By Gom Mirian, Abuja
The Nigerian Government has challenged the telecommunications sectors in the country to play bigger role in economic growth and development in Africa saying the sector contributed 10 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2019.
This was disclosed yesterday Tuesday 20th August, 2019 in Abuja by President Mohammadu Buhari at the 2019 Conference of African Telecommunications Regulators on Consumer Affairs (CATCO) taking place in Abuja.
The 2019 edition of CATCO with the theme “Empowering the Telecom Consumer in an Era of Technological Evolution” is expected to critically examine, analyse and identify the strength and weaknesses of the regulators.
It also wants to examine how telecoms regulators can empower the consumers in this era of technological evolution.
According to documents from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), the first edition of the conference was held in 2013. At the event, telecoms regulators discussed how to harness regulatory policies to protect telecom consumers in Africa.
During the summit, a 17-point resolution was reached on various approaches African regulators can deploy to safeguard and protect telecom consumers.
It revealed that during a six-year hiatus, the advancement in technologies has thrown up issues on the need for regulators to strengthen necessary regulatory valves towards safeguarding the interest of consumers of digital tools and services.
The president , who was represented by the Chief of Staff to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Polycap Shambo, advised regulators to be concerned about the effects of the technological changes on the customers.
“Indeed these technologies have created a borderless world with a powerful impact on the lives of millions of telecoms consumers, regardless of how remote they are physically located,” he said.
“But we must be aware that these technologies present enormous opportunities for the consumers on one hand and may constitute threats to consumers on the other hand, especially if left improperly regulated,” he said.
Mr. Buhari said technological evolution has changed interactions among nations. Globally, it has facilitated innovations in various sectors of the economy, bringing a lot of efficiency in service delivery, he said.
He said the Nigerian government was making necessary efforts to address challenges associated with the right of way issue and vandalism of telecoms infrastructure among others.
“We are also ensuring that Nigeria continues to attract Foreign Direct Investments(FDIs) into its digital space through creating the enabling environment for business to thrive,” he said.
The NCC said rapid technological evolution is a major challenge as it regulates the African telecommunications ecosystem.
The executive vice-chairman of NCC, Umar Danbata, said two major initiatives had been introduced to empower consumers in technological evolution.
He said access to seamless telecommunications services will empower customers for business and economic development.
“Improving the telecoms industry has become essential not only to business but to the national economy,” he said.
“Do Not Disturb (DND), 2442 short code will help consumers control unsolicited calls and text messages. NCC 622 Toll Free Line is to ensure the improvement of service delivery,” he said.
He said 21million subscribers have signed up for DND while 276,103 also signed up for Toll Free Line with 95 per cent of the complaints successfully resolved.
The NCC boss said a number of the challenges encountered were approached systematically to strike a balance between stakeholders.
Mr Danbata said the regulatory body has commenced “aggressive” enforcement of compulsory compliance with NCC’s Code of Corporate Governance for Telecommunications Industry in 2016.
“We are ensuring that telecoms service delivery is improved through continuously monitoring of activities of our licences in order to treat consumer right and offer them value for their money,” he said.
NITDA calls for more synergy to develop digital economy
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has called on individuals, governments, private sector, academic and others in the society for more collaboration to enhance digital economy sector to develop the country.
Dr Kashifu Inuwa, Director-General of NITDA, made the call at the stakeholders engagement and ecosystem development programme, organised by the agency which on Thursday in Akure.
The theme of the programme was “Creating opportunities, breaking boundaries towards digitalization and entrepreneurial evolution”.
Inuwa, who was represented by Mr Oladejo Olawumi, Director, Standard Guidelines and Framework in the agency, said if digital technology could be adopted by all, it would provide opportunities for all parts of the economy, especially health, education and agriculture.
The DG, who explained that the agency had established Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) and the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), said it was now that digital technology should became a part of every aspect of the society.
According to him, modern digital technologies have changed how uncertainty in business processes and results works and how to handle the uncertainty.
“It is not just a fancy word but it is what causes big changes in industries. It changes the way we do business, take care of our health, educate ourselves, and even govern.
“So, digitalisation changes things for the better, eliminates obstacles, and creates new chances that we couldn’t even think of before. Our responsibility is to take hold of these possibilities and use them to transform society.
“Let us be the architects of a future where opportunities are abundant, boundaries are shattered, and every entrepreneur’s vision finds a productive ground to flourish.
“Together, we have the power to shape the destiny of our digital nation,” Inuwa said.
Dr Mohammed Agbali, Senior Manager, Research and Development in NITDA, who presented a paper, said it was time for citizens to take advantage and opportunity in digital economy sector for the development of the country.
According to him, the opportunity to create job on Nigeria today is more available in digital economy than any other sectors.
Agbali explained that Apple and Amazon were contributing to the development of the USA in terms of tax and employment, saying that Nigerians needed to grow their own company so that the country could develop economically.
“Let us start supporting digital technology companies in Nigeria so that they can develop to the level of contributing to the development and economy of the country,” he said.
He, therefore, called on youths to take the advantage of digital economy to build skills so that they could participate adequately in the space.
Mr Olumbe Akinkugbe, Chairman of the Ondo State Information Technology Agency (SITA), said the state would continue to support NITDA for them to achieve their aims in digital economy.
Akinkugbe said the stakeholders’ engagement would move the state and county forward, to ensure the digital- based entrepreneurship and economy.
The SITA chairman said that the state had made entrepreneurial activities seamless by creating the enabling environment for the people through SITA for the government activities in I.T solution.
“This stakeholders engagement will enhance greater development in the digital economy of the state and I have no doubt in my mind that NITDA has thought it well in the choice of the state.
“We will continue to welcome such opportunity in future and also support NITDA collaboration and partnership toward rapid development,” he said.
