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Building the new NASENI: The journey so far and what lies ahead



By Khalil S. Halilu

Six months ago, I was appointed by President Tinubu as the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), the agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for driving industrial innovation, and technology transfer, in Nigeria.

It has been a most interesting period, full of both expected and unexpected learnings and experiences. First and foremost, I have to say it is a great privilege for me to be serving in this role, a beneficiary of one of the President’s earliest appointments. I came to this job with a background in building and leading technology startups: I founded ShapShap, a logistics business (which won a ‘Innovator Prize’ at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition, GITEX, in Dubai, in 2022); OyaOya, Africa’s first on-demand commodity marketplace, and The CANs Technology Hub, the first eco-friendly Tech Hub in West Africa.

One of my first priorities upon assumption of office, was staff welfare and development. From my experience, no organisation cannot thrive beyond the capacity and the motivation of its personnel. It was immediately clear to me that I needed to put the staff at the center of the re-engineering I want to achieve at NASENI. This led to the setting-up of a Committee, staffed and led by our junior-level staff—we’re starting from the bottom, and working our way up—to come up with recommendations about improving their welfare, and kickstarting the journey of making NASENI a public sector employer of choice in Nigeria.

The Committee has since submitted their report, and I have wasted no time implementing most of the recommendations. One of the things they asked for was putting in place a functioning Staff Bus system, to help cut down on commuting costs to the office. We wasted no time implementing this. We have in fact already implemented ninety-percent of all the recommendations proposed.

Another major area of focus has been the NASENI brand. NASENI has never really thought about itself as a ‘brand,’ despite the fact that we are playing in a space where branding, positioning and public perception matter greatly. We needed to ask ourselves the question: What comes to mind when people think about NASENI? It was an easy question to answer: most people don’t even think of NASENI at all. Anecdotal evidence suggested many Nigerians had never heard of the agency, despite it being designed to be at the forefront of advancing Nigeria’s industrialization, as the only purpose-built Federal agency with the mandate to intervene in all fields of Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

Our work was therefore clearly cut out from the start. We needed to lay out a vision, a definition: this is who we are, what we do, what we would like to achieve—and how all of these fit into President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda for Nigeria. This is how our Strategic Launchpad was born, the product of intense brainstorming and consultations. That Launchpad has four (4) Pillars, which spell out what we want to achieve, as follows: Enhance Nigeria’s Manufacturing Capacity; Reduce Nigeria’s Import Bill through R&D; Strategically Reposition NASENI; and Leverage the Comparative Advantages of Nigeria’s 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Launchpad also clarifies our nine focus areas: Engineering & Manufacturing; Renewable Energy & Sustainability; Health & Biotechnology; Agriculture & Food Sustainability; Transportation & Mobility; Education & Creative Industry; IT & Software; Construction & Smart Cities; and Defence & Aerospace.

So, the last six months have been about setting things right, clarifying the vision, laying the foundation for the future. To put it in the simplest possible terms, in the short- and medium-term, I would like to make NASENI—and its products, Institutes, companies and people—a household name and brand in Nigeria. I am pleased to note we have started making this happen; in February we launched three sets of NASENI-branded products: a solar-powered irrigation system, electric motorcycles and tricycles, and off-grid solar home systems. We will ensure that these are available in the market at affordable prices. The more we are able to produce locally, the better positioned we are to also explore the export market, and earn foreign exchange for Nigeria.

Secondly, I would like to see NASENI become the Go-To technology-transfer Agency in Nigeria. What this means is that we should become, and be seen as, the primary driver of the transfer of cutting-edge technology from around the world, to Nigeria, where it can be deployed to impactful ends, creating commercially-viable products, jobs, and producing skilled talent.

It is clear to me that we cannot do it alone. We need to partner and collaborate in unprecedented ways, with serious players in the fields that we are active or seeking to be active in. Since I assumed office, I am pleased to say that I have done a lot of work in terms of signaling a willingness to partner, within and outside the Government.

At the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, in Beijing, China, in October 2023, we signed landmark cooperation agreements—worth US$2 Billion if fully realized—with three Chinese companies, at a ceremony presided over by His Excellency Vice President Kashim Shettima, GCON. At COP-28 in Dubai, we co-signed, with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), yet another major agreement with another Chinese company, to set up a US$150 million Lithium-Ion Battery manufacturing and processing factory in Nigeria. We are also partnering with an Indonesian firm to build a factory to produce coal-based fertilizer in Nigeria.

I know that people are often skeptical about MOUs, but I am determined to prove the naysayers wrong. Every great advancement starts with an agreement of some sort, and the most important thing is to keep pushing and building, to see these agreements as the requisite scaffolding that will allow us to deliver on our vision.

