The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has explained that some policy and regulatory initiatives being implemented by the Commission specifically aims at ensuring continuous development of the startups section of the telecommunication ecosystem in Nigeria.
The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, listed the initiatives during a two-day Zonal Regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Innovation Forum organised by the Commission in Enugu recently.
The annual event, with the theme: “Digital Societies and Emerging Technologies: Leveraging ICTs to Build Information and Knowledge Societies for Achieving the Nation’s Digital Economy”, was attended by representatives of strategic partners of the Commission, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), tech hubs, innovators and tech entrepreneurs, as well as venture capitalists, among others.
Represented by the Head, Research and Development, NCC, Kelechi Nwankwo, Danbatta said the current momentum being witnessed in the Nigeria’s tech space is, no doubt, attributable to the regulatory approach of the Commission. Danbatta stated that Commission is committed to effective regulation of the telecoms sector in ways that will not inhibit competition but rather fosters innovation, industry growth and socioeconomic development.
According to Danbatta, the Commission, as the key driver in the ICT industry and a responsive organisation, has implemented deliberate policy and initiatives creating 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 of 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 other similar initiatives emplaced by the Commission to facilitate the development and sustainability of the tech startup 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 Park, 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 South East, Abeokuta in the South West, Maiduguri in the North East, and Kano in the North West. “The project comes with a strategic intent of boosting digital skills among young people, promoting innovations, providing jobs for young Nigerians and ultimately supporting the Federal Government 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 generally on their 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 with the aim of accelerating innovations, industrial growth and sustainable development in Nigeria.
In the same, 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 leapfrog Nigeria into the digital economy.
Maska, emphatic that the objectives are critical for reflating the economy and improving the social wellbeing of the citizens, Maska said, as a regulator of this sector, NCC is focused on its responsibility and hence the introduction of policies, programmes and initiatives to promote innovation and facilitate tech entrepreneurship.
Represented at the forum by the Zonal Controller, Enugu Office of the Commission, Ogbonnaya Ugama, Maska said at NCC, “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 teaming youths, improve indigenous capacity, boost indigenous content development, and importantly, support the Presidential desire for us as a country to produce what we consumer and consume what we produce,” Maska added.
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 NCC is noted for.