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Finance Ministry to commit adequate budgetary allocation for safe schools — Permanent Secretary

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…As stakeholders proffer solutions on safe schools

By Matthew Denis Abuja

The Permanent Secretary on Special Duties Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning, Shehu Aliyu Shekafi has disclosed that the ministry is geared towards providing adequate budgetary allocation for financing safe schools activities.

The Permanent Secretary made the disclosure during Stakeholders engagement Forum held in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “The Federal Government is committed to ensuring a safer teaching and learning environment as the Ministry is committed towards creating adequate budgetary allocation for financing safe schools activities.

“We’re all aware of the insecurity that has befallen our nation and of interest as stakeholders Is the incessant attacks to our Schools across the country that has disrupted the education Sector. One of the resultant is the declaration of Nigeria having the highest out of schools children.”

According to him this Crisis has led to a high-level forum on Financing Safe Schools in April 2021 which resulted to the Abuja compact last year.

“The Ministry as part of it commitment at the Summit constituted a steering committee and Secreatarait for the financing safe schools to engage critical stakeholders with the target to develop and launch a National Plan in September 2022.

The Benue state Commissioner of Finance who is also the  Chairman of States Commissioners  of Finance Forum, Hon. David Olofu applauded the the initiative while assuring that they will fully support it execution for safety of teachers and students.

He appealed to the federal government to assist the various states in financing the project considering the fact that most states are overstretched in finding the education Sector.

The Commissioner of Osun state for Education, Hon. Folorunsho Oladoyin said, “I highly delighted that we started this Programme about a year ago and it has Crystalized into bringing stakeholders to collaborate in ensuring the safety of our children.

“This summit will bring the tiers of Government in partnership with the private sector to safeguard our schools to avoid unwholesome happening like avoiding lunatics to unveil our schools to kill our children.”

The Osun state Commissioner of Economic Planning, Prof. Olalekan Yunusa stressed that the programme is laudable considering the fact that education is fundamental to development therefore the future of our children should be accorded with adequate priority.

He said, “Safe Schools is a precondition for effective learning and development that will happen in the future. I’m impressed that critical stakeholders are invited for policy formulation and assist in delivery during the implementation process.”

Also Speaking, the President National Association of Proprietors of Public Schools (NAPPS), Chief Yomi Otubela called on the Government to carry the private along since the safe schools policy is adopted by all.

He said, “We’re looking at finding from stakeholders who initiated this policy and we are collaborating with parents associations, alumni, philanthropists and voluntary Organizations to ensure safety of our children.”

Highlights of the programme were Goodwill messages from stakeholders including security personnel and traditional rulers to fine-tune lasting remedies in ensuring safety schools environment for adequate teaching and learning.

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Nigerians to pay more as Multichoice Nigeria hikes Dstv, Gotv subscription fees by 25%

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Multichoice Nigeria, a prominent Pay-TV operator, has once again announced a price increase for its DStv and GOtv packages, this time by at least 25 percent.

This marks the third increment since last year, following the initial adjustment implemented on May 1, 2023.

Multichoice stated that the latest increase will take effect from Wednesday, May 1, 2024. While last year’s increment ranged between 19 percent to 20 percent depending on the bouquet, the company is now announcing a 25 percent to 26 percent increase across its packages.

The new subscription fees were communicated to customers via an email titled “Price Adjustment on DStv and GOtv Packages” on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Below is an excerpt from the email message that subscribers received.

On Wednesday, 1 May 2024 we will adjust our prices across all our packages on OStv and GOtv. We understand the impact this change may have on you – our valued customer, but the rise in the cost of business operations has led us to make this difficult decision.

 It remains our mission to provide the best entertainment and viewing experience to you and are committed to continue to deliver high-quality content and unparalleled service.

“So, from Wednesday, 1 May 2024, the price adjustment will take effect as follows.”

According to the notice sent to its subscribers, customers on the DStv Premium package will see their monthly subscription fee increase to N37,000 starting from May 1, marking a 25.4 percent rise from the current N29,500.

 Similarly, the price of the Compact+ bouquet has been raised to N25,000 from N19,800 per month, reflecting a 26.2 percent increment.

DStv has also announced that subscribers on its Compact bouquet will now pay N15,700, up from the current N12,500, representing a 25.6 percent increase. Meanwhile, those on the Confam package will face a 25.6% hike as their monthly subscription rises to N9,300 from N7,400.

 Under the new pricing structure, viewers on the DStv Yanga bouquet will be charged N5,100 for their monthly subscription, marking a 21.43 percent increase over the current N4,200 fee.

Multichoice has announced price increases across its GOtv packages. Customers on the Supa Plus package will now pay N15,700, marking a 25.6 percent rise from the current price of N12,500. Similarly, the Supa bouquet will see its price increase to N9,600 from the current N7,600.

For the GOtv Max subscription, the new price is N7,200, up from N5,700, while the Jolli package will now cost N4,850, compared to the current price of N3,950. Multichoice has also adjusted the price of its lowest GOtv package, Jinja, which will now be N3,300 monthly instead of the current N2,700.

Although Multichoice Nigeria is yet to issue any statement regarding the factors behind the recent price review, Nigeria’s inflation increased to 33.2 percent.

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BPE seeks collaboration with NLC on privatisation process

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By Matthew Dennis

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), under the leadership of the Acting Director General, Mr. Ignatius Ayewoh, recently paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajero, to seek collaboration with the Labour Union in the ongoing reform and privatisation program of the Federal Government.

