By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has inaugurated 18 member inter-agency committee to address local industry issues and to deepen the impact of research and development in the telecommunications sector.
The mandate of the committee is primarily to evaluate research submissions to aid the growth of the sector beyond where it is now.
The committee whose membership is drawn from different professions including the academia is chaired by Prof. Muazu Mohammed Bashir of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta who inaugurated the committee at the headquarters of NCC in Abuja, told the committee that the aim is to find local solutions to the challenges of the industry, which is in tandem with the policy of President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s administration for Nigerians to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the country.
Danbatta stated that in order to achieve the goal, the Commission decided to deliberately utilise the capacity found in the academia and to redirect it towards getting involved in research activities that can impact on businesses and society which will consequently bring about the development of new products and services for the industry.
The EVC listed some recent developments in the Commission to include the creation of Research and Development Department to consolidate all research activities thereby giving research activities a priority attention.
Earlier this year, the Commission hosted Stakeholdersâ€™ Consultative Forum with the academia involving Vice Chancellors drawn from 61 Universities across the country in consultation with the National University Commission (NUC), where the discussions and contributions of the participants emphasised the importance of relationship between the academia and the industry and how best to benefit from that relationship.
The response to the advert requesting for research proposals from the academia was quite encouraging this year, according to NCC.
Records of the Research and Development Department showed that 96 submissions were recorded this year as against 56 of the previous year.
The research topics ranging from issues of pipeline protection to herdsmen tracking among others, justify the efforts of the Commission in making investment into research activities by the academia. The EVC told the committee to give every entry a fair opportunity by critically evaluating every document in order to achieve a fair assessment of every submission.
The proposal is designed to meet criteria such as; Clear statement and evaluation of the problem; Proposed solution to the problem; Clear relevance to the telecommunication industry; Coast reasonableness; Schedule of project organisation; Coherent presentation/packaging of concept and Integration of research with education (capacity building of students via implementation of the project in the institution).
In her welcome address, the Head of Research and Development at NCC, Mrs. Iyabo Sholanke said the EVC, coming from the academia, decided to review the configuration of the Commission in order to fully execute the 8-point agenda to achieve the strategic plan of the Commission. This brought about the birth of the department of Research and Development, she said.
According to her the programme is a cardinal effort of the Commission to boost activities in the academia and create new value propositions for various stakeholders.
She enjoined the committee members to ensure that the exercise will not be an open-ended one, but efforts should be made to put timeline that will be realistic within the period stipulated, which is first week of December, 2017.