The duo of Prof. Isa Pantami, Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), have made a case for Africa digital transformation strategy.
The two telecom ombudsmen, who spoke at the recent 3-day virtual African Internet Governance Forum 2021 (vAFIGF2021) with the theme: “Advancing Digital Transformation in Africa in the Face of Crisis”, and hosted by the Nigerian government, noted that the digital transformation strategy for Africa should be established on key foundational pillars.
For the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, these pillars should include an enabling environment, policy regulation, digital infrastructure, digital skills and human capacity, as well as digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
“To establish digital transformation strategy for Africa, critical sectors such as digital trade and financial services, digital government, digital education, digital health, and digital agriculture must be underlining pillars of the transformation,” Pantami, who was represented at the forum by Prof. Sahalu Balarabe Junaidu, a Director at NCC said.
He added that the drivers of digital transformation include digital content and applications, digital identification, emerging technology, cyber security, privacy and personal data protection, as well as research and development.
Also speaking at the forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta assured that ongoing policy directions and regulatory measures being put in place by the Nigerian Government towards bridging identified broadband infrastructure gaps shall be sustained in order to facilitate increased access to the Internet by citizens across the country.
He noted that the demand for Internet services has increased dramatically going by the challenges thrown up by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, where African citizens access the broadband/internet services to carry out their personal and official task more effectively and effectively.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the increased need to embrace the digital culture. So, as Africans, one of the ways by which we can respond to the challenge thrown by the pandemic is to accelerate our digital transformation,” said Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, New Media and Information Security, NCC, Dr. Al-Hassan Haru at the forum.
He reiterated NCC’s commitment to ensuring broadband penetration through stimulating continuous roll-out of broadband infrastructure, disclosing that the Commission is well positioned to drive government policy direction to tackle digital infrastructure deficit in the telecoms sector, as well as to explore necessary options to improve the nation’s digital ecosystem.
“The future is digital, and we should be committed to supporting and collaborating with African countries to maximise opportunities inherent in digital technologies. We should also be ready to avoid the pitfalls by instituting appropriate regulations as we are doing in NCC,” he added.