When students resume at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), they will find some new mechanical assistants looking almost human with screens for face and hands taking temperature, helping with data, or even ready to dance with them.
These ‘assistants’ were presented to the UNILAG management at the university library by investment firm, Platform Capital on Monday.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the robots, five of them, were a milestone not only for the university but for Nigeria and West Africa.
Thanking Platform Capital for the robots, he noted that the donation was tied to the university’s call for support from friends of the institution in 2018. He added that the robots would make the university more productive.
“When we first came in, we said something about interacting with the friends of the university. This was done in 2018. You can see that this is a follow up to that programme then. I am excited today that this is happening in our time.
“In the last two years, we have attracted research grant to the university; our colleagues in various departments, various faculties attracted research grant of over N8 billion.We have been able to bring in facilities, equipment, infrastructural development, manpower development, knowledge to the system, training of postgraduate students. These are what we benefit from facilities like this.”
The robots are to be deployed to the library, University of Lagos Business School (ULBS), College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL), Senate Building and another undisclosed location.
The Librarian, Dr. Ronke Zaid, said the robot in the library would assist in many ways.
“This is a good step towards evolving the UNILAG library to a smart library and we appreciate this.This will be programmed and deployed to effective use of library. What we programme on it, will enhance library service delivery; we will put it to begin to perform reference services; categorisation of books for people to easily find books and also take headcount as people come into the library. It will also help to check the spread of COVID-19 and make the library a safe place for staff and students,” she said.
Speaking on the reason for the donation, Platform Capital Chief Executive Officer Dr. Akindele Akintoye said the firm gave the robots to support the Vice-Chancellor’s vision to make the institution the best in Africa.
“We at platform Capital are fully aligned behind the vision of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos to make UNILAG the number one in Africa and one of the top in the world. A couple of weeks ago, we worked with the university on the business school; we said we were just starting.
“This is the first time we are giving robots in this part of the world and in the library to help the learning experience. We are donating up to five – one in the library; one in the business school because in the next couple of weeks, we are bringing 30 entrepreneurs to come and incubate in the university for the first time in Africa. That will also enrich their experience. We are going to donate one to CMUL that will help the doctors,” he said.