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Google, UNESCO Strengthen Digital Journalism Training in Africa

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google news initiative Digital Journalism Training

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

A global initiative to promote excellence in journalism education to enhance journalists’ training in Africa has been launched by Google in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This initiative aimed to support digital journalism training will continue over the next 18 months through the Google News Initiative (GNI) for Africa.

The first edition of the virtual event kicked off on Monday, October 25 and will end on Friday, October 29, 2021. Journalists interested in the daily 45-minute session are expected to visit the Google web under the GNI platform.

“The pandemic has changed the way people interact with news and accelerated that shift to digital. There has never been a time when access to good quality journalism has been more important.

“This programme will seek to establish, define, and implement the local definitions of excellence in journalism. We will work with the 100 different journalism schools targeting to benefit over 4,000 journalists,” the President for EMEA Business and Operations at Google, Mr Matt Brittin, stated.

On its part, UNESCO will use its networks of established journalism schools to launch the collaborative programme that will enable journalists to better respond to the major changes in journalism and publishing in recent times.

According to the Director of Strategies and Policies, Communication and Information at UNESCO, Mr Guy Berger, the agency has very different countries as members, with different approaches to journalism, and that the one thing that they all agree on is that journalists should be well-trained.

The event would bring together experts from Google and the industry to share tools, training, and best practices, from understanding how small and medium-sized news organisations can grow their digital business to how to use consumer insights and data to better understand reader preferences and increase profitability and engagement.

Google is increasing its investment in and support of journalism in Africa, including a News Lab Teaching Fellow who provides locally relevant training for journalists in Southern Africa and programmes such as the Digital Growth Programme and Innovation Challenges which support publishers in their digital transformation.

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Council Approves Board to Manage Power Sector Liabilities

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power sector liabilities

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has approved the board composition and proposed governance framework for the sustainable management and payment of post-privatisation power sector liabilities transferred to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) Board.

In a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the council also approved the fast-tracking of the work plan for the concession of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP).

On the board of the NELMCO board are the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who is the Chairman; while members will comprise the Minister of Power, Mr Abubakar Aliyu; Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh; Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha; Managing Director, NELMCO, Mr Adebayo Fagbemi; and all its Executive Directors.

It was also resolved that two key members from the private sector be included on the board.

Also at the meeting, it was noted that the key objectives of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant concession include leveraging private sector access to finance and reduce the reliance on government budgetary allocation to fund the China EXIM Bank loan; and leveraging efficiencies and better facility management (maintenance) culture of the private sector for long-term preservation of the asset.

The Council had, in its December 2020 meeting, approved the concession of the ZHPP.

Similarly, the team was briefed on the performance assessment report of the nine Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), which has been forwarded to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the sector regulator, for further review and action.

At the meeting, it was noted that a thorough performance assessment revealed that most of the set performance targets were not met by the nine electricity distribution companies.

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Google Organises Residency Programme for Young Non-mainstream Creators

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Google Accelerator Programme

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Some young non-mainstream creators were recently gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day residency programme organised by a tech giant, Google.

The bootcamp took place from Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30, 2022, and helped participants learn how to better connect with their audiences and move the culture forward through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and YouTubeShorts.

The program will see the first batch of 25 young Alté creatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa attend the residency and be equipped with entrepreneurial skills on how they can enhance the visibility of their brands.

Google explained that it came up with the idea to upskill and celebrate the young creatives, who are normally not given a chance on mainstream media, which resulted in many of them taking to YouTube and others to tell their stories.

“It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices.

“The aim of the residency is to amplify the impact of the Alté movement in Africa and the world. We also want to showcase how products like YouTube and YouTube Shorts and platforms like Google Arts & Culture can help drive the culture forward,” the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Google West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, said.

Though it started in Nigeria, it has strongly taken root across the continent. Recent Google Search trends from across Africa show an increase in `Alté’ related searches from 2020, with questions like ‘What is alté?’, ‘Who is an alté?’ and ‘How to dress alte?’, being the most searched alté related questions.

Other top searches in Africa on Alté include alte’ music, alte’ songs, alte’ suit designs, top alte’ vibe, alte’ kids, alte’ Nigeria, alte’ in Ghana Music, and alte’ food.

Google has also invited Alté creatives that have global brands such as Tshepo The Jeans Maker to give career talks to the young creative entrepreneurs on how to further build and monetise their brands.

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Reps to Investigate Duplication of Functions Across MDAs

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House of Reps

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has inaugurated an ad-hoc committee to investigate the duplication of functions rife across ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) of the government.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who inaugurated the committee, said that the panel aims to reduce the cost of governance and prevent redundancy.

He said that the government has noticed that there was duplication of functions by the different agencies which has led to reduced productivity.

“An organization’s vision and mission must of necessity be derived from the mandate and functions enunciated by its establishment act or any instrument that establishes it.

“Uncertainty sets in when we have multiple agencies carrying out the same functions, leading to bickering, suspicion, and eventually duplication of efforts and waste of hard-earned government resources and time.

“Governments in the past have put in place measures to ensure effective and efficient service delivery by agencies of government, e.g., SERVICOM, but this could not achieve much without a clearly defined mandate,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.

He stressed that “The House of Representatives is not out to witch-hunt any individual or organization, but we are propelled by our desire to ensure good governance and in the exercise of our legislative oversight powers as enshrined in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“This Committee is expected to come up with solutions to the apparent continuous conflict of functions and avoidable bickering among established Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s), resulting in ineffectiveness, inefficiency and redundancy in the government workforce.

“The committee is therefore expected to engage relevant stakeholders and members of the public with a view to resolving the areas of conflict among the MDA’s, which may require amending some laws and/or outright repeal, as the case may be.”

Mr Gbajabiamila urged the MDAs and other critical stakeholders to work with the committee to complete its mandate in accordance with its Terms of Reference.

The Chairman of the team, Mr Victor Mela Danzaria, said that most of the laws establishing government agencies were made during the military regime and are not in tandem with democracy.

He said that subject matter has been a thorn in the flesh of previous governments which led to the setting up of various committees in the past.

“It is important to note however that our task is different from that of the Oransanya Committee. Whereas their major concern was to reduce the cost of governance, ours is to streamline, merge and if need be, scrap some in order to bring about efficiency in the governance,” Mr Danzaria said.

He assured Nigerians that the committee would conduct a detailed investigation into the activities of some of the agencies and come up with a report that would have a far-reaching decision that would strengthen the agencies.

Meanwhile, the Chief Whip who moved the motion that led to the constitution of the ad-hoc committee, Mr Muhammed Mongunu, said that during a series of oversight functions, it was observed that there were various agencies duplicating functions.

“It is out of the totality of our oversight functions over three sessions that generated the motion on the floor of the House and the parliament saw that there was the need to come up with something that would address these challenges,” Mr Monguno said.

He added that the committee needs to establish areas of mergers and synergies so that existing laws can be justified.

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