Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy says the ICT sector has recorded exponential growth since 2019, contributing significantly to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Pantami spoke on Monday in Abuja at an event organised to mark the third edition of Digital Nigeria Day, which doubles as the United Nations’ World Development Information Day.

The minister who explored the progress made by his ministry since it commenced the implementation of a Policy and Strategy for the development of a Digital Economy in Nigeria, noted that the ICT sector provided three unprecedented contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country in the last 3 years, namely 14.07% in Q1 2020, 17.92% in Q2 2021 and 18.44% in Q2 2022.

At each time, he said, “these numbers been the highest ever contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP. ”

According to Pantami, the ICT sector also grew by 14.70% in Q4 2020, making 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.

“This played a critical role in enabling Nigeria to exit recession. Furthermore, 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,” he added.

Speaking further, the minister noted that his ministry excelled at the recently concluded Retreat that was held for all Ministers.

He said, “The assessment was carried out by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), United Kingdom and KPMG, among others, in partnership with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the Presidency.

“The assessment was based on the output indicators and milestones for the eight Ministerial Deliverables and the Ministry obtained the highest grade in each of the deliverables.

“The score for distinction was 70% and the Ministry exceeded this in all the deliverables, with an average score of 173.86%. The scores of the Ministry for each deliverable is given below:

Implementation of Broadband Connectivity – 134%

Deployment of 4G across the country – 127%

Digitalising Government functions and processes – 99%

Development and implementation of a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy – 103%

Implementation of a Digital Identity Programme – 86%

Improvement and optimization of revenues from all operators and licensees in the agencies under the Ministry’s supervision – 594%

Active collaboration with the Private Sector to create jobs – 111%

Empowerment of citizens – 137%”

Pantami noted that the country now has Nigeria Startup Act, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the Nigeria Startup Bill (NSB) on the 18th of October, 2022.

He said that his ministry collaborated with the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President to develop the NSB “and I presented it at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the 15th of December, 2021. It was approved and then sent to the National Assembly. The signing of the Nigeria Startup Act as a principal legislation is a major achievement that will significantly enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Nigeria.”

According to the minister, some of the other policies developed include:

National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy 2020-2030 (NDEPS), November 2019;

Roadmap for the Implementation of the NDEPS, November 2019;
SIM Card Registration Policy, February 2020;

Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, March 2020;

National Policy on VSAT Installation Core Skills for Nigerians, March 2021;

National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Telecommunications Sector, May 2021;

Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration, May 2021;

National Policy on Digital Identity for Internally Displaced Persons, May 2021;

The Rule Making Process Regulation of NIPOST, May 2021;

National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy, September 2021;

National Policy on Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institutions, 2021;

National Policy on Device Management System, 2021;

National Policy for the Management of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, November 2021;

National Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship Policy, June 2021;
National Policy on the Nigerian Government Second-Level Domains, February 2022;

National Dig-Once Policy (Stakeholder Engagement Ongoing); and
National Policy on Communication Satellite (Draft).

Pantami disclosed that over 863,372 citizens benefited from digital skills programmes and his ministry has agreements with leading global companies like Microsoft and Huawei, to train millions of Nigerians.

“On assumption of office on the 21st of August 2019, the official broadband penetration figures stood at 33.72% and today it is 44.65%, representing close to 13 million new broadband users,” he said.

“Similarly, there were 13,823 4G base stations and we now have 36,751, representing a 165.86% increase. The percentage 4G coverage across the country also increased from 23% to 77.52%. Additionally, the cost of data has crashed from N1,200 per GB to about N350, making it easier for Nigerians to connect to the Internet.

“We have 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. The quarterly savings from the IT Projects’ Clearance Process rose from N12.45 million to N10.57 billion.

“We aim to create a pool of Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) to accelerate the development of Nigeria’s digital economy. Through our efforts, 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. The Digital Identity enrolments have also been very successful, with issued National Identification Numbers (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.

“As part of our efforts to promote indigenous content, we have developed a policy for promoting indigenous content in the telecom sector to complement similar efforts that focus on the information technology sector. This is important to stem the tide of capital flight, amongst other things.

“The efforts of the Ministry continue to play a critical role in the development of the different sectors of the economy. I call on all stakeholders to persist in supporting us to further accelerate the development of the sector.”

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