…Exemption commendable, it’s send forth gift by Buhari — NATCOMS, ATCON
The Federal Government has announced the removal of excise duty for telecom sub-sector of Nigeria’s Digital Economy Industry. This removal is in line with the recommendations of the Committee’s recommendation constituted to review the applicability of the Duty to the telecom sector which is considered already overburdened with taxation and sundry levies.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press briefing organised to provide updates on the status of the (5) five per cent excise duty, whose applicability to the telecom sector was objected by the Minister in August 2022, following which President Muhammadu Buhari suspended its application to the telecom sector and created a Presidential Review Committee on Excise Duty in the Digital Economy Sector.
Pantami, who is the Chairman of the Committee, specifically constituted for the purpose of reviewing the proposed excise duty in the telecom sector, said the Committee had carried out its national assignment and accordingly submitted its report to the President, justifying why the sector should be exempted.
The Minister said the Committee’s submissions can be summed up in three arguments put forward to justify why additional burden in form of taxes or any level should not be imposed on the telecom sector to prevent a reversal of the important contribution the sector is making to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
“Our justifications are based on three premises: First, is the fact that operators in the telecoms sub-sector of the digital economy industry currently pay no fewer than 41 different categories of taxes, levies and charges; secondly, that telecoms has continued to be a major contributor to Nigerian economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product Contribution (GDP).
“The third ground for contesting the Excise Duty in telecom sector is the fact that, despite increase in the cost of all factors of production across sector, and naturally leading to increase in costs of products and services, telecom sector is the only sector where cost of service has been stable and in many cases continued to go down over the past years and therefore, adding more burden will destroy the sector,” the Minister said.
The Minister also informed the gathering that the President, having looked into the arguments put forward by the Committee and relying on the provision of the Section 5 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution, as amended, has therefore, exempted telecom sector from the list of sectors to pay the excise duty as stated in Finance Act of 2021 and other subsidiary legislations, all of which are not as superior as the Constitution which permits the President to grant such waiver.
Pantami said, “I am happy to report to you that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has approved the exemption of the digital economy sector from the five per cent excise duty to be paid and this is because of the strength of the argument presented to him by the Committee that additional burden on telecom sector will increase the sufferings of Nigerians and that other sectors that are not making as much contribution to the economy should be challenged to do more and pay the 5 per cent excise duty.”
The Minister assured Nigerians, who are telecom consumers, that the presidential exemption given to the telecom sector shall be sustained by the incoming administration as “the decision by the President is not about any political party or any administration but about Nigeria and welfare of Nigerian citizens.”
The Minister further noted that the Digital Economy Sector has continued to contribute significantly to the growth of the Nigerian economy, having contributed 14.07 per cent to the GDP in the first quarter of 2020; 17.79 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 and 18.44 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
He said the sector has also increased its quarterly revenue generation for government from N51 billion to over N480 billion, representing a growth of 594 per cent; while the cost of buying data has also reduced from N1,200 in 2019 to N350 presently, despite the increase in the cost of operations, including the energy challenge that has caused mobile network operators to power base stations with over 32,000 power generating to provide seamless services to their teeming consumers.
Speaking on the development in an interview with NewsDirect on Tuesday, the President National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Deolu Ogunbanjo, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for exempting the telecoms sector from its 5 per cent excise duty.
He described it as a send-forth gift by President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigerians.
He, however, insisted that the Federal Government should do more to take the excise duty law back to the National Assembly for necessary amendments.
“We thank President Muhammadu Buhari for exempting the telecom sector from the 5 per cent excise. It is a send forth give and retirement gift to the industry.
“However, we will need him to ensure that the excise duty law must now be taken back to the national assembly for amendment; otherwise, any president or Minister may come to implement that law. What the President just did is a pronouncement.”
The Executive Secretary Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) lauded the federal government’s decision to exempt the telecommunications sector from its (5) five per cent excise duty because the industry is already heavily taxed.
He suggested that the Federal Government should ensure full compliance with the directive.
“We appreciate that the Federal Government listened to us because the sector is already heavily taxed. I spoke against it. The Federal Government should cascade its decision to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning,”he stated.
NCC pledges support to Meta on digital economy initiatives
By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja
The Nigerian Communi cations Commission (NCC) has pledged its readiness to support digital economic initiatives of investors, including Meta (formerly Facebook), that align with Nigeria’s vision for a robust digital economy.
During a visit to the NCC’s headquarters in Abuja, a delegation from Meta, led by Kojo Boakye, the company’s Vice President for Africa, the Middle-East, and Turkey, met with Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC EVC emphasised the importance of compliance with industry laws, regulations, and guidelines for creating a level-playing field that encourages healthy competition and sustainable growth in the Nigerian telecoms sector.
Boakye congratulating Dr. Maida on his appointment, shared Meta’s ongoing efforts to land the 2Africa submarine cable in Nigeria.
According to Boakye, “The 45,000-kilometer-long cable, scheduled to go live in 2023, will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects, interconnecting Europe (via Egypt), Asia (via Saudi Arabia), and Africa.
“With a design capacity of up to 180 terabytes per second (Tbps), the 2Africa cable aims to deliver much-needed Internet capacity and reliability across Africa, supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access.”
Boakye sought NCC’s support in navigating legal and regulatory processes for the cable’s landing in Nigeria, emphasising the positive impact it will have on connectivity and affordability.
The Meta delegation also outlined plans to simultaneously land the 2Africa cable in Lagos and Akwa-Ibom States through a consortium.
Boakye emphasised that this approach aims to connect those currently without access while enhancing and providing affordable access for those already connected.
Responding, Dr. Maida assured Meta of NCC’s commitment to supporting initiatives that align with Nigeria’s digital economy agenda and welcomed the potential benefits the 2Africa cable could bring to the country’s telecommunications landscape.
