By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami has advocated the need for all stakeholders to join hands with the Ministry and its agencies in promoting the development of indigenous digital solutions.
Mr Pantami made the call during the presentation of N3 million prize money to each of the three promising startups that emerged winners in the COVID-19 Virtual Hackathon organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja.
The Virtual Hackathon was initiated by NCC to ignite the Nigerian youths to develop adaptable and innovative digital solutions that can address some of the challenges that have come about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The start-ups who made it to the top three are Elizade University Team, Primed E-Health Solutions and Cyberfleet.
The Elizade University Team’s tech solution is an Automated Temperature Scanner (ATS), a device designed to conduct automatic temperature screening and contact tracing of persons with body temperature above the normal level for human beings.
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Primed E-Health developed a mobile and web solution called SmartClinic, which can link a patient-based mobile health app with a hospital-based information management system while ‘KlassConnect’ by Cyberfleet is an online platform that can be deployed by schools to continue with teaching and learning activities regardless of any health challenges that may prevent face-to-face physical interactions.
Speaking at the event, Mr Pantami commended the leadership of the NCC for embarking on the tech contest.
He said the initiative is in tandem with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and aligns with the implementation of the Executive Order 003, which aims to promote indigenous content development and patronage in Nigeria.
“No country will develop without taking deliberate decisions to promote its indigenous solutions to solve national problems.
“Through this contest, the NCC has demonstrated its resolve to drive the Ministry’s efforts in leveraging indigenous digital solutions to address challenges thrown up by COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” the Minister said.
The COVID-19 Virtual Hackathon is a follow-up to the first hackathon by the NCC, which culminated in the hosting of an ‘ICT Innovation, Competition/Exhibition Forum’ at the Lagos Campus of Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) in December, 2019.
At the end of the maiden edition, three Startups namely, Quataloog, Wicrypt and Phaheem Nigeria Limited emerged winners.
The annual Hackathon is part of the strategic initiatives of the NCC to promote ICT innovation and investment in the Nigerian telecommunications sector and improve the nation’s competitiveness in the global digital economy.
In his remarks at the ceremony, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC Umar Garba Danbatta, said the hackathon is expected to throw up innovative and adaptable solutions in five thematic areas namely health, community, productivity, economy and education.
Mr Danbatta said the NCC is committed to encourage innovation and has regularly sponsored Nigerian youths with innovative ideas to various competitions organized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other international bodies.
“The NCC has in the past two years, facilitated similar ICT-based innovations and research competitions among tertiary institutions in the country” he said.
Mr Danbatta added that the NCC is committed to driving indigenous digital innovations to address national challenges.
Director, Research and Development, Henry Nkemadu said the NCC received 282 proposals and shortlisted 56 from which three promising startups emerged winners.
He said the NCC will track the development of their ideas into full-blown products that can be deployed on a commercial basis.
He added that NCC is committed to enabling home-grown digital innovative solutions that improve the quality of lives of the citizenry, create wealth and achieve the overall goals and objectives of the new digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.