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Tuesday 15th June, 2021

TechExtra

Winners Emerge At Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajiide Sanwo-Olu (3rd left); Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, Mr Olalere Odusote (extreme left); Founder, Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Afolabi (2nd right); Advisory Board Member, Eko Innovation Centre, Doja Ekeruche (2nd left); and Special Adviser on Housing to the Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Toke Benson-Awoyinka (extreme right) at the unveiling of winners of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon at Eko innovation Center on Friday, 18 September 2020…..

…As Sanwo-Olu Takes Giant Strides towards Affordable Electricity 

Two winners have emerged from the 3-Day finals of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, in collaboration with Eko Innovation Centre.

The two winners are Team Power Bit Crunchers from the hardware category and Team Zeena Platform from the Software group.

The two winners earned a combined prize money of N10 Million.

The winners and runners-up will also get working space at Eko Innovation Centre, while all ten (10) finalists will get mentorship opportunities, among other consolation prizes.

Mr. Olonma Ibrahim and Peter Okonma represented the hardware team, while Oluwasemi Oreoluwa and Adenitire Ayonikun represented the Software Team at the event.

Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who spoke on the significance of the initiative at the announcement ceremony at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, September 18th 2020, said: “Today is a true hallmark in our administrations pursuit to improve the welfare of our people.

“As you are aware, a key pillar of our administrations T.H.E.M.E.S agenda is to make Lagos a 21st century economy and this Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon fits perfectly as it combines innovation, creativity and local capacity to deliver solutions that will improve access to electricity in Lagos.”

Sanwo-Olu said that the settings, the mood and the aura at the ceremony “inspires creativity and innovation,” and that he saw in the participants, vibrant energetic youthfulness “that inspires hope of brighter and bigger roles that technology and digitization would play in the country.”

Speaking further, he said Smart Meter Initiative “is another demonstration of promise kept” by his administration as “it aligns with the administrations’ T.H.E.M.E.S agenda to make Lagos a 21st century economy,” noting that the result of the initiative would drive local capacity that would find home grown solutions to solve our challenges, which “is a great move in transforming the electricity sector in the state.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu promised that his administration would continue to support this initiative and that the outcomes of today’s programme has inspired his administration to do even more to drive local capacity and find home grown solutions, while taking advantage of global opportunities to solve our challenges.

“The young people in Lagos and Nigeria have proven to be hardworking and brilliant and we will do all we can to support them through our various ministries, agencies, enabling policies and incentives,” he stated.

He encouraged all participants, especially those that were not declared winners to never give up.

“Everyone,” he said, “is a winner, someone must just be declared winner to fulfill all righteousness.”

He urged them to continue to persevere and improve, as his administration, through mentorship and other incentive, “is always ready and elated to support and collaborate in creative and innovative ideas that would improve living standards and grow the economy.”

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat (3rd left); Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, Mr Olalere Odusote (4th left); Olonma Ibrahim and Peter Okonma of Team Power Bit Crunchers, winners in the Hardware category (From the left, in Yellow) and Oluwafemi Oreoluwa and Adenitire Ayomikun of Team Zeena Platform, winners in the Software category (From the left, in white) at the unveiling of winners of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon at Eko innovation Center on Friday, 18 September 2020…..

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat, in his own remarks, noted that “The Lagos Smart Meter Programme is an important way for the Lagos government to demonstrate its commitment to improving access to reliable and affordable smart meters to increase the living conditions of our people.

“Therefore, the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon which is driving local talents to explore innovative and affordable ways to deliver smart meters for Lagos and Nigeria is a key priority for our administration and we truly appreciate the support of all the sponsors and partners of this initiative.”

Doja Ekeruche, Advisory Board Member of Eko Innovation Centre, disclosed that curating the Hackathon is in line with the centre’s purpose of leveraging innovation and technology in solving poverty and other challenges in Africa.

She stated that the output of the Hackathon will contribute significantly to solving the challenges of the power sector, while also serving as an inspiration to local tech-talents in Nigeria to develop innovative solutions that will transform the future of Nigeria.

Ekeruche highlighted that local solutions are needed to help the country solve its challenges locally rather than consistently looking for foreign ideas which do not necessarily fit our local situation.

