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NITDA Pledges Support for Startups, Artificial Intelligence

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Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has pledged the government’s continued commitment to supporting startups in the country with necessary resources and initiatives in advancing research on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the country.

NITDA Pledges Support for Startups, Artificial Intelligence

Inuwa made this known at the weekend in Lagos at the Innovate Nigeria 2024 Conference & Expo, where he spoke on the role of government in advancing AI research and its implications for Nigeria’s economic future.

The DG, who was represented by Dr Aristotle Onumo, director of Corporate Planning and Strategy Department, NITDA, expressed gratitude to Nova Tech for organising and hosting the conference, while emphasising its timely nature amidst the rapid acceleration of AI’s transformative potential globally.

“There could not have been any better time to hold such a conference than now when the rapid acceleration of Artificial Intelligence presents an intriguing paradox, as its seemingly limitless potential promises to revolutionise every facet of life”, he said.

He underscored the correlation between government investment and advancements in AI, highlighting its projected market value surpassing $190 billion by 2025.

In the Nigerian government’s contributions to AI research, Inuwa outlined key initiatives, which include direct investment in research and development, establishment of collaborative ecosystems, formulation of policies and regulations, fostering international collaboration and supporting education and workforce development.

He emphatically stated that these contributions directly align with the government’s eight-point agenda, particularly emphasising the importance of creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

“It may interest the audience to note that the eight-point agenda of the present administration aptly captures the requirements of the government in terms of what needs to be done.”

“The 7th agenda, which is Accelerating Diversification through Industrialisation, Digitisation, Creative Arts, Manufacturing and Innovation resonates with the specific role of government in AI research upon which democratisation of digital service to create more economic value anchors”, he mentioned.

Inuwa further elucidated on NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan which aims to elevate the country’s AI research ranking and foster digital literacy and talent development.

While emphasising the need for collaboration and partnership frameworks to fund research as well as the government’s efforts in nurturing a vibrant innovation ecosystem, he said that the Agency’s subsidiary, the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is opened 24 hours a day to guide, nurture and support startups through the journey of conceptualising their ideas all through to the level of impact and commercialisation.

Inuwa reiterated the transformative potential of AI in driving economic prosperity and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the government and the ecosystem towards exploring new frontiers of knowledge.

 

 


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E-Business

9mobile Commemorates Stop Cyberbullying Day

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In commemorating the 2024 Stop Cyberbullying Day, 9mobile, Nigeria’s customer-friendly network held an enlightening online session titled “Cyberbullying vs Free Speech: The Reality, The Difference, and Our Responsibility.”

The event took place on X Space and featured distinguished experts from the media, mental health, and legal sectors who provided insights and answered questions from the participating audience.

The online session brought together voices from diverse fields to dissect the fine line between free speech and cyberbullying. Participants explored the reality of cyberbullying, its impact on individuals and communities, and the differences between harmful behaviour and exercising free speech.

The event underscored the shared responsibility of individuals, corporations, and society in fostering a safe online environment.

The expert panel included: Nikki Laoye, a talented musician, radio host and entrepreneur; Precious Richard-Okon, Plus-size Lifestyle and Dance Content creator; Alice Okoro, Manager, Legal Services for 9mobile and Amara Ruth Esomchi, Certified Health Worker and Therapist.

Talented musician and radio host Nikki Laoye, said that while people are at liberty to make comments on social media, it is important to checkmate bullies on the internet. “I am a radio personality, musician, humanitarian among other things, and I relate with different people across board.

This has opened me up to cyberbullying, but I have learnt how to handle these situations. I agree that people are free to express their opinions, but I know when to put a stop to insults and bullies when necessary”.

Legal expert Alice Okoro highlighted that the right to free speech and freedom of expression is often used as an excuse for cyberbullying. She said, “The Nigerian constitution grants us the right to talk freely, express our opinions, and disseminate information on the internet.

However, there is no fundamental human right in the constitution that is absolute. This means that every right that is granted in the Constitution has limits, and free speech is limited in such a way that individuals are expected to express themselves without contravening any law or provision of the Constitution.”

Okoro further explained that there is major legislation to curb cyberbullying and stalking captured in the Cyber Crimes Act of 2015.

This act seeks to prevent cyber-related offenses such as cyberbullying, online harassment, and cyberstalking among others. Offenders who are guilty of these crimes can be sentenced to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to seven million naira, or both. Repeat offenders can be sentenced to a fine of up to fifteen million naira.

Plus-size Lifestyle content creator and Senior business executive, Precious Richard-Okon, also shared her first-hand experience in the online space and tips on how to navigate effectively.

Public Relations Lead at 9mobile, Chineze Amanfo, emphasized the company’s commitment to promoting responsible online behaviour and the pivotal role of telcos in this endeavour.

She stated, “At 9mobile, we recognize our responsibility to promote causes that shape the digital landscape to ensure it is safe and conducive for all users. We are dedicated to creating platforms encouraging positive engagement and providing users with the tools and knowledge to navigate the internet safely.”

