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eNigeria 2017: Participants Make 11-Point Recommendations To Government

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By peter oluka
To foster digital economy through local content development and regulation, participants at the just concluded eNigeria 2017, have recommended that the Government through NITDA and other stakeholders should continue to promote the required awareness on the need for MDAs to patronise indigenous IT products and services as well as the use of the .gov.ng domain for their websites in order to  support the national  e-government programme.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an Agency of the Federal Ministry of Communications organized the 10 thedition of e-Nigeria Conference and Exhibition from Tuesday, 7th – Thursday, 9th November 2016 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. The theme of the Conference is ‘’Fostering Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulations’’.

The eNigeria is Nigeria’s flagship international conference and Exhibition that brings stakeholders together in the IT industry to deliberate on emerging technologies, local innovation and relevant Information and Communication Technology (ICT) issues for the socio-economic development of the nation

The objectives of 2017 edition are to encourage indigenous ICT innovation management for national and economic development; position the nation to benefit from emerging technologies; articulate the imperatives of ICT for effective service delivery; outline a roadmap for national ICT skills development and identify entrepreneurial opportunities and regulatory challenges affecting Local Content promotion and adoption.

Raising from the Conference, the participants also recommended that all relevant Stakeholders in the ICT industry should as a matter of necessity engage the Federal Ministry of Justice  on the  promotion and use of technology in our judicial system;

“NITDA should continuously engage theFederal Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly for the review and strengthening of the NITDA Act through an executive amendment bill with more stringent punishment for violation of the NITDA Act or the regulations of NITDA.

“NITDA is urged to build strategic alliances aimed at ensuring that Nigeria domesticates and builds capacity in new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Smart Technologies and the Internet of things (IOT) among others.

“All stakeholders are encouraged to partner with NITDA on the need to ensure compliance with the Executive Orders of Government and the Guidelines for Nigerian Content Development in ICT 2013 for enhancement and guaranteed products and service delivery.

“The Federal Government through relevant stakeholders should ensure effective co-ordinationof health services based on an integrated national ehealth  database;

“Stakeholders should work out efficient and effective partnership with development partners for creation of access to affordable capital through a National ICT Innovation Fund;

“The Federal Government through NITDA should categorise all digital assets in all MDAs in the country to assist in identifying and evaluating the risk assessment and appraisal of how best to secure the assets;

“NITDA’s IT clearance role should be used to encourage patronage of indigenous  products especially by MDAs;

“NITDA should partner with Corporate Affairs Commission to ensure all local companies have a .ng domain whileNITDA IT clearance should be a prerequisite before BPP clears any IT project;

“That NITDAs role in the work of Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) should be strengthened as IT is central to ease of doing business;

“A national workshop should be organised to review all existing IT Regulations and Laws in order to ensure a robust legal framework for Local Content and IT development in Nigeria
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NITDA  expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders and participants for the success of the 2017 eNigeria”.

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Operators, Others Left Out in New National Broadband Council

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Key stakeholders in the country’s information and communications technology have been left out in the newly reconstituted Nigeria National Broadband Council, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can now reveal.

 

A document of the new council sited by Nigeria CommunicationsWeek which contains list of members of the council revealed that no telecommunications operators in the country and industry associations such as Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) among others are represented in the council as against the practice in the old council membership where telecommunications operators and representative of ATCON, ALTON and others were represented.

 

The present scenario raises doubt over the ability of the council to supervise effectively the implementation of the national broadband plan to achieve 30 percent broadband penetrative by 2018 without the people that will implement the policy.

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Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, ALTON who was a member of the defunct Council and now excluded from the new one, said: “I am of the view that critical industry players should be members of the council otherwise it will be more of an advisory council than implementation council. The object of the council is to make things happen and it is operators that can make things happen, they are the ones that understand the challenges of the industry in terms of providing broadband services in the country.

 

“If operators were not carried along there is the tendency that the council will loss vital information in the process of writing report for the implementation of the broadband plan. We as operators will cooperate with them to ensure that the objectives of the plan are realized, but, the ideal practice would have been to involve operators as members of the council just like the old council,” he said.

 

National Broadband council sees to the implementation of National Broadband plan, the council plays a supervisory role in the implementation of the plan. Although, the council does not implement, implementations are done by operators, various ministries as well as Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

 

It is the job of the council to ensure that different time line as contained in the National Broadband Plan are achieved, where there is delay, the council invites the agency responsible to ensure that any obstacle responsible for the delay is removed.

Lanre Ajayi, former president, ATCON who was a member of the old council representing ATCON, said that it is ideal and appropriate for operators playing in the deployment of broadband services to be represented in the council if the council wants to achieve its objective and functions effective.

 

“In absence of the operators that will implement the Broadband policy and industry associations expected to represent the views of its members, I wonder how the new National Broadband Council will function effectively, this means that they will not get the right input to perform their role,” he noted.

