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FG attracts investors’ interest in $2bn fiber infrastructure fund — Tijani

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the Nigerian government is already receiving significant interest from investors regarding its proposed $2 billion fund dedicated to laying fiber infrastructure across the country.

Dr. Tijani, speaking on the sidelines of the forum, highlighted the strategic importance of the project, stating that it would be one of his most substantial achievements as a Minister once completed. The project was initially proposed in December of the previous year, estimating a $2 billion investment to deploy approximately 95,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables, supplementing the existing 35,000 kilometers to ensure comprehensive national coverage.
The Minister shared the government’s approach to the funding.

“So we’re working hard to put it (the fund) together and we are extremely excited about the interest that we are getting. This is about infrastructure, so many people want to be part of it.

“And what we’re thinking is that the government is not going to pay for it, but the government will guarantee the loan for private companies to actualise it because if the government funds it then we have not achieved our objective.
“Not only that, we want to ensure that in the next two to three years, a significant part of Nigeria is covered. For those who understand the power of connectivity, you know that due to its economic significance, it is going to be one of the biggest things I do as a minister once we’re able to achieve it.”

He expressed enthusiasm about the interest from various investors, emphasising the collaborative nature of the initiative.
Addressing the challenge of limited profitability in laying fiber in certain areas, Dr. Tijani acknowledged that private companies are hesitant due to insufficient customers in those regions.

He said, “The reason why we’re not there yet as a country is that private companies will tell you that there are parts of Nigeria that if they invested and put fibre optic cable, there are not enough customers there to bring a return on investment.”

To counter this, the Ministry is focusing on connecting all public institutions across the country, stimulating internet demand and consumption.

The recently established National Broadband Alliance for Nigeria (NBAN) is a key component of this strategy, targeting institutions such as schools, hospitals, government offices, libraries, and markets. The Alliance aims to overcome consumption challenges, enhance return on investment (ROI) in the nationwide fiber network, and position Nigeria at the forefront of the global digital landscape.

Dr. Tijani concluded by stating, “For those who understand the power of connectivity, you know that due to its economic significance, it is going to be one of the biggest things I do as a minister once we’re able to achieve it.”
The government’s commitment to leveraging private investment for critical infrastructure projects underscores its vision for sustainable and widespread connectivity in the country.

Infotech

NITDA, NIMC forge partnership to revolutionise Nigeria’s digital infrastructure

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

In a strategic move aimed at reinforcing Nigeria’s digital ecosystem and fostering digital trust, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has announced its collaboration with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on the implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) initiatives.

This collaboration is expected to significantly enhance digital identity management, streamline the payment ecosystem, and facilitate secure, seamless data exchange across the country.

The partnership was formalised during a recent high-level meeting between NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, and NIMC Director General, Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote.

During the meeting, Inuwa reiterated the importance of building robust DPI stacks to ensure the secure exchange of data, emphasizing that partnerships such as this are instrumental in transforming the national identity system. He also highlighted the pivotal role of PKI in driving Nigeria’s digital transformation agenda forward.

This partnership represents a key step forward in enhancing Nigeria’s digital infrastructure, ensuring secure data exchange, and fostering digital trust among stakeholders.

In discussing NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0, Inuwa provided insights into the agency’s evolving vision and mission, which have been crafted to align with current industry realities.

The SRAP 2.0 is built on eight key pillars, including fostering digital literacy, cultivating talent, building a robust technology research ecosystem, strengthening policy implementation and legal frameworks, promoting inclusive access to digital infrastructure and services, enhancing cybersecurity and digital trust, nurturing an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, forging strategic partnerships and collaborations, and cultivating a vibrant organisational culture with an agile workforce.

Echoing Inuwa’s sentiments, NIMC’s Director General expressed the commission’s enthusiasm for collaborating with NITDA to advance the digital economy sector.

She emphasised the importance of cooperation among institutions to achieve common goals, stating, “No institution can implement all its policies and programs in isolation; we need each other to achieve the set targets.”

She also highlighted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s support for data integration and harmonisation across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as well as the adoption of PKI to drive the country’s growth and development agenda.

The meeting concluded with the inauguration of a 12-man committee tasked with kick-starting and harmonising the initiatives outlined in the collaboration.

The committee is expected to deliver a comprehensive implementation report in the coming weeks, marking a significant milestone in the collaboration between NITDA and NIMC.

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Focus on building AI not just for Nigeria but global market — Tijani

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The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr ‘Bosun Tijani has charged participants to focus on building Artificial Intelligence(AI) indications for the global market.

The Minister spoke at a 4-day stakeholders’ strategy workshop with the theme “Developing the High-Level Strategy and Implementation Plan for a National AI Strategy in Nigeria.”

Speaking, the Minister reminded participants of their collective responsibility in harnessing the power of AI for the betterment of humanity and urged them to embrace a future where connectivity and innovation serve as catalysts for national and global development.

While highlighting the profound impact of digital technology on human interactions and societal norms, he emphasised the need for inclusive participation in shaping the trajectory of AI development.

