Microsoft is first out with its 2013 top search trends list, with pop star Beyonce bumping Kim Kardashian as the most searched person on Bing this year.
Women dominated 2013 in Microsoft search world. The top five most searched people of the year were women (Kardashian was No. 2).
Justin Bieber — No. 6 — and President Barack Obama — 10th — were the only two men who made it into the top 10.
Also making Bing’s Top 10 list: Rihanna (3), Taylor Swift (4), Madonna (5), Nicki Minaj (7), Amanda Bynes (8) and Miley Cyrus (9)
Swift jumped from No. 10 last year, while Bynes, Madonna and Obama are all new to the list.
Microsoft’s take on top trends has a decidedly pop culture bent, but Bing also offers a look at top news stories of the year. The birth of the royal baby was the most searched story of the year followed by the Boston Marathon bombing in April.
You can read more about Bing’s top trends at www.bingtrends.com.
And now that we’re into December, look for Google, Twitter, Facebook and more to weigh in with the year’s top trends
“It would speed up delivery of online orders, but the technology is at least three or four years away.”
Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday.
The idea would be to deliver packages as quickly as possible using the small, unmanned aircraft, through a service the company is calling Prime Air, the CEO said.
Bezos played a demo video on 60 Minutes that showed how the aircraft, also known as octocopters, will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and fly through the air to deliver items to customers after they hit the buy button online at Amazon.com.
The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less, the world’s largest Internet retailer said. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take “some number of years” as Amazon develops the technology further and waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules and regulations, the company added.
Bezos told 60 Minutes that the service could be up and running in as few as four years — although he noted that he is an optimist when it comes to such things.
“One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” the company said.
This is the latest futuristic effort by Bezos, who was an e-commerce pioneer in the 1990s and more recently popularized the e-reader — while pursuing personal projects such as private spaceflight and a 10,000-year clock built inside a mountain.
Drones have mostly been used by the U.S. military to shoot missiles at enemy combatants in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the cost of these unmanned aircraft has dropped precipitously in recent years, making them more accessible to commercial users, such as companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
However, the FAA currently limits the use of drones in the U.S. to public entities such as police forces and hobbyists, meaning the devices cannot be used in return for payment. The regulator said recently that it plans to have regulations governing commercial use in place by 2015.
“The FAA would not let Amazon do this now,” said Ryan Calo, an expert on robotics, privacy and the law at the University of Washington. “But this is precisely the type of application that Congress had in mind when it told the FAA in 2012 to come up with rules for commercial unmanned aircraft.”
Amazon will be able to petition the FAA to show them how its drone delivery technology works and the company can also apply to test its drones to make sure they are air worthy,he added.
“Amazon will not be able to darken the skies of Seattle with drones. They will need a plan for safety,” Calo said. “But I see no reason why this application won’t fly.”
If drone delivery takes off, it could be a threat to FedEx and UPS, which Amazon uses for a lot of its deliveries now. Indeed, FedEx founder Fred Smith told Wired magazine in 2009 that the company wanted to switch their fleet to drones as soon as possible but that it had to wait for the FAA to regulate such activity.
“We’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place,” Amazon said Sunday. “Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards.”
Airtel Nigeria (Airtel Networks Limited), a leading mobile telecommunication services provider in Nigeria and a member of Airtel Africa Group, is committed to providing innovative, exciting, affordable and quality mobile services to Nigerians, giving them the freedom to communicate, rise above their daily challenges and drive economic and social development.
The company made history on August 5, 2001 by becoming the first telecoms operator to launch commercial GSM services in Nigeria and has scored a series of many “firsts” in the highly competitive Nigerian telecommunications market including the first to introduce toll-free 24-hour customer care; first to launch service in all the six geo-political zones in the country; first to introduce affordable recharge denominations; first to introduce monthly free SMS and first to introduce monthly airtime bonus.
A truly innovative company, Airtel has showed resilience, charting new paths in meeting the demands and needs of its esteemed stakeholders and enhancing distribution as well as providing affordable services to empower more nigerians.
In Nigeria, Airtel is working tirelessly to live up to an ambitious vision of being the most loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians as it offers a superior brand experience and a portfolio of innovative products & services ranging from exciting voice solutions to inventive data packages and mobile broadband.
