The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has disclosed that the number of active GSM phone lines in the country grew to 199.3 million as at May, 2020.
The number was 184 million as at December last year.
Internet subscription also rose in the same period from 126 million to 147.1 million, while broadband subscription also increased from 72 million to 80.2 million, achieving a 42.02 per cent penetration in the country, he stated.
He disclosed on this Tuesday during a virtual launch/award ceremony of the Covid-19 Research Grant presented to three startups, by the NCC, in Abuja.
Danbatta explained that the startups participated in a 3-month virtual hackathon with the theme Virtual Hackathon: “Adaptable Digital Solutions for Addressing the Present and Future Impact of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases from Technology Hubs, Startups and Innovation Digital SMEs in Nigeria”.
According to him, “These may have given impetus to the possibility of holding virtual meetings and conferences on video technologies that are now providing social distancing solutions.
“So, in whichever way we look at it, telecommunication has much more greater role to play than many other sectors of economy and the society.
“Therefore, the challenge is for us to find a way to accentuate our local content solution, which is a blessing to us. We are pleased with the responses that we received on this initiative,” he said.
Danbatta said that the NCC, has in the past two years managed similar ICT-based innovations and research competitions among tertiary institutions in the country, with potentials of improving local content solutions in the industry.
“We should be bold enough as a country in adopting indigenous solutions. We must adopt and consume them. There should be less attention on imported goods.
“It is evident that the entire globe is challenged about how best to tackle this pandemic. Telecommunications and ICTs have taken the centre stage in the provision or advancement of solutions.
“We will all witness what digital solutions that today’s winners are going to bring to the table. Each of the Startups, or tech-hubs with promising innovative digital solutions against the pandemic will receive a grant of N3 million.
“We have encouraged ICT innovations among the Nigerian youths whom we have regularly sponsored to various competitions organised by the International Telecommunications Union,” Danbatta said.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami in his remarks at the event, harped on the need to encourage startups to develop indigenous technologies for the country.
The Minister who presented a N9 million Covid-19 research grants to the three startups, encouraged individuals to consume what the country produced and pay less attention to imported goods.
“We need to produce what we need and consume what we produce, any country that remains a consumer nation will find it difficult to succeed,” he said.