Nigeria’s ICT Ministry expands oversight over ‘digital economy’

Nigeria’s ICT Ministry expands oversight over ‘digital economy’

Nigeria’s ICT Ministry expands oversight over ‘digital economy’

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President Muhammadu Buhari this week approved a name switch for the Ministry of Communications that oversees the information and community (ICT) industry to become Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

President is switching the name of the Ministry for the second time under his administration from what was Ministry of Communication Technology under his predecessor, ex-President Goodluck Johnathan.

Buhari approved the request by Dr Isah Ali Pantami, the Minister that mans the Ministry and who says says the old name limits his aspirations to expand the public sector administrator of the ICT sector, according to a statement issued through the Ministry’s Twitter account

He says his Ministry’s former name “was not only limiting in pursue the objectives of a digital economy, but obsolete as it did not reflect the trends as emphasised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).” Dr Isah Ali Pantami

Nigeria’s ICT Ministry expands oversight over ‘digital economy’
President Muhammadu Buhari

Pantami, who until his appointment on August 21, this year by Buhari, was the DG/CEO of Nigeria’s IT industry regulator, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), wanted his Ministry’s oversight scope expanded.

The Minister’s request for a name change expanding his scope of oversight that also resulted in the name switch which he argues will complement the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, developed by the Buhari administration to restore economic growth in Nigeria. 

Meanwhile, Pantami says that “in a letter containing his approval, the President noted that the request is in line with global best practice which will further reflect the priorities of his administration. The approved name has been announced and adopted by the Federal Executive Council today, 23 October 2019.”

He says his Ministry’s former name “was not only limiting in pursue the objectives of a digital economy, but obsolete as it did not reflect the trends as emphasised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).”

According to him, “ICT contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at 13.85% in the second quarter of 2019. The change of nomenclature will propel the Ministry to reposition its strategic objectives as out in the priority areas of this administration while accelerating growth and social inclusion.”

Nigeria is joining African and other nations like Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Tunisia, Thailand, Scotland and others that “created Ministries of Digital Economy in line with global best practice, and especially the Europen Union which has a Commmissioner for Digital Economy“, the Minister says.

He is also convinced that the name change will widen its mandate to “capture the goals of digitalization of the Nigerian economy in line with EGRP.

Buhari Administration’s ERGP was delivered “for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets.”

The EGRP hopes to drive industrialization by focusing on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. “One major strategy is to accelerate implementation of the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) through Special Economic Zones (SEZs), focusing on priority sectors to generate jobs, promote exports, boost growth and upgrade skills to create 1.5 million jobs by 2020.”

Under the pla, a revitalized manufacturing sector is expected to create jobs, stimulate foreign exchange earnings and grow micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). “The involvement of small businesses in the service sector is a major lever for economic recovery. The service industry accounts for 53 per cent of GDP.”

According to the EGRP, “as the telecommunications and information and communication technology services (ICT) sector grew in absolute terms by 9.26 per cent in Q3 of 2016, it offers huge scope for further growth, especially from opportunities in the digital economy. Creative industries, especially music and film, also have great growth potential, as do both financial services and tourism.”

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