The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced its preparedness to fund research in tertiary institutions in the country, to put an end to challenges bedeviling the nation’s telecommunications industry.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, made the disclosure in Benin on Wednesday at a stakeholders’ Forum.

The forum was the first round table with academia, industry and other stakeholders in the South-South region held at the University of Benin (UNIBEN).

The theme of the programme was “Synergy by Academia, Industry and Regulator as Accelarator for Innovation, Industry Growth and Sustainability’’.

Represented by the Director of Research and Development, Mr Ephraim Nwokenneya, the CEO said the telecoms industry had witnessed tremendous progress in the last 17 years.

He, however, noted that a lot more needed to be done to overcome some of the challenges confronting the sector.

Danbatta said one of the ways out of the problem is to partner the academia, who will through research, proffer solutions and make the industry more viableand profitable for all.

According to him, the telecom industry in Nigeria has grown tremendously in the last 17 years but there was still room for further growth.

“There are quite some challenges and we believe that we want to stimulate research using the academia.

“You look at those growth opportunities and look at those challenges bedevilling the industry.

“So, this is more like an avenue for collaborative effort geared towards research to grow the industry to the next level.

“We have some challenges like misconception, with respect to the effect of telecom infrastructure to human health.

“These are some challenges that research opportunities do exist and the academia has a lot of personnel that could research in these areas.

“This is the first step towards identifying the research topic and find the costing that is required and making that available,’’ he said.

In his address, the Vice Chancellor, UNIBEN, Prof Faraday Orumwense, represented by his Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Jacob Ehiorobo, said it was quite unfortunate that the telecommunications industry is dominated by foreigners.

He said with the coming together of the NCC and the institutions of learning, productive research can be carried out while the students could be taught how to produce the telecommunications spare parts.

“We have various areas we are collaborating with the industry; we have for instance, the town and gown symposium, we have you back, university annual research day where we bring in people from the industry to tell us what they want, so that our people can start working on them.

“I think we should be able to start training technical personnel who will be able to function, produce, for instance, spare parts products for the country, instead of relying on wholesale importations of every garbage from all over the world.

“I think it is time we become self-reliant, at least, in producing spare parts. If we cannot manufacture immediately, I think we have started reorienting our students.

“We are changing the focus of our students, not on theoretical research but productive research and adaptable research that will become of use to the industry,’’ he said.