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StarNews, Global Black Economic Forum Launch Business Competition In Partnership with MTN & USAID



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Africa’s leading video streaming platform, StarNews Mobile and the Global Black Economic Forum (GBEF), have announced a call for applications for the launch of their Business Competition in Lagos, Nigeria.

Held in partnership with MTN and United Nations Agency for International Development (USAID), the initiative will empower Nigeria’s most promising businesses that are classified as Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with invaluable investment and partnership opportunities from the USA.

Held over 10 weeks between April 8th to June 14th, hosted exclusively on the StarNews Biz Channel on the StarNews platform, this competition offers a platform for emerging entrepreneurs to showcase their ventures and gain national visibility.

With subscribers voting for their favourite candidates, the top 20 contestants will seize the spotlight and make their mark on the business landscape.

The StarNews Business Competition in partnership with GBEF delivers a unique opportunity for thriving Nigerian SMEs to access mentoring, funding, partnerships and socio-economic development tools through the Global Black Economic Forum.

With the prospect of securing cash prizes through StarNews worth up to NGN5,000,000, getting access to StarNews’s network of investors and the opportunity to gain national visibility by having their business on the StarNews web platform.

The top three winners will also receive coaching from GBEF’s Academy for Advancing Excellence and become part of GBEF’s ecosystem of global leaders committed to social and economic justice across the Black Diaspora.

Previous speakers at GBEF convenings from the entertainment sector include Wyclef Jean (Haitian Musician & Activist), Debra Lee (Former CEO of Black Entertainment Television – BET) and Ceci Kurzman (Founder of Nexus Management Group). Applications will close on April 5th 2024.

Speaking on the competition’s launch, Guy Kamgaing, Founder and CEO at StarNews Mobile, says “The StarNews Business Competition is a passion project close to our hearts at StarNews Mobile.

It’s about discovering the most promising business entrepreneurs and creators in Nigeria, opening up global opportunities for them and providing them with the resources and tools to achieve their goals.

By partnering with MTN, USAID and GBEF, we want to be a platform of empowerment for these SMEs by helping them give back to the communities that are supporting them.”

According to the US Embassy and Consulate for Nigeria, over 80% of Nigerian startups are incorporated in the United States and more than 60% of venture capital funding in Nigerian startups accounted for by the US.

In 2023 alone, Nigerian startups raised a total of $398mn however, this signalled a 66% funding decline compared to 2022 due to the global economic downturn, reinforcing the massive need for a fresh injection of capital and business support for Nigeria’s emerging SMEs.

Alphonso David, President and CEO of the Global Black Economic Forum notes that, “Our partnership with StarNews Mobile is a critical resource as we continue to build the collective strength of entrepreneurship across the Diaspora.

“Building a sustainable ecosystem of Black entrepreneurs in the United States and across the African continent is essential to create a future that makes economic opportunity and economic freedom a reality for all.”

A sister company to ESSENCE, GBEF advances its work by convening global summits and conferences, bringing together world leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, celebrities and civic leaders to address the most challenging problems facing our communities.

GBEF’s Academy for Advancing Excellence facilitates workforce and leadership development strategy, addressing the talent pipeline & employee lifecycle, providing leadership development & coaching, and conducting institutional assessments & research.

GBEF also develops and implements economic and social justice policy recommendations with partners ranging from civil and human rights organisations to government entities and corporations that advocate for economic opportunity, social justice, and health equity through thought leadership, advocacy and litigation.

Launched in 2017, StarNews Mobile empowers African content creators with the unique opportunity to monetize their work through a subscription model, boasting over 4 million subscribers and a thriving community of more than 120 content creators.

With a strong presence across six countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire, Congo, Benin and Ghana, the platform has also established key partnerships with major telecom operators such as MTN and Orange.

To-date, StarNews Mobile has secured over $8mn in funding with its most recent raise – a $3mn pre-Series A funding round in October 2023 – led by Janngo Capital with participation from French football players Aurélien Tchouaméni, Jules Koundé and Mike Maignan.