 

Members of the new council consist mainly of Communications ministry, Nigerian Communications Commission and representatives of some agencies under the ministry of Communications.

 

 

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Hitachi Solutions to Spur Companies toward Digital Transformation

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(L-R) Wale Awosokanre – Managing Director, Hitachi Vantara – West Africa, Alexander Jenewein – Managing Director, Hitachi Vantara – Sub-Saharan Africa,Ambassador Yutaka Kikuta , Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakeem Fahm, Honorable commissioner of Science and Technology, Stephen Lewis, CTO & Customer Advocacy, Emerging Markets, EMEA Hitachi Vantara, JP Smith, Director –Emerging EMEA Global Field and Industry Solutions, Hitachi Vantara and Manfred Gramlich, Specialist | Data Intelligence MEP | SSAF - Hitachi Vantara at ’Hitachi Insights Day Event’ organized by Hitachi Vantara at Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, V.I. Lagos

Mr. JP Smith, Director, Emerging EMEA Global Field and Industry Solutions, Hitachi Vantara has urged companies to drive their institutions with data in order to achieve innovations and revenue growth in businesses.

He made this call recently at ’Hitachi Insights Day Event’ organized by Hitachi Vantara at Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, V.I. Lagos

The purpose of Insight day event was to help organizations scale into the untapped potential of data by riding on Hitachi Vantara’s experience on how they store, enrich, activate and monetize data from the business landscape.

Speaking on the topic: ’Data-Driven Insight: Drive Smarter Decisions,’ said solutions such as Hitachi Vantara provides businesses which are always under pressure meet up with set goals and objectives.

Smith said with digital transformation, business can accelerate cost efficiency and time to market by automating operations and processes.

He also noted that data transformation would help increase loyalty and grow revenue by improving customer experience and unlock further innovations.

Also, Mr. Alexander Jenewein, Managing Director, Sub Saharan Africa, Hitachi Vantara, said the vision of Hitachi is to bring solutions to their customers to derive values from their in house data.

This, he said they want to achieve by using their existing data and infrastructure that they already have and set them up to derive digital transformation.

“We can only do that by looking at the data they have in various silos and bring those silos together and ultimately correlate the data to get them derive business outcome.

“So, we in the Hitachi Vantara have the solutions from data center modernization which is the first step to ultimately bring the data center to the modern age and ultimately honour the existing environment and the infrastructure they have invested in but then build on that to derive a more flexible environment and solution,” Jenewein said.

Earlier, Wale Awosokanre, Regional Managing Director, West Africa, Hitachi Vantara, said that they are pioneers in the business of ensuring that companies get value in whatever they do; from operation to information technology point of view.

Awosokanre also stated they have experience in the business and IT end of things to be able to fix things together and add value to their customers.

In his remarks, the Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Hakeem Fahm, applauded Hitachi for their contributions towards helping the state achieve its smart city initiative.

Fahm, however, enjoined other companies to emulate Hitachi Vantara and invest more in technology in the state.

He said: “When you take a look at the Lagos state, the population is about 22million and it continues to grow.

“We are still managing the state with minimal technology but we cannot continue that way.

“We have to invest more on technology and that is why we are moving heavily into the use of technology to manage the state.

“Lagos state economy is larger than all the other countries in west Africa combined.

“So, we need to build technology to manage not only the e-Government initiatives but other activities.

“Lagos is always open for business and we are building applications on e government, e-health, e-survey and so on.

“Lagos state is encouraging companies like Hitachi to continue to invest in the state,” Fahm said.

On the credibility of Hitachi solutions, the Senior Specialist Solutions Consultant, Hitachi Vantara, Mr. Samson Okpara, said Hitachi is known to be ethical company.

He said: “When we are talking about data integrity, we sign MoU for non disclosure of agreement and that is signed between both parties to understand that their data will not be shared between a third party,” Okpara said.

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OAU, Unilag students win BlueChip Inter-Campus Machine Learning competition

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Mr Bayo Adekanmbi, convener, Data Science Nigeria and some of the Winners at the Inter-campus Machine Learning competition.

After an intensive 5-day learning bootcamp, Olajide Abdulrazzaq Folarin (from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State), Sadiq Aderinto and Stanley Obumneme Dukor (both of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos) jointly won the first Inter-Campus Machine Learning competition.

 

Sponsored by Bluechip Technologies and organised by Data Science Nigeria, the three first-place winners individually earned the highest score for machine learning algorithm development.

 

The bootcamp was facilitated by 11 visiting international experts in artificial intelligence, 5 online tutors and 15 Nigerian-based business leaders.

 

More than 10,000 students from 95 campuses participated in the 4-stage competition. It included a pre-qualification pre-study, a quiz, a Kaggle competition and a validation call.

