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FG, Chinese Academy Sign MoU on Enhanced Crop Yield

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The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Aerospace Information Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (AIRCAS) for technical assistance to improve crop yield.

This will ensure the deployment of space technology in its project ‘CropWatch’ and bridge the gap in food yields through a capacity building initiative.

Dr Felix Alle, Head Media and Corporate Communications of the NASRDA, confirmed the virtual signing of the MoU on Thursday in a statement issued in Abuja.

The capacity building initiative is in partnership with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The Director-General (DG) of NASRDA, Dr Halilu Shaba, recalled the journey began in March 2021, while the signing of the documents in China was led by Mr Wu Yirong, the D-G of AIRCAS.

Shaba said the project was offering developing countries technical assistance through the CropWatch Innovative Cooperation Programme (ICP) to access its Earth Observation CropWatch system.

He also said the project was supported by the Alliance of International Science Organisations (ANSO) and would foster the implementation of the SDGs in developing countries.

“Increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner to meet the growing demand both nationally and globally while adapting to a changing climate are challenges that the agricultural sector need to overcome in the next decades.

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“Currently, Nigeria does not have access to a timely national food information system either due to technology deficits or costs.

“However, it is against this backdrop, that NASRDA is collaborating with AIRCAS to customise the CropWatch ICP for agricultural monitoring.

“This will facilitate and stimulate agricultural monitoring for the advancement of the SDG goal of zero hunger through a joint research and capacity building with NASRDA,’’ he said.

Shaba added that the country would be supported in utilising the cloud platform for monitoring crop condition, crop stress and production at national and subnational levels.

He further said that the technical assistance would enable relevant stakeholders to carry out near real time national or subnational crop monitoring.

“It will customise CropWatch to meet specific needs of Nigeria and strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders to identify suitable climate resilient agricultural practices.

“It will also improve crop production by integrating geospatial information for agricultural production,’’ he said.

The D-G said that the Agency would carry out researches in agriculture and related field using data from the nation’s satellites, NigeriaSat-1 and NigeriaSat-2.

Shaba said the agency was engaging seriously to ensure the assistance resulted to enhanced food production for the country, among other benefits. (NAN)

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Science & Tech

Google Invests in E-logistics for Haulage Digitisation in Africa

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Google on Tuesday said that it had invested in Lori Systems,  an e-logistics company digitising haulage and providing shippers with solutions to efficiently manage  cargo and transporters.

The Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Google, Nitin Gajria said in a statement that this new investment is the third from Google’s 50 Million dollars  Africa Investment Fund, announced in October 2021.

Gajria said that it came  off the back of the launch of Google’s first product development center on the continent, in Nairobi, Kenya, the city where Lori Systems first launched.

He said that named by the Financial Times earlier this year as Africa’s seventh fastest-growing company, Lori Systems had helped thousands of shippers and carriers move over 10 billion dollars worth of cargo across the continent since its founding in 2017.

According to him, the continent, logistics operators face a host of problems; from fragmented supply and demand markets to inconsistent pricing, paper documentation and little or no access to financing.

‘’A pioneer in e-logistics in Africa, Lori Systems lowers the cost of goods by eliminating pain points along the cargo journey seamlessly connecting shippers to transportation.

‘’Providing shippers with solutions to efficiently manage their cargo and transporters, and digitizing their entire transport operations from sourcing transportation to documentation and payments.

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“At Google, we understand the transformative power digitisation can bring to the African continent.

‘’There is so much potential in the region, but it’s only through innovation that this can be fully unlocked,’’ he said.

According to Gajria,  Lori Systems is a great example of how technology can be scalable across Africa, and how, in turn, this can drive meaningful economic development.

“We’re excited to see where the future takes a business like this.”

Jean-Claude Homawoo, Lori Systems co-founder said that in recent years,  the global logistics industry had seen much innovation.

She, however, said that global supply chains were in dire need of modernisation, with technologies yet to reach critical scale.

Homawoo said that on the continent, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to lead to an 81 per cent increase in intra-African trade, providing a 21.9 billion  opportunity.

The co founder said that providing opportunities in untapped trade potential that the 54 ratifying countries were hoping to capitalise on over the next five years.

‘’Logistics is key to unlocking this opportunity.”

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lori Systems,  Uche Ogboi said that the company was excited to have Google as a partner,  as the organisation continued to build the operating system for emerging market logistics.

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According to her, our vision of the future of logistics in Africa is one that is digital, scalable and more efficient.

She said the company had been successful, achieving up to 20 per cent price reduction for cargo owners and nearly 2 times increase in truck utilisation for transporters on Lori platform.

