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Digital Economy: Buhari applauds 5G spectrum auctions, restates commitment to expanding ICT infrastructure

Photo Collage Showing Trajectory of Nigeria's Journey to the Deployment of 5G Networks

*President Muhammadu Buhari lauds the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and associated agencies for activation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy to fast-track economic diversification with improved growth, employment and revenue generation in the West African country

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to the implementation of Nigeria’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for  digital transformation of Nigeria.

RELATED: How Nigeria Approves National Policy On 5G Networks For Digital Economy ─Minister

President Buhari, at a forum of ICT experts and government officials Tuesday, December 20, 2022, in Abuja, FCT, recalled how he launched the NDEPS regulatory instrument November 28, 2019, and said, “I am very proud of the giant strides and the unprecedented progress that we have made in less than one year since the unveiling.”

President Buhari (middle) and other top government officials at the launch of Nigeria’s National Policy on 5G Networks in the State House, Abuja

ConsumerConnect reports Buhari commended the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) auctioning of lots in the 3.5GHz spectrum band, which he affirmed had generated $547 million to the Federal Government.

The NCC’s auctioning of the 3.5GHz spectrum is part of the process of consolidating the deployment of 5G Networks to improve digital communications in the country’s telecoms ecosystem.

READ ALSO Digital Technologies: How 3.5GHz Spectrum Auction Will Democratise Broadband For Nigerians –Danbatta

The President made the commendation Tuesday at the National Shared Services Centre (NSSC), a one-stop-shop for government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to interface with citizens.

The NSSC also houses a Cybersecurity Operations Centre, Network Centre and Call Centre respectively, agency report said.

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The National Shared Services Centre, Buhari said, will provide services that are “swift, secure and seamless’’ to Nigerian consumers.

We’ve recorded ‘unprecedented achievements’ in ICT/Telecoms sector: Buhari

In acknowledging the contribution of the sector to the national economy, the President said: “As part of these unprecedented achievements, the sector generated over 547 million dollars from the auctioning of the 5G spectrum alone.”

Buhari stated that 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.

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The President further attributed the feat to activation of the digital economy, which he noted had driven growth, created employment and generated revenue for the country.

He as well stressed that the Information and Communication and Technology sector had accelerated diversification of the economy.

RELATED: Pantami Assures Nigerian Consumers Of Proactive Regulation As IoT Beckons

Buhari stated the Q2 2022 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicated the extent of growth, with the ICT contributing an unprecedented 18.44 percent to the GDP, about three times the 6.33 percent contribution of the oil sector in the same quarter.

5G Networks and expansion of digital infrastructure

The President also said: “As part of our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure; we increased our 4G basestations 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.

RELATED: 5G Deployment In Nigeria Is In Line With Global Innovation Curve ─Buhari

“We have also followed this up with roll-out of 5G services.

“It is noteworthy that the digital economy sector has excelled in generating revenue for the government.”

He recalled that “in particular, at the Ministerial Retreat that I chaired from the October 18 to October 19, 2022, our independent analysts adjudged the digital economy sector to have generated 594 percent of its revenue target from the 2019 baseline.

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“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.”

Buhari acknowledged he was pleased to unveil and commission a number of initiatives that further express the government’s commitment to developing a sustainable Nigeria Digital Economy.

“These initiatives are part of our administration’s efforts to position the digital economy as a key enabler for the diversification of our economy and as a catalyst for the transformation of every sector of our economy.

RELATED: Danbatta Restates NCC’s Commitment To Broadband, Consumer Protection, Digital Economy

“You will recall that I unveiled and launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria on the 28th of November 2019, and I am very proud of the giant strides and the unprecedented progress that we have made in in less than one year since the unveiling.

“To ensure that the digital economy sector remains successful and in order to reduce the burden on citizens, I recently approved the suspension of the proposed excise duty in the telecoms sector, as any initiative that will lead to hardship for the citizens would not be pursued,” said he.

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According to the President, the digital economy actually ensured continuity in governance during the restrictions that came into force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buhari further noted: “We approved the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions on the October 14, 2020, and this enabled us to formalise government online meetings.

“As such statutory meetings like the Federal Executive Council meetings, Council of State meetings and other meetings can now take place online, effectively and legally.

“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.”

READ ALSO: Pantami In US, Engages SpaceX, World Bank, Google To Strengthen Nigeria Digital Economy

The President stated: “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 February 14, to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices.”

A number of policies and programmes, including the National Policy on NIN-SIM integration, repositioning of the Nigerian Postal Service, and approval of October 24 as the Digital Nigeria Day as part of the NDEPS had been approved to enhance the productivity of the digital economy sector, said Buhari.

Advancing the frontiers and objectives of Nigeria Digital Economy

Buhari also said: “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 communiqué will support the growth of the digital economy sector.

“I signed the Nigeria Start-up Bill into law on the October 19, 2022.”

READ ALSO Special Report: Umar Garba Danbatta as Icon of Digital Transformation in Nigeria

The Nigeria Start-up Act, the President stated, is a landmark legislation of this administration to transform the pool of highly talented youth in the country into a pool of highly innovative digital entrepreneurs.

He added: “We aim to make Nigeria a global hub for digital talent.

“It was an executive bill that was initiated by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.”

RELATED: Digital Connectivity Enhances Consumers’ Quality Of Life: Danbatta

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 block chain technologies, cybersecurity and data analytics, among others.”

Buhari applauded the giant strides of the digital economy sector under the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, its agencies, and other stakeholders, describing them as impressive.

Speaking at the forum, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, appreciated the President for his support for the  digital economy in Nigeria.

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