 

The top 85 students competed at the 5-day all-expenses-paid bootcamp at the Peninsula Resort, Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos, from 10-14 October 2018.

 

At the bootcamp, the students were immersed in intensive sessions of theoretical learning, use case applications, face-to-face teaching, virtual online classes, and a hands-on hackathon using the newly launched Zindi platform for real-time model evaluation.

 

Distinguished data scientists from leading global institutions including Google’s AI Lab, GitHub, MIIA and Bankable Frontiers Associate, USA facilitated the sessions.

 

Leading executives from the Nigerian banking, telecommunications, energy, and investment sectors shared their invaluable contextual insights with the students.

 

The Inter-Campus Machine Learning competition strives to increase Nigeria’s experience and expertise in data science and to enhance the opportunities and employability of Nigerian students through an incentivized exposure to advanced world-class knowledge.

 

Data Science is now the world’s no. 1 career, and is critical to high-impact transformation and innovation in Nigeria and worldwide.

 

In order to ensure the maximum inclusive participation, all the participants who travelled to the bootcamp from outside Lagos received full travel grant, while 10 additional special provisions were made for ladies who did not meet the cut-off selection mark.

 

The bootcamp included participants from all six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

 

Mr Bayo Adekanmbi, convener, Data Science Nigeria, in his welcome speech, said, “in our quest to play big in the Artificial Intelligence space, we must raise our game and combine the best of theoretical knowledge and real use cases with solution orientation, hence our tutorial approach of having world-class experts from leading AI centres in the world and local business leaders at the bootcamp”.

 

Olumide Soyombo, the co-founder of Bluechip Technologies Limited, shared Bluechip’s 10-year story and inspired the participants about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and how the students could leverage their knowledge to become technology entrepreneurs.

 

A group photograph of facilitators and participants at the Inter-campus Machine Learning competition.

 

Mr. Soyombo emphasized the importance of collaborative learning, network building and high-quality solution orientation.

 

He said, “We are proud to sponsor the 1st ever Intercampus Machine Learning Competition as part of our 10th anniversary, which is a demonstration of our commitment to knowledge development, especially in strategic areas like AI which will shape the future and make the world a better place”.

 

Kazeem Tewogbade, the managing director of Bluechip Technologies Limited, said “Bluechip Technologies is excited to have created a platform that brought together some of the world’s best and Nigeria’s budding talent across over 90 higher institutions.

 

“We are convinced that Nigeria is raising a new breed of experts that will play big on the global space”.

 

Each of the three winners received $1,000 US dollars and an opportunity for a short-term internship at the Bluechip technology firm.

 

In addition, campus volunteers from the universities with the highest number of participants in the pre-qualification process were also rewarded for promoting and mobilizing participation in the competition.

 

The University of Lagos, Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomoso, and the University of Ibadan campus volunteers received N150,000, N100,000 and N50,000 respectively.

 

Some of the speakers at the bootcamp included Matt Grasser, Director, Inclusive Fintech, Bankable Frontiers Associate, USA; Moustapha Cisse PhD, Google AI Lab; Professor Tom Dietterich, Distinguished Professor and Director, Oregon State University and the founder of  BigML; Dr Emmanuel Doro, Principal Data Scientist, Jet.com, USA; Dr Sulaimon Afolabi, Argility, South Africa; Ekow Duker, ex-Chief Analytics Officer of Barclays Africa/MD IxioAnalytics, South Africa;

 

Other were Dr Jacques Ludik, CEO of Cortex Logic, South Africa; Karim Beguir, the founder/CEO of Instadeep AI, London; Omoju Miller PhD, Senior Data Scientist, GitHub, USA; Abiodun Modupe, PhD Researcher, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; Adewale Akinfaderin, Graduate Researcher, FSU & Senior Data Scientist, Lowe’s Inc., USA; Osayi Igharo, Founding and Managing partner, Ripple VC, San Francisco, SA; Robert John, Chief Data Scientist at Enter5ive and.

 

In addition to theoretical and hands-on exploration of topics like Anomaly detection, unsupervised classification, sequential rule mining, Deep Learning theories, Deep learning in Natural language processing; the bootcamp attendees spent time brainstorming on real business problems which were facilitated by the leadership teams of companies like FCMB (credit risk scoring), Terragon Group (AdTech recommendation), Guardian News (recommendation system), Octave Analytics (Financial inclusion geomapping), Axa Mansard (AI for insurance) and Microsoft (possibilities in MS Azure).

 

The bootcamp focused on applying Artificial Intelligence to a real-world problem of financial inclusion in Nigeria.

 

The bootcamp’s Machine Learning Hackathon was based on loan default models for an anonymised real-world dataset of low-income customers and required the participants to use geographical data (longitude and latitude), historical usage and mobile phone behaviour to determine the likely risk of loan defaults, as captured here.

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