Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said that it has always been part of the tradition of the Commission to ensure that its stakeholders and partners from the Media are well equipped with the knowledge and required skill-set to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
Danbatta spoke on Tuesday at a capacity building programme themed: “Capacity Building for Telecom Reporters” organised for members of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA) at the Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja.
He said the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in Nigeria is indeed the most dynamic, as it continues to evolve by the day.
“Advancements in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have reshaped every facet of our human endeavour from how we learn, teach and communicate to advancements in medicine, transportation, space exploration and many more.
“We should, indeed, all be thankful to be alive and living well in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The devastation and destruction caused by the novel coronavirus cannot be quantified, but I am happy that the necessary policies and programmes put in place by the Commission have repositioned Nigeria’s Telecoms industry and also provided support for other vital sectors,” he said.
Danbatta said that with the shutdown of almost every sector of the economy since the outbreak, telecoms continue to provide government and businesses with the platform to operate and transact online to ensure that the country’s developing economy is sustained.
“I must applaud every member of NITRA for working assiduously to provide coverage for our activities, as well as provide a platform for our narratives in terms of the various policy initiatives and actions taken to support the national economy.
“Without your continuous cooperation, understanding and professionalism, the Nigerian audience would not have been properly informed about the activities of the NCC,” Danbatta further said.
The EVC said in its continued quest for an improved ICT industry in Nigeria, the Commission assembled a team of seasoned professionals at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) to educate and enlighten the media practitioners on the latest trends in the global ICT industry.
According to him, “As you may all recall, the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Ibrahim Pantami, had a brief interactive session with the Press in Abuja on January 3, 2020, where he stated that the Nigerian government was fully in support of building capacity for our stakeholders.
“The Honourable Minister in his submission recognized the important role journalism has played in the development of Nigeria’s ICT industry and wants me to reassure you that the Federal Government will continue to provide an enabling environment for the ICT Sector to thrive.”
He noted that this effort is consistent with one of the critical pillars of his strategic vision plan, which has to do with strategic partnership and collaboration and stated that the Commission views every member of NITRA as a very crucial stakeholder, hence the training.
On the issue of 5G, Danbatta said a lot of falsehoods and misinformation have been peddled both on online and traditional media outlets about the health and safety implications of deploying 5G technology.
“As I stated in my speech during the NITRA Innovative Tech forum, according to a recent landmark economy study conducted by Qualcomm, 5G will affect the global economy and drive growth exponentially.
“5G’s full economic effect will likely be realized across the globe by 2035, supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to $13.2 trillion worth of goods and services. This impact will be much greater than the current 4G network,” he said.
The NCC boss stated that when fully deployed, 5G will provide increased speed and bandwidth as well as provide deeper coverage to reach people in rural or challenging locations.
In addition, 5G will provide strong security for the various sectors of government and private organizations.
Due to its sheer scale and scope, the ITU predicts 5G will accelerate the achievements of all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) from affordable and clean energy to zero hunger.
“The misinformation/misrepresentation of 5G technology has the potential of derailing the launch/implementation of this new technology in our clime.
“Many Nigerians including citizens in more civilized countries were hooked on the notion that the introduction of 5G technology was the reason behind the spread of the novel COVID-19 Pandemic.
“This misconception was even made worse because those saddled with the responsibility of informing, educating and enlightening the average Nigerian telecom consumers were also bereft of the knowledge of this new technology and hitched a ride on the bandwagon of doubters,” Danbatta said.
He noted that it was for this reason that training such as this is necessary for members of NITRA who have continued to cover the ICT industry in Nigeria.
“We will ensure that the NCC maintains this training periodically for our crucial stakeholders in the media to ensure that the information that reaches the average Nigerian is accurate and timely.
“It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that whatever we want to introduce to the Nigerian telecoms space is well understood by Nigerians and all those who make use of our telecoms services,” he further stated.
The EVC said the onus lies on everyone to make sure that the training is taken seriously and take advantage of it to expand on their horizons.
“This is very necessary so that when we report events or activities relating to the industry, we are able to translate them into a language that the common man will readily understand.”
He pledged the Commission’s continued support for capacity building and other initiatives which foster closer interaction and build a stronger relationship with NITRA members.
Danbatta enjoined the NITRA members to continue to be objective in their reportage to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from the knowledge they will acquire during “this meaningful training programme.”