COVID-19: Pantami wants Federal Agencies to source research grants for Indigenous digital solutions

Dr. Isa Pantami,

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;, 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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