By Martin Ekpeke
In Nigeria and indeed all over the world, the telecommunications sector plays a key role in the economy and serves as a major enabler of other sectors of the economy. Thus, the government needs to diversify the economy from the hitherto reliance on crude oil and begin to see telecom as a diversification engine.
For this reason, the Nigerian government in its wisdom through the then Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy launched the ‘National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector’ two years ago.
The policy was launched as a commitment to ensure that Nigerians become active participants in the different sectors of the economy, stop the over-reliance on foreign products and services, and have the desire to produce what Nigerians eat and consume what Nigerians produce.
Another essence of the policy is to develop and patronize indigenous content in the telecommunications sector to create top-quality indigenous content to propel the sector. Also, to develop a telecommunications sector where innovative indigenous solutions create value and prosperity for all.
Core values of the policy include competence, integrity, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
In most segments of the telecom industry, there is a higher percentage of foreigners among top management staff when compared with other staff with Nigerians making up 31 percent to foreigners who make up 69 percent.
For software, 77 percent of software in use are foreign while only 23 percent are obtained locally. Also, of hardware being used in the industry, 86 percent of them are foreign while only 14 percent are sourced from local companies.
With regards to base Transceiver Stations (BTS), there is also a dominance of foreign products over locally produced products. A check reveals 88 percent are foreign while a meager 12 percent are manufactured locally.
Thankfully, to successfully implement the policy, those who drafted it recommended four focus areas. They are manufacturing, Services, and Software for the Telecom Sector, People, and Research & Development.
The 10 reasons highlighted below
- The policy deals with the development of indigenous content development and adoption, as the growth of indigenous content in the digital sector can accelerate the growth of the sector and ensure that the nation can stem the tide of capital flight and increase the value addition of indigenous content to the sector.
- The policy when implemented will aid Nigerians to play a major role in the design and manufacture of devices in meeting the manpower requirements and in becoming an active part of the telecommunications ecosystem of the country.
- Though the policy gives certain criteria for those who can benefit, it creates a framework for supporting indigenous telecom businesses to become world-class service providers.
- The policy fosters collaboration between global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) engaged in manufacturing telecommunications equipment and indigenous players.
- It will help build the skills capacity of Nigerians and the indigenous telecom companies to access opportunities within the sector.
- To support the development of the local telecom startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem by making the licensing framework less cumbersome for new entrants and telecom startups.
- The policy supports win-win partnerships and knowledge transfer between indigenous and foreign companies.
- It supports research and development efforts to advance the impact of indigenous content in the telecom sector.
- With the policy in place, the participation of indigenous research institutions will be encouraged and incentivized.
- The policy will increase public sector patronage of indigenous telecom businesses and services. Thus, enabling them to contribute significantly towards the overall development of the telecom industry.