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SOPHiA GENETICS Announces Syndicate Bio as First Liquid Biopsy Customer in Africa



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SOPHiA GENETICS, a cloud-native software company in the healthcare space and a leader in data-driven medicine, has announced that Nigeria-based Syndicate Bio has signed on to implement MSK-ACCESS® powered with SOPHiA DDM™.

Syndicate Bio is the first lab in Africa to adopt the MSK-ACCESS® assay via the SOPHiA DDM™ Platform, and the first company to make comprehensive genomic profiling and liquid biopsy widely available to patients throughout the entire continent.

The implementation of this new technology will further existing work from SOPHiA GENETICS, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), and Syndicate Bio to advance health equity on a global scale.

There are roughly 1 million new cancer patients each year in Africa and currently, comprehensive genomic profiling and liquid biopsy testing options are not widely available.

This means that patients are forced to forego this testing or travel out of continent for these testing options. Syndicate Bio’s implementation of this new offering will provide cutting-edge liquid biopsy testing to many of these patients and will help progress the company’s goal of advancing genomics and precision medicine in an area of the world that has been historically underserved in these areas.

“Partnering with SOPHiA Genetics to bring MSK-ACCESS® powered with SOPHiA DDM™ to our lab is a monumental step in accelerating the cancer treatment and research landscape across Africa, beginning in Nigeria. Next-generation sequencing technologies in oncology and liquid biopsy, which this collaboration enables, hold the potential for creating a leapfrogging opportunity in the oncology treatment and research landscape in Africa,” said Abasi Ene-Obong, PhD., Founder, Syndicate Bio.

“Through this collaboration, we aim to enable the widespread application of precision medicine in oncology across Africa, and thus contributing to the improvement of patient outcomes across the African continent.

“We believe our scientific expertise, combined with AI-enabled technologies and data-driven solutions enabled by SOPHiA GENETICS, presents a unique opportunity to fundamentally transform the journey of cancer patients through non-invasive cancer analysis, predictive genetic testing, and effective precision medicine.”

Syndicate Bio is driving genomics and precision medicine initiatives across the world’s most diverse regions through large-scale partnerships with governments, industry, and other stakeholders. Through its work, Syndicate Bio is making local impact while accelerating drug discovery and development.

By focusing on Africa, Syndicate Bio is poised to make a significant impact, starting with Nigeria, by introducing its pioneering clinical oncology offerings in an underserved region.

Through this endeavor, Syndicate Bio aims to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment for African patients. This initiative not only facilitates local next-generation sequencing (NGS) testing and liquid biopsy testing but also extends access to clinical trial participation, empowering patients and healthcare providers alike.

MSK-ACCESS® powered with SOPHiA DDM™  is a decentralized version of a highly validated ctDNA test developed by MSK that involves the deep sequencing of 146 key cancer-associated genes, and will augment Syndicate Bio’s tumor profiling capabilities, allowing them to utilize a small blood sample to generate a comprehensive report in an efficient and expedited time frame.

The use of liquid biopsy is less invasive than traditional biopsy, and can help simplify patient monitoring, whilst driving the uptake of precision medicine.

The offering combines the sophisticated analytics, state-of-the-art algorithms, and decentralized, cloud-based offerings of the SOPHiA DDM™ Platform, with the scientific and clinical expertise of MSK in cancer genomics to provide a best-in-class liquid biopsy solution.

“In our mission to democratize data-driven medicine, our decentralized global network and unique set of partnerships enable us to help reach underserved populations, just as those that are served by Syndicate Bio,” said Philippe Menu, MD, PhD., Chief Medical Officer, SOPHiA GENETICS.

“By implementing this solution, Syndicate Bio will make a measurable impact throughout Africa, while also helping to generate an unparalleled and comprehensive dataset and provide invaluable insights and knowledge to shape the future of global healthcare.”

