FG keen on harnessing gains of digital economy- Pantami


…We are committed to funding fibre optic deployment by licensed InfraCo, says NCC

By Ogaga Ariemu

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami said the Federal Government is keen on turning around Nigeria’s economy through opportunities available in the Digital Economy.

Also Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) has restated commitment toward the execution of the counterpart Funding Agreements with the Licensed InfraCo to facilitate increase in fibre deployment in the country.

Pantami made this commitment to Nigerian NewsDirect on Thursday in Abuja at the National Dialogue on Telecoms and ICT Sector in Nigeria organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), with the theme “Harnessing the Digital Resources for the building of our National Economy”, said the journey towards transforming Nigeria into a digital economy, started last year when the federal government renamed the Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

The Minister who was represented by the Executive Vice Chairman, Chief Executive of Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC) Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta in his key note address, acknowledged the contributions and challenges of a digital economy in Nigeria.

He stated that “In Nigeria, we are keen to develop a digital economy that will have a great impact on every sector of Nigeria’s economy.”

He listed some of the challenges of the digital economy in the country to include: Rapid evolution of technology and widening inequalities between the digital “haves” and “haves-not”; Need for new regulations;  Cybercrime and other threats; Low level of digital literacy; and poor telecoms infrastructure.

Pantami however said opportunities abound with technology if we get it right with digital economy. He listed some of the benefits of digital economy to include: Economic growth and productivity; Increased transparency; Growth of Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Digitisation of work; and Useful insights from big data.

He said digital economy would increase contribution to GDP, more than the current 17 per cent being contributed by ICT.

“Telecom and ICT sector stand to gain a lot from the development of our digital economy and the public and private sectors need to partner to maximize the impact,” Pantami said.

Danbatta who also presented a keynote address, said: “The NCC remains committed to driving the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025 for advancing the digital economy vision of the federal government.

“As you are aware, our role is to drive major digital initiatives and policies of the government, hence, we have continued to work with government as a critical stakeholder.”

Danbatta reaffirmed the commission’s commitment to fulfill its parts of the agreement with the InfraCos which is a major aspect of achieving the national broadband plan of 70 per cent broadband penetration by 2025.

“We are committed to the execution of the counterpart Funding Agreements with the Licensed InfraCo to facilitate increase in fibre deployment in the country and ensure, at least one Point of Access (PoA) in each of the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria to enhance digital transformation,”

Danbatta said, adding that the commission has so far awarded the sum of N336.4 million as research grants to the academia and has endowed professorial chairs in two Nigerian universities.

The representatives of state Governors of Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Kebbi States, explained how they were leveraging on technology to boost the economy of their respective states, in line with the Federal Government’s drive for digital transformation through digital skills development.