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Nigerian Navy Acquires Hydrographic Research Vessel

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The Nigerian Navy has acquired a new hydrographic and oceanographic research vessel, NNS LANA, to replace the previous one which was decommissioned ten years ago, with a view to enhancing the safety of the nation’s maritime domain as well as in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Navy took delivery of the new offshore survey vessel from the French shipyard, OCEA, in Saint Nazaire, France, after the provisional acceptance trials were concluded.

The vessel is expected, among other benefits, to allow the Nigerian Navy to have a better knowledge of its maritime territory and its Exclusive Economic Zone; enhance coastal and deep-sea scientific research and studies; provide assistance and supplies to other boats, as well as helicopter winching and towing of ships.

Speaking at the Flag Transfer ceremony in France, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, disclosed that the vessel was launched in September 2020, explaining that the NN’s choice of OCEA to carry the contract followed an international call for tenders for the acquisition of a hydrographic research vessel and associated logistical support services.

The minister who was represented by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said: “The provision of survey services and charting place a crucial role in ensuring safe navigation as well as delivery of maritime security.

“Hence, this vessel will not only enhance the safety of Nigerians maritime environment but the ship will serve as a critical component in the projection of naval power for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It will also play a critical role in the protection of maritime resources and preservation of law and order at sea, thus, contributing significantly to the promotion of global maritime commerce”.

According to him, “It is also capable of conducting geophysical studies, search and rescue operations as well as patrol duties. The ship is equipped with state-of-the-art modern survey equipment as well as a well-equipped 7.6m surface vehicle for shallow water surveys. Furthermore, the ship has an Automatic Weather Station, AWS, wet and dry laboratories, scientific and technical workshops as well as operating and processing rooms for survey data.

“For security, the ship would be equipped with 30 mm and 2×12.7 mm guns upon arrival in Nigeria. NNS LANA was handed over to the Nigerian Navy in France on January 15, 2021, after the provisional acceptance trials were concluded. The crew training commenced in January 2021 and ended on April 12,201.”

The change of flag ceremony, according to him, marked the vessel’s readiness to embark on her maiden homebound voyage to Nigeria and is expected to join the Nigerian Navy Fleet in May 2021.

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CAN Rejoices With Muslims at Sallah

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has felicitated with the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and all Muslims in the country as they celebrate this year’s Ramadan.

In a congratulatory message issued on Thursday by the General Secretary, Daramola Bade Joseph, CAN prayed that the aftermath of this year’s Ramadan will usher in peace and unity into the country.

“We are not unaware that your fasting was in obedience to the divine directive: ‘O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous’ — Surat Al-Baqarah 2:183. May God answer all your godly prayers offered throughout the month.

“We appeal to the leadership of NSCIA to continue to advise and caution the extremists who are not well-grounded in the faith and whose wicked and ungodly actions are giving bad names to Islam. It is trite to know that no godly person will engage in the promotion of violence, kidnapping, banditry and terrorism or identify with the perpetrators,” it said.

CAN said it recognises and appreciates the ‘efforts’ that are being made by the police and other security agencies towards ensuring peaceful celebrations.

It said that it will not relent in promoting religious tolerance, peace and unity in our country in collaboration with NSCIA genuinely.

“We remain partners in peacemaking. Let us continue working together for peace, unity and progress of the country.

“May God put His fears into the hearts of our leaders to promptly do what is right, justly and godly. We also pray that those who have compromised and are compromising the security in the country will have a change of mind and those who refused to change will be exposed and sanctioned by the Almighty God Himself,” CAN said.

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UNICAF Sets Out Plan to Expand to 17 African Countries Following UN Call for Investment In Digital Education

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The COVID-19 pandemic unearthed the fault lines for what could be a generational catastrophe in education.

Even before the pandemic resulted in school closures affecting over 1.6 billion students in at least 161 countries, more than 250 million school-age children were out of school globally.

In much of the developing world, the gap between the levels of learning that education systems provide, and the needs of students, communities and countries, has been steadily growing over the years.

Barriers to education in developing countries include political and security instability, costs, health and nutrition, distance to school, insufficient budgetary allocations to education, and poor-quality environments, content and processes. And now, even more school-age individuals are at risk of falling behind or dropping out of school permanently as the pandemic persists. This would widen inequality across an already unequal region with stark wealth, gender and social disparities, as well as stymie opportunity, innovation, and economic growth prospects—education is the cornerstone of building human capital.

