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NCC TTTR 2021: Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges – Danbatta

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L- R: Engr. Bako Wakil, Director, Technical Standards and Network Integrity, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Mr. Yakubu Gontor, Director, Finance Services, NCC; Mrs. Tolulase Omodele-Rufai, Assistant Director, NCC Lagos Zonal Office; Mr. Adeleke Adewolu, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, NCC; Mr. Babajika Mohammed, Director, Licensing and Authorization, NCC; Mr. Chidi Ibisi, Executive Director, Business Development, Broadband Communications Limited; Mrs. Chinwe Maduabum, 2021 Chairman Committee on Talk to the Regulator; Mr. Damian Udeh, Associate Director, Regulatory Affairs, IHS

…as Danbatta charges regulators to find lasting solutions to issues negatively impacting the licensee’s compliance

Olushola Okunlade Writes

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that continuous dialogues between the regulator and its various licensees are central to finding lasting solutions to issues negatively impacting the licensee’s compliance with extant regulations and challenging the growth of the telecoms industry.

Danbatta stated this during the second edition of NCC’s 2021 Talk to The Regulator (TTTR) forum held at Four Points by Sheraton, Lagos, over the weekend. The theme of the discourse is, “Improving Stakeholders Satisfaction”.  

The Lagos edition of the programme followed the successful hosting of a similar dialogue in Kano on 16th October, 2021.

The objective of the forum is to get direct feedback from licensees on how the Commission, as a regulator, is meeting licensees’ expectations.

The programme was also designed to identify areas for regulatory improvement, highlight areas where licensees are defaulting as well as address critical industry challenges undermining full accomplishment of the set objectives for consolidating the gains in the telecoms sector.

According to Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, the forum is orgainsed in keeping with the Commission’s commitment to continually ensure regulator-licensee interactions to develop collaborative solutions and implementation programmes to the challenges of the telecom ecosystem.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Emilia Nwokoro, Deputy Director, Licensing and Authorization Department, NCC giving her presentation on the ‘Review of Licensing Trends’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Group picture of participants at the Talk to the Regulator Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Adewolu giving the opening remarks.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Mohammed while giving his remarks at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Mohammed; Mr. Abdulazeez Salman, Member NCC Board of Commissioners; Adewolu; Gontor.

“The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA, 2003) invests the NCC with powers and responsibilities for the regulation of both the technical and market-related aspects of telecoms infrastructure and services in Nigeria. We consider our role as a regulator very vital to ensuring industry sustainability because NCC considers consultation as the lifeblood of regulation” the EVC emphasised.

The EVC also declared that “we have consistently deployed stakeholder engagement tools like public enquiries, private investigations, written information requests, one-on-one discussions as we are having it now and diverse consumer engagement platforms.

These tools enable us to ensure that our interventions are well-grounded and that our decisions are based on a clear understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives”.

Danbatta said that such interactions fit squarely within the five pillars of the Commission’s Strategic Management Plan (2020-2024), which include Regulatory Excellence, Promotion of Universal Broadband Access, the Development of the Digital Economy, Facilitation of Market Development, and Strategic Partnering.

“Through regular interactions with our licensees, the Commission is able to gain valuable insights to enhance our regulatory output and enabled us to drive excellence in consonance with the five pillars of our strategic vision for the industry as streamlined in the Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), 2021-2025,” he said.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Wakil while giving his presentation on ‘Short Code Assignment, Type Approval Obligation, and the Commission’s Expectations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Gontor giving his presentation on the ‘Implementation of Annual Levy Regulations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Joe Emeshili, Principal Manager, Spectrum Administration Department, NCC giving his presentation on ‘Maximising the Potentials of Telecommunications Operations’.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Olumide Samuel, Chief Executive Officer, Priority Communications Ltd asking questions at the Forum.

The EVC also reinforced the Commission’s belief that only through optional performance by the licensees will Nigeria be able to achieve the national objectives and targets in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 and other national policy instruments targeted at developing the nation’s digital economy ecosystem.