In this vein, she assured that Eko Innovation Centre would not rest on its oars in unveiling innovative minds and remains resolute in taking local ideas from concept to commercialisation.

Participants described the three-day final as quite revealing and exciting, a position affirmed by the judges, participants and attendees.

According to Mr. Ade Bajomo, Executive Director, IT and Operations of Access Bank, representing the Managing Director, Mr Herbert Wigwe, “the great efforts by the Lagos State Government at improving access to electricity has  received a major boost by this initiative.”

Wigwe, who said that Access Bank would always support creative and innovative ideas, stated that he “is excited as Africans were striving hard to find local solutions to local problems, leveraging on local solutions.”

He said “this is a revolution that should not be missed, adding that all of us must all come together to support and nurture it.”

On the journey that climaxed in the finals, winners emerged after a competitive pitch process which saw five finalists from both hardware and software categories respectively compete for the combined prize money.

Although Lagos state Government initially committed the sum of 7million Naira to appreciate the winners for their efforts before progressing to commercialization, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Engr. Kola Balogun, Chairman, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited and Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO, Venture Garden Group, all contributed N1 million each to raise the total prize money to N10 million. Chantelle Abdul, CEO MOJEC International also contributed N2 million for the runners-up.

Launched July 30th, 2020 by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon is an initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.

Over 60% of Lagosians and Nigerians are estimated to be unmetered due to unavailability and the high cost of meter acquisition, explaining why the Lagos State Government is therefore, leveraging bright local talents to design and produce affordable smart electricity meters.

The convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon, the Honourable Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Lagos State, Mr. Olalere Odusote said that the Hackathon received 274 registrations, 127 of which bid in hardware category, as against 147 competed in software group.

Impressively, 65 hardware and software prototypes were submitted by applicants.

The shortlisted five finalists from hardware category were: Cosmo Automation, Smart Energy, Techwizard, Power Bit Crunchers and Gadozz Electricals.

The five software finalists were: Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Magnitronics Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon from Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Benin and Oyo State respectively.

Speaking on the high points of their respective prototype designs, Team Zeena Platform stated that their smart meter software solution could fix tariffs and usage restrictions to guide electricity consumption by users.

“Administrators can control pricing, check working meters, energy consumption and perform oversight functions. Our database will run on blockchain technology and data security of users is assured,” the team said.

Power Bit Crunchers, winners in the hardware category team explained that their prototype smart meter can be monitored and controlled remotely, with additional tamper proof functionalities which protects against bypass and other fraudulent activities.

The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 received entries from across the country and was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources and curated by Eko Innovation Centre.

It was sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, Ikeja Electric Distribution Company, Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, and InfraCredit, Axxela Limited.

It was supported by The Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), the Nigeria Energy Support Program (NESP) implemented by the German International Development Corporation (GIZ), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.

 

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Innovation

2021 ATU Africa Innovation Challenge Launched, As Africa ICT Innovators Poised To Benefit

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Young Innovators......Photo Credit: Africabusinesscommunities.com

The second edition of the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge was Tuesday launched by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

ATU made the announcement in Nairobi-Kenya, in a virtual ceremony hosted with competition partner-the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), according to a report by Kachwanya.

Secretary-General of the ATU, Mr John Omo, while announcing the initiative, said: “This initiative will be instrumental in supporting institutional solutions that will boost innovation in Africa and address some of the challenges facing the African community.”

The ATU Africa Innovation Challenge is a programme that seeks to provide both short and long-term solutions and opportunities to the African Youth.

This year’s competition, themed, “Best ecosystem practices in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation,” will run from 15th June to 28th September 2021.

The competition, sponsored by Huawei Technologies Limited (title sponsor) and Intel Corporation, is open to all ecosystem stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, entrepreneurial support organizations, incubators, accelerators, or institutions such as colleges or universities from Africa.

African organisations and institutions that have created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovations to thrive are eligible to participate.

The winning entity will be awarded USD 10, 000 aside from their practice gaining recognition as the best ecosystem practice in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation.

“I want to thank our sponsors especially the headline sponsor, Huawei, for once again demonstrating their commitment to promote innovation and the wider ecosystem in Africa,” said John Omo.

