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Government, ICT

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu have identified R&D, an evolving curricula for tertiary institutions and the need to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development. He addressed the recent World Stage Economic Virtual Summit.

According to him, “The current structure of the economy shows that Nigeria’s economy could be successfully diversified during post COVID-19 with less emphasis on oil. The most instructive new normal is the contribution of crop production at double digit level of 21.97% in 2020Q2 and 22.67 overall 2019, similarly at double-digit contribution at 14.3% in 2020 Q1 from 10.30 overall 2019 contribution in real terms in 2019 GDP. Before the recession in 2016 and the current situation influenced by COVID-19 Pandemic, our economy was heavily dependent on Agriculture, Oil and Distributive trade. This current reality is a clear confirmation of my earlier strategic approach to leverage the Nigeria Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem in restructuring the economy away from Commodity-based to knowledge driven economic development.”

On the strategy to achieve sustainable economic diversification, the minster explained that “The main thrust of the strategy is to reduce Nigeria’s’ over-dependence on import, especially of items we are well endowed with ample comparative advantage to supply the world. This will save a huge foreign exchange especially in R&D activities which will eventually translate to high quality Made-in-Nigeria raw materials, products and services. Our desire and goal is to ensure establishment of strategic alliance between the knowledge domain (Universities, Polytechnics/Monotechnics and R&D Institutions) and our industries, businesses and the entrepreneurs. These alliances are designed to observe the need to establish a strong and resilient National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) with support from the pillars of Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Metrology. As the regulatory establishments conduct mandatory Conformity assessment with requisite tool boxes, they are compelled to maintain delicate balances between Societal and Business Concerns before issuance of credible certification and Accreditation.”

He added that “The Strategy is designed to ensure that our graduates from tertiary institution are industry and businesses compliant with practical skills of modern and engaging STI demand. Our target is to minimize the issues of legislated or committee developed curricula of tertiary institutions but evolving curricula based on solving contemporary industry and services challenges.”

“With appropriate dosage of STI, research and development would improve the abundant Agro, Mineral and Energy raw materials required by local industries and services to meet the demand for export” he said.

Dr Ogbonnaya enumerated some of the achievements of the Ministry of Science and Technology since the National Strategy was approved for implementation by FEC on Wednesday, 31st May, 2017. According to him, “A functional institutional arrangement have been established to include constitution and inauguration of the National Consultative Committee on Competitiveness (NCCC) with ten (10) Standing Committees. In addition, a Strategy Implementation Task Unit (SITU) is established in the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology (FMST) and a Competitiveness Desk Office in our twenty MDAs.”

“The Competitiveness advocacy programmes have been conducted to include Round Table summits for MDAs of government, Organized Private Sector establishment, the Media and most importantly, for the first time in the history of our country, the workshop for all regulatory establishments in Nigeria. We believe in the role of regulators if Nigeria’s drive towards global competitiveness must be realized.”

“We have taken advantage of the Federal government’s Fiscal policy measure to effectively channel R&D activities towards items with high tariff and those that are now outrightly banned. Federal government Supplementary Protection Measures (SMP) is a wake-up call to the scientific community and organized private sector companies.”

“We have recorded substantial savings arising from reduction in import between 2017 to 2019 respectively. We recorded savings of ₦613.61Billion, ₦412.83Billion, and ₦2.3Trillion”

“We are currently embarking on redirecting R&D projects to industry and service demand-driven undertakings. All R&D institutions, Universities and Polytechnics across the country are advised to take advantage of the new realities and embark on STI enabled R&D projects with commercializable breakthroughs and findings. We would continue to push the frontier of commercialization of R&D breakthroughs in a manner that critical stakeholders earn benefits. Hence, while protecting intellectual property of our Scientists and their institutions, they would earn sufficient benefits from their efforts. Likewise, OPS that takes off R&D breakthrough would be compensated with ample benefits via subsidies and tax holidays.”

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ICT

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has assured Nigerians of its commitment to consolidating economic diversification in the country with sustainable infrastructural development in the ICT sector.


Speaking at the recent World Stage Virtual Economic Summit, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, underlines the strategic role of ICT in the country’s drive away from the perennial reliance on oil and gas proceeds. According to him, “our drive to diversify our economy as a nation, away from perennial reliance on oil and gas proceeds, is going to be essentially enhanced by Information and Communication technology (ICT). This is because the ICT has been the enabler of economic growth, providing the necessary digital impetus for transformative development in all other sectors of the economy, be it agriculture, education, financial services, healthcare services and so on.”


