Telcos to fund researches, innovations, says NCC boss

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Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has tasked telecommunications companies on the need to fund researches and innovations that will improve the industry.

Danbatta made the call at the Second Stakeholders’ Forum with the Academia, tagged: “Academia Acceleration for Innovation, Industry Growth and Sustainability’’.

According to him, telecom companies should establish research and innovation centres in Nigerian universities, in line with what NCC is doing to transform research and development.

He urged them to embark on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives to drive local content development.

“The telecommunications industry should encourage the funding of academia and the academia must understand that research sponsors have a stake in the outcomes.

“The input of the telecommunications industry is necessary for curriculum development. Telecom operators should therefore be encouraged to have research and development units,’’ he said.

Danbatta said that the research project, which started in 2013 and with the maiden interactive forum with the academia in 2017, there was an increase in research proposals.

He said that submission of researches proposals climbed from 56 in 2016 to about 96 currently.

“And this came up to about 90 per cent and in appreciation of the development, the research budget was subsequently increased,’’ he said.

Danbatta said that NCC also recently approved a Collaborative Academia Stakeholders Meetings to discuss more on how to improve on Research and Development (R&D).

He said that apart from the involvement of the university heads, such meetings would meaningfully engage lecturers currently teaching in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, former Vice-Chancellor, Igbinedion University, Okada, said that the country lacked what it took to embrace research and development seriously.

He expressed concern that industries in the countries invest so little on R&D and the academia.

“Our best brains have drained abroad where they are doing extraordinary things in science, technology and medicine, to further develop their developing receiving countries.

“The industrial sector in Nigeria has to critically re-examine itself. It must de-colonise its import-substitution orientation to be able to make use of the academia in any meaningful way,’’ he said.

Earlier, Mr Ubale Maska, executive commissioner, Technical Services, NCC said that the forum would help the academia play a vital role in the growth of the industry.

Maska said that the academia could produce research-oriented results that would create opportunities and add value to the industry.

“This forum is one of the many initiatives of the commission that supports one the EVC’s 8-point agenda, which is “Facilitates Strategic Collaboration and partnership’’.

“With the advancement of technology and development of new ICT applications, we expect more researches in telecom and ICT related fields.

“I am very positive that discussions here will immeasurably help in improving our collaborative efforts and actions aimed at accelerating innovation, industrial growth and sustainable development of the telecommunications sector,’’ he said.

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