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Google Commits $50m to Close Education Gap

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Google’s philanthropic arm wants to back nonprofits using tech to bring educational resources to kids around the world in need.

There are 130 million students around the world who haven’t learned basic math or reading, even after being in school for several years, according to UNESCO.

Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, wants to whittle down that number. Over the next two years, it’s giving $50 million in grants to nonprofits focused on improving education in developing countries using tech-based learning tools, the company said Tuesday. There are nine grantees so far, and Google.org intends to give grants to nonprofits in 20 countries by the end of the year.

“Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective,” Brigitte Hoyer-Gosselink, the education lead for Google.org, said in a blog post.

These grants are aimed at three main areas: getting to students in combat zones, providing quality learning materials and aiding in teacher development.

Tackling the education gap, or the disparity between the performance of certain groups of students, is just one of Google.org’s priorities. It’s invested in nonprofits supporting a variety of causes, including racial justice, refugees and migrants, and diseases like Zika and Ebola. It gives about $100 million in grants every year. In the past five years, it’s given $110 million, just aimed at closing the education gap. In February, Google.org announced $11.5 million in grants for racial justice organizations.

In addition to donating grant money, Google’s employees volunteer their time. For example, engineers and product folks will spend four weeks with Learning Equality, a nonprofit organization that creates open-source software delivering things like books, quizzes and video tutorials to people without reliable internet access. Google employees will work on issues like video-compression technology, user experience and content integration.

Learning Equality’s $5 million grant will go toward developing a platform called Kolibri, which gives kids in areas with limited internet connectivity access to learning resources.

“We’re thrilled that Google.org and our fellow grantees are so aligned in this shared effort to close the learning gaps in global education by enabling universal access to tools, content, and pedagogy that support the success of both students and teachers,” Jamie Alexandre, Learning Equality’s co-founder and executive director, said in a statement.

Other grant recipients include Khan Academy, Million Sparks Foundation, Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver, Pratham Education Foundation and War Child Holland.

Google.org has also given a grant to the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which is actor George and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney’s organization for the education of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

Other tech companies have taken up philanthropic causes over the years. Salesforce has partnered with and supported public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Facebook’s Internet.org includes several initiatives to bring connectivity to everyone, like a solar-powered drone named Aquila delivering Wi-Fi, or Free Basics, which provides basic websites relating to jobs, news and education for folks without connectivity.


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CSCS Sensitizes Financial Market Stakeholders on Cyber-Security

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Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, Nigeria’s capital market infrastructure, sustains cyber-security advocacy as it sensitizes financial market participants on rising rate of cybercrime.

In a webinar organized by CSCS, financial market stakeholders, including bankers and capital market operators dialogued on innovative measures for preventing cybercrimes, dire need for increased campaign and exigency of collaborative investments to reign the rising rate of cybercrime.

The online event themed “Cyber Security and Information During the Pandemic” was lauded for its timeliness, as COVID-19 pandemic and attendant remote connections may have increased cyber-security risks in many organizations, particularly as the crime rate surges globally, with rising exposure of financial services institutions in Nigeria and the broader African continent.

The event which was widely attended with participants from the banking sector, capital market and public service, had Mr. Tobe Nnadozie (Divisional Head, Technology and Innovations, CSCS Plc), Mr. Bharat Soni (Chief Information Security Officer, GTBank Plc) and Mr. Ikechukwu Ugoji (Chief Information Security Officer, Interswitch Limited) as panelists.

Speaking on the event, Mr. Haruna Jalo-Waziri, the Chief Executive Officer, CSCS Plc, noted that “cybersecurity is a collective effort and everyone must play their role to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the financial market.

The pandemic and its attendant remote connections occasioned by business continuity and work-from-home protocols have increased exposures to cyber-security risks and some businesses may have suffered colossal losses due to cyberattacks since the pandemic.

More than ever, cyberattacks are like a double whammy at this challenging time when businesses are re-strategizing to adapt to the new normal and ensure sustainability.”

Mr. Femi Onifade, the Chief Strategy Officer, CSCS Plc reiterated the CEO’s perspective, noting that “a breach on any market participant’s network may inadvertently expose the entire system, thus reinforcing why we must collaborate to prevent any vulnerabilities in the financial system and why all participants and stakeholders must take active and effective measures in ensuring and sustaining cyber-resilience.”

While speaking at the event, Mr. Bharat Soni said, “new work culture has expanded remote activities and cloud capabilities to an unprecedented level, thereby making businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as online scams and phishing, disruptive malware, malicious domains amongst others.

Hence, the use of strong authentication for accessing networks would no longer be an option but a necessity.” He concluded that “Awareness of the new realities of safe cyber practices need to be communicated to employees, partners and customers so that they can remain aware of the evolving cyber threat and how to best protect themselves and their organizations”.