Honourable Dr. Peya Mushelenga, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Namibia, who was the chief guest for the event, applauded the two organizations for the initiative and acknowledged the significance of public-private partnerships in promoting development.

“The collaboration between ATU, Huawei, and other partners is a tool delivered to our hands. Let us use it to generate sustained economic growth in Africa,” he said.

“ITU is proud and pleased to partner with ATU for this particular Challenge as it aligns with our vision for inclusion of youth in digital transformation.

“Youth innovators are centrally placed to ensure the sustainability of innovation in Africa, and they need an enabling environment that fosters and nurtures innovation for them to thrive,” said Mr. Stephen Bereaux from ITU, a specialized United Nations agency responsible for all matters related to information and communication technologies.

The inaugural ATU Africa Innovation Challenge that took place in 2020 recognized and awarded 11 finalists across Africa who had developed mobile applications helpful in benefiting Africa’s fight against COVID-19 and its effects.

Egypt’s Mai Nagy topped the competition, followed by Mr. Abdinoor Yerrow from Kenya and Ms. Bequerelle Matemtsap Mbou from Cameroon. Other countries that made it to the top 11 were Zimbabwe, Senegal, Lesotho, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benin, and Tanzania.

Reflecting on the first Innovation Challenge and the anticipated benefits of the second innovation Challenge, the title sponsor for the Challenge for two years in a row, Mr Samuel Chen, Vice President for Huawei Southern Africa Region, highlighted the strong partnership with ATU.

He noted that “Huawei is committed to developing innovations that bring the benefits of technology to all alongside supporting and enabling innovation and digital ecosystem development in Africa by Africans through training and partnerships alongside infrastructure and digital services.”

Participants will be required to submit (via the ATU website, www.atuuat.africa) a unique practice that has created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovation to thrive together with success stories of two innovators that are beneficiaries of the practice.

The practice must be an original idea/concept developed by the ecosystem stakeholder and must have been successfully implemented (and running) for a minimum of one year. It can be in the form of a policy, an initiative, or a programme.

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Innovation

54gene Wins World Economic Forum ‘Technology Pioneer’ Award

The World Economic Forum announced its selection of the 100 most promising Technology Pioneers of 2021 – companies that are shaping industries from healthcare to retail and many more.

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54gene, the health technology company deriving insights from the world’s most diverse populations to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges, was selected among hundreds of candidates as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers.”

Founded in 2019, the company generates genetic insights from research cohorts in the world’s most diverse populations to improve the development, availability and efficacy of therapeutics and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to all populations.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers are early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the use of new technologies and innovation that are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

With their selection as a Technology Pioneer, CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong will be invited to participate in the World Economic Forum activities, events and discussions throughout the year. 54gene will also contribute to Forum initiatives over the next two years, working with global leaders to help address key industry and societal issues.

“We’re excited to welcome 54gene to our 2021 cohort of Technology Pioneers,” says Susan Nesbitt, Head of the Global Innovators Community, World Economic Forum.

“54gene and its fellow pioneers are developing technologies that can help society solve some of its most pressing issues. We look forward to their contribution to the World Economic Forum in its commitment to improving the state of the world.”

“It is truly an honour to be recognised as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum,” said 54gene’s Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong.

“This is testament to the outstanding collective output of the 54gene team to address global health disparities and to imagine a world where precision medicine applies equally to all irrespective of one’s geographical location or economic status. There’s a long journey ahead and we look forward to continuing to collaborate and innovate with other mission-driven organizations all over the world.

For the first time in the community’s history, over 30% of the cohort is led by women. The firms also come from regions all around the world, extending their community far beyond Silicon Valley. This year’s cohort includes start-ups from 26 economies, with UAE, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe represented for the first time.

The diversity of these companies extends to their innovations as well. 2021 Tech Pioneer firms are shaping the future by advancing technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, blockchain, biotechnology and many more. The full list of Technology Pioneers can be found here.

Technology Pioneers have been selected based on the community’s selection criteria, which includes innovation, impact and leadership as well as the company’s relevance with the World Economic Forum’s Platforms.

