiopia has also done so, and others were either at the drafting or signing stages.
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