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NCDMB Names 15 Semi-Finalists for Science Tech Competition

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NCDMB Science Tech Competition

By Adedapo Adesanya

A total of 15 teams have emerged as regional semi-finalists in the first Nigerian Content Science and Technology Innovation Challenge (STIC) for higher institutions in Nigeria.

The competition, which was opened in November 2020, is sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and implemented by Enactus Nigeria.

The semi-finalists were picked from higher institutions across the country, five respectively from the North, West and South/Eastern regions.

Each team in the competition is made up of two undergraduates and their schools include University of Ilorin, University of Jos, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Federal University, Dutse, Usman Danfodio University, Tai Solarin University of Education, University of Ibadan, Yaba College of Technology.

Other successful institutions are Anchor University, Lagos, Babcock University, Cross River University of Technology, Niger Delta University, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Alex Ekwueme Federal University and Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

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According to the Country Director of Enactus Nigeria, Mr Michael Ajayi, the semi-finalist teams will now advance to the ‘proof of concept’ stage of the competition, where each team will be given N500,000 to develop a functional prototype of their innovative ideas.

According to him, “these will then be presented to a panel of judges at the in-person regional final competitions which will be held in the Northern, Western region and the South/East region respectively.

“During this event, the representatives of the participating institutions will be expected to demonstrate, using their functional prototypes, how their proposed innovation works to solve identified problems and also demonstrate to the panel of judges how the innovation will continually create opportunities for job and wealth creation if accelerated and transformed into business ventures.”

A total of six regional finalists – two from each region will emerge from the 15 teams after the regional competition and will proceed to a one-week bootcamp where seasoned business development professionals from reputable organisations will work with NCDMB and Enactus Nigeria to mentor the six finalists to test their assumptions and perfect the business cases for their innovations.

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“This strategy is a necessary step towards ensuring that the students’ innovations transition into full-fledged profitable enterprises that will create jobs for Nigerians, while creating sustainable wealth,” Mr Ajayi said.

The Nigerian Content STIC is an enterprise-development program designed to challenge undergraduates of all accredited Nigerian tertiary institutions to stretch their ingenuity and apply science & technology, to create home-grown, innovative, and technologically driven business solutions that address some of the Country’s most pressing everyday problems, accelerate reverse-innovation and create wealth, while also providing job opportunities for the growing numbers of the unemployed people in Nigeria.

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The Country Director confirmed that the process of arriving at the 15 teams for the regional semi-final was very rigorous. He stated that a panel of 63 individuals from diverse fields, ranging from business development to information technology, business strategy and social enterprise development committed over 156 man-hours to complete a three-stage screening process over a period of three weeks.

Apart from the handsome money for the winning team, the NCDMB will also award N20 million investment towards the development of a research and development centre in the institution that the winning undergraduates represent.

The online portal for the competition was open from November 19, 2020, until January 31, 2021, during which time a total of 511 entries were received from undergraduates in 129 tertiary institutions across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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2021 FOYA Awards Nomination Thrills Chidi Nwaogu

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2021 FOYA Awards Chidi Nwaogu

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A serial tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Publiseer and Savvy, Mr Chidi Nwaogu, has been nominated as Techpreneur of the Year at the 2021 FOYA Awards.

The event is an annual awards ceremony since 2016, which was conceived to serve the strategic objective to retain, reward, and recognize high-quality entrepreneurs and SMEs in Africa.

The nomination has thrilled Mr Nwaogu and has expressed optimism of winning the category as Publiseer, a digital content distribution company, has helped over 6,000 underserved African creatives living in low-income and disadvantaged communities to earn a living from the sales of their creative works.

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The platform has been described by Konbini as “one of the largest digital publishers in Africa” and identified by IFC as one of the startups “that could speed up innovation in Africa.”

The nominee is also the co-founder and Head of Program at Savvy, a global fellowship program that has equipped over 3,900 passionate and brilliant young individuals from 136 countries, with the necessary knowledge, skills, resources, tools, and support community that they need to start their own impact-driven business in a post-COVID era and succeed as social entrepreneurs.

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For his works at Publiseer, Mr Nwaogu won the 2020 Migration Entrepreneurship Prize by the Swiss Government, the 2019 Africa 35.35 Award for Entrepreneurship, the 2019 Young Leaders Award for Media and Entertainment, and the 2019 Bizz Business Excellence Award.

He is a 2020 Acumen Fellow (West Africa), 2020 Alibaba eFounders Fellow (China), 2019 Westerwelle Fellow (Germany), 2019 African Presidential Leadership Fellow (Cairo), and 2019 Yunus&Youth Fellow (New York).

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FOYA Awards is designed to recognize and appreciate young founders contributing to the African continent’s economic growth while creating employment and other income-generating opportunities through entrepreneurship, thereby inspiring others to be founders in their own right.

The platform has developed into a convening agent for actors in the youthful entrepreneurship ecosystem attracting and stewarding access to relevant investors, not-for-profit leaders, influential personalities, and government officials to address everyday challenges and devise impactful, lasting solutions.

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Study Shows 70% of Nigerian Businesses Unaware of Privacy Laws

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privacy laws

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A recent survey conducted by WorldWideWorx and commissioned by a global technology company, Zoho, has revealed that 70 per cent of Nigerian businesses are unaware of privacy laws governing their marketing activities.

