BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

“Source research grants for digital solutions to Covid-19”

By Raphael Jov, Abuja

A call has gone to Agencies under the federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to set up research grants for startup with promising innovative solutions that will help in the fight against COVID-19, incubate the proposed solutions, Transfer / Deploy solutions to relevant government agencies.


The concern agencies include the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Systems, Galaxy Backbone and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Pantami, made the call during the virtual Final Demo and Prize Giving Day of the Nigeria COVID-19 Innovation Challenge organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA).

He said as a result of the pandemic Nigeria needs to fast track the National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for quick economic recovery.

“ICT innovation was a perfect tool to ensure physical distancing and contact tracing of COVID 19 patients, stating that the present administration was determined to leverage digital platforms and opportunities for the betterment of the economy in the post COVID era,” he said.

He directed government agencies to, “Work on providing research grants for promising innovative solutions that will help in the fight against COVID-19, Incubate the proposed solutions, Transfer / Deploy solutions to relevant government agencies.”

Speaking further he said, “The active, focused, result-oriented Federal Executive Cabinet member gave this marching order today while making his remarks during the Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge; virtual demo day and prize-giving ceremony organized by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

The concern agencies include the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite Systems, Galaxy Backbone and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).

The Minister further directed that half of the fund be invested in translating the proposed ideas into solutions.

In his address, Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abudullahi, said the Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge was initiated to use indigenous technology to contain Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic and cushion the economic impact, and prepare us for post covid era.

He said, “Our objective is to mitigate the health and social impacts of COVID-19 in Nigeria using innovative technologies. And we hope the challenge will deliver on the following: Showcase relevant innovative technologies developed by Nigerians towards COVID-19 and the future pandemics; Facilitate and enhance processes along the prevention-detection-treatment value chain of COVID-19.

“Today we are confronted with a crisis like no other, a dual crisis, Health and economic crisis. What is going on is unprecedented that you and I have not seen in living memory.

The virus is causing health crisis, and the lockdown needed to keep the virus in check is causing economic crisis.

What was normal just few weeks ago such as going to school, attending religious congregation, and socializing with family and friends, is now a huge risk.

“This is not the first time humanity is tested with a crisis, of recent we have seen Tsunami and Global financial meltdown and we heard about great depression, black plague and Spanish flu.

I believe we will overcome this crisis the same way humanity defeated the previous crises but the timing is not under our control. What is under our control is how we keep the virus under control and prepare for the post-pandemic.

“Therefore, this initiative, the Nigeria COVID-19 innovation challenge is aimed at identifying innovative ideas from our talented youth, incubate, prototype and develop the ideas into a digital solutions that can help us contain the virus and prepare us for post covid era.

Abudullahi, “We are prioritizing digital solution because that is the only thing working during this pandemic.

And the pandemic is accelerating technology trends shaping the future of digital world and digital economy in general. Imagine being in this crisis without digital technology.

“Our life would have been miserable; therefore our recovery and exit strategy should be based on what is working now. As a nation we can have all the technologies and talent but to extract value we need clear objectives and mechanism.

Our broader objective is fast recovery to normal and our mechanism is our National Digital Economy Strategy and plan, which highlights initiatives for Digital Nigeria.

“The journey started on 28th November when President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR unveiled the draft strategy. And now the pandemic is accelerating the journey. My Boss and My Mentor the HM of Communications and Digital Economy is championing the journey and he has been providing the leadership and NITDA is working on various initiatives to help realize the objective of digital economy,” he said.

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