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Saturday 1st April, 2023


Eko Innovation Centre, LASG Chart New Course For Data-Driven Smart City At AOT Lagos 2.0



L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State and Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre…

The influence of data and technology for brands and the society at large in today’s world, cannot be overemphasized as the deployment of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and many others play a key role in the society.

Many advanced countries are well known for their data management and usage of technology to make each of their operations from governance to business seamless with remarkably, data-driven smart cities raising the quality of life for people around the globe.

Achieving a smart city has been the dream of many African countries in order to meet up with the rest of the world.

Nigeria has also been yielding to get data management right, amidst various challenges that still exist. However, Lagos State is making a difference with its various initiatives, partnering with the Eko innovation Centre, a leading innovation hub in the country.

This year, Eko Innovation Centre in partnership with the Lagos State Government (LASG) through the Office of Innovation and Technology, organized the second edition of Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos 2.0.

The two-day conference brought together the best of tech minds from across the globe physically and virtually on the 3rd and 4th of December 2020 which is in line with its Smart City agenda of making Lagos a 21st-century economy.

The event was themed “Smart Data, Smarter Lagos,” and the conversation centred on the fundamental role data plays in connecting the city with its citizens as well as how data can be collected, collated, analysed and deployed for governance, commerce and development.

L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State; Olatunbosun Alake, special adviser to the Lagos State governor on innovation technology and Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre at the Art of Technology Lagos 2.0 and the unveiling of “Startup Lagos” in Lagos recently…..

The event had the Vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Lagos Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Commissioners and other eminent stakeholders in the private and public sectors of the economy.

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Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr Victor Gbenga Afolabi said the two-day summit was aimed at building on the success of the maiden edition which held in 2019  and recorded over 2,000 participants in attendance.

He noted that last year, one of the key successes was the launch of the Lagos Innovation Masterplan which has continued to guide the Lagos state government in achieving its Smart City agenda.

Meanwhile, this year’s edition recorded another milestone with the launch of Startup Lagos, an initiative meant to empower Lagosians.

The event recorded a milestone of more than 8,000 participants and featured about 60 industry speakers, 50 investors and 35 experience centres.

Speaking on the choice of the theme, Advisory Board Member, Eko Innovation Centre, Doja Ekeruche said, “The choice of the theme, ‘Smart Data, Smarter Lagos’ is because we understand the value of data, identifying and leveraging the outcome of data and its insights to develop the most populous city in Nigeria and indeed in Africa.

“The concept was to build and strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to actively participate in the development of Lagos into a smart city and then chart a vision for the next phase of development in order to cement Lagos as Africa’s key tech hub.

“We do understand that data is the bedrock to accurately plan for every single segment of the city including electricity, security, transport, healthcare, education, even the creation of jobs.

“Every single aspect of our living requires the use of data and today, the data exists but it has not been gathered, created and analysed in a way that it delivers insights, in a way that enables decision-makers to make the right decision that will transform the city.

“I think the most important thing is that the discussions we have had in the last two days, we are confident that we have raised again the importance of gathering of data to indeed drive or enhance the potential of our demography and discover the potential of the city.”

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Meanwhile, the Vice president, Yemi Osibanjo speaking at the event, said the Buhari administration is working harder to make Nigeria a smart country, noting that human creativity and ingenuities are major assets needed to make the society a smart place.

L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State; Olatunbosun Alake, special adviser to the Lagos State governor on innovation technology; Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre and Demola Shogunle, chief executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings at the Art of Technology Lagos 2.0 and unveiling of “Startup Lagos” in Lagos recently…..

He maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would continue to pursue its digital and technology agenda to keep the country at pace with the rest of the world.

“Data is everything. We are gathering economic data, demographic data and other data coupled with our resourcefulness to manage over two million people. So, we must leverage technology and data for better plans, policy design and decision-making. Smart data makes smart governance,” he stressed.

Similarly, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Samwo-Olu on his part, restated his government’s commitment to making the state a smart city by digitalizing its operations which is in line with his THEMES agenda.

He affirmed that the state is leaving no stone unturned to give residents sound governance, noting that this can be possible through data gathering, thus, the state has proposed to capture four million Lagosians to serve the people better.

“We need to know ourselves, so with data obtained from Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) and other agencies, we shall be able to plan well, make informed decisions and make better policies.”

Correspondingly, Tunbosun Alake, Special Adviser, Innovation and Technology to the Governor of Lagos State stated that government is working tirelessly to make the state better and become the nation’s technology hub, adding that data is necessary to seamlessly run the affairs of the state.

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He explained that as a result of COVID-19, a lot of government operations including cabinet meetings are now being done on the digital platform.

Worthy of note is that AOT Lagos 2.0 had series of breakout sessions and subthemes where experts charted a new course for the state with topics such as Global Cybercrime and Data Protection: Building a Smart Lagos in the face of Security breaches; Lagos 2030: Data as a vehicle into creating the future; Diversity and inclusion in tech creating and others.

