For research grants, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given out N233 million in grants and given professorial chairs to a number of universities across the country.
Research grant money was given out in the 2021 Request for Proposal (RFP) for Telecommunication-Based Research Innovation from Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. N172.5 million was given out to 13 applications that met the stated requirements.
The Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the awards, which were held recently at the Commission’s Head Office in Maitama, Abuja, underlined the Commission’s dedication to advancing digital technology.
According to Danbatta, tertiary institutions came up with ideas on a wide range of subjects, with the goal of making commercially viable prototypes.
He explained that the Commission received 55 proposals focusing on five emerging technology areas: 5G deployment, innovative clean energy, advanced methods of quality of service (QoS)/quality of experience management and test mechanisms, Internet of Things (IoT), Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) Technology, and drone monitoring and localization.
According to him, 13 proposals passed the test after being evaluated.
According to Danbatta, only research that could produce prototypes with the potential to provide solutions to both local and global challenges was selected. This is a testament to the objectivity and painstaking approach to the evaluation aimed at ensuring the best quality is achieved, and only research that could produce prototypes with the potential to provide solutions to both local and global challenges was selected.
Professorial Chair endowments were awarded to the Universities of Port Harcourt, Usman Danfodio University in Sokoto, and the Federal University of Technology in Minna.
The Commission has endowed professorial chairs in tertiary institutions across the country as a mechanism to entrench innovations in our tertiary institutions as well as have graduates that are “industry-ready.” The endowment of professorial chairs in universities is one of the commission’s initiatives in supporting 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 of instituting professorial chairs in tertiary institutions,” Danbatta explained.
The three new endowments raise the total number of universities where the Commission has endowed professorial chairs to seven. Professorial chairs have previously been established by the NCC at the Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo State; Bayero University in Kano, Kano State; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi State; and the University of Ibadan in Oyo State.
There will be a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Commission and each university that will benefit from the endowment, just like there was a MoU signed recently as part of Telecommunications-Based Research Innovations.
According to the EVC, the Commission has given over N660 million to Nigerian tertiary institutions for ICT-focused research advancements through recent awards and endowments. This shows a commitment to achieving the aims of the Federal Government’s digital economy agenda, as outlined in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for the years 2020–2030.
In his remarks earlier, Kelechi Nwankwo, NCC’s Head of Research and Development (HRD), praised the EVC for his vision to continue to enhance partnership between the Commission and academia. Nwankwo expressed confidence that the Commission’s management will continue to provide the required resources for research, development, and innovation in order for the industry to continue to contribute to the country’s socioeconomic progress.
The policy-driven initiatives, according to the HRD, were instituted as proof of the Commission’s appreciation of the importance of working with stakeholders to engender innovations and build indigenous technological capabilities that would strengthen the ICT ecosystem, not only in the provision of services but also in the development of the Nigerian economy’s communications manufacturing and supply sector. Strategic partnering has been highlighted as a vital pillar for the achievement of NCC’s corporate objectives, he added, and collaborations like the one with academia are in keeping with the NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP), 2020–2024.
Nwankwo urged the recipients of research grants, as well as the universities that benefited from the endowment of professorial chairs, to put the funds to good use by producing research outputs that address social issues and contribute to the telecom sector’s continued growth.
Prof. Lawal Bilbis, Vice Chancellor of Usman Danfodio University, expressed gratitude on behalf of the recipients and assured the Commission that the money would be used wisely.