The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says robust telecommunications/broadband infrastructure is fundamental baseline to engender innovations that will drive economic growth in Nigeria.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Proffesor Umar Danbatta made the remark in Lagos, at the Nigeria Innovation Summit 2019, with the theme: ”Accelerating Nigeria’s Economic Growth through Innovation”.
Proffessor Danbatta who was represented by the Director, Research and Development, NCC, Mr Ephraim Nwokenneya, said that Information and Communication technology (ICT) was advancing on a daily basis.
He said that such advancement was throwing up innovative technologies that organisations and businesses must leverage, in order to remain relevant and be competitive in their sphere of operations.
According to him, there is broadband infrastructure gap/deficit which is needed to drive the required innovations in the country and NCC has been driving digital transformation and investment in telecommunications/broadband infrastructure, which is key to encouraging any technology innovation.
Professor Dabatta said to bridge the gap, in infrastructure deficit, the Commission has licensed six Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos), one each in the six geo-political zones of the country, with the seventh one specifically issued for Lagos zone because of its commercial centrality to the country pointing out that the seventh one for the North-Central region is being processed by the Commission.
Professor Dabatta noted that any nation that wants to develop must ensure a digitally-enabled framework, adding that Nigeria should not to end up becoming an irrelevant economy, hence the need to address the issue of digital infrastructure.
He said that the NCC, in its wisdom, had put in place the InfraCo framework in order to address the problem of accessibility, availability and affordability, as well as engender innovations through granting of research grants to the academia.
According to him, more importantly and in line with its commitment to promoting innovation to drive digital transformation, the Commission, in 2016, created its Research and Development (R&D) Department.
He said that in June this year, the Commission presented the sum of N65 million to 11 universities in Nigeria for innovation, research and development to deliver research result and prototypes that were implementable, commercially-viable and capable of engendering innovation in different sectors of the economy.
He said that another area where NCC had been promoting investment opportunities and innovation within the digital ecosystem for economic growth was in exposing young Small and Medium Enterprisers (SME) owners in the ICT industry to global investment opportunities.
Proffessor Danbatta said that this was done annually through sponsoring young Nigerian innovators to such global forum as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecoms World.
He said that this was principally to provide them with the platform to exhibit relevant, home-grown technology innovations and solutions to the global investment community.
According to him, this year’s edition of the ITU forum has been scheduled to hold in Budapest, Hungary in September and in the same manner, the NCC is sponsoring a number of young technology innovators to the conference for the same purpose.