Stories by Olabisi Olaleye [email protected] 08094000013, 08111813040
Nigeria is fast becoming a tech hub, owing to innovations by some app developers and technopreneurs.
In a couple of years, Nigeria would compete with Silicon Valley in the United States, given the intelligence and creativity of some Nigerian youths.
Last weekend, some app developers were recognised and awarded the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Innovation.
The innovaations included “OneMedical,” for the Most Innovative Product/Service category and “Dresses by Aloli,” for the Most Innovative Idea category.
The coveted prizes were presented at a ceremony by the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, with support from the Director-General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Dan Azumi Ibrahim, and the CEO, MainOne, Funke Opeke.
Congratulating the winners, Willsher stated that Etisalat Prize for Innovation was a demonstration of the company’s belief that Nigeria’s developmental needs can be met through innovative products and ideas.
“With the Etisalat Prize for Innovation, we demonstrate our belief that innovation is timeless and can be found in the most unlikely places, and created by the most unlikely people. We believe that the change Nigeria needs to move forward can be created through innovative products, services and ideas,” he said.
Willsher also reiterated Etisalat’s commitment to support the growth of tech start-ups by supporting collaboration between small businesses and investors.
The Most Innovative Product and Services award was won by a team of inventors, Ojeniyi James, Adegoke Olubusi and Oluwole Gbenga, whose “One Medical” was acclaimed the best to beat other contestants to the N5 million prize.
In the “Most Innovative Idea” category, Tobilola Ajibola took home the N2 million prize money for her idea, “Dresses by Aloli,” which was adjudged the most outstanding.
In his reaction after receiving the award for the Most Innovative Product, James thanked Etisalat for the opportunity to be part of history. He noted that Nigeria was ripe for innovations that could help create sustainable development.
The Etisalat Prize for Innovation was created in 2012 to discover and celebrate new products and ideas that help drive broadband utilisation in the country. It also highlights the revolutionary impact of innovation and technology as it addresses social challenges in the country.
Through the prize, Etisalat has discovered and empowered a number of young, creative Nigerian entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to showcase innovative products, services and ideas that address specific problems and contribute to the nation’s socio-economic growth.
Me and My Phone: I can’t do without my mobile phone – Ondo State commissioner
Commissioner for information and strategy, Ondo State, Hon. Kayode Akinmade, disclosed recently that he cannot do without his mobile phone.
According to him,the device has become a very useful tool for communication and data usage.
He said: “It is as important as the air we breathe. You can’t quantify the advantage of checking up on your colleagues, associates, staffs and the like without leaving your home”.
Could you compare the days when Nigeria had access to mobile telecommunication and now?
It is difficult to compare. Sometimes, I wonder how we survived those ‘stone age’ days without mobile communication systems, when one compares its numerous advantages.
How important is your mobile phone to you in terms of voice communication, data surfing and sending SMS, and how has this communication tool (voice, data, SMS) impacted on your job?
You cannot quantify the advantage of checking up on your colleagues, associates, staffs and the like without leaving your home, unlike before when I would need to get to their places of abode before one could communicate with them. You can imagine going from Ikeja to Ajah, just to collect a document that could either have been forwarded to you by Whatsapp or Blackberry Messenger. Now, there is a better means of communication, one can look back and imagine having to go that far to ask from someone if he would be attending a meeting the following day, when that could have been done with an ordinary SMS.
No doubt, it has impacted a great deal because now you can be outside the country and grant interviews or write your story and mail to the newsroom, unlike when, as a reporter, I had to rush down to the newsroom with my breaking stories.
Was there any time, you forgot to pick your mobile phone somewhere, what was your immediate reaction?
Funny enough, I am not sure I can be without my phone for a minute without me realising it because it has become a part of me. It is so as important, to the extent that when I first open my eyes from sleep, the first I do is to peruse my phone to know whose call I have missed and trending stories.
Have you ever lost a phone, what was the reaction like?
The first and only time it happened to me, it was very hard to bear. I was like fish out of water. And because of that horrible experience, I have ensured a non-repeat. It was not a pleasant experience, especially when I realised the number of contacts that I lost with the handset.
While trying to make an important call, have you ever been frustrated by drop calls from your service provider?
That has become part of the system. It is even worse when somebody is trying to reach you urgently and the person is told you are not reachable even when your phone is fully charged. I think that is part of the package and I have learnt over time to cope with the disappointment that comes with it.
With the proposed 9 per cent tax bill pending at the National Assembly that is likely to shoot up communication price/cost, what is your advise on this?
I would only plead that if this could be prevented the better for the generality of the people; anything that will add to the financial burden of the people should be prevented because of the time that we are in. The people are facing serious economic challenges and it will be good if that burden is not compounded. No doubt, people will struggle to meet up because this has come to be part of our daily existence.
I am yet to see that man or woman that can be comfortable without his or her phone, even students are not left out. But let service delivery be with a human face. The fact that we cannot do without it, does not mean we should be exploited.
As a telecom stakeholder, what is your advice to network providers?
They should give us value for our money. The erratic nature of their service is not encouraging. Ordinarily, people dont need to be on more than a network, but you discover that most people have almost all the available networks because of the level of the instability. My plea, therefore, is that they improve on their service .
