As this year’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulation workshop gets underway in Abuja, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has reiterated that it is high time the country focused more on skills acquisition rather than certification in order to harness and enjoy derivable benefits from the rapid advancement in the ICT.
While delivering his opening remark at the three-day workshop taking place at the Communications and Digital Economy Complex (CDEC), Mbora District, Abuja, the Minister said the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 28, 2019, is well-conceived, on track and built on objectives that will boost development of digital skills in both private and public sectors in Nigeria.
According to Pantami, the workshop which was organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in partnership with the Swedish Post & Telecoms Authority (PTS) – sectoral regulator for posts and telecommunication; and the Swedish Programme for ICT Development in Emerging Regions (SPIDER), directly resonates with the first, second and seventh items of the eight pillars of the NDEPS.
The three items are developmental regulations, digital literacy and skill acquisition, as well as digital society and emerging technologies respectively.
Participants at the workshop included the staff of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE), NCC, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP).
He enjoined the participants to maximize the opportunity of the workshop to horn their digital skills for effective regulations of the ICT industry.
Pantami commended the Swedish government for its support in hosting the capacity building for the ICT industry regulators in Nigeria.
Earlier, Carl-Michael Grans, the Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, who has concurrent accreditation to Ghana, Cameroon and ECOWAS, told participants that the workshop was a follow-up to one which held in November 2019, in Stockholm, Sweden. He stated that the focus is to explore how new technologies can best be used to improve the society.
Reflecting on the history of communications technology, Grans said ever since Ericsson opened an office in Sweden in 1876 to address the challenges of telegraphy, successive Swedish authorities have tapped into advancement in ICT to enhance the growth and development of the Swedish society.
According to him, Sweden is recognised today as a global flagship in the deployment of ICT for development. He said in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Sweden is seen as a leader in digitisation because ICT has played a significant role in the advancement of the Swedish society.
“This leadership is usually measured in digital competence, digital innovation, digital security, digital infrastructure and digital management,” he said.
Grans, who was accompanied by other partners including Kerston Borgon, Director, SPIDER; Peter Ogundele, Director, Ericsson; Dr. Bo. Andersson, Chief Economist, PTS; and Fredrik Kapper, Senior Policy Adviser, International Affairs at the Swedish Embassy, also stated that across the world, the challenges of ICT deployment are basically the same with the most challenging ones being “rural infrastructure management and cybersecurity.”
He, therefore, enjoined participants to be mindful of the challenges as they participate in the workshop.
Prof. Adeolu Akande, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, NCC, emphasised the significance of the workshop in the context of the recently-unveiled NDEPS and the new National Broadband Plan 2020-2024 which, he said, would soon be unveiled by the Minister.
He enjoined the participants to give the workshop rapt attention because their participation constitutes “the fulcrum of all the vision of the government for digital literacy and skills acquisition.” Akande thanked PTS, SPIDER and the Government of Sweden for the significant assistance.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, noted that Nigeria is going through the process of digital transformation and that it is a learning curve that the country must accomplish. “I, therefore, thank the PTS. SPIDER, the Swedish Government and of course, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital economy for supporting the Commission in making this capacity-building workshop a reality.”