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Apple Music: Everything You Need to Know about Apple Campaign

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Godwin Atser eulogies IITA Boss, says it is hard to say goodbye

On 01 November 2011, history was made— a little-known son of Africa would take over perhaps the largest agricultural research institute on the African Continent. That person was Dr. Emmanuel Nteranya Sanginga, who would become the first African-born Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria. Before his assumption of office, IITA was 44, and the leadership had been in the domain of Europeans and Americans.

This heroic appointment came with mixed feelings—on one side, there was the fulfillment that, alas, one of our own—an African— is a director general, but on the other side, there was the apprehension on whether an African will lead and deliver without sinking the ship.

It is worth noting that at the time Dr. Sanginga took over leadership, the world had just come out of the 2008 food crisis, and global attention was in the direction of fighting terrorism. Donor funding to agriculture dropped, and the agenda was on how to track down Osama bin Laden—a key plotter of the attack.

In the days that followed his assumption in office, most of us cautiously watched how this new director general would navigate this difficult terrain.

On the domestic front, Dr. Sanginga faced a staff strength with low morale—most of whom came to the office because they had no other source of livelihood. On their faces, one could perceive the handwriting with the inscription: “I am just buying time. I will soon quit”.  The next thing that would follow was the massive resignation of scientists, signifying all wasn’t well. As the number of voluntary resignations swelled, Dr Sanginga passed the task to his subordinate. Of course, this wasn’t cheery.

Then came his famous message to staff: “What changes, what remains… and how can I be part of it?” This was a very reassuring message to staff and a morale booster. The key takeaway from the message was that things would be better if we all worked for the common good of IITA. He also opened doors to staff and was willing to take advice from both the high and low.

I must say that while there were issues with staff morale; infrastructurally, IITA was not better. The institute had not caught up with the rapid advancement of science in terms of infrastructure. In addition, some of the research facilities had depreciated –the buildings inclusive.

I had the privilege of being one of those to organize an IITA reunion to be held in Ibadan. As part of the feedback we received during a reflection session, one of the alumni said: “We came to supervise the final burial of IITA.” His words mirrored the degradation and indignation IITA had become.

On top of this layer, IITA had lost investments—no thanks to a Ponzi scheme that was well calculated and implemented to the detriment of research in Africa.

To address these challenges, Dr. Sanginga led the development of a strategy that would later turn around the narrative of Africa’s biggest research organization, drawing over 800 insights from all categories of staff irrespective of professional classification.

The strategy, which I will talk about on another day, was people-oriented and prioritized research, partnership, capacity building, and impact on the farm level.

From the outside, this approach was criticized as taking IITA to the realm of development, but to us, in IITA, this was certainly what Africa needed—a de-emphasizing on research pilots to delivery at scale.

Through this strategy, IITA supported countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, etc., to transform their agricultural sectors. The institute was able to increase its annual budget by more than threefold from $40+ million.

Dr. Sanginga kept his promise of rewarding staff, increasing remuneration within the framework of current realities, and promoting exceptional brains. Today, IITA is on a better footing in research, delivery, and infrastructure.

As one of Dr. Sanginga’s mentees, I learned a lot of things that are already shaping my career path. Some of his nuggets are 1. Never look down on anyone. 2. Never isolate yourself 3. Be the best in your profession. 4 Publish, publish, publish.

Dr. Sanginga, I cherished the time I spent with you and your lively wife—Mummy Charlotte. As you depart in the next few days, it is hard for me to say goodbye. When you came, I made a promise never to leave IITA until you completed your tenure so I could continue to be a pillar of support. Today, I am glad we are leaving at the same time. One attribute we have in common is our love for IITA, which is indisputable. Once again, it is hard to say goodbye, but I wish you all the best. I will continue to keep in touch to learn from your wisdom.

