Agencies under the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy have enrolled over 210,000 Nigerians on Information and Communication Technology Courses and undertaken over 600 interventions to build the capacity of citizens to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital economy.

 

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami made the disclosure at the Presidential Villa Abuja in his remarks at the launching of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunication Sector and the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIMCard Registration

 

He said: “We also set up two virtual academies to enable Nigerians to obtain ICT skills in spite of the effects of COVID. These academies (www.digitalnigeria.org and http://academy.nitda.gov.ng ) were set up on the 2nd of April, 2020 and the 29th of April 2020 respectively, in partnership with leading ICT multinationals such as Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems, Huawei and Oracle. Over 210,000 citizens enrolled in a wide range of ICT courses and emerging technologies, including Cybersecurity, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Cloud Computing and Networking.

 

“The Ministry and its parastatals have over 600 interventions that are part of our efforts to build the capacity of Nigerians in order to prepare them to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital economy. These interventions cut across all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, with each benefiting from multiple projects. Some of the interventions include Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centres, School Knowledge Centres, E-Accessibility Centres, E-Libraries, Digital Job Creation Centres, Community IT Training Centres, IT Hubs, E-Learning Centres and Digital Nigeria Centres, amongst others.”

 

On Local contents, Pantami said that the country had made some progress.

 

He said: “We have made giant strides in the local manufacture of SIM cards and mobile phones. On the 15th of April 2021, I commissioned the SIM card manufacturing plant of SecureID, an indigenous company with an annual production capacity of 200 million SIMs and smartcards. The CEO attested to the support she has received from the Ministry and this has resulted in the growth of the company and attracted patronage from the MNOs. We are committed to supporting all indigenous SIM card manufacturers in line with the Policy.

 

“We have already started recording significant success in the Nigeriazation of the Telecommunications sector in the appointment and recruitment of our citizens. For instance, in August 2019 when I was given the privilege of supervising the sector, only 50% of the 4 leading Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) had Nigerian CEOs. Today, I am very glad to announce that 100% of them have Nigerian CEOs and this is in addition to the increase in the proportion of Nigerians on the Boards of these organisation.

 

“Our influence has also extended beyond Nigeria as we now occupy the positions of Chairman and Executive Secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) after the Annual General Meeting which took place on the 11th of March, 2021 . A few days ago, Airtel Africa also appointed the MD/CEO of Airtel Nigeria, as the MD/CEO of Airtel, Africa.

 

Read the Full Speech below

THE LAUNCHING OF THE NATIONAL POLICY FOR THE PROMOTION OF INDIGENOUS CONTENT IN THE NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR AND REVISED NATIONAL DIGITAL IDENTITY POLICY FOR SIM CARD REGISTRATION ON THURSDAY, 6TH MAY 2021

I consider it a privilege and a great honour to have His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, launch two important policies that will further enhance the role of the Digital Economy sector as a critical sector of the Nigerian economy.

Today, the President launches the following policies:
1. National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector; and
2. Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.

The Digital Economy family is very grateful to Mr President for the invaluable support he has given to the sector. This has resulted in a number of unprecedented achievements that have been recorded by the sector. The Q4 ‘2020 Report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) attests to this as it showed that the ICT sector had the highest growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 and over the course of the entire year 2020, at 14.70% and 12.90% respectively.

With a growth rate of 15.90% in 2020, the telecommunications industry experienced its highest growth rate in a decade. Furthermore, based on a November 2020 Report submitted to my office by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the average cost of 1GB of data reduced from the January 2020 cost of N1,000 to N487.18 in November, 2020.

We also set up two virtual academies to enable Nigerians to obtain ICT skills in spite of the effects of COVID. These academies (www.digitalnigeria.org and http://academy.nitda.gov.ng ) were set up on the 2nd of April, 2020 and the 29th of April 2020 respectively, in partnership with leading ICT multinationals such as Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems, Huawei and Oracle. Over 210,000 citizens enrolled in a wide range of ICT courses and emerging technologies, including Cybersecurity, Big Data Analytics, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Cloud Computing and Networking.

The Ministry and its parastatals have over 600 interventions that are part of our efforts to build the capacity of Nigerians in order to prepare them to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital economy. These interventions cut across all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, with each benefiting from multiple projects. Some of the interventions include Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centres, School Knowledge Centres, E-Accessibility Centres, E-Libraries, Digital Job Creation Centres, Community IT Training Centres, IT Hubs, E-Learning Centres and Digital Nigeria Centres, amongst others.

