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NCC Has Committed Over N200M To Research & Development – EVC

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The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has declared that the Commission had committed over N200 million into the promotion of research and development (R&D) in order to drive innovation in the country’s telecommunications sector.

Danbatta stated this during the prize presentation ceremony of the 2021 NCC National Essay Competition held on Tuesday, November 23, 2021, at the Conference Room of the Commission’s Head Office in Abuja.

At the event which marked the 3rd edition of the annual competition organised by the Commission, the EVC said the Commission has invested modestly in research grants, instituted professorial chairs in universities across the country, supported tech startups, and sponsored national essay competitions and many more social investments in order to ensure synergy and linkages among industry, the academia and the youth.

Over 2,000 entries were received from 97 public and private tertiary institutions for the competition in which Esther Oluwabukola Gbeja, a 600-Level student of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Ilorin, was declared overall winner. Gbeja received a cash prize of N500,000.00, a laptop, and a printer; while the first runner-up, Moses Nosa Edosa, a final year student of Accounting at the University of Port Harcourt, received a cash prize of N300,000.00 only.

Two second runners-up emerged from the competition to pick the third prize. MarcPatrick Efevuriri Efeni, a 200-Level student of Cybersecurity at the Airforce Institute of Technology, Kaduna; and Nasiru Abdul Karim, a 400-Level student of Computer Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, both came third having scored same number of points. They both received cash prizes of N200,000 each. The EVC said NCC gladly accommodated the additional prize due to the tie in the third place, as a mark of encouragement.

According to Danbatta, the topic for this year’s essay competition, “5G Technology: Opportunities & challenges”, was carefully chosen to ensure that the youths have a good understanding of the new technology. He said Nigeria’s vibrant youth populace stands to benefit massively from the deployment of 5G technology, which the Commission is set to launch in 2022.

The NCC CEO said the Commission initiated and has maintained the annual essay competition to stimulate the interest of Nigerians especially the young people, to contribute to efforts in driving innovation in the technological ecosystem of Nigeria. “It is on this premise that NCC took the step to encourage Nigerian students to remain pro-active and partake in the national competition that challenges students to be competitive and engage their best efforts,” he said.

While emphasising the critical importance of communications as the foundation for the technological development of society and its role in the provision of vital infrastructure for national security, the EVC highlighted the need to invest in research programmes as observed in advanced nations, where a lot of resources are channeled into R&D.

Prof. Danbatta seized the opportunity provided by the event to reiterate the assurances of the Commission to Nigerians that 5G technology will expand the mobile ecosystem into a new realm and the impact will be felt in various sectors of the economy.

The Chairman of the 3rd NCC National Essay Competition Committee, Edoyemi Ogoh, who is also a Deputy Director in the Commission’s Technical Standards and Network Integrity Department, commended the EVC’s effort in recognising the academia as a key stakeholder in the development of the communications sector, and in encouraging that critical sector to have a natural connection with the industry.
Ogoh further said that the Commission “knows the importance of innovative thinking in the growing ICT industry in Nigeria and as such, this has made the Commission to engage youths in various tertiary institutions across the nation to compete in essay writing on 5G technology.”

Also speaking at the event, Director, Public Affairs at the NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said the essay competition is one of the most important initiatives the Commission, and expressed his delight at the ability of the winners who have demonstrated vast knowledge on the subject matter during their presentation. Adinde also emphasised the influence of the competition in the stimulation of the minds of the target audience and the creation of positive awareness to debunk misconceptions about the 5G technologies.

The Director Public Affairs said, the outcome of the competition is an encouragement to the NCC Management to continue to support the national essay competition while ensuring that the Commission sustains such programme. He said the results are evident today as the NCC has, through the essay contest, produced four ambassadors of 5G. “These youths can go out and engage their peers about 5G, its benefits, opportunities and address the negative preconceptions about the 5G network,” Adinde said.

The essay competition was initiated by the NCC to deepen awareness and knowledge of telecommunications stakeholders in the country, especially the young people. Interestingly, every successive year, the competition is marked by massive responses in the number of essays submitted by students.

Though the Commission has been able to organise three of such national essay competitions, the resultant social and emotional equity has had impressive and quantifiable values on the Commission as a leading Nigerian public sector brand.

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TechNews

MTN, Airtel, Mafab, Get Approval From NCC Over 5G Deployment

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MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Airtel Networks Ltd and Mafab Communications Ltd., have been announced bidders of the forthcoming 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) spectrum auction.

Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced , said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Mr Adinde said the license was for the deployment of Fifth generation (5G) networks in the country.

He noted that the qualified bidders met the criteria for participation in the licensing process of 3.5Ghz spectrum, including payment of the stipulated Intention to Bid Deposit (IBD) as outlined in the Information Memorandum (IM).

Mr Adinde said that the mock auction was scheduled for December 10, while the main auction will be held on December 13, both in Abuja.

He said: “The stage is now set for the three companies to participate in the main auction.

