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NITDA Pledges to Ensure Sustainable Solutions for Small Holder Farmers

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In order to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) in the Agricultural Sector and make access to digital technologies more equitable, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE has restated the Agency’s commitment to ensure sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers in the country.

Inuwa reiterated this during a working visit on him by the Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs Dede Ekoue.

The Director-General maintained that NITDA has continued to undertake several initiatives towards supporting smallholder farmers and enhancing productivity within the farming sector.

“It is part of our mandate to improve National Food Security through Information Technology (I.T) because globally today, I.T is regarded as one of, if not the best tool(s) when it comes to enhancing productivity in Agriculture, as it is evident, how Smart Agriculture is really increasing food production around the world”.

“We strongly believe that if we in Nigeria embrace this technology, it can be a game changer in the sector”, Inuwa asserted.

Beyond utilising ICT to improve food productivity for subsistence farmers, the DG was also assertive that it will attract the youthful population to take up farming as a business which he said would somewhat retire the narrative that ‘farming is an activity solely for people in suburbs or villages’.

“With technology, you can have a farm at the backyard of your house in the city, you can even explore vertical farming, in developed countries, some do theirs on the rooftop or indoors”.

“So, the technology is available and with the strong belief in our ingenuities, we can do something similar if not better”, Inuwa averred.

While briefing his guests on some of NITDA’s collaborations and efforts in the sector, Inuwa recalled that the Agency had since started a relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture which took off with the development of “Smart Agric Strategy” for them, followed by some initiatives like NAVSA, e.t.c.

“We also collaborate with private sectors, multinational companies and high institutions like Universities, where we leverage on their research centres to create clusters and the ecosystem as well, as we always urge them to come for proof of concept on different technologies”.

“Suffice it to say that we strongly believe in collaboration because we know that the success of digital transformation does not rest on the individual but the collective approach of the ecosystem, and that explains why we always insist on carrying everyone along with us”, the Director-General avowed.

About the partnership request by IFAD for the Agency to participate in its forthcoming policy dialogue, and explore other possible channels/areas to collaborate on, the NITDA Boss appreciated the hand of friendship extended to the Organisation and confirm the Agency’s readiness to come on board, noting that it is NITDA’s culture to partner any individual, group or body that has a viable proposition targeted at adding value to Nigeria and Nigerians.

“It is not only about the policy dialogue, when you are done with that, like the last one we were part of, don’t forget to reach out to us during your capacity building plans because we can benefit from that as well, especially to update the knowledge of our teammates”

“The goal is to expand our horizons and we are already working with Abuja Technology Village to build all these technologies on the farmland we secured, so, this visit will definitely help us know how to go about that”, Inuwa said.

He assured the IFAD team of NITDA’s unflinching resolve to deepen the partnership between the two organisations and welcome other bodies they highlighted would be brought in.

Mrs Dede Ekoue, the Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who led the delegation, earlier informed NITDA’s Management team that the visit was to strengthen the existing partnership and thank the Agency for its support at different times it was sought after, particularly for the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on ICT4D for smallholder farmers that was held in May, 2023.

Mrs Ekoue went on to explain that the Dialogue helped the team undertake several activities, including capacity building, exchange of visits, among others.

“Now, we are going to have another policy dialogue to strengthen collaborations among all the institutions involved in extending all the digital solutions to smallholder farmers”.

“It is a very important meeting that demonstrates once again the leadership of NITDA in scaling up ICT4D and we are very pleased with to be having this discussion because it will aid us to straighten out some pillars and strategies for the benefit of smallholder farmers in Nigeria”, Ekoue stressed.

She expressed gratitude for NITDA DG’s assurances in granting IFAD’s collaboration requests which she mentioned would assist in leveraging community of actors, as NITDA is not only supporting the course but also would mobilise the support of other key stakeholders, invariably, enabling smallholder farmers access digital solutions across board.


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ALX Welcomes 30,000 New AiCE Learners Across Africa

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ALX Africa, the innovative tech career accelerator, is thrilled to announce the enrollment of 30,000 new learners across Africa into its Artificial Intelligence Career Essentials (AiCE) programme.

