Following the successful conclusion of the Innovative Forum organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) to draw a roadmap towards COVID-19 recovery in the ICT industry, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has expressed readiness to partner with the Association to further seek ways of igniting the industry to growth.
Speaking at the forum, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, noted that the opportunity presented by the Webinar event is an avenue to partner with NITRA so that the efforts, programmes and messages of the Agency will get to the grassroots. With the collaboration, he said, “we can transform Nigeria into a strong and Digital Economy in the Post pandemic era.”
Enumerating some of the programmes NITDA is engaged with, Mallam Abdulahi, who was represented by the Agency’s Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, noted that at the onset of the pandemic, NITDA swiftly initiated several policies and programs for the technology ecosystem and startups to be able to withstand the potential impact of the Pandemic. “We rolled out these initiatives in order to ensure that technology continues to enable innovation and entrepreneurship while addressing challenges of the society.”
He further noted that a Tech4COVID-19 Committee was constituted with the aim of identifying the challenges the Technology ecosystem is facing during the COVID-19 Pandemic and to propose measures to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
Members of the Committee were drawn from both the public and private sector and are key players in the Technology ecosystem who have made significant contributions to the Technology and Innovation ecosystem. The Committee’s recommendations includes strategies to ensure the industry retains about 100,000 ICT Jobs as well as create additional 30,000 in Post COVID-19 Era through the initiative.
“We also organized a special challenge, the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, where Nigerians were challenged to come up with innovation to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. Over 1,500 startups participated and three emerged winners, namely, Algorizmi, a patient management solution particularly for victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic; Smart Disinfection Chamber, smart tunnel which can be used for disinfection of persons entering any location and Myclinic.ng, an online platform that enables users to hold video consultations with qualified medical doctors from anywhere and at any time. We are partnering with relevant institutions towards actualizing these ideas.”
NITDA, the D-G assured, is also working on a special support scheme for Startups and Hubs, tagged the NITDA Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (NTIESS).
The scheme will accommodate sub-schemes in areas covering Incubation Programme; Technical Capacity Building; Internship Programme, and Hub Up-scaling.
Mallam Abdullahi noted that Nigeria has over 130 hubs and several hundreds of technology startups. “These have the capacity of driving innovation and entrepreneurship, and stimulating the economy. The Academia, which has always been at the forefront of research and development, needs to expand its horizon to include innovation. We need more hubs in the academia to nurture the creativity of our youths. Collaboratively, we in NITDA are can make Nigeria a nucleus of innovation“.
NITDA’s programmes also reaches out to Agritech with the National Adopted Village for SMART Agriculture (NAVSA), an ecosystem-driven digital platform which engages farmers and focuses on using precision/smart farming techniques to ensure significant improvement in efficiency and productivity thereby increasing crop yield; increased profit margin and create more jobs.
These initiatives, the NITDA D-G said, are collaborative efforts by the Agency and relevant stakeholders, aimed at addressing the disruption caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as preparing the country in the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), one of the implementing arms of the Ministry, was mandated by the National Information Technology Development Act (2007) to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria. The Agency’s role therefore is to develop Information technology in the country through regulatory standards, guidelines and policies. It is the prime Agency for e-Government implementation, Internet governance and General IT development in Nigeria. Our activities in NITDA are aimed at fast-tracking the realisation of the objectives of NDEPS.
Strides Ahead: How 5G Will Become The New Frontier of Sports
Kevin Murphy, Vice President and Head of Ericsson Levant Countries and Global Customer Unit Ooredoo
Sports fans are a passionate breed and whether they’re at the match or on their couches, they demand the full experience. For fans, and athletes alike, leading technologies enrich the sporting experience, bringing people closer to the action, and creating new immersive ways to showcase the commitment, excitement, and teamwork of sports.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a growth in digital experiences which may become permanent. The increase in virtual events is raising the bar for the quality and design of the experience, with audiences becoming increasingly sophisticated, demanding a more social, innovative and engaging event.
To transform the digital experience for fans, players and support staff alike, three main types of support is required: a sports performance information system; a digital experience backend system; and technology consulting and innovation services.
The combination of 5G, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) supports completely new user experiences in sports – pushing boundaries and taking the consumer to the heart of the game itself. For a team playing before a packed stadium or a lonesome runner on a forest track, connectivity and mobility enable new values in an emerging internet of sport.
This is where 5G can be a vital tool for the sports sector, as it seeks to re-invent the fan experience at home and at the sports arena. Sporting events could better serve both the traveling fan attending every game in person and the die-hard fan catching the game remotely.
In this age of digital and mobile consumption, fans expect an experience boosted by their mobile devices. Through live-streaming video, mixed reality experiences and real-time access to information about the game, the next generation in mobile wireless technology can create an enhanced experience, reinventing how fans participate in sports.