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Mba-Uzoukwu @NDSF2021, Says Software Nigeria Has Key To National Development

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Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON)

President of the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) Mr. Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu has described the Internet as a leveller for education and prosperity in a digital economy, even as software Nigeria has the key and capacity to contribute to national development.

Mba-Uzoukwu disclosed this in his keynote address to the 2021 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D) held at the Golden Tulip Essential Hotel, International Airport Road, Lagos on Thursday, June 10.

The event was chaired by the President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Adesina Sodiya, who was represented by Dr. Olusoji Okunoye of the University of Lagos.

The theme of this year’s edition was ‘Digital Cooperation: Enhancing Multistakeholder Governance for Digital Economy.’

The ISPON president who dwelt on the “Role of Nigerian Software in Enhancing Governance in Digital Economy,” noted that there is nothing in human history as transformative as the Internet because it has largely changed everything.

He outlined some of these epochal changes to include the potential to level the playing field, namely education, healthcare, prosperity, lifestyle and well-being.

He also pointed out that humanity’s existence here was not a stand-alone, hence the imperative to recognize an ‘ecosystem’ in the technology space that is systemic in outlook.

Mba-Uzoukwu highlighted the point that in technology, the most intriguing ecosystem is the innovation ecosystem, a “human network that generates extraordinary creativity and output on a sustainable basis.”

Such an ecosystem, Mba-Uzoukwu said, performs best when it recognizes, synergizes and optimizes on the basis of a multi-stakeholder approach that accommodates the complexity of the ecosystem which creates dimensions of the impact that make governance an intentional mandate.

“Existence of telecommunication infrastructure, the first precondition to overcome the digital divide; current economic models for Internet access, place a disproportionate burden on developing countries, Challenges to financing access to backbones, ‘Free-rides’ of Over-The-Top services and challenges of balancing their contributions to telecom sectors of developing countries based on issues of taxation,” he said.

For instance, he said, global regulation of intellectual property rights paved the way for developing countries to access knowledge and information online, which led to the enthronement of “Truly, ‘Education For All’ for the first time in human history,” which avails developing countries to catch up, and this is the single most important factor.

This factor, he also said, encouraged ISPON to dare to dream again, which underscored the group’s answer in envisioning the growth of Software Nigeria into a world-class industry, and a key contributor to national development.

To realise this, the ISPON President revealed, they planned to sensitize the community about the local software industry; provide fora to share software development initiatives; aggressively support the expansion of Nigeria’s human capital, foster co-operation with Nigeria IT in the diaspora; cooperate with other countries to boost global exposure and competitiveness.

At the policy level, Mba-Uzoukwu said that the government, industry and academia, must continue to drive the evolution of policy across multiple dimensions including national security, intellectual property and privacy rights, education, information access and data sovereignty.

Education, for instance, he said, must be harnessed with the national aspirations to the potentials of technology for powering the pragmatic development of world-class, innovation cum oriented and entrepreneurial workforce, emphasising that employment and entrepreneurship must deploy technology in support of the genuine aspirations of Nigerian youth.

“Beginning with the National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS), we will create and expose opportunities for jobs and wealth creation through personal enterprise,” he declared.

The ISPON President further said that by nurturing innovation as a national capability, “we must be the advocates and platform for unleashing creativity and ingenuity of our people, particularly the youth and women whose access to opportunity is hindered.”

Mba-Uzoukwu underscored the fact that to achieve the World Summit on the Information Society, there is a need for a common vision, desire and commitment to building a people-centric, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information.

He cautioned that the implication of non-alignment to the above common vision, the concepts of social justice, merit and asynchronous development will not be part of its main drivers.

He noted that with the rapid diffusion of technology, “we must encourage a bridge-building, inclusive and partnering approach to community that embraces and empowers the youth, women and leverages on the experience of the elders.”

NDSF2021 witnessed other speakers including the Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSAT), Dr. Abimbola Alale who was represented by the Acting Manager Marketing, Mrs Ibiye Ukoko, Mr. Aderemi Adejumo of CloudFlex, Mr. Mohammed Rudman represented by Mr. Jacob Dagunduro, Executive Director, Operations at DigitalSENSE Africa Mrs. Nkem Nweke, and Mr. Francis Uzor or Wisdom Computer Technologies, among others.

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