R-L: The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta presenting a dud cheque to the Vice Chancellor, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Prof. Lawal Bilbis during the ceremony in Abuja.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given out N172 million to 13 tertiary institutions across the country to aid Telecommunications-based Research Innovations.
The Commission has also awarded three other varsities including University of Port Harcourt, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto and the Federal University of Technology Minna the sum of N60 million professorial chair endowments to promote innovation entrenchment in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
Speaking at the award presentation ceremony at the commission’s headquarters today in Abuja, the NCC executive vice chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta disclosed that the sum of N660 million has so far been released by the commission to beneficiaries this year.
The disbursement, he stated, is part of the commission’s efforts to vigorously drive the attainment of the goals of the Federal Government’s agenda on digital economy, as aptly captured in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030).
Danbatta further stated that the academia provides the knowledge resource and research results that govern transformational growth and facilitate innovations in industries worldwide. He added that the relevance of the academia in the development of Nigeria’s telecommunication industry prompted the commission to institute the telecommunications research grant and the professorial chairs in tertiary institutions.
He added, “In the 2021 request for proposal, the commission received a total of 55 research proposals that focused on five emerging technology areas, namely: 5G deployment, innovative clean energy, advanced quality of service (QoS)/quality of experience management and test mechanism, IoT low power wide area network (LPWAN) technology and monitoring and localizing of drones. After thorough evaluations, 13 proposals were found to have met the stipulated criteria. This is, indeed, a clear testimony of the objectivity and complexity of the evaluation process at ensuring that the best quality is achieved and only researches that produce prototypes with the potential of providing solutions to both local and global challenges are selected.
“In addition, the commission has also endowed professorial chairs to tertiary institutions across the country, as a mechanism in entrenching innovations in our tertiary institutions, as well as having graduates that are ‘industry ready’,”
Danbatta revealed that the Federal University of Technology Owerri, Bayero University Kano; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi and University of Ibadan have all benefitted from the commission’s professorial chair endowment.
He revealed that the three institutions benefitting from the 2021 edition would be given N20 million each to enhance focused research in ICT towards the advancement of emerging technologies.
“The objective is to ensure regulatory and technological solutions capable of improving the communication industry are developed. It is, therefore, our expectations that the institutions would dedicate the required human and material resources to the success of the programmes,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the head, research and development department, NCC, Mr. Kelechi Nwankwo, lauded the EVC and the management team for continuously supporting the department in the pursuit of innovative-driven development of the communications industry despite limitation of resources.
He highlighted 2021 as the year with the biggest research grants to tertiary institutions, both in terms of the number of beneficiaries and the total amount being awarded since the commission commenced these programmes.
Nwankwo said the commission appreciates the importance of working with stakeholders to engender innovations and build indigenous technological capabilities that would strengthen the ICT ecosystem; not only in the provision of services, but in the development of a communications manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy.
In his remarks, on behalf of the institutions, the Vice Chancellor, Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Prof. Lawal Bilbis, maintained that a knowledge economy should be the catalyst for national development.
“ICT is the engine of the next digital revolution in the world and Nigeria should not be left behind.
“Research grants and endowment of professorial chairs are [some of the things which] keep universities going in the developed world.”
Bilbis added that the beneficiaries were not receiving the grants for their universities but for the Nigerian education system and for those who believe in Nigeria.
“This will be the beginning. I was just telling myself that if we have 20 or 30 organisations in Nigeria doing this, God be our witness, within the shortest possible time Nigeria will change,” he assured.