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Local Content: NCC directed to offer research grants to tertiary institutions in AI, 5G, others

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of NCC

*The Federal Government of Nigeria indicates the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is passionate about supporting emerging technologies in the areas of 5G technology, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cloud Computing, and several others to activate the Nigeria digital economy

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In enhancing local content development while involving the Nigerian tertiary institutions in researches leading to realisation of the benefits of digital economy, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Abuja, FCT, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to offer research grants on robotics and related emerging technologies.

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ConsumerConnect learnt Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, stated this development during the International Conference on Computing and Advances in Information Technology, which Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), in Zaria, Kaduna State, organised Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

Photo: Gigalight.com

The Department of Computer Science of ABU organised the three-day conference with the theme, “Fostering Digital Economy Through Recent Trends in Information Technology’’.

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Prof. Pantami said the country’s Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is passionate about supporting emerging technologies in the areas of 5G technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Cloud Computing, and many more, agency report stated.

The Minister noted in order to actualise this objective, he has directed the NCC to provide  research grants to be given to higher institutions so they can participate in researches on emerging technologies.

According to Pantami, there was a recent meeting to review proposals sent in by the Nigerian academics, to determine how the Federal Government would support them with research grants in the area of emerging technologies.

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There is a research grant under the National Information Technology Development Agency, where the Federal Government sponsors young academics to higher institutions overseas in order to support the country’s digital economy drive.

Global economy is digitalised with fresh opportunities ─Pantami

The Minister also referenced the World Economic Forum (WEF) statistics, that as of 2016, the global contributions of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to economic development were estimated at 16 percent, and the figure has been predicted to reach 50 percent by 2022.

Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy

He further stated that the WEF had also predicted that by next year, 132million jobs would be created within the digital economy sector.

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Pantami further noted that the global economy has been digitalised, and new opportunities are coming up, especially with the emergence of the disruptive technologies such as AI, Robotics, 5G networks, quantum computing, virtual realities, and many more.

He said: “All these aspects of emerging technologies come up with new opportunities that make ICT to dominate the world economy.

“As it is today, ICT is a key enabler to the growth and development of the world economy.”

‘Telecoms/ICT fastest growing sector of Nigerian economy 2020’

While emphasising the impactful contribution of the Telecoms and ICT sector of the country’s economy in the past year, Pantami further disclosed that the trend was the same in Nigeria in 2020, as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the fastest growing sector of Nigerian economy was the ICT.

He noted: “In the first quarter of 2021, the fastest growing economy in the country was ICT, in the second quarter of 2021, the contribution of ICT to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 17.92 percent.”

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He, therefore, attributed the unprecedented ICT’s contribution to GDP on policies of the ministry, stressing that within two years the ministry with its agencies came up with 16 national policies.

Of the 16 developed national policies, over a dozen were being implemented, like the “National Digital Economy Policy Strategy for a Digital Nigeria”, which the Minister has described as the umbrella policy upon which other policies were developed in the economy.

According to him, the Ministry in conjunction with its agencies, was coming up with subsidiary legislations and regulatory instruments to support the development of ICT sector in the country.

Prof. Kabiru Bala, Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, remarked the conference was in line with the University’s efforts at reviving the long-standing academic and stakeholders’ engagement.

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The ABU Vice-Chancellor stated that the academic and stakeholders’ engagement was aimed at boosting awareness creation, knowledge sharing and influencing national and international policy formulations.

The international conference on computing and advances in information technology with a theme “fostering digital economy through recent trends in information technology’’ was relevant and timely, said Prof. Bala.

He also said: “The digital economy is an economy, which operates predominantly with the help of digital technology.

“It implies the global network of economic activities processes, transactions and interactions among people, businesses and devices among others supported by ICT.”

Bala added: “The digital economy permeates the world economy; information was flowing within and across borders with unprecedented volumes, with significant impact on innovation, trades, global value chain and society; while few aspects of our life remained untouched by digitalisation.

“Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing, among others led to breakthroughs that characterised our world today; this conference is therefore relevant and timely.”

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