2021 NIICTE: Experts’ takes on maximising emerging technologies, consumers’ roles in digital economy

*Stakeholders at the 2021 International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Institute of ICT Engineers (NIICTE) have outlined ways the country can apply and benefit from the various emerging technologies to attain sustainable socio-economic revolution in the digital economy

*Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, HR. Engr. Otis T. Anyaeji, Umar G. Danbatta, Ali A. Rabiu, others receive awards for exemplary leadership and contributions to Nigeria’s digital transformation drive

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Experts have highlighted and tasked all stakeholders on the needed operational strategies for right application of the emerging technologies towards digital transformation and building the national capacity for the attainment of Nigeria’s 4th Industrial Revolution (IR).

ConsumerConnect reports the stakeholders noted this development at the two-day virtual and physical sessions of the 2021 International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Institute of ICT Engineers (NIICTE), a division of the Nigerian Institute of Engineers (NSE), holding September 28-29.

In his welcome address on the occasion with the theme, “The Place of ICT Engineers in the Digital Economy”, Engr. Augustine K. Nwaulune, Ph.D., FNSE, FIMC, FWASCA, President of the NSE and Chairman of the occasion, said it was a great pleasure playing host to the crème de la crème present at the event.

Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, MCPN, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy (l) and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

Engr. Nwaulune recalled the establishment of NIICTE when he disclosed that in February 2015, a group of corporate members of the NSE, also registered with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), met and resolved to promote the creation of a specialised division of the NSE.

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According to the Chairman of the 2021 International ICT Engineers Conference and Exhibition, the objective was to bring together all ICT Engineers practising in Nigeria.

“This was aimed at further strengthening the study and practice of ICT Engineering in Nigeria, promoting welfare and motivation, and deepen the gains of the NSE,” said he.

The well-attended event, anchored by Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, also witnessed goodwill messages from top stakeholders, including HR. Engr. Otis T. Anyaeji, FNSE, FAEng, Traditional Head of Ubahu Okija, and President, West African Federation of Engineering Organisations; Vice-President, Federation of African Engineering Organisations, who received the Institute’s “Royal Eminence Award of Excellence”.

Scorecard of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy

Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, MCPN, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy (MOC&DE), who also bagged the NIICTE’s 2021 “Leadership Excellence Award”, in his remarks highlighted the Ministry’s efforts through the associated agencies at advancing the digital transformation agenda for building the Nigerian digital economy.

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The Minister stated that with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, his Ministry has been able to achieve a number of deliverables in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Telecoms ecosystem in the West African country.

According to Prof. Pantami, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA), and other sister agencies under the MOC&CE have been able to attain the Right of Way (RoW) ‘at no cost’ to the telecoms network operators.

He equally outlined others accomplishments to include the resignation of the Ministry as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in line with the realities of modern global digital economy.

The agencies under the Ministry, he stated, developed the National Policy for the adoption and deployment of the fifth generation (5G) technology, leading to the recent approval of the policy by the country’s Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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Pantami further disclosed that the MOC&CE has established Communication Centres across the six geopolitical zones, deepened the spirit of cooperation and partnership among the agencies under the Ministry, besides the creation of the Department of Digital Economy among others.

Telecoms regulatory regime at NCC under Umar Danbatta’s leadership

Likewise in his message on the occasion, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, an author and philanthropist who was the Guest of Honour at the 2021 NIICTE International Conference and Exhibition, related the Commission’s some of the telecoms sector regulator’s activities.

According to Engr. Nwaulune, Chairman of the 2021 NIICTE International ICT Conference and Exhibition, the Institute also conferred the “Man of the Year Award” on the NCC EVC/CEO at the event.

Danbatta, who is currently serving a second term of five years in office as the Chief Executive, said having successfully spearheaded the attainment and surpassing of Nigeria’s national Broadband target in 2018, the NCC is still leading the charge for the realisation of the new national Broadband target of 70 percent by 2025.

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The NCC EVC/CEO said the effective regulatory regime and various initiatives, his leadership has strengthened the role of telecommunications as a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, and boosted telecoms investment inflows from initial $36billion to over $70 since 2015, and active Mobile Telecoms Subscriptions, now estimated at 189million among others.

According to him, the Commission is ready for the deployment of 5G networks for the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy by January 2022.

ConsumerConnect had also reported as part of the NCC’s initiatives, the telecoms regulator Tuesday, September 7, 2021, launched three projects, including a Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVP) 2021-2025; Prof. Danbatta’s Compendium of Speeches, entitled: “Catalysing Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Transformation through Broadband Infrastructure”, as well as a podcast titled, “NCC Global Connect”, in Abuja, FCT.

