By Dipo Olowookere
The four Nigerian kid sponsored by Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc to the 2018 Power Pitch Winner of the Smoke-Free World category of the Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation challenge summit in the United States have emerged winner of the competition.
The event took place at the Kennedy Space Centre, Visitor Complex, Florida, USA and the young Nigerians; Afolabi Williams, Olubusiyi Famobiwo, Menashi Mordi and Osagumwenro Naaman Ugbo, who are members of Team Neon from Whitesands School, Lagos, have made the country proud.
The four junior school students made it to the fourth round and final stage of the competition, the only representatives from Nigeria and Africa that participated in the finals. They pitched their idea on a Virtual Farm project, which falls under the category for Smoke-Free World.
The Conrad Challenge is an international and multi-phase innovation competition focusing on five areas: Aerospace Aviation, Cyber Technology and Security, Energy and Environment, Health and Nutrition, and recently, Smoke-Free World.
The Conrad Foundation’s Spirit of Innovation Challenge (SOIC) presents high school students with a very broad challenge: create an innovative product that provides solution to a real-world problem such that someone can pay for it, by applying principles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Students were not just asked to complete a science project: they were required to conduct a research to determine their creation’s potential market impact and develop a full business plan.
This annual competition challenges teams to use science, technology, engineering and math innovation, as well as entrepreneurship, to create a more sustainable world for today and the future generations.
The global decline of smoking have many positive health impacts, but also brought negative economic consequences to tobacco farmers, many of whom are in developing nations. Students were invited to design 21st Century solutions to farmland that is currently used for tobacco production, especially in African countries.
Established in 2008, the Conrad Foundation honours the legacy of Apollo 12 astronaut, Charles “Pete” Conrad, and his four decade passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The students received the Good Citizen Award in the same summit and were accompanied to the summit by their coach, Matthew Omotoso, the junior school ICT teacher at Whitesands.
Inspired by the team’s outstanding young talents and driven by its passion for innovation, leading African bank, GTBank, sponsored the young innovators to the finale of the Conrad Challenge. The Bank’s sponsorship included, among other benefits, the total coverage of the team’s travel and stay in America.
GTBank has consistently played a leading role in Africa’s banking industry and is regarded by industry watchers as one of Africa’s most innovative financial institutions. The Bank also maintains an active and clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility policy, which is focused on promoting education for all, fostering community development, promoting arts and protecting the environment.
NCDMB Names 15 Semi-Finalists for 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.
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.
“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.
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).
Galaxy Backbone Requires N200bn for Broadband Connectivity
By Ahmed Rahma
The Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone (GBB), Mr Mohammad Abubakar, on Thursday, said that the organisation would need not less than N200 billion for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed to the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He also said that about N35 billion would be needed to provide effective internet service at 2mbps to federal government’s agencies.
He, therefore, sought the assistance of the National Assembly to enact laws that would enable it to operate without bureaucracy.
Mr Abubakar, while speaking in Abuja when the parliament’s joint committee on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity were at the agency to carry out its oversight function, said if this law is put in place, Galaxy Backbone would be able to compete with other business outfits providing same services
“To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated funding in excess of N35 billion will be required.
“More than N200 billion will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed,” he said.
He noted that, “Despite the state of the art infrastructure, Galaxy is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with private sector companies because of bureaucracy that is peculiar to public sector institutions.
“Despite a 40 per cent increase in Annual Service Contract, the provision fails to match the steep rise in demand for Galaxy’s services.
“Additional increase will be required to keep up with MDAs’ demands and needs,” he said.
Mr Abubakar, however, said that the internal infrastructure readiness issues within some MDAs would continue to affect the quality of services enjoyed by the MDAs.
He also said that the internal IT capacity issues within several MDA affected uptake and utilisation of Galaxy Services, adding that GBB had continued to mitigate the challenge through training.
Mr Abubakar also used the opportunity to ask the national assembly members to assist in making the agency more viable.
2,181 Savvy Programme Participants Generate 1,278 Business Ideas
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An initiative put in place by a non-profit organisation called the Savvy Programme is already yielding meaningful results about six months after it was launched.
In its first impact report published recently, the founders of the scheme said the Savvy Fellowship programme has impacted many lives.
Business Post reports that the Savvy initiative was created to train at least 10,000 passionate individuals to build successful impact-driven businesses.
Giving an insight into the programme since its inception, it was disclosed that from August 4, 2020, to February 4, 2021, Savvy received 39,958 applications from individuals interested in the scheme.
However, a total of 3,298 were accepted into the initiative, representing an 8.25 per cent acceptance rate, with 1,121 being female and 2,177 being male.
According to the report, these 3,298 participants (often referred to as Savvy Fellows) were drawn from 122 countries. Already, a total of 2,181 of the Fellows have completed the Savvy program—generating 1,278 business ideas and kickstarting 587 businesses during and after the programme.
