Consistent with its recognition of the academia as a central stakeholder in its commitment to linkages and local development sphere of Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has awarded fresh research grants and endowed professorial chairs in some Nigerian universities in the sum of N233 million.
From the total sum, N172.5 million was awarded to support 13 proposals found to have met the stipulated criteria in the advertised 2021 Request for Proposal (RfP) for Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations from Nigerian Tertiary Institutions (research grant) Programme.
Additionally, three universities received the sum of N20 million each for endowments of professorial chair by the commission.
Speaking at the award ceremony, which took place at the commission’s Head Office in Maitama, Abuja, recently, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, said the event demonstrated the commission’s strong resolve in advancing the impact of digital technologies on the national economy using indigenous products and solutions.
While presenting award letters to the lead researchers of the beneficiaries of the 13 research grants, Danbatta said under telecommunications-based research innovations, tertiary institutions submit detailed and well thought-out research proposals on specific thematic areas provided by the commission.
The proposals are expected to result in the development of commercially-viable prototypes as concrete harvests.
According to Danbatta, in 2021 RfP, the commission received a total of 55 research proposals that focused on five emerging technology areas, namely; Fifth Generation (5G) deployment; innovative clean energy, advanced method of quality of service (QoS)/quality of experience management and test mechanism, Internet of Things (IoT); Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology and monitoring and localising of drones.
“After thorough evaluations, 13 proposals were found to have met the stipulated criteria. Indeed, this is a clear testimony to the objectivity and painstaking approach to the evaluation process aimed at ensuring that the best quality is achieved and only researches that could produce prototypes with the potential of providing solutions to both local and global challenges were selected,” Danbatta said as he congratulated the 13 successful research awardees.
The EVC also presented dummy cheques of N20 million each to the Vice Chancellors of three Nigerian universities, namely; University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto and Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, who are the beneficiaries of the NCC’s Professorial Chair Endowments.
“The commission has endowed professorial chairs in tertiary institutions across the country as a mechanism in entrenching innovations in our tertiary institutions, as well as having graduates that are “industry-ready.”
“The endowment of professorial chairs in universities is one of commission’s initiatives in supporting the academia to focus on research in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in order to enhance the advancements of emerging technologies,” Danbatta stated, to underscore the purpose for instituting professorial chairs in tertiary institutions.
The fresh endowment in the three universities brings to seven, the number of universities that the commission has endowed professorial chairs. Earlier, the NCC had instituted professorial chairs in Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Bayero University, Kano, Kano State, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State and University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
Earlier in his remarks, NCC’s Head of Research and Development, Kelechi Nwankwo, thanked the EVC for his vision to continually deepen collaboration between the commission and the academia.
Nwankwo expressed optimism that the management of the commission would continue to allocate the requisite resources to research, development and innovations that are necessary for the industry to continue to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.
“Absolutely, When we came with the Buhari government in 2015 I became the minister. We were committed to a roadmap to establish a National Carrier, to concession the airports, to set up a leasing company, to establish cargo facilities and we have been doing that.”
On why the Buhari government wanted a national carrier, the minister responded: “Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. 30.4 million square kilometres miles, 1.5 billion people, very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle. 200 million people and rising middle class, propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for National Carrier.”
Sirika who insisted that the coming national carrier will be private sector driven added; “Private. Yes. 5 per cent government and no government stepping right in that company, no government control, no membership of government on board. Totally private and committed.
“Whatever we say we will do as a government since 2015, it has happened. that is why Tim Clark of Emirates, Qatar Airways and all of them are looking to go into Nigeria in multiple frequencies and multiple landing points because Nigeria is the right place for the airline business.