Monday, 3 October 2016

The Need for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education in Nigeria's Tertiary Institutions

According to the late Nelson Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world. This is very true at every level of education, beginning from the formative stage (basic education) where a solid foundation is laid; but the most evident manifestation of this Nelson Mandela quote is seen at the tertiary level. Tertiary education provides a platform which enables any individual to harness the foundational principles acquired during their formative education stages to learn and develop specialized knowledge, with the sole purpose of creating a new value chain whose applications make far-reaching progressive impacts on the society.
creativity and innovation
What and which places spark and drive innovation?

Hence, one of the fundamental aims of tertiary education is the creation of new value chains. This means that tertiary education, in its true calling, does not produce individuals who end up in different industries/sectors of the economy doing only routine jobs that require no form of human ingenuity and creativity. In its pure form, tertiary education institutions are the centers of innovation and creativity, with teaching methodology and curricula constantly adjusting to the socioeconomic dynamics of their environment and the world at large. This very attribute has characterized world-class tertiary institutions like MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford, the University of California campuses, and so on because at the heart of their ever-adapting curricula and teaching models lies creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

How Self-Driving Tractors, Drones and Virtual Reality will Transform Agriculture in Nigeria

Technology has enabled tremendous advances in every area of human life in every part of the world; but the rate of that advancement has been different and much slower in the emerging economies—Nigeria and most other African countries especially. That the technology community has been abuzz for the past one week because of Mark Zuckerberg’s first visit to Africa—Nigeria first and then Kenya—is something that a lot of young Nigerians have come to see as the beginning of a never-before-seen technology revolution that will sweep across the country and continent. Many young talented Nigerians are using technology to solve local problems, ranging from education through transportation to healthcare, and some of these were showcased to Zuckerberg during his visit at the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos.

While these tech solutions to local problems were commended by Zuckerberg, he also stressed, during a Question & Answer session for entrepreneurs and developers, that Nigeria and Africa have the talent to solve relevant global challenges. There are so many global problems today craving ground-breaking solutions; but one of such problems whose solutions can come from Africa is food security through agriculture not only because of how technology can be applied to scale agricultural production but also due to the fact that more than half of the earth’s arable lands, that can be exploited for agriculture without harming the green ecosystem, is in Africa. This means that applying the right technology in agriculture could turn Africa into the food hub of the world, and there’s need to start work now not just for the sake of the world but also for the food safety of our country and the entire continent: Nigeria’s population is estimated to surpass that of the US by 2050, making the country the 3rd most populous in the world, and a strong food security will certainly prevent a lot of problems.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Understanding the link between Zika Virus and Microcephaly (babies with small heads)

Baby with small head (microcephaly) born to a woman
infected with
Zika virus. Image credit to  CTV News

In the last few months, the world still recovering from the terror of the Ebola virus, has woken up to a new one in the shape of the Zika virus. And what makes this one a terrorist, unlike Ebola which kills its hosts and is very highly contagious, is the strongly emerging evidence of it being responsible for a condition called microcephaly in babies of mothers infected with the virus while they were pregnant (a medical condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads) as the virus has been isolated from the umbilical cord of these babies and from their mothers' blood. Microcephaly results from either a small brain substance volume; the premature closure of the sutures of the skull bones, or defects in skull bone growth and development, all of which then limit the growth of the brain substance to below the normal size. While the cause of these problems leading to an abnormally small head is multi-factorial, ranging from hereditary genetic disorders to environmental players like inadequate intake of some vital supplements by the pregnant woman and exposure to radiation in pregnancy---it's very vital to work out, in the smallest of details, how the Zika virus has come to be a player and the various mechanisms with which it likely employs to achieve this mischievous feat.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Finding A Curative And Preventive Basis For Mental Illness.

Mentally ill people need help not stigma
Image credit to Imagebuddy

I just finished a 4-week rotation through Psychiatry, and I must say I have learnt a lot about the disorders of the mind. Before the rotation, I used to have this stigma and nausea towards anything that has to do with mental illness and those with it because of the way the society has painted them--they are mad people. But the truth is people with illness of the mind are normal human beings with families, friends, dreams and ambitions; some have good education and are in different professions. Our first lecture introduced us to Psychiatry, and in it I learnt that everyone's mind is like an elastic spring suspended from a hook, with a board on one end. Now, life drops different loads on this board (what we call psychological stressors--challenges and trials), which stretch the elastic spring (remember Hooke's Law in Physics); but almost all the time, our minds will return to their original length after a "normal brief period" of reacting to the stretching (in the form of crying, sadness, feeling depressed, losing interest in everything, fear and anxiety, and so on) when we've got over the psychological stressors (every challenging period passes). It's important to note that some people's minds have higher elastic limits than others' (they can withstand much more severe psychological stressors than others) because of their genetic makeup. Hence, when those whose minds have low threshold for withstanding challenges are faced with very severe psychological stressors, their minds are stretched beyond their elastic limits and what results is mental illness--a state in which their minds remains in this stretched mode for an unusual length of time, in the form of depression, mania, obsession, hallucinations, compulsion, changes in personality and so on. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

This Technology Could Solve the Climate Change Problem by Generating Low-Carbon Fuels from Sunlight.

Carbon Emission
Carbon Emission at the heart of  Climate Change.
Image Credit to GeekSnack

Like it or not, most of the world people depends on crude oil and its products and other heavy carbon-emitting fossil fuels such as coal for one of the most important needs in life-energy (from petrol and diesel for cars and other vehicles through gas for power plants to generate electricity for cities to other fuel products used in many other dimensions). Every day hundreds of millions of litres of gas and other related fuels are burnt in one way or the other to meet this basic need for energy. While the basic need, energy, is being met, the basic need of our environment -including the atmosphere of which the ozone layer is part; the water bodies; and the green lands--which demands moderate waste output from us, that is within its recycling capacity, were neglected from the very beginning.

However, the world started to realise the consequences of this neglect and efforts to make amends went into motion. That was when global consolidations to tackle the problem of climate change began to take shape in various parts of the world and from various strata of the society--from the political line, through various social groups to the academia and various research and development industry groups. Significant progress began to materialise in the form of environment-conscious government policies; a change of attitude towards energy use by people in various parts of the world; and technological adventures and innovations and inventions from the academia and research and development industry groups. We began to hear about less carbon-emitting fuel alternatives such as biomass fuel; then came the green energy in the form solar electricity that emitted zero carbon into the atmosphere. These breakthroughs found their way into the various purposes that were being served by the heavy carbon-emitting fossil fuels and the result was solar powered homes and communities; electric cars and trains and power plants that generate electricity with biomass fuel.

Even with all this, the dependence on fossil fuels did not witness a marginal decline. But the need to meet the need of the environment began to experience unprecedented surge. Global conferences by the world's political representatives on addressing climate change issues became almost an annual mandate. However, the truth is that the fossil fuel industry is a multi-billion, if not multi-trillion, dollar one; and a complete shift from it to green energy will be almost impossible (though there are already campaigns going on in several UK Universities and institutions for divestment from future fossil fuel), the least reason being that most of the green energy alternatives have limitations such as low conversion ratio and low carrying capacity--conversion of solar energy into electrical energy is at a less than 2% rate and I'm yet to learn of a solar powered heavy machinery factory. And secondly, countries like the US and Russia are ever expanding their technologies in exploring shale gas from rocks and natural gas in the Arctic region of the planet respectively, never minding the fact that about 80% of the remaining coal reserves, 50% of gas and 30% oil must remain unburnt if the world is to remain below the 2ÂșC global warming beyond which catastrophes may start manifesting.