The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has deployed 84 assistive Information Technology projects at different locations in Nigeria to support people with special needs, while supporting policies that enable disadvantaged members of the society to live a more qualitative life.
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this during a courtesy visit by a delegation from National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) to the NCC in Abuja, where the EVC also restated NCC’s commitment to continually support people with special needs across the country.
Danbatta, in a statement, while receiving the NCPWD team led by its Executive Secretary, James Lalu, said the telecoms regulator has always implemented initiatives aimed at ensuring digital inclusivity for all Nigerians regardless of their circumstances.
Represented by the Director, Human Capital and Administration at NCC, Usman Malah, the EVC said telecoms sector has become the backbone of the national economy and has recorded tremendous growth from 400,000 telephone lines on the eve of sectoral deregulation in 2000 to over 208 million active telephone lines now, just as active Internet subscription rose to 156 million in the last two decades.
Accordingly, Danbatta said the NCC recognises and aligns with the noble objectives behind the establishment of NCPWD as enabled by the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018.
The NCC Chief Executive stated that in addition to implementing the five per cent inclusiveness of persons with disabilities in NCC’s staffing efforts in accordance with the law, the telecom regulator, through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), has executed many projects within the framework of its E-Accessibility Programme in last 10 years that targets the challenged members of the society.
“In other words, the project provides ICT tools and Assistive Technologies (ATs) to the blind, the deaf, dumb, crippled, cognitively impaired, and other categories of people living with disabilities. As disadvantaged members of society, the project is designed to assist in improving the quality of life of people living with disability,” he said.
He commended the NCC for the “wonderful work it has been doing through various projects in support of people with disabilities in the country.” Lalu also appealed to the NCC to help in creating awareness among telecom service providers to comply with the legal requirement to dedicate five per cent of their employment quota to persons with disabilities.
He said this category of Nigerians are ‘smart, professional and intelligent’ and can make significant contributions to the growth of the respective organizations employing them, despite their disabilities.
“What we want to achieve is to make Nigeria a country that is comfortable for PLWD by ending discrimination and providing adequate reporting system and we have seen NCC as a strategic and important partner in this journey,” Lalu said.