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AfDB Urges Governments to Prioritize Inclusion of Women in Science & Technology

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On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the African Development Bank calls on African countries to make science, technology and innovation (STI) policies inclusive and to place women and girls at the centre of STI programmes.

Celebrated each year on February 11, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. The day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

“Africa cannot talk about innovations without investing in its human capital. Support and mentorship are essential to increasing the participation of youth and women in science and technology,” said Oley Dibba-Wadda, Director of Human Capital Youth and Skills Development at the African Development Bank.

“Decision-makers must prioritize the inclusion of youth and women in science and technology. African entrepreneurs and innovators must also be equipped with the right skills to succeed in a rapidly changing workforce.”

Through its numerous interventions in this area, the African Development Bank is pointing the way to how women and girls can be supported to make a difference in science and innovation.

For instance, through the Nigeria Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF), the Bank is providing scholarships to African students to develop and build their capacities in science and technology at the African University of Science and Technology in Abuja, the country’s capital.

One of the beneficiaries of the scholarship, Sandra Musu Jusu of Sierra Leone, is gaining global attention with her research into an alternative treatment for breast-cancer – an ailment that is prevalent among African women.

Musu Jusu, a Sierra Leonean, said, “I am happy the scholarship came at the time it did, as it helped me remain focused on my goal which is to become a researcher. My Master of Science project is focused on breast cancer − the violent cancer types that kill African women.”

According to María-José Moreno, Chief Gender Officer at the African Development Bank, “In its operations supporting science, technology and innovation in Africa, the Bank has set indicators reducing gender gaps amongst students, and amongst teachers.”

A society needs the talent of all its citizens, men and women, and cannot thrive when half of the population does not develop its potential, she said.

The African Development Bank uses a multi-pronged approach to support girl’s education especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Between 2005-2017, the Bank approved US $2 billion to support more than 70 education projects for Africa. US $ 52 million in support to technical vocational education, training, and teacher education in Tanzania is helping reduce gender imbalance in science and technology related programs where female participation was only 11-19%.

10,800 students, 50% of them female, have benefited from the program.

Through the bank’s support of the Network of African Institutions of Science and Technology (SNAIST) Project, the 510 students graduated from Master’s and Ph.D programmes, with 48.9 % being female. The project awarded 48 scholarships to students, including young women.

The goal of the African Development Bank project is to contribute to the building of high-skilled human capital, especially in science and technology for the technological advancement of the African continent.

One of the graduates – Ufuoma Bright Ighore and her professor – were awarded first prize in the 2nd international Bernard P. Zeigler Discrete Event System Specification modelling and simulation competition in Boston, Massachusetts.

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FG Mulls Specialised for Innovators, Science/Tech Ventures

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Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, has said that the federal government is working toward establishing specialised bank to assist innovators and entrepreneurs in science and technology ventures.

 

The minister said this after listening to presentations by some student inventors and innovators at the ongoing 1st International Workshop on Science Parks and Innovation Eco-system for National Development on Friday at University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

 

He said the delay in the coming on board of the specialised bank was due to the earlier economic recession in the country, noting that the bank should have taken off by now “but we had a challenge of recession and accompanying paucity of funds”.

 

Onu said: “But I believe that with the picking up of the economy and other economic activities now; I believe it would not be long it would be a reality.

 

“Talks were in progress with stakeholders and government partners on the specialised bank project.”

 

Onu said that with the coming on stream of the bank, funding issue for innovations, science and technology ventures, as well as to an extend science researches meant to solve societal challenges, would be taken care of.

 

He said federal government had also made innovations and development in science and technology as the focal point of its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

 

He advised young innovators to protect their work through patenting them and jealously guard the secret of their work against intellectual theft.

 

The minister assured UNN that he would be sending heads of parastatal agencies under his ministry to discuss and know how to help the university to develop its science park programme and other technological-driven programmes.

 

He said: “The ministry and its agencies will assist you in various ways to ensure that we build the capacity of young inventors and innovators.

 

“Heads of parastatal agencies under the ministry will be coming down here to discuss with the vice-chancellor on how best to assist you in any aspect of these programmes to create jobs and wealth needed from it.”

 

Onu urged the students not to give-up hope, saying “I see many Bill Gates and other great inventors and innovators among you”.

