The nation’s telecoms regulator gave grants totalling ₦233 million to some Nigerian universities to develop digital technologies providing indigenous solutions across the economy, according to the agency’s chief.
Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman, says the government agency awarded fresh research grants and endowed professorial chairs totalling ₦233 million to some beneficiary universities.
Out of this, Danbatta says, ₦172.5 million will fund 13 proposals found to have met the stipulated criteria in NCC’s advertised 2021 Request for Proposal (RfP) for Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations from Nigerian Tertiary Institutions (research grant) programme.
NCC on Driving Technology Innovations in Academia
Three universities each received a sum of ₦20 million for endowments of the professorial chair by NCC, the regulator’s chief said while speaking at the award ceremony held on April 7, 2022, in Abuja.
The programme shows NCC’s strong resolve in advancing the impact of digital technologies on the national economy, using indigenous products and solutions, he says, while presenting award letters to the lead researchers of the beneficiaries of the 13 research grants.
Under the Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations, tertiary institutions submit detailed and well-thought-out research proposals on specific thematic areas provided by NCC, he says, with these proposals expected “to result in the development of commercially viable prototypes as concrete harvests.”
In the 2021 RfP, the Commission received 55 research proposals that focused on five emerging technology areas, including 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.
“After thorough evaluations,” Danbatta says, “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 research that could produce prototypes with the potential of providing solutions to both local and global challenges were selected.”
The EVC also presented dummy cheques of ₦20 million each to the Vice-Chancellors of three Nigerian universities including the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State; Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto and Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, all beneficiaries of Professorial Chair Endowments by NCC.
Apart from entrenching innovations in tertiary institutions to produce graduates that are “industry-ready”, the professorial chairs’ endowments in universities “are one of the Commission’s initiatives in supporting academia to focus on research in information and communication technology (ICT) in order to enhance the advancements of emerging technologies,” Danbatta says.
The three fresh endowments by NCC bring the number of beneficiaries to seven after professorial chairs are endowed at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State; Bayero University, Kano, Kano State; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State; and the University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
NCC has committed over ₦660 million to Nigerian tertiary institutions for ICT-focused research innovations in demonstration of its commitment to driving the attainment of the goals of the Federal Government’s agenda on the digital economy, as captured in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030, Danbatta says.