Immersive Sporting Experiences at Home
Sports fans today are looking for new ways to connect to the sporting experience digitally. There is potential to create more immersive fan experiences with the introduction of 360-degree cameras, virtual and augmented reality. Fans can walk the sideline, see what the goalkeepers are seeing or join the victory celebration in the locker room – all serving the purpose of bringing fans closer to the action at the venue from home.
What’s more, the trend of increased solitary viewing due to the development of personal screens and on-demand viewing could be reversed thanks to the capabilities and promises of Virtual Reality (VR). It can provide a way to connect with friends watching the game at different physical locations, creating a “virtual hangout” for the times you can’t be there in person.
VR also brings an exciting prospect to the table: the ability to watch 4K/UHD content without owning a big physical screen and allowing on-demand viewing to become more of a social activity than it is today. Soon, friends and people with similar interests can watch content together in a VR living room, viewers will have the freedom to look anywhere in every scene of a movie and consumers can experience a football match with other fans in a VR arena, as if they are actually there.
And for sports fans in areas that don’t have access to fiber coverage, 5G enables fixed wireless access applications for very high-quality video streaming in 4K video, 360 or AR/VR formats.
This means that you get to watch the 4K video on your mobile device. But 5G is also so fast and so reliable that it will make fixed wireless a real challenger in the broadband market, streaming 4K video wirelessly to your big screen TV as well. And it’s not just the quality either. You’ll be able to choose what camera angles you like, or if you want information overlaid on the screen, or if you want to watch in VR or not.
Creating the Connected Stadium
A great experience at the arena is fundamental to enjoying live sports. Where fans today see broadband connectivity to their smartphone for social media posts as table stakes, there is so much more that could be done digitally to connect fans to the action. This is an area where 5G can improve the overall experience, compared to standard WIFI solutions.
5G can expand the experience for fans at the game, creating new possibilities by connecting sensors in balls, goals, and even players – all in real-time with extremely low latency. The next generation technology can deliver enough capacity to the stadium for fans to stream high-quality video and share the views from their seats with others at the same match.
Other future changes coming to the fan experience with 5G connectivity include the ability to experience matches from new vantage points, using phones to switch between different 360-degree, ultra-high definition virtual reality cameras filming all around the stadium.
The introduction of 5G at a stadium also creates a horizontal platform to serve additional applications. Fans would be able to monitor and track athletes’ performance during practice and competition in real time, for example. This represents a major opportunity for service providers to deliver enhanced networks in stadiums and arenas to ensure their subscribers are well connected.
Google Seals $4.5 Billion Jio Platforms Stake
Reliance Industries confirmed it had received INR337 billion ($4.5 billion) from Google for a 7.73 per cent stake in its Jio Platforms unit, completing the US giant’s biggest investment in an Indian company.
In a statement, Reliance Industries said the deal had received all requisite approvals and it had now allotted the equity shares in Jio Platforms to Alphabet’s Google.
The Competition Commission of India approved the proposed investment earlier this month.
When the deal was announced in July, Google said it would would use the investment to focus on delivering an affordable entry-level smartphone to the market by customising the Android operating system. The companies are also set to work together to increase internet usage in India and develop its digital economy.
It is likely Jio Platforms will use the Google partnership to fulfil its ambitions on launching a smartphone priced below $50 to the mass market, a plan it revealed last month.
Google becomes the latest company to pump money into Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $20 billion from a number of high profile investors, including Facebook.
MTN Nigeria Introduces New Digital Online Assistant
MTN Nigeria is set to launch ‘Zigi,’ an online assistant chatbot designed to enhance customers’ digital interactions with the brand, and provide speedy and secure marketing, sales and technical support.
Customers will be able to interact with the chatbot on multiple channels including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, the official MTN website and myMTN App. It will provide a wide range of services including account balance checks, airtime, data purchases and answers to frequently asked questions.
The chatbot will also have the ability to transfer customers to a live agent. These channels and varying features will be rolled out in phases as ‘Zigi’ continues to evolve to offer comprehensive support and services to all customers interested in interacting with MTN through ‘Zigi’.
Commenting on the launch of ‘Zigi,’ the Chief Customer Relations Officer, MTN Nigeria, Ugonwa Nwoye, said, “Zigi offers personalised, intuitive and prompt service to our customers. Her introduction will not take away the customer’s access to live agents but will serve as the first point of contact for customers who choose to interact with Zigi.’ We believe that ‘Zigi’ will ensure increased convenience which translates to better experiences for our customers, which is at the core of our purpose as a business.”
On his own part, the Chief Digital Officer, MTN, Srinivas Rao, says the launch of ‘Zigi’ aligns with MTN’s digital transformation objectives. “We now live in a fast-paced digital age with new technological advancements driving the constantly changing landscape. This is why at MTN, we are determined to lead digital transformation which will provide easy-to-use connectivity solutions; improve customer experience and maintain the highest quality of service for everyone in our ecosystem,” he said.
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