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AfricaAfrica AsiaEconomyTechTechnology

Alibaba Netpreneur Training Welcomes 86 New Graduates from Africa

Alibaba Global Initiatives (“AGI”) today announced the graduation of 86 African entrepreneurs from the latest edition of the Alibaba Netpreneur Training (“ANT”) Program. Held from mid-October to mid-November, the Africa-specific edition was rolled out with support from Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition. This philanthropic initiative aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Amidst a growing pivot towards digital channels by companies worldwide, the ANT Program offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and explore how to harness digital technology to expand their businesses and contribute to the local economy. Over a four-week period, the online program walked the participants through the latest trends and practices shaping China’s digital economy, as well as approaches and frameworks for entrepreneurs to build successful and innovative businesses in today’s digital world.

The 86 graduates emerged following their successful completion of classes, assignments, and assessments, demonstrating their understanding of the fundamentals of the digital economy and their ability to apply their new-found insights in their respective businesses. Collectively, they represent various industries varying from agriculture, education, information & communication technology (ICT), and trading.

Among the graduates in this cohort was Ritalee Monde, Founder of Leemed Supplies Pvt Ltd from Zimbabwe, who started her own business in 2018 with the purpose of providing better access to medical supplies and equipment in her country, especially for women and children in rural regions. The initial years of Ritalee’s business were no smooth sailing, but that did not stop her from exploring new approaches and opportunities.

The ANT Program offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and explore how to harness digital technology to expand their businesses and contribute to the local economy

“I enrolled for the Netpreneur training because I wanted to change how I conduct business. I was looking forward to studying business frameworks and strategies that would improve my company’s capacity to promote innovation and deliver quality outcomes,” said Monde. “Attending webinars led by a group of people who had really made the journey was quite inspiring. My biggest takeaway is getting to know what business digitalization means. In the same way it has led to the success of many SMEs operating in Alibaba’s ecosystem, I believe a digital shift will help my company tap into new markets and clientele, enhance our productivity, reduce operating and marketing expenses, and lay a foundation to create new jobs and innovate.”

Already running a digital business that spans procurement and forwarding service as well as digital marketing and web development, Emmanuel Yao Agbodo, Founder of Engcando Logistics and Consultancy from Ghana also saw value in the Netpreneur program.

“I have long heard about Alibaba’s innovations and I was curious to learn how the company is able to make them happen. I have also been envisioning exporting locally made products from Ghana one day through digital platforms,” said Yao Agbodo. “What I found most useful for my business was the modules about mission, vision, and values as they are essential to the organizational development and strategic planning of any business, be it digital or traditional. The lesson has sparked new ideas that my company can adopt as we strive to become a leading digital platform in Ghana connecting the local and the international markets.”

Adesola Adetunji, Founder of Digital Education Management System World Academy from Nigeria, also benefited most from the lectures on business fundamentals provided by the training. His start-up, founded last year, is on a mission to provide education in and beyond Nigeria that bridges the gap between what is taught at school and what students nowadays actually need.

“I am ambitious, but I didn’t know how to turn my ambition into reality. With what I have learned from the Netpreneur training, I have acquired the key to formulating my own strategy, which gets me one step closer to realizing my ambition,” said Adetunji. “Among other learnings, I have learned to put my customers front and center, establish and maintain my own company culture, always bet on big ideas, and embrace failure.”

All participants who completed the course have been invited to join the AGI entrepreneur community, where they can continue to network with passionate and like-minded entrepreneurs and enjoy access to post-program learning opportunities such as webinars and newsletters. Outstanding performers among the trainees will also be eligible to participate in offline immersion programs at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China once travels restrictions are lifted.

The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program was first introduced in 2019 as an initiative to drive success for entrepreneurs in the digital economy. To date, it has successfully trained more than 1,800 entrepreneurs in Africa, Europe, Latin America as well as South and Southeast Asia.

