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Post-oil economy: Edo, Nigeria’s best kept secret –Ighodalo

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Chairman, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, has described Edo State as Nigeria’s best secret in driving growth and development in a post-oil economy. Ighodalo, who is also the Chairman of Edo Investment Summit, made this known at the maiden edition of the Edo Investment Summit in Benin, the state capital. He explained that, with its geographical location, natural endowments, dedication and commitment to drive private-sector investments, the south-south state had the capacity to create massive employment and become a sub-national economic hub.

Ighodalo, while delivering his address at the summit, which attracted other captains of industry from the public and private sector, said, “The Edo State Government has convened this gathering of global, national and state leaders from the government, business and civil society to unveil and showcase Nigeria’s best kept secret, and Nigeria’s best kept secret is Edo State, and to reset the vision of the state in a post-oil economy, a vision of prosperous, productive and peaceful Edo State that rises to its full economic potential as a vibrant engine of growth within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“In conceptualising our agenda for the summit, Edo State has engaged in a deep and rigorous assessment of factors and drivers of its future, which we will over the next few days deliberate on and then we will all together agree on the focus strategies and actions that will make Edo State the investors’ preferred choice. “Our goal at this investment summit is simple. We will identify the factor endowments that give Edo the competitive and comparative advantage.

We will explore and examine what we must do to create the factor conditions to maximise these endowments and we will commit to the actions that make Edo State the most competitive sub-national investment environment in Nigeria.” Besides, he said the report and recommendations from the summit, tagged Alaghodaro 2017 and with the theme, “Envisioning the Future,” would provide a framework for the Edo strategic action plan going forward.

He noted that a lot of work had already been done in conceptualising and providing structures and appropriate incentives, which had led to the increase in investments and interest in the state. Ighodalo, however, stressed that there was still “so much work to be done” based on the state’s current economic rankings.

These, he said, included being ranked 16th out of the 36 states on budget size, eighth for solid mineral production, 19th for domestic debt profile, third among the 36 states on external debt profile and fifth for internal revenue generation. Ighodalo added, “These rankings are now in our past.

We are going forward and we are looking forward. We will strive to attain global best in class in socio-economic development rankings and ratios. “So, as we look into the future, we in Edo State do so conscious that what has brought us thus far is not enough to take us into the future. So collectively, we shall uplift our gain.”

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Declining Interest in STEM Education in Nigeria: The Need for Urgent Intervention

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By 2030, more than half of the jobs in the world will be STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – based. According to research from Brookings – a Washington based research institution – more STEM-oriented metropolitan economies perform strongly on a wide range of economic indicators, from innovation to employment.

But how prepared is Nigeria for this reality? Are students in Nigerian schools equipped to take advantage of this opportunity?

Technology companies are springing up, the number of jobs requiring STEM based skills is on the increase, but it is sad that Nigerian students are poorly equipped to fill this huge gap. The challenges range from poverty, poor school funding and waning interest from students, to poorly trained teachers, inadequate learning aids, incessant strikes, among others.

Consequently, traditional education in Nigeria is failing, with STEM education being the worst hit. Students are largely uninspired to pursue their passion in STEM related fields, thereby leaving them unprepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century world.

In a quest to change this negative trend, integrated digital payment and commerce company, Interswitch is launching an initiative conceived and developed to promote STEM education in Nigeria by providing the right support and reward for students and other stakeholders.

The initiative, called Interswitch SPAK, is poised to support young Nigerians who are interested in acquiring the problem-solving skills that come with a solid STEM education, in order to fix the challenges facing Nigeria in various sectors of the economy. This initiative would ultimately position young Nigerian professionals to compete favourably with their colleagues globally.

To kickstart the initiative, a national science competition is set to begin in April 2018. The competition will feature students from all states of the federation competing in core STEM subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.

The top two students in the competition will be awarded a five-year scholarship, a Mac laptop and gold trophy; and a 3-year scholarship, a laptop and a silver trophy respectively. While the third position will receive a-two-year scholarship, a laptop, and a bronze trophy.

This is indeed a laudable initiative which should increase student interest and enrolment in STEM subjects, among other benefits.

