THE Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has re-emphasised the resolve of the Federal Government, through the Ministry, to continually advance the digital economy agenda of the country.
Pantami stated this while delivering a keynote address at the maiden edition of the National Dialogue on Telecoms and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector in Nigeria held at the NAF Conference Centre & Suites, Abuja late last week.
The event was organised by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in collaboration with other industry stakeholders.
Represented by Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the Minister said the event with the theme: ‘Harnessing the Digital Resources for the Building of Our National Economy’ and sub-themes lined up for discussions, were apt and timely, given the increased reliance of individuals and businesses on digital platforms to carry out their activities.
Pantami stated that the digital economy journey started by the Ministry, following the President’s approval in 2019, culminated in the development of an eight-pillar National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) with a view to providing a more coordinated and enhanced national policy direction for transforming Nigeria’s economy into a truly digital economy.
“The telecoms and ICT sector stand to gain a lot from the development of our digital economy and the public and private sector need to come on board to maximise the impact on the entire economy,” the Minister said.
However, speaking in his capacity as the EVC of NCC and lead presenter at the second panel session on the theme: “National Funding and Investment Strategy for Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Economy”, Danbatta focussed on what the Commission had done in the last five years, especially in stimulating the development of resilient ICT infrastructure and the benefits these regulatory efforts have brought to the economy.
Situating his presentation in the context of ‘Nigeria’s Telecom Sector: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,’ Danbatta explained that access gaps in the country have been reduced from 217 in 2015 to 114.
Meanwhile, the EVC has urged telecoms operators in the country to settle the huge interconnect debts being owed by various industry operators, noting that this should be resolved in the wider interest of the industry. Danbatta said the “interconnectivity indebtedness valued at over N70 billion is a big challenge to infrastructure expansion and inimical to healthy competition”, which are needed for facilitating digital economy in Nigeria.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON, said the national dialogue was targeted at harnessing the digital resources in the country with a view to optimising innovative ideas to effectively pursue the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government.
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