.Pantami

By Emmanuel Elebeke

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, says he directed the Nigerian Communications Commission,  NCC to issue research grants on emerging technology because they have proven their importance in driving innovations and improving the resilience of the Nigerian economy.

He noted that the adoption and deployment of  ICT contribute significantly to economic growth and development because it improves the quality of life, creates jobs and reduces the cost in many sectors of the economy.

He said the emerging technologies also allow for greater interconnection of global markets, making countries able to create new technological platforms and industries on one hand, while enhancing the efficiency and productivity of existing industries on the other.

The Minister, who spoke at the International Conference on Computing and Advances in Information Technology, organised by Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, said he had directed the NCC to come up with research grants that would be given to higher institutions to partake in research in emerging technology.

He said the ministry is passionate about supporting emerging technologies in the area of 5G, artificial intelligence, robotics and many more.

The ministry recently reviewed the proposals sent by the academia through the NCC to see how the Federal Government would support them with research grants in the area of emerging technologies.

Though, there are existing research grants by the NCC where it sponsors some innovative ideas and another by the National Information Technology Development Agency, where the Federal Government sponsors young academics to higher institutions abroad.

According to him, Nigeria’s commitment to developing its digital economy is expected to open up opportunities in Africa’s digital economy, which is estimated will grow to over $300 billion by 2025.

 He noted that the advent of COVID-19 has enhanced digitalisation but on the other side increasing the need for greater vigilance against the growing cyber threats.

 Pantami further outlined some of the efforts of the Federal Government towards improving cybersecurity in Nigeria to include: the implementation of relevant policies, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria and the Revised National Digital Economy Policy for SIM Registration.  The efforts towards the promotion of sectoral Computer Emergency Readiness & Response Teams (CERRTs) and the focus on Data and Privacy Protection were also discussed.

He assured that the ministry was coming up with subsidiary legislation and regulatory instruments to support the development of the ICT sector in the country.

The event was organized by the Department of Computer Science of the institution themed:  “Fostering Digital Economy Through Recent Trends in Information Technology’’.

Earlier in his remarks, Prof Kabiru Bala, Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, said the conference was in line with the university’s efforts aimed at reviving the long-standing academic and stakeholders’ engagement

Bala said that the academic and stakeholders’ engagement was aimed at boosting awareness creation, knowledge sharing and influencing national and international policy formulations.

The vice-chancellor said the international conference on computing and advances in information technology with a theme “fostering digital economy through recent trends in information technology’’ was relevant and timely.

“The digital economy is an economy which operates predominantly with the help of digital technology. It implies the global network of economic activities processes, transactions and interactions among people, businesses and devices among others supported by ICT

“The digital economy permeates the world economy; information was flowing within and across borders with unprecedented volumes, with significant impact on innovation, trades, global value chain and society; while few aspects of our life remained untouched by digitalisation,” Bala said.

He noted that “emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing, among others led to breakthroughs that characterised our world today; this conference is therefore relevant and timely.”

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