We are recruiting to fill the vacant position of:
Job Title: Senior Manager, Devices and Partnership
Job description Objective:
To develop and execute Airtel’s device strategy through Handset –Bundle-Offer (HBO) marketing and Device portfolio management. Ensuring the availability of Airtel NG’s offerings in the market and through Airtel NG retail stores, ecommerce sites and partner outlets nationwide with special emphasis on Go-To-Market to drive adoption, activation and revenue.
Desired Skills and Experience
Bachelors in Marketing, business management, engineering or computer science
2+ years of relevant experience in Telecom and/or IT
1-2 years in handling a product category
2+ years of team leadership experience
Masters in Business Administration or management will be an advantage
Project Management qualification will be an advantage
7+ years of commercial/business management experience
Develops GTM Strategy along with the Original-Equipment-Manufacturers.
Launch of New Products
Leverages on synergies from OEMs and partners.
Identifies, engages and drives revenue through Airtel Partner Stores.
Measures success and reports performance
Portfolio Creation and Management
Creates and Manages Airtel device and HBO portfolio
Responsible for Hero device selection and alignment with relevant stakeholders.
Device portfolio Management
Device Testing and Certification
Retail, Online, Digital and Shop management
Responsible for Strategic Partner engagement and sign up.
Identifies and partners with strategic Retail, Online, Digital and Stores
Engage Open Channel through Large Distributors creating value through bundling of offers
Who is the new King of the web? It’s not Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. It’s a company that most people in the West don’t know. That, however, is set to change, with the explosive growth of China’s Tencent and its mobile messaging app WeChat…
Last week, Facebook, the current king of social networks, admitted that it’s losing teen users, and that the overall growth in its monthly active users has slowed to 18% year-on-year. This isn’t helped by the fact that it and other Western social networks are banned in China. By contrast, Tencent recently announced that WeChat’s users have almost tripled from the 85 million of the year before.
And Tencent’s reach – unlike local Twitter-equivalent Sina Weibo and Facebook-equivalent RenRen – is not just restricted to China. WeChat was rebranded from the more Chinese-sounding Weixin to appeal to an international audience, and it’s now virally coming across here. In just four months between May and September 2013, its overseas users have doubled from 50m to 100m.
So, in an increasingly crowded mobile messaging, what is Tencent and WeChat doing right?
First, it has managed to differentiate its product with some killer features that keep users coming back for more. On the messaging side, users can “hold-to-talk” and send free walkie-talkie style messages that bypass the need for voicemail. Yet what keeps its network growing are fun discovery features that can connect users locally and across continents.
WeChat has neatly fused together the open approach of social networks such as Twitter, where anyone can follow anybody, and more closed networks such as Facebook, which rely on mutual friend connections. It’s growing virally through social connection and not just social media.
For instance, the ability to identify “People Nearby” can make the daily commute or a night out with friends much more interesting. Here is a quick summary of my results when looking for other WeChat users in London…
Alternatively, you can “shake” your smartphone, and be connected with other users anywhere in the world who are shaking their phones at the same moment.
In growing its international user base, Tencent has brought on board brand ambassadors, such NBA star LeBron James, soccer star Lionel Messi and Bollywood actors Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra, who users can follow and interact with.
Massive Value Creation
Shaking and tapping on smartphones are not just gimmicks: floated on the Hong Kong stock-exchange in 2004 (the same year as Google), Tencent has far outstripped Google in the rate of appreciation of its share price, up 104 times on it IPO price compared to Google’s 8.5 times price appreciation.
With a $101bn US market cap (still some way off Google’s $343bn valuation), Tencent joins Yahoo!, eBay and Amazon among the world’s most valuable internet companies.
From Copycat To WeChat
Like many of China’s tech companies, Tencent’s roots lie in the “copycat innovation” and localization of what was happening in Silicon Valley. The company was founded in 1998 by Shenzhen University computer sciences graduate Huateng “Pony” Ma, and five classmates. Its first product, OICQ or Open ICQ, was a Chinese copy of the popular ICQ desktop instant messenger that had been acquired by AOL in the same year. When AOL filed a lawsuit in March 2000 for violation of its intellectual property, Tencent eventually lost the battle and changed the name of the product from OICQ to QQ, as it is still known today.
With an increase in user numbers but unable to cash in on its huge user base, Pony and his co-founders nearly had to sell the company. A big early success was in attracting venture capital – in 2000, Pacific Century CyberWorks and IDG invested $4 million for a 40% stake, proving to be the kick-start that Tencent needed.
