It is no longer news that the technological revolutions will gather momentum in the next few decades, and will confront humankind with the hardest trials it ever encountered.
“Any story that seeks to gain humanity’s allegiance will be tested above all in its ability to deal with the twin revolutions in infotech and biotech,” Yuval Noah Harari said in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.
To put it differently, Yakubu Musa, Special Assistant, Media to Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta said it is imperative to those who aspire to be the leading players of this inescapable revolution, and by extension the world itself, to be ready to not only cudgel brains but be able to commit resources toward achieving the goal.
Musa explained that there is no getting away from the fact that the ship will definitely set sail without those who fail to swiftly be on board, and the impact of the inertia will surely be staggeringly catastrophic.”
He said, “The disruption that the ICT, for instance, is currently triggering around the world has already changed the narrative of global economic landscape. Ideas that would have been hitherto rejected as outright heresy are now the fulcrum of our economic realities. For the first time in our modern history, data is dislodging oil as the most important economic resource in the world. Innovative young chaps are replacing oil sheikhs on the Forbes’ list of global billionaires and the trajectory will assuredly remain, for many years to come.”
Little wonder therefore financing of tech starts up and emerging companies had reached all-time high in 2017. In a space of half a decade, according to a GSMA publication, private equity companies, venture-capital firms and corporates had already invested a whopping $ 1.2 trillion in this respect.
“ If the rest of the world is, however, deliberately giving a special attention to innovation and even investing humongous amount of resources in funding cutting-edge researches on problem-solving, having fully appreciated the undeniable fact that there’s an established correlation between research and the quality of life they enjoy, in Nigeria also, we don’t have to look elsewhere for diagnoses of our failings”, Musa stated.
It can be stressed that this is where the NCC boss is making a huge difference.
Danbatta can boast of achieving a basketful of accomplishments like attaining the near-impossible national broadband penetration target, supporting research and innovation.
Like in the stories of the other impacts of his transformational leadership at the commission, Danbatta came to the NCC and met a situation whereby research and development efforts were being coordinated at unit level. He transformed it into a full-fledged department.
Leveraging on two of his famous 8-Point Agenda, promoting ICT Innovation and Investment opportunities, as well as facilitating strategic collaboration and partnership, Danbatta opened the door wide and extended the hand of collaboration to the academia to unleash its research potential.
“You know the telecommunications industry is dynamic. New technologies are daily emerging and new challenges too. And through research and development we can find solutions to challenges in the industry as well as improve on the services that actors in the industry provide to Nigerians.
“This we can we do by leveraging experience, the huge knowledge residents in the Nigerian Universities. And you have seen there’s a diverse representation of research proposals from the universities. And we are hoping that together these proposals will bring about prototypes that in turn we can commercialise hopefully in the not distant future in order to revive the manufacturing sector of the economy,” said the Professor of telecommunication engineering, while answering questions from reporters at a ceremony organised to endow professorial chairs at two of the nation universities recently.
Yet some of us may still ask: why is it that it’s the regulator that is seizing the momentum by the scruff of its neck instead of the industry itself?
Mr. Ephraim Nwokonneya, the Director, Research and Development of the commission has a convincing answer.
“We are getting involved because unlike in the advanced countries where the industry drives and funds research, here it has been lethargicin that respect.”
Nwokonneya, who showered encomiums on the NCC boss for the big push he has given to research and development, said Prof Danbatta is man who walks the talks by putting research and development in the front burner of the agency.
“Professor Danbatta has recognized the fact that the industry is saturating in some certain segments like the voice services, and a lot of growth opportunities are in broadband, value added services, data services, and opportunities can be unlocked using research and development,” he explained.
At least no fewer than 26 research projects sponsored by the commission in various tertiary institutions are currently ongoing, with two already in a collusive stage.