The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated its commitment to ensuring continuous development of the start-ups’ section of the telecommunication ecosystem in Nigeria.
Speaking during a two-day zonal regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovation forum organised by the commission, themed “Digital Societies and Emerging Technologies: Leveraging ICTs to Build Information and Knowledge Societies for Achieving the Nation’s Digital Economy”, in Enugu, the NCC executive vice chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, outlined various policies and regulations being implemented by the commission to develop the sector.
Represented by the head, research and development, NCC, Kelechi Nwankwo, Danbatta said the current momentum being witnessed in Nigeria’s tech space is, no doubt, attributable to the regulatory approach of the commission.
Danbatta stated that the commission is committed to effective regulation of the telecoms’ sector in ways that will not inhibit competition but foster innovation, industry growth and socio-economic development.
According to Danbatta, the commission, as the key driver of the ICT industry and a responsive organisation, has implemented deliberate policies and initiatives to create an enabling environment for Nigerian startups to thrive and scale-up for more global impact and value creation.
The EVC said these initiatives include the aggressive and ongoing implementation of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 aimed at increasing broadband penetration to 70 per cent by 2025; driving the implementation of the National Digital Economy and Policy Strategy (NDEPS), 2020-2030 and the implementation of the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, all of which are streamlined in the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025 to ensure regulatory effectiveness.
Danbatta declared that similar initiatives emplaced by the commission to facilitate the development and sustainability of the tech start-up ecosystem are the ICT hubs support and engagement programmes, the annual ICT Innovation Competition and Exhibition, the annual Hackathon, as well as the ongoing development of ICT parks across the country.
Elaborating more on the ICT parks, the EVC said the commission is building six technology parks across the geo-political zones. The first phase of the project is nearing completion in four zones, namely, Enugu in the southeast, Abeokuta in the southwest, Maiduguri in the northeast and Kano in the northwest.
“The project comes with the strategic intent of boosting digital skills among young people, promoting innovations, providing jobs for young Nigerians and, ultimately, supporting the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda,” he said.
The NCC CEO emphasised that the ICT park, which is at various levels of completion, will deliver a fully-functional Tier-4 Digital Industry Complex (DIC) that will involve a commercial hub for ICT capacity-building and digital skills, employment generation and entrepreneurial activities, as well as smart city deployment across the complex.
While commending the attendees for their active participation at the forum and collaboration towards building a truly digital economy in Nigeria, Danbatta expressed the unequivocal commitment of the commission to fostering strategic collaboration and partnership with the technology hubs to accelerate innovations, industrial growth and sustainable development in Nigeria.
In the same vein, the executive commissioner, technical services, Ubale Maska, underscored the essence of the annual programme. He said the forum was conceived to facilitate and support ICT innovators, tech enthusiasts and tech entrepreneurs, as a strategy to jump-start Nigeria into the digital economy.
Maska, who spoke emphatically, said the objectives are critical for reflating the economy and improving the social wellbeing of the citizens.
“As the regulator of this sector, NCC is focused on its responsibility and the introduction of policies, programmes and initiatives to promote innovation and facilitate tech entrepreneurship.
“We believe that this is very critical if we must facilitate the introduction of new value-added services that will improve consumer quality of experience, unlock entrepreneurial potentials of our teeming youths, improve indigenous capacity, boost indigenous content development and, more importantly, support the desire for our country to produce what we consume and consume what we produce,” Maska, who was represented by the zonal controller, Enugu Office of the commission, Ogbonnaya Ugama, said.
A statement by the NCC’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said the commission is set to convene the Regional ICT Innovation Forum in other geopolitical zones of the country and it is determined to rally all stakeholders to ensure inclusiveness and leverage consultation and collaborative partnership – two key operational principles the NCC is noted for.