A big part of the success of WeChat has been down to the fact that, when other companies continued to develop for the desktop, founder Pony Ma made a big bet on mobile. A CEO known for his understanding of and investment in long-term growth, a few years ago Pony made the smart move to shift more than half of its 20,000 employees to focus on mobile. Although Tencent’s mobile business has not been the source of its revenue (70% of its revenue is from user payments and the rest from commerce), Tencent expects that eventually “the real value is the connection of the phone with business offline.”
Pony is currently ranked third in Hurun Rich List and fifth in Forbes Chinese Rich List. Reflecting on the “copycat years”, he attributed his early success to a combination of copying and luck:
“When we were a small company, we needed to stand on the shoulders of giants to grow up.” Paraphrasing a quote attributed to Isaac Newton, he added, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Pony is known to pay attention to details that most big companies ignore, drawing comparisons with the late Steve Jobs. Indeed, even Jobs owned up to a degree of copycat innovation in launching new products – when he unveiled the iBooks app at the launch of the iPad in 2010, he acknowledged that it bore similarities to Amazon’s Kindle: “Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further.”
However, Pony didn’t want to stop with copying, adding:
But copying others can’t make you great. So the key is how to localize a great idea and create domestic innovation.”
A company veteran added: “it was entrepreneurship, concentration and passion that helped Pony succeed.”
Despite WeChat’s frightening domestic and overseas exponential growth rate, it doesn’t have it all its own way in the global market. Martin Lau, President of Tencent, acknowledges that the US remains something of a sticking point, commenting at a conference at Stanford University last month, “US is a very tough market. You have your free SMS which takes away the cost appeal of microchat. You have [Apple’s] iMessage… We will try to find ways to provide differentiated services.”
WeChat is also up against WhatsApp, a hypergrowth American startup that also almost doubled its monthly active users to 350m from 200m in April. Other competitors, such as Viber and Japan’s Line exist, but tellingly, they won’t reveal their monthly user figures.
So there’s an interesting global battleground setting up: both between Facebook, Tencent and WhatsApp in global social media and messaging, and Amazon, eBay and Alibaba in global e-commerce. LinkedIn is currently the leading professional social network and doesn’t have a recognised global direct competitor: it will be interesting to see if one emerges from China or elsewhere.
I’m confident that Tencent will overtake Facebook, although partly because China’s population is bigger and partly because it has an unfair advantage over Western competitors blocked out of the Chinese market. This needs to change.
My overall prediction for the next few years is that Tencent will build a significant global business of great value: with products and brands we’ll increasingly come to know, interact with – and maybe even love.
Over To You
If you think that Facebook’s dominance is at risk from the likes of WhatsApp and We Chat.
Share with friends who are interested in social media and might like to give WeChat a try.
What’s most important to you in a social network? Please share below any hot new developments in social media that might be of interest for a future article.
By Steve Tappin
Chief Executive, Xinfu, Host BBC CEO Guru & Founder, World Of CEOs
Steve is a personal confidant to many of the world’s top CEOs. He is the host of BBC ‘CEO Guru’, which features in-depth, on-the-record interviews with the CEOs of the biggest and fastest-growing companies. Founder Of WorldOfCEOs.com, Steve is the author of ‘The Secrets Of CEOs’, which interviews 200 CEOs on business life and leadership
I have recently had to answer many questions from friends and contemporaries, seeking to understand why I decided to join social media and expose myself to potential fire from young Nigerians. This is mostly because people who have known me for a long time know me to be a rather quiet person.
But the reality is that over the last months, I have learned that the positives of social media participation far outweigh the negatives.
Social media is where young people, the bulk of Nigeria’s population, gather to share their thoughts, often venting their frustrations with the inefficiencies of the country.
I may not always like what is written about me; indeed some commenters could be very insulting. Our society has always been one where older people expect a lot of respect from younger people, so the relative equality of voice that social media provides may shock newcomers to the platforms.
Overall, social media has allowed me to listen a diverse array of Nigerian voices without filters.
I am going to guess that colleagues in public service may see social media as a threat, and indeed seek to censor social media networks. But I think such an attempt would be a mistake.
Instead of censoring social media, governments need to see them as an opportunity to listen directly to their constituency. The conversations on social media represent a gold mine of data and reference for performance. The reality is that leaders can test opinions using social media, and more importantly, can generate and collate ideas and solutions from their constituency by putting their thoughts out in social media.
