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Two Nigerian Startups win $300, 000 in Saudi Arabia

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Aminu Abdullahi

Two Nigerian start-ups have won $300,000 in Riyadh,  Saudi Arabia after participating in the second edition of the LEAP, Technology Exhibition. 

KANO FOCUS reports that the two Start-ups are RiceAfrika Technologies and Wicrypt Technologies. 

They emerged winners in different categories at the Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition, which was attended by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami.

A statement sent to KANO FOCUS by Uwa Suleiman Senior Special Assistant Media to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said over 10,000 Startups submitted applications from different countries. After rigorous scrutiny, the applicants were down to 220, and only 90 startups were selected to pitch their business ideas in the semi-final. Eight Nigerian Startups participated at the semi-final, and three reached the final stage.

“It was a proud moment of excitement for the Nigerian delegation, led by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), accompanied by Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communication Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbattaamd Managing Director, Nigerian Communication Satellite, Engr. Tukur Muhammad Funtua, that participated at the 2nd edition of the LEAP Technology Exhibition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as two Nigerian startups emerged winners in different categories at the Rocket Fuel Pitch Competition, and are coming home with a combined total prize of $300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dollars).

“RiceAfrika Technologies – is a tech-driven agric optimisation startup that deploys IoT-enabled harvester and its FARMEasy mobile app for smallholder farming communities in Africa. RiceAfrika believes Africa can feed itself and feed the world. It emerged as the global best in ‘The Tech for Humanity Award’ category and is coming home with 150,000 dollars. While Wicrypt – An innovative Tech startup decentralising internet globally. The startup has a custom OS and hardware that allows users to share data with people around them and charge an affordable rate also won 150,000 dollars after he was announced as the global best in the ‘The Into New World Award’ category.

Professor Pantami leader of Nigerian delegation expressed his delight while maintaining that Nigerian Startups have all it takes to compete with their peers in the global stage.

“I am so proud of our Startups who emerged as the global best in these categories. It is quite a long journey that followed rigorous process until the end; from over 10,000 applications to the final 12, in which three Nigerians took part and two emerged winners. We are delighted that our startups are not only amazing but went through a lot of nurturing and mentorship to be the best in the world,” he noted.

The Minister stated that Nigeria is on the right track in implementing its National Digital Economy Policy and Strategies to ensure that Nigerian Startups add value to the global tech ecosystem. We are building the ecosystem and making it more conducive for nurturing innovation-driven enterprises. Our startups are creating solutions for the local market that can easily scale to the global market.

“The journey started in 2019 shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for Digital Nigeria. Now we are reaping the positive benefits of our commitment. In the space of five months, we have Nigerians that are making us proud on the global stage.

“The eight entries from Nigeria competed with over 90 Startups in the semi-finals, showcasing their innovative ideas that will transform economies and solve pertinent issues around the world. Therefore, they emerged global best. They did not only pitch to win grants but also attended various knowledge-sharing sessions, conferences and investor meetings that have exposed them to numerous ways to accelerate their products for the best market fit. The startups intracted with the world’s best mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists.”

“It is also noteworthy that eight Startups we brought to this year’s LEAP, three made it the Grand Finale, two won, and are going back home to add value to our Digital Economy. On behalf of the Nigerian government, we sincerely appreciate the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO) Headquarters, Riyadh, for sponsoring our innovative startups to participate and showcase their innovations to the world”, he added.

Prof. Pantami also said that the successes of Nigerian Startups in GITEX, Dubai, United Arab Emirates in October last year, and today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is evident that the country’s innovators have accepted the challenge posed to them by the Federal Government to not stell as the African leaders but compute globally.

“The recent successes are the fruit of policies we put in place to ensure our Startups walk shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government appreciates the outstanding exploits of startups in the country, which are helping to create jobs, fast-track economic development, and also winning awards and grants amounting to millions of naira,” he concluded.

This year’s LEAP brought together breackthrough innovative ideas and emerging developments in technology under one roof. A landmark technology event that galvanised public and private organisations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Five startups were crowned as category winners, and the sixth, Plastus Biotech, ascended to victory and held the LEAP 2023 Award for the best overall startup. All of this took place in front of seasoned judges, angel investors, tech experts and government stakeholders from around the world!

The six awards divided the startup entrants by size, scale, impact on society, amount of funding, years in business, and a number of employees. Judges for the competition include Ghazal Alagh, Co-founder, of Mamaearth and Judge, Shark Tank India, Baroness Karren Brady CBE, Vice Chairman of West Ham United Football Club, James Caan CBE, entrepreneur, businessman, investor, and former Dragon on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, and Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur, investor, podcaster, and current Dragon on BBC’s Dragons’ Den.

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Dangote Refinery imports additional 11m barrels of US crude oil due to domestic supply shortage

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

 

 

Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals has issued a tender for an additional 11 million barrels of US crude oil over the next six months due to Nigerian crude oil producers’ inability to meet its feedstock requirements.

KANO FOCUS reports that the 650,000 barrels per day refinery has already received 9 million barrels of West Texas Intermediate crude from the US since the beginning of 2024 to offset unreliable domestic supplies. The new tender, closing on July 21, aims to procure two million barrels per month of WTI Midland crude for the world’s largest single-train facility located in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, for the next six months starting in August.

