The maiden edition of ‘Emerging Technologies Research and ICT Innovation Forum’, organized by the Nigerian Communications Commision, NCC, commenced a two-day Forum today, June 10, 2019, at Tayo Aderinokun Hall, Unilag Guest House, University of Lagos and this will be rounded up tomorrow, June 11, 2019.
The theme for the maiden Forum is, ‘Developing Nigeria’s Tech Eco-System; Imperative For Improving Local Content’.
In his address at the event, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, the EVC/CEO, NCC, who was represented by Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC, stated the reason for starting the Forum, as follows,
“the ICT Innovation Forum has become necessary to promote local content, with emphasis on the Tech ecosystem, identifying unmet needs and facilitate Public Private Partnership, (PPP)”.
He went on to emphasise the importance of the Forum, stating that, “with the growing pressure of realization, every government, as well as, captains of industries, are charged with the burden of finding ways, to ensure that we remain competitive and capable of fulfilling local demand”.
He also stated the need to enhance the ability of indigenous companies to, maximally explore and exploit local opportunities, as well as, remain globally competitive.
“This Forum has targeted participation by broad spectrum of stakeholders with the aim, also, to foster collaboration and value creating partnerships, among the stakeholders”, stressed, Ephraim Nwokonneya, Director, Research and Development, NCC, on the Forum, earlier, in his welcome address.
The Lead paper, titled, ‘Developing Nigeria’s Tech Ecosystem; Imperative for Improving Local Content’, was delivered by Funke Opeke, CEO, MainOne, who identified the resolution of the challenges of inadequate infrastructure, such as, electricity, broadband, good roads, access to funding by Startups, collaboration between the Universities and the corporate world, as the vehicle, to improve local content delivery.
The resolution of these challenges, she maintained, will engender the improvement of the provision of marketable local content by Startups that need to move their ideas through to prototypes, incubation and breaking into the market.
She maintained that Startups need to be encouraged and subsidized with tax incentives, grants, etc., to further assist them, in providing scalable, local content that can, also scale globally.
Representatives of Airtel and MTN, gave briefs on the efforts their organisations are making to promote local content in the ICT sector, such as provision of 4G and training, by Airtel, while MTN is working on what it refers to as, ‘Academic Research and Challenge”, for researchers in the academia, to come up with their ideas, from which MTN will pick marketable solutions, that can address social problems.
MTN is also planning an alliance with innovation hubs, to come up with hackathons, from which the best 3 ideas, will be incubated for one year and assisted to the commercialisation stage.
Ephraim Nwokonneya, Director, NCC, also showcased what NCC is doing to assist in the provision of broadband infrastructure in the country.
He stated that, the NCC has divided the country into 7 zones and employed the services of infrastructure companies, Infracos, to provide the much needed broadband, to the country.
He stated that, NCC provides some subsidies to support the Infracos, for the infrastructural rollout.
The Forum later went into three panel sessions, with the following titles: ‘Digital Skills Imperative for Retooling National Workforce and Development Capacities for Future Work’, ‘Innovation Hubs as the Fulcrum of Local Content Development, Digital inclusion and wealth Creation, Employment and National Economic Development’ and ‘Legislative and Government Support, for Enhancing Tech Ecosystem in Nigeria’.
The Forum was attended by stakeholders in the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, which includes, the the Telcos, ISP’s, Infracos, Hubs, academia, the media, etc.
It is expected that, recomnendations that will assist in speeding up the provision of scalable local content, that will be accepted in the global arena, will be made, at the close of the Forum tomorrow, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, for speedy implementation.