Not all ideas on social media are good, and leaders sometimes leaders have to make tough decisions which are unpopular. Indeed that is the point of being a leader, being able to filter through multitudes of voices to make the right decision. However, it is good to see social media as a resource. A 24-hour focus group, which can yield fine ideas for every political leader.
Leadership can only improve where there is an active participation of the led. The active participation of young people on social media, and the continuous interest in how the nation is governed can only lead to improvements in government. I am personally more conscious of my public actions of late, because my presence on social media means I have to give an account of my actions – a responsibility which is self regulated simply because I am aware of the access that the platforms have how provided.
I am now spending most of my free time reading, writing and engaging on social media, and learning. The responses surely is providing feedback which is helping me to make decisions, including my recent scholarship competition.
In the last few months, what I have learned is that this social media rise is happening across Africa. That can only be a good thing. It is very possible that this generation will change the future of Africa because of the availability of more information.
However, young people also must learn to be patient and strategic in the use of their social media. Driving change will need a continuous push and pull on the leadership. If the pressure is not consistent, the leaders young people are seeking to influence will become dense and disregard social media voices as noise, without action. To drive change through social media, the key qualities young people will also need to learn are consistency and doggedness, because politically, that is the only way to survive.
Social media is a powerful organizing tool in perfecting and protecting our democracy moving forward. Together we can ensure dignity for all Nigerians by combatting corruption, creating economic opportunity for our youth and securing our communities. I look forward to continuing my engagement and listening to Nigerians (yes, even the critics!) as we strive for a brighter future.
Scientists in Britain have developed a novel blood test that could provide clues to the ageing process and determine how long an individual may live.
In a recent publication in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the scientists say they have discovered key metabolites in the blood – described as chemical ‘fingerprints’ left behind as a result of early molecular changes before birth or in infancy – which not only could provide clues to health later in life but also pave the way for the development of therapies to treat age-related conditions.
Funded by the European Commission, Researchers from the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London, the research involves “metabolomic profiling” — the study of metabolites that specific cellular processes or changes leave behind in the blood. Analysing blood samples donated by over 6,000 twins, they identified 22 metabolites directly linked to chronological age — the concentrations of the metabolites were higher in older people than in younger people.
Their finding suggests that levels of this novel metabolite, which may be determined in the womb and affected by nutrition during development, could reflect accelerated aging in later adult life. The scientists say the findings show it is possible that these markers of aging can be identified with simple blood tests in the future, which may provide further clues to the aging process and could pave the way for development of therapies to treat age related conditions.
Study leader Professor Tim Spector and, Head of the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London, said: ‘Scientists have known for a long time that a person’s weight at the time of birth is an important determinant of health in middle and old age, and that people with low birth weight are more susceptible to age related diseases. So far the molecular mechanisms that link low birthweight to health or disease in old age had remained elusive, but this discovery has revealed one of the molecular pathways involved.’
One particular metabolite — C-glyTrp — is associated with a range of age-related traits such as lung function, bone mineral density, cholesterol and blood pressure. Its role in aging is completely novel. Crucially, researchers found it was also associated with lower weight at birth when they compared the birth weights of identical twins.
To explore the link between birth weight and the metabolite, the researchers showed via genetic tests that the gene influencing the levels could be modified “epigenetically” (whereby genes are switched on or off by chemical switches triggered by the person’s environment or lifestyle).
These epigenetic changes may then influence metabolism during a person’s lifetime, which in turn influences their risk of age-related diseases.
Ana Valdes, lead researcher from King’s, said that “human aging is a process influenced by genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors, but genes only explain a part of the story.
“Molecular changes that influence how we age over time are triggered by epigenetic changes. This study has for the first time used analysis of blood and epigenetic changes to identify a novel metabolite that has a link to birth weight and rate of aging,” she said.
“This unique metabolite, which is related to age and age-related diseases, was different in genetically identical twins that had very different weight at birth,” she said.
“This shows us that birth weight affects a molecular mechanism that alters this metabolite. This may help us understand how lower nutrition in the womb alters molecular pathways that result in faster aging and a higher risk of age-related diseases fifty years later.