“Our efforts extend beyond connectivity. We are actively involved in educating the public on the importance of responsible online behaviour and regularly disseminate information on how to manage and counter the effects of cyberbullying.

By hosting events like this, we aim to empower our customers and internet users with the understanding and resources needed to combat online harassment and uphold the principles of free speech responsibly,” Amanfo remarked.

As a forward-thinking telecommunications company, 9mobile remains committed to leveraging its platform to foster an inclusive and respectful online community. The company continues to champion initiatives that protect and educate its users, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable digital experience for all.

 


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Outdated Tech Holding Back Innovation in Organizations

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A new report by a leading global IT infrastructure and services company, NTT DATA has revealed that 80 per cent of organizations have agreed that inadequate or outdated technology is holding back organizational progress and innovation efforts.

In fact, 94 per cent of C-suite executives believe legacy infrastructure is greatly hindering their business agility.

These findings come from NTT DATA’s inaugural Lifecycle Management Report. The report, which leverages 25 years of data-led insights from NTT DATA, explores the challenges and opportunities that exist for organizations as they navigate infrastructure lifecycle management.

The research was conducted over 2022 and 2023, gathering data from over 248 million active assets across 130 countries and supported with responses from up to 1400 senior technology decision makers.

Lifecycle management is a critical enabler of business success. Unfortunately, rapid modernization, and the proliferation of technology consumption models, coupled with an increasingly complicated and fragmented supplier ecosystem, make it difficult for many organisations to adequately maintain their technology infrastructure in a way that fosters business agility and innovation.

Compounding issues, the report finds that more than two thirds (69%) of currently active hardware (with scheduled last day of support) will no longer be supported by 2027.

According to the report, just 51 per cent of enterprises have fully aligned their technology approach to their business strategy needs, while 71 per cent of organizations say their network assets are mostly ageing or obsolete.

Unfortunately, lifecycle management can also have an even more direct impact on operations. Misaligned lifecycle patterns can result in inappropriate coverage levels, laborintensive renewals, extended incident resolution times, security breaches, and even costly license violations and compliance issues.

Gary Middleton, Vice President of Networking GTM at NTT DATA, said: “Infrastructure lifecycles are a critical part of the IT management process. They represent an opportunity and a challenge for leadership, as effective lifecycles can result in huge business benefits – from increased efficiency to fostering greater innovation. “However, inefficient lifecycle management can equally be a meaningful operational blocker, posing numerous risks to security and business continuity.

“Through the Lifecycle Management Report, our aim is to help organizations enhance their infrastructure lifecycle processes and unlock the huge benefits doing so presents.”

It would be recalled that an earlier report by PwC had indicated that in Africa, the tech-ecosystem had experienced impressive growth and is evolving rapidly.

It noted that there was a high level of optimism about the potential that the continent has to offer by harnessing the strength of its largely young, rapidly growing and technology savvy population.

“Nigeria is one of the continent’s more established startup ecosystems, with firms like Interswitch dating as far back as 2002. “Albeit the growing tech-sector in the Nigerian economy and significant private funding secured by African tech start-ups over the years, the tech sector is grossly underrepresented in the Nigerian capital market “ the report said.

It also highlighter that the future of countries, businesses, and individuals would be more dependent than ever on their adoption of technology, adding that economic vibrancy and wealth creation in developed countries had been associated with technological advancements and digital innovation & transformation.

“Today, most of the companies with the world’s largest market capitalizations are tech companies that generate much of their revenue from the digital ecosystems they created. This is a significant change from the early 2000s to this current time,” the report added.

 


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DisCos’ revenue rose by 17% to N291bn in Q1 2024 – NBS

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National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed that electricity distribution companies (DisCos) in Nigeria made a total of N291.62 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.

NBS, in its latest report on electricity for Q1 2024, released on Sunday, June 23 also said there was a decline in electricity supply in the period reviewed.

The revenue by DisCos rose by 17.91 percent compared to the N247.33 billion recorded in Q1 of 2023, the bureau said.

According to the bureau, power supply dropped from 6,432.22 gigawats per hour (Gwh) in Q4 2023 to 5,769.52 (Gwh) in Q1 2024 but on a year-on-year basis, electricity supply decreased by 1.41 percent compared to 5,851.87 (Gwh) reported in Q1 2023, NBS said.

“Revenue collected by the DisCos during the period was N291.62 billion from N294.95 billion in Q4 2023, “the report reads.“On a year-on-year basis, revenue generated in the reference period rose by 17.91% from N247.33 billion recorded in Q1 2023.”

The NBS also said the total number of customers stood at 12.33 million in Q1 — up from 12.12 million in Q4 2023 — representing an increase of 1.78 percent.

“On a year-on-year basis, customer numbers in Q1 2024 rose by 9.47% from 11.27 million reported in Q1 2023,” the bureau said.

“Similarly, metered customers stood at 5.91 million in Q1 2024, indicating a growth of 5.38% from 5.61 million recorded in the preceding quarter.

“On a year-on-year basis, this grew by 11.26% from the figure reported in Q1 2023 which was 5.31 million.”


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