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Nigeria, Best Place to Plant Seeds for Next Wave of African Entrepreneurs -Russ Fisher-Ives

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By Chukwuemeka fred agbata

Any nation that wishes to advance technologically and play big, in the games of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, AI, must invest significantly in Education and make it possible for more students to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, subjects.

This is exactly what Russ Fisher-Ives, Co-Founder and his fellow Co-Founders are doing, with RoboRaves International. I recently had a chat with Russ on his thoughts on the future of Robotics in Africa.

Russ stated that, Robotics brings technology for the 21st Century. “As we move to make our machines smaller, so, they run more efficiently, they use resources better. We start to take our old machines and we start to bring in computer coding, micro-processors, so, our old machines become smart machines”, he stressed. This, he said is done, by understanding sensors, how to code and how to write the instructions. He explained that, after getting your instructions in, you then, find out whether it does what you want.

Russ stated that, talking about coding, the idea is to engage kids with Robotics, so that, they can get excited. “They take a little bit of knowledge and they get all excited to do something with it and ask to be taught more”, he emphasized.

On why Robotics in Nigeria, Russ is of the opinion that, this is because, Nigeria is the fastest growing country on the African continent and has a very huge young population and it has got the opportunities to bring skills for employment. “And when you plant the seeds in the minds of curious kids, not the adults, although we need the adults, but the curiosity in kids, then,  you have gardens full of ideas”, he stressed. He opined that, with this, Nigeria is the best place to plant the seeds for the next wave of entrepreneurs for Africa.

He stated that, the very first RoboRave was in 2001, carried out with 25 High School kids and it has expanded now to many other countries. On the funding of the RoboRave initiative, Russ stated that the project gets funding from registration and from different events that it carries out and donations from companies and Foundations. He emphasized that RoboRaves is constantly looking for resources. He gave the example of SONY, an international company, that has just signed for sponsorship of RoboRave in China.

Russ is of the opinion that, RoboRave is capable of improving the number of women in technology. He explained the strategy being used at RoboRave in getting the female gender to participate in the early years of RoboRave. He, however, emphasized that, it is not about bringing the girls alone, rather, it is about valuing what they do and listening to what they know. “You can’t stop passion. It’s a fire that burns”, he stressed.

On the reach of RoboRave, Russ stated that it has been able to reach close to about 200,000 kids, so far. He explained that, the Chinese has made RoboRave an official Robotics program for all of China. He stated that China has a lot of kids that play locally, but never come to the full event.

Russ, while demonstrating the workings of a Robot, stated that, it is all about input, processing and output. On the fear that, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will, eventually, take all the jobs of mankind, Russ is of the opinion that, it is a question with so many dimensions. “The bottom line is that, we are the ones that are coding. We control the information that goes in. The real issue is that, we are now building Robots that are learning from their environment and are writing their own codes”, he stressed.

“So, do we have the possibility of having Robots acquiring more skills than we put into them? Yes”, he declared.

He emphasized that, what we should now be aiming for, is how to effectively control the Robots and how to shut them off. “This is why we need to teach the kids the ethics of Robotics, which is the new challenge that RoboRave is aiming to achieve in 2018”, he concluded.

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E-Business

Why and How Government Should Encourage Coding Education

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Coding education has been identified as critical to prepare young people with requisite skills for future jobs and that is why governments must embrace the programme to reduce unemployment,

 

Mr. Olajide Ajayi, ambassador Africa Code Week Nigeria, in a chat with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek underscored the benefits of learning to code at a young age.

 

Ajayi said, “…cannot be overemphasized. Yes, it is agreed that not all future jobs would require you to be a coder, what’s certain is that most would require collateral skills and competencies that can be acquired through coding education”.

 

“Such essential skills”, Ajayi noted” are as logical and critical reasoning, patience, attention to detail, self-reliance, language and memorization are all examples of skills one can gain through coding Education”.

 

Launched in 2015 by SAP EMEA, in partnership with the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre, Africa Code Week is an initiative that brings together hundreds of schools, teachers, governments, businesses and non-profit organisations with the aim to empower young people across Africa with digital literacy skills.

 

In the report released earlier in the week, Claire Gillissen-Duval, director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and global project lead for Africa Code Week, explained “We also saw unprecedented collaboration between our public and private sector partners, as well as from NGOs such as Code For Change that leveraged their participation in Africa Code Week 2017 to scale coding classes across 100 secondary schools in SA over the next 12 months.”

 

The initiative, which took place in October, is now actively supported by UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, 15 African governments, over 100 partners and 100 ambassadors across the continent.

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Experts task NASS on Legal Framework for Data Protection

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African Academic Network on Internet Policy has requested that the National Assembly inserts the following in data protection framework or bill, “the use of personal data must be in accordance with the purpose for which it was collected, consent of the individual must be obtained prior to collecting his/her personal data; rights of the individual to seek legal remedies for misuse and or unauthorized access to his/her personal data must be guaranteed”.

