NCC to Take Internet Penetration to South-south Hinterland

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Emma Okonji in Lagos and Bassey Inyang in Calabar

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that it would take its campaign for usage of the internet as a means of communication and wealth creation to all the hinterlands of the South-south zone of the country.
The NCC stated that this was aimed at creating employment opportunities for thousands of youths in the region through the use various opportunities provided by the internet.

The disclosure was made at a two-day workshop on Information and Communication Technology Utilisation and Sustainability for South-South zone, staged recently in Calabar, by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), with the theme: ‘Information and Communication Technology Engagement through knowledge-based Development.’

Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, said that the commission was currently implementing an eight-point agenda with the strategic vision of 2015-2020, which included promoting innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Head of Strategy, USPF, Mr. Kelechi Nwakwo, said, for a start, the NCC has commenced the penetration of the rural communities with a project tagged “Community Resource Centre and School Knowledge Centre are the programmes.”

He said the workshop was a strategic step towards providing the necessary information to the youths in the state on how they can use Information and Communication Technology (ICT), especially the social media to become economically self reliant.
Stressing that there are so many things that can be done with the social media to generate wealth, Danbatta said: “Advertisement on Goggle is much more than any media company in Nigeria can think of. That is basically why we are doing this workshop to build capacity for young Nigerians to be involved in the ICT.

“Not just for social media events, but as a tool for business, and to make money and grow the national economy. We will be building capacity for people on how to develop Applications that they can use for profitable business.
“Our agenda is for everyone everywhere to have the opportunity to acquire ICT knowledge that is why we are reaching the rural areas and un-served areas but the action of some people is stalling that effort. However, we will remain undaunted in our effort to increase internet penetration across Nigeria.”

In his remarks, the Secretary of the USPF, Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, said that the programme was aimed at “providing universal access to information and communication services in un-served areas and community links.”
However, Shuaibu lamented in some rural communities the ICT equipments were not being protected and utilised.
“We spend a lot of money replacing stolen and vandalised equipment in rural communities where we set up resource centres to bring ICT close to everyone, but some people have formed the habit of stealing the equipment while schools simply lock up their knowledge centres without putting them to use,” he said.

In another development, the NCC and its sponsored small and medium enterprise (SME) Startups, brought honour to Nigeria during the just concluded ITU Telecom World 2017 in Busan, South Korea.
NCC was named the most Valuable Partner by the ITU for its commitment and participation in ITU Telecom World events over the years. The commission was also awarded a certificate of Appreciation for the ITU Telecom World 2017 National Pavilion and thematic Pavilion as well as Loyal Participation and supporters of the yearly ITU Telecom World in a number of years.

Nigeria also won the ITU Telecom World Government Award for being the government with the most innovative SMEs that featured at this year’s’ ITU Telecom World.

Five out of six technology startups, who were groomed and selected from Nigeria by the NCC for global pitching at the ITU Telecom World conference in Busan, South Korea, were eventually selected for the global pitching by the organisers.
The five SME startups, from Nigeria scaled through the rigorous selection exercise, organised by a team of judges representing various countries of the world.

They joined other 21 SME startups, making a total of 26 startups selected from 12 countries of the world to contest for the final pitch in South Korea.

Among the Nigerian SMEs and start-ups that qualified for the ITU Telecom World 2017 pitch for the Global SMEs Awards, three of the SMEs, Miss Temitope Awosika (Medsaf), Mr. Valentine Ubalua (Ubenwa) and Mr. Chizaram Ucheaga (Mavis Computel), won at the final pitch and made the ITU Global SME honours lists.

Medsaf for instance leverages technology to make the process of buying and selling, and managing medication easy and efficient, connecting hospitals, pharmacies and clinics to safe quality medication from leading local and foreign drug manufacturers. Ubenwa’s recognition was for leveraging the most innovative use of ICTs category for pioneering a cry-based diagnostic mobile app for birth asphyxia. In addition, Mavis computel’s recognition of Excellence certificate, as the best and most innovative individual exhibitor in the Nigerian pavilion at ITU Telecom World 2017 completed the circle of recognitions in this global event. The certificates were presented to those recognised and won by ITU Secretary General, Mr. Houlin Zhao.

Zhao said he was very encouraged by Nigeria’s participation and told other nations present at the award ceremony to emulate the Nigerian example personified by the NCC; for putting together quality participation every year and bringing to ITU Telecom World 2017 SMEs with innovative ICT digital solutions that have social impact.
Dr. Mustapha Babagana of Nigeria’s Ministry of Communications, received the award on behalf of Nigeria while, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Nigeria and Director, Spectrum Administration, NCC, Mr. Austin Nwaulune received the NCC awards on behalf of Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.