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AfricaAfrica AsiaCulture & TourismNews

FEC approves use of local language in Primary Schools

The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday approved a new National Language Policy which makes the mother tongue a compulsory medium of instruction from Primary one to six.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister said the government is aware that implementation will be challenging, nevertheless, he said that for the first six years of education, the mother tongue will be the only medium of instruction, adding that it would be combined with English starting from secondary school.

Adamu said even though the policy has officially taken effect, it can only be fully implemented when government develops instructional materials and qualified teachers available.

He explained that the mother tongue used in each school would be the dominant language spoken by the community where it is located.

The Minister lamented that so much has been lost owing to the extinction of some local languages and stated that government is determined to preserve cultures and their particular quirks.

According to him: “A memo on national policy was approved by the council. So, Nigeria now has a National Language Policy and the details will be given later by the ministry.

“The policy says that the language of the immediate community is a very large concentration of people but they speak so many languages, the language there to be chosen is the language the community communicates with but other Nigerian languages, the policy encourages their teaching and their learning, in addition, the teaching of other international languages or subjects will continue for instance in primary one to six will be learning.”

The Minister said: the decision is only in principle for now because it will require a lot of work to implement it.

“Theoretically, this policy starts from today (Wednesday), but the use of mother tongue is exclusive we need time to develop the material, get the teachers and so on since the first six years of school should be in the mother tongue, whereby the language of the host community is what will be used.

“Because we have 625 languages at the last count and the objective of this policy is to promote and enhance the cultivation and use of all Nigerian languages.”

Adamu said the council also approved a consultancy services agreement between Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and a private company, for the upgrade of the portal on which the Board records candidates seeking admission into higher institutions of learning.

The council also approved police property in Maitama in the Federal Capital Territory to be developed for benefit of senior officers, through a PPP arrangement with Cosgrove Consortium.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed on the ministry’s behalf, explained that out of the 39 units of houses the police will get 15, while Cosgrove will manage 24 houses for a number of years before handing over to the Police.

In the meantime, 1.5 per cent of rent from the 24 housing units will go to the police until then.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba on his part said, the council discussed the 2022 GDP indicators and performance for the third quarter. He said there was 2.25 per cent improvement, though lower than four per cent of the same time last year.

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AfricaAfrica AsiaMobileNewsTechTechnology

Useful security tips for Whatsapp chats, data

In a world highly driven by data, data breaches pose a serious threat to millions or possibly even billions of people globally, going by the recent alleged Whatsapp data breach controversy, which the company has denied.

According to a recent allegation from Cybernews, someone managed to hack into WhatsApp and acquired the personal information of almost 500 million users, which is now purportedly for sale.

But, later, a spokesperson for WhatsApp on Monday said there is no evidence of a ‘data leak’ from the company.

However, data breaches are nothing new because even the data from some of the biggest companies have had such incidents. So, it becomes the responsibility of the users to take the right steps to make their data safe and private.

Here are some tips that would be helpful in making WhatsApp more secure.

Check chat encryption

To verify the encryption, tap on the contact’s name in the chat window and then tap on Encryption.

Two-factor authentication provides protection by adding an extra layer of security to your account to ensure that your data isn’t accessed by someone else. So if a service supports this feature then you should be using it.

Turn security notifications on

With this feature, every time a new device accesses an existing chat, a new security code is generated and a notification is sent when this security code changes.

To enable it, go to WhatsApp – Settings – Account – Security notifications and then tap on ‘Show security notification’.

Encrypt cloud backups

WhatsApp backups on Google Drive are not encrypted by default. Without this feature, a major gap will remain in your privacy protection.

Turn on end-to-end encrypted backup, go to Settings – Chats – Chat Backup – End-to-end Encrypted Backup and tap Turn On. Following this create a password and wait for your encrypted backup.

Always check unknown links

These days, it could be difficult to determine whether certain scam messages and links are malicious.

Copy the link and check it on sites like Norton Safe Web, PhishTank, and others to prevent clicking on these. By developing this habit, you will stop clicking on harmful links.

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