By Etuka Sunday
In a bid to ensure growth, sustainability and continuity of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday gave Nine Nigerian Universities over N50million as Research grant.
The Grant is to assist the Universities to come up with research results that will transform the telecom industry in the area of efficient and effective service delivery, access to telecom service, innovative ideas, ICT applications that will create employment resulting in prototypes that will improve services to the citizens of the country.
The institutions awarded include: Convenant University Ota, N9, 321,400, Abubakar Tawafawa Balewa Universirty, N5,916,000, Enugu State University of Science and Technology N1, 381,000.00, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, N3,545,266.00, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria N12,332,000, and N6,995,180.00, University of Port Harcourt N5, 265, 000.00, Nigeria Air Force Institute of Tech Kaduna N5,000,000.00, and Elizade University Ondo N5,000,000.00.
Recall, the Commission instituted the Research Proposals Grant Project in recognition of the role of the Academia to the development of the sector in Nigeria.
The Academia provides the research results that govern growth, transformations and facilitate innovations in the industry.
Speaking during the presentation of the Award Letters to the Winners of the 2016, 2017 Research Proposals at the Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta said, “over N50M worth of awards were given to nine Universities, and it’s possible the number will go up in 2018.”
Prof. Danbatta said, under the Project, tertiary institutions submit detailed and well thought out Research Proposal to the Commission on innovative use of telecommunications to solve national problems.
The NCC boss said, “the expectation is for research result that will transform the telecom industry in the area of efficient and effective service delivery, access to telecom service, innovative ideas, ICT applications that will create employment resulting in prototypes that will improve services to the citizens of this country, so we have a number of expectations from this effort that NCC is intentionally funding.
He said, “in 2016, 56 proposals from the Academia were received by the Commission; however, only three (3) proposals were selected by the Inter-Agency Committee, comprising of the Academia and industry members, to be awarded Grants.
“In the year 2017, of the ninety six (96) received proposals, after stringent evaluations, six (6) proposals were also successful. This shows how serious and stringent the evaluation of the proposals are”, he said.
Danbatta who informed that 2016 projects were encumbered by administrative issues, announced that the issues have been resolved.
“Permit me to quickly inform you that there were administrative issues which encumbered the proper execution of the 2016 projects. Those issues preceded the setting up of the Research and Development Department.
“I am happy to announce that they have been resolved once and for all; and that going forward, the Department has unalloyed mandate to deliver on this particular programme with Academia”, he said.
He urged the awardees to abide by the terms and conditions for the grant.
“We have set out clear terms and conditions for the Grant. We expect you to abide by the terms of the Award. In addition, we wish to provide a word of caution; you are not under any circumstance to showcase the work or the prototype to any bodies or organisations or at any exhibition, until the Commission has received the final prototype and sign off on it,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Awardees, Prof. Sani Suleiman, of ABU, Zaria thanked the Commission for the confidence of finding them qualified for the research work and assured quality and timely delivery of the project.
He however, urged the Management and Board of NCC to ensure that the laudable initiative be extended to Telecom Operators through partnership.
On his part, the Chairman, Inter-Agency Committee of NCC for the assessment of proposals from the Academia, Prof. Mohammed Mu’azu said, ”one of the major focus of the research proposals is to consider the relevance of those proposals to the telecom industry or how they can leverage on the existing infrastructure of the telecom industry, so this is very important because it is actually trying to bridge the gap between the Academia and the industry. Now, the industry can challenge the Academia to produce solutions to some of the problems facing the industry”.