Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy

The untold story of local production of cell phones, SIM cards in Nigeria

*Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Minister for Communications and Digital Economy explains the activation of the National Policy on Local Content ignites the development of Nigerians’ capacity to  ensure an enhanced role in the design, manufacture of devices, and in meeting the manpower requirements in the country’s telecoms sector

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Technology has related how Nigeria really began local production Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Telecoms devices and tools for consumers with the support of its agencies.

Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, who featured in a special News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) interview programme at the weekend in Abuja, FCT, disclosed the efforts were originally informed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the National Policy on Local Content, for the promotion of indigenous content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.

Some locally-produced mobile phones in Nigeria   Phone: Technology Times

The Minister stated that the West African country has achieved 100 percent in the production of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards and several components of cell phones being used in the country.

Critical roles of Nigerian Communications Commission and NITDA

Dr. Pantami at the recent virtual commissioning of the “11th Batch of Seven Digital Economy Projects for a Digital Nigeria” on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja, FCT, said that the Federal Government acknowledged and applauded the central  role the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) among other agencies have continued to play in the development of the Nigerian digital economy and impartation of new knowledge to citizens.

Related: Minister commends NCC, NITDA on digital transformation projects in Nigeria

ConsumerConnect had reported the Minister noted the Nigerian Government has established over 1,667 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centres and developed 16 ICT policies, in the last two years, to ensure that the Nigerian digital economy continues to play a key role in national growth and development

Application of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model

Dr. Pantami in the NAN interview as well explained the government is partnering with entrepreneurs in the private sector of the economy on the local manufacturing of SIM cards, cell phones, tablets and other ICT facilities.

He said this in line with the Nigerian Government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigerians become active participants in the different sectors of the country’s economy.

Read Also: Nigerian Government says NCC, others contribute over N1trillion to economy in 2 years

The National Policy on Local Content has addressed pertinent areas, including manufacturing, services, people, research and development, thus further advancing the goals of the country, the Minister noted.

According to him, developing the capacity of Nigerians would ensure an enhanced role for them in the design and manufacture of devices, and in meeting the manpower requirements in the sector.

Pantami said: “The main aim of the policy transcends the literary translation to more of a technical one when Mr. President said Nigerians must produce what we eat, and eat what we produce.

“In the digital economy sector, we consider this statement not just the literary meaning of agriculture but extends to other sectors.”

The Minister further stated: “We produce what we want to consume in Nigeria and manufacture what we need in ICT sector, telecommunications sector.”

Related: Nigeria now manufactures SIM Cards, smartphones ─Minister

The policy, he said, has also ensured local manufacturing, developing skills, sponsoring and mentoring of other Nigerians to acquire the same skills to serve the country.

“After launching the policy until date, SIM cards are being manufactured in Nigeria.

“Before this administration, SIM cards were being imported into the country; but today Nigeria has the capacity to produce SIM cards for the African continent.

“In Nigeria we manufacture smart phones, we have been licensed internationally and we partner others in the production of smart phones and Tablets,” Pantami declared.

Looking ahead, the Minister said in the next few months and years, Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in collaboration with other players in private sector would manufacture phones that could be exported to foreign markets.

He stressed that “the policy is to make sure we manufacture what we patronise, and patronise what we manufacture.

“On 12th of February, Mr. President signed the Executive Order on local content patronage where Federal institutions were directed to give priority and preferences to citizens when it comes to consulting work and many more.’’

The production of SIM cards and ICT facilities is beyond reducing importation into Nigeria, as he said that local manufacturing would increase job creation as well as bring about large produce for citizen.

Local content as a strategy to address youth unemployment

Dr. Pantami, again, acknowledged the fact that the country is faced with the challenges of unemployment and unemployability “where graduates have relevance certificates sometimes without the basic skills and opportunities.”

He stated: “Where ICT items are being produced locally, they can get the hands on and get skills required.

“It will bring an end to brain drain as many Nigeria are leaving the country to other countries.”

The Minister stressed that “it will support us in strengthening the value of our local currency.

“One of the major challenges with Naira today is more of our being a consuming nation rather than a producing country.

“Almost whatever you need, you discover it is being imported. So, it is putting so much pressure on our local currency.”

Pantami, however, added there is a need to change the country’s perception into being producers rather than consumers.

Doing so will reduce the demand for international currency and Forex, he added.

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