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Wema Bank Launches Second FGN-ALAT Digital ‘Skillnovation’ Cohort

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Wema Bank has launched the second cohort for the FGN-ALAT Digital Skillnovation Programme in partnership with the Federal Government to train and equip two million young people and 1 million MSMEs across Nigeria with relevant digital skills.

Since the launch of the first cohort in 2023, over 300,000 youths and business owners have leveraged the platform as a launchpad for their business and career success.

This cohort featured 100% virtual learning sessions through which participants from the 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were provided with self-paced online learning experiences.

As cohort 2 begins in the second quarter of 2024, the FGN-ALAT digital programme is officially transitioning to physical training sessions and the curriculum will cover key digital skills including software engineering, product management, business analysis, cloud computing and product design, among others.

This phase of the programme will be executed via FGN-ALAT digital hubs, which will be set up in the different states across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria to ensure that every Nigerian can access the programme’s full benefits regardless of their location.

These hubs will be equipped with training and incubation facilities ideal for digital-driven learning, giving participants the opportunity to acquire marketable and transferrable digital skills and gain a competitive edge in the global digital ecosystem.

The FGN-ALAT digital hubs will be set up in phases and trainings will commence accordingly, starting with Borno  and Anambra State.

Wema Bank’s Executive Director of Retail and Digital Business, Tunde Mabawonku, emphasised the pivotal role of the programme in bridging the gaps in Nigeria’s macroeconomic landscape towards national development.

“We are unwavering in our commitment to supporting MSMEs and with the FGN-ALAT Digital Skillnovation Programme, it’s all about the bigger picture—which is why we have partnered with the Federal Government to augment the scale of this programme’s impact.

“By tailoring this programme to suit the needs of both entrepreneurial minded and professionally inclined Nigerians, we are not just arming SMEs for more efficient business management and growth, we are also equipping Nigeria’s workforce for increased productivity and the ripple effect will not only create more viable employment opportunities for Nigerians towards reduced unemployment and underemployment rates, but further drive economic growth and national development, boosting Nigeria’s position on the global playing field.

“The digital evolution is moving sporadically and by empowering our youth and MSMEs with in-demand digital skills, we are ensuring that Nigeria is not left behind as the world evolves.

“Beyond the intellectual resources and other non-monetary opportunities, we are going a step further to provide financial support for these participants in form of millions of naira in equity capital, soft loans and grants, to enable them put their learnings to practice and build sustainable streams of income that could help them become employers in their own right.

“I encourage you to take the big step forward in achieving your business and career goals by joining the programme. All you have to do is visit the website to register. This programme is completely free and there’s more than enough room for you. Your success is Nigeria’s success and as your unique journey unravels, our promise remains certain,” he said.

Referring to the programme as an eye-opener for all, Mariam Isah, a beneficiary of Cohort 1, said, “It’s almost unbelievable all I’ve learnt in one month virtual training.

“I started this training simply looking for a way forward for my business but I have unlocked secrets that are life changing not just in my business but in all aspects of life. I am so grateful for this rare opportunity, and I can’t wait to be a part of the cohort 2.”


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E-Business

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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