Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, has said that the effective deployment of Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools in rural communities would help empower rural dwellers and stimulate increased economic activities in Africa.
He said by having access to adequate and the right information, the poverty level in rural communities in Africa could greatly be reduced.
Speaker Gbajabiamila expressed these views in a paper titled ‘Enhancing Information Communication Technology (ICT) Use in Providing Life-Changing Solutions in Rural Communities’ which he delivered at the ongoing 50th Regional Conference and the Annual General Meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Africa Region, taking place in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
A statement from the Speaker’s office signed by his Media Adviser, Lanre Lasisi stated that Gbajabiamila, who led the Nigerian delegation to the conference, moved a motion for the commencement of proceedings and the debate on the second day of the conference, saying policymakers must, through the policy-making and legislative process, ensure that the opportunities created by technological advancements are available to the people.
“Everywhere, from Africa to Europe, Asia to the Americas, policymakers are still trying to figure out this brave new world. It often feels as if the moment we reach an understanding of one paradigm, it changes again to reveal new vistas, new challenges, and opportunities. We cannot, and we do not seek to halt the march of technological progress. “In fact, we embrace it because we have seen how technology properly used can improve the circumstances of human life in every sector from education to health care, security, and commerce,” he said.
On how ICT could address poverty, Gbajabiamila said: “it can play a major role in addressing rural poverty and improving the economic well-being of the people through access to the adequate and right information.
“Rural communities in Nigeria and Africa as a whole are faced with the challenges of infrastructural deficit that would help stimulate development.
“This affects access to adequate and right information by the rural communities. The challenge is how to leverage the bountiful opportunities in the sector to improve service delivery in rural communities.”
In the area of agriculture, the Speaker said the deployment of ICT in the sector would increase efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of small-scale farms.
“The agricultural sector will be strengthened with the application of ICT as it opens up access to information. ICT increases the knowledge base and choices of farmers in terms of quality of soils, seedlings, management of drought and erosion as well as pest and disease control.
“It also provides farmers with useful and timely information on crops, animal husbandry, fertilizer and market prices. The corollary effect of all these is increased productivity and high income.”
On education, Gbajabiamila said: “The use of ICT in a dedicated manner within the education sector in the rural areas would help increase the literacy level of the rural population. There is a need to embark on an aggressive sensitization drive to educate the rural communities on the importance of ICT.
Speaker Gbajabiamila added that ICT could help connect rural areas to the outside world, which would make them enjoy access to information sharing for greater economic activities.
“The contact with the outside world would no doubt increase the volume of economic activities in the rural areas as the rural population becomes more aware of untapped opportunities and new ways of doing business.
“ICTs can increase access and mobilization of financial assets, particularly through the instrumentality of mobile banking and mobile finance. This would ultimately increase general economic activities in rural communities.”
In the area of healthcare, the Speaker said: “The use of ICT to deliver healthcare will enable healthcare professionals and institutions to address the critical medical needs of rural communities. This will bring about improvement in the health of rural dwellers and their economic well-being.”
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is 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.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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