NCC tasks innovators on indigenous solution to bridge Nigeria’s digital divide
• Commission gets commendation as AfricaNXT 2023 begins
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called on innovators in the country to come up with indigenous solutions to help the country bridge its digital divide.
This came as NCC restated its support to empower local innovators in the country.
Speaking in Lagos, yesterday, at the third ‘Yearly ICT Innovation Competition and Exhibition 2022 Edition,’ the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said by promoting development and adoption of indigenous content, the Commission could ensure digital technologies meet the needs of local users and communities.
Danbatta, who was represented by Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Ubale Maska, said: “Digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to, and are able to use digital technologies, and those who do not.”
Danbatta noted that this gap could be found not just between countries, but also within countries, adding that the issue has significant consequences for social and economic development.
Indeed, checks by The Guardian showed that Africa is one of the regions, which is the least connected, with 60 per cent of the population offline, due to a combination of lack of access, affordability and skills training.
According to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), approximately 61 per cent of Nigerians in rural areas are unconnected, compared to 40 per cent in urban areas.
According to the NCC EVC, “this year’s theme is ‘Utilising Indigenous Digital Solutions to Bridge the Digital Divide,’ and it is an incredibly important and timely theme.
“Bridging this divide is essential for achieving sustainable economic development and social advancement, as well as achieving goals of the Federal Government’s Digital Nigeria Agenda.”
Nevertheless, Danbatta said the competition serves as a platform for tech enthusiasts and other stakeholders with novel ideas and tech solutions to industry and societal challenges, to showcase their creative innovations and forge collaborative partnerships that can stimulate productivity, sustainability, and continuous growth in the ICT sector.
This competition, he said, is in line with the Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, specifically Pillars 5, 7, and 8, which focus on digital service development and promotion, digital society and emerging technologies, and indigenous content development and adoption, respectively.
In terms of digital service development and promotion, the EVC said it is important to support the growth and development of digital businesses in Nigeria.
According to him, this includes not just tech start-ups, but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and even large corporations that are looking to adopt digital technologies and improve their operations.
He said: “By providing a platform for these businesses to showcase their innovations and forge partnerships, we can help to stimulate productivity, sustainability and continuous growth in the ICT sector.”
He reminded participants that the competition entails more than just showcasing innovative ideas and tech solutions, but also supporting the growth and development of digital start-ups in Nigeria.
Speaking on the competition, earlier in his opening remarks, Maska, whose speech was presented by the Director (Research and Development), Ismail Adedigha, explained that the yearly ICT Innovation Competition/Exhibition is designed to foster increased national innovativeness and sustainable digital start-up development, and provide a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to showcase their ideas and solutions to a wider audience.
Meanwhile, at the opening of the AfricaNext show at the Landmark Event Centre in Lagos, NCC attracted industry commendation for its regulatory processes that have given verve to the realisation of digital economy in the country.
Chief Executive Officer of CashToken Africa, Lai Labode, said the manner in which the Commission understands and supports the emergence of companies that have critical roles to play in actualising the dreams of the digital economy, shows that Nigeria will make desired impact in its ICT development.
Labode said NCC’s approach to transform the telecom industry and contribute to the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda reflected in diligence, speed and smartness in processing recent applications, including that of CashToken, which, he said, had led to a major collaboration with Mobile Network Operators.
Other participants also spoke about commitment to efficiency in NCC’s operations and attainment of excellence in regulatory oversight, a key item in the Commission’s extant Five-Point Agenda for transforming the telecoms sector.