Minister Tijani reels out 100 days achievement, hails Tinubu
The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy has reeled out his 100 days achievements as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a recent address, Minister Tijani expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR for the unique honour bestowed upon him, and highlighted the collective accomplishments, outlining the path ahead for the Ministry.
Commending the unwavering support from directors, agency heads, and the entire team (NCC, NITDA, NigComSat, NDPC, NIPOST, GBB, etc), he emphasised the dynamic and cohesive force that has been shaped within the Ministry during this period.
Highlighting his achievements in office, Dr Tijani said, “The Ministry’s mandate, structured around five pillars – Knowledge, Policy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Capital, and Trade – forms the core of the Strategic Blueprint. This blueprint guides the Ministry’s role in realizing the President’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
“In the first 100 days, the Knowledge pillar has been instrumental in driving initiatives, most notably the Three Million Technical Talent (3MTT) program. With over 1.6 million talented Nigerians applying in a month, partnerships, including a N1 Billion commitment from IHS Nigeria and UNDP’s funding for 3,000 internships, have significantly amplified the impact.
“The National AI Research Scheme received 2,118 proposals, showcasing the depth of talent in applying technology to critical sectors. Collaborations with the Raspberry Pi Foundation led to the establishment of Code Clubs in 17 locations, fostering technological talent from a young age.
“Under the Policy pillar, collaboration with NITDA resulted in the launch of the Startup Support and Engagement Portal, aligning with the Startup Act. White Papers on top AI talent of Nigerian descent and the 1:10:100 Implementation approach outline strategic directions.
“The Infrastructure pillar achieved milestones, including mapping over 2,500 innovation spaces and revamping NigComSat’s platforms. Extending coverage to underserved locations aligns with the commitment to providing digital opportunities. Engagements at global forums such as the Mobile World Congress and ITU-World Radio Conference underscore Nigeria’s global presence.”
On innovation, entrepreneurship and capital, Dr Tijani noted that “significant partnerships were forged under the Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Capital (IEC) pillar, including the $116 million financing for AFD’s I-DICE program and a $100 million Global AI partnership.”
“Initiatives like the 4IRTA platform and the Young Innovative Builders program demonstrate dedication to leveraging technology for sustainable development,” he narrated.
The Minister explained further that the achievements of his 100 days in office were a result of collective efforts that have shaped the first 100 days.
ONDI receives 11,183 applications for third cohort of Ihatch
The Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI) has disclosed that it received 11,183 applications for the third cohort of the Ihatch programme.
The Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa made this known at the Ihatch startup incubation programme 2nd cohort demo day and 3rd cohort opening ceremony organised by the subsidiary of the agency, Office for Nigerian Digital Innovation (ONDI), in partnership with Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) in Abuja.
Inuwa noted that the ihatch five-month free intensive incubation programme executed by the ONDI and hosted within the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) is designed to help Nigerian tech entrepreneurs refine their business ideas through a series of coaching, lectures, and booth camps to develop scalable and adaptable business models that will focus on youth, innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.
He added that the incubation programme will be held simultaneously in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Gombe, and Kano and JICA has agreed to extend the Fourth Cohort across each of the 36 States and the FCT. This is to enable wider reach and to stimulate the startup ecosystems across the States.
The DG stated that not fewer than 1,218 applications were received for the Second Cohort and the number was pruned down to 8 startups, comprising 16 persons, a Founder and Co-Founder for each startup, after undergoing levels of rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of judges, comprising experts in diverse areas of technology and innovative entrepreneurship.
He explained that the selection process assessed the startups’ ideas based on the criteria of profitability, scalability, social impact, idea technique, competitive advantage, experience, and a clearly defined future roadmap.
Inuwa further revealed that a total of 11,183 applications were received from across the 6 geopolitical zones for the Third Cohort. This culminated in the selection of the top 8 startups, comprising 16 founders in total that will participate in the Third Cohort that was launched.
He added that 16 startups that participated in the first and second cohorts of the iHatch incubation programme have moved on to achieve remarkable success in the areas of job creation, funding, participation in events, and valuable partnerships which have created a combined total of 179 direct jobs in the span of agriculture, health, education, and e-commerce sectors.
The DG further asserted that apart from the total grant of US$45,000 (US$15,000 each) for Proof of Concept (POC) to the top 3 startups in the first cohort, some of the startups have raised some funding through other sources. Xolani Health (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured a grant worth US$155,000, BetaLife (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured an angel investment of US$60,000, Gifty (an e-commerce startup from the second cohort) got a grant of USD$8,000 while two other startups from the first and second cohorts respectively, raised a combined total grant of US$6,000.
Inuwa affirmed the agency’s commitment to working with relevant stakeholders and partners towards the successful implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act (NSA) which will accelerate innovation and provide much-needed jobs for our teeming youths. Leaving nothing to chance in our resolve to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in our youth to catalyze the Nigerian digital economy to the next level.
The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, represented by National Coordinator, National Talent Export Programme, Dr Femi Adeluyi, applauded NITDA for the various initiatives and programs put in place for the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the country.
Anite noted that the NITDA DG at the Digital Nigeria International Conference 2023 edition harped on the need for Nigeria to become the talent destination of the world where countries will come to seek a workforce that will work with them towards achieving their goals and objectives.
She added that “technology is a pivotal tool in all aspects of life which cannot be overemphasised and the green transition scoreboard global total has reached about $7.13 trillion for export and about $6.6 trillion for importation, the important aspect is that 54 percent of these activities is digitally edible and prepares people to be effective and efficient in the different sector of the economy is laudable.”
The Minister also appreciated JICA for its relentless efforts toward the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the area of automobile, development, training, scholarships, interventions and a lot more which has impacted the citizens directly or indirectly.
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