Prof. Lawal Bilbis, Vice-Chancellor, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto (l) and Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

Digital Economy: NCC awards N233m research grants, professorial chair endowments in varsities

*The Nigerian Communications Commission has awarded fresh telecoms research grants and endowed professorial chairs in some Nigerian universities for N233 million to continually deepen collaboration with the academia

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has awarded fresh research grants and endowed professorial chairs in some Nigerian universities for N233 million.

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms regulatory Commission, which disclosed this Friday, April 8, 2022, stated that the development is consistent with its recognition of the academia as a central stakeholder in its commitment to linkages and local development sphere of the Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.

The NCC said from the total sum, N172.5million was awarded to support 13 proposals found to have met the stipulated criteria in the advertised 2021 Request for Proposal (RfP) for Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations from Nigerian Tertiary Institutions (research grant) Programme. Besides, the Commission stated that three universities received the sum of N20 million each for endowments of its professorial chair.

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Impact of digital technologies on Nigerian economy

Speaking at the award ceremony Thursday, April 7 at the NCC Head Office in Maitama, Abuja, FCT, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Commission, said the event demonstrated the telecoms sector regulator’s strong resolve in advancing the impact of digital technologies on the national economy, using indigenous products and solutions.

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Prof. Danbatta also presented award letters to the Lead Researchers of the beneficiaries of the 13 research grants, under the Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations, tertiary institutions detailed and well-thought-out research proposal, on specific thematic areas provided by the Commission.

The proposal are expected to result in the development of commercially-viable prototypes as concrete harvests, stated the Commission.

Danbatta further said that in 2021 RfP, the Commission received a total of 55 research proposal that focused on five emerging technology areas, namely: Fifth Generation (5G) deployment; Innovative Clean Energy; Advanced Method of Quality of Service (QoS)/Quality of Experience Management and Test Mechanism; Internet of Things (IoT); Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) Technology; and Monitoring and Localising of Drones.

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“After thorough evaluations, 13 proposals were found to have met the stipulated criteria. “Indeed, this is a clear testimony to the objectivity and painstaking approach to the evaluation process aimed at ensuring that the best quality is achieved, and only researches that could produce prototypes with the potential of providing solutions to both local and global challenges were selected,” he said.

Danbatta then, congratulated the 13 successful research awardees.

The NCC EVC/CEO also presented dummy cheques of N20 million each to the Vice-Chancellors of three Nigerian universities, namely: University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto; and Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, which are the beneficiaries of the NCC’s Professorial Chair Endowments.

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Danbatta further said: “The Commission has endowed professorial chairs in tertiary institutions across the country, as a mechanism in entrenching innovations in our tertiary institutions, as well as having graduates that are ‘industry-ready’.”

The endowment of professorial chairs in universities is one of Commission’s initiatives in supporting the academia to focus on research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in order to enhance the advancements of emerging technologies.”

The fresh endowment in the three universities brings to seven the number of universities that the Commission has endowed professorial chairs.

Earlier, the NCC had instituted professorial chairs in Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State; Bayero University, Kano, Kano State; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State; and University of Ibadan, in Oyo State.

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Meanwhile, Danbatta stated while the implementation of the endowment is through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Commission and each benefiting university just as the Commission recently included the signing of MoU as part of the implementation of the Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations.

He noted that with the latest awards and endowments, the Commission has committed over N660 million to the Nigerian tertiary institutions for ICT-focused research innovations.

Digital economy and NDEPS 2020-2030

This is in demonstration of commitment to driving the attainment of the goals of the Federal Government’s agenda on digital economy, as captured in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030, he stated.

In his remarks, Kelechi Nwankwo, Head of Research and Development (HRD) ati NCC, thanked the EVC/CEO for his vision to continually deepen collaboration between the Commission and the academia.

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Nwankwo also expressed optimism that the Management of the Commission would continue to allocate the requisite resources to research, development and innovations that are necessary for the industry to continue to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.

The HRD said the initiatives which are policy-driven were instituted as a proof of Commission’s  appreciation of 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 also in the development of the communications manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy.

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Collaborations as this one with the academia are in line with the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, because strategic partnering has been identified as a critical pillar for the attainment of NCC’s corporate objectives, stated he.

Nwankwo encouraged the beneficiaries of the research grants and the universities that benefited from the endowment of professorial chairs, to put the financial resources into proper use that will produce research outputs that address societal problems and contribute to further growth of the telecoms sector.

Prof. Lawal Bilbis, Vice-Chancellor, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, on behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed appreciation and assured the Commission that the funds would be put to judicious use.

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