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Facebook, together with Africa Check, expands its local language coverage

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Facebook, today with Africa Check announced that it has added new local language support for several African languages as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme – which helps to assess the accuracy of news on Facebook and aims to reduce the spread of misinformation.

Launched in 2018 across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon, Facebook has partnered with Africa Check, Africa’s first independent fact-checking organisation, to expand its local language coverage across:

  • Nigeria, in Yoruba and Igbo, adding to Hausa which was already supported
  • Swahili in Kenya
  • Wolof in Senegal
  • Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele in South Africa

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities. Our third-party fact-checking programme is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook. We know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to this.”

Commenting, Noko Makgato, executive director of Africa Check, said “We’re thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, it also means we’ll be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information.”

About Third-Party Fact-Checking
Facebook’s fact-checking programme relies on feedback from the Facebook community, as one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

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Education

Ibadan Poly unveils Nigerian made ventilator, automated handwashing machine

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The Polytechnic Ibadan, on Thursday unveiled made in Nigeria mechanical ventilator and automated hand washing machine produced by the department of Mechatronics Engineering.

The development, according to the institution, is aimed at combating the COVID-19 disease in the country and other related diseases. The ventilator is an essential equipment in the treatment of coronavirus patients and went through all necessary procedures. It was tested at the University College Hospital, Ibadan (UCH) last week.

The research team  who carried out  the development under the Deanship of Engr. Tijani B.O and the Rectorship of Prof. Adebiyi Kazeem include;   Engr. Olaiya Kamourudeen, Mr. Olanlere Oladeji, Mr. Oluokun Tolulope,  Engr. Bello Abdulrahaman,  Mr. Sanusi Babatunde,  Mr. Azeez O.R, Mr. Ajayeoba Israel and a consultant from the University College Hospital, Ibadan, (UCH) Dr. Adebayo Oluwaseun. Interestingly, these students are still undergoing their Ordinary National Diploma (OND).

It was also gathered that the ventilator and hand washing machine housing a dryer, were among the new innovations of the department which has just been accredited to run Higher National Diploma (HND) Programme.

The citadel of learning has equally produced hand sanitizer and face mask which were donated to the Oyo state government in support of the fight against coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Rector, Prof. Kazeem Adebiyi, while addressing newsmen shortly after unveiling the devices,  informed that  the institution  In its bid to complement the efforts of the government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,  produced mechanical ventilator and smart hand washers.

Smart hand washers

Adebiyi disclosed  that the institution spent  about N2,000,000 (Two million naira) to produce the ventilator, noting that the cost  will be lesser if it was a mass production process. He lauded the Seyi Makindele led government for releasing grant to the institution which he claimed made it possible for the management to embark on several projects that were long overdue.

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He stressed that this was the first time since 2009 that the institution would receive grant from the state government to embark on accreditation process, adding that before now, the management sometimes go as far as taking loans from banks for accreditation.

“We are just using this avenue to appreciate the government for what they have done for us. When we received the letter from NBTE that we passed all our accreditation, we were very joyful. We did accreditation for thirteen programmes and we passed all the thirteen programmes.

“Also, we did three professional accreditation programmes which we passed and that looked like magic to everybody that how were we able to achieve that and then we said, since we have the support of the government.

“When we looked at the records, the last time the institution benefitted from such accreditation grant from government was in 2009 and when the present government came on board, we were bothered because about fifteen to sixteen of our programmes were due for accreditation.

Mechanical ventilator

“I said, look, lets go and meet the governor, they asked if I was sure because we have not received anything from them in years, but I insisted that we make a trial.

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“The governor approved our request  immediately and the grant was used judiciously for various needs; we procured necessary equipments, renovated buildings, secured accreditation for programmes, among others”, the Rector added.

Also commenting, Israel Ajayeoba, a student who was part of the research team, said the mechanical ventilator was designed  in a way that it can be adjusted depending on the rate at which the patient needs it.

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COVID-19: Facebook launches tools to keep faith-based communities connected

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Facebook has launched key resources to help faith groups stay connected and engaged during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The resources include the Faith on Facebook Resource Hub and the Faith on Facebook toolkit  both providing guidance and step-by-step tips that faith-based groups can use to keep their communities engaged while observing social distancing. The tools are part of Facebook’s ongoing efforts in keeping communities safe, connected and informed during this pandemic.

Some of the tools that faith-based groups can use to connect with their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • Facebook Pages: Explore how to build an active and engaged audience of faith communities, advice on posting interesting content, as well as creating events and using Groups for discussions.
  • Facebook Groups: Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, discussing issues and ideas, posting photos and sharing related content.
  • Facebook Events: Host virtual events using Facebook Events to spread the word.
  • Utilising WhatsApp: Consider sending bite sized sermons or recordings through the voice note feature on WhatsApp to members, using either the dedicated broadcast list function or creating a New Group list.
  • Watch Party: Host a Watch Party for your Group, choosing videos that are relevant to your community and invite members to join and discuss.
  • Facebook Live: Stream live stream events and performances on Facebook, utilizing interactive features such as reactions, shares and comments enabling you to further engage your audience.
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Commenting, Facebook Africa Regional Director Nunu Ntshingila said, “At a time like this, our mission has never been more relevant, to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. We know that faith leaders across Africa are grappling with the unexpected challenges in serving their members digitally, and we’re committed to providing them with the resources and tools to support them as much as possible”. She added, “Our ultimate goal is to equip faith-based communities with the tools to help them continue faith conversations throughout the pandemic.”

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Belarus, Egypt sign $1m contract to make drones

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus on Thursday disclosed that it has signed a $1m contract with Egypt  to make drones.

The official said: “We’ve held negotiations with Egyptian partners and have come to terms on a good contract – roughly $1 million – on supplying and setting up an enterprise in Egypt to train specialists and make drones.”

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