Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), says the creation of three million jobs in the digital technology sector was achievable within the next four years.
Inuwa stated this on the sidelines of a Public Sector Digital Innovation Summit on Friday in Abuja, organised by Datamellon in partnership with AWS (Amazon Web Services).
He was represented by Bernard Ewah, the acting Director, e-Government Development and Regulation at NITDA.
Inuwa said that the agency was currently working with the public and the private sector to surpass the target before 2027.
He said through the initiative, the Federal Government will work with stakeholders to train three million technical talents.
The director general said job placement would be given priority, and the level of digital literacy of the population would increase by 70 per cent by the end of 2027.
“If you look at the share size of our population that translates to potential producers of talents.
“Our talents have proven to be very productive in the country and are also recognised everywhere in the world.
“These can be seen in the number of innovations that have come out of Nigeria.
“The sheer size of demand for talents globally means that Nigeria is been modest in our projection, but we have to start somewhere and then scale up,” he said.
He said that NITDA has always played a role in creating the right path towards developing talents for Nigeria.
Inuwa said the agency would continue to lend its support and work in collaboration with its partners, on behalf of the Federal government and the Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy.
“NITDA is working with an ecosystem of partners to ensure that the right sets of policies and actions are taken to democratise the space.
“Our goal is to make it easier for not only government organisations to have Web presence but also for citizens to access services seamlessly.
“What we are experiencing today with the public sector innovation summit is a manifestation of NITDA’s age-long philosophy of engagement with a broad spectrum of stakeholders,” he said.
He said that government cannot do it alone, adding that all the relevant stakeholders must come together to ensure the success of the sector.
“For instance, even in our key mandate of developing policies, we no longer sit in our offices to develop policies.
“We engage and co-create policies that is the only way that we can create policies that can be useful and highly impactful to stakeholders.
“So, policy making for us is not the perogative of NITDA alone. It involves the poor person on the street and that’s why this engagement is considered useful and important to us,” he said.
Also speaking, CEO of Datamellon, Mr Wale Adedeji, said the summit was an event set to revolutionise the public sector technology in the country.
Adedeji said that the company is a digital firm dedicated to revolutionising the landscape of digital sector innovation.
“Our mission is to empower government and organisations with cutting-edge technology, enabling them to serve their citizens better, faster and smarter.
“In the digital age, data is the new currency and the overall goal of AWS is all about cost reduction and making sure that you get real value for whatever services provided,” he said.
He said the objective of the summit, amongst others was to unlock the Power of AWS and explore how it is reshaping government agencies’ operations with cutting-edge cloud solutions.
Adedeji said the participants had an opportunity of networking with experts and connect with industry professionals, government leaders, and AWS experts for valuable insights and collaborations.
20 mPulse Spelling Bee Finalists Battle for 18M Worth of Prizes @Grand Finale
Twenty finalists will compete for 18 million naira in prizes at the 2023 MTN mPulse Spelling Bee finale.
Following participation from over 12,000 contestants, the top 20 finalists are students between the ages of 9 and 15 from Nigerian primary and secondary schools. The finalists will compete for prizes worth over N18 million, the opportunity to be the face of mPulse for a year, and the chance to be MTN Nigeria’s CEO for a day.
Teachers of the top three contestants will also receive cash prizes, and the winning school will receive 10 laptops and 10 Hynet modems, as well as cutting-edge ICT devices, from MTN.
The finale, which will take place on December 2, 2023, at the MTN Plaza, Falomo, Ikoyi and will be streamed live on the mPulse YouTube channel, will feature contestants, school representatives, teachers, and parents who will attend to cheer on their wards to victory where contestants are expected to spell words of varying difficulty at a higher level than in previous rounds.
The mPulse Spelling Bee Competition is an annual competition for students aged 9 to 15 in primary and secondary schools across Nigeria, with the goal of encouraging academic growth, and self-improvement, promoting healthy competition among peers, and utilising their full potential.
The MTN mPulse Spelling Bee is a cornerstone of MTN’s commitment to educational empowerment, and it aligns with the company’s vision of contributing to national development by investing in the intellectual capital of the next generation.
IBM Advances Geospatial AI to Address Climate Challenges
IBM has announced new efforts that apply its geospatial AI technologies, including IBM’s geospatial foundation model developed in collaboration with NASA, to climate efforts including analysis of urban heat islands in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); reforestation across Kenya; and climate resiliency in the United Kingdom (UK).
IBM continues to advance its AI model strategy in part through the creation, training, fine-tuning and open-sourcing of foundation models – models that can be used for different tasks and apply information from one situation to another – designed for domains beyond natural language, including geospatial applications.