In a recent interview with AfricaLive.net Dr Nicos Nicolaou, the founder and CEO of Unicaf, a leading higher education online platform with students in 158 countries, set out his vision for a more robust education sector supported by digital infrastructure.

“In August last year, the UN Secretary-General stated that the education sector must invest in digital literacy and infrastructure and look to evolve towards learning how to learn, rejuvenate lifelong learning, and strengthen links between formal and non-formal education,” said Dr Nicolaou.

“He suggested the need to draw on flexible delivery methods, digital technologies and modernised curricula while ensuring sustained support for teachers and communities.”

Optimising Higher Education

A sustained increase in demand for access to education across Africa is unavoidable as populations grow, and given the role of education in modernisation and development, it is critical that governments increase higher education opportunities.

“Central to the discussion on sustainable development is the imperative of equality in higher education opportunities. Universities should offer holistic and transformational education with high-level quality content. Learning should be stimulating, engaging and learner-centric, leading to successful outcomes for the learners. Universities should inspire learners to be global citizens, assume active roles in the society they live in, and contribute to a more peaceful and sustainable world,” says Dr Nicolaou.

“Taking into consideration that tens of millions of additional students will become of university age in the next decade and the fact that there are no plans to build hundreds of new universities in the continent, the only solution is online learning,” he adds.

“The skilful use of modern technologies can enhance teaching and learning effectiveness and, thus, may substantially contribute towards the goals and objectives associated with sustainable, inclusive growth and development.”

“Distance education can eliminate current barriers to higher education in Africa, imposed by space and time, and can dramatically expand access to lifelong learning. Using flexible delivery models, students will no longer have to visit a physical location at specific times and days. A modern higher education institution, such as Unicaf University, no longer has to be at any specific physical location but, through the use of technology, can exist anywhere, anytime for students who wish to access study materials and complete a particular academic programme fully online.”

COVID-19 Has Changed Education Forever

There has been a high growth and adoption in education technology around the world in recent years, with edtech investments of up to USD 18.66 billion in 2019, and projections for the online education market expected to reach USD 350 billion by 2025. COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to the wider use of technology in delivering education.

“Because of COVID-19 online learning expanded dramatically. Almost all universities had to shift to remote learning to serve their students. In a very short time, everyone had to shift from face-to-face teaching to online, using a variety of technologies. The pandemic provided the catalyst needed for universities to move online and to use digital platforms for teaching and learning,” says Dr Nicolaou.

“What was considered to be the future has been accelerated to become the present; and my expectation is that this shift is here to stay, in one form or another. Various technologies, which are employed for online teaching, will reshape learning, both inside the classroom and beyond, well after the present pandemic subsides. In the same token, regulators have realised how crucial online education is and started encouraging universities to offer online programmes,” he adds.

The Future of Online Education in Africa

Africa accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s youth population (aged 15-24), which is also the fastest growing in the world; however, there is a dearth of quality and affordable higher education. School enrolment rates at the tertiary level stand at 8 per cent, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (https://bit.ly/3eGhkYq), significantly below the global average of 32 per cent. Online education has the potential to increase access to higher education, making it cheaper, more flexible and more accessible to a wider range of students, and that is what Unicaf does.

“Founded in 2012 and with headquarters in Europe, Unicaf is a leading higher education online platform with students in 158 countries, and also a scholarship programme, facilitating higher education studies at affordable cost. The state-of-the-art Unicaf digital platform provides access to quality university degree programmes and professional courses from reputable partner institutions in the UK, the USA and Africa, and is addressing an underserved part of the higher education market through an affordable and flexible online learning model,” says Dr Nicolaou.

The platform’s current partners (https://bit.ly/3eH3Snk) include Liverpool John Moores University (UK), the University of East London (UK), the University of Suffolk (UK), the University of California, Riverside Extension (USA), and a multi-campus Unicaf University in Africa—offering high-quality Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral degrees at a fraction of the cost.

