In spite of the commendation on the appointment of Mr. Bosun Tijani as the new Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, industry stakeholders have tasked him on the need for collaboration and harmonisation of the activities of all government agencies that are driving processes with digital technology, writes Emma Okonji
Following the ministerial appointment, screening and swearing in of Mr. Bosun Tijani as the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, industry stakeholders have commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for appointing someone with Information Technology (IT) background, to drive the affairs of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry that has contributed so much to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and job creation.
According to them, the appointment is a welcome development because the new minister is capable of improving on the achievements recorded in the past years, giving his background and antecedents.
President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Tony Izuagbe Emoekpere, who spoke on behalf of ICT professionals in the country, said the new minister would further drive digital transformation across the country, and help government in achieving its promise to create a million digital jobs for Nigerians in the next few years.
Stakeholders however tasked the minister on the need to collaborate with industry stakeholders and to harmonise the activities of government agencies that are driving processes with technology.
Optimistic that the new minister will successfully drive the industry to greater heights, Emoekpere however said achieving such a herculean task without collaboration with industry stakeholders may become difficult.
He therefore stressed the need for collaboration with industry stakeholders, whom he said, were willing to work with the minister to achieve results.
“As stakeholders in the ICT industry, we have a lot to offer to the federal government and we are willing to work with government in the areas of policy implementation and development of ideas that will drive national development. The success of the new minister is our success. A recommendation is to constitute an Industry Think Tank Team to help him fast track growth and development in the sector. He needs expertise of industry associations to embark on projects and programmes that will speed up the growth, efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigerian telecoms and ICT sector, ”Emoekpere said.
Emoekpere however tasked the new minister on key areas that would promote development and growth of the industry.
According to him, there are still fundamental challenges facing the industry especially at the physical layer – infrastructure, which if unresolved will not allow success in the application layers where most of the digital jobs reside.
“There is great need to develop, secure and enable further expansion of communication infrastructure in the country. With a solid infrastructure base, innovative digital services, which can take advantage of the growing Digital Economy, can be further developed and expanded to all areas of the country especially the unserved and underserved areas. Issues ranging from funding, security and permits still bedevil the industry although several strides have been made especially by the regulating bodies,” Emoekpere said.
He tasked the minister on the creation of special FX window for operators in the industry; Passing into Act Critical National Infrastructure Bill; Implementation of agreement on Right of Way; and Multiple Taxation/Regulation among others.
President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, also called for harmonisation of the activities of telecoms operators and government agencies that are generating various data. Ogunbanjo who frowned at the situation, where telecoms operators and government agencies are working in silos for individual registration, data generation and processing, said there was need for synchronisation of all data generated, for easy access from a single portal. “Telecoms operators generate data through SIM registration and the same data is generated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) during the National Identification Number (NIN) registration and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) also generate same data during driver’s licence and vehicle licence registrations, yet all the data are in silos and cannot be accessed from a single portal,” Ogunbanjo said. He called on the new minister to ensure harmonisation of all data that are operating in silos, to enable Nigerians access such data from a single portal.
Confident about the antecedents of the new minister in the ICT space, industry stakeholders said he would live up to industry expectations in driving digital transformation across the country.
Bosun Tijani is a co-Founder of Co-Creation Hub (CCHub), located in Yaba Lagos, which is one of the earliest incubation hub in Nigeria, where startups are mentored. CCHub has workspace where startups can develop ideas and turn them into solutions that address specific challenges. It has also developed programmes to train people at pre-school, primary school, secondary school and tertiary institutions levels.
In 2017, CCHub developed the Re-Learn initiative that educates the teacher with new technology skills. It started the pilot in Nigeria and moved to Kenya and other countries to reach out to many teachers.
After Covid-19, it introduced the Virtual Stem Hub to support interactive teaching and learning, and went further to establish a community of practice for teachers
CCHub also developed educational programmes for children called elimu, which is aSwahili name that means education. It used elimu to build educational contents for children. It has elimu kids dashboard that has different learning web apps that help to develop learning skills in reading and writing.It also has learning games for kids, and weather changing app that teaches kids between the ages of 5-7 years, how the weather changes.
The products for kids were built in-house and they align with Nigeria and Kenya curriculum. The apps are free at the moment, with plans to monetise later.
It also created an initiative for higher institutions of learning, like the Higher Education Innovation (HEI) initiative, which has to do withinnovation in higher institutions, and to enable students and lecturers move away from the long-aged idea of research projects in higher institutions, to core innovation project that is driven by emerging technologies. CCHub team works with the students to improve and strengthen innovation capacity that could be commercialised, and help students to take their projects to the market.
Since its inception in July 2022, HEI has reached out to 13 universities in Nigeria, Kenya and Namibia. CCHub plans to work with African Development Bank to support innovation within university campus, using the HEI initiative.
Aside education, CCHub also developed solution for the health sector. It developed a solution called Design For Health Practice, which is used to discover, understand, create and implement programmes in the health sector.
The program helps to design and develop solutions that address maternal and child health, including immunisation. It addresses health challenge in child-bearing and loss of blood during child birth. CCHub also designed solution for Covid19 testing.
CCHub designed solution that addresses the challenges of tuberculosis patients, and plans to scale the solution to also address other human health challenges.
CCHub also plays big in the creative sector of the Nigerian economy. It developed a solution called the Creative Economy Practice, which is an entire value chain of the creative industry that enhances job and wealth creation, with opportunities to crate expression for Africans. It has different sectors like the Audio Visual, Design, New Media, Sculptures among others.