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Seven start-ups get $21,000 to curb COVID-19 spread


• Action Aid Seeks Probe Of Human Rights Abuse By Security Agents

As part of efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), seven start-ups deploying solutions and platforms to mitigate the rapid spread of the pandemic in Nigeria have received $3,000 each from the #COVID-19 Innovation Challenge Virtual Demo Day.

The challenge was organised by Ventures Platform and supported by MTN, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC).

A statement by Ventures Platform Communication Lead, Joy Mabia, yesterday, revealed that the seven start-ups received $3,000 equity-free grant each from Ventures Platform and its partners – Loftyinc Allied Partners, Silverchip Fox Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, AGS Tribe, ACIOE, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, Venture Garden Group, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Sterling Bank and LASRIC, though $1,000 was initially announced at the call for application.

According to Mabia, the winning start-ups will also pitch their ideas to MTN employees serving as volunteer mentors and receive invaluable feedback on the required technical, business and functional skills to enhance their solutions before they are deployed in the fight to flatten the curve.

Also speaking on the collaboration, the NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, expressed gratitude to Ventures Platform, MTN, and LASRIC for supporting in mobilising innovative tech solutions to strengthen the national response to COVID-19, adding that a whole-of-society approach is required to flatten the curve and enable gradual re-opening of the economy.

Meanwhile, ActionAid Nigeria has demanded an investigation into the growing cases of human rights violations during the lockdown.This is against the backdrop of reports by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that security agents killed about 18 persons in the last two weeks, coupled with reported cases of how security operatives across Lagos, Ogun and Abuja harass, extort and brutalise citizens while enforcing the stay-at-home directive.

ActionAid Communications Coordinator, Lola Ayanda, stated in Abuja yesterday that the enforcement had been taken over by some unpatriotic security agents to perpetrate human rights abuses.

“These abuses include physical assault, torture, illegal seizure, extortions and incidences of sexual and gender-based violence. There have been also cases of outright destruction of property by security agents, thus inflicting hardship and pains on the vulnerable citizens, especially women and youths. 

“According to reports, such brutalities by security operatives in places like Abia, Anambra, Delta, Kaduna, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina states have led to an estimated 18 deaths,” the group stated.


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