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Pantami Leads ICT Experts To Virtual 2020 Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition



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Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications & Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); and Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), are among the array of ICT policy makers, regulators and experts lined up to speak at the 8th edition of the annual Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition.

Dr Armstrong Takang (left) and Dr Evans Woherem, Chairman, Digital Africa Group during the 2019 Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition held at Baze University, Abuja

This year’s event, the first virtual edition in the series, which holds August 25-27, 2020, will also be graced by other speakers and notable ICT eggheads including Founder and Chairman, Mobile Software Solutions Ltd, Mr. Chris Uwaje; former Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC and Chairman of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe; Professor of Engineering & Technology Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Prof. Joe Amadi-Echendu; and Chief Executive Officer, Africa My Home, Morocco, Karima Rhanem, among others.

The theme of this year’s edition of Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition is Africa’s Post-Pandemic High Tech World, while the thematic sessions will focus on Education, ICT, Telecommunication, Health, Transportation, Economy (Crypto-Currency), Power, Agriculture and Entertainment.

Chairman of Digital Africa Group, organisers of the annual premier international tech event, Dr Evans Woherem who addressed the press on Monday in his office in Abuja, said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented level of business turbulence across industries and geographies, with almost no industry or jurisdiction untouched, including the education sector in Africa.

“The “New Normal” that we are facing presents significant challenges, but also opportunities, for education sector stakeholders. How do we explore these challenges and opportunities, and to consider legal, operational and financial strategies to help navigate the post-COVID-19 landscape?

“As students stay at home and moved off campus, educators shifted to virtual learning, and development teams leapt into action to address current needs, the landscape of education fundraising now looks different than it did just a few months ago. The question we now ask ourselves is: Is remote learning here for good?” Woherem said.

He noted that even before the global COVID-19 pandemic broke out, food insecurity was a serious concern throughout sub-Saharan Africa as movement of people and goods is seriously hampered at domestic and cross-boundary levels.

He stated that currently, governments in over 70 countries have imposed various degrees of lock-downs affecting 3 Billion people worldwide, disclosing that this has severe consequences for many sectors including the agricultural sector, farmers and agricultural enterprises.

“Farmers are not able to access markets anymore, and in many cases also, do not have access to storage or cooling facilities thus are forced to dump their produce. Globally, imposed export and import restrictions lead to limited exports of produce and potentially creating food shortages in import-depending countries especially in Africa.

“Measures to enhance the resilience of the agricultural sector against external shocks like this kind of pandemic crises seem desperately needed. This could entail more circularity and autonomy in local based production systems; increased availability of and access to processing and storage facilities or; creating food banks and emergency stocks at decentralized levels.

“The term ‘think global, act local’ seems to be more appropriate than ever. How will technology play a role to aid sufficient food security in the continent? This is one the issues participants at the Conference on Tuesday, will be proffering solutions for.”

In an answer to a question, Woherem said, “We live in an era of technological innovation. Digital breakthroughs are empowering healthcare organisations to improve labour productivity, clinical outcomes and human experience. How we adapt technology to the people who use it – patients, health insurers and providers is going to define the future of health.”

He said that some of the factors set to remake the digital healthcare ecosystem is Artificial Intelligence (AI), noting that AI is changing from a back-end tool for healthcare organisations to being at the forefront of both consumer and clinician experience.

“AI-powered technologies can suggest relevant options based on user behaviour as well as guide patients and doctors toward optimal outcomes.

“Technology holds incredible promise for health: It can yield data to help stamp out emerging epidemics before they reach crisis level; make health care providers and services accessible to people in hard-to-reach places; and get people closer than ever to universal health coverage.

“It can also save money! Human-focused tech also provides consumers with a better opportunity to access care and information in a way and at a time that they want to.

The recent global Covid-19 pandemic is adversely affecting Africa’s economic growth and consumer spending potential, and businesses are grappling to adapt to the changing environment,” the Digital Africa Group boss said.

He stated that shoppers have adapted what they are putting into their baskets to accommodate their wallets, and have also adjusted where and how often they are shopping.

“There is a trend towards more frequent shopping due to the decline in disposable income. As incomes vary on a daily basis, consumers are shopping on an immediate-needs basis, often visiting stores more than once per day due to their fluctuating earnings.

“The concept of resilience has emerged as a plausible framework for substantially improving regional or local capacity to manage risks, loss of businesses and jobs, withstanding future shocks and stresses, and reducing the need for humanitarian responses.

“The technology sector shows resilience during lockdowns. Remote working, online shopping and telemedicine have shielded the technology sector from the worst effects of COVID-19 lockdowns and have confirmed technology’s role as an essential survival tool for businesses now and in the future,” Woherem emphasized.

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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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