One of the participants, Mr Godspower Otali, CEO of Wetin Dey Code Academy, appreciated the agency for bringing the programme to the grassroots.
He said it had bridged gap between the government and people, and also boosted the morale of the youth in the state and county at large.
According to Otali, youths need to equip and develop themselves in the skills of ITC to change their life for better in the future.
“It’s right time our people come to technology space because that’s the new blood money in the country.
“Oil has failed us, everything has failed us but digital space and digital skills is not failing us, so, I will encourage everyone, especially youths, to get digital skills,” he said.
Female engineers teach elderly citizens new tech trends to bridge generational gap
The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), Lagos Chapter, on Wednesday organised a mentorship training for elderly citizens to help them catch up with new technology trends.
The event, which was held in Lagos to commemorate the International Day for Older Persons, featured technology workshop, free health checks, discussions on Nigeria’s engineering at 63 and other programmes for elderly engineers.
The APWEN Lagos Chapter chairman, Dr Atinuke Owolabi, said the workshop on new trends in engineering was an opportunity to enhance the knowledge and skills of the elderly.
Owolabi described the reverse mentoring aspect of the training, which involved Senior Mentor to Young Mentor pairing, as the most exciting aspect of the event.
She said the topic, “Reverse Mentoring for the Female Engineers Elders on New Trends,” captured the importance of bridging generational gap in the profession.
She stressed the need for seasoned engineers to learn from the fresh perspectives of younger colleagues to stay relevant in the ever-evolving technological landscape.
“Our senior members bring a wealth of experience, industry insights, and a deep understanding of engineering principles that have stood the test of time.
“However, they can benefit immensely from the technological prowess and innovative thinking of our younger engineers.
“Likewise, our younger engineers can gain invaluable wisdom and guidance from the trailblasing careers of our elders,” she said.
She said embracing new trends and technologies would help both elders and youths to remain relevant to make meaningful contributions to the field while fostering collaboration.
“Reverse mentoring empowers the Next Generation in their career journeys and helps them unlock their full potential, paving the way for future success.
“This also creates a legacy as older engineers will have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of engineering by mentoring and nurturing the talents of those who will carry the torch forward,” she said.
Owolabi said APWEN was committed to a future where age would not be an impediment to the passion of the elderly for STEM.
She advised the older citizens to embrace the initiative to bridge the generational gap for an inclusive engineering community.
“Together, we can fulfill the promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for older persons, ensuring that our legacy in engineering endures for generations to come,” she said.
Mr Haastrup Adesoji, ICT Expert/Business Coach, spoke on the theme for the International Day for the Older Persons: “Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons: Across Generations.”
He said the training on new trends would energise the minds of the elderly and keep them productively engaged in driving national growth.
He called on the nation’s leadership to make policies that would target the development of the mind of the elderly, insisting that age was a thing of the mind and not body.
Former president of APWEN, Mrs Idiat Amusu, who is a septuagenarian, said technology was advancing daily, hence the need for older engineers to learn new applications like AI from younger ones.
Amusu said age was in the mind and just a stage in life, adding that at 71 she was still learning and would keep learning to be mentally alert at all times.
Dr Ihmade Okokpujie, Senior Lecturer/Researcher, Afe Babalola University, Ado- Ekiti, speaking on “Reverse Mentorship Initiative” urged the elderly to have open minds towards being coached by the young.
Okokpujie, who who joined the event virtually, explained the importance of mentorship, the advantages of the initiative and the need for younger mentors to stay up to date on technology.
The guest lecturer advised elderly female engineers to engage in sporting activities to be physically active in addition to getting adequate sleep and attending conferences to improve their brains.
Anambra ICT agency plans digitisation of legislative operations
The Anambra Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Agency, says plans are underway to digitise the state legislative processes to make residents have digital access to the laws and other legislative instruments.
Mr Chukwuemeka Agbata, Managing Director, Anambra ICT Agency, made the disclosure when he visited the Speaker of the State Assembly, Mr Somtochukwu Udeze, in his office on Monday.
Agbata said that since Gov.Chukwuma Soludo’s administration kick started the ‘Everything Technology and Technology Everywhere’ vision, the ICT agency had taken initiatives to bring other arms of government on board.
He said that the agency had identified areas of improvement in the online presence of the State House of Assembly.
“We want to see how we can ensure that proceedings of the Assembly are digitised to enable constituents have a feel of the efforts of their representatives in the House.
“Lagos State House of Assembly has a portal with pages for the legislators, their works, motions and Bills they have sponsored, all captured for easy access by the constituents.
” This is a positive model we can borrow as a forward-looking state. We will also get for our legislators a domain name and email addresses, to ease communication among themselves.
“We want to work with the House to reproduce all the laws and bye-laws of the state in digital formats, so that in the event of any mishap, we will not be losing so much, as they must have been backed up in the cloud,” he said.
Agbata sought the collaboration of the assembly to achieve the project.
“Gov. Soludo has that vision of a liveable and prosperous smart city and as an agency, we are playing our part effectively but we need every support we can get, “Agbata said.
Also speaking, Mr Jude Emesim, a Digital Investment Lead, said that the digitisation would allow constituents’ inputs in the legislative processes and bridge the gap between the elected members and their constituents.
Responding, the speaker said the 8th Assembly under his watch is committed to doing things differently in line with the governor’s vision.
Udeze lamented that everything done in the assembly is still in analogue form compared to other states.
“Having the documentation of the state laws in digital format, will give the people access, reduce duplication of legislative efforts and ensure absence of conflict of motions and laws.
“I want to assure you that the 8th Assembly will embrace technology to ease its processes and ensure it is effective in fulfilling its obligations as an arm of government,” Udeze said.
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