I am pleased to say that we closed 2023 by putting back on course a technical partnership that I inherited when I assumed office. That Partnership, known formally as Delta-2, is between Nigeria and the Czech Republic, and involves the joint selection and financing of a range of innovation projects combining expertise and talent from the two countries; with NASENI representing Nigeria, and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TA CR) as our bilateral partner. Delta-2 had suffered some delays and setbacks, which we quickly worked to resolve. We then went ahead to sign implementation agreements with the eleven selected beneficiaries, who will now receive the required funding, in a phased arrangement.

So, I can sum up my six months so far as EVC/CEO—September to February 2023—as a period of settling down, taking stock, clarifying the vision, giving staff a new sense of purpose, and charting what 2024 should look like. NASENI has a number of Engineering Development Institutes across the country, and I’ve been visiting them one by one, to meet our staff and to learn more about their work and how I can better support them. I am excited by what this year holds for us at NASENI, and for Nigeria as a whole.

We will continue to engage actively with our audiences and stakeholders, invest in our staff, promote our brand, and, most importantly, work very hard to put our products in the hands of consumers. We will seek and welcome feedback, learn from our mistakes, and support local innovation wherever we find it.

We will play our part in contributing to the industrialisation of Nigeria. It will be a challenging journey, but we are fully prepared. I am reminded of the timeless words of John F. Kennedy, justifying the effort to invest resources in America’s space race: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” These powerful words are our guide as we proceed in what I believe will be the most momentous year in the three-decade-history of NASENI.

Halilu is the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Abuja, Nigeria.


War against piracy: NCC parades three seized containers of pirated book in Rivers



… We’ll prosecute perpetrators, accomplices — DG

Barth Ndubuwah, Port Harcourt

The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has Friday conducted journalists round the three containers seized by the Commission in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Onne Port,Area 2, containing about 3,000 cartons of pirated books, estimated  over N100m at market value.

 Addressing the Press and other stakeholders in the book industry in Port Harcourt, the Director General (DG) of NCC, Dr John Asein said henceforth the Commission will not hesitate “to seal premises, go after the proceeds of crimes and deal with the suspected materials summarily,” courtesy of the stronger Copyright  Statute with stiffer penalties for criminal  infringement.

The DG added that “the Commission  will hold anyone found with copies of pirated books accountable and presumed to be complicit in crime of piracy either as primary or secondary suspects.”

He said the renewed commitment to tackle piracy in all sectors complements government’s high level policy intervention to turn around the economy and grow the country’s creative industry. This,the DG said is in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu led Federal Government of Nigeria.

He thanked the Nigeria Customs Service, the Department of  State Services (DSS) and other stakeholders whose  cooperation he said has made the seizures possible.

Dr Asein assured that henceforth NCC will be stepping up its enforcement  drive to decimate copyright piracy in Nigeria until it is reduced to a single digit number.

“With the support of partnering agencies and the cooperation of rights owners ,this is a task that must be accomplished. I invite landlords, transporters, warehouse owners, school proprietors,market authorities and the general public to report any suspicious activities in the book chain to the Nigerian Copyright Commission or any of the  partnering agencies,” the DG said.

Also speaking, the Area Comptroller of Customs, Onne Port, Babani Imam, who spoke through, CC Epundu said there is every need for  Federal Government Agencies to collaborate, noting that Customs Area 2 Onne has been intercepting drugs, arms and other contraband  products and handed them over to the appropriate agency handling such issue. He appealed for the  sustenance of the inter-agency partnership.

On his part, the President of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Chief Uche Anoke, who was represented by his Vice and CEO of Africans First Publishers Plc, Austin Onwubiko lauded  NCC for the excellent job they have been doing in combating piracy. He pointed out that the fight no doubt will allow the patent right owners to enjoy the fruit of their labour. He urged NCC to sustain their collaborative activities with other agencies, for optimal results.

He lamented that Publishers struggle to produce books, but pirates would not allow them to reap from their sweat.

He called on the Federal Government to liaise with the Chinese Embassy to stop the unholy trade from that country.

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NITDA hosts stakeholders in Lagos on digital literacy awareness



The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has held a stakeholders meeting in Lagos to create awareness to bridge the digital divide and empower Nigerians with essential digital skills.

The agency held the session in partnership with the GIZ/DTC.

The Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, in his opening remarks, emphasised the critical role of digital literacy skills in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. He highlighted the NDLF as a comprehensive roadmap developed by NITDA, in collaboration with key stakeholders to equip Nigerians with the necessary digital skills to thrive in the digital age.

Inuwa, who was represented by Dr. Falilat Jimoh, of the Digital Inclusion Unit of the  Agency’s South West Zonal Office (SWZO), asserted that the collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Education were underscored, focusing on integrating the framework’s provisions into the national school curriculum.

“This initiative aims to equip students from a young age with foundational digital skills essential for future success,” he noted.

