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NCC showcases digital social investments at APRA 2024

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Various digital social investments in Nigeria, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) were on showcase at the just-concluded 35th annual conference of the African Public Relations Association (APRA) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Through a presentation by the Head of Media Management Relations at the NCC, Dr. Omoniyi Ibietan, who later emerged as the Secretary-General of APRA after an election at the event which took place from 13th to 17th May, 2024, participants had a glean into some of the digital social investments and infrastructure expansion happening in Nigeria, through regulatory efficiency of the Commission.

In his presentation with the title: “Digital Inclusion as Arbiter of Accessible PR: A Case of the Nigerian Communications Commission,” Ibietan highlighted some 36 initiatives of the Commission within and beyond its immediate regulatory mandate, implemented to promote infrastructure expansion, support SMEs, empower educational institutions, advance innovation and promote digital up-skilling of Nigerian youths.

These include the Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI); Campus Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIEP) programme; e-PAD project for 232 institutions; Digital Appreciation Project (DAP) for 247 secondary schools; Digital Literacy Training for Teachers (DLT); Digital Integration Programme (DIP) for MSMEs; and the E-Accessibility programme targeted at persons with disabilities.

Others include the Nigerian Girls Can Code Competition; the Build A-Thon, aimed at enabling young persons to pitch and enhance their skills and new learning experience; Tertiary Institutions Digital Centre (TIDC) for 250 institutions; 2,291 Digital Nigeria Centers (DNC) online/offline educational resources; Local Application and Content Deployment programme; and up to 72 Rural Broadband Initiative projects, among others.

According to him, the NCC through its component special purpose vehicle, the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) has undertaken several digital infrastructure projects, programmes and collaborative activities with stakeholders.

“These interventions have caused a shift in digital literacy, fundamentally shrank the digital divide and opened the floodgates of participation in political, economic and social processes, and enabled accessible digital public relations in Nigeria,” he said.

While over 20 papers were presented at the APRA Conference to expound its thematic focus of “One Africa, One Voice: Bridging Africa’s Communication Divide,” Ibietan’s paper was the only presentation that showcased digital infrastructure investments by any African country, even though many papers advocated the centrality of adequate broadband infrastructure in enhancing digital culture on the continent.

Ibietan emphasised that digital inclusion is the ability of individuals and groups to access and fully participate in the digital society, particularly in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the internet, computers, and mobile devices.

He submitted that digital inclusion encompasses not only access to digital technologies but also the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to effectively utilize them.

He also emphasised that the phenomenon of digital inclusion is desirable for economies that aspire to grow and develop in remarkable and measurable sense.

He said, “This is because digital inclusion promotes social and economic opportunities, enhances civic engagement and participation, supports education and lifelong learning, fosters digital literacy and skills development, encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and helps to bridge the digital divide and reduce inequalities.”

He referenced that the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallouts proved the significance of digital infrastructure to the economy.

Luckily, he said, “Nigeria’s investment in broadband infrastructure partly explained why the nation was able to cope with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus because availability of digital infrastructure helped individuals, businesses and the government to migrate their social and economic activities to digital platforms in order to mitigate the devastating effect of the Pandemic.”

He recommended constant and seamless communication among stakeholders to ensure efficiency in the management and proper harvest of derivable benefits social investment and infrastructural projects

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NITDA, Afre.lib Academy forge alliance to propel digital literacy across Nigeria

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By Afolabi Ifeoluwa

In a strategic move to elevate digital literacy to 70 percent by 2025, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is collaborating with Afre.lib Academy.

During a visit by Afre.lib representatives, led by Executive Director of Operations Mrs. Joice Gomina, at NITDA’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, Director General Kashifu Inuwa CCIE outlined the Agency’s innovative strategies and commitment to digital education.

The collaboration aims to co-host Afre.lib Academy’s bootcamps in August, the 2024 Tech and Career Expo in September themed “Tech for Earth,” and provide support for Tech Challenge Winners. Inuwa emphasised three focal areas for digital literacy: revamping formal education curricula with digital skills, developing an Edtech platform for informal learning accessible in local languages, and enhancing digital competence among the workforce.

Inuwa assured the Academy of NITDA’s support, highlighting the shared vision of fostering IT development. Plans include establishing Innovation Hubs in each state and creating tech clubs in schools. Mrs. Gomina highlighted the Academy’s efforts to address the digital divide between students and teachers and to promote responsible use of technology.

The Academy demonstrated prototypes developed by children from their training programs, showcasing the potential of their initiatives.