This significant milestone underscores ALX’s commitment to fostering a new generation of leaders across Africa, equipped with innovative skills in AI technology.

In his welcome address, the host, Gavin Peter, VP, of Community and Culture at ALX, emphasized the essence of the event, termed “Karibu” which means ‘Welcome’ in Swahili, saying, “It is our usual ritual to start our ALX courses. We want our learners to feel welcome and part of the family.

“ALX is a community where we all belong and meet each other. We want to upskill young Africans and prepare them to launch so that they can grow their careers and make an impact.”

The AiCE programme offered by ALX introduces participants to Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools essential to their professional practice. For six weeks, learners will be equipped with knowledge of the rapid advancement of AI and its increasing relevance across various industries.

Through this course, ALX takes on the responsibility of equipping African talents with the necessary expertise to harness the potential available with Artificial Intelligence.

Out of the 30,000 learners onboarded across Africa from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya, over 5,000 came from Nigeria. This significant feat is a testament to the dedication and resilience shown by ALX Nigeria.

Also, a strong and vibrant community, impactful engagements, and evidential testimonials of personal and professional growth are only a few of the many identifiers of this success.

Commenting on this significant achievement, Ruby Igwe, the ALX Country General Manager, Ruby Igwe, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “We are immensely proud to welcome 30,000 new learners to our AI programme. This milestone reflects our dedication to providing accessible, world-class education that empowers individuals to shape the future of Africa.

“Through our AI Career Essentials programme, we aim to cultivate a diverse community of innovators who will drive technological advancement and economic growth across the continent.”

She further stated, “ALX is not just a learning platform; it’s a community where learners come together to grow, inspire, and support one another. As we extend our heartfelt “Karibu” to our new learners, we are excited to witness the impact they will make as they harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to drive innovation and change across Africa.”

“Karibu to all our new AiCE learners! As they embark on this exciting adventure together, the possibilities are just limitless,” remarked Igwe.

ALX remains dedicated to expanding access to transformative education and empowering African talents to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the continent continues to embrace technological innovation, ALX stands as a beacon of hope, guiding learners toward a future filled with endless possibilities.


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12 African Startups Draw Full House as Techstars Hosts Demo Day in Lagos

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Techstars, the most active startup investor in Africa, held its second pan-African Demo Day in partnership with Lagos-based innovation program, ARM Labs.

The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator Demo Day was held on 20th February at Balmoral Convention Center, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.

The event featured presentations from Techstars’ stellar second cohort from across the continent, marking the end of an immersive three-month accelerator program.

The startups presented to Techstars’ vast network of investors, mentors, senior operators, and ecosystem leaders, unveiling achievements and future plans whilst vying for strategic partnerships and commercial collaboration.

In addition to the startups’ presentations, the event featured a lively panel discussion with key figures in the African tech and Venture Capital ecosystems, exploring the state of VC funding and innovation in Africa.

Panellists included Olumide Soyombo, Partner at Voltron Capital; Biola Alabi, Partner at Acasia Ventures; and Ovo Emorhokpor, Founding Partner at Beta.Ventures. The event also drew the attention of more than 480 industry leaders and investors, including Idris Bello, Founding Partner at LoftyInc Capital; Tosin Faniro-Dada, Partner at Breega; Eloho Omame, Partner at TLCom Capital, Victor Sada, Head of Ventures & M&A at Interswitch; Bode Abifarin, Ex-Chief Operating Officer at Flutterwave; and Olusegun Adeniyi, Chief Digital Officer at Wema Bank, who were in attendance. An additional 2,500 viewers joined online via Youtube and Linkedin.

The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator second cohort, chosen from over a thousand applicants across Africa included 24Seven, Beauty Hut, Eight Medical, GetEquity, JumpnPass, One Plan, PBR Life Sciences, PressOne Africa, Rana, Surge Africa, Swoove and Veend.

Over the past 13 weeks, along with the $120,000 each in investment, the startups received comprehensive training and mentorship from leading industry experts in the form of workshops on Go-to-markets Strategies, Financial Modelling, Customer Acquisition, Investment Readiness, People and Leadership, Legal and Governance, and Product Management.

Additionally the select startups gained access to more than 300 perks, valued at over $4 million in savings, and will benefit from lifetime access to the Techstars worldwide network.

