February 24, 2024

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The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), had supported three Nigerian startups with the sum of $15,000 each to develop their innovative ideas towards becoming entrepreneurs and achieving the digital economy agenda.
The seed fund was given on Tuesday at the Demonstration Day of the first Cohort of the Idea Hatching (iHatch) Startup Incubation Programme.
It wasorganised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in collaboration with JICA in Abuja.
The iHatch programme was championed by Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI),a subsidiary of NITDA.
The Tide source reports that in March 2022, the first cohort, a five-month programme began with over 5,000 applications that were received, while eight were selected to pitch their ideas.
The winner of the demonstration was Betalife, a health tech startup company that offers 24/7 real-time blood donation tracking and blood requests.
The second position was won by Xolani Health Limited,an Artificial Intelligence-assisted tool that support clinical decision making for healthcare workers in low resource settings.
The third place winner was Every Farmer,a solution that focuses on accessing funds for agricultural value chain.
Ms Favour James, Founder, Betalife, who was happy said the seed fund would be channeled to marketing and creating awareness for solutions.
“We are going to utilise the money in engaging more professionals and in our marketing strategy, because blood donation is not a popular thing in Nigeria.
“We will also invest in building collaboration between hospitals and blood banks,”James said.
Mr Susumu Yuzurio,Chief Representative,JICA Nigeria, congratulated the startups, while acknowledging that all of them were winners in their respective manners.
Yuzurio encouraged them to sustain the knowledge they had acquired towards building a digital economy for the nation.
Mr Kashifu Inuwa,Director-General of NITDA,at the demonstration by the startups,said that the programme was targeted at refining business ideas of the innovators and developing the digital economy agenda.
“This partnership is in furtherance to the commitment of NITDA in sustaining the promotion and growth of digital innovation and entrepreneurship, promotion of indigenous content derived from of the seven pillars of our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021-2024.
“This is to increase the number of Innovation-Driven Enterprises (IDEs) viz- a- viz sustaining the growth of Nigeria’s digital economy.
“The partnership with JICA in the implementation of the iHatch programme is part of our initiatives to strengthen the tech and innovation ecosystem.
“This is for the creation of more IDEs that will invariably contribute to creation of jobs for our teeming youth and the prosperity of our country,” Inuwa said.
He added that programme took the startups through a series of coaching, lectures, and boot-camps to generate scalable and adaptable business models in the country.
Onuwa recalled the selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap.
The DG said that the agency and JICA would be extending the third cohort across the six geo-political zones of the country by the end of the second Cohort that would also span to five months.
He said: “NITDA remains committed to working with relevant stakeholders and partners in implementing programmes and initiatives that will accelerate innovation.
“They will provide the much-needed jobs for our youths, while also nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit to catalyse the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.”
Mr Nao Fuwa, JICA expert, urged the startups to think of why they studied business and why they considered opening a business.
“Brushing up a business model is important, but brushing your passion will attract people to your business,” he said.
The other startups include eDokta, a Telehomecare solution for virtual consultation and home healthcare services,S-Med, a solution that enable patients access their medical records.
They also include Authentic Qrtech, a solution for authentication of fake products,adulteration and counterfeit goods.
Other startups that demonstrated their ideas were Tech and Identity Solution Lab,an automation identity for background check platform and Afrinet Powertech,a cleantech solution that enhances energy efficiency for affordable electricity access.
The Demo Day was the end of the first cohort that was launched in March and lasted for five months and it also held concurrently with the launch of the second cohort.(NAN)
Technology, Tool For Fighting IFFs – ICPC
The Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has said the in use of technology is crucial the fight against corruption and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
Owasanoye stated this recently at the presentation of demo hacking solutions by seven innovators at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
“Technology is crucial to eliciting, analysing and preserving evidence for prosecution.
“Public Sector corruption in revenue and expenses parts of government remains a present threat. Government is agonising over serious shortfalls in revenue projections and the consequences of resorting to borrowing to meet gaps.
“Recently, ICPC profiled some Federal MDAs in one state that had been diverting FG’s share of Internally Generated Revenues (IGR)”, he said.
He added that they have trained ICPC staff in digital documents analysis, handwriting analysis, polygraphic technology, and sundry skills.
The  ICPC boss stated that deployment of technology through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMS) and Treasury Single Account (TSA) have contributed greatly to reducing corruption in Nigeria.
