Regulator Moves to Promote Local Content in Tech Ecosystem

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Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

By Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has restated government’s commitment to promoting local content in the Nigeria through the development of digital skills among start-ups in tertiary institutions.

NCC made the commitment in Lagos, during the maiden edition of Emerging Technologies Consultative and ICT Innovation Forum, held in Lagos recently.

Speaking at the forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta who was represented by the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services at NCC, Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, said: “The ICT innovation Forum has become necessary to promote local content with emphasis on the tech ecosystem, identifying unmet needs and facilitate Public Private Partnership (PPP).

“With the growing pressure of globalisation, every government as well as captains of industries are charged with the burden of finding ways to ensure that we remain competitive and capable of fulfilling local demand.

“Not only that, but given the wide availability of information technology to serve markets the world over, it is imperative that the right frameworks be developed to enhance the ability of indigenous companies to maximally explore and exploit local opportunities, as well as remain globally competitive.”

According to Danbatta, whereas mobile network operators have developed infrastructure to support voice services and access to data, it had become expedient for them to unlock new services and sources of value generation and revenue streams in their operations.

“It also became necessary to innovate on how to access segments of the consumer wallets not presently allocated to communication by providing solutions to consumer needs in other vertical areas of education, health, government services, among others, made available through telecoms network infrastructure.

“The commission in its effort to encourage tech entrepreneurship and innovation in the ICT sector, has embarked on visitation to various tech start-ups across the six geopolitical zones to assess their development and challenges.

“We intend to assist the various tech hubs with the right regulatory intervention to ease their operations,” Danbatta said.
Director, Research and Development at NCC, Ephraim Nwokonneya, said NCC would be giving grants to universities to enhance digital skills and promote local content among start-ups.

“Propelled by a passion to create Nigeria’s ‘Silicon Wazobia’, the NCC has identified Lagos State as a location with a large cluster of tech hubs in Nigeria, some of which have recorded milestones in birthing and mentoring many start-ups to launch at commercial stage,” Nwokonneya added.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari had in the past, demonstrated keen interest and readiness to provide necessary support to tech hubs towards robust development of the tech ecosystem by having high profile government functionaries to commission tech hubs in some parts of the country.

The President, Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Sola Aderounmu, in his presentation called for collaboration between the academia and the industry, to enable universities produce graduates with the required digital skills needed for today’s digital jobs.

Aderounmu, also stressed the need for government to create the enabling environment to boost infrastructure development that would enhance innovation. He therefore called for the political will of government to drive digital skills and technology innovation.