“During the pandemic, Unicaf has been able to demonstrate its capabilities and increase its reach. Unicaf’s state-of-the-art digital platform has helped thousands of students to study online towards an internationally recognised degree without being affected by lockdowns and other restrictive measures. Within the last 12 months, we have received thousands of applications from students interested to study through online programmes. This is additional proof of Unicaf’s dominance in Africa’s online education market and the strengthening of its brand and reach,” says Dr Nicolaou.

Spotlight on Africa’s Largest Online University

Developments in technology and changes to the global approach to teaching—including collaborative and project-based learning, mobile-friendly learning platforms, and adaptive personal learning—are not yet used at scale in Africa. Unicaf is expanding across the continent through a growing network of university campuses and learning centres offering blended and open learning options. Unicaf currently has a physical presence in 12 African countries and has plans to expand to five additional countries within the next two years.

“Unicaf and Unicaf University’s (www.UnicafUniversity.com) strategy is to continue expanding throughout Africa by obtaining additional university licences in new countries and enriching the portfolio of programmes they are offering. Along with its partner universities, Unicaf has already served more than 40,000 students, by awarding them over USD 100 million worth of scholarships to study for internationally recognised degrees at a fraction of the cost, and to positively transform their lives,” says Dr Nicolaou.

“Our software development team will continue developing new state-of-the-art technologies, aiming towards enhancing the existing technologies we use in our digital platform. Such technologies help all our operations become more efficient and more scalable,” he adds.

Unicaf’s platform provides students with several key benefits, including:

  • Flexible delivery allows students to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Everything students need to complete their studies is embedded into the platform, including a digital library, e-books and other learning resources.
  • Qualifications: Students can earn internationally recognised degrees from Unicaf University, or its British partner universities, at a fraction of the cost. It is accredited by the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education in the UK as an Independent Higher Education Provider. Students are therefore given the opportunity to earn degrees with international recognition and obtain valuable skills and credentials to enrich their professional qualities and help them advance in their careers.
  • Scholarships considerably reduce the cost of fees, and any remaining balance can be paid in easy monthly instalments.
  • Employment: Most students declare that they were able to find a better job, get a promotion in their current job and/or earn more money as a result of their studies with Unicaf. Unicaf University programmes are developed in collaboration with employers to meet their specific needs.

Accelerating Online Teaching Through Partnerships Between Universities and EdTech Companies

Unicaf has been a pioneer in international partnerships to provide opportunities for students in Africa to earn internationally recognised degrees for almost a decade. Dr Nicolaou believes that the success of such partnerships depends on “a shared understanding of the market, goodwill, close collaboration and shared interests and goals.”

The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) this year will facilitate pan-African collaboration in higher education.

“With a population of 1.2 billion projected to reach 1.4 billion by 2040, Africa will become one of the biggest free trade areas with a very high commercial significance. This is good news for higher education too, and will heighten collaboration opportunities among universities in Africa in the areas of teaching, learning and research,” says Dr Nicolaou.

“For the African leaders of the future, Agenda 2063 sets out the need to refocus and reprioritise Africa’s agenda. Educating Africa’s future leaders is very important, as they are the ones who will strive to reposition Africa as a dominant global player. To support this goal, Unicaf continues to develop a suite of modern and affordable programmes, which offer specialist knowledge, underpinned by values-based ethical principles and practices.”

“Employability is vital for university students in Africa and is central to the mission and operation of Unicaf University.”

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Playfre Wins “Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” at the Fourth Annual African Excellence Awards

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African music streaming service Playfre wins “Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” at the fourth annual African Excellence Awards, hosted by MEA Markets. 

“The recent months have undoubtedly brought about significant challenges for many industries across Africa, and therefore [We are] delighted to be the bearer of good news following Playfre’s 2021 nomination.” said Kaven Oscar Cooper, Awards Executive at MEA Markets.

“Over the past couple of weeks, our judging team have assessed the shortlist for MEA Markets’ African Excellence Awards. It is with absolute pleasure to confirm that Playfre has been successful, and have been awarded: Best Music Streaming Platform – West Africa” Cooper continued.

“We are delighted to be recognized in this way and it is such an honor and privilege to be bestowed with such a prestigious award.” says Chika Nwaogu, CEO of Playfre Music Group.

Available in 54 African countries and with operations in both Kenya and Nigeria, Playfre is an African music streaming platform that was launched on 1 May 2019. Since inception, Playfre has amassed over 70,000 registered users and over 100,000,000 streams.

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