This is despite the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) being in effect since 2019. The survey also revealed that even though businesses are concerned about the privacy of customer’s data in the hands of third-party vendors, they are reliant on them for revenue generation and gathering customer insights. This makes it harder for them to move away.

The CEO of WorldWideWorx, Mr Arthur Goldstuck, said the lack of awareness about the law is largely because these regulations are not part of business-critical activities like taxation and licensing.

However, he noted that 78 per cent of the businesses indicated that they have well-documented policies for customer data protection.

“This is likely following fear of NDPR violation, which has made headlines in Nigeria, even so, only 60 per cent are strictly applying them,” said Mr Goldstuck.

Third-Party Trackers and Ad Platforms

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Of the 319 businesses surveyed across various industries and sizes, 45 per cent said they allow third-party trackers on their website, mostly for sharing content on social media (62 per cent) and gathering analytics on their website visitors (35 per cent).

There is also heavy dependence on digital ad platforms. The respondents believe that keyword search ads (59 per cent) and social media ads (52 per cent) are quite effective for customer conversion.

In fact, 78 per cent of businesses said the third-party ad platforms either help them meet or are a primary factor in achieving their sales goals.

Given this reliance on third-party vendors, it is no wonder then that, even though 85 per cent of businesses express concern over the use of their customer’s data, they are largely either ‘comfortable’ or ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’ with the platforms.

Even the 18 per cent who are ‘uncomfortable’, state that they cannot move away from the platforms as they are crucial to their business or that it is too complex to move away.

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Interestingly, 24 per cent of businesses reported that they do not completely understand how third-party trackers and ad platforms utilise the collected customer information.

“When businesses choose to use a free tracker, they are paying for it with their consumer’s data,” said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager for Africa, Zoho. “At Zoho, we refer to this practice of third-party trackers collecting data without user knowledge as adjunct surveillance. Presently, Nigerian businesses turn a blind eye to this passive data collection by trackers, most likely, because they are dependent on them for revenue.

“However, consumers will eventually trust companies with transparent privacy policies that protect their personal information. Businesses hoping to stay relevant in the long term will need to either rethink their reliance on third-party platforms or demand greater transparency and accountability from them.”

Zoho had removed third-party trackers from its website in 2020 and has never sold customer data to anyone or shown ads, even in their free products.

Zoho also owns its data centres and the entire technology stack of its solutions. It can, therefore, assure its users of the highest standards of privacy and security.

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On NDPR

Nigerian businesses believe that NDPR has had either no effect (39 per cent) or a positive effect (42 per cent). Their biggest concerns with the law are increased complexity (36 per cent) and the increased cost of governance (34 per cent). As per Mr Goldstuck, the cost of governance will be a major concern for SMEs.

For context, all businesses in Nigeria (regardless of size) need to appoint a privacy/information officer to oversee the protection of customer information.

Larger businesses can appoint their CIOs or IT leads in this new role, while smaller businesses may have to appoint their managing directors or business owners in the same role.

For smaller businesses, in particular, this can be a daunting task as the person in charge can be held personally liable for data leaks or breaches as per the law.

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Truecaller Rolls Out SMS Filter Feature

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Truecaller

By Adedapo Adesanya

The world’s most trusted and accurate Caller ID and telephone search engine, Truecaller, is rolling out a new feature called Smart SMS to further augment the user experience.

It has been introduced based on user feedback and is designed to cater to the evolving needs of our consumers and the new feature offers a host of new services to make day-to-day communication a lot more convenient.

It is powered by state-of-the-art machine learning models that adapt based on the feedback given to it and supports users with important messages from banks, billers, travel companies, delivery companies and so much more.

Smart SMS also helps users stay protected from spam and fraud. Only the essential information within an SMS is highlighted and all SMS messages are categorised and easily accessible.

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Truecaller noted that from keeping track of users expenses to last-minute changes to your travel, Smart SMS is the future of SMS that will make life a whole lot easier.

Commenting on the new addition, Mr Zakaria Abdulkadir Hersi, Director of Business Development & Partnerships Africa at Truecaller said: “Roughly 80% of SMSes one receives daily are from businesses, disengaging users from important/useful messages. To combat that, SMS apps need to become smarter by filtering out spam and categorising useful information.

“At Truecaller, we constantly strive to offer the best user experience by adding unique features that fit in with our core mission: to make communication safer and more efficient for everyone.

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“Truecaller has evolved into a powerful communication hub and for the people who wish to use the app to its fullest, we want to streamline the experience as much as possible for an efficient calling and messaging experience for our end user.”

Truecaller uses the same powerful algorithms used to identify spam callers in SMS as well. The SMS intelligence is built into the app itself and it can work offline – nothing leaves your device, including all OTPs, bank SMSes and financial information.

The feature also offers a Smart Inbox that identifies unknown SMS sender numbers and SMS sender IDs are resolved to business names with logos.

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Truecaller helps users know who’s getting in touch by providing a search engine for telephone numbers, filtering out unwanted calls and SMS and focusing on what really matters.

The company provides services such as a dialer that offers caller ID, spam detection, messaging & more. Truecaller’s mission is to build trust everywhere by making communication safe & efficient.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, the company was founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi & Nami Zarringhalam. Investors include Sequoia Capital, Atomico & Kleiner Perkins.

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