Issue #25   •   Quarter 3/4 Edition   •   December 2018

 

Article Index

Nigerian Communications Commission sponsored some SME innovators to the ITU World 2017 in Busan, South Korea. The Communicator had a chat with these innovators. Their responses are as follows;

DR. FRANCIS IDACHABA, COVENANT UNIVERSITY

PROECT: RURAL TELEPHONY

2017Q4 Features ITU SME IdachabaThe concept was borne out of the need to extend telecommunications services to rural areas. I realised that most operators were not going there thus depriving them of the benefits accruable from communication service. When we looked at the system we realised that most of the operators relied on diesel powered generators and deploying to the rural areas was going to make it difficult for them to break even, so we decided to develop a system that would not require diesel power generators and it is scalable such that it could handle the small number of users and then the operators could still make profit in the long run because it is powered by solar.

Solar is very effective, but if it is undersized it will not last. Solar panels have a very long life span; in some instance they can last for 25 years. What makes the voltage the panel produces to drop is when it gets dirty and it is not cleaned. The other thing is your battery; if your batteries are undersized, they’ll not be able to be fully charged before the next darkness period comes. Several countries are shifting from fossil fuel-based to solar power-based systems.

My project is a system for extending GSM communication services to rural areas, using low powered bi-directional transceiver for which we already have the patent. The next stage for us now is to build and then do field trials. We initially planned to build it in Nigeria but most of the suppliers of these parts and systems will not ship to Nigeria. The seller in the UK told us that they don’t ship to Nigeria. We reached out to some others in South Africa but it was still the same, so we’ll now have to go to China or Taiwan to get the system built.

My University is giving me support because they support innovation. It may not be cash support but then they encourage us to innovate.

One of the things we pride ourselves in at Covenant University is developing students who are solution providers. We give students the opportunity to develop solutions together with mentorship from their faculty and these solutions that they generate are solutions to real life problems, so the training programmes that the school has, one of which is the entrepreneurship development studies which equips the students to be solution providers and with all these coupled together, our students are already generating huge impact in the world outside the University. So there’s hope for this country because of the students we’re producing.

 

 

VALENTINE UBALUA

PROJECT: NICADEMIA

2017Q4 Features ITU SME ubaluaNicademia is an acronym for Nigerian Academia. We started off as an education company, trying to see how we can use technology to address the educational problems in the country. Based on customers’ feedback we realised that kids prefer the use of animation to teach, so that’s how we ventured into animation.

We’re fortunate to be the first to do this in Nigeria and when we took this to various DSTV channels we saw the market opportunity and they were asking for more content, so we went out there to look for more content but we couldn’t find. There were few African cartoons, so that was how we thought of how we could create a market for African animation to help them export their content so that people all over the world can learn more about Africa.

I studied Computer Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and I’m also a certified entrepreneur from the Lagos Business School. I have industry wide experience and worked with 9Mobile for four years.

If you were born in the 80s, you know we all grew up watching cartoons. I actually had a personal experience with cartoons where I watched a particular episode of Superman and I went to my mother’s bedroom took her wrapper jumped from the staircase and I broke my leg. That’s the extent to which I love cartoons.

Animation actually helped me in school because I suffered from dyslexia, I failed through my primary and secondary school and nobody knew I had the sickness, they all felt I was not intelligent so I had to look for what I loved and used it to teach myself and that was how I ventured into animation and I began to understand myself better; that I’m a visual learner. That was how my academic excellence improved and that was how I was able to graduate as the 3rd best in the entire Computer Science Department of my school. This is to tell you how effective animation is in education and other sectors.

I was already deep into animation while in school so after graduation I came to Lagos to get the best talents to make up my team. We are currently on 7 TV stations both local and international including DSTV. We create at least 40 new contents produced every month; this is to ensure that we don’t lack content. We have 10 animators that produce at least 4 cartoons every month. We also create cartoons from other African countries, so you have something new every month. If you visit and you don’t get something new, our information system will capture your search query and before the month runs out we produce the content.