By Etuka Sunday
The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has informed that the number of active mobile subscribers in Nigeria has continued to rise as the figures of the last eight months show increase from 184 Million in December 2019 to 199.3 Million in May 2020.
Danbatta made the disclosure at the virtual launch/award ceremony of the Covid-19 Research Grant presented to three startups, by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), on Tuesday in Abuja.
He further explained that Internet subscriptions in the same period has grown from 126 Million subscribers to 147.1 Million, while broadband subscription has also improved from 72 Million to 80.2 million, achieving a 42.02 per cent penetration in the country.
He also explained that startups participated in a 3 months long virtual hackathon with the theme Virtual Hackathon: “Adaptable Digital Solutions for Addressing the Present and Future Impact of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases from Technology Hubs, Startups and Innovation Digital SMEs in Nigeria”.
“These may have given impetus to the possibility of holding virtual meetings and conferences on video technologies that are now providing social distancing solutions.
“So, in whichever way we look at it, telecommunications has much more greater role to play than many other sectors of economy and the society.
“Therefore, the challenge is for us to find a way to accentuate our local content solution, which is a blessing to us. We are pleased with the responses that we received on this initiative,” he said.
He said that the NCC, has in the past two years managed similar ICT-based innovations and research competitions among the tertiary institutions in the country, with potentials to improving local content solutions in the industry.
“We should be bold enough as a country in adopting indigenous solutions. We must adopt and consume them. There should be less attention on imported goods.
“It is evident that the entire globe is challenged about how best to tackle this pandemic. Telecommunications and ICTs have taken the centre stage in the provision or advancement of solutions.
“We will all witness what digital solutions that today’s winners are going to bring to the table. Each of the Startups, or tech-hubs with promising innovative digital solutions against the pandemic will receive a grant of N3M.
“We have encouraged ICT innovations among the Nigerian youths whom we have regularly sponsored to the various competitions organized by the International Telecommunications Union,” Danbatta said.
In his remarks, The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, who presented a 9 million Naira COVID 19 research grants to 3 promising startups stressed that there was the need to adopt indigenous solutions.
Pantami also encouraged individuals to consume what country produced and pay less attention to imported goods.
“we need to produce what we need and consume what we produce, any country that remains a consumer will find it difficult to succeed,” he said.
Dr Henry Nkemadu, Director, Research and Development, NCC, said that there was the need to harness the potentials of these technologies in order to address societal challenges and meet up to standards.
Nkemadu explained that the Hackathon was designed to engage the startups to compete in a healthy manner to improve innovations.
He noted that 298 submissions were received from startups of, which 56 qualified for the final stage of the evaluation process based on the selection criteria and later came up with three winners.
“It is a national aspiration to spice some of these technologies with local content as a way of improving availability of local manpower and advancing ICT skills.
“Technology has provided solutions to the challenge of weak public systems by providing solutions to the most challenges in education, health, financial and agricultural sectors, he said.
Each of the Startups, or tech-hubs with promising innovative digital solutions against the pandemic will receive a grant of N3 million.
The three winners include: Messers Primed E-Health, Messers Cyberfleet Intergrated Limited and Messers Elizade University accordingly.