This was the submission at the two day seminar/Colloquium of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy held at IITA, Ibadan recently.

The theme of the two day seminar was, ‘Privacy and Security: Building the Evidence Base and a multi-stakeholder action base for Personal Data Protection in Nigeria’. It was revealed at the seminar, that most African countries including Nigeria do not have data protection laws.

It was revealed at the panel sessions that there are five primary concerns around the collection of the use of personal data both online and offline in Nigeria, they include, the use of personal data may be incompatible with the purpose for which it was collected; individuals have no rights in relation to the collection, use and storage of their personal information; Nigerians are not offered adequate opportunities to consent to or opt out of data collection.

More so, there is limited to no transparency around the processing of personal data and there is limited information available around how this personal data is used and stored, leading to greater risk of a personal data breach; children are exposed to privacy risks online and often lack the legal capacity to give valid consent and may unknowingly disclose personal information to online platforms due to the appealing nature of their visual content.

In his opening remarks, the Executive vice chairman of ISGPP, Dr. Tunji Olaopa said that African continent is touted as fertile ground for Netpreneurs, Mobile institutions, increasing use of technology and leveraging the internet to address developmental challenges.

He added that, with the exponential increase in the use of personal information by businesses in technology age, data protection has become such a defining compelling agenda for priority attention in many countries worldwide.

Olaopa emphasized that it is high time that Africa aligns itself with this global movement by coming up with sufficiently strong and intelligent data protection policy to drive the growth of the African Digital Economy.

While giving a brief overview of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, member of the steering committee, Dr. Temitope Aladesanmi said that the formation of the group was as a result of the poor and low level of African voices specifically to Internet Policy and governance.

He explained that the European Union General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) would come to effect May 2019 and as such, it has significant impact for some local organizations who are in business with the EU maybe required to conform with the standard.

“One of the direct output of the main conference was the imperative of the need to begin an immediate discourse with respect to data protection and security in Africa.”

According to Co-creation Hub Nigeria, Emmanuel Okochu, said that the biggest challenge in Data Protection in Nigeria is that most users do not have a detailed understanding of positive sides of data protection entails.

“The people you seek to protect are the ones who don’t understand why they should be protected. When you try to explain to people how dangerous it is to keep posting every thing about them online”.

Several representatives came from other African including, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Code voir to mention a few.

According to Tope Ogundipe of Paradigm Initiative, “it is dangerous to exist in an environment where you don’t know how your information is used. It is possible you are put under surveillance without any legal framework”.

Dr. shyllon suggested that targeted national interventions and advocacy should be dependent on accessibility to ongoing or future national processes for the development of laws and policies on the protection of personal information.

Interventions could involve technical guidance for states to ensure proposed laws adopt a balanced approached with human rights consideration, assistance with amendment of laws and policies or addressing implementation challenges”.

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Ibadan’s Tech Ecosystem Set to Host Stakeholders at IBPulse’s After5ive

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IBPulse, Ibadan’s leading online platform, will host tech startup founders, entrepreneurs and other tech industry players and enthusiasts at the Homecoming Edition of After5ive on Thursday December 21, at Latitude Lounge, Ventura Mall Ibadan, Oyo state, by 5pm.

 

It’s an interactive informal networking event where startup founders, entrepreneurs, industry players, government, media and other stakeholders discuss issues, developments, challenges and growth opportunities for the ecosystem.

 

This edition is supported by partners including Oyo state government, GberaTinrin Studios and TinklinD.

 

It is targeted at attracting tech founders, developers and other tech players that will be in Ibadan for end-of-the-year festivities.

 

Attendance at the event is free, while registration is required and this could be done by visiting ibpulse.com/afterfive

 

Speakers billed for this edition includes Abimbola Adekanmbi, Oyo state Commissioner for finance and budget, Seun Onigbinde, Co-founder at BudgIT, Niyi Ajao, Special Adviser to Oyo state government on ICT, Wole Odetayo, Executive Director, Wennovation Hub, Adewale Yusuf, CEO of Techpoint.ng, Adewale Oladipupo, Team Lead at TechCityNG and Ayobami Oyaleke, Founder, Placements.ng

 

Others include Olanrewaju Abidogun, Curator, ForLoop Ibadan, Oluwamayowa Oshidero, Head of Digital Strategy, TinklinD, and Tony Rowland Awobode, General Manager, thirtytwo FM.

 

Paul Adepoju, host and convener of After5ive, Speaking about the event said, “While tech in Nigeria had been adjudged by what is happening in Lagos, latest developments are convincing individuals in other parts of the country that they can successfully launch startups in any part of the country.

 

“We have several of such success stories in Ibadan and we look forward to connecting the various players and advancing various topical issues.”

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