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Nigeria pilots ‘5G Tech Spaces’ initiative

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By Usman Oladimeji

12 African universities have shown keen interest in the initiative.

In a groundbreaking development, Nigeria is piloting an innovative university service that leverages 5G technology to advance agricultural practices and ensure food security. It is said that the outcome of this project in Nigeria will impact its potential expansion across the entire continent, as 12 universities in Africa have already shown keen interest in this innovative program known as 5G Tech Spaces. The African School of Economics (ASE), in collaboration with the Finnish University Consortium, is pioneering the establishment of 5G Tech Spaces in various federal states in Nigeria. These spaces will be set up on university campuses and other satellite service points, following negotiations that have begun between the parties involved.

Discussions were held recently following the High-Level Strategic Engagement meeting of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), focusing on Climate Change, Food Systems, and Resource Mobilization. The event, hosted by Princess Gloria Akobundu, National Coordinator and Director General of AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria Branch, took place at the Presidential Banquet Hall in Abuja. Leading universities in Africa and Finland collaborated to design the 5G Tech Space, a service aimed at advancing technology. Coordinated by Start North, Finland-based firm, and accelerator network coordinates, these spaces aim to push the boundaries of technology and education.

Universities can extend the service to small communities.

The 5G Tech Space offers affordable access to advanced Extended Reality (XR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for learning, innovation, and remote work. This service will also provide reliable internet, continuous electricity, and business networking opportunities on campus. Beyond campuses, universities can extend 5G Tech Spaces as services point to smaller communities and agricultural areas. Smallholder farmers would be empowered and able to increase productivity through the use of 5G Tech Spaces, enhancing their resilience and capacity for growth.

Furthermore, the Tech Spaces play a crucial role in enhancing the global reach of the food industry by improving the efficiency of the entire supply chain. These innovative solutions have the power to ignite a passion for agriculture and food among the youth, presenting them with diverse opportunities for learning, career development, and entrepreneurship. Dr. Jari Handelberg, Chairman of the Board of Start North, believes that the innovation and productivity in agriculture can be enhanced through remote education and enabling technologies offered by Tech Spaces.

Collaborations have been forged with African universities.

During the pilot case in Finland, Tech Spaces in Finland functioned as central hubs for establishing mobile networks that oversee crop monitoring and streamline field operations using drones. Collaborations have also been forged with prominent African universities to fast-track the implementation of findings from the Nigerian pilot project in various African nations. Nigeria initially engaged in talks after attending the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP28), held last year. At the event, 12 universities from Africa introduced a plan for utilizing Spaces as a crucial tool for Digital Climate Action.

Various universities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia have shown their endorsement for the establishment of 5G Tech Spaces. African universities that have shown their support for the implementation of 5G Tech Spaces include African School of Economics, Benin, Ivory Coast, Nigeria; Kenyatta University in Kenya; Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia; The Technical University of Kenya; University of Lagos in Nigeria; University of Namibia: Obafemi Awolowo University (Ile-Ife) in Nigeria; University of Lusaka in Zambia; Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia; University of Nairobi in Kenya; University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania; University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Related Article: How 5G will soon change Nigeria

With the use of 5G Tech Spaces, individuals can easily access company initiatives in North America and Europe within the XR realm. This allows for the efficient education and integration of skilled professionals and innovators from around the globe. The reliable connectivity provided by 5G Tech Spaces, combined with the shift towards XR and AI technologies, presents enormous potential for Africa. By transitioning directly to eco-friendly products, services, and methods that rejuvenate agricultural land, the continent can bypass traffic congestion and construction work, ultimately reducing emissions and improving resource efficiency.

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