Our app’ll track kidnappers, emergencies – Michaels
With the spate of kidnapping of school children increasing in Nigeria, an application that could curb and tackle the menace has been developed by School Run Academy Ventures, one of the new app developers discovered by the telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Speaking to Daily Sun, representative of the company, Mrs. Jummy Michaels, explained that it was imperative to come up with this innovation to create a safe school portal for all private schools in Lagos State because whatever is done for public schools has to be government-centred.
She speaks on this and many more
How necessary is this app?
We came up with this safety tip portal and the way forward, particularly when ensuring that children are safe while in school, becaue we have heard of cases of kidnapping, accidents right in front of the school, where children even died. That is why this innovation is imperative, to make children safe and educate all stakeholders on safety issues. That means, we have drawn a lot of crowds to electronic education because we have over 6,000 private schools in Lagos State alone. And we discovered that these crowds are now online, so it is a very huge innovation in the education sector.
How does the app run?
The application will help people to know how they can register and report on the portal. The portal forwards to the Lagos State Safety Commission, which takes care of everything. It is an oline portal that addresses issues of safety.
How long have you been on the project and why concentrate only on Lagos, since other states need the safety tips on the portal?
The project is over four years now and we actually collaborated with the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) to attend to this huge success because if we had just done it on our own, I don’t think we would have been able to go this far. The former DG bought into this idea and it enhanced their commitments to issues of safety in the state.
With their collaboration, we have been able to achieve this huge success.
How many schools have bought into the idea and what is the guarantee that, in event of kidnap and domestic accidents, the portal would attend to them?
We have over 3,000 schools, and as long as the schools are registered with us (it will work); that is why the LSSC made it mandatory that all schools should comply. And once that school has complied, these issues would be handled at the state level because they have sworn their allegiance to this project. That is why all schools are encouraged to be on that platform.
Do you also partner with the police for the purpose of security?
If you talk of security now, it is very sad because you find out that issues of kidnapping, child abuse and juvenile violence still occur. That is why every stakeholder needs to buy into this innovation so that anywhere that parents are, they are assured that their kids are safe, which is paramount. We believe that, since it is a new invention, so many foreign investors would buy into it because if it is only happening in Lagos State, that means we have not scratched the surface yet. It is a huge project that we believe the entire world should push.
New high-tech friendship bracelets teach kids how to code
Friendship bracelets have been a mainstay of middle-school fashion for decades. From knotted threads to plastic lanyards to interlocking charms, each generation seems to find its own unique way of displaying its social network. And for today’s tweens, the latest incarnation could be wearable technology, but with some educational benefits.
A new product called Jewelbots aims to elevate friendship bracelets fromfashionable status symbols to an interactive, educational tool that teaches kids to code. The bracelet’s coding aspect was always the primary goal for Jewelbots co-founders Sara Chipps and Brooke Moreland. Chipps, now CEO of the company, has been coding since her pre-teen years, and in 2010, she founded a national nonprofit called Girl Develop It, which offered a series of low-cost coding classes for adult women. But Chipps said she heard repeatedly from these women that they wished they could have learned coding skills when they were younger.
The idea caught Chipps’ interest and she designed a bracelet that would change colour based on a girl’s outfit. Unfortunately, the jewelry fell flat in testing groups, Chipps said, because the girls were bored.
“We have to give them something they love so they learn and code,” Chipps told Live Science. So, she went directly to the girls and asked them for advice. Their nearly unanimous answer was to design something centred on friendship, according to Chipps.
With their input, Chipps came up with Jewelbots. The bracelet is simple enough: electronics and LED lights enclosed within a plastic charm, stamped with a flower design, and threaded onto a woven strap. The included Bluetooth-enabled charm can be programmed to react to up to eight friends, glowing in a unique color when a certain friend is nearby. Girls can also send secret messages to each other through lights and vibrations, Chipps said.
The Jewelbots friendship bracelet can be paired with a smartphone app that transforms it from a simple piece of jewelry into an educational tool. Using very rudimentary coding, girls can programme their Jewelbot to respond to almost anything — from changes in the weather to a new Instagram post, according to Chipps.
Jewelbots communicate via Bluetooth, piggybacking on nearby networks to extend their reach, Chipps said. The bracelet is not enabled with wireless or GPS technology to protect kids’ privacy. In fact, Chipps added that the bracelet could be programmed to send a text to a parent or guardian if a child is feeling unsafe.
Jewelbots can be pre-ordered for $69 on the company’s website and the bracelets are expected to begin shipping this year.
Why regulators treat OTT applications with caution, by Danbatta
Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has indicated that there are limits to the regulation of some aspects of telecommuniucations in order not to destroy their very essence. He also stated that the the telecom sector contributes to citizens’ participation in governance.
Danbatta, who spoke while receiving the Director-General of National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Ms Patricia Bala, recently, noted that most countries of the world were deliberately treating the regulation of Over The Top (OTT) applications with caution despite concerns about harmful content.
“The whole essence of this digital transformation that we so passionately talk about is to ensure more participation of citizens in governance.
“There are many other important things happening, the smart phones, the social networks and mobile applications. These have transformed the society in an unprecedented manner that things will never ever be the same again. We are hoping that this transformation will be positive transformation. It is our hope again that the destruction associated with these transformations will not completely destroy legacy, system, process and so on and so forth.
“Look at the impact of social media in ensuring free, fair and credible elections. Many people hailed the last elections in Nigeria as the most credible ever in the (country’s) history and the role played by the social media cannot be ignored. When the history of elections in this country is eventually written, the role of social media in the last election will occupy an important portion.”