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Local content: National Assembly should enact a holistic law – Minister

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By Tare Youdeowei

Following the repeated flouting of the local content policy introduced by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Ministry of Communications says it is pushing for the passing into law of the Local Content Act.

Minister for Communications, Chief Adebayo Shittu during the opening of the Federal Executive Council Meeting at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

The Ministry says it is basing its call on the benefits of the 2010 Local Content Law for the Oil and Gas sector and seeks to replicate it in the telecommunication sector.

“The transformational benefits of this new Local Content Executive Order are predicated on the gains observed to date from the Government’s 2010 Local Content Law for the Oil and Gas sector, which has migrated local content in this previously closed up sector, from little or nothing to about 30 percent today. Backed by this reinvigorated government commitment to local content, this percentage is bound to see a jump in the coming years in the ICT sector.

“The Ministry, through NITDA is ready to provide guaranteed order for the local products and the private sector must ensure quality of service and products. We are totally committed to the implementation of the Local Content Program and the Executive Order on Local Content, (EO 03). Local content, however, does not mean excluding foreign participation in our economy, it means concerted and collaborative efforts by all players to build a strong indigenous economy. It means adopting a win-win formula or what the LCDs call the Local Content Diplomacy,” said the Minister of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu.

The Minister who disclosed this at the 4TH Nigeria Mobile Economic Summit and EXPO, NiMESE 2017 with the theme, The Mobile Economy Impact in Nigeria, Policy Innovation and Investment Benefits and Content, in Lagos recently, used the summit to share the outcomes of the just concluded Meeting of the National Council on Communication Technology, NCCT.

“The meeting of the NCCT had the theme, Harnessing Information Communication Technology as the main tool for driving Economic Recovery and growth and in the spirit of the theme we adopted the policy of optimizing ICT local content and empowering local businesses in the ICT Sector. Considering that Nigeria is blessed with the human capacity to accommodate a robust ICT based economy, stemming the potential capital flight, by empowering local businesses, is of utmost importance.

“What more can be economic sabotage, if actions that cause massive loss of jobs and massive loss of foreign exchange are not redressed? It is time for the National Assembly to enact a holistic law on local content that should, among other things, criminalize breaches of the local content policy of the nation.”

On harnessing ICTs in formal education in the country, Barrister Shittu said the Ministry has also been charged with developing an all-inclusive framework, “In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, this all-inclusive framework will in turn help grow the supply chain of digital experts to create a thriving digital economy.

“We intend to ensure that all the various recommendations and suggestions proffered at the NCCT are implemented, because that alone can act as a KPI for the Ministry. In the same vein, we shall be focusing on the impact of digital economy for future development and unending opportunities through the use of ICT for inclusive growth, economic diversification and social empowerment.”

Considering the dire need to secure the cyberspace to improve the confidence of users and creators alike, Barrister Shittu disclosed that the Government has done quite a bit to tighten Cyber security.

“By passing of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015 into law which instructed the formation of the Cybercrime Advisory Council, it has since given rise to the creation of National Cybersecurity Strategy and National Cybersecurity Policy. The Cybercrime Advisory Council is also tasked with identifying the Critical National infrastructure, The Ministry is a member of that Council which is chaired by the NSA.

“The Creation of Computer Emergency Response Teams, there is currently the NGCERT which is domiciled at the ONSA and CERRTNG domiciled at NITDA. These two CERTs are charged with analyzing and putting in place measures to protect Nigeria’s cyber space, although other sectors are encouraged to setup CERTs.

“International Collaboration, since securing the cyberspace cannot be done in isolation, Nigeria has since aligned with The Council of Europe, ECOWAS and the US State Department to further our cyber readiness. As a result, Nigeria has since been approached to accede to the Budapest Convention by the Council of Europe. Such collaboration has also afforded capacity development such as, Training for Law enforcement officers, Training for Judges and Training for Government employees.”

The essence of the 4TH Nigeria Mobile Economic Summit and EXPO, NiMESE 2017, was to see how Nigeria, its businesses and innovations are responding to what many people have tagged ‘Mobile Economy’, where active mobile phone users in the country stand at 137 million as at September 2017. The summit x-rays the Nigeria Mobile Economy index, and answers the questions of how the mobile economy can be leveraged to encourage skill and innovation.

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