“Understanding the molecular pathways involved in the aging process could ultimately pave the way for future therapies to treat age-related conditions. As these 22 metabolites linked to aging are detectable in the blood, we can now predict actual age from a blood sample pretty accurately and in the future this can be refined to potentially identify future rapid biological aging in individuals,” she further said.
Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for his work on what is now commonly known as right brain-left brain thinking. Sperry theorized that some very specific activities were controlled by one side of the human brain or the other — for example, the right side controlled creative tasks, while the left side was where logic, language and reasoning lived.
People were fascinated by the idea, and in the three decades since, bookstores, television, the Internet and college psychology classes everywhere have been filled with endless discussions of the differences between right-brain, left-brain, and whole-brain thinkers.
(Ironically, Sperry’s Nobel prize, like his theory, was also split: two Harvard doctors were also recognized that year in the same medicine and physiology category for their discoveries in visual system processing.)
Are you right-brained or left-brained? Do you know?
The people at MindMotivations.com offer a simple test to see which side of your brain is in control. All you need to do is stare at the image of the spinning woman for 30 seconds.
What do you see? Is she rotating clockwise our counter-clockwise? Maybe she goes in one direction initially, and then changes suddenly to go the other way.
According to the Mind Motivations test:
If you see a clockwise rotation, you are a right-brain thinker.
If you see a counter-clockwise spin, you are a left-brain thinker.
Do you see the image going both directions…or would you like to try and make it spin both directions? Check out the suggestions from Mind Motivations on how to make your brain change the rotation of the spinning image.
What side of the brain do Blaze readers use most? Take our poll below.
I love the Internet. I think it is the purest expression of democracy. It eases communication, gives power to the weak and – depending on how much respect they have for it – can amplify or minimize the influence of the powerful. Social media is an asset, one that needs to be used diligently. I believe every true Netizen should understand and respect its power and see themselves as custodians of same. Abuse of this awesome power should be collectively pointed out and frowned at every turn.
Two days ago, I read an article Opon Imo (Tablet of Knowledge), Abi Opon Scam? By Adeyemi O.J and I just couldn’t stop laughing. The piece left me both flabbergasted and frustrated. Frustrated because I knew many would believe it without questioning the facts. We have grown so used to believing every accusation of corruption out there. Once somebody punches out a few hundred words, mentions a few politicians, adds numbers with lots of zeroes, then presto! A new anti-corruption crusader is born!! Death to all politicians!!!
After reading the article, I chose to go and see the gentleman’s timeline. His tweets seemed above par. Sadly, his article wasn’t. Not even close. Been a while since I read a piece so filled with misinformation as this. I will attempt to point out and correct Mr. Adeyemi’s many misnomers and do my best to keep my article civil.
Where to begin? The beginning, I guess. The first and second paragraph read like a personal attack on the Special Adviser on Environment and Sanitation to the Osun State Government, Mr. Bola Ilori. I think the attack on Mr. Ilori’s person was uncalled for. At no point in Mr. Ilori’s article did he call for anyone to “bow and worship” the governor. Neither did he imply that Opon Imo would ensure world peace nor end global hunger. He simply praised the courage and vision of the Osun state government for treading this uncharted course, despite being Number 34 on the revenue earning list of the country.
I wonder why Mr. Adeyemi failed to educate his readers that Mr. Ilori’s article was in response to an earlier piece by another gentleman who decided to play politics with Opon Imo. And, I think, Mr. Ilori is right to say the device is unique. Opon Imo, as a ‘standalone e-learning tool’, is a first of its kind in Africa and arguably in the world. When you consider that the usual thing is for these tools to be internet-based while the Opon Imo has all the content domiciled in it, the difference is clear. That is its selling point. This was a critical issue during the implementation of this project as those in charge took cognizance of the network challenges in the country and the feedback from the potential users of the device.
However, Mr. Adeyemi reserves the right to challenge Mr. Ilori. One would have expected that he gave relevant references to support his assertions. It is clear that the gentleman either did not do his homework or chose to ignore the FAQ section. Else, he would have got answers to all his questions about powering the tools, trainings and maintenance, which are in the third paragraph of his piece. I visited the site and got very satisfactory answers. I even found out Opon Imo has a Twitter handle and a Facebook page. Research is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
Mr. Adeyemi must love mathematics very much. So much, he picks numbers out of thin air and labels them as he deems fit. But he must love renaming things too. Else, why would he say Ogbeni Rauf has a son named “Kamoru”? Another evidence of his disdain for research or love for mischief? I know the internet allows a lot of things, but I seriously doubt if it gives us the power to rechristen people. I would have thought one of the minimum requirements for Mr.Adeyemi’s job (Social Media Trainer) is to get the basics right. I was prepared to ignore the error the first time but to do it twice in one article is simply unpardonable. One can only hope his students are either very forgiving or very smart. Or know how to use Google. Fela once said, “Teacher, Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.” Mr. Adeyemi will do well to use that nugget of knowledge.