 

The four-day workshop, which started on February 21, was organised by UNN; Ideon Science Park, Sweden and LundaVision AB, Sweden.

 

It was attended by over 100 lecturers from across Nigerian and African universities, including investors.

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Lagos Govt Introduces Electronic Revenue Assurance System

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The Lagos State Government yesterday introduced Electronic Revenue Assurance System (ERA) to enhance collection of consumption tax.

The electronic device is in accordance with the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption (Fiscalisation) Regulation signed into Law on Dec. 7, 2017.

The introduction of the electronic device was done at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos.

The stakeholders include owners of hotels, restaurants, night clubs, drinking pubs, event centres and hospitality venues in Lagos state.

In a keynote address, the state Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode said that the regulation was to enable the state to put in place efficient machinery to enhance tax collection.

Ambode who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Idiat Adewale, decried under-payment and non-remittance of tax to the statec government’s .

He called for high commitment from residents and business owners in the payment of taxes.

‘’Taxation is one of the ways in which government is able to finance its activities.

‘’Funds are required to enable government to actualise its objective of provision of adequate infrastructure and services for the residents of the state at levels expected within a mega city.

‘’Our objective is to rely less on federal funding and more on self-funded.

”That is why we are leveraging on technology – the fiscalisation project – to drive economic growth and development, ” he said.

Ambode urged hoteliers and bar, restaurant and event centre owners to integrate their systems with the state internal revenue service server, to facilitate monitoring of tax transactions and remittance.

Mr Olusegun Banjo, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, said that the regulation would enable the state to plan and build its revenue base.

‘’This regulation will help us build our revenue properly to fill the gap in our economic planning as well as match our income and expenditure,” he said.

Mr Akinyemi Ashade, the state Commissioner for Finance, said that the state budget performance for 2017 was 82 per cent in spite of harsh economy.

Ashade said that, with the regulation, there would be increased revenue to fund and deliver high profile projects targeted for this year to make life easier for the state residents.

In his remarks, Mr Ayodele Subair, Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, said that the ERA system would ensure efficiency and transparency in the collection of consumption tax in the state.

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FG Restates Commitment to Press Freedom

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Alhaji Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, has restated the federal government’s commitment to the freedom of the press, saying the media has nothing to fear from the present Administration.

 

The Minister stated this in Abuja on Thursday when he received a delegation from the International Press Institute (IPI) on a courtesy visit to his office.

 

“The media has nothing to fear from the government but, on the contrary, we are the ones that cannot sleep with our eyes closed because of the media,” he said.

 

Alhaji Mohammed, who said the government always takes criticism from the media in good faith, however, appealed to the media to be fair and constructive in its criticisms.

 

“Like I always say, this government will never stifle the media. We take so many punches everyday from the media. We are not saying please don’t criticize us, do criticize us, but please do your own homework thoroughly also and be fair to us. That’s all we are asking. Please criticize us on facts and not on emotion,” he said.

 

The Minister said the present administration believes that democracy cannot thrive without a free press but noted that the media should report the government within the context of the daunting challenges facing the nation, most of which were inherited by the Administration.

 

He said the government is on a rescue mission, but noted that the rot of 16 years cannot be corrected within two and a half years.

 

Alhaji Mohammed said the Administration succeeded in preventing a total collapse of the economy and has returned the country to the path of economic growth and sustainable development.

 

He thanked the IPI for its confidence in Nigeria by granting the country the hosting right for its annual congress, saying the IPI World Congress 2018, scheduled for Abuja on 21-23 June, will give the government the opportunity to showcase its achievements to the international media.

 

In her remarks, Ms. Barbara Trionfi, executive director of IPI, said she is in the country to interface with media professionals towards the successful hosting of the forthcoming congress.

 

She commended the government for its efforts towards promoting press freedom and the safety of journalists in the country, and tasked the media industry to look beyond business rivalry and competition in order to cooperate and promote the core values of journalism.

 

Ms. Trionfi was accompanied on the visit by Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, chairman of IPI Nigeria and Publisher of Media Trust; Dr. Tonnie Iredia, former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, and Mr. Raheem Adedoyin, secretary of IPI Nigeria, among others.

 

 

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