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We are not responsible for monitoring social media contents — NCC

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By Ibiyemi Mathew

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has dismissed allegations that it is responsible for monitoring contents on social media.

The telecoms industry regulator made this submission came during a recent visit of the National Civil Society Council of Nigeria (NCSCN), led by its Executive Secretary, Blessing Akinsolotu, who sought the intervention of the Commission on the worrisome and misleading content of social media platforms.

“We know that NCC, as the regulator of the telecoms industry, has greater role to play in helping to curb the spread of fake news and incendiary contents that Internet users put on social media platforms. Therefore, we want NCC to partner with us in this regard,” he stated.

Akinlosotu said the situation demands immediate intervention of key stakeholders to ensure that the content of the social media and the Internet are credible and enhance national social cohesion.

Director, Public Affairs of the Commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka, who received the group on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, informed the organisation that Commission’s mandate does not extend to controlling the content of such media platforms.

According to Muoka, the major role of the telecom regulator is to facilitate the deployment of telecom infrastructure that provides different types of telecommunications services, including improving broadband that enhances robust Internet experience, and ensuring fair competition as well as the protecting of telecom consumers.

Muoka said the mandate includes making services available, accessible and affordable for Nigerians who may leverage such access to engage in digital social mediation for the benefit of the individual, businesses, and the nation’s socioeconomic growth.

In the performance of its functions, Muoka said the Commission promotes collaboration and partnerships with different stakeholders such as NCSCN, in creating awareness and promoting access to different categories of consumers in the country. He said the Commission looks forward to furthering collaboration with NCSCN in its efforts to align with the aspirations of users of telecommunications services across the country.

The NCSCN, a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, commended the Commission for its people-oriented and consumer-centric regulatory activities.

The Council also seeks collaboration with NCC to spread messages of the Commission’s consumer enlightenment programmes to Nigerians in the grassroots through its over 100-member Civil Society Organisation (CSOs).

Akinlosotu also invited the Commission to partner with the NCSCN in hosting a conference aimed at tackling the seemingly intractable diffusion of fake news, particularly on social media network.

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PIAFo: Stakeholders to X-ray Nigeria’s renewed digital economy agenda, July 10

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Key stakeholders in the country’s digital economy sector are set to converge at the forthcoming Policy Implementation Assisted Forum (PIAFo) to dissect and stimulate effective implementation of Nigeria’s renewed agenda for digital economy.

PIAFo, now in its sixth edition, is slated for Wednesday, July 10 at Radisson Blu Hotels, GRA Ikeja, Lagos, with a thematic focus of: “Accelerating Collective Prosperity through Technical Efficiency.”

According to the organisers, the strategic plan of the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation Digital Economy (FMCIDE) released recently by the federal government is the anchor policy for the forum as the strategic plan embodies Nigeria’s digital aspirations.

They noted that the current digital economy footprint puts Nigeria on track to attain many targets in years to come; adding that since PIAFo is an initiative designed to drive policies to fruition, the forthcoming conference underscores the need to leverage effective dialogue among relevant stakeholders to achieve the targets.

As such, the Honourable Minister of FMCIDE, Dr. Bosun Tijani is billed to deliver the keynote address while the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida and the Chief Executive Officer of Galaxy Backbone Limited, Prof. Ibrahim Adeyanju would make paper presentations.

Various other captains of industry are also prepared to champion dialogue at the forum by speaking to different topics and participating in panel sessions, according to the organisers.

Speaking on the forthcoming event, the Lead Executive at PIAFo, Mr. Omobayo Azeez, emphasised the need to ensure that the targets spelt out in the various digital economy policy documents do not just remain on the pages of the papers.

According to him, “There are many targets before us and achieving them within the stipulated timelines is central to the aspiration of Nigeria to unleash a digital ecosystem essential for efficient modern economies, enhanced business operations, smart public services, and job creation.

“This is why we have devoted this year’s edition of PIAFo to this course to create a midpoint dialogue platform for digital economy policymakers, private sector players and relevant local and international bodies to cultivate coordinated efforts towards achieving the targets.”

Currently, Nigeria has standing targets of 70 percent broadband penetration rate by 2025; 80 percent population coverage by 2027; up to 500 percent increase in broadband investment by 2027; 22 percent increase in net GDP contribution; 100 percent surge in telecoms revenue to the coffers of the federal government by 2027; 50 percent improvement on Quality of Service by 2024 ending; and reduction in unserved population in rural areas to 20 percent by 2027.

Other targets include 100 percent increase in the number of startups that have access to incentives in Nigeria; 100 percent increase in the number of tech-enabled startups with access to procurement opportunities in Nigeria; ranking among top 50 countries in AI and creating over 50,000 jobs in Nigeria’s AI industry by 2030; attaining 70 percent digital literacy for youths and adults by 2027 and up to 40% women participation across all training initiatives; among others.