He added that, “the economic transformative role of ICT/telecoms is not in doubt, going by the recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which shows that the sector has contributed an impressive 14.07 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at the second quarter of 2020, surpassing crude oil’s contribution.”


Prof Danbatta pointed out that the efforts of the commission have resulted in the observed progress in the industry that “the NCC’s efforts in stimulating and promoting the deployment of more telecom infrastructure are responsible for the network expansion we are witnessing today in the industry. But this could be better. Indeed, this has culminated in the number of people with access to telephony services with active mobile voice subscribers standing at 203.5 million as of August, 2020. This represents a teledensity of 106.62 per cent while active Internet subscribers have reached 150 million as of August, 2020. In the same manner, broadband penetration currently stands at 43.30 per cent, indicating that over 82 million Nigerians enjoy high speed broadband services” He said.


As part of efforts made to enhance infrastructural development in the country, the EVC explained that the commission is committed to reliable broadband deployments. “The Commission has been making regulatory efforts to leverage on next-generation technology platforms in order to continuously advance our ICT ecosystem. An important development in this regard was our trial of 5G technology, making NCC the first telecoms regulator to do such in the whole of the West African sub-region. The Proof of Concept (PoC) trials were carried out on MTN network in Abuja and Uyo in Akwa Ibom state under the strict supervision of the NCC in 2019.”


“The whole idea behind the trial is to identify what the challenges are with regard to 5G deployment in Nigeria. We are looking at security challenges, level of radiation power density – whether this is within the acceptable limits provided by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) as well as to address whatever challenges that may arise preparatory to commercial rollout of this technology in the country.”


“With 5G, we are looking at enhanced mobile broadband applications, the ultra-reliable low latency applications and the Machine to Machine (M2M) applications, all of which will require reliable broadband infrastructure, which is a major focus of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy as well as the NCC.”


The EVC noted that without pervasive infrastructure, the dream of rollout of 5G services will remain just a dream. “We have put in place an excellent Spectrum Trading Framework, to allow efficient utilisation of licensed and existing spectrum through leasing or transfer to other operators from a licensee whose objective supports keeping the spectrum idle. Recently, the Commission lifted the suspension on the Spectrum Trading Guidelines (2018), which had been temporarily suspended, pending when a more robust review has been carried out. This is in response to global telecommunications dynamics to deepen access to digital services in the country.”


He commended the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) for his leadership and intervention in ensuring the development of the National Digital Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), which underscores the importance of infrastructure deployment for a digital economy in Nigeria.


As a proactive move, the EVC further revealed that the NCC, with the active support of the Minister, has also secured the understanding of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to comply with the N145 per linear metre of fibre cable laid as Right of Way (RoW) charges, as against the hitherto prohibitive charges imposed on the telecoms companies, which have continued to hinder faster infrastructure rollout. And that some of the states have waived payment of RoW by the telcos in order to facilitate rollout of more robust broadband infrastructure that can support their socio-economic activities.

He concluded that the central role of ICT/telecoms sector in bolstering the economic diversification agenda of the Federal Government informed the President’s declaration, recently, of Telecom Infrastructure as a Critical National Infrastructure, which must be protected by all the law enforcement agencies in order to continuously provide the digital support the economy needs.

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ICT

Dr. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has called on the agencies under the supervision of the Ministry to source research grants to support indigenous digital innovation to combat the scourge of  COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The minister made the call in Abuja on Thursday, May 7, 2020, during a virtual Final Demo and Prize Giving Day of the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA).

The concerned agencies include the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Systems, Galaxy Backbone and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST)

 

Pantami addressed the need for concerted effort to actualize the objectives of the National Digital Economy Strategy, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari last year, expected to be implemented between 2020 and 2030. According to him, part of the strategy was to focus on promoting research and innovation locally.

The minister called on NITDA, the Nigerian Communications Commission, and other parastatal agencies under the ministry to look into their budget and find a way of raising research grants for the support of innovative ideas.

“Their support should be basically on digital solutions because we need to promote research to eradicate COVID-19 in Nigeria, Africa, and globally,” Pantami said.

The challenge was targeted at leveraging on using indigenous innovative technology to address the scourge of the pandemic.

The NITDA committee on the COVID-19 Innovation challenge was set up on April 3 and they received 1,519 applications, while the best five were selected to demonstrate their solutions.

The first three successful applications were awarded and they include Algorizmi Health, an application that would address scaling up the availability of ventilators as the first position; Smart Disinfection Chambers, an application on the smart tunnel for disinfection of persons entering a location stood out at second position; MyClinic.ng, an application that enhances remote patient management took the third position.