He said on this basis that the Commission is, “Therefore, we intend to use this forum to seek support for many initiatives that the commission has carefully developed in our quest to enhance market opportunities for all our licensees,” Danbatta said to emphasise NCC’s faith in collaboration with stakeholders and its licensees in order to address any concerns that may impede the attainment of the relevant policy objectives.

The NCC CEO also emphasised that the Commission will continue to roll out forward-thinking and all-inclusive regulatory initiatives to provide market opportunities for all its licensees.

Additionally, Danbatta said NCC is also committed to constantly reviewing licensing framework as well as key regulatory instruments so as to refresh the Commission’s regulatory frameworks and ensure better service delivery for consumers and efficient attainment of other national interest objectives.

However, Danbatta said some licensees are not doing as much as they ought to be doing. “Several licensees are struggling to pay their staff, many are unable to comply with basic licence obligations, some are defaulting in the payment of their Annual Operating Levies (AOL) while the level of interconnect and other inter-licensee indebtedness is still unacceptably high.

Therefore, we are required to ensure regulatory interventions are put in place to address challenges, bottlenecks, and grievances that may arise among the licensees in this regard,” he said.

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Another cross-section of participants at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Cross-section of participants at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Attah Ogbadu, Senior Manager, Public Affairs NCC compering the event.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Maduabum in her session ‘on what can the NCC do to ensure the survival of smaller licensees’.

Also addressing the gathering, the Director, Licensing and Authorisation at NCC, Mohammed Babajika, said the forum was intended to foster a harmonious relationship with licensees, identify their challenges and provide feedback on licensees’ fulfillment of their license obligations, and re-emphasize the role of licensees in ensuring good quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for the consumers.
While intimating the licensees of some regulatory initiatives focused on licensing issues, Babajika said despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant challenges, the Commission was taking measures to further liberalise the telecoms industry by finalising the framework for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) while also reviewing existing licensing regulations.

In addition, the Director also informed the licensees that the Commission was finalising work on Information Memorandum (IM) for Fifth Generation (5G) technology deployment, which will promote emerging technology trends such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Over-The-Top (OTT) Services and Big Data Analytics, Blockchain, among others. 

At the event, presentations were made by the Management staff of the Commission to the licensees and others, who participated actively through listening, making observations and suggestions, as well as seeking clarifications to improve the quality of discourse and the expected outcomes. 

Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Titilola Edu, Assistant Legal Manager, Caricare Development Nigeria Limited asking questions at the Forum.
Continuous Dialogue Critical To Tackling Telecoms Industry Challenges - Danbatta
Emeshili; Olasumbo Olawaiya, Assistant Director, Universal Service Provision Fund.

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“Don’t Rest On Your Oars, Sustain Effective Service Delivery” – Danbatta Tasks Staff Of NCC Zonal Office Ibadan

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“Don’t Rest On Your Oars, Sustain Effective Service Delivery” – Danbatta Tasks Staff Of NCC Zonal Office Ibadan

 Olushola Okunlade Writes

The staff of the Ibadan Zonal Office (IBZO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), have been tasked by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, to sustain their commitment to regulatory effectiveness in keeping with the Commission’s strategic objectives.

Danbatta made the call to the staff not to rest on their oars, recently at Ibadan when he visited the IBZO of the Commission en route Osogbo to deliver the 10th and 11th Convocation Lecture of the Fountain University.

The EVC, management, and other staff in his entourage, were earlier received on arrival at Ibadan by the Controller, Ibadan Zonal Office of the Commission, Yomi Arowosafe, who led the EVC and his team on a tour of the Zonal Office. 

Speaking later at an interactive session with staff of the Zonal Office, Danbatta commended the zonal controller and his team on the good work they have been doing in ensuring the people of the zone feel the presence and impact, as well as the significance of the Commission’s regulatory activities. 

The EVC particularly urged the staff of the Commission not to relax because of the successes that have been recorded. Rather, he implored the staff to rededicate themselves decidedly, to their assigned responsibilities, in order to sustain effective delivery of regulatory services to the people of the zone in keeping with the Commission’s commitment to ensuring greater regulatory effectiveness.