Mr. Adeyemi, FYI, I know not any Kamoru Aregbesola but if this is prophesy, I bid you good luck. The gentleman whom you accused of receiving a phantom contract is in fact Kabiru Aregbesola.
Now, Mr. Adeyemi isn’t the first person to falsely claim that Ogbeni Rauf gave a contract to his son. Though the accusers can’t seem to agree on the numbers as the amount in their accusations keep mutating, Mr.Adeyemi is simply the latest accuser and he won’t be the last. But, if he had done his research, he would have caught this. During an all-night live Q&A event held recently, the governor said his son NEVER got a contract to supply the tablets. He explained that the tablets were supplied by a Chinese Manufacturing Company, Kabiru only contributed his knowledge as an ICT expertise to make the project succeed. And he did this free of charge. But of course, Mr. Adeyemi ignored this nugget of information too.
Mr. Adeyemi, I have to ask; why the rush to castigate the young man? What is Kabiru’s offense? Is it a crime to be a do-gooder who saw a chance to help his father’s dream come true or has the concept of volunteering become so alien that we just don’t think it impossible? I am not even asking that you agree that the job was done at no charge, but you should have acknowledged that the matter had already been raised and responded to. I would seriously doubt your credentials if you claim you never saw the articles on the Internet. Here’s one, and another. I am in the same profession with you and I know that online monitoring is a huge part of the job.
Now, I have more questions for you, Mr. Adeyemi: who told you the Opon Imo contract was worth N8.3b? When did you inspect the warehouse where the tablets are stored for distribution and found out that only 3,700 of 50, 000 was supplied for the same amount? Where did you learn that this contract is for 50,000 not 150,000 as I read it? Which website did you find the Opon Imo tablet specification selling for $30? How many units do you need to buy from that website to get a discount? I would truly hope to get answers to this questions but I won’t hold my breath.
The following questions are for the rest of us. The timing and content of Mr. Adeyemi’s piece sent the Twitterverse into a near-meltdown as people smelt blood and moved in for the kill. I know corruption is a huge problem we face but so is ignorance. Why didn’t anyone ask the writer what company “Kamoru” used to secure the alleged contract? When was the company incorporated and who are the board members? Except the Osun State Government simply forked over billions to an individual, the writer must know what the company name is. I have gone over Twitter many times and not many gave the accused man the benefit of the doubt. Mob Mentality?!
Mr. Adeyemi suggests that the project is shrouded in mystery but that is not true. Apart from the final cost for the project, which hasn’t been made public yet, the answers are all out there. See here. And here.
I called a few friends within the Osun State Government and they told me that the final costs were being kept away for “marketing reasons”. As the government owns the Opon Imo patent, they told me they are looking to recoup the money spent on the project by supplying tablets to interested states or private institutions. For this reason, they said, it would be foolhardy to reveal the cost price of the products.
Now, I know it is almost unbelievable that a Nigerian state government is pushing to commercialise a product developed with state funds but it shouldn’t be. Any government should be actively looking for ways to maximize the money they get. While I would admit that leaving the public in the dark is suspicious, I can understand why they are doing this and I believe Osun should be praised for seeking ways for create new wealth through Opon Imo. Apple would never reveal the cost price of the iPad. I have been told that total cost of the project will be revealed when the commercialization part of the project is completed. When that happens, I would be the first in line to go through it with a fine toothcomb.
As a parting shot, Mr. Adeyemi couldn’t resist the temptation to talk about the debt issue. Again, without any evidence, he said Osun state owed over N200b. He didn’t quote the CBN or the Federal Ministry of Finance. May be he knows better than those guys or is a bigger authority on financial matters. A careful perusal of the constitution didn’t spring his name, so what was he basing this on?
