The Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), an umbrella body of Journalists covering the Information and Communications Technology sector has demanded that any Minister that would be appointed by President Bola Tinubu to champion the ICT sector must be a technocrat who is in tune with growth indices in the industry.
The group believes that such a technocrat would be able to drive forward the industry, which financial data obtained from service providers by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) shown has attracted over $ 75.6 billion in investment as of 2021.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, NITRA argues that it is imperative to put a round peg in a round hole when appointing the next Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
“As an Association, we implore the President to look at the antecedents of proposed individuals and bring forth someone who has played well in the ICT industry. Someone who knows the challenges, gaps and needs of the industry, and is ready to tackle them head-on to achieve results,” the statement reads.
Here is the 13-point agenda
- The next Minister of Communications and Digital Economy should be someone with a technology discipline who is digitally savvy and ready to collaborate with industry stakeholders in driving technology development in Nigeria.
- The Minister should come from among the various IT bodies and organisations that are registered in Nigeria and not a politician. Also, the Minister should be ready and willing to work with ICT Media in enhancing technology development in Nigeria.
- The Minister should focus more on Tech Startup development in Nigeria and provide the necessary funding, support and mentorship for growth. This, NITRA believes will help the country to produce several unicorns that will drive technology development in the country.
- The Minister should focus on SME growth using technology as the driving force.
- The Minister should look into the feud between Telcos and the Banks in order to build cordial working relationships among them that will promote growth and development in the ICT sector.”
- The new Minister must be a technocrat who should be well versed in Telecom industry issues and a core professional.
- The incoming Minister should give the agencies in the Ministry free hands to operate by not encroaching on their functions.
- The Minister should focus on the creation of tech hubs in the six geopolitical zones and encourage states to have their owned hubs to train and nurture tech talents.
- The Minister should partner with higher institutions on new digital skills training and modules; strategically work with ICT bodies/Associations to create a level playing field and attract FDIs; and ensure there is harmony and synergy among the Agencies and other inter-agency regulators.
- The minister should work towards creating Technology Banks that would provide seed capital to tech entrepreneurs/startups in the country, and work to promote Local Content in technology usage.
- The FMoCDE should be able to relate well with sister Ministries – Education, Budget & National Planning, Science & Technology, Trade & Investments, Information & Culture, among others. The Minister should also be able to relate well with other arms of government, the Legislature and the Judiciary, and with Industry associations such as ALTON, ATCON, ISPON, NCS, CIMON. The Minister must carry along to ensure policies and strategies are reflective of wide industry input.
- The Minister should empower the local ICT media through capacity-building programmes, projects and activities and support through advertisements and institutional support schemes.
- The new minister should continue laudable programmes such as the NDEPS 2020-2030 and Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.
Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed a significant 17.47% to Nigeria’s GDP (Real Gross Domestic Product) in the first quarter of 2023. This is according to the latest statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the NBS report, this amounts to about N3.1 trillion of the total N17.75 trillion of the country’s real GDP in the quarter. This is a notable increase in the ICT sector’s GDP contribution, surpassing the figures for the first quarter of 2022 which stood at N2.86 trillion.