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FG to Sanction Telcos over Environmental Impact Assessment

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The Federal Ministry of Environment has said it will soon commence imposition of sanctions on telecom operators that violated Environmental Impact Assessment regulations in the country.

This is contained in a statement signed by the Ben Goong, deputy director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.

The statement said that agreement to sanction telecom operators was reached after Darius Ishaku, supervising minister of the ministry, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mrs Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communications Technology.

“Under the agreement, all telecom operators in violation of the EIA regulation will now pay the specified non-compliance and administrative fees to the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency. Similarly, all base stations that predate the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication and Broadcast facilities regulations No. 11 of 2011, which are violation of the Nigerian Communication Commission’s Guidelines should be referred to the NCC for appropriate remediation,” it said.

The statement said all base station sites that were in existence prior to the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication and Broadcast Facilities Regulations No. 11 of 2011 that are in compliance with NCCs would be re-opened.

It said that base stations should be re-opened provided they were not in violation of the EIA Act.

The agreement also provides for the setting up of an inter-ministerial standing committee comprising the two ministries, NESREA, NCC, and charged with the responsibility of handling issues arising from the location of Telecom base stations and related matters in the country.

It said that NESREA was mandated to communicate to NCC the total number of sealed telecom base stations that violated the EIA Act, and copy same to the federal ministries of environment and communications technology.

The statement further said that the two ministers expressed optimism that the MoU will lead to rapid improvement in the development of telecommunication infrastructure in the country.

It said that the MoU will also proffer lasting solutions to the lingering regulation conflict between the two ministries and their agencies.

“The two ministers also believe that the agreement will lead to improved quality delivery to telecom consumers,” it added.


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NITDA, FCT-UBEB, Collaborate To Foster Digital Literacy In Schools

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In a significant development in Nigeria’s educational sector aimed at boosting digital literacy among school children, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is set to collaborate with the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Educational Board (FCT-UBEB) towards revolutionising the way young Nigerians engage with technology and equipping them with necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

NITDA

The forgoing information is contained in a press statement e-signed by the Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Hajia Hadiza Umar.

As per the statement, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi , made this known when he hosted a delegation from the Head-to-Head Debate Committee of FCT UBEB led by its Ag. Executive Chairman, Dr Alhassan Sule, at the Agency’s corporate headquarters in Abuja to discuss possible areas of collaboration.

Mallam Abdullahi , who was represented by the agency’s Director of the Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS) department, Oladejo Olawumi, stated that the collaboration aligned with a pillar of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0) 2024-2027 which was to Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents.

While stating that the pillar was key to the proposed educational board’s debate competition, the NITDA DG emphasised the importance of integrating technology into education to capture the interest and potential of young people.

“Children today, often referred to as digital natives, intuitively use technology and unlike us, who are digital migrants, these children seamlessly adapt to new gadgets and platforms. Therefore, it is essential to embed digital knowledge in their learning environment,” he noted.

Abdullahi disclosed that the agency had been providing infrastructure and resources to facilitate educational transformation as well as digital learning centres across all states of the country.

He added that the Digital Literacy for All programme was a national initiative of the agency which was designed to extend digital education resources to all corners of the country and urged the visitors to key into the programme while he asserted that it would be instrumental in enhancing digital literacy skills among students and out-of-school children alike.

Highlighting the agency’s focus on emerging technologies, Abdullahi stated that extensive research and development were being conducted in areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics which were pivotal for future skill sets.

While referring to a recent collaboration between the agency and the Abuja Enterprise Agency on a Robotics competition organised for secondary schools in Abuja to spur interest in Robotics and technology among students, he said “I think we can work together in this area and make sure that Robotics interest is geared up among the youth.”

Elaborating on the Agency’s ongoing initiatives toward achieving 70 per cent digital literacy in the country by 2027, he further disclosed that the agency was working to integrate digital literacy into the national educational curriculum and providing hands-on experience with technologies like AI and Robotics.

While stressing the importance of addressing the needs of out-of-school children, he mentioned “We are developing programmes in partnership with various stakeholders to attract these children through incentives like school feeding, coupled with digital literacy and other educational training.”

Abdullahi noted that the multifaceted approach would ensure that children were not only fed but also equipped with essential digital skills that would pave the way for a more inclusive and technologically proficient future.

In his earlier remark, Dr Sule commended the agency for their various strategic initiatives to ensure a sustainable digitally transformed economy in the country.

While stating that the head-to-head committee was saddled with the responsibility of conducting the FCT Basic Schools debate competition, he noted that 900 students in the FCT would contest in a debate.