Other areas are the Open Treasury Portal, establishment of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, and the private sector initiated Bank Verification Number (BVN).
Owasanoye, therefore, called for more collaboration by law enforcement agencies in the deployment of technology to reduce  opportunities for money laundering.
“Appropriate technology deployment will give law enforcement agencies, administrators and regulators of the process adequate leverage to know what school feeding funds were being used.
“Introduction of technology in Nigeria today makes this very possible. Such platforms will help nip anomalies in the bud and save the government huge sums of money and also prevent abuse, corruption and money laundering,” he said.
He  also assured that the anti-corruption agency, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and Ford Foundation would further work on the demo hacking solutions presented by the young innovators.
The Federal Science Equipment Centre (FSEC), Ijanikin, in Lagos State, under the Federal Ministry of Education, says it  has  commenced a two-day  training for  its staff on repairs and programme maintenance of science laboratory equipment.
Staff of the centre would  be deployed to the  110 unity schools across the country  after their training to also train the members of staff of the  schools on  how to repair and maintain science laboratory equipment in their various schools.
The Director of the Centre, Mr Yekini Ismaila, said this  in his address at the opening of a two-day training programme organised for staff of the Centre at  the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State  recently.
Ismaila said the staff members  from the centre  would be expected to  go round all the unity schools  across the country to train the school officers on repairs and maintenance of their laboratory equipment.
He said the training had been  approved by the  Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Andrew Adejo,  and it is termed ‘train the trainer’.
According to him,    it is to help the Federal Government to maintain existing science laboratory equipment in its unity schools  and cut cost in buying new ones.
According tohim, the centre is currently facing several challenges which had impeded it from reaching its optimal performance, saying that the Permanent Secretary had been briefed about the challenges.
“The FG created the FSEC, through the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with  UNESCO and UNDP to enhance the development of science in post-primary institutions,” he said.
He stated that due to dwindling revenue, allocation to the centre had suffered some setbacks and this had  affected the free services  it used to render to unity schools under its purview.
“Most pressing issues in the world today are science based, and a well-managed science experiment centre has the capacity to not only transform a developing economy to a developed one, but also create endless opportunities to generate funds and be self-sufficient,” he said.
He continued that the centre would explore the production and fabrication of standard-science-school equipment, which it would sell at  subsidised  prices to other schools aside unity schools.
Meanwhile,  he has hinted that the centre had also picked  on the production of high quality chalk as  a way of generating revenue in addition to  commercialising its training courses which used to be free before now.
The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) has debunked what it called a fake news circulating online alleging that it spent N46 billion to purchase vehicles and N23 million on stationeries.
Deputy Director, Public Relations and Communications, NOTAP, Mr. Solomon Nshem, condemned the online publication in a statement made available to The Tide’s sources.
”It is unprofessional and malicious for an online (news) paper worth its salt to publicise such without proper investigation”, he said.
Nshem urged Nigerians to deploy the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to interrogate its activities and financial expenses instead of spreading fake news.
He added that the publication alleged that the House of Representatives was investigating the Director General (DG) of NOTAP, Dr. Dan-Azumi Ibrahim, over the purchase of vehicles worth N46 billion and stationeries worth N23 million.
“In order to put the records straight, we wish to state that the said vehicles were not purchased at N46 billion, but N46 million in 2021, for the smooth operation of the Office.The vehicles purchased were a 2021 model Toyota Prado Landcruiser and a 2021 model Toyota Yaris which were captured under the 2021 project vehicle budget line.
“They were directly purchased by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) accredited vendors after receiving certificate of no objection from BPP,’’ he said.
Nshem stated that NOTAP  was one of the “most prudently managed government organizations and would never spend N46 billion to purchase vehicles”.
He explained  that NOTAP DG, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on 22nd of October 2015, for a 4-year tenure, was reappointed for another 4-year term in October. 2019.
“The DG  was reappointed because of his dedication to duty, commitment, hard work, and contributions towards the development of Science, Technology and Innovation, not only in Nigeria but Africa. It is on record that between 2015 to 2019, which was his first term in office, NOTAP saved the nation over N79.63 billion”, he said.
He recalled that the building project conceptualized by Ibrahim’s predecessor of a befitting office complex was  about 90 per cent complete due to his dedication and resourcefulness.
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