“Digital technologies are also quite transformational because of their scope. Not only do they connect, but they allow us to transform nearly every aspect of our lives as humans,” he added.

The Minister emphasised that inclusive dialogue and cooperation are  essential elements in shaping a future where AI serves the collective good.

He called for unity among the participants to embrace conflicting views that could emanate from their brainstorming on AI development.

While challenging participants to rise above ideological differences and embrace a vision of AI that transcends national boundaries, Dr Tijani averred that “I’m challenging each one of us that will participate in this workshop not to be too focused on strategies in building AI that is limited to Nigeria or Africa but to the world.”

“Let us show leadership globally so that the world could be converging and not diverging when we talk AI  because these set of technology tools and products that will be built from this workshop can be used across borders,” he noted.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, emphasised the significance of leveraging AI not only as a technological tool but as a catalyst for broader societal change.

The DG underscored the imperative of harnessing the transformative potential of AI for the betterment of Nigerian society with emphasis on not only developing a strategy for AI but also developing a strategy with AI.

“Our vision for this strategy is clear. It is to harness the power of AI to derive values from it while harnessing its potential and avoiding its errors,” he noted.

While stating that technology is like a double-edged sword with its promises and pitfalls, Inuwa said that the uniqueness of the workshop is not only to discuss but to actively share ideas through cognitive processes.

“This approach is fundamental because it will help us to use our diverse insights and expertise in creating a strategy that will be inclusive as well as reflecting our national consensus,” he averred.

The NITDA DG asserted that the strategy would help in making significant advancements toward achieving Mr President’s economic transformation in priority areas of national security, boosting agriculture to achieve food security, increasing the nation’s GDP, unlocking energy and transportation potentials as well as improving the healthcare sector among many others.

“Our success depends on our ability to work together across government, academia, industry and civil society in bringing our unique perspectives to this strategy which will help us craft not just an innovative strategy but a practicable and implementable strategy that will lay a foundation for a prosperous nation for Nigerians,” he concluded.

The highlight of the workshop was the breakout sessions with industry and global experts sharing insights on contextualising AI strategy, setting directional beacons for Nigeria’s AI, developing a national vision and goal setting for AI in Nigeria.

At the end of the workshop, participants who were grouped into syndicates which include; AI Ethics and Social Impact, AI Infrastructure and Ecosystem in Talent, AI Talent and Workforce Development, AI Research and Innovation, AI Adoption and Sector Focus, AI Policy and Governance, AI International Collaboration and Engagement, AI Safety and Regulations gave presentations on various strategic initiatives, roadmap development and thematic visioning needed for the development of a robust AI Strategy document.

While giving his vote of thanks, Dr Tijani thanked NITDA, Nigerian Communications Commission, Galaxy Backbone, Nigeria Data Protection Commission, Data Science Nigeria, Microsoft, Google, Meta, the academia and a host of other public and private organisations for their invaluable contribution to the success of the workshop.

Expressing his excitement at the active engagement by participants at the workshop where in-depth ideas and experiences were shared, he said that he was confident that a robust National AI Strategy which Nigerians can derive value from will be developed for the benefit of the nation and the world.

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PalmPay unveils first set of winners in Eid mobile bonanza

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PalmPay has announced the first set of winners in its ongoing Eid campaign tagged PalmPay Eid Bonanza, which kicked off on April 10th and will run until April 30th, 2024.

Since the start of the bonanza on April 10th, 5 lucky winners have been emerging daily simply by performing tasks on the PalmPay App such as transferring funds, airtime and data purchases, bill payments, and savings.

Comfort Udoh from Lagos, one of the proud recipients of an iPhone 15 Pro, expressed her sheer delight. “I simply won by recharging my phone with airtime on the PalmPay app. I received the exciting news via a call from PalmPay Nigeria. I thank them for the generous reward of a brand new iPhone 15 pro”

Also, Mr. Abegurin Patrick Segun’s winning entry came about when he placed a N100 bet using his PalmPay app. It was a delightful surprise for him to receive a call from PalmPay Nigeria, informing him of his victory in the daily raffle draw, and he’s now the proud owner of an Infinix Hot 40i.

To participate in the remaining weeks of the campaign, download the PalmPay App from Google Play or App Store. Sign up for an account and include your BVN or NIN to complete the process and click on the Eid Bonanza Feature.

There are still numerous phones to be won daily, along with the added bonus of daily free transfers to any bank via the PalmPay App.

Enakeno Umuteme, the Head of Marketing and Communications at PalmPay Nigeria, notes that, “Our primary objective is to reward and acknowledge our loyal customers. This campaign stays true to its promise of appreciating Nigerians who are PalmPay users”

PalmPay offers an array of services including money transfers, bill payments, credit services, and savings on its app and via its mobile money agents. Since its inception in Nigeria in 2019 under a Mobile Money Operator license, the platform has amassed over 30 million app users as part of its cashless payment ecosystem.

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