In her Demo Day welcome address, Oyin Solebo, Managing Director of ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator, stated, “At Techstars, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs through our accelerators, venture funds, and network of investors, corporates, and mentors across various cities.

“We firmly believe that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind a better future for all, and our mandate is to ensure they succeed. As the world’s most active pre-seed investor, we are also proud to have become the most active startup investor in Africa.

“Teaming up with ARM, we’ve developed a program aimed at showcasing the remarkable innovation and talent on the continent. We’re excited about the 12 companies we’ve backed, each leveraging technology, data, and intelligence to serve a population growing in size, youth, income and digital access”.

The engaging event schedule also featured a keynote address by Adetayo Bamiduro, Co-founder of Max.ng, the first African startup selected for a Techstars program.

Adetayo emphasised the profound impact Techstars has had on his startup since selection in 2015, and also shared meaningful insights on the startup’s learnings, milestones and the growth opportunity that Africa offers.

Kenise Hill, U.S. Consulate Deputy Political and Economic Chief, also gave an address, highlighting the U.S’s commitment to trade with Africa, and their areas of focus – technology, healthcare, renewable energy and food security.

In the closing address by Sadiq Mohammed, Deputy Group CEO of ARM Holding Company, disclosed, “We are delighted to have partnered in this innovative program where our aim was to expand our horizons and improve our processes, introduce a new asset class to clients, and contribute to the ecosystem growth. We’re thrilled with how these objectives are being met based on the program’s success and the inherent impact of the selected startups.

Despite the market and challenging macroeconomic climate, we maintain a positive outlook knowing fully well that the best market-creating innovations thrive best when value-chains and markets are restructured. We believe this cohort is well-positioned for success.”

Oluwadunni Fanibe, Program Manager at ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator also commented on the progress attained by the founders over the past weeks.

She stated “Throughout the program, the cohort demonstrated genuine enthusiasm, passion and dedication, qualities highly valued by investors. They’ve mastered articulating and executing their business models, also honing their pitching skills along the way. The program has boosted their capabilities, propelling them into the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey and we wish them continued success.”

As founders showcased the product-market fit of their startups, track record and growth opportunity, it highlighted the ingenuity and opportunities abound in the African market. The event now sets the stage for follow-on investment and innovation in the months ahead for the cohort.


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SHELT Global Unveils Security Operations Center, Training Academy

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SHELT Global Limited recently held a cocktail party at its new headquarters in Nigeria to unveil their upgraded Security Operations Center and the SHELT Training Academy.

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner (3rd right) Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited (2nd right), in company of business leaders and guests at the unveiling of SHELT Global Limited SOC and training academy in Lagos on February 16, 2024

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner (3rd right) Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited (2nd right), in company of business leaders and guests at the unveiling of SHELT Global Limited SOC and training academy in Lagos on February 16, 2024

SHELT has been operating in Nigeria across Lagos and Abuja for six years, serving the country’s leading financial, telecom, and government institutions in their cybersecurity needs.

This headquarters relocation consolidates the determination of SHELT in investing in Nigeria’s economy and in growing cybersecurity talent for the country.

The party was attended by SHELT’s clients and partners, and the guests were taken on a tour of the newly opened premises.

The new SHELT Headquarters boasts a state-of-the-art 24/7 SOC to support the needs of the company’s clients all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

SHELT also revealed its Training Academy where young talents and experienced cybersecurity professionals looking to enhance their cybersecurity skills can enroll and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the company’s experts.

SHELT Training Academy will be issuing certifications to students in coordination with international cybersecurity bodies and affiliations.

Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner of SHELT Global Limited, said: “Our Nigeria offices are quickly turning into the company’s flagship, and we believe the country is playing its part as a role model to the rest of Africa when it comes to cybersecurity regulations.

“Today, with the launch of this new headquarters and the opening of our Training Academy, we can give back to the community that welcomed us from the start.”

Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited, said: “I see so many opportunities ahead of us in the future with the launch of the Academy. We hear of so many people wanting to enter the field of cybersecurity and we will be working hard to support the youth and cybersecurity professionals in their careers.”


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