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Don't Rest on Your Oars, Sustain Effective Service Delivery" - Danbatta tasks staff of NCC Zonal Office Ibadan
Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and others on a tour of the NCC Ibadan Zonal office.
Don't Rest on Your Oars, Sustain Effective Service Delivery" - Danbatta tasks staff of NCC Zonal Office Ibadan
Left-Right: Yomi Arowosafe, Zonal Controller, NCC Ibadan Zonal Office; Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; Dr Augustine Nwaulune, Director, Digital Economy, NCC; and Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC.

Danbatta asserted that his appeal takes life off the fact that the Commission and its staff have become major drivers of the Federal Government’s vision for the birth of a robust digital economy as encapsulated in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025. 

The NCC CEO reminded the staff of the necessity to internalize the regulatory imperatives of the Strategic Management Plan (SMP), 2021-2024, as well as the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, both of which are streamlined implementation roadmaps by which the Commission plans to actualize the national digital economy and broadband targets as articulated by the Federal Government. 

In his response, Arowosafe who spoke on behalf of the staff of the Zonal Office expressed gratitude to the Management for the visit and promised to ensure the zonal office sustains effective delivery of NCC’s regulatory services to the people of the geo-political zone. 

Staff in the EVC’s entourage to the zonal office include NCC’s Director, Projects, Abigail Sholanke; Director, Digital Economy, Dr. Austin Nwaulune; Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde; Head Research and Development, Kelechi Nwankwo; and other senior management staff of the Commission. 

The IBZO was established in October 2005 to bring the Commission’s regulatory services closer to the southwest geopolitical zone, except Lagos and Ogun which are in the purview of Lagos ZonalOffice. However, the jurisdictional sphere of the Ibadan Zonal Office, however includes other southwest states and Kwara State.

The recently constructed NCC Zonal Office building at Ibadan became fully functional in 2015 when the Commission’s Management directed staff to commence operational activities from the new complex.

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FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment To Enhancing Digital Skill In Youths

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FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment To Enhancing Digital Skill In Youths

…Existing policies are designed to accelerate the delivery of digital economy benefits, Says Pantami

…We’re poised to deepen digital access – Danbatta

Olushola Okunlade 

The Federal Government has applauded the commitment and dedication of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards enhancing digital skills development among youths, through the implementation of various Information and Communication Technology skill acquisition programs.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, gave the commendation during the inauguration of a Digital Nigeria Centre (DNC), a project executed by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), an arm of NCC, at the Ijesa Muslim Grammar School, Ilesa, Osun State recently.

Representing President Muhamadu Buhari at the event, Aregbesola commended the NCC for timely and thorough implementation of the project, saying he was confident that the project will promote the connection of public secondary schools to broadband internet in the Ilesa community and ultimately equip beneficiaries with 21st-century skills.

“I would like to thank my very good friend and brother, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, for assenting to our request to have the first of this remodeled project in Osun State sited in Ilesa. I will also like to thank the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and the entire Management and staff of NCC and the USPF, as well as their technical partners for timely and successful completion of this laudable project,” he said.

FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Left-Right: Iyabode Solanke, Director, Projects, NCC; Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC; Hon. Rauf Aregbesola, Minister for Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Commissioning of the Digital Nigeria Centre at Ijesha Muslim Grammar School, Osun State.
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
USPF, NCC staff, Solanke, and Aregbesola at the Commissioning of the Digital Nigeria Centre/ICT Library at Ijesha Muslim Grammar School.

On the sideline of the commissioning, Aregbesola also announced the establishment of President Muhammadu Buhari N100 million Technology Fund for Youth Empowerment, to nudge the emergence of world-class technology experts. The Minister of Interior stated that the Fund targets 2,000 youths in the next two years, who will be provided with devices for training in different areas such as software development and design, amongst others.

The Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, who was represented by the State’s Commissioner for Innovation, Science and Technology, Dr. Babatunde Olawale, expressed the gratitude of the State Government to the Federal Government, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Nigerian Communications Commission, for initiative and particularly for inaugurating the pioneer remodeled DNC project in Osun State. Oyetola also informed the enthusiastic gathering that Osun State Government was willing and ready to collaborate with NCC to replicate the project in other parts of the State.

Speaking in the same vein, Pantami, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, Board of Commissioners of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, also commended the NCC and USPF on the delivery of the DNC project on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He declared that the project and similarly instituted ones were initiated by the government to give expression to its vision to effectively digitise the nation’s economy for increased prosperity for all Nigerians.

Pantami stated that the Federal Government is focused on promoting the digital economy across the country and that this had informed the renaming of the Ministry of Communications to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. On the heels of the re-christening, Pantami recalled that the Federal Government emplaced Digital Nigeria-oriented policies to reinforce the focus of existing policies in order to accelerate the delivery of derivable benefits of digital economy to Nigerians, regardless of their locations and circumstances.

FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Solanke, representing the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC.
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Akande, representing the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, making a speech.

Very central among the policies is the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, a 10-year, eight-pillar focused blueprint for actualising Federal Government’s digital economy agenda unveiled in November 2019.

Pantami asserted that the DNC inaugurated at Ilesa was a concrete implementation of the Digital Literacy and Skills, the second pillar of NDEPS.

According to Pantami, the overarching objective of the DNC project is to facilitate the adoption of digital lifestyles in the schools as well as in the school communities. The Minister averred that the project’s significance cannot be under-estimated, considering its ability to improve digital skills for the youths and subsequently make them globally competitive.

Pantami said the Nigerian government is determined to arm the youths with digital skills, strong literacy, and numeracy skills, critical and innovative thinking skills, complex problem-solving aptitude, the ability to collaborate and deploy socio-emotional skills, which they require to transform their lives and build the economy.

“We have already made a number of giant strides in the development of our digital economy culture and the deployment of initiatives such as the Digital Nigeria Centre eloquently demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to connecting all Nigerians,” Pantami said as he equally expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to its tripartite agenda of improving the economy, curbing corruption and enhancing national security through effective deployment of ICT in all nooks and crannies of the country.

FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Akande.
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Dr Omoniyi Ibietan, Head, Online Media, NCC, compering the event.
FG Applauds NCC’s Commitment to Enhancing Digital Skill in Youths
Students of Ijesha Muslim Grammar School, Ilesa, Osun State.

In his remark, Danbatta, who was represented at the event by the Commission’s Director of Projects, Iyabode Solanke, said all the regulatory activities, initiatives, and programs that the Commission had undertaken since 2019, in collaboration with its critical stakeholders, including its arm, the USPF, have been targeted at giving concrete expression to Nigeria’s deliberate policy to migrate to a fully digital economy.

He said the Commission achieves this by consistently committing itself to the expansion of appropriate infrastructure to enhance digital literacy and skills in view of the economic and social impact of digitization on all sectors.

The NCC Chief Executive restated the Commission’s commitment to the overall objective of bridging the digital divide through the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as broadband access to the unserved and underserved institutions and communities in the country.

Earlier, the Principal of Ijesa Muslim Grammar School, Ramota Ilesanmi, thanked President Buhari-led Federal Government for the project, saying that it will go a long way in meeting the ICT needs of students and residents of the city.

The DNC, formerly known as School Knowledge Centre (SKC), is one of the projects in the Access Programme framework of the USPF, conceptualized to promote the availability and utilisation of ICT and resources of the Internet in teaching and learning in public schools in underserved, unserved and rural areas. Specific objectives of DNC are to increase ICT literacy among school teachers and students; provide a platform for accessing online educational resources; equip students with ICT skills; facilitate ICT adoption in teaching and learning; as well as increase pass rate in Mathematics, English language, and other science subjects.

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To Live, Lead In The Future Embrace And Utilise ICT – Danbatta Urges Youths

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To Live, Lead In The Future Embrace And Utilise ICT – Danbatta Urges Youths

…NCC is working collaboratively and strategically with its supervising ministry, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy – Danbatta

Olushola Okunlade 

Reckoning that 70 per cent of the new value to be created in the economy over the next decades will be based on digitally-enabled platform business models, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has stated unequivocally that it is focused on implementing all sectoral interventions focused on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) youth empowerment, Prof. Umar Danbatta.