Sule said that finalists from the competition would be moved to a reality house which will be aired live on different media platforms where they would be trained on AI and Robotics.


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Group Seeks Restructuring of N15Bn USPF

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Association of Telecommunications, Information Technology, Cable Satellite Network Operators and Allied Services Employers of Nigeria (ATICEN) has again called on Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy,  and Aminu Maida, executive vicecChairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to make the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) work for the purpose it was created and be more accountable about the rural telephony projects.

Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy

According to the Association, the Fund should be restructured or scrapped if it continues to fail to achieve the purpose for which it was created. It noted that despite the Fund, the digital gap was still wider in the rural areas.

In December last year, the USPF committee led by the Minister unveiled a project on rural telephony powered by solar – one of the many initiatives that USPF aimed at expanding the communication network to rural areas across the country.

It would be recalled that stakeholders in the telecoms industry had called for the investigation of the Fund allegedly misappropriated. The USPF was established in 2003 with an initial N15 billion to promote the widespread availability and usage of network and application services throughout Nigeria.

The NCC charges telecom operators 2.5 per cent of their turn-over as licensing fees, of which 40 per cent of the licensing fees is transferred to the designated fund called USPF.

However, despite the Fund, a wider digital divide still exists in the rural areas as many rural communities in the country are yet to be adequately connected to the country’s telecommunication system.

This lapse has been attributed to the misappropriation of funds partly budgeted for that project by some officials who held sway in the sector in the recent past. Sensing the mismanagement of the fund, some players in the sector called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to investigate the utilisation of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) earmarked to bridge the infrastructure gap in the rural area.

They made the call following the non-impact of the Fund established by the Federal Government to facilitate the achievement of national policy goals for universal access and universal service to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural, unserved, and underserved areas in Nigeria.

The Fund is being managed to facilitate the widest possible access to affordable telecommunications services for greater social equity and inclusion for the people of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that a sum of N15.174 billion was recommended for approval as the Universal Service Provision Fund’s 2019 budget. Since it was established, the industry players said it had never had any impact on the telecoms industry, claiming that the fund had not been used for the purpose it was established.


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Halilu Underscores AMTDI’s Commitment to Advancing Technological Infrastructure & Innovation in Nigeria

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Mr Khalil Suleiman Halilu, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), has conducted an inspection visit to the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Development Institute (AMTDI), an institute under NASENI, in Jalingo, Taraba State.

The visit was to underscore NASENI’s commitment to advancing technological infrastructure and fostering innovation in Nigeria and to engage in interactions with the management team of the Institute, including identifying their operational challenges, potential areas for enhancement, and strategies to align their goals with NASENI’s mission of driving scientific and engineering infrastructures for the country.

AMTDI as an institute under NASENI is dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing technologies, including focus on research, development and dissemination of innovative solutions to drive industrial growth and development of Nigeria.

Halilu evaluated the equipment and also staff working conditions at AMTDI, emphasizing the importance of a well-equipped and conducive working environment for research and development. His assessment also targeted identification of critical needs and opportunities for upgrading the institute’s facilities to ensure they meet global standards.

Speaking after the inspection, Halilu expressed his satisfaction with the commitment of AMTDI’s staff and their contributions to Nigeria’s technological advancements.

He reiterated NASENI Management continued support in providing the necessary resources to enhance all institutes’ capabilities.

“The role of AMTDI in the technological landscape of Nigeria is pivotal,” said Halilu. “Our visit today reaffirms my commitment to supporting our development institutes that are at the forefront of driving innovation and development in advanced manufacturing technologies.

“We are committed to addressing the challenges identified and providing the support needed to elevate AMTDI and others to new heights.”

The visit concluded with a tour of the institute’s facilities, where Halilu witnessed firsthand the ongoing projects and initiatives spearheaded by AMTDI. He commended the institute’s efforts in fostering a culture of innovation and also  assured of his continued support to achieve shared goals.

Speaking earlier while receiving the EVC at the institute, Engr. John Christopher Tanko, the Acting Managing Director of AMTDI, expressed his gratitude for the visit and highlighted the significance of the management’s support in achieving their mandate.

“We are honoured by the EVC/CEO’s visit and his keen interest in our work,” said Tanko adding that “this inspection tour reinforces our confidence in your transformational leadership and commitment to our growth and development.

“We are dedicated to leveraging the support provided to enhance our research, improve our facilities, and contribute meaningfully to Nigeria’s industrial advancement.”


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