Minister pushes for new research grants

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, says he has encouraged agencies under his ministry to roll out grants to boost research activities in the country. Pantami made this known during a visit to his office by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund’s (TETFund) Research and Development (R&D) Standing Committee’s team on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Digital Economy on Tuesday in Abuja.

He commended TETFund for putting in place R&D committee, saying the move would entrench a knowledge-based economy and tackle developmental challenges. He added that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have instituted research grants, the minister said other parastatals would be encouraged to follow the same path. “We have research grants in NITDA, NCC too, but they are not sufficient. We need to look at the possibility of encouraging more parastatals,” he said.

He therefore called on the Prof. Bashir Galadanchi-led TETFund R&D Sub-Committee on ICT and Digital Economy to focus more on encouraging collaborations between the academia and industries as well as promote skills development. “There is a huge gap between academia on one hand and industries on the other, that gap brought about our challenge of what we usually called unemployment, which to me is not unemployment, but unemployability. “If you look at the number of our graduates, you will be worried, but in real sense you will discover  graduates usually graduate with only theory, the practical is not sufficient, this is the gap, they don’t have enough skills that will prepare them for an opportunity immediately”, he stated.

Earlier, Prof. Galadanchi assured that his team would leave no stone unturned to ensure Nigeria is placed on a smooth path to a knowledge economy. Galadanchi, who is the Head of Department, Software Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, called for support and collaboration between relevant bodies to achieve the desired goal. “For this effort to be successful there has to be a lot of collaborations among stakeholders. Research institutions and the higher institutions on one hand, government, businesses and perhaps the general public.

“As it is well known, there has not been much cooperation among research institutes and business organisations. This has hampered our desire as a nation to see that research is the principal factor in our socio-economic effort and drive to be a great nation,” he said. The sub-committee on ICT and Digital Economy is among 13 others under the TETFund Standing Committee on R&D, chaired by Prof. Njiddah Gadzama.

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