Experts at the event proffered various solutions to achieve a data-driven smart city.

Lisa Da Silva, Principal Investment Officer, IFC and keynote speaker said smart city development starts with a really strong vision and thoughtful planning and in this case, Lagos is way ahead of many states with the launch of a master plan last year December.

She added that one of the foundations for Smart City development is regulation, stating that the regulatory environment needs to enable digital solutions through regulation on data management and technology.

Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited on her part said states need to gather data because it is key to planning and with acquired data and government’s implementation of its programmes for citizens, jobs would be created and other basic amenities would be provided as well.

She pointed out that there is a shortage of data scientists which the state needs to enable its aim of a smarter city to become a reality.

Meanwhile, Dr Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC and keynote speaker, while speaking on the topic “Solving Africa’s digital payment challenges: The data Infrastructure,”  recommended that government needs to go into partnerships with private sectors in order to deliver the required payment infrastructure.

He also called for digitized common transactions, stating that identifying and deploying a fit-for-purpose payments infrastructure for the transport sector will significantly improve adoption of digital payments and drive financial inclusion.

In the same vein, he called for the incentivized use of digital channels for transactions. “Consider providing incentives such as cashback and discounts to encourage the use of digital channels.”

In addition, he also called for investment in infrastructure, “Use of self-service stalls, wifi coverage offerings for transactions, etc towards driving more people to adopt digital payments. Drive the development of robust IT connectivity.”

Lastly, he called for the inclusion of IT and financial literacy programmes in the educational curriculum and also collaborate with financial institutions to track and prosecute fraudsters, and provides a framework for reimbursing victims to improve confidence in digital transactions.


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ALX Offers Software Engineering Skills To 50,000 Women Across Africa



Photo Credit: Alx Facebook page

ALX, a leading global provider of training in the tech industry has its first dedicated Software Engineering cohort for women in Africa.

The cohort forms part of ALX’s ‘WomXn and Tech’ initiative and is set to benefit up to 50,000 women across Africa.

The company says the initiative was inspired by the United Nations IWD theme of ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.’

ALX is showing its commitment to bridging the digital gender divide in Africa, increasing the representation of women in the technology sector and driving the participation of women to innovate and create solutions for a diverse world.

This cohort will provide a launchpad for women to grow their careers in one of the most exciting and in-demand fields in the world.

Part of African Leadership International (ALI), ALX is a leading technology training provider that offers world-class programmes to thousands of young people across Africa, equipping them with both the professional and technical skills that enable them to thrive in high-growth industries.

The statistics make for grim reading. Women comprise just 5% of global software engineers.

Considering that there are an estimated 690,000 software engineers in Africa, even applying the global average means that there is a significant gender divide that must be addressed.

It is through this female cohort that ALX will take the steps necessary to reduce this considerable disparity.

Thanks to its partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, ALX is offering sponsored placements to thousands of young women who meet the eligibility requirements for this programme.

“ALX knows that our collective future depends upon a female voice, a female brain, and her perspective in devising solutions for the world of tomorrow.

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“Through ‘WomXn and Tech’, we are boldly proclaiming our call to action for women across the continent and the rest of the world to not just have a seat at the table, but to redesign the table.

“This 100% female software engineering cohort we are introducing helps to accomplish this,” says Fred Swaniker, Founder and CEO of ALI.

The programme has been made possible following the recent acquisition by ALI of a leading Silicon Valley institution, Holberton Inc.

ALX is now one of the largest software engineering trainers in the world, which aligns with the organisation’s mission to develop Africa’s human capital at scale and enable women with best-in-class digital skills and excellence.


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NITDA, UNICCON Sign MoU To Promote Indigenous Content



Barr. Emmanuel Edet, Head Legal and Board Matters Unit of NITDA and CEO UNICCON Group, Mr. Chuks Ekweme during the signing of the MoU at NITDA on Friday

The Federal Government has taken a significant step towards promoting indigenous content in the country, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the UNICCON Group of Companies.

NITDA said this latest step aims to foster the development and growth of local content in the Nigerian technology industry.

Under the terms of the MoU, NITDA and UNICCON, a company that unveiled Africa’s First Humanoid Robot, Omeife, will collaborate to develop and promote local content in Nigeria through various initiatives.

The initiatives include capacity building, skills development, and the creation of an enabling environment for local content producers and developers.

The partnership will also focus on supporting local startups and SMEs in the technology industry, providing them with access to funding, mentorship, and other forms of support that will enable them to grow and compete on a global scale.

Speaking during the formal signing, the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, represented by the Head of Legal Unit of the Agency, Barrister Emmanuel Edet, recounted that during the unveiling of “Omeife” last year December by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), had urged NITDA to work with Uniccon Group on ways to commercialise Omeife.

