Professor Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has charged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and industry stakeholders to ensure the enforcement of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
Recall that the Policy was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on March 8, 2021, with special four focus areas on Manufacturing; Services & Software for the Telecoms Sector; People, and Research & Development for Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
It also provides for the creation of the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS) which is a Special Purpose Vehicle resident in the Commission.
Speaking at the ongoing maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo (NTICE) organized by the Nigerian Communications Commission in Lagos, Pantami said there is an urgent need to reduce the amount of importation in the country.
“There is no way you can support your economy with too much importation. You have to significantly reduce importation. And this is one of the challenges we are encountering today when it comes to Forex.
“Whatever we want to do, we rely on importation. So the demand for forex increases by the day. So you have to reduce that demand.”
Pantami referred to Russia as having strong internal policies that have helped its currency, the Ruble gain traction against other currencies which are currently losing value.
“They can produce internal policy, where they ensure that the demand of their local currency Ruble is increasing by reading. So that what is necessary for any economy to deploy, you must ensure that the demand with your local currency is increasing, while the demand for forex is decreasing.”
The Minister at the event, charged and encouraged the NCC to ensure the enforcement of the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector.
“Law and policies do not implement themselves. We must enforce them. And we must ensure we have effective monitoring that we don’t allow any importation to our country, particularly where we believe we can do it locally.
According to the Minister, the Federal Government will not tolerate situations that would warrant the importation of items that could be made locally.
“That one is necessary. And we should not compromise the situation. We cannot continue in a situation where people are interested in even importing sim cards into Nigeria that cannot be tolerated by the Federal Government.”
According to Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, the creation of NODITS to drive the provision of indigenous content for the telecom industry is not only apt but in line with the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, Section 1, sub-section.
He said the policy will encourage local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry and the introduction of innovative services and practices in the industry following international best practices and trends.
Professor Danbatta said the Policy will also create fair competition in all sectors of the Nigerian communications industry thereby encouraging the participation of Nigerians in the ownership, control, and management of communications companies and organizations.
The Policy is also expected to encourage the development of a communications manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy and also encourage effective research and development efforts by all communications industry practitioners.
According to the NCC boss, the objective of this Policy is to transform the enormous strides achieved by the telecom industry in the last two decades into long-term indigenous economic development outcomes for Nigerian companies and citizenry through capacity strengthening, institutional building, and strategic policy tools.
“… which will further promote domestic and economic linkages, job creation and the participation of local Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the telecom value chain via the supply of goods and services to the sector.”
He said the purpose of the Expo was not only to showcase the strides undertaken by indigenous telecom companies but to discuss opportunities and pertinent issues relating to the industry from capacity development, funding, and financing to policies and their effects on the ease of doing business.
“The phenomenal growth in telecommunications can only continue if policies to enhance the sector locally, in tune with global agenda of self-sufficiency is pursued with vigor and support of the Federal, State and Local Governments.”
He revealed the discovery of 6 indigenous SIM card manufacturers, tower and mast manufacturers, fibre optic cable manufacturers,s and innovators actively designing and making prototypes of wireless routers with in-built smoke and dangerous gas detectors which have profound applications in base station monitoring, oil and gas facilities monitoring as well as city and home air quality monitoring, reporting and logging, may not have been possible without the existence of NODITS.
The EVC said the Commission through NODITS will pursue not only the technical aspects of indigenous content development but also funding, policy, and regulatory issues as well.
“We are not unaware of the challenges facing small indigenous telecoms service providers.”
He said the Commission will use its available regulatory instruments including the code of Corporate Governance that has been put in place, mediation, and license conditions not only to ensure their survival but to ensure that they return to their glorious past and be able to compete fairly with other international telecoms companies.