In its bid to boost local capacity in technology, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said it would soon roll out intervention programmes to ease operations of tech hubs in the country.
The Commission said this was part of its efforts to encourage technology entrepreneurship and innovation in the ICT sector.
A ‘tech hub’ is a physical space – a city, a suburb or just a suite of offices – which has developed to help technology startup companies succeed and, they hope to become the next tech titan such as Facebook or Microsoft.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this in Lagos during a forum on “Emerging Technologies Research and ICT Innovation”organised by the commission.
He said the regulatory body has commenced visitation to various tech hubs across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Represented by Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, NCC’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Services, Danbatta said that the visitation was to assess the development and challenges of the technology start-ups at the various hubs.
With the theme: ‘Developing Nigeria’s Tech Eco-System: Imperative for improving Local Content,” Danbatta said the ICT Innovation forum became necessary to promote local content with emphasis on tech ecosystem, identifying unmet needs and facilitate Public Private Partnership (PPP).
According to him, with the growing pressure of globalisation, every government, as well as captains of industries are charged with the burden of finding ways to ensure competitive and capable local content.
The executive vice chairman noted that it was imperative that the right framework was developed to enhance the ability of indigenous companies to maximally explore and exploit local opportunities, as well as remain globally competitive. “Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have developed infrastructure to support voice services and access to data “ he said. “However, it has become expedient for the MNOs to unlock new services and sources of value generation and revenue streams in their operations. It has become necessary to innovate on how to access segments of the consumer wallets not presently allocated to communication by providing solutions to consumer needs in other vertical areas of education, health, government services, among others, made available through telecommunications network infrastructure.”
Also speaking, the Director, Research & Development, NCC, Ephraim Nwokonneya, said that the forum was in line with the Strategic Eight Point Agenda of the commission, particularly to promote lCT Innovation and Investment Opportunities.
Nwokonneya said that the tech hubs could be understood as a community, informal or otherwise, that bring together young talents to foster innovation.
He said that tech hubs were spaces or incubators where people with ideas solve problems through clusters and become part of the economic infrastructure of the society and in turn bring prosperity to communities.
According to him, Nigeria’s growing economy needs to leverage on entrepreneurs’ innovations that will help create jobs for the teeming youths.
He added, “responsive government bodies, therefore, need to encourage tech hubs to utilise their immense economic importance in reducing unemployment and stimulating innovations, leading to digital inclusion, social and economic development.
“This forum, therefore, targets participation by a broad spectrum of stakeholders to foster collaboration and value creation partnership among stakeholders. It is common knowledge that the world’s best known tech hub is the Silicon Valley in the United States of America.
“The world‘s renowned technology entities such as Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Intel, founded by creative young innovators are located in the Silicon Valley.”
Nwokonneya said that propelled by a passion to create Nigeria‘s ‘Silicon WaZoBia’‚ the NCC identified Lagos State as location with a large cluster of tech hubs. He said that some of the hubs recorded milestones and mentored many start-ups to launch and commercial stage. “This therefore, informed our choice of Lagos State as the preferred location for the maiden edition of the lCT Innovation Forum, meant to attract participating tech hubs in the South West zone. It is our expectation that more startups would debut after this forum,” he said.
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