By Staff Reporter
THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has called on innovators in the country to come up with indigenous solutions that will help the country bridge her digital divide.
This is even as NCC restated its support to empower local innovators in the country.
Speaking in Lagos, Tuesday, at third ‘Yearly ICT Innovation Competition and Exhibition 2022 Edition,’ the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stressed that by promoting the development and adoption of indigenous content, the commission can help to ensure that digital technologies meet the needs of local users and communities.
Danbatta, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at the Commission, 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 emphasised that this gap can be found not just between countries, but also within countries, and that it has significant consequences for social and economic development.
Indeed, checks by Upfrontdigital.ng 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 “Utilizing 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 for achieving the goals of the Federal Government’s Digital Nigeria Agenda,” he said.
Nonetheless, Danbatta said that 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 startups, but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and even large corporations that are looking to adopt digital technologies and improve their operations.
“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 said.
He reminded the participants that the competition is about more than just showcasing innovative ideas and tech solutions, stressing that it is also about 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 Department, NCC, Ismail Adedigha, explained that the yearly ICT Innovation Competition/Exhibition is designed to foster increased national innovativeness and sustainable digital startup development, and to provide a platform for entrepreneurs and innovators to showcase their ideas and solutions to a wider audience.
He said innovative such as the competition is imperative due to several challenges facing Nigerian economy such as the need to diversify and grow Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
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 with which the Commission understands and supports the emergence of companies that have critical roles to play in actualising the dreams of the digital economy, promises that Nigeria will make the desired impact in the future of the country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development.
Labode said NCC’s approach to transform the telecom industry and contribute to the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda was reflected in the 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 the demonstration of 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.