Again, this matter has been raised and dealt with here. The governor said the state debt is no more than N30b. Again, Mr. Adeyemi, Google is your friend. And I am yet to find someone owed 5 months’ salary. Could you be kind enough to provide names of affected staff or ministries next time?
As I said before, I love the internet. I believe it is capable of facilitating great things. But, when articles like Mr. Adeyemi’s hit the net, I think it is the role of true custodians to respond with the facts. A wise journalist once told me, ‘The truth will do just fine.” And to this I add, “When in doubt, Google it!”
And Mr. Adeyemi, nothing personal, okay?
Gbenga Olorunpomi is a social media specialist and an Ogbeni Aregbesola groupie. He lives and works in Lagos.
Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State recently launched a set of 150,000 units of specially adapted computers aimed at enhancing learning in schools, particularly at the secondary level. The initiative was introduced to a gathering of civil servants, traditional rulers, and politicians.
Known as ‘Opon-imo’, Yoruba for tablet of knowledge, the device is actually a handheld tool fitted with an e-library, a virtual classroom, and an integrated test zone.
The scheme works by storing contents of prescribed textbooks, past examination questions for the last ten years, model answers to each examination question, and other materials. The scheme is to ensure equal access to prescribed textbooks by all school children; and answer to pains of parents who cannot afford all textbooks for all subjects or deal with replacements for those lost in or outside school compounds. It will also create equal access to a new information technology tool instead of the current situation where only children of middleclass families enjoy it. A corollary benefit is expected to arouse creativity in children in the vast and widening information technology highway.
The scheme appears not to have been discussed and agreed upon by all communities. The decision to buy into it was taken when the governor went into a shop in South Korea and was instantly fascinated by a cheap and versatile computer. It’s easy portability and weight is probably equivalent to children’s school bags. He may also have recalled huge sums of money expended in purchasing textbooks for implementing the free education policy across the state. One such leakage was suggested by a case involving Universal Basic Education Commission’s textbooks for schools in Niger State being illegally sold in markets in Anambra State. Prices of books are either inflated or books are not delivered at all, despite huge claims made on the state’s treasury. Various actors in the education sector become sucked into a corruption network which callously sacrifices the future of children whose parents had voted for a government that promised them change towards a better delivery of social services.
Cynics may accuse the Governor Aregbesola of latching on to yet another publicity stunt in a season of electoral rhetoric and the run-up to the next general elections. It is, however, more useful to join in a constructive consideration of a novel scheme which seeks to improve education from its critical base. At a time when various state governments have failed to collect funds from UBEC (because they cannot account for previous allocations) for supplying books, repairing leaking roofs of classrooms, purchasing or maintaining quality furniture, laboratory and sports equipment, it is noteworthy that a state government is actively involved in ensuring equity in quality access to learning material. It is also an important move because analogue’ teachers would now be encouraged to embracing a computer culture that will guarantee availability of quality lesson materials.
For too long, publishers abandoned the creative development of their industry through a parasitical dependence on earning huge amounts of money by marketing only school textbooks. This has led to the desperate practice of self-publication of poorly edited works. Accordingly, only writers who live outside Nigeria publish works of some appreciable quality. Foreign publishers and their local agents have been the biggest offenders. The Osun State initiative marks a calling of these publishers’ bluff and throwing a line of survival for Nigeria’s writers in various fields, including architecture and engineering. This is where the ‘Opon-imo’ challenge lays, encouraging local development of software to continually update the devices, at real time and on time.
Computers, even as simple as the ‘Opon-imo’, must be kept and recharged to keep them in good condition.
The first time I met Gov. Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, I came off with a feeling like I had just been hypnotized. It was at the launching of a book written by Salihu Moh’d Lukman titled ‘2015: Manifesto of Nigerian Opposition Politics’ at the Yaradua Centre in Abuja in January, 2013. He was given an opportunity to talk to the audience and talk he did. The crux of his talk was the need for Nigerian politicians and people to put their acts together so as to make this nation work. His passion, method and choice of words were the instruments of the ‘hypnosis’ that I was talking about. One minute, he would be whispering to get your attention; in the next, the decibels could reach high heavens. I was transfixed. In the end he concluded by saying that ‘Nigeria is the country that will show the world that blacks are human beings.’ The rousing applause said it all. But as I gradually came out of the trance, a small voice asked me, ‘Could he be for real?’