The two Policies being launched by Mr President today will go a long way in supporting the programmes of the Federal Government, especially in the areas of economic development and enhancing security. The National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector seeks to ensure that Nigerians develop the capacity to play a leading role in our telecommunications industry.

It addresses key areas such as manufacturing, services and software for the telecom sector, capacity building, research and development, digital innovation and entrepreneurship, among others. The overall objectives of the Policy including the following:
i. to create a framework for supporting indigenous telecom businesses to become world class service providers;
ii. to ensure compliance with existing regulatory guidelines for indigenous content;
iii. to highlight and promote indigenous capacities in the telecommunications sector;
iv. to foster collaboration between global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) engaged in the manufacturing of telecommunications equipment and indigenous players;
v. to ensure strategic partnerships with relevant regulatory agencies to create joint efforts to promote indigenous content;
vi. to enable the indigenous telecom industry to contribute significantly towards the overall development of the telecom industry; and
vii. to encourage and incentivise the participation of indigenous telecom institutions in relevant Standards Development Organisations.

We have already started recording significant success in the Nigeriazation of the Telecommunications sector in the appointment and recruitment of our citizens. For instance, in August 2019 when I was given the privilege of supervising the sector, only 50% of the 4 leading Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) had Nigerian CEOs. Today, I am very glad to announce that 100% of them have Nigerian CEOs and this is in addition to the increase in the proportion of Nigerians on the Boards of these organisation.

Our influence has also extended beyond Nigeria as we now occupy the positions of Chairman and Executive Secretary of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) after the Annual General Meeting which took place on the 11th of March, 2021 . A few days ago, Airtel Africa also appointed the MD/CEO of Airtel Nigeria, as the MD/CEO of Airtel, Africa.

Furthermore, we have made giant strides in the local manufacture of SIM cards and mobile phones. On the 15th of April 2021, I commissioned the SIM card manufacturing plant of SecureID, an indigenous company with an annual production capacity of 200 million SIMs and smartcards. The CEO attested to the support she has received from the Ministry and this has resulted in the growth of the company and attracted patronage from the MNOs. We are committed to supporting all indigenous SIM card manufacturers in line with the Policy.

We are confident that the implementation of the Policy will lead to many success stories in the sector that even extend beyond the geographic boundaries of Nigeria, enabling us to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration is an updated version of the Policy that was released in February 2020. The Policy will provide a regulatory framework for the use of National Identification Number (NIN) for SIM card registration. It will enable us to effectively address the issue of unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards, as such cards compromise national security and negatively affect the efficiency of Nigerian security agencies.

National digital identity will accelerate economic planning and development. It will promote digital inclusion, digital financial services and other value-added services across the nation. It will also improve our effectiveness in dealing with cybercrime, particularly in the area of digital forensics, crime tracking and identification. The Policy lays a foundation for using the NIN to support the development and security of the mobile ecosystem of Nigeria.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Act has been in existence since 2007, providing for the mandatory use of National Identity Number for accessing several government services. The enrolments since then till 2020 stood at just about 42 million records, or an average of about 3.2 million records annually. The supervision of NIMC was moved to our Ministry in September 2020 and between then and April 2021, we have recorded over 12 million enrolments!

The Policy provides detailed templates for the different scenarios in the SIM acquisition and activation process. Some of the scenarios covered include SIM swaps, Corporate and Internet of Things/Machine-to-Machine activations. These templates will reduce ambiguity in the implementation processes and will make for a better customer experience.

We have also introduced a lot of innovative products and services to improve the ease with which citizens and residents can obtain and utilize their NINs. For example, we have introduced enhanced NIN slips, made provision for use of Mobile IDs, released android solutions, integrated touchless biometric solutions that conform to COVID-19 guidelines and made provision for tokenization. A number of these are leading solutions, not just in West Africa but across the entire African continent. The Security Identity Alliance is one of the global bodies that has attested to the uniqueness of our innovation.

Tokenization and the implementation of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) will ensure that all records in our National Identity Database are secure and fully conform to international best practice on privacy. A robust digital identity programme is critical to a secure and sustainable digital economy.

In conclusion, I wish to sincerely thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for taking out the time to launch these Policies in person and for his remarkable support to the Digital Economy family. I also thank all our esteemed partners and stakeholders for supporting us to develop these policies. The journey has only just started and I call on all stakeholders to support us in the implementation.

Dr Isa Pantami
Minister of Comunication and Digital Economy


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