In line with its commitment to promoting innovation to drive digital transformation, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in 2016, created its Research and Development (R&D) Department for the Commission in 2016, for the main purpose of synchronising the various ongoing research activities and other development projects being carried out by the Commission. This decision, which was in line with the provisions of the National Telecommunications Policy 2000 and the Nigerian National ICT Policy 2012, has helped the Commission to stimulate and sustain innovations in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry.
Till date, the Commission had disbursed millions of Naira, in grants, to sponsor innovation-oriented research projects in tertiary institutions and other research institutes across the country. Further to this tradition of driving ICT innovations through funding relevant researches in tertiary institutions, the Commission, in May 2019, announced N40 million endowment funds for Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO). The funds would be utilised by the institutions to drive for innovation, research and development in the digital space with an ongoing commitment to expand the list of benefiting institutions.
A month after, precisely in June 2019, the Commission, again, demonstrated its determination to facilitating research and innovation in the telecoms industry by presenting the sum of N65 million to eleven (11) universities in Nigeria to drive innovation, research and development. Through the funding, the benefitting tertiary institutions were expected “to deliver research results and prototypes that are implementable, commercially-viable and capable of engendering innovation in different sectors of the economy.”
Today, the Commission continues to support young innovators, through providing them with opportunity to showcase their tech innovations at global telecoms conferences such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecoms World. Also, organising local competitions for technology innovators, on an annual basis, in order for them to competitively develop locally-relevant tech innovations and applications that can help grow the economy is parts of the NCC’s efforts in this regards.
The latest of such effort was the three-day Maiden Edition of the Innovation Competition/Exhibition Event hosted by the Commission at the Digital Bridge Institute Lagos Campus between from December 17, 2019 to December, 19, 2019, with the theme: “Promoting Innovation and Creativity in the Telecoms Sector”. The forum gathered some 25 shortlisted technological innovators to pitch their innovations before industry stakeholders for cash prizes provided by the Commission towards advancing their business ideas for full commercialization. After series and rounds of presentations, discussions as well as questions and answers sessions by the panel of judges and focusing on local content component of the innovators’ business plans, 10 best-in-class innovative ideas were shortlisted out of the 25 tech innovators from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Consequently, from the 10 shortlisted innovators, QMartins Fidelis – founder of Qatalog Automates emerged the best; WICRYPT came second while Phaheem Pharmaceuticals Limited came third. They won N3 million, N2 million and N1 million respectively.
While addressing the audience at the event, the EVC of NCC, said the initiative was “in line with Item 4 of the Commission’s 8-Point Agenda, which speaks to promote ICT innovation and investment opportunities in the telecoms industry through promotion of digital knowledge and skills that can positively impact various sectors of the economy.”