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NIMC denounces allegations of data compromise, advises Nigerians to avoid phishing sites

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has firmly denounced recent allegations regarding the compromise of sensitive data of Nigerian citizens. In a statement released today, the Commission reassured the public that the data of Nigerians has not been compromised and that it has not authorised any website or entity to sell or misuse the National Identification Number (NIN) or any other identity information.

NIMC identified several unauthorised websites—idfinder.com.ng, Verify.ng/signin, championtech.com.ng, trustyonline.com, and anyverify.com—as data harvesters operating without its approval. The Commission urged Nigerians to disregard any claims or services offered by these sites, warning that they are potentially fraudulent. Data provided to these websites by the public is likely being gathered and stored illegally.

The Commission highlighted that it has implemented robust measures to protect the nation’s database from cyber threats. NIMC’s infrastructure meets the stringent ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management System Standard and undergoes annual recertification. The Commission also adheres strictly to the Nigerian Data Protection Law to ensure the security and privacy of citizens’ data.

NIMC through its Head, Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke advised Nigerians to avoid giving their data to unauthorised and phishing sites, as doing so poses significant risks of data harvesting and individual data compromise. The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to upholding ethical standards in data protection in line with federal government directives and data privacy regulations. Additionally, licensed partners or vendors are not authorised to scan or store NIN slips but are instead directed to verify NINs through approved channels.

The Commission is actively collaborating with security operatives to apprehend those masquerading as online vendors and will ensure they face the full extent of the law.

NIMC called on the public to remain vigilant against false information and rely on verified sources for accurate updates. The Commission remains dedicated to providing secure and reliable identity management, maintaining the highest level of security for its systems and databases, which are considered critical national assets.

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100% of SIM cards used in Nigeria locally manufactured – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says 100 per cent of the SIM cards used in the country are manufactured locally.

Engr. Babagana Digima, the Head, New Media and Information Security, NCC, said this at a training for media executives in Lagos.

The two-day training had the title: “Upskilling Media Stakeholders on Trends in Telecommunications.”

Digima attributed the feat to the commission’s commitment in encouraging local content and indigenous participation in the industry through the Nigeria Office for Development in Indigenous Telecommunications Sector (NORDIT).

“The NCC by Section 1D to F of our Act has spelt out our function to encourage indigenous participation of telecom companies as well as the national policy for promotion of indigenous content in the Telecommuncations Sector which established NORDIT.

“Indigenous participation is one of the key areas NORDIT has played a major role.

“Previously, in the last two years, almost 99 per cent  to 100 per cent of SIM cards in Nigeria were imported.

“And when NORDIT came, we made it one of our key low-hanging fruits that in five months to six months manufacture of SIM cards will be indigenous.

“We directed all the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to source their SIM cards locally, and in fact, as at now 100 per cent of all the SIM cards used in Nigeria are manufactured locally, no importation,” Digima said.

Digima, the former Head of NORDIT, noted that the commission through NORDIT engage in advocacy work to encourage indigenous participation of companies and people in all aspects of telecoms.

He said that NORDIT had also provided grants and incentives to some companies to ensure the development of the industry.

“For now, we are currently sponsoring the manufacture of Corrugated Ordinal Duct, and the company that will be established will be the first in the whole of Africa to manufacture such kind of product.

“We also encourage tower manufacture, fibre manufacture and have been in touch with Coleman Cables, which are currently manufacturing fibre cables.

“They have even overtaken the only company in Egypt in manufacturing capacity and they are expanding.

“I am sure a lot of companies are very happy with what we have done,” he said.

Also speaking, the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Dr Aminu Maida, said the initiative to upskill senior media executives was borne out of the need to bridge the gap between the commission and how it was understood by its publics.

Maida, who was represented by Engr. Abraham Oshadami, the Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, said the commission needed to develop a mechanism that would enable the consumers and stakeholders understand how things work in the industry.

“These have led to the birth of this beautiful initiative. If our industry must succeed, there must be proper enlightenment and education.

“So, your physical role cannot be overemphasised and that is why these are carefully selected executives from across all platforms including print, broadcast, and the online media.

“It is to enable you understand the commission and to see the operational interventions that the commission has engaged in over the time, as well as challenges we are having.

“This will enable us to work together to shape the landscape and also to help consumers understand what is really happening,” he said.

He added that the aim of the training was to develop a reliable database of core partners within the geography of media systems and to cultivate a strategic relationship with media stakeholders.

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