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COVID-19: Pantami wants NITDA,others to source research grants for digital solutions


Dr. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has called on the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other agencies to source research grants to support digital innovation on COVID-19.

Pantami made the call on Thursday in a virtual demonstration of NITDA’s Innovation Challenge on COVID-19’s possible solutions monitored in Abuja.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the challenge was targeted at leveraging on using indigenous innovative technology to address the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAN also reports that the NITDA committee on the COVID-19 Innovation challenge was set up on April 3 and they received 1,519 applications, while the best five were selected to demonstrate their solutions.

The first three successful applications were awarded and they include Algorizmi Health, an application that would address scaling up the availability of ventilators as the first position.

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Smart Disinfection Chambers, an application on the smart tunnel for disinfection of pardons entering a location stood out at the second position., an application that enhances remote patient management took the third position.

The solutions were accessed based on the potential impact of innovation with regard to COVID-19, adaptability, scalability, creativity, and presentation skills.

The minister recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, last year launched the National Digital Economy Strategy which was expected to be implemented between 2020 and 2030.

According to him, part of the strategy was to focus on promoting research and innovation locally.

“NITDA, the Nigerian Communications Commission, other parastatal agencies under the ministry should look into their budget and find a way of raising research grants for the support of innovative ideas.

“Their support should be basically on digital solutions because we need to promote research to eradicate COVID-19 in Nigeria, Africa, and globally,” Pantami said.

He awarded the first three successful entries with N1,000,000, N750,000, N500,000 respectively, and urged NITDA to facilitate the incubation of the solutions for COVID-19.

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Pantami also urged NITDA to facilitate making a presentation of the solutions to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for possible ways of leveraging them to address the pandemic in the country.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Kashifu Inuwa, in his welcome remarks earlier, said the pandemic had presented the world with health and economic crises.

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According to Inuwa, the lockdown needed to contain the spread of the virus that had degenerated to the economic crisis but digitizing industry processes could resuscitate the economy.

Inuwa added that the agency was deploying several strategies to address the COVID-19 crisis which includes the Innovation Challenge.

He, however, expressed hope that the solutions presented through the challenge would address problems associated with the pandemic.

Prof. Charles Uwadia, Chairman-in-Council, Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN), commended the initiative.

Uwadia said that it was a way of projecting Nigeria positively to the global community.