Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has lauded the increasing importance of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector to the Nigerian economy.
He said the ICT sector has consistently contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria, with 18.44 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
Pantami said the sector was fast moving towards the actualisation of the government’s digital economy agenda with the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-2030 (NDEPS).
The minister said that in different quarters of 2020, 2021 and 2022, the sector had contributed immensely to the GDP, thereby making it the sector with the highest contribution.
“The ICT sector provided three unprecedented contributions to the GDP of the country in the last three years.
“IT contributed 14.07 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, 17.92 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 and 18.44 per cent in the second quarter of 2022.
“At each time, these numbers were the highest ever contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP,” he said.
According to the minister, the ICT sector grew by 14.70 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020.
He said it made it the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in the last quarter of 2020 and the only sector to have grown by double digits.
Pantami added that in 2020, the sector played a critical role in enabling Nigeria to exit recession.
He said: “The quarterly revenues also generated for the Federal Government rose from N51.3 billion to N408.7 billion, through spectrum sales and taxes from the sector.”
The minister further said the ministry was recently assessed for its performance by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UK and KPMG, among others.
The assessment, he said, was in partnership with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Presidency.
Pantami said: “Being assessed on the output indicators and milestones for the eight ministerial deliverables, the ministry obtained the highest grade in each of the deliverables.
“The ministry scored 134 per cent on the implementation of broadband connectivity, 127 per cent on deployment of 4G across the country and 99 per cent on digitalising government functions.”
“On the development and implementation of a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 103 per cent, Implementation of a Digital Identity Programme -86 per cent.
“Improvement and optimisation of revenues from all operators and licensees in the agencies under the Ministry’s supervision -594 per cent, Active collaboration with the Private Sector to create jobs – 111 percent. Empowerment of citizens – 137 per cent.”
Some of the policies that saw to the development of the sector, he said, included :NDEPS 2020-2030,the Roadmap for the Implementation of the NDEPS and the SIM Card Registration Policy.
Others were: Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, National Policy on VSAT Installation Core Skills for Nigerians and National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Telecommunications Sector.
Pantami added: “There is the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration, National Policy on Digital Identity for Internally Displaced Persons and the Rule Making Process Regulation of NIPOST.
“We have the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, National Policy on Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institutions, National Policy on Device Management System.
“There is a policy on National Policy for the Management of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Policy.
“The National Policy on the Nigerian Government Second-Level Domains, National Dig-Once Policy and National Policy on Communication Satellite (Draft).”
The minister also recalled the recent signing of the Nigerian Start-Up Act (NSA), an Executive Bill recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Oct. 18.
According to him, the signing of the NSA as a principal legislation was a major achievement that will significantly enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria.
Over 863,372 citizens benefited from digital skills programmes and we have agreements with leading global companies like Microsoft and Huawei, to train millions of Nigerians.
On Aug. 21, 2019, the official broadband penetration figures stood at 33.72 per cent, adding, “today, it is 44.65 per cent, representing close to 13 million new broadband users.
“Similarly, there were 13,823 4G base stations and we now have 36,751, representing 165.86 per cent increase.
“The percentage 4G coverage across the country also increased from 23 per cent to 77.52 per cent.
“The cost of data has crashed from N1,200 per Gigabyte to about N350, making it easier for Nigerians to connect to the Internet.”
Pantami said that the ministry had also developed an IT clearance portal to support inoperability, eliminate duplication and ensure value for money in the implementation of ICT projects in the country.
He said that the quarterly savings from the IT Projects’ Clearance Process rose from N12.45 million to N10.57 billion.
The minister further said that they created a pool of Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) to accelerate the development of Nigeria’s digital economy, while 355,610 direct and indirect jobs were created.
“Privacy concerns are also being addressed through the newly established Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB).
“The drafting of the data protection bill has reached an advanced stage and the Digital Identity enrolments have also been very successful, with NINs rising from less than 40 million to over 90 million.
“We have been very active in the emerging technology space and even established the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), the first of such centres in Africa,” Pantami said.
According to him, the ministry had developed a policy for promoting indigenous content in the telecom sector to complement similar efforts that focus on the information technology sector.
He said that it was important to stem the tide of capital flight, amongst other things.
Pantami said the efforts of the ministry continued to play a critical role in the development of the different sectors of the economy.
He called on all stakeholders to persistently support the government to further accelerate the development of the sector.