Furthermore, he mentioned that NITDA’s partnership with GIZ/DTC is fostered to establish robust standards for digital literacy content, ensuring high-quality and relevant learning materials aligned with NDLF’s objectives.

Inuwa stressed that NITDA’s commitment to digital inclusion extends beyond formal education, with ongoing digital literacy programs targeting women, artisans, and other underserved segments of the society.

He emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts, stating that the framework enables the implementation of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0, 2024–2027 pillars, “Fostering Digital Literacy and Cultivating Talents.”

The SRAP 2.0 is a living document that is being redrafted to align with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy policy document “Accelerating Our Collective Responsibility,” which has Five strategic pillars namely, Knowledge, Policy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Capital, and Trade.

According to the NITDA boss, these programs aim to empower individuals to participate meaningfully in the digital economy and access online opportunities.

“This resonates with the Knowledge pillar of the Ministry tailored to accelerate the collective responsibilities of all stakeholders towards achieving inclusivity in all its dimensions which supports the Renewed Hope Agenda that is focused on propelling the Nigerian economy and enhancing the welfare of its citizens,” he said.

Hence, he stated that the workshop goal is to create widespread awareness about the NDLF through interactive sessions and discussions, providing stakeholders with a deeper understanding of its components, target audiences, and potential impact on bridging the digital divide among Nigerians.

Additionally, the Director-General emphasised the importance of collective action in the successful implementation of the NDLF, expressing gratitude for the collaboration with partners and the participation of stakeholders. He affirmed that the significance of tailoring the framework to the specific needs of Nigeria’s diverse population is to achieve maximum effectiveness.

In conclusion, Inuwa expressed confidence that the NDLF, coupled with collaborative efforts, will play a pivotal role in empowering Nigerians with the digital skills necessary to actively participate in the digital economy, and access online information and opportunities while contributing to a more inclusive and prosperous society. He then urged participants to continue collaborations to unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s digital future.

Earlier, the Commission Manager GIZ/DTC Nigeria,  Dr. Thuweba Diwani in her opening remarks delivered by Olusegun Alimi, the Technical Advisor, GIZ/DTC Nigeria, anticipated that the awareness session would be an avenue to dialogue and come up with a “Participatory Policy Implementation Framework (PPIF)” he added, “for policies to be sustainable they need to be owned by the people.”

The Digital Transformation Centre Nigeria (DTC Nigeria) is a project funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft Fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It focuses on digitalisation, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, aiming to enhance the country’s digital innovation ecosystem and boost its capacity for adopting digital innovations for economic and societal growth.

Other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at the dialogue were, the National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Lagos Public Private Partnership (PPP), Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), also, the private sectors represented were MTN Foundation, CISCO, Tech4Dev, Faith Foundation among others.

The moderator, Mr. Tayo Olosunde an ecosystem industry enthusiast affirmed that the stakeholders’ sessions had also been held in Kano and Abuja.

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9mobile refreshes 9Konfam value offer



Nigeria’s customer-centric company, 9mobile has spiced up its 9Konfam offerings as its customers are set to enjoy 9 times the value of recharge and more when they subscribe to this unique offering. This innovative plan, crafted with a focus on enhancing connectivity and value for its customers, promises to make connectivity with family and friends seamless and enjoyable.

The 9Konfam plan boasts unique benefits aimed at bringing families and friends closer while providing unparalleled value for money. Among its standout features, customers stand to enjoy an extraordinary 9 times the value on all recharges of N100 and above. This significant bonus is applicable for calls across all networks and SMS and data usage, catering to diverse communication needs.

In his comment, the Director of Product Innovation & Business Development at 9mobile, Kenechukwu Okonkwo said the company is committed to fostering connectivity and enriching customer experiences.

“At 9mobile, we understand the importance of staying connected with loved ones, and we are poised to offer a unique opportunity to make things seamless for our customer’s communications needs.”

He said that the 9Konfam plan is designed to offer incredible value on calls, data, and SMS.

“Whether you’re catching up with family, connecting with friends, or staying on top of business, 9Konfam ensures you get the most out of your mobile experience.”

Subscribers to the 9Konfam plan will enjoy a double dose of data delight during the initial six months of their subscription. This translates to a remarkable 100 percent data bonus on top of their purchased data bundles, ensuring an enhanced browsing, streaming, and chatting experience for all members of the 9Konfam family.

For those embarking on their journey with 9Konfam, the perks start when they activate their SIM cards. New subscribers are welcomed with a generous N1,000 welcome bonus, giving them a head start to enjoy the multitude of benefits offered by 9Konfam.

Transitioning to the 9Konfam plan has been streamlined for convenience. New customers can simply visit any 9mobile Experience Centre, or authorized retailers to activate their SIM cards or dial *1400# and commence enjoying the array of benefits offered by 9Konfam.

With 9Konfam, subscribers become valued members of a larger family, where connectivity is without limits, and they are assured of an experience that matches value and more.

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