December 2, 2020

The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy (HMCDE), Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) has expressed satisfaction with the progress recorded with the implementation ofNational Digital Economy Strategy which was aimed at accomplishing digital economy for national development.

The Minister expressed  this at a media parley and press briefing with members of the Abuja Chapter of the Nigerian Information Technology Reporters Asssociation (NITRA), convened by the Minister to enlighten the media about steps that had been taken by the FMoCDE under his leadership, to enhance the transition to digital economy,

Pantami stated that the National Ditigal Economy Strategy, which implementation has started, was developed in line with the directive of Federal Government following the re-designation of the Ministry from Federal Ministry of Communications to Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE) in October 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Honourable Minister of Communications & Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami)

This, he said, was done by the Ministry and unveiled by the President at the e-Nigeria Conference in November 2019.

Pantami said the policy captures the thematic focus while the strategy speaks to how the various themes will be achieved.

Speaking further, the Minister declared that all other MDAs are connected to the strategy in view of the centrality of ICT to development in other sectors of the economy, adding  that the role of the Ministry is to coordinate the implementation of the policy and the strategy.

He stressed that by the end of the decade, the Federal Government expects every Nigerian to have connected with and expressed the goal of digital Nigeria by being computer literate, owning a digital device (which the agencies in the Ministry have been assisting to facilitate), having access to the Internet, owning a bank account that can be accessed and operated digitally and online. Beyond financial services, the Minister said the Federal Government hopes to see majority of the citizens undertake many activities electronically.

Pantami recalled the eight (8) pillars of the policy which he enjoined all tiers of government and all stakeholders to begin to explore for implementation.

Here are the eight (8) pillars of the National Digital Economy Strategy:

  1. The first of the pillars is Developmental Regulation, which he said is conceived as regulation that promotes and supports development.

“This means online communications and transactions should focus on and encourage digital economy and ensure taxes and prices come down because when prices come down, demand goes up” and entrepreneurs make more profit by sheer increase in the volume of trade. “It is simple economics,” the Minister emphasised.

  • The second mainstay of the digital economy policy is Digital Literacy and Skills, and the Minister emphasised the importance of this pillar because digital economy is unrealisable without skills.

Pantami enumerated that different sections of the population are targeted for training and retraining, including women, youths, journalists, civil servants and those who are certificated but unemployed.

He was optimistic that, at least, 90 percent of Nigerians will be digitally literate by the end of the decade as all agencies in the Ministry will be involved in series of training and retraining as much as the financial circumstances of the nation permit.

  • Solid Infrastructure, the third pillar of the policy, will ensure availability of robust data centres and deals with broadband expansion, according to the Minister. He explained that the 2020-2025 Broadband Plan is expected to be ready within the first quarter of 2020 and the plan is to ensure that all unserved and underserved areas have access to broadband services. For this, he said the Federal Government and the Ministry are encouraging many institutions to host their data in Nigeria as he promised to continue the advocacy.
  • The fourth policy pillar – Service Infrastructure, according to the Minister, is focused on facilitating digitisation of activities that will find deeper expression in e-health, e-agriculture and other automated transactions. He accentuated the connection of automation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by stating that studies by International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other development agencies have revealed that 10 percent increase in broadband penetration could increase GDP by up to 2.5 percent.
  • According to the Minister, the fifth pillar, Promotion of Digital Services, is also to ensure increased digitisation of activities,
  • While the sixth pedestal of the digital economy policy is Software Infrastructure, which focuses on cybersecurity awareness to ensure security of activities in the cyberspace.
  • The penultimate pillar of the policy, according to the Minister, is Digital Society and Emerging Technologies. He said the policy is conceptualised “to encourage start-ups to support our innovators, so they can deploy their inventions in Nigeria.” In this context, the Minister envisioned that Nigeria will explore in quantifiable terms, cloud computing, nanotechnology, Fifth Generation (5G) communications, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics. Illustrating the benefits of deployment of and access to 5G, Pantami said with 5G, virtual surgery is possible in Nigeria.
  • Indigenous Content Development, especially how youths can use their skills and creative energy for innovation and technology development, Pantami said Nigeria needs to create and promote indigenous technology and use them locally.

The briefing was attended by chief executive officers and management staff of the FMoCDE and its agencies, including Engr. Ubale Maska, NCC’s Executive Commissioner Technical Services, who represented the EVC of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta. Also present at the briefing were, Barrister Adeleke Adewolu, NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management; Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director of Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Limited; Inuwa Kashifu Abdullahi, Chairman, Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone Limited.

The Minister seized the opportunity of the briefing to thank the executives and members of NITRA for the reportage of various activities of the Ministry and urged them to give robust coverage to the digital economy policy.

He announced a training programme for the journalists in the first and second quarters of 2020. He directed that the programmes are to be organised and sponsored by NITDA and NCC respectively.

Earlier, Blessing Olaifa of The Nation Newspapers, who is the President of the FCT Chapter of NITRA, congratulated the Minister on his appointment and in particular for the great strides he has led the Ministry to make within a short time. He promised to organise his colleagues to ensure very meaningful coverage of the activities of the Ministry.

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