By launching Opon-Imo (the tablet of knowledge), a computer tablet that was designed and produced to meet the academic needs of all Osun State senior secondary school students, I have a reason to re-appreciate this unusual man. The launching took place at the Zenabas Half Moon Resort, Ilesa, on Monday, June 3, 2013. I was not there in person, but I was lucky to lay my hands on Aregbesola’s speech, a significant part of which I will share with you today. I just have one regret; which is that I did not know about this wonderful idea when I had the opportunity to head the Education sub-committee of the Kano Renaissance Think Tank. But I think it is not too late. Gov. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso must hear about this. Let me hand over the column to Aregbesola to explain this remarkable project.
‘The successful birth and delivery of Opon-Imo has been a difficult experience; but it is a happy story to tell; and I am delightfully pleased to tell it. The journey began from a trip I made to the Borough of Southwark in the United Kingdom in 2011 where I saw an electronic learning device while window-shopping in a bookshop at Dockland. And it occurred to me that we could build something like that and adapt it to our own purpose in a manner that would be unique to our circumstance. And then we went to work, and Opon-Imo is the product of our toil…
‘It is a first-of-its-kind standalone learning tablet in the world for self-paced study. It provides three major content categories vis-à-vis, e-library, virtual classroom, and an integrated test zone.The virtual classroom category contains 63 e-books covering 17 academic subjects for examinations conducted by WAEC, NECO and JAMB as well as non-academic life-enriching subjects such as History of The Yoruba, Sexuality Education, Civic Education, Ifa on ethics and morals, enterprise education, hints and tips on passing SSCE and ‘How to live a Healthy and Happy life’. This section also contains an average of 16 chapters per subject and 823 chapters in all, with about 900 minutes or 15 hours of audio voiceovers.
‘In the integrated test zone of the device, there are more than 40,000 JAMB and WAEC practice questions and answers dating back to about 20 years. It also contains mock tests in more than 51 subject areas, which approximates to 1,220 chapters, with roughly 29,000 questions referencing about 825 images.
‘From the foregoing, there can be little argument that Opon-Imo is a veritable tablet of knowledge that levels the learning playing field for all students from different social backgrounds. It allows students to learn at their own pace, wherever and whenever they choose. It provides robust and uniform learning content for all students, and offers a feedback mechanism for monitoring their performance.
‘…With Opon-Imo [which weighs 1.1 kg], learning becomes fun, easy and interesting. Because this tablet of knowledge is going to be distributed free to our students, it not only relieves their parents of the financial burden expended on learning materials, it likewise relieves the students of the burden of their book-laden backpacks… Opon-Imo has numerous other advantages. It can be solar-powered; it can record audio lessons; saves students the stress of copying notes and spares them more time to learn; facilitates early exposure of students to ICT; it has up to six hours of battery life; and its touch screen makes for easy use. To crown it all, this little device will greatly facilitate our free education policy by saving the state a lot of money that would have had to go into procuring text books on an annual basis. Indeed, the saving is humongous. Were the state to engage in the physical purchase of hard-copies of textbooks for the 17 subjects taught in our public schools, hard-copies of 51 audio tutorials, hard-copies of JAMB and WAEC past questions and answers for all subjects for a period of 10 years, it would (conservatively speaking) cost a whopping sum of N50.25billion.
‘In a world tilting inexorably towards ICT, Opon-Imo is a bold statement of our determination to qualitatively redefine public education. With Opon-Imo, we are certain to open the doors of good education to more of our students who would otherwise have been denied that priceless opportunity…’
I cannot agree more. I think it is also important to mention that the total funds needed to procure the e-materials were in the region of N200 million! I therefore make this public request to HE Gov. Kwankwaso to accept one more recommendation from our think tank: Let us borrow from Opon-Imo to develop a new tablet called ‘Allon Karatu’ for free distribution to every school kid. We can even call it ‘Allon Kwankwasiya’, for effect!
By Auwal Anwar M.Eng MHEI(Galillee) ChE
+234 (0)706 2841478
Source: Blueprint Newspaper
American Ex-Secretary of State, and possible 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has joined Twitter, and is tweeting from the @HillaryClinton handle. In her first tweet, Clinton thanked Texts From Hillary creators Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe for the inspiration.
But first, her bio: the former Secretary of State calls herself a “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”
the twitter handle exploded in the first one hour to over 60,000 followers and by the fourth day it was climbing to almost half a million followers, an expression of popular acceptance on the social media.