FG allocates 3.5GHz frequency bands for 5G deployment

….NCC identifies 72 action points to implement Policy

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor & Emmanuel Elebeke

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami and his counterpart at the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta are on the same page in implementing the ban on certain telecom equipment that can be produced in Nigeria.

Recounting the huge percentage of importation of telecom equipments Monday, at the maiden edition of the Nigerian Telecommunications Indigenous Content Expo, NTICE organized by the Nigeria Office for Developing