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Ekeh, Zinox Group Boss Optimistic Nigeria Will Survive Economy Crunch

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Leo Stan Ekeh, icon of hope and chairman, Zinox Group, has expressed optimism that the Nigerian economy would survive the present challenges and rebound stronger,

Ekeh, Zinox Group Boss Optimistic Nigeria Will Survive Economy Crunch

Leo Stan Ekeh

The serial digital entrepreneur stated this during a mentorship programme with a select group of African foreign-based postgraduate students in the latest edition of an annual lecture series aimed at grooming the next generation of certified entrepreneurs.

While urging the budding entrepreneurs not to lose hope because of the ongoing difficulties in the macroeconomic environment, Ekeh expressed optimism that the African economy would survive the present challenges and rebound stronger.

‘‘The current challenges in the economy are not new. We have witnessed similar cycles in the past. But our economy has always shown resilience to rebound from them. Also, you must bear in mind that the difficulties are not only local. The global economy is passing through a period of intense stress, further worsened by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and potentially set to be impacted further by the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas.

‘‘In times like these, the failure rate of startups and other businesses increase. However, difficult times also represent periods of great opportunities. It is your responsibility to sniff out those opportunities which abound around you and take advantage of them.

‘‘You must always remember that to succeed, you cannot take pleasure before pain. In setting up your business, you must have a clear roadmap and vision. Hype is good and gets you noticed but you must work very hard behind the scenes to fill up the blank spaces with substance. Otherwise, the hype will fizzle out and you will have nothing concrete to stand on. You must also remain spiritually strong, retain a healthy risk appetite, and rely a lot on your intuition and common-sense logic to make a success of your venture. Finally, never forget that your passion must pay your bills,’’ he advised.

He also urged young business owners and startups in Africa to demonstrate a high level of integrity and diligence when executing government contracts as the quality of their country defines their future. ‘‘Government is the biggest spender in any economy. Some of you, while doing business, may get a chance to execute some projects for governments, whether at sub-national or Federal level. It is a call to service and an opportunity to prove the growing faith in our indigenous capacities.

‘‘Having the opportunity to execute a government contract must, therefore, be seen as a privilege and not as a chance to outrageously inflate figures, deliver shoddy outputs or unduly enrich yourself overnight. You must seize the opportunity to grow your social capital and open the doors for others to enjoy the confidence that has been reposed in you,” he further appealed.


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Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test

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A simple blood test could predict Parkinson’s disease seven years before symptoms appear, marking a “major step forward” in diagnosis of the condition.

Blood Test Could Predict Parkinson’s 7 Years before Symptoms – AI Test

Researchers believe early prediction and diagnosis would help in finding treatments that could slow or stop Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves.

The test uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the disease, which is caused by the death of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

When these nerve cells die or become impaired, they lose the ability to create a chemical called dopamine.

People with Parkinson’s are currently treated with dopamine replacement therapy after they have already developed symptoms, such as tremors or slowness of movement.

It is thought that early diagnosis and treatment would help protect the dopamine-producing brain cells.

Dr Michael Bartl, co-first-author of University Medical Centre Goettingen and Paracelsus-Elena-Klinik Kassel, alongside Dr Jenny Hallqvist, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, said: “By determining eight proteins in the blood, we can identify potential Parkinson’s patients several years in advance.

“This means that drug therapies could potentially be given at an earlier stage, which could possibly slow down disease progression or even prevent it from occurring.”

Professor David Dexter, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This research, co-funded by Parkinson’s UK, represents a major step forward in the search for a definitive and patient-friendly diagnostic test for Parkinson’s.

“Finding biological markers that can be identified and measured in the blood is much less invasive than a lumbar puncture, which is being used more and more in clinical research.”

The research found that when a branch of AI called machine learning analysed a panel of eight blood-based biomarkers whose concentrations are altered in patients with Parkinson’s, it could provide a diagnosis with 100% accuracy.

Professor Kevin Mills, senior author of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said: “As new therapies become available to treat Parkinson’s, we need to diagnose patients before they have developed the symptoms.

“We cannot regrow our brain cells and therefore we need to protect those that we have.

“At present we are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted and we need to start experimental treatments before patients develop symptoms.”

He added that with sufficient funding, it is hoped the test will be used by the NHS within two years.

The experts suggest that with further research this test could potentially distinguish between Parkinson’s and other conditions that have some early similarities.

The team also looked at whether the test could predict the likelihood of someone going on to develop Parkinson’s.

Blood from 72 patients with Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder (iRBD) was analysed as it is known that about 75% to 80% of these people will go on to develop a synucleinopathy – a type of brain disorder caused by the abnormal build-up of a protein called alpha-synuclein in brain cells – including Parkinson’s.

