Dr. Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy at Africa’s First Ever Tech Experience Center/Global OEMs’ Assembly
Address by the Special Guest of Honour, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy at theLaunch of Africa’s First Ever Tech Experience Center/Global OEMs’ Assembly Plantby Technology Distribution Limitedon 1st October, 2020
All other existing protocols duly observed…Good evening, everyone.
May peace mercy and blessings be upon you.
I am very delighted to be here today on this auspicious occasion of the formal unveiling of the Tech Experience Centre, an impressive initiative which, from what we can see on ground here, is worth celebrating.
Indeed, for us at the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, it is exciting to see our vision of building a digital economy for all Nigerians find expression in the commendable spirit of enterprise, boldness and commitment to raise the bar which, undoubtedly, must have been a driving force behind the birthing of this amazing technology project.
Certainly, building the Nigeria of our dreams is not a job for laggards or the faint-hearted. Today marks the 60th Independence Anniversary of our great country. We have come this far as a people in spite of the peculiar challenges that daily confront us. Yet, it is abundantly clear to all of us gathered here today that, in transforming this country to the Nigeria of our dreams, technology will play a critical role.
This fact is not lost on us. The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has clearly not hidden its commitment in ensuring the right conditions are met for the ICT sector to achieve a digital Nigeria. This is our core mandate at the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and I dare-say, we are not resting on our oars.
Within my first year in office which was attained on August 20, 2020; we have recorded a number of outstanding achievements. These achievements were realized by implementing a number of key Digital Economy initiatives for a Digital Nigeria that, we are confident, will go a long way in helping us reach our destination.
We started by developing and implementing a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria. This followed the approval for the redesignation of the Ministry of Communications as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on the 17th of October 2020. The decision was adopted by the Federal Executive Council on the 23rd of October 2020.
The development of our National Digital Economy is anchored on the following 8 pillars as stated in NDEPS:
1. Developmental Regulation;
2. Digital Literacy & Skills;
3. Solid Infrastructure;
4. Service Infrastructure;
5. Digital Services Development & Promotion;
6. Soft Infrastructure;
7. Digital Society & Emerging Technologies; and
8. Indigenous Content Development & Adoption.
The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has also embarked on the development of critical policies in line with Sections 148 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003). The majority of these polices have been developed to address some of the prolonged concerns in the Communication Sector to support the Digital Economy. They include:
i. Roadmap for the Implementation of NDEPS;
ii. National Broadband Plan 2020-2025;
iii. National Policy on Virtual Engagements in the Federal Public Institutions (Draft);
iv. National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Telecommunications Sector (Draft);
v. National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration (Draft); and
vi. National Digital Identity Policy for Internally Displaced Persons (Draft).
We have also implemented a number of projects nationwide such as ICT Innovation Hubs, Digital Skills training for Entrepreneurs and Innovators, Community IT Training Centers, Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centers (TIKC), School Knowledge Centers (SKC), and completion of Emergency Communication Centers (ECC) across the country, to mention but a few.
Furthermore, we have taken bold steps aimed at resolving some thorny issues that have not only lingered, but that have been stumbling blocks on the path to a Digital Nigeria. One of these is the contentious issue of Right of Way charges which has held back the rollout of Broadband services across Nigeria’s geo-political zones by licensed operators for over 13 years. Today, I can proudly state that through fruitful engagements with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and other relevant stakeholders, we have been able to get the States to implement a downward review of the charges to the statutory N145 per linear meter while many other states have completely waived the charges altogether.
Also worth mentioning is the issue of unregistered or improperly registered SIM cards which has aided crime and made things difficult for our security agencies. I wish to inform this distinguished audience that through our new policy on SIM card registration and usage, the issue has now been resolved, leading to the deactivation of over 2 million unregistered SIM cards in November 2019.
Another major issue was the vandalization of telecommunications equipment and its attendant effect on telecoms services by operators in the industry. Through the intervention of Mr. President, we have secured approval to identify telecommunications equipment as Critical National Infrastructure, resulting in a mandate to security agencies to protect all such CNI in the country.
We believe that the digital economy holds a lot of potential for our nation. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, this is why the launching of this Tech Experience Centre today represents an interesting and fitting way to celebrate our 60th Independence Anniversary. I insisted, despite my understandably busy schedule, that I would be physically present here today and for good reason.
This Centre aligns well with many of the pillars of NDEPS and will not only aid our march to digital innovation but will also encourage and inspire many other Nigerians to aspire to greatness. I am excited by the fact that the Tech Experience Centre will serve as a conveyor belt for equipping our youths with the right digital skills that will enable them function effectively and add value in the Digital Nigeria that we are building.
I am also delighted by the unique status of this project as a place where every Nigerian can experience and see the latest technologies in action. The benefits that would accrue from the many offshoots of this impressive technology initiative are indeed numerous and will go a long way in raising the profile of the Nigerian technology sector.
I wish to commend the management of TD Africa – a company that is among the stakeholders working to ensure access to technology for Nigerians – for this laudable initiative. You can count on the unflinching support of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy on this impressive project and other similar initiatives of immense benefit to our citizens.
I particularly wish to congratulate you and the Chairman of Zinox, Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh, a good friend and a man whose many landmark strides in the Nigerian technology ecosystem have made a great positive impact. He is a major stakeholder in the development of our Digital Economy and is a promoter of our indigenous content.
To the various foreign and indigenous technology brands that have also found expression within this project, I also say a big congratulation and thank you for choosing to make this a reality in Nigeria.
And to the Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen and other special guests present here, all of whom have found time within their tight schedules on a day like this, I am convinced that your decision to come here today has been worth it.
Thank you all for your kind attention.