By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC on Wednesday presented research grants worth N54,755,846 to the winners of the 2016 and 2017 Research Proposals from nine universities for development of the telecommunication industry.
The nine successful research awardees (universities) include: Covenant University, Ota which received N9.3million for development of low-cost GSM system for rural areas; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi received N5.9million for design and construction of customer identification system in telecom industry; Enugu State University of Science and Technology – N1.4million for development of a home-grown electrical power charger for cellphones from cooking heat; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife -N12,3million for Design, fabrication, experimental characterization of plastic optical fiber cable and the exploitation of its potentials in Nigeria telecom industry and University of Port Harcourt – N5.3million for design and construction of 1 to 10GHz Anechoic chamber for 3G, 4G and 5G Antenna measurement.
Others are: Nigeria Air Force Institute of Tech. Zariawhich got N5million for design and construction of a power line communication modern for domestic LAN; ELizade University, Ondo – N5million for GSM-Based Smart Energy Meter and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – N7million for Development of wearable e-band tracking system.
Presenting the awards, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta said the Commission instituted the Research and Proposals Grant project in recognition of the role of the academia in the development of the telecom sector.
The EVC explained that the scheme is focused on commercially viable prototypes of research and innovative use of telecoms to solve national problems.
‘‘The relevance of the academia in the growth, sustainability and continuity of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria cannot be emphasized. The academia provides the research results that govern growth, transformation and facilitate innovations in the industry.
‘‘The academia impacts knowledge to the growth, turning them into thinking and transformational citizens, with innovative ideas capable of revolutionalizing the industry and reshaping our world.
‘‘The presentation of this award is to underscore the critical role, expectations from, and the confidence we have in the academia, in working towards national reengineering and transformation. WE are aware that most of these projects are collaborative efforts with other academics in your universities.
‘‘NCC welcomes and demands collaboration in all you do. It is for this reason that we have insisted on the involvement of your graduate and undergraduate students in the research projects.’’
‘‘We have set out clear terms and conditions for the Grant. We expect you to abide by all the terms of the award. You are not under any circumstance to showcase the work or the prototype to any bodies, organization at any exhibition until the Commission has received the final prototype and signed off on it.
‘‘We will always show concern for the quality, relevance and efficiency of the product we want to push into the industry
On extension of the collaboration to the telecom operators, Prof. Danbatta said: ‘‘we will advise the telecommunication companies to key into this important initiative of collaborating with the commission in the area of research and development. We will leverage our influence asking them to equally put resources that will drive research and development in the telecommunications industry.’’
Earlier, the Chairman of the Inter-Agency Committee of the NCC for the Research Proposals from the academia, Prof. Junaidu Muazu said one of the major focuses of the research proposals is to consider the relevance of those proposals to telecom industry and how they leverage on the existing infrastructure of the telecom industry.
‘‘This is important because it is trying to bridge the gap between the academia and the industry to provide solutions to the problems facing the industry.’’
Responding on behalf of other award recipients, Prof. Sulaiman Sani of Ahmadu Bello University said that would be bounded by patriotism for the nation to be role models in the area of telecom innovation.
He also charged the NCC to encourage telecom operators in the country to join hands in collaborating with the academia to proffer more problem solutions for the telecom sector.
‘‘I want to suggest that the initiative be extended to the telecom companies in the country, saying that it would be worthy to see them collaborate with the academia in developing the sector through research and development.
‘‘It will not be out of place if telecom companies invest in research and development in relation to telecom industry,’’ he added.
Of the 9 award recipients, 3 were selected from 56 proposals received from the academia in 2016 and 6 from 96 proposals received in 2017 after stringent evaluations by the Inter-Agency committee set up by the NCC.
Under the project, tertiary institutions submit detailed and well thought out research proposals to the Commission on innovative use of telecoms to solve national problems.