NCC’s CAB and consumer sensitisation, protection initiatives

Mr. Efosa V. Idehen, MNIM, Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) at the Commission, in his message from NCC at 2021 International ICT Engineers Conference and Exhibition of NIICTE on “Information and Education: Key to Consumer Protection”, discussed the various consumer-centric education and awareness initiatives of the Commission.

Nigerian telecoms consumers

The CAB Director at NCC said the Nigerian telecoms consumers have the right to good quality of services from the operators.

Idehen described the Consumer Affairs Bureau of NCC “as one of the key departments of Commission created September 2001 by NCC and affirmed by the provisions in Chapter VII of Nigerian Communications Act (NCA 2003), in particular, Part I of the Chapter which deals with Consumer Protection and Quality of Service.”

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As part of the regulator’s initiatives in this regard, the Consumer Protection and  Advocacy Unit is saddled with the responsibility of managing consumer complaints by providing access to dissatisfied telecom consumers across the country, said he.

The Bureau disclosed the NCC, in the Report on Consumer Complaint Management for Year 2020, published June this year analysed complaints received via the NCC Contact Centres, NCC Consumer Portal, NCC Facebook and Twitter accounts, and Written Complaints sent to CAB respectively.

“During the period under review, a total of 11,327 complaints were received via the NCC Contact Centres while 1,059 complaints were received by the Unit,” said the Commission on its corporate Web site.

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He as well noted that the Commission has intensified efforts at sensitising consumers on procedures of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) wasp, eradicating call masking and related issues for the purpose of national security.

He, therefore, urged consumers to always refrain from buying pre-registered phone lines to not flout the Commission’s extant regulations.

How Nigeria can adapt emerging technologies for digital transformation ─Prof. Francis E. Idachaba

As a Keynote Speaker at the event, Francis Enejo Idachaba, NNOM,OFR, Professor of Communication Engineering, Covenant University, and Director of the Covenant University Open and Distance Learning Unit, addressed the country’s level of preparedness for the imminent digital transformation in the economy and the overall benefits to Nigerians.

Prof. Francis Enejo Idachaba, NNOM,OFR

Prof. Idachaba, who comprehensively did justice to the topic, “Building The Nigerian 4th IR (Industrial Revolution) Capacity Through Emerging Technologies For Digital Transformation”, said it is basically an ICT/IoT-driven IR 4.0 for the country.

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The expert stated this concept involves the application of the emerging technologies, as such Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things, sensor design, smart cities, smart factories, and the use of drones.

Internet of Things-driven 4th Industrial Revolution is here

Idachaba has highlighted the evolution of the Industrial Revolutions, the 4th Industrial Revolution, and the necessary support technologies for the 4th IR, which he noted are  largely driven by the Big Data analytics of telecommunications data, AI applications, drone technology, and their essential applications for the security of telecommunications infrastructure in the economy.

On how the country could really play in the league of economies utilising the emerging technologies for national digital transformation, he said that building Nigeria’s 4th IR capacity certainly involves specific strategies and roles by the stakeholders.

According to him, these robust technologies have enabled economies around the world to boost production and more efficiency, and enhance living standards of the consumers.

However, he urged the stakeholders as well to pay attention to the reported disadvantages of such IoT-oriented emerging technologies on the consumers.

He said since these technologies are connected together, there are yet concerns over ownership/security of cloud computing, unauthorised access to consumers’ data in cyberspace, and the issue of cybersecurity.

Idachaba, however, stated that with the encryption of passwords, there is security of data stored in the clouds.

Innovative Smart City applications for Broadband penetration in Nigeria

In a related development, Engr. Joseph. O. Emeshili, MNSE, Head of Head of Planning Unit of the Spectrum Administration Department at the NCC, in his keynote address as well explored role of adopting innovative smart city applications for Broadband penetration in Nigeria.

Engr. Emeshili noted such areas include but not limited to smart parking, smart grid, smart home, smart institutions, smart network management, and the like in the country’s drive towards digital transformation in the economy.

Engr. Ali A. Rabiu, FNSE, FNICE, F. ASCE, President of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), also received the “2021 NIICTE Personality of the Year” Award at the event.

Rabiu, a Partner at AR Partnership, an indigenous consulting outfit with a professional practice embracing a full range of activities in Civil Engineering, Water Resources Engineering and Project Management.

ConsumerConnect reports among other special features of the 2021 NIICTE are public lecture, conference & exhibition, awards, industrial visit, community engineering, and many more.

NIICTE said the programme was supported by COREN, NSE, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Technology, NITDA, NCC, NigComSat, Galaxy Backbone, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

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