The Nigerian telecoms regulator says it created a new Digital Economy Unit to promote the Federal Government’s National Digital Economy Agenda.
The Governing Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) approved the new Digital Economy Department created to implement programmes and policies to support the Federal Government’s agenda, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the telecoms regulator says.
Engineer Babagana Digima, an Assistant Director in the Special Duties Department of NCC has been moved and designated as the pioneer Head of the new department that reports to the EVC, Danbatta says.
“Digital Literacy and Skills, which speaks to the provision of policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life in order to enable them obtain digital literacy and other digital skills. This pillar will also facilitate the training of Nigerians.”
According to Prof. Danbatta, “placing the newly created department under the Office of the EVC also underscores the importance the Commission places on the need to successfully drive the overall national digital economy strategy of the government through ensuring its effective monitoring and supervision.”
Nigeria’s Digital Economy Plan | The 8 Pillars
Under the plan, the new unit will work in line with the eight pillars of the National Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) document, the Broadband Implementation Unit in the Commission that was under the Special Duties Department and all the staff of the Unit, are to move to the newly-created Digital Economy Department, Danbatta says.
The NDEPS, as a national policy document, was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019 to add the needed impetus to the actualisation of the Federal Government’s Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), Danbatta says.
The digital economy policy document has eight pillars, which include: Developmental Regulation, focusing on effective regulation of the ICT and digital sector in a way that enables development; and secondly, Digital Literacy and Skills, which speaks to the provision of policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life in order to enable them obtain digital literacy and other digital skills. This pillar will also facilitate the training of Nigerians.
The third pillar is Solid Infrastructure, which has to do with the deployment of fixed and mobile infrastructure to deepen the broadband penetration in the country; while Service Infrastructure is aimed at supporting Government Digital Services and the provision of robust digital platforms to drive the digital economy. The Soft Infrastructure element focuses on strengthening public confidence in the use of digital technologies and participation in the digital economy.
Digital Services Development and Promotion is the sixth pillar, which addresses the development of a vibrant digital ecosystem that supports Innovation-driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in a way that engenders innovation.
The seventh pillar is Digital Society and Emerging Technologies, focusing on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of the ordinary citizens; mentoring startups on emerging technologies and deploying their solutions.
The eight pillar of NDEPS is Indigenous Content Development and Adoption, which pivots on the provision of a policy framework that gives preference to digitally-skilled Nigerians for government-funded projects in line with the Executive Orders 003 and 005 of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Danbatta says that NCC hopes to play a significant role in the implementation of the Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, “hence the need for the Commission to create the new department which focuses on working with eight pillars on NDEPS as well as overseeing the Implementation of National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025.”
He says that this will happen through effective regulation of the telecoms industry and explains that apart from infusing new dynamism into the existing digital economy function, the creation of the new department amplifies NCC’s ‘Regulatory Excellence’, one of the five pillars of its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024.