Danbatta made this declaration while delivering the 10th and 11th combined Convocation Lecture of Fountain University, Osogbo, Osun State. He asserted that the resolve of the Commission to pursue very vigorously a bouquet of ICT programs focused on the youth is based on the projected opportunity for the youth in the emerging ICT-based labour market.

Danbatta recalled that statistics from Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), have indicated that unique mobile subscriptions are expected to grow up to 5.7 billion by 2025 with concurrent growth in Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) connections, and Internet subscriptions and corresponding growth in operators’ revenue and investment.

The CEO of NCC also said that fourth-generation (4G) connections are expected to grow to 57 per cent; Fifth Generation (5G) is also envisaged to have 1.8 billion connections; usage of smartphones is projected to grow to 81 per cent; Internet of Things (IoT) will grow from 13.1 billion to 24 billion connections; and contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the mobile industry is expected to grow by, at least, 5.1 per cent by 2025.

The implications of the foregoing, according to Danbatta, are a huge, incredible opportunity for youth to own businesses.

“Therefore, while NCC is working collaboratively and strategically with its supervising ministry, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, it is also working with young Nigerians to prepare them for harnessing these opportunities for personal and national prosperity. It is this huge prospect that informed NCC to institute a number of initiatives and interventions targeting the youth in a unique and unprecedented institutionalisation of strategic collaboration and partnership,” he said.

Danbatta Pivots Nigeria’s Socio-economic Development on ICT Adoption, Utilisation
Prof Danbatta, delivering the convocation lecture.
Danbatta Pivots Nigeria’s Socio-economic Development on ICT Adoption, Utilisation
Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC; and NCC EVC Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta

The programs, according to Danbatta, include the ICT Hubs Support and Engagement, which is a forum that brings together key players, actors, and the youths in the Nigerian tech-ecosystem to deliberate and suggest policy framework and strategies that could further develop the sector to catalyse improved local content in the ICT/telecommunications sector.

There is also the annual ICT Innovation Competition and Exhibition aimed at facilitating sustainable digital start-ups’ development through a platform to showcase their digital innovative solutions.

Also, the Annual Hackathon is designed to challenge start-ups and tech hubs in Nigeria to produce impactful and sustainable innovative solutions that will address common societal challenges using digital technologies.

Danbatta said the ICT Park Project being built across the six geo-political zones of the country to boost digital skills among young people, promote innovation, provide jobs for young Nigerians and ultimately support the Federal Government Digital Agenda is equally a strategic program focused on harnessing and optimizing the youths’ creative energy for development.

Other related projects in this regard include the NCC National Essay Competition engaging undergraduates in Nigerian tertiary institutions to explore and enhance research in tertiary institutions and build capacity.

In addition, the school support programs which include the Digital Awareness Programme (DAP), a special intervention initiated as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project in response to the digital information knowledge gap observed in the country; as well as the Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme for Tertiary Institutions (ADAPTI), instituted to bridge the knowledge skill gap in higher institutions of learning, largely target the youth and students.

Accordingly, Danbatta called on the youth to consciously take note of emergent segments in ICT that are available for them to explore. These, according to him, include Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data.

He also enjoined youths and students to pay attention not only to any of those technology segments but also their overlapping variables such as hyper-connectivity, supercomputing, cybersecurity, and a smarter world such as robotics, 3D printing, and sensors – which are at the heart of the circular economy.

In recognition of the innovative minds of Nigeria’s huge youth population, Danbatta said the NCC had put all the ICT youth empowerment initiatives to support a digitally-skilled workforce that will fit into the Digital Economy Project of Nigeria. “The Commission is committed to fostering partnership and collaboration with the technology hubs and startups, to accelerate innovations and the creation of a digitally-skilled workforce for industrial growth and sustainable development of the nation,” the EVC said.

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