This is contained in a statement signed by Head, Public Communications, Amina Tukur Othman, and made available to NewsDirect on Tuesday.

The statement stated that Mr. Ayewoh emphasised the importance of collaboration with the labour unions to ensure the welfare of workers during and after government agency reforms. He expressed gratitude to Mr. Ajero and the Union for their past support and urged them to continue partnering with the Bureau, particularly as members of the Technical Committee (TC) of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Highlighting BPE’s previous successes in various sectors of the Nigerian economy such as telecoms, banking, Eleme petrochemical, and port terminal concessions, Mr. Ayewoh stated that the Bureau’s current strategy is focused on implementing Public Private Partnership (PPP) and concessioning in its transactions.

Furthermore, Mr. Ayewoh informed Mr. Ajero that BPE is working closely with the Accountant General’s Office to ensure the payment of all outstanding severance liabilities arising from the 2013 privatisation of the power sector, in accordance with agreements made with labour unions.

In response, Mr. Ajero thanked the Ag. DG for the visit and pledged the collaboration of the NLC with the Bureau in its reform activities.

It is worth noting that, in 2023 the BPE, along with other sister agencies, conducted a verification exercise for the payment of the agreed 16-month severance benefits to former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), including certified Next-of-Kin (NOK) of deceased ex-staff. The exercise took place in twelve designated centres over four phases across the country.

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Qualcomm announces shortlisted startups for Make in Africa 2024

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Qualcomm has announced the shortlisted startups for Qualcomm Make in Africa 2024, as well as the winner of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund.

The Qualcomm Africa Innovation Platform, now in its second year, aims to work with and support the development of Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem by providing mentorship, education, and training programs with a focus on 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT. This year, Qualcomm received an overwhelming response, with approximately 250 applications from 30 countries./

As the first initiative of its kind in Africa, Qualcomm Make in Africa is an equity-free mentorship program that identifies promising early-stage startups keen on applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies such as 5G, Edge-AI/ML, Compute, and IoT to innovative end-to-end systems solutions, including hardware.

These startups have demonstrated exceptional potential in applying advanced connectivity and processing technologies to innovative end-to-end systems solutions. The selected startups will receive free mentorship, business coaching, access to engineering consultation for product development, and guidance on protecting intellectual property.

The 2024 cohort includes the following startups (listed in alphabetical order):  Aurora Health from Kenya provides AI-based cardiovascular health care tools, CropScan from Kenya uses solar-powered smart farming IoT devices, Cure Bionics from Tunisia makes smart 3D printed prosthetic arms, DevisionX from Egypt provides AI-based low-code computer vision tools, Kalio from Cameroon is building AI tools for Agricultural IoT, Kitovu from Nigeria provides tools and software for smart agricultural warehouse management, NextAI Studios from Kenya builds AI-based emotion detection into toys for children’s mental healthcare, RIM Nextgen from Kenya, uses smart tools for monitoring propane consumption, Sparcx from South Africa uses AI for enhancing radar signal processing and Vizmerald from Tunisia, is working on AI-based textile industry inspection.

The company also announced the awardee of the 2023 Wireless Reach Social Impact Fund. This fund, provided by Qualcomm through its Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ Initiative, aims to support startups in scaling their societal and market impact. Ecorich Solutions Limited, a female-founded organization based in Nairobi, Kenya,/ will be awarded funding to help scale the impact of their smart organic food composter.

Wireless Reach funding will support Ecorich to address the dual challenge of organic waste management and the need for sustainable agricultural practices, with the goal of reducing environmental pollution, improving crop yields for farmers, and mitigating waste-related health risks for communities. The other nine startups from the 2023 cohort will also receive valuable stipends to continue fueling their growth. These startups have showcased innovative uses of wireless technology to address pressing needs in their communities./

In addition, Qualcomm is excited to highlight the progress of the L2Pro Africa IP e-learning Platform, a free online training program designed to empower startups, SMEs, and researchers in Africa to protect, secure, and maximise their innovations. This program has been created in collaboration with Adams and Adams, Africa’s leading intellectual property (IP) law firm. The education content has been updated with individual filing procedures for patents, industrial designs, and trademarks in the countries of Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and within the two African patent organisations, ARIPO and OAPI. These step-by-step descriptions of per-country filing requirements empower inventors to interact effectively with IP professionals such as an IP attorney and their respective IP offices./

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming response to the Africa Innovation Platform this year,” said President, QTL & Global Affairs, Qualcomm Incorporated,  Alex Rogers.

“The quality and diversity of the applications received reflect the immense talent and potential within Africa’s technology ecosystem. We are excited to work with the shortlisted startups and provide them with the necessary resources and support to drive innovation and create a positive impact in their communities.

“We applaud Qualcomm for launching the second year of its Innovate in Africa Platform, which not only equips the upcoming generation of African entrepreneurs with expertise in pivotal areas like AI/ML, healthcare, agri-tech, smart cities, and communications but also empowers them to safeguard their intellectual property through the complimentary L2ProAfrica program,” said Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU), John Omo./

Mr. Omo also emphasised that the ATU remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

“Our youth innovation program, among other initiatives, plays a crucial role in cultivating the talents and aspirations of Africa’s young visionaries,” he affirmed. “We are ready to collaborate with additional partners to realize this objective.”

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