The solutions were accessed based on the potential impact of innovation with regard to COVID-19, adaptability, scalability, creativity, and presentation skills.

The first three successful entries were rewarded with N1,000,000, N750,000, N500,000 respectively, and urged NITDA to facilitate the incubation of the solutions for COVID-19.

Pantami also urged NITDA to facilitate making a presentation of the solutions to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for possible ways of leveraging them to address the pandemic in the country.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, in his welcome remarks earlier, said the pandemic had presented the world with health and economic crisis.

According to Inuwa, the lockdown is needed to curtail the spread of the virus that had degenerated to the economic crisis but digitizing industry processes could resuscitate the economy.

Inuwa added that the agency was deploying several strategies to address the COVID-19 crisis which includes the Innovation Challenge.

He, however, expressed hope that the solutions presented through the challenge would address problems associated with the pandemic.

Prof. Charles Uwadia, Chairman-in-Council, Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), commended the initiative.

Uwadia said that it was a way of projecting Nigeria positively to the global community.

 

 

 

 

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Government, ICT, Manufacturing

The call for homegrown technology and health care intervention was the key message from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II during is his recent tour of the six southwestern states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti.

The highly respected monarch during his visit to the states donated locally-made modular motorized fumigators and drones for aerial fumigation to complement the efforts of government at combating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic disease that is ravaging lives across the globe.

He reiterated that there is no better time than now to look inward for solutions to our numerous challenges as a nation and that the COVID 19 pandemic has shown that there is a limit to what we can achieve by depending on other nations of the world as the global lockdown has shown.

In Nigeria today, the general consensus among the citizens is that despite the commendable recent efforts of our health workers, a lot of investment and research needs to be made towards improving our health care capacity to reduce the high rate of medical tourism of our people outside the country.

 

The Ooni through philanthropic gesture to the states has shown exemplary leadership not just for supporting the fight against the covid-19 pandemic, but also for his commitment to promoting local production and innovations in the country.

 

While making the donation of locally made fumigators to the governor of Lagos State he used the opportunity to charge other Nigerians to look beyond palliatives by coming up with more local solutions to save lives during and after the COVID-19.

 

According to him, “our people should look inward for solutions that are social and local as the present situation calls for home-grown interventions to support our doctors and other frontline warriors,” the monarch said.

The Ooni, during his tour of the six states, also made it known that he had been struggling to provide a traditional cure for COVID-19 alongside the traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria. He said, “We are going to proffer the local cure for coronavirus very soon; we are at an advanced stage with the traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria”.

 

He added that our leaders have to be pragmatic in finding a solution, “I am very happy that the same thing that we are talking about in Nigeria, another sister country, Madagascar, has taken it upon themselves and even the US government, they have even reached out to them for funding.”

While expressing his confidence in our local technology as the way forward for the country, he explained that the fumigator machines locally fabricated by the ‘House of Oduduwa Machine Tools’ are environmentally-friendly. He stated that the equipment converts the liquid sanitizer to fog, travels faster, and stays longer to fight Corona and any other virus in the community.

He had earlier thrown a challenge to local medical practitioners to explore the use of available herbs in the country as a possible solution to the various health challenges.

 

According to him, the following herbs are potent enough to heal anyone down with the virus: Boundary tree leaves (Botanical name- Newbouldia laevis, Yoruba – Ewe Akoko),  Neem leave and fruits or Indian lilac (Botanical – Azadirachta indica, Yoruba- ewe dogoyaro), onion (Botanical name – Allium cepa; Yoruba – Alubosa), forest anchomanes (Botanical name – Anchomanes difformis, Yoruba -Ogirisako); aridan (Botanical name – Tetrapleura tetraptera) African pepper/Ngero pepper/Guinea pepper (Botanical name – Xylopia aethiopica, Yoruba  Eeru or Erinje); Bitter leaf (Botanical name – Vernonia amygdalina, Yoruba – Ewuro, Sulfur (Yoruba – Iyin Ojo).

Although there is no scientific proof that herbs have or will work against coronavirus, this is a lead that we must look into as we begin to look inward for solutions to our social and economic challenges.

 

He is of the opinion that Nigerians must be proactive, and that as the global search for the cure for coronavirus continues, the country must be actively involved; government and organizations must support and collaborate in the search for the solution at home.

 

Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, during the donation of Motorized Modular Fumigators to the Lagos State Government by the Ooni of Ife, to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the State, at Lagos House, Marina.

 

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Motorized Modular Fumigator donated to the Lagos State Government by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, at Lagos House, Marina.

 

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