“We plan to have an application that everyone can use to take advantage of Omeife. At NITDA, we have had the Learning Management System (LMS) for a long time, and it can be integrated into API provided by the UNICCON group, thereby extending our elements to take advantage of it,” he said.

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Inuwa stated that leveraging on Omeife (robot) will deepen the penetration of digital literacy across the country, providing a platform for shared knowledge in Pidgin, Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba, adding that this will provide a framework and platform for exposure of Nigeria’s indigenous content internationally.

“Our greatest dream is to nurture startups and companies that will occupy the global space and also be as competitive as possible for the growth of the economy.

“Digital Economy is a great alternative to oil, which serves as a means of income and an opportunity for us to compete because the entry-level is intellect and we have a lot of that across the country,” the DG asserted.

The Chairman/CEO of UNICCON Group of Companies, Mr. Chuks Ekweme during his remarks commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), and the DG of NITDA for the policies and initiatives implemented towards the digital transformation of the country.

He assured that the UNICCON Group of Companies will support the government towards the actualisation of policies and initiatives, and do their best to contribute their quota towards the implementation drive for the growth of the country.

Ekweme emphasised the importance of the AI project in Africa, stating that statistics show that no African country can boast of having 60% AI by 2030, with most countries falling below this percentage.

“Therefore, the signing of the MoU is a crucial step towards bridging this gap and positioning Nigeria as a leader in AI development,” he said.

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Pantami Inaugurates Nigeria Startup Act Implementation Committee



The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) in a group photograph with some of the members of the Nigeria Startup Act Implementation Committee shortly after the inauguration ceremony

The Federal Government has inaugurated a 27-member committee to implement the Nigeria Startup Act 2023 (NSA). 

The inauguration is part of efforts at fostering the growth of the digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country and consolidating the achievements made by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) inaugurated the committee on behalf of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in a hybrid event at the Digital Economy Complex, Mbora, Abuja.

Giving a historical overview of the journey so far from the conceptualization of the bill to its enactment into law by the President on 19th October 2022, the Minister stated that the Nigeria Startup Bill was first drafted and formulated in 2021 with inputs from relevant and critical stakeholders.

He stated that Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of government, private sectors, industry players, young innovators, and stakeholders from the academia were engaged in town hall meetings organised in the six geopolitical zones of the country with the purpose of collecting their inputs, constructive criticisms and recommendations to create a robust and credible document.

Describing the inauguration of the NSA implementation committee as a milestone achievement towards the attainment of a digital Nigeria, Pantami urged the committee members to coordinate operational plans and establish the baseline for the ecosystem in terms of digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

“In this implementation committee, we have brought together relevant stakeholders, some from government, some from the private sector, some from the ecosystem, some from the academia, some from legal institutions, and many more to come together and provide the leadership that is required for the technical implementation of this very important law,” he stated.

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While noting that economies globally are driven by technology, knowledge, digital innovation, and entrepreneurship, Pantami stated that priority and preference should be given to a knowledge-based economy rather than a resource-based economy in the country.

He further stated that countries like the United States of America, China, Japan, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom which are the major contributors to the global Gross Domestic Product of 101.6 trillion US dollars are leading economically because they give preference to a knowledge-based economy.

“According to statistics as of December 2022, digital enterprises are directly and indirectly contributing a minimum of 53 trillion US dollars to the global GDP. By implication, you can safely say that more than half of the global GDP depends on technology, digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship,” he said.

“Today, digital entrepreneurship, digital innovation and knowledge-based activities are building the global economy and we need to invest in our youths that have innovative ideas,” he added.

He further stated that Nigeria is blessed with so many talents and innovators and that young Nigerians have been making the country proud by winning prizes at global ICT events in UAE, Barcelona, the USA, and Saudi Arabia.

While emphatically stating that the NSA would consolidate the achievements of startups in the country by providing legal frameworks as well as technical and financial backing to further encourage them, the Minister said that “Today in the Act, there is a provision of supporting them financially. The government will set aside a minimum of 10 billion naira annually in addition to other sources of funding that have been captured in the law.”

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Prof. Pantami also noted that it will consolidate the achievements made thus far by the Ministry in terms of broadband penetration, 4G penetration, development of policies for digitalization, digital ID in Nigeria, and government revenue generation amongst others.

Announcing the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa as the secretary of the committee, the Minister urged all the members to expend their time, energy, knowledge and experience to support the ecosystem so as to reduce importation in the country and prioritise production.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Kashifu Inuwa appreciated all members of the committee for agreeing to contribute their expertise to the national assignment of implementing the NSA.

He stated that the committee is responsible for creating an enabling and sustainable environment for young and talented people to develop more profitable and innovative-driven enterprises for national development.

While noting that startups are critical drivers for economic growth, Inuwa asserted that implementing the NSA will be a game changer that will help create a legal and institutional framework to develop the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

“I wish to sincerely appreciate your acceptance to serve on this committee and I have no doubt that our collective expertise and experience will help us implement the NSA successfully,” he concluded.

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