By Felix Khanoba
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, says he would encourage agencies under his ministry to roll out grants to boost research activities in the country.
Pantami made this known during a visit to his office by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund’s (TETFund) Research and Development (R&D) Standing Committee’s team on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy on Tuesday in Abuja.
He commended TETFund for putting in place R&D committee, saying the move would entrench a knowledge based economy and tackle developmental challenges.
While saying the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have instituted research grants, the minister said other parastatals would be encouraged to follow the same path.
“We have research grants in NITDA, NCC too, but they are not sufficient. We need to look at the possibility of encouraging more parastatals,” he said.
He called on the Prof. Bashir Galadanchi-led TETFund R&D Sub-Committee on ICT and Digital Economy to focus more on encouraging collaborations between academia and industries as well as promote skills development.
His words: “There is a huge gap between academia on one hand and industries on the other, that gap brought about our challenge of what we usually called unemployment, which to me is not unemployment, but unemployability.
“If you look at the number of our graduates, you will be worried, but in real sense you will discover graduates usually graduate with only theory, the practical is not sufficient, this is the gap, they don’t have enough skills that will prepare them for an opportunity immediately.”
Earlier, Prof. Galadanchi said the TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee is an initiative towards the establishment of National Research Foundation.
He assured that his team would leave no stone unturned to ensure Nigeria is placed on a smooth path to a knowledge economy.
Galadanchi, who is the Head of Department, Software Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, called for support and collaboration between relevant bodies to achieve the desired goal.
“For this effort to be successful there has to be a lot of collaborations among stakeholders. Research institutions and the higher institutions on one hand, government, businesses and perhaps the general public.
“As it is well known, there has not been much cooperation among research institutes and business organisations. This has hampered our desire as a nation to see that research is the principal factor in our socio economic effort and drive to be a great nation,” he said.
According to the sub-committee’s coordinator, research-backed ICT sector is key to transforming the nation’s economy.
“We want to move forward so that hopefully we can have a country that is backed by a lot of research and development effort that will be the principal drivers of our economy.
“Today, IT or ICT is the principal driver of digital and knowledge economy and it is both an enabler of all other sectors, but over and above that, it is an economic sector in itself that can bring about a lot of socio-economic development. A number of countries are relying almost entirely on IT as a sector in itself,” he said.
The sub-committee on ICT and Digital Economy is among 13 others under the TETFund Standing Committee on R&D, chaired by Prof. Njiddah Gadzama.