The USPF held a meeting with Stakeholders on the 21st April, 2016, in Lagos to solicit stronger collaboration with Operators and Service Providers to deepen ICT penetration in the un-served and underserved areas of the country.
The theme of the Focused Industry Stakeholders’ Forum is: Universal Access: Eliminating the Inclusion Barriers. The event commenced with a welcome address by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, FNSE, the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission. The Secretary of the USPF, Mr. Ayuba Shuaibu, also spoke on ‘Creating the Partnership for Inclusive Access’ while the invited ICT expert shared his thoughts on the imperativeness of Universal Access to Inclusive Development.
One of the highlights of the event was the Hackathon Award. The ICT solutions created at the USPF Hackathon 2015 were showcased to provide opportunity for the Hackathon innovators to interact with potential investors and users of their products. It is one of the ways the USPF demonstrates her commitment to promoting ICT innovations and investment opportunities.
The USPF recently handed over an e-Learning Centre to the Management of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna as part of its mandate of ensuring access to ICT services in the unserved/underserved areas and groups. The event marks a milestone in the collaboration between Messrs. Data Spectrum Ltd who had sought the partnership of the USPF in establishing the Centre to bridge ICT gap in teacher education in Nigeria.
Following the completion of this project, the Institute is now better equipped to provide ICT-enabled training for teachers, conduct Computer-Based Testing (CBT), and Data Management.
In his remarks, the Director General, Dr. Aminu Ladan, thanked the USPF for the intervention, and noted that the facility will go a long way in aiding the NTI in its quest for training and computerization.
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, FNSE, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission, has recently been engaging a cross section of local and international media, as well as stakeholders in the telecommunications sector, on the Strategic Vision of the Nigerian Communications Commission. He captured the Strategic Vision thus:
‘To promote innovation, investment, competition and consumer empowerment in and on top of the communications platforms of today and the future – maximizing the power of information and communications technology to grow our economy, create jobs and enhance national competitiveness through deployment of broadband infrastructure to facilitate the rollout of broadband services that will hold out opportunities and higher network quality of service for all Nigerians”.
The engagement was an opportunity for the EVC to reaffirm that the strategies for achieving the vision, referred to as the ‘8-Point Agenda’, have been carefully articulated as a roadmap to guide the operations of the Commission for the five-year period 2015 – 2020.
The 8-Point Agenda
1.Facilitate Broadband Penetration
Vision: Provide and optimize access to and use of affordable fixed and mobile broadband everywhere in Nigeria
Strategy: Facilitate and support availability of broadband services by promoting deployment of universally available, fast and reliable network infrastructure that will stimulate seamless broadband penetration to drive technology innovations and overall productivity of the economy.
2.Improve Quality of Service
Vision: Promote the availability of reliable, interoperable, rapidly restorable critical information and communications technology infrastructure that are supportive of all required services.
Strategy: Strengthen measures for Quality of Service (QoS) regulation, through improved oversight/internal controls and facilitation of active infrastructure sharing amongst telecoms operators in ways that will encourage seamless adoption of next generation technologies and remove all barriers to smooth operations.
3.Optimize Usage and Benefits of Spectrum
Vision: Maximise the availability of spectrum in order to provide diverse and affordable ICT services and ensure spectrum acquisition does not distort market competition.
Strategy: Develop and implement flexible, market-oriented spectrum regulation policies that promote highly efficient use of spectrum in ways that stimulate innovation, investment, and job creation and increased consumer benefits.
4.Promote ICT Innovation and Investment Opportunities
Vision: Promote ICT innovation in ways that improve the nation’s ability to compete in the global economy, through increased investment in youth and promotion of SMEs for the delivery of new business breakthrough.
Strategy: Facilitate and support the deployment and use of broadband networks as a platform for economic growth, innovation, job creation, and global competitiveness by fostering increased strategic support for technology startups and SMEs.
5.Facilitate Strategic Collaboration and Partnership
Vision: Develop effective partnership with relevant stakeholders to foster ICT for sustainable economic development and social advancement.
Strategy: Foster avenue for synergy with government MDAs, communities and relevant local and international non-state actors to advance the use of ICT for Development (ICT4D) by facilitating and supporting the development, adoption and usage of technology innovations for improvement in Agriculture, Healthcare, Education and Security.
6.Protect and Empower Consumers
Vision: Protect consumers from unfair practices through availability of information and education required to make informed choices in the use of ICT services.
Strategy: Strengthen initiatives, to educate and inform consumers in their use of communications services and act swiftly and consistently whenever necessary in the use of enforcement to protect telecom services consumers’ rights and privileges.
7.Promote Fair Competition and Inclusive Growth
Vision: Ensure a competitive market for communications services that fosters fair inclusion of all actors, in innovative ways that facilitate new investment, job creation and consumer satisfaction.
Strategy: Foster the assurance of fair competition through regulations that ensure strict compliance to obligations imposed on dominant operators in ways that stimulate the growth and sustainability of smaller players in the Mainstream, Value Added Services and Ancillary services sectors of the telecom service provision ecosystem.
8.Ensure Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency
Vision: Ensure an effective regulatory framework, efficient processes, strict compliance monitoring and enforcement, efficient management of internal resources and structure, and maintain a commitment to transparency.
Strategy: Strengthen regulatory and operational systems and processes in ways that make them more result-oriented by further internalizing the Commission’s rules, culture and values, and integrating technology where necessary to improve efficiency, effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction.
It was a weekend of mixed grill – excitement, anxiety, confidence, uncertainty, hope and relief – all in a bid to create the winning ICT solutions using the Access Gap study data and other data sets.
The USPF Hackathon event kicked off at 1.00 p.m. on Friday, 18th September, 2015 with the accreditation of pre-registered participants. The USPF team, event managers and Coaches were on hand to ensure a hitch-free weekend of innovative creations.
Ideas were presented and those that met the published criteria were selected and subsequently subjected to a transparent voting process conducted by the participants. Thereafter, teams were formed to create the 15 successful solutions.
Within 48 hours, the teams, with encouragement from coaches, worked tirelessly to create working prototypes of their solutions that would impress the Judges and add sustainable value to the expansion of ICT to unserved and underserved areas of Nigeria.
Sunday evening marked the climax when 15 innovative solutions were pitched and the top five solutions were:
1. Datamart – A marketplace to buy and sell data with analytics
2. Farm Fresh – A USSD based e-commerce application for agricultural produce.
3. Social wifi – A wifi-based phone network
4. Prima Local – A mesh based network that uses whitespace to provide connectivity
5. Get-roid – Emergency system that uses power lines to transmit emergency signals from homes
The Judges had to select the three winning solutions. And the winners are……
1st prize of N1m – Datamart
2nd prize of N.75m – Farm Fresh
3rd prize of N.5m - Social Wi-Fi
The three solutions will undergo a three-month incubation programme to complete the prototypes and make ready for the market.