President Muhammadu Buhari has said auctioning of the 5G spectrum alone generated $547 million, further fueling options for funding development.
The President said this on Tuesday in Abuja when he commissioned the National Shared Services Centre in the company of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Alli Ibrahim Pantami.
The center which is a one-stop-shop for Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to interface with citizens also houses a Cybersecurity Operations Centre, Network Centre, and Call Centre.
Buhari, who lauded the contributions of the digital economy in driving growth, creating employment, and generating revenue for the country, said the National Shared Services Centre would provide services that were “swift, secure, and seamless’’.
The President said the Information, Communication, and Technology Sector (ICT) had accelerated the diversification of the economy and the Q2 Gross Domestic Product Report by the National Bureau of Statistics showed the extent of growth, with the ICT contributing an unprecedented 18.44 percent to the GDP, close to three times the 6.33 percent contribution of the oil sector in the same quarter.
“As part of our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure, we increased our 4G base stations from 13,823 to 36,751 from August 2019 to date, and this has increased the percentage of 4G coverage across the country from 23 percent to 77.52 percent, also from August 2019 to date. We have also followed this up with the roll-out of 5G services.
“It is noteworthy that the digital economy sector has excelled in generating revenue for the government. In particular, at the Ministerial Retreat that I chaired from the 18th to 19th of October 2022, our independent analysts adjudged the digital economy sector to have generated 594 percent of its revenue target from the 2019 baseline.
This is very commendable. As part of these unprecedented achievements, the sector generated over $547 million dollars from the auctioning of the 5G spectrum alone,’’ he said.
At the event, President Buhari said he was pleased to unveil and commission a number of initiatives that further express the government’s commitment to developing a sustainable digital economy in Nigeria.
The President, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said he recently approved the suspension of the proposed excise duty in the telecoms sector, as any initiative that would lead to hardship for the citizens would not be pursued.
President Buhari said the digital economy ensured continuity in governance during the restrictions that came into force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our administration’s commitment to promoting data promotion and privacy is receiving praise across the world and we have increased our digital identity enrolments from 39 million in October 2020 to about 92 million today.
“The massive increase of about 63 million in about two years is a global success story and has led to several requests for partnership from countries within and outside Africa. I also approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau on the 4th of February, 2022 to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices,” the President told the gathering of ICT experts and government officials.
He said a number of policies and programs to enhance the productivity of the digital economy sector had been developed.
“For example, National Policy on NIN-SIM integration has enhanced the integrity of the National Identification Number database. Similarly, the Nigerian Postal Service has been repositioned through the unbundling of its services to increase its efficiency and make it more viable as a revenue-generating agency of government. The two subsidiaries are the Property & Development Company and the Transport & Logistics Company.
“As part of the NDEPS, I approved the 24th of October as Digital Nigeria Day. I am delighted that the maiden Digital Nigeria International Conference and Exhibitions commenced on the 24th of October 2022. I am confident that the outcome of the Conference, as noted in the Communique, will support the growth of the digital economy sector.
“I signed the Nigeria Startup Bill into law on the 19th of October 2022. The Nigeria Startup Act is a landmark legislation of this administration to transform the pool of highly talented youth we have in Nigeria into a pool of highly innovative digital entrepreneurs.”
President Buhari also noted partnerships with leading global ICT companies to train Nigerians in cutting-edge and high-demand digital skills.
“This includes the training of five million Nigerians, as part of a partnership with Microsoft Corporation. It also includes the training of an additional one million Nigerians in skills, in areas such as blockchain technologies, cybersecurity, and data analytics, among others,” the President stated.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy appreciated the President for his support for the digital economy, with turnovers in broadband/Internet penetration, skills acquisition for global competitiveness, and infrastructure development, like the fiber optic cable, which was about 15,000kms in 2015 and increased to more than 60,000kms.
Pantami said there had been 2,255 interventions and programs in the higher institutions of learning, secondary schools, and some private schools, and the quarterly revenue from ICT rose from N51billion (Naira) to N418 billion (Naira), while some prominent institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States, had shown interest in researching the pace of growth in the sector.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Bello Abubakar, said 400 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies were already connected to the National Shared Services Centre.
At the close of the event, two young Nigerians, Kalim Haruna, who developed a system called “Sharp-Sharp’’ and Bashir Abubakar, founder of “Africa First’’, were honored by President Buhari for their creativity and ingenuity, showcasing the nation’s talent in a global ICT conference. (Daily Trust)