By Angela Nkwocha
In a bid to find local content solution to curb the menace posedby the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC),presented N9 million research grants to three winners of its Digital SolutionsHackathon.
The challenge had 298teams participate in the competition themed: “Virtual Hackathon Adaptable Digital Solutions forAddressing the Present and Future Impacts of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases fromTechnology Hubs, Startup and Innovation Digital SMEs in Nigeria”, had 56 participants selected, while three winnersemerged.
Speaking at the event the Minister of Communications and DigitalEconomy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said the awards aligned with two of the 8- pillars of Digital Economy’s policy and strategy plan of the presentadministration, which hinge on digital learning; digital solution andindigenous content development and promotion and in line with Executive Orders003 and 005 of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration, which theadministration is currently working to ensure their implementation.
“I am particularly happy that the Nigerian CommunicationsCommission (NCC) took up the challenge I posed to them in the search forsolutions in ameliorating the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since the global pandemic began, the Ministry of Communicationsand Digital Economy has strived to support the Federal Government withsolutions, based on our areas of expertise and in line with our mission, tobuild a nation where digital innovation and entrepreneurship create value andprosperity for all.
“This mission is outlined in the National Digital Economy Policyand Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria. The NDEPS is underpinned by 8pillars that align with the central ideas of the ITU with regard to bridgingthe digital and innovation divides. Every sector of the economy stands tobenefit from the digital economy. This is why the programmes of theMinistry target more than just sectors that are traditionally considered to betech sectors.
“In an increasingly open global economy, achievingcompetitiveness requires an enabling environment conducive to digitalinnovation and entrepreneurship across sectors”.
While congratulating the winners the Minister lauded NCC andtasked them not to stop at award presentation but to seek ways ofmentoring the star-ups, track their performance and encourage themto work harder. Pantami, who underscored the need for indigenous solution, also challenged Nigerian inventors to be bold enough in developingindigenous solutions that can substitute importation into the economy.
In his welcome address, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC,Prof. Umar Danbatta said the Commission considered the challenge to find alocal content solution to the pandemic as fillip to their strategic designs ascontemplated in the 8-Point Agenda, which, incidentally, aligns with the8-pillars of the NDEPS 2020.
According to him, the challenge, the first of its kind was designedto encourage ICT innovations among the Nigerian youths whom the Commission hadregularly sponsored to the various competitions organized by the InternationalTelecommunications Union .
Earlierin his opening remarks, the Director, Research and Development, Dr.Henry Nkemadu said the Commission initiated the NCC Virtual Hackathon2020, in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, was to challenge Nigerian Startups,Technology Hubs and Innovation Digital SMEs to come up with adaptable digitalsolutions for addressing the present and future impacts of Pandemic andEpidemic diseases in Nigeria.
“TheHackathon was designed to engage the Startups to compete in a healthy manner insuch a way as to improve our innovativeness”, he said.
Thewinners comprised of Primed E-Health; Klas Connect and Elizade University whowere each granted N3 million prize money.