‘’We are excited about this funding as it will allow us to continue driving superior efficiencies across logistics on the continent.” (NAN)

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FIIRO is Positioned to Impact on Nigeria’s Industrialisation Drive – DG

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Dr Jummai Adamu, the new Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), said that the institute was well positioned to further impact on Nigeria’s industrialisation drive.

Adamu made this known during a facility tour of the institute at Oshodi, Lagos, to ascertain its viability and relevance to her goals as the director-general.

The director-general said that FIIRO had what it takes to fast track industrialisation in the country.

Adamu said that she was impressed by the calibre of staff manning the state of the art equipment and the over 40 laboratories of the institute.

She said: “I promise to assist in the capacity development of members of staff with the view of improving on their delivery time and productivity level.

“We need to expose the Institute’s researchers to global best practices that will make them compete favourably with their colleagues in other parts of the world.

’’

On the issue of staff welfare, she said that all hard work would be adequately rewarded coupled with a conducive atmosphere to work in.

Speaking with the unions, Adamu said that she would collectively digest their various concerns, observations and present them to the governing board for lasting solutions.

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Newsmen report that Adamu, an Associate Professor of Biochemistry, was appointed by the Federal Government of Nigeria for a five year non-renewable tenure.

She was the Director in charge of the National Biotechnology Development Agency before her appointment as the director-general of FIIRO.

It is widely expressed that Adamu would replicate her giant strides at the Biotechnology Centre in FIIRO. (NAN)

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Energy Transition: Africa should Leverage on its Gas Reserves- NGA Scribe

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An energy expert, Mr Odianosen Masade, has urged the African continent to adopt a diversified approach to the energy transition quest and leverage on its abundant gas reserves.

Masada, Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Gas Association (NGA) expressed the view in an interview with newsmen on Monday in Yenagoa.

He said amidst the lingering global energy crisis and calls to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy to reduce carbon emission, the NGA advocates a diversified approach to energy transition.

.

According to Masade, Africa needs to be cautious and consider the pertinent issues in transitioning from fossil fuel to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

He said Africa accounts for the least share of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Masada said, ”while Africa’s contribution is just 3.8 per cent, China, the USA and the European Union contribute  23 per cent, 19 per cent, and 13 per cent, respectively.

 

”While Africa is the least industrialized of all the continents of the world, it is one of the most vulnerable to climate change caused by carbon emissions.”

Masade decried that the developed economies responsible for the climate change challenges took over a century to reposition for fossil transition, while Africa is expected to transit soon.

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He applauded the recent transformation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a commercially and profit-oriented business entity. 

Masade said energy sector experts have long advocated the privatization of the public-owned behemoth to increase its efficiency and separate its regulatory, revenue generating, and oil production components.

“The idea is for the entity to become profitable. With privatization, the NNPC will be relieved of all the burdens of government control and become autonomous. 

“The NNPC can now be listed on the Stock Exchange, secure investments and generate more revenue for the country,” Masada said.

The NGA scribe, however said there was  the need for proper implementation of the new policy without jettisoning proposed changes in the operations of the company in the new era.

Masade, who is also the Corporate Communications Lead, Eroton Exploration & Production Company, examined some of the socio-economic and political issues shaping the global energy market. 

The indicators, he said, include the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the controversial visit of United States House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan and the latest meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries Plus (OPEC+). 

OPEC+ is an oil supply rival pressure group consisting of the 13 OPEC members and 10 of the world’s major non-OPEC oil-exporting nations.

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The organization is aimed at regulating  the supply of oil in order to set the price on the world market.

“The meeting was held against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which has led to a global energy crisis with the limits placed on Russian fossil fuels. 

“The United States had earlier called on Saudi Arabia to pump out more oil to fill in the gap.

“While the cartel (OPEC), is under obligation to protect its members including Nigeria, the current reality indicates that the outcome will be shaped by the decisions of the big global players such as the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia,” Masade said.

He bemoaned the challenges inhibiting Nigeria from maximizing the opportunities presented by the conflict in Ukraine, which had reduced the global supply of gas. 

Masade said lack of political will and investments in critical infrastructure were some of the greatest reasons for Nigeria’s disadvantaged position. 

He listed one of such infrastructure that would have generated significant income for the country as the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline, which will traverse Nigeria, Niger and Algeria across the Sahara desert to Europe. 

Masade said, ”once completed, the $13 billion pipeline would transport up to 30 billion cubic meters or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per annum from Warri in Nigeria, through Niger republic and Algeria on to Europe.” (NAN)

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