Powered by BusinessMetrics Limited, PIAFo has remained a platform that receives massive participation from players within the public and private sectors, international community, interest groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at every edition dedicated to creating a conducive policy environment in Nigeria.

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NITDA DG calls for curriculum overhaul

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The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Malam Kashifu Inuwa, on Friday called for an overhaul of curriculums across all levels to meet the 21st Century digital skills.

Inuwa made the call during a meeting with the management team of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), led by its Executive Secretary, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, in Abuja.

The D-G said the review would be in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, to create millions of jobs by leveraging on digital technologies and achieving a digital literacy rate of 70 per cent by 2027.

“Digital technology has an important role to play in the design of the curriculum, content and processes due to evolution of technology.

“Disruptive technology has substituted the way of doing things worldwide, of which Nigeria as a country is not to be left behind.

“We must lead in developing a competency-based, outcome-focused curriculum that addresses the demands of the 21st century.

“This will enable us to produce a skilled workforce capable of meeting the needs of the Nigerian market and attracting investment from other countries,” he said.

According to him, integrating digital skills into the curriculum is crucial for national development and economic growth.

He further said that government policies and objectives, especially as relating to sustainable development, 21st century skills, digital economy, creative arts and digital technology, would create a pathway for nation building.

Earlier, Junaidu, the NERDC Executive Secretary, stated that they were charged with the primary responsibility of curriculum development for the country at all levels.

He, however, said it required inclusion of digital literacy as a critical area for the development of any country.

The ES noted that the visit was to scale up the existing partnership and to explore potential areas that both organisations would join forces for national development.

Junaidu added that the institution was also responsible for undertaking and promoting book development.

He further said that the institution was also responsible for local authorship for quality assurance, conducting educational research for public policies formulation and implementation and developing Nigerian languages.

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NITDA inaugurates startup labelling committee for implementation of Nigeria Startup Act

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has taken a significant step towards driving the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) with the inauguration of a Startup Labelling Committee. This committee, inaugurated by NITDA Director-General Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, comprises representatives from both the public and private sectors.

Enacted on October 19, 2022, the NSA established a legal and institutional framework to foster the development and growth of Nigerian startups. A critical provision within the Act is the Startup Label, which recognises eligible startups and grants them access to various benefits outlined in the NSA. The issuance of the Startup Label hinges on a thorough assessment and validation process to ensure a startup meets the eligibility criteria as defined by the Act. The newly formed committee will play a pivotal role in overseeing this process.

In his address at the inauguration ceremony, Inuwa emphasised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s unwavering dedication to fostering an environment conducive to the growth and success of young Nigerian innovators. He acknowledged the pivotal role startups will play in propelling the nation’s economic development and the significance of the committee’s work in nurturing and supporting these enterprises.

Inuwa elaborated on the various initiatives and support mechanisms the government plans to implement, aimed at reducing hurdles and providing financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to young entrepreneurs. He expressed optimism about the future, asserting that with the right support, these budding innovators could transform their ideas into thriving enterprises, contributing significantly to job creation and the overall economic prosperity of Nigeria in line with President Tinubu’s priority to “reform the economy to deliver sustained inclusive growth.”

He urged stakeholders to join hands in creating a robust ecosystem that would empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to flourish and contribute to the country’s progress. Inuwa added that the committee will be instrumental in establishing a robust legal and institutional framework for the successful implementation of the Startup Act. Their collaborative efforts will ensure a participatory approach that benefits all stakeholders within the Nigerian startup ecosystem.

“The composition of the committee reflects the emphasis on collaboration. Representatives from government agencies, industry experts, investors, and startup founders will bring their diverse perspectives and experiences to the table. This collaborative approach is expected to lead to a more efficient and effective labelling process, ultimately benefiting the growth of Nigerian startups,” he stated.

The National Coordinator of the Office for Nigeria Digital Innovation, Victoria Fabunmi, outlined the terms of reference for the advisory committee. These include reviewing and evaluating startups’ applications for the label based on criteria defined in the Act, periodically updating labelling criteria to ensure alignment with industry trends, and conducting impartial evaluations of submitted applications.

Furthermore, the committee will recommend the issuance or otherwise of the Startup Label based on defined criteria, provide feedback and recommendations on areas of improvement for rejected applications, and engage startups for more clarity where necessary. It will also periodically review its activities and data on labelling to identify opportunities and gaps that policymakers may need to address, review workload capacity, and recommend a fair ceiling for the number of applications to be considered per period.

The Labelling Committee comprises nine members: four representatives of incubators (ISN Rep, North and South), two representatives of the public sector (NITDA, NSIA), two representatives of civil society, and the Portal Coordinator who will serve as Secretary.

The inauguration of the Startup Labelling Committee marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act. With a multi-stakeholder committee guiding the process, the Act has the potential to unlock the immense potential of Nigeria’s startup ecosystem and contribute significantly to the nation’s economic development.

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