In the same vein, Mr. Ikechukwu Ugoji said, “over 90% of cyber breaches are facilitated by phishing email or social engineering attack and that every employee is a first-line of defence against incoming threats and employees must be made to understand their vital roles and responsibility in protecting the organization.”

On his part, Mr. Tobe Nnadozie, posited that “the pattern of spend on cybersecurity shows clearly that organizations are making relevant investments to protect their systems and broader market, albeit sadly, lack of vigilance is the leading cause of breaches”.


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Muoghalu, Kukah Headline ARCAN Lectures

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Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) has lined up a two-week long, five-lecture series to commemorate the 60th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria.

Muoghalu, Kukah Headline ARCAN Lectures

Ambassador Joe Keshi

The lecture series scheduled to commence from Tuesday September, 22 through to Tuesday, October 6 2020 is themed Nigeria @ 60- The Journey So Far.

Dr. Kingsley Muoghalu, former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and a presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election is expected to kick off the lecture series on Tuesday. He speaks on the topic: Nationhood, Development and Democracy in Nigeria.

Other speakers include the highly revered Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who would be speaking on Thursday, September 24 on the topic: 60 years of Nigeria’s Journey to Democracy: Hopes and Impediments.

Dr Vanessa Iwowo, an award-winning management scholar takes the stage on Monday 28 September, 2020 and she would dwell on the topic: [email protected]: Leadership, Democracy and the Politics of Identity.

Tuesday, 29th September, 2020  would be the turn of political activist and scholar Dr. Usman Bugaje to explore the topic: 60 years of Nation-Building: The Management of Our Diversity, Resources and Nation-Building.

Erudite scholar and specialist in International Relations, Prof W. Alade Fawole, is billed to speak on Tuesday 6th October, 2020 on the topic: Nigeria in International Affairs: Prognosis for the next Sixty Years.

The host, Ambassador Joe Keshi, said remarks would be made by an array of eminent Nigerians including ARCAN President, Amb J.K Shinkaiye, ARCAN’s Doyen , Amb Ignatius C. Olisemeka and other eminent Nigerians and diplomats.

According to Keshi, “the series will review the state of our nation in the last 60 years and how the lofty dreams of our founding fathers of building a just and equitable nation where no man is oppressed can be truly attained.

“Additionally, it will review the impact of domestic policies on our foreign policy pursuits and engagement, and above all, offer a futuristic vision of what our foreign policy priorities in the next 60 years should be like,” he said.


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Ene-Obong, CEO of 54gene Selected as Endeavor Entrepreneur

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Endeavor has welcomed a new entrepreneur into its global network; Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong of 54gene, was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur on September 17, 2020.

54gene is a health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics and clinical programs. 54gene joins 10 other Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies in Nigeria, and over 1,300 in Endeavor’s 37 markets across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America.

Endeavor is a mission-driven organisation that is leading the global movement for high-impact entrepreneurs and their companies. Endeavor Nigeria selects, mentors and accelerates the best high-impact entrepreneurs in the region, supporting them to scale their companies and drive economic growth.

As well as 54gene, this year, Endeavor has welcomed the founders of Daystar Power, Migo and Kobo360 into its local and global network.

Africa is home to the most genetically diverse population in the world. However, less than 3% of the continent’s genomic data is available for research purposes making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information used for medical discoveries.

54gene is solving this challenge and equalising the access to precision medicine through the advancement of the state of healthcare in Nigeria and on the continent. This is being achieved through local clinical research programs and advanced molecular diagnostics.

“54gene is a critical part of the continent’s push to equalize access to precision medicine for millions of Africans. The rapid pace at which the company has scaled over the past year is testament to Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong’s leadership, his drive and talented team.

He is an inspiration to other high-impact entrepreneurs in Nigeria and we are thrilled to welcome him into the Endeavor network.” Says Eloho Omame, Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor in Nigeria.

Since launching in 2019, 54gene has scaled its operations in generating novel insights in human genetics research that will lead to high impact health discoveries. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, 54gene raised funds to increase the country’s testing capacity and launched mobile laboratories across 5 Nigerian states.

The company has raised $21 million in investment and also launched the African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG) to fund the study of Non-Communicable Diseases in 100,000 Nigerians.

In September of this year, the company announced a partnership with Illumina to establish a world class genomics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, which will help expand its sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics offering.

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Founder of 54gene, says, “It is an absolute honour to be selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur. We started 54gene to significantly improve the inclusion of African populations in global genomics research and I am glad to see our work is being recognised.

“Our mission is to continue driving innovation and change in research and I look forward to the opportunities that arise as a result of being supported by the global Endeavor network in expanding 54gene’s impact globally.”

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong was successfully selected as part of a cohort of 9 entrepreneurs from 6 markets. With the recent addition of 54gene, Endeavor Nigeria now supports 17 entrepreneurs who lead 11 scale-up stage companies in Nigeria, spanning lifesciences, fintech, renewable energy, entertainment, logistics and retail.


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