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Nigeria highlights benefits of 36 digital social investments at APRA 2024

Dr. AMinu Maida, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO of NCC

*Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, Head of Media Management Relations of the Nigerian Communications Commission, in a presentation at the recent 35th Annual Conference of the African Public Relations Association, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, insights into some of the digital social investments and infrastructure expansion drive through regulatory efficiency of the telecoms sector regulatory Commission

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has highlighted several digital social investments in the West African country at the just-concluded 35th Annual Conference of the African Public Relations Association (APRA), which took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

ConsumerConnect reports Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, Head of Media Management Relations at NCC, who later emerged as the Secretary-General of APRA, following an election at the event held May 13-17, 2024, in his presentation gave the participants insights into some of the digital social investments and infrastructure expansion happening in Nigeria, through regulatory efficiency of the telecoms sector regulatory Commission.

Dr. Ibietan, in the presentation titled, “Digital Inclusion as Arbiter of Accessible PR: A Case of the Nigerian Communications Commission”, discussed some 36 initiatives of the NCC within and beyond its immediate regulatory mandate.

Significance of digital social investment initiatives for consumers

Ibietan stated that such initiatives are being implemented to promote infrastructure expansion, support Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs), empower educational institutions, advance innovation and promote digital up-skilling of the Nigerian youths.

The Head of Media Management Relations of the Commission listed the digital social investments to include the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI); Campus Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIEP) programme; e-PAD project for 232 institutions; Digital Appreciation Project (DAP) for 247 secondary schools; Digital Literacy Training for Teachers (DLT); Digital Integration Programme (DIP) for MSMEs; and the E-Accessibility programme targeted at persons with disabilities.

Others include the Nigerian Girls Can Code Competition; the Build A-Thon, aimed at enabling young persons to pitch and enhance their skills and new learning experience; Tertiary Institutions Digital Centre (TIDC) for 250 institutions; 2,291 Digital Nigeria Centers (DNC) online/offline educational resources; Local Application and Content Deployment programme; and up to 72 Rural Broadband Initiative projects, among others.

Ibietan also noted the NCC, through its component Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), had undertaken several digital infrastructure projects, programmes and collaborative activities with stakeholders.

“These interventions have caused a shift in digital literacy, fundamentally shrank the digital divide and opened the floodgates of participation in political, economic and social processes, and enabled accessible digital public relations in Nigeria,” he said.

While over 20 papers were presented at the APRA Conference to expound its thematic focus of “One Africa, One Voice: Bridging Africa’s Communication Divide”, it is noted that Ibietan’s paper was the only presentation that showcased digital infrastructure investments by any African country, even though many papers advocated the centrality of adequate Broadband infrastructure in enhancing digital culture on the African continent.

The phenomenon of digital inclusion, by Ibietan

Ibietan has described digital inclusion as the ability of individuals and groups to access and fully participate in the digital society, particularly in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet, computers, and mobile devices.

Digital inclusion, he stated, encompasses not only access to digital technologies but also the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to effectively utilise them.

He equally stressed that the phenomenon of digital inclusion is desirable for economies that aspire to grow and develop in remarkable and measurable sense.

“This is because digital inclusion promotes social and economic opportunities, enhances civic engagement and participation, supports education and lifelong learning, fosters digital literacy and skills development, encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and helps to bridge the digital divide and reduce inequalities,” Ibietan said.

On investment in Broadband infrastructure

The NCC Head of Media Management Relations also referenced that the damaging COVID-19 pandemic and its fallouts proved the significance of digital infrastructure to the Nigerian economy.

He asserted: “Nigeria’s investment in Broadband infrastructure partly explained why the nation was able to cope with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus because availability of digital infrastructure helped individuals, businesses and the government to migrate their social and economic activities to digital platforms in order to mitigate the devastating effect of the pandemic.”

Ibietan in his presentation, therefore, recommended constant and seamless communication among stakeholders to ensure efficiency in the management and proper harvest of derivable benefits social investment and infrastructural projects for the benefit of consumers.

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