“They will also participate in the mandatory mock auction process, which will come as a precursor to the main auction.

“The commission has also reaffirmed the dates for the conduct of both the mock auction and the main auction.”

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Startups

AFEX Launches $100m Food Security Fund

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AFEX, Nigeria’s leading commodities market player, has today announced a new $100m 10-year bond called The Food Security Fund (FSF). The financing will strengthen Africa’s food security and produce three million MT of food annually on the continent.

AFEX’s fund will support the financing of 250,000 hectares of land for commercial and smallholder farming, initially consisting of 30,000 hectares in the Nigerian states of Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun, Cross River & the FCT, before covering markets across East and West Africa.

The focus of the The Food Security Fund will be to explore and optimize climate smart innovations and high yield agronomy protocols to ensure more food is produced and that land is used efficiently. As a blended finance structure, with an external fund manager, AFEX’s $100m bond will boost food security in Nigeria, with additional impact across Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

A significant portion of the funding will be allocated to constructing warehouses. In Nigeria alone there is only capacity to store 4% of annual grain production. Restricted production has led to a 300,000 MT gap between demand and supply of seeds, and a 10 million MT gap in demand and supply of grains, increasing food import costs, and declining capacity utilization of processing plants.

“The launch of The Food Security Fund is another really important milestone as we chart our journey building the physical and technology-enabled infrastructure for the continent’s commodity sector,” said Ayodeji Balogun, CEO at AFEX. “Finance will always be a key component of that infrastructure and so we’re very excited to roll out this bond to deliver what will eventually be a decade’s worth of impact. One of our core missions is to help the continent feed itself and we deliberately aligned our company goals with the UN SDGs from the outset, in particular the first and second goals to end hunger and eliminate poverty.”

Having worked with capital markets players to structure debt securities for over 200,000 smallholder farmers to date, AFEX is well positioned to roll out the Food Security Fund. Bolstered by an existing network of over 100 warehouses and digital trading platforms that link investors with producers and processors, the company’s commitment to the agricultural sector and deep industry knowledge will add crucial expertise behind this much needed funding.

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Startups

Octamile Raises $500,000 In A Pre-seed Round Les By EchoVC

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Octamile, an insurtech company enabling insurance and non-insurance businesses to protect African consumers from financial loss, has come out of stealth mode with $500,000 from a pre-seed funding round led by EchoVC with participation from Fiat Ventures, Kesho VC, Trade X, Verraki Partners, Dale Mathias, Kyle Daley (Founding team member of Chime) and other local and international angel investors. 

Speaking on the launch, the Founder and CEO of Octamile, Gbenro Dara, said that “Insurance is one sector that has the power to elevate the economy, but only about 5 out of 100 Africans have any form of insurance protection. The industry has lagged in the use of technology to deliver better products and services.” 

Gbenro has spent the past decade in leading roles at various technology startups, including Jumia, myautogenius.com, Hotels.ng, Efritin.com, Cheki.com and Olist by Opera software. With a degree in insurance from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, Dara is a Member of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria. 

“Our team has identified key areas where we add value and support the growth of the Insurance ecosystem with data and technology by partnering with traditional insurance businesses and non-insurance businesses,” said Gbenro. 

He cited the Access to Insurance Initiative – A2ii – (a global partnership working to ensure that the worlds excluded and underserved have access to insurance); insurance allows the worlds excluded and underserved to take control of their lives and reduce their vulnerability against risks. Hence, insurance is vital to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Africa. 

At Octamile, we believe in simplifying access to and reducing friction in the insurance experience to protect Africans from financial loss. Our digital insurance solution enables non-insurance businesses to offer Insurance as a feature in their already existing products. For insurance providers, we are powering them with the data and technology to improve customer experience, reduce administrative costs and optimise the profitability of their insurance portfolio. 

Having been described as the ‘operating system infrastructure for digital insurance in Africa,’ Octamile offers the following benefits to the ecosystem: 

  • Digital Claims: Our insurtech solution empowers insurance providers to provide a seamless claims experience and reduce administrative costs by integrating end-to-end claims management solutions into their existing systems and processes. Octamile’s end-to-end solution covers first notification of loss, remote inspections, rule-based decision making and payments. 
  • Improved Risk-Assessment: Increase the profitability of your insurance portfolio by integrating data from diverse sources to establish better pricing and risk profiling of your customers and their assets. Brokers, Banks, Fleet owners, Online Marketplaces can also leverage this data.
  • Embedded Insurance APIs: Non-Insurance businesses and developers can boost revenues and increase the life-cycle value of existing customers by adding insurance by ‘default’ as a feature in your product or existing business, powered via our flexible and customisable APIs

“Our goal over the next months will be to work closely with our partners, which include AXAMansard, and FirstBank, and onboard the dozens of insurers and startups on the waitlist ready to leverage the power of our solutions,” said Gbenro Dara, Founder and CEO, Octamile.

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