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Monday 27th March, 2023


Volvo CE Diagnostic Engineer, Elisabeth Källström Launches ‘Clean Air For Africa’ Initiative



Dr Elisabeth Källström, Volvo Construction Equipment Diagnostic Engineer and Founder of Clean Air for Africa Initiative....Photo Credit:

…Targets Huge Emission Drop In The Continent

A call has been made on the need for sweeping legislation in Africa aimed at combating the effects of a warming planet, as well as save the lives of many of her people.

Research has shown that currently, there’s no strict legislation across African countries that guides, regulates or checks emissions from vehicles and generator engines.

Whereas in Europe for instance, exposure to particulate matter (PM) decreases the life expectancy of every person by an average of almost one year, every year in the U.S., more than 400 people die and approximately 50,000 people visit an emergency room from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Dr Elisabeth Källström, a Volvo Construction Equipment Diagnostic Engineer said simple statistics like these can be the catalyst to help push for positive change when people fully understand the impacts of air pollution on their health and talk to their representatives at the legislative houses to pass changing legislation.

But Dr Elisabeth Källström told that in Africa, useful statistics like the afore-mentioned are nonexistent, disclosing that it is a narrative she is out to change.

She told Volvo ( that it was a global emissions map presented during a Volvo course in 2019 on diesel engine emission after treatment that brought this to light.


“I discovered that in more developed countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and most E.U. countries, ultralow sulfur diesel with a maximum of 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur has been the norm for years but in the vast majority of African countries, over 2,000 ppm is allowed nearly a 20,000 per cent increase,” she said.

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To further take up a hands-on approach to discovering the effects of emissions on Africa and her people, in February 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic first began spreading, Elisabeth decided to take a six-month unpaid leave of absence from Eskilstuna to Lagos, Nigeria to work firsthand on her Clean Air Initiative.

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Dr Elisabeth Källström noted that the passion for changing the emissions legislation across an entire continent doesn’t require an engineering degree to put things in motion, admitting that even though this certainly helps,  understanding the basics of air pollution is a critical first step.

With most African countries suffering from epileptic power supply, and most homes still using diesel-powered generators as the source for their own power, analysts believe that the problem with all these generators is that they put out much more than just needed electricity and in the process, emit harmful pollutants that can devastate families.

Elisabeth stated that in the course of her study, she discovered that in many cities across Africa, homes and apartments are clustered together in small confinements, so pollution directed from one window easily makes its way into another, adding that avoiding the toxic fumes is nearly impossible.

“The fumes are made up of nitrogen oxide (NOx), the pollutant that causes acid rain and smog. In high concentrations, it causes inflammation of the airways that can lead to asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more.

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“It’s also not uncommon to see an entire family lose their lives due to carbon monoxide (CO) exposure. Tragically, they’re often found in the exact position they were in when they went to sleep at night. Additional particulate matter (PM) and hydrocarbons (HC) also cause irreversible lung, liver and kidney damage,” she disclosed.

Elisabeth who has found some initial success educating both government officials and citizens through social media, with a focus on the dangers of inhaling these types of pollutants, noted that understanding what these compounds and particles do to the human body is an obvious first step for change.

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In a bid to advance her work, Elisabeth launched a nonprofit organization- the Elisabeth Källström Clean Air for Africa Initiative, focused on creating awareness and advocacy that will promote renewable energy, proper waste management and legislation around emissions levels to promote clean air in Africa.

Elisabeth told that replacing dirty generators with clean solar power is a good first step, disclosing that her NGO is also working to help install free solar panels in various communities to create mini-grids of cleaner, more sustainable power, much like they have in more developed African countries like Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

She further disclosed that she is also working on three different air quality research projects through two Nigerian universities: the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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The focus of the research, according to Elisabeth is on measuring air quality from vehicle emissions, in the classroom and in the outdoors as she also plans to measure air quality in confined neighbourhoods to see how much of toxic gas is being emitted.

Elisabeth said it was because of her passion to bring the desired changes that she is personally funding these efforts all on her own, declaring that her goal is to eventually set up an air quality lab that more universities can use to expand her research efforts.

“With emissions legislation, we can monitor and help Africa set emissions targets,” she says. “And with targets in place, countries can look at vehicle and equipment imports and set restrictions on what can be purchased. It’s an ambitious goal, but I think it’s one worth fighting for.”

Elisabeth has also been spending time educating communities on the importance of properly sorting waste as in many communities, leftover food is mixed in with plastic, metal, batteries and other harmful waste.

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She told that oftentimes it’s burned, releasing even more toxic gasses into the atmosphere, adding that when this happens next to a market or farm, the negative impacts on health are even greater.

“African countries have become a dumping ground for ozone-depleting refrigerants that have been globally phased out in other parts of the world. Tighter restrictions and security checks, in African countries as well as in the rest of the world, are needed to keep this type of waste from entering these countries.

“At the end of the day, if the ozone layer is depleting, we’re heating up the planet, and the planet belongs to everyone. You’re putting something in the hands of someone that doesn’t understand what it is, and the consequences can be significant,” she said.

Elisabeth said she has also had discussions with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment to help put together emission legislation for Nigeria.

In addition, she is also setting up the Air Quality Society of Africa with professors in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, and two doctors and in Nigeria.

The organization will measure emissions in different parts of the region and have the means to publish the data to help government officials and citizens understand the importance of emissions regulations on health.

“Ten years from now, I would like Africa to have made significant progress on reducing harmful pollutants in homes and even meet the Paris agreement of bringing emission levels down by 2030.

“If we want to hand over a healthier, more sustainable planet to the next generation, Africa has a role to play,” Elisabeth said while talking about her expectations for the initiative at the end of this new decade.

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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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