In late 2023, SOPHiA GENETICS and MSK announced they are working in partnership with AstraZeneca to bring the world-class MSK-ACCESS® powered with SOPHiA DDM™ testing solution to countries and regions around the globe, including underserved areas where access to testing remains scarce.

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Abdullahi, NITDA Boss Harps on Partnership to Drive Advance Digital Transformation Agenda



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Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has reaffirmed the importance of collaboration in advancing Nigeria’s digital transformation agenda.

Abdullahi, NITDA Boss Harps on Partnership to Drive Advance Digital Transformation Agenda

L-R: Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi,  director-general, National Information Technology Development Agency, with Brig. Gen., Abdulrahman Idris, team lead of the Senior Executive Course 46 2024, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos during a strategic tour visit to the agency headquarters in Abuja.

Abdullahi disclosed this during a strategic engagement with participants of the 2024 Senior Executive Course 46 from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), a delegation led by Brigadier General Abdulrahman Idris.

Abdullahi emphasised that no organisation can achieve its goals in isolation, stressing the need for collaborative efforts to harness ideas, experiences and insights for national development. He highlighted the potential of collaboration between NITDA and NIPSS to leverage technology and digital innovation for driving economic growth, creating job opportunities and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).

“At NITDA, we have re-imagined our social contract with Nigerians, focusing on improving service delivery and fostering the swift growth of the ICT sector,” said Abdullahi. He emphasised the agency’s commitment to serving Nigerians and outlined the strategic direction outlined in NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2024-2027) 2.0. The SRAP is structured around eight pillars aimed at fostering digital literacy, building a robust technology research ecosystem, strengthening policy implementation, promoting inclusive access to digital infrastructure, enhancing cybersecurity, nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship, forging partnerships and cultivating a vibrant organisational culture.

The brigadier-general provided insights into NIPSS’s role as Nigeria’s foremost policy think-tank, tasked with developing top-class technocrats to drive national development initiatives. He highlighted NIPSS’s contributions to policy formulation and implementation over the years, emphasising the institution’s mandate to address issues of national interest, particularly in the digital economy sector.

The collaboration between NITDA and NIPSS underscores the importance of synergistic efforts in harnessing technology and innovation for national development. By leveraging each other’s expertise and resources, both organisations aim to drive economic growth, foster job creation, and position Nigeria as a leading player in the global digital economy.

Through strategic partnerships and collaborative initiatives, NITDA and NIPSS are poised to chart a path towards sustainable development, leveraging digital innovation as a catalyst for socioeconomic transformation and inclusive growth.


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IvoryPay, Tether to Drive Crypto Transfers Across Africa



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Ivorypay, a blockchain-based payment and remittance firm, has teamed with Tether, the stablecoin pioneer, to improve crypto-based transactions across Africa.

Tether is the business that developed the stablecoin, USDT, and with this agreement, it will mint and issue USDT straight to IvoryPay.

According to the partners, this agreement would provide more dependable and economical digital transaction choices to businesses and consumers across Africa.

Ivorypay will leverage Tether’s widespread acceptance to provide a buffer against the typically unpredictable nature of crypto-currencies, increasing user confidence in using digital currencies for daily transactions as well as cross-border transfers.

“Partnering with Tether is a strategic move that aligns perfectly with our vision of simplifying and securing crypto transactions across Africa,” said Oluwatobi Ajayi, CEO, IvoryPay.

He added: “It gives us easy access to the liquidity we need to cater to more businesses and individuals across the continent and to do that cheaper and faster than anybody else, which we believe will significantly enhance user trust and increase adoption rates across our platforms.”

“This strategic partnership between Ivorypay and Tether represents a transformative step for digital transactions across Africa,” said Aly Madhavji, managing partner of Blockchain Founders Fund.

“By incorporating USDT into their payment systems, IvoryPay aims to increase financial inclusion and streamline cross-border remittances, establishing a new standard for stability and efficiency in the region’s financial services We are thrilled to assist Ivorypay as they endeavour to create new opportunities for businesses and consumers across Africa.”

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