These models, which are trained on geospatial information such as satellite images, present a unique opportunity to address climate change because unlike traditional AI models tailored for specialized tasks, geospatial foundation models – encompassing satellite and weather data – create knowledge representations from petabytes and exabytes of climate-relevant data that can facilitate accelerated and streamlined discovery of environmental insights and solutions.
These models can also be fine-tuned and applied across a multitude of areas driving or revealing climate change, from flood detection to fire scars.
“Climate change is a real and pressing issue that we must find new ways to address as quickly and efficiently as possible, including through today’s most advanced AI technologies,” said Alessandro Curioni, IBM Fellow and Vice President, Accelerated Discovery at IBM.
“AI foundation models utilizing geospatial data can be a game-changer because they allow us to better understand, prepare and address the many climate-related events effecting the health of our planet in a manner and speed never before seen.
“We are hopeful these technologies can help accelerate the rate at which we derive and apply solutions for a safer and healthier planet for future generations.”
Analyzing urban heat islands in the UAE
By the end of this century, many cities will likely experience disruptive and excessive heat waves if GHG emissions continue at high levels. To develop sustainable and equitable plans to keep cities habitable, the rising heat levels must be accurately mapped and addressed.
IBM and the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) are pioneering an attempt to apply foundation models to the mapping of urban heat islands – areas with significantly higher temperatures compared to surrounding locations.
This innovative research specifically applies a fine-tuned version of IBM’s geospatial foundation model to understand the urban environment in Abu Dhabi and how the underlying landscape in the UAE impacts the formation of urban heat islands.
To date, the model has informed efforts that have succeeded in a reduction of heat island effects in the region by more than 3oC (5.4 F). Going forward, the model is expected to continue to provide unique insights that inform the development of urban design strategies designed to help reduce urban heat stress in changing climates.
Professor Tim Baldwin, MBZUAI Acting Provost, said: “Our collaboration with IBM marks a groundbreaking effort to utilize foundational AI models in analyzing and identifying solutions to urban heat islands for Abu Dhabi and parts of the UAE, a region which is particularly affected by climate change.
“This research underscores the vital role of AI in tackling global issues, emphasizing the urgency of continued exploration and innovation. By harnessing the power of AI, we are not merely addressing challenges; we are proactively shaping solutions for a sustainable future.
“In a world confronted by unprecedented challenges, MBZUAI stands at the forefront of pioneering research in AI, recognizing the transformative power it holds.”
Advancing reforestation and water sustainability in Kenya
In December 2022, President of Kenya H.E. D.R William Ruto unveiled the National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign designed to plant 15 billion trees across Kenya by 2032, including in areas of critically affected water towers – forested landscapes that retain water and source many rivers throughout Kenya. While water towers account for about three quarters of the nation’s water resources, deforestation is contributing to increasing water scarcity in these regions.
IBM and the Kenyan government’s office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change Ali Mohamed have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support the National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign through a new “adopt-a-water-tower” initiative.
The effort will be fueled by a new digital platform that leverages IBM’s geospatial foundation model to enable users to track and visualize tree planting and tree growing activities in specific water tower areas.
Local developers can also create fine-tuned models combining the IBM geospatial model with their own localized information to monitor forest restoration and measure above-ground biomass such as sequestered carbon, ultimately mobilizing on-the-ground efforts to plant more trees across Kenya’s water tower regions.
The President’s Spokesperson, Mr. Hussein Mohamed, MBS, said: “We recognize that technology plays a pivotal role in unlocking our full potential, optimizing resource utilization, and seizing opportunities. It serves as a means to ensure that we harness our resources most effectively to drive our grassroots-driven economic transformation agenda.
“Through our partnership with IBM, we have the capability of harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and geospatial data to advance our climate ambitions.
“These ambitions include planting 15 billion trees, rejuvenating our vital water towers, fostering increased collaboration with the private sector to promote a just energy transition for communities around our forests. Simultaneously, this collaboration will enhance our capacity to equitably participate in the carbon economy.
The potential of this collaboration extends beyond our borders and has the capacity to be replicated in other nations seeking to enhance their forest cover while also improving the economic and health well-being of their communities.”
Elevating climate resiliency across the United Kingdom
In 2021, IBM and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Hartree Centre collaborated to explore the application of next-generation technologies including AI from IBM to address climate risk and resiliency across the UK.
Now, IBM, STFC and Royal HaskoningDHV, a global consulting engineering company, have collaborated to establish a new service, leveraging IBM’s geospatial AI tools, that seeks to automate and scale climate risk assessment processes for organizations. The service’s first use case will focus on the aviation sector, in which IBM’s geospatial AI will assess impacts weather-related issues, including:
- Short-term impact of extreme weather on aviation operations.
- Long-term impact of climate change on future airport operations and infrastructure.
In addition, IBM and STFC Hartree Centre, through the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation, are advancing a new area of research with Dark Matter Labs and Lucidminds , as part of their TreesAI project. The research project will apply IBM geospatial AI technologies to their Green Urban Scenarios (GUS) model to map urban locations where trees can be planted to help alleviate the risk of surface water flooding. The effort will eventually inform an end-to-end digital planning platform for urban planners , project developers and green urban investors across the UK.
Kate Royse, Director at STFC’s Hartree Centre, said: “There has never been a more important time to prepare for the challenges posed by climate change, both from an industrial and societal perspective. Here at STFC’s Hartree Centre we’re excited to be working with IBM and Royal HaskoningDHV, using advanced AI technologies to help the aviation industry prepare for climate risks, and become more resilient against the effects of extreme weather. Equally, our collaboration with IBM and Dark Matter Labs on the TreesAI project through our HNCDI programme will enable smarter decisions based on accurately predicting and managing flood risk, which is critical to all future city planning. Advanced AI technologies are key driver in enabling us to build a more resilient world against the adverse impacts of climate change.”
Djeevan Schiferli, Climate Intelligence Business Strategist, Royal HaskoningDHV said: “Operational and strategic planners in every company require a clear understanding of how weather and climate-related incidents affect their business operations. By harnessing AI and geospatial data, we will super charge our climate risk assessments on a global scale.”
Chloe Treger, TreesAI UK Lead, said: “Over 300,000 properties are at risk of surface-water flooding. Without action, this figure is set to almost double by 2055 due to climate change and urbanisation. Through our collaboration with IBM and STFC, we have been able to observe how trees contribute to reducing surface water flooding risks across the city under different scenarios, using GUS. This has enabled us and our partners to make the business case for tree planting and maintenance. After a successful pilot in Glasgow, we are now looking for further locations to embed this powerful data-enabled decision-making tool.”
Extending NASA collaboration to apply generative AI to weather
Beyond their initial commitment to build and deploy a geospatial foundation model, IBM and NASA have also announced work on a new, separate AI foundation model for weather and climate. By applying AI technology from IBM, the model aims to improve the accuracy, speed and affordability of weather forecasting and other climate applications. Sample applications of the model not only include forecasting, but also super-resolution downscaling, identifying conditions conducive to wildfires, and predicting meteorological phenomena. IBM researchers will work alongside NASA domain experts to train and validate the model.
COP28: NASENI EVC, Halilu To Speak On Homegrown Technologies For Rural Electrification In Dubai
Mr. Khalil Suleiman Halilu, executive vice chairman/chief executive officer (EVC/CEO), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), is set to detail the Agency’s plans and strategies for rural electrification in Nigeria using homegrown technologies.
The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, though officially opened today, 30th November 2023, also known as Conference of the Parties (COP28), holding at the Expo City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) will see Mr. Halilu on December 3rd, 2023, to deliver opening remarks and also participate at a panel session titled ‘Advancing Sustainable Rural Electrification through Homegrown Technologies’
The COP28 also referred to as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) will hold from November 30 to December 12, 2023, and is intended for governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change.
The event will be graced by Presidents and Heads of State, government officials, business leaders, investors, development partners, civil society organizations, academics and media.
Halilu, NASENI’s EVC/CEO during the panel session, to be moderated by Al Amin Idris, ceo of Interface Africa, will speak alongside Gunther Beger, Managing Director of the Directorate for SDG Innovation and Economic Transformation, UNIDO; Gov Mohammed Umar Bago, Governor of Niger State, Nigeria; and Miklós Veszprémi, Climate & Sustainability Expert Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The NASENI boss is expected to discuss the roles which NASENI currently is playing, back home, to promote development and adoption of homegrown technologies for rural electrification in Nigeria as well as other initiatives undertaken to advance sustainable rural electrification in the country.
Mr. Halilu since assumption of office in September 2023 has made sustainable rural electrification via renewable energies one of his key priorities, having embarked on partnership commitments with government agencies and companies such as Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and Family Homes Funds Limited (FHFL) to ensure rural communities are provided with affordable renewable energy solutions and also homes. This is being accomplished through provision of fund toward research and development, facilitating technology transfer, and support for commercialization of innovative solutions.
In September, NASENI and REA agreed to work together to deploy NASENI solar resources and other renewable energy technologies to increase electricity supply to Nigeria’s rural areas. Also in November, the Family Homes Funds Limited signed an MoU with the Agency to promote modern and sustainable building designs for affordable housing across Nigeria. According to NASENI’s EVC during the MoU signing event with FHFL, he said “the Agency will contribute toward reducing the cost of building materials so that Nigerians can build, own homes and to deploy affordable solar energy solutions”
Family Homes Funds Ltd is a limited liability company owned by the federal government of Nigeria and represented by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
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