The organisers said in the nearest future, Savvy plans to get more mentors for the Savvy programme, train 7,000 more individuals through the scheme and provide Internet allowance for some of the Fellows who need it to participate in the initiative.
The Head of Fellowship Program at Savvy, Mr Chidi Nwaogu, disclosed that for 12 weeks, no matter what stage their venture is, the Savvy programme helps selected Fellows to answer all the relevant questions that they need to kickstart their amazing impact venture, gain early traction, achieve product-market fit, scale into new markets, create jobs, and improve the economy of their nations.
He also said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs and are now living in an uncertain world. One and 131 entrepreneurs from 36 countries came together to start Savvy, a global fellowship program equipping these recently unemployed individuals with the necessary knowledge and skill that they need to start their own impact-driven business and succeed as entrepreneurs.”
Google to Redesign How Online Advertising Works
By Ahmed Rahma
The most widely used search engine, Google, has disclosed that it will not build or use alternate tools to track web browsing traffic once it begins phasing out existing technology from its Chrome browser next year, a move that will reshape how online advertising works.
The company made this known on Wednesday.
Google first announced it would get rid of third-party cookies, which for decades has enabled online ads, early last year to meet growing data privacy standards in Europe and the United States, Reuters reported.
Privacy activists for years have criticized tech companies including Google for using cookies to gather web browsing records across websites they don’t own, enabling them to develop profiles on users’ interests to serve personalized ads.
Now, Google is pledging it will not use other technology to replace the cookie or build features inside Chrome to allow itself access to that data, though it continues to test ways for businesses to target ads to large groups of anonymous users with common interests.
“Keeping the internet open and accessible for everyone requires all of us to do more to protect the privacy and that means an end to not only third-party cookies but also any technology used for tracking individual people as they browse the web,” the blog post read.
Rival advertising tech companies are building tools to identify users across the web anonymously, including Criteo SA and The Trade Desk.
Shares of both companies dropped in January 2020 immediately after Google first announced it would eliminate cookies, but have risen consistently over the past year.
Network Operators Get Approval to Establish SIM Swap Centres
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria have been given the approval to establish dedicated SIM Swap centres across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.
A statement jointly issued on Wednesday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Identify Management Commission (NIMC) said the approval was authorisation was given by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
In the statement signed by Mr Ikechukwu Adinde, the Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, and Mr Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, said the federal government has also extended the tenure of National Identification Number (NIN) enrolment agent licenses for MNOs from one to five years.
This, they said, was in consideration of their satisfactory performance, though their activities would still be monitored to ensure they maintained the standard. It was explained that this action was to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents.
Last Friday, the Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration held its 4th review meeting chaired by Mr Pantami. Several stakeholders were in attendance, including the regulators, the players and others.
At the close of the deliberations, a technical committee was mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised. This will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents.
In addition, a multi-sectoral ad-hoc team was tasked to immediately complete the review of the processes for new SIM activations for legal residents staying in Nigeria for less than 24 months.
According to the statement, the membership of the panel was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
The Minister charged the NCC, NIMC and MNOs to come up with a framework for the establishment of SIM Swap/Replacement centres in each of the 774 LGAs in the country, beginning with critical and feasible locations.
Facebook, JAN Empower Young Digital Marketers
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A partnership that will empower Nigerian youths with digital marketing skills has been entered into between Facebook and Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN).
The collaboration is in line with the organisation’s vision of raising a generation of digitally-inclined young business leaders.
Beneficiaries of the scheme will be incorporated into the digital marketing module of JAN’s flagship company programme.
This element teaches secondary school students how to start and run their own business, develop a product or service, form a company, choose a business name and elect company officers to oversee the operation of the company.
The initiative aims to help students move a business idea from concept stage to reality and help them succeed in a global economy.
According to JAN, this scheme was developed as a result of the growing need for digital literacy among young people. The aim is to expose students to digital tools in order to help them bring their business online and market their brands through the programme.
“We are thankful to Facebook for this amazing partnership that will help our company programme students boost their business profitability and equip them with digital marketing skills.
“Digital marketing is the skill of the future. It fulfils the objectives of traditional marketing concepts and delivers competitive advantages, measurable ROI and better visibility and engagement,” the Executive Director of JAN, Foluso Gbadamosi said.
“When I came on board, one of the strategic methods I devised to accelerate JAN’s impact is to leverage digital technology to expand our reach as well as enrich our curriculum with relevant digital modules.
“This partnership is the right step in the right direction as we are on the right track to reaching another one million youth in five years,” Gbadamosi added.
On his part, the Policy Programs Manager at Facebook, Mr Phil Oduor, stated that, “The economic empowerment of Nigeria remains a priority for us at Facebook.
“We are excited to partner with JAN as it is an opportunity to further provide Nigerian entrepreneurs, small business owners and citizens with the skills needed to build a profitable business in a digital society.
“This partnership adds to our ongoing efforts to promote, guide and boost efforts to grow Nigeria’s economy by empowering citizens with digital skills.”
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