Amid $2.16b Yearly Foreign Exchange Outflow, FG Tasks NCC Telecoms Sector Challenges

Following yearly outflow of foreign exchange from the telecommunications sector amounting to about $2.16 billion, the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, has given the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) six months to initiate local innovative solutions to resolve challenges in the sector.

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, who stated this at the Prototype and Research Exposition, yesterday, in Abuja, said there was the need to build indigenous technology capacity to enable the country to participate fully in the telecoms ecosystem.

Pantami disclosed that in its drive to develop indigenous capacity in the Nigerian telecommunications sector, government launched the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content to develop and create quality local content to propel the sector.

He noted that research conducted by academics in collaboration with the industry considered it necessary for the technological development of the country, which is regarded as the backbone of the communications industry and bedrock for future development of advanced telecommunications products and services.

According to him, most countries hinge their economic progress and productivity on their ability to engage in research and innovation to proffer workable solutions to their challenges and problems.

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The minister stated that the Nigerian telecommunications sector had played key role, as the enabler to other sectors in the development of the economy and considered critical in Federal Government’s drive towards its economic diversification from over-reliance on oil.

He noted that while the nature of investment in the telecommunications industry remained capital-intensive and generally long-term, conducting research in telecommunications was extremely complex, because it involves time, huge funds and foresight, which he noted, must be sustained for several years for the investments to yield returns.

Also speaking, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the exposition was aimed at providing opportunity for the academic awardees of the research projects, to display already developed prototypes and pitch ongoing research to telecoms operators, vendors, investors, and fellow academics.

Danbatta pointed out that the measure would encourage the commercialisation of locally developed telecommunications innovations, as a way of fostering and deepening the indigenous technological capacity of Nigerians to support the growth of the industry and create wealth for allied companies.

He stated that the commission had, over the years, awarded grants to successful academic institutions for the development of working prototype telecommunications products, capable of addressing industry needs and providing sustainability.

“We shall be presenting and exhibiting 10 prototypes, fully developed and ready for the market. It is, therefore, important to have a commercialisation strategy to transit from rudimentary research into the market to address local challenges, as well as reduce over-dependence on imported innovations and technologies.

“This is our first Prototype and Research Exposition event, which brings together researchers from the academics, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), relevant government agencies and other key players in the
country’s ICT sector,” he said.

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