In a tender reported by Bloomberg, Dangote Refinery purchased five million barrels of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland crude for delivery in the upcoming months of August and September. Additionally, the company initiated a tender process to acquire an additional six million barrels of American crude for September.

This reliance on US crude highlights Nigeria’s challenges in meeting its own refining needs, attributed to issues such as crude theft, aging infrastructure, and underinvestment, which have led to a decline in production. In April, Nigeria’s daily output was only 1.45 million barrels, well below its capacity of 2.6 million barrels per day. The country recorded an estimated 30 million barrels underproduction in the first four months of 2024.

Dangote Refinery, crucial to Nigeria’s goal of becoming a net exporter of petroleum products, has found it necessary to import crude to sustain operations amidst insufficient domestic supply.

President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, stated during the Africa CEO Forum 2024 that the refinery will need to continue importing crude as production scales up and alternative supply contracts are sought.

“It also makes economic sense for us to tender for crude. If we could source 100 percent Nigerian crude, then fine, but we can’t wait,” said Dangote.

Commenting on the challenge with sourcing crude locally, Dangote added, “there is a bit of a problem for us to source the entire volume of crude that we’re looking for domestically because we need different types and mixes. Unless crude production improves – which we pray and hope for – we need to go elsewhere.”

The refinery took in more than 41 million barrels of feedstock in the first half of the year as it completed test runs and gradually increased processing rates, tanker-tracking data show. Of that, about a quarter has been American supply.

According to CAS, the refinery took delivery of 11 WTI cargoes, or 9 million barrels, between February and May, contrasting with around 18 million barrels of Nigerian crude deliveries.

Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), NNPC has struggled to meet its 300,000 barrels per day obligation to the refinery due to operational constraints.

International financial analytics corporation, S&P Global, recently described the Dangote Petroleum Refinery and Petrochemicals company as capable of resolving Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) issue and its huge pressure on the local Naira currency, while also catalysing the country’s economic development.

S&P Global, headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, disclosed this during an onsite visit to the refinery as part of its sovereign credit ratings assessment of Nigeria. The team from the international rating agency were accompanied by officials from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

S&P noted that the refinery would bolster Nigeria’s oil sector and, more importantly, also have a positive impact on its growing economy.

Currently operating at 350,000 barrels per day capacity, Vice President of Oil and Gas at Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Devakumar Edwin, recently disclosed that the refinery would scale up to at least 500,000 barrels per day capacity by July/August, commencing the refining of petrol and ultra-low sulphur diesel.

He noted that the refinery, designed to process a wide range of crudes including various African and Middle Eastern crudes, as well as US Light Oil, conforms to Euro V specifications. In addition, it is designed to comply with US EPA, European Union (EU) emission norms, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) emission/effluent norms, and the African Refiners and Distribution Association (ARDA) standards.

While noting that most refineries were built by foreign companies, he said it is a thing of pride that a Nigerian company designed and built the world’s largest single-train refinery complex while acting directly as its own Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor. The refinery which also incorporates a self-sufficient marine facility capable of handling the world’s largest vessels, can meet 100% of Nigeria’s requirement of all liquid products (Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene & Aviation Jet) and have surplus of each of these products for export.

 

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UNICEF Commends Governor Yusuf for Education Prioritization in Kano State

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Mukhtar Yahya Usman

In a gesture of appreciation, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has praised Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State for his steadfast commitment to enhancing the education sector within Kano.

During a cordial meeting at the Kano Government House on Thursday, the Country Director, Mrs. Christain Munduate, extolled the enduring partnership between UNICEF and Kano State, advocating for its reinforcement to yield greater mutual benefits and collaborative opportunities.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Governor’s spokesperson Mr. Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa and made available to journalists in Kano.

Mrs. Munduate reiterated UNICEF’s unwavering support for the state in both the Health and Education sectors, emphasizing the imperative for Kano State to fulfill its counterpart funding obligations for the Malnutrition project.

In response, Governor Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf called for increased support and goodwill from UNICEF and other donor agencies, highlighting Education and Health as pivotal realms necessitating additional assistance due to their fundamental importance in societal progress.

Governor Yusuf pinpointed Malnutrition and poliomyelitis as pressing health concerns, particularly affecting children and other vulnerable demographics.

Detailing the notable achievements in the education sector under his administration, Governor Yusuf underscored his government’s dedication to providing essential infrastructure, educational resources, modern classrooms, teacher training programs, and fostering an enriching environment conducive to learning.

Furthermore, in the realm of healthcare, Governor Yusuf emphasized the state’s endeavors to ensure complimentary medical services for women and children, overhauling of hospitals, and furnishing healthcare facilities with requisite equipment.

Assuring the visiting delegation, Governor Yusuf expressed the State’s commitment to doubling the counterpart funding contribution compared to Jigawa State for combating the pressing issue of Malnutrition.

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NiMet predicts morning thunderstorms in Kano on Friday

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Nasiru Yusuf Ibrahim

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted morning thunderstorms on Friday over parts of Kano State.

KANO FOCUS reports that NiMet’s weather outlook released on Thursday in Abuja envisaged thunderstorms over parts of Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi States on Sunday.

The agency anticipated thunderstorms over parts of Katsina State, Zamfara, Sokoto State and Kebbi.

The agency urged the public to take adequate precautions as strong winds may precede the rains in areas where thunderstorms are likely to occur.

NiMet advised Airline operators to get updated weather reports and forecasts from NiMet for effective planning in their operations.

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