Owing to existing incompetence levels, a large number of jobs in Nigeria’s employment ecosystem have been outsourced to expatriates. Initiatives like SPAK will on the long run increase competitiveness and improve employment levels for Nigerians. And as a matter of cause-and-effect, improved STEM skills at the grass roots will equal greater employment, lower rate of job losses, higher exports and a direct positive impact on Nigeria’s GDP.

While STEM education may have been plagued by various challenges in the past, Interswitch SPAK is one great step towards ameliorating the situation, and it deserves the support and commendation of every stakeholder. One also hopes that other successful Nigerian tech companies will be inspired by this to create similar opportunities for the nation’s education system.

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Sokoto introduces tractor hire scheme

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Sokoto state government said it will start a tractor hire scheme to boost mechanization in farms and assist farmers to enhance their production capacity.

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal stated this in Kware LGA when he inspected agricultural processing machines to be distributed to farmers under the state’s FADAMA III additional funding scheme.

“We are starting with 30 tractors, with each of the three senatorial districts to have 10 tractors each. This initiative will be implemented with the collaboration of the FADAMA III coordinating office, the state ministry of agriculture and the state investment company which will provide the tractors,” the Governor stated.

 

He said a strict vetting process will be implemented for those to benefit from the gesture.

“We want to ensure that both the small and large scale farmers have access to the tractors and other machineries.

“We hope to expand the scheme to ensure we have enough tractors to help our farmers have access to modern farm tools at affordable prices,” he added.

Tambuwal said 127 farmer Processing Groups, made up of 1,385 small-holder farmers, have benefitted from the agricultural processing machines and equipment distributed to farmers across the state by the FADAMA III office in Sokoto.

According to him, in addition to the creation of two agricultural produce aggregation centres in the state, eleven tomato production net houses have been established at various locations in the state.

“This gesture is part of our collective efforts towards modernizing our farming techniques so as to improve yield and income of our farmers,” he stated.

The Governor further revealed that 243 unemployed youths have been trained to embrace agriculture, saying this was done with a view to exploring the agribusiness sector and instilling in the youths and women the technical and practical skills that could enhance their competitiveness in agri-prenueship.

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Accenture: Technology fast changing lifestyles

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Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society, Accenture’s Nigeria’s Managing Director Technology, Mr. Niyi Tayo, has said.

 

He said this during the presentation of a new report by the company in Lagos. Tayo explained that advancing technology is fueling intelligent enterprises and that this requires fundamental shift in leadership as contained in Accenture Tech Vision 2018.

 

According to him, just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation — and, by extension, the companies that provide those services. He said this digital trend, thus, requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information in a secure manner.

 

According to Tayo, Nigerian banks and telecommunication companies are also taking the first steps towards artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service by implementing chatbots. Besides, he said that they are beginning to use advanced analytics to provide next best product offers to increase product uptake and fraud analytics to manage risks.

 

The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy: The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy, which include citizen AI, extended reality, data veracity, frictionless business and Internet of Thinking (IoTh).

 

 

“Through these new partnerships with customers, employees and business collaborators, companies are building greater trust and further integrating themselves into society, becoming more indispensable and fueling their own growth,” Niyi said.

 

In the report, Accenture noted that adopting AI for growth and positive social impact means forming new partnerships with customers and business partners Rapid advances in AI and other technologies are accelerating the creation of intelligent enterprises and enabling companies to integrate themselves into people’s lives, according to the annual technology report that predicts key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years.

 

However, capitalising on growth opportunities while also having a positive impact on society requires a new era of leadership that prioritizes trust and greater responsibility, the report said.

 

The 2018 study highlights how rapid advancements in technologies, including AI, advanced analytics and the cloud, are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live.

 

 

This, in turn, is changing companies’ relationships with their customers, employees and business partners. As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 6,300 business and IT executives worldwide.

 

More than four in five respondents (84 per cent) agree that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of how people live today. For example, they reported that Google, through its many applications and analytics capabilities, has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives thereby influencing their way of life.

 

Google maps are used for journey management, references and suggestions on places, products and services of interest and through this, Google can shape people’s consumption behaviours. Also, Feedback from users can influence uptake of suggestions from Google by other people.

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