Nigeria Showcases Digital Social Investments @ APRA 2024

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The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida
The executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr. Aminu Maida.

Various digital social investments in Nigeria, facilitated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), were highlighted at the recent 35th annual conference of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

During the event held from May 13 to 17, 2024, the head of media management relations at the NCC and newly elected secretary-general of APRA, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan presented insights into the ongoing digital social investments and infrastructure expansion in Nigeria driven by the regulatory efficiency of the commission.

In his presentation titled “Digital Inclusion as Arbiter of Accessible PR: A Case of the Nigerian Communications Commission,” Ibietan showcased 36 initiatives undertaken by the commission to promote infrastructure expansion, support small and medium enterprises (SMEs), empower educational institutions, foster innovation and enhance the digital skills of Nigerian youth.

These initiatives encompass programmes such as the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI), Campus Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIEP) programme, e-PAD project benefiting 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 aimed at individuals with disabilities.

Additional initiatives include the Nigerian Girls Can Code Competition, the Build A-Thon fostering skills enhancement and learning experiences for youth, Tertiary Institutions Digital Centre (TIDC) for 250 institutions, 2,291 Digital Nigeria Centres (DNC) providing online and offline educational resources, local application and content deployment programme, 72 rural broadband initiative projects, among others.

Ibietan pointed out that through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), a special purpose vehicle of the NCC, several digital infrastructure projects and collaborative activities have been undertaken with stakeholders, leading to a significant boost in digital literacy, bridging the digital divide and facilitating increased participation in political, economic and social processes across Nigeria.

The paper presented by Ibietan was distinct at the APRA Conference for shedding light on the digital infrastructure investments by an African country, while other papers emphasised the importance of robust broadband infrastructure in fostering digital culture on the continent.

Highlighting that digital inclusion is crucial for individuals and groups to actively engage in the digital society using information and communication technologies (ICTs), Ibietan stressed that it goes beyond access to digital tools to encompass the requisite skills, knowledge and resources for effective utilisation.

He underscored that digital inclusion plays a pivotal role in unlocking social and economic opportunities, driving civic engagement, supporting education, promoting digital literacy and skills development, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship and narrowing the digital gap while reducing inequalities.

Referring to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ibietan noted that Nigeria’s investments in broadband infrastructure were instrumental in enabling the nation to adapt to the challenges posed by the outbreak. The availability of digital infrastructure facilitated the transition of social and economic activities to digital platforms, mitigating the adverse effects of the pandemic on individuals, businesses and the government.

He emphasised the importance of seamless communication among stakeholders to ensure efficient management and optimal realisation of the benefits accrued from social investments and infrastructural projects. 

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