The patients were followed up over 10 years and researchers say the AI predictions have so far been correct, with the team correctly predicting 16 patients would go on to develop Parkinson’s and being able to do this up to seven years before the onset of any symptoms.

According to Parkinson’s UK, around one in 37 people alive today in the UK will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s in their lifetime, and there are 153,000 people already living with the condition.

The researchers are hoping to secure funding to create a simpler test where a drop of blood can be spotted on a card and posted to the lab to investigate if it can predict Parkinson’s even earlier than the seven years before the onset of symptoms in this study.

The research, which was funded by an EU Horizon 2020 grant, Parkinson’s UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Research GOSH Biomedical Research Centre, and the Szeben-Peto Foundation, is published in Nature Communications.

 

 

 


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NAICOM Seeks Police Support on Enforcement of Motor Third-party Insurance

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The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has asked the support of the Nigeria Police Force in advancing the insurance industry road map particularly in the enforcement of Motor Third- Party Insurance.

Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, commissioner for Insurance(CFI) /CEO of the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) made the request when he paid a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, at Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters, Abuja.

Omosehin said the purpose of the visit was to seek an audience with the IGP and the management of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), who are critical stakeholders aligned with NAICOM’s vision, to achieve its mandate, particularly in the area of compulsory insurance enforcement.

During the visit, the Commissioner for Insurance requested collaboration to advance the Nigerian insurance sector roadmap. He emphasised that it is unlawful for individuals to drive on the road without valid motor insurance (3rd party), he noted that less than a quarter of the vehicles have valid motor insurance.

The CFI stated that the visit aimed to seek NPF’s collaboration to ensure the enforcement of compulsory 3rd party motor insurance, as mandated by law.

The CFI also highlighted that in 2023, the ECOWAS Brown card has been captured in the upgraded premium for 3rd party motor insurance cover by NAICOM, allowing insured vehicles to travel across the West African sub-region.

Additionally, he noted that the benefits attached to the 3rd party insurance had been increased to N3 million.

To further this initiative, the CFI underscored the need for digitisation platforms to authenticate the validity of vehicle insurance. He mentioned that this system is already being implemented by the Lagos State government.

The CFI requested the establishment of a team to collaborate with the Commission in conducting enforcement actions, asserting that the success of this initiative would be a significant achievement for Nigeria.

In response, the IGP assured the CFI of the Nigerian Police Force’s full support in enforcing compulsory 3rd party insurance. He announced that a team, headed by the DIG Operations, would be set up to oversee the enforcement of compulsory insurance.

 


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Report Explores Surge in Fintech Innovation in Africa

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A new report by BDO Africa has explored how transformative technology within the African Fintech landscape has the potential to shape a more inclusive and prosperous future for the continent.

According to the Africa Fintech report, Africa is witnessing a groundbreaking surge in Fintech innovation, rapidly unlocking a continent brimming with economic potential.

For businesses to capitalise on this transformative technology, specialised guidance to navigate the complexities of regulation, competition, and technological integration is required.

“With the Fintech market expected to be worth around $65 billion by 2030, it is crucial for businesses to understand the minutia associated with recent advancements, ongoing challenges, and regional variations in the sector.

“As leading advisors in the Fintech space, we have compiled this report to bring clarity to navigating the complexities of the market in the hopes of empowering more businesses to join the race.”

Nevellan Moodley, Head of Financial Services Advisory at BDO, says. The report takes a deep and insightful dive into topics such as trends, opportunities and challenges, regional dynamics and the distinct Fintech ecosystems of Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa, the importance of establishing clear and harmonised regulatory frame works that balance innovation, consumer protection, financial stability, and cybersecurity in ensuring the security and trustworthiness of Fintech systems.

“The African fintech space is growing exponentially, but the development of the fintech ecosystem is still in the early stages,” says Keshan Pillay, Associate Director: Financial Services Technology BDO.

“By breaking down Africa’s FinTech landscape and providing real insights around the high level of fragmentation per country, we are removing the barriers that could be holding businesses back and providing guidance on reaping the full economic benefit of this growing market,” Keshan added.

As the market matures, Africa is on a trajectory to becoming the next globally recognized Fintech hub. “We can say with confidence that although there is still quite the way to go, the current state of Fintech in Africa is on the right path.

“We have seen the opportunity and are intent on leveraging our expertise to get more businesses into a state of readiness so that they are empowered to offer more customised solutions for niche population segments that keeps them sustainably growing.

“We are thrilled to be playing an active role in the continent’s journey to revolutionizing the financial services industry as we know it,” concludes Moodley.


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