The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, has issued a six-month deadline to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to come up with innovative solutions in Information Communications Technology (ICT).
Pantami gave the deadline at the maiden Telecommunications Based Research and Prototype Exposition held in Abuja, Monday.
The Tide’s source reports that ten out of the prototypes, fully developed and ready for the phase of market entry were presented and exhibited.
With the theme, “The Drive Towards Commercialisation of Telecoms Research for Sustainable Development” in the Industry, Pantami urged stakeholders to continuously refine the roles of players in the nation’s National System of Innovation by creating new models and incentives.
He said this would guarantee objectives of the National Policy for the promotion of indigenous content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
“I do hope that the next event will not be about the prototype but adopting the solution. I will give NCC only six months from today for not only prototyping but providing solution and make it a national policy that this is what we have produced”, he said.
According to him, there are both brains and capacity to move the country forward, adding that support for each other was key.
“We must continue to refine the roles of players in the nation’s National system of Innovation by creating new models and incentives.This will guarantee we achieve the objectives of the National Policy for the promotion of indigenous content in the Nigeria Telecommunications sector,” he said.
He also called on tertiary institutions that benefited from research grants to consider commercialisation of research prototypes.
“I must reiterate that successful commercialisation of these prototypes will require requisite managerial and industrial competences as well as adequate funding. It is, therefore, necessary for the tertiary institutions that benefit from research grants to deeply consider the commercialisation of the research outcomes (prototypes).
“This means that collaborations and partnerships are necessary for commercialisation,” he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, explained that the exposition was aimed at providing the necessary opportunity for the academic awardees of the Commission’s Telecoms-based research projects.
Danbatta further said that it was for them to display already developed prototypes and pitch ongoing research to stakeholders in the industry.
The NCC boss, also noted the importance of having a commercialisation strategy to transit from rudimentary research into the market in order to address the local challenges and reduce over dependence on imported innovations and technologies.
“This is to encourage the commercialisation of these locally-developed telecommunications innovations as a way of fostering and deepening the indigenous technological capabilities of Nigerians”, he said.
FG, GSM Operators Meet Over 40% Tariff Hike
Telecommunication companies under the aegis of Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) say they expect to begin conversations over the state of the telecoms industry with the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) soon.
Disclosing this to The Tide’s source on Monday, Chairman, ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, said, “we do not give a timeline to our regulator. We would only give information as to what is the current state of affairs in the industry.
“And, we know the regulator would either conduct a study or review the data that we provided. So, we can’t give a timeline to our regulator. We expect that some conversations will now commence around it”, he said.
This is coming in response to a recent letter by the association to the NCC on the state of the telecoms industry.
In the letter, telcos proposed a 40 per cent increase in the cost of calls, SMS, and data as a result of the rising cost of running a business in the nation.
Reacting to the outrage that followed the intended hike in the cost of telecom services, the NCC said telcos could not increase costs without due regulatory approval from it.
According to the regulator, any cost determination is usually the outcome of transparent studies which are fair to enhance healthy competition among operators, provide wider choices for the subscribers, and ensure the sustainability of the telecoms industry.
“However, while there could be justifiable reasons for MNOs’ demand for tariff increase, it should be noted that they are not allowed to do such either individually or collectively without recourse to NCC, following the outcome of a cost study. This is not the case for now”, the NCC stated.
Also, while speaking on Sunrise Daily on Monday, Adebayo acknowledged that the current pricing regime in the telecom industry could not sustain the industry.
“We are confronted with different economic realities. And the fact remains that if you look at the economic indices, the current pricing regime is not sustainable.
“And what we have done is to approach our regulator, to present a case to them to show them where we are as an industry. We made some recommendations as to some of the things that can be done to forestall the price review.
“But certainly, considering the global energy price considering the challenges we face in our operating environment, if we are not getting any regulatory intervention, it would be a bit difficult to sustain the industry with the current pricing regime that we have”, he said.
According to him, the telecom sector is a highly regulated industry, and any tariff hike must have the approval of the regulator.
“We must warn that there is no industry that is immune against failure. For us to avoid any catastrophic situation in our sector we are saying let’s look at the reality of our pricing, let’s look at the challenges we face. Let the government do something in order to mitigate against having this kind of explosion”, Adebayo warned.
Network Provider Tasks MTN, SMEs On Data Usage
Chief Executive Officer, Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Nigeria, Mr. Olutojun Toriola, has urged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to use the data presented to them through telecommunication companies and financial systems to access capital.
Toriola gave the advice at the Sparkle’s webinar for SMEs with the theme: ’’Simplifying Support for Small Businesses’’, in Abuja recently.
He said that data was abundant in both the telecommunications and financial system.
“The person to make magic out of this is the person that can turn data into wisdom because the data is out there and not many people have successfully been able to transform and beneficially structure this data”, he said.
According to him, if data was converted into wisdom, a magic formula can be created that can transform the SME world and fix the problem about access to capital.
‘’Africa is no different, according to the World Bank, they provide for more than half of all jobs and account for more than a third of the combined GDP of emerging market economies.Getting access to credit, however, is an uphill task for most of these SMEs,’’ he said.
The MTN officer noted that it has been established that lack of access to finance was the most significant constraint on the growth of small enterprises.
He said that in developing economies, the estimated annual credit gap could be as much as $5.2 trillion dollars, noting that his company is committed to enabling the growth of small businesses by offering solutions to improve organisational effectiveness and productivity.
Toriola also said MTN Nigeria provided access to knowledge and information through easily affordable, sometimes free tools and learning programmes through SMS automated port training programmes.
“In addition, we also try to provide access to infrastructure with specifically designed packages for SMEs, such as cost-effective voice and data solutions as well as collaborations with global ICT partners”, he said.
The Tide’s Source reveals that those at the webinar include CEO, Flour Mills of Nigeria Group, Boye Olusanya; and CEO, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe.
‘Hunger, Poverty, Bane Of Innovation Dev
Hunger and poverty have been identified as part of the top-most challenges in creativity and innovation training and development.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Olotu Square Hub, Mr Bruce Lucas, said this when the Covener, Startup South Initiatives, Mr Uche Anichi, and others visited the Hub in Port Harcourt recently.
Lucas, a software expert, said the trainees are willing to learn, but due to lack of funds they end halfway.
He explained that money for their welfare, such as food and transportation, was enough to sustain them in the training, if such provisions could be made.
According to him, they also build what he described as Success Story using technology.
Another software producer, Mr Precious Chukwundah, listed poor power supply as part of the challenges facing their job.
Chukwundah, who is the Founder of ChigiSoft, reasoned that if power supply could be improved, the industry will thrive for better.
He hinted that the business is better in Kenya due to their high level of internet appreciation.
In his views, the Program Manager, Renaissance Innovation Labs, Mr Olusegen Ekundayo, said they were working seriously in order to reduce the issue of talent scarcity.
Ekundayo said since talent is key in the industry, the best option is to think more on grooming rather than hunting.
The occasion was a Leaders’ serminar for all hub operators which was anchored by Aniche and the Executive Director of Afri Labs, Anna Ekeledo.
Over five Labs, including Ken Saro-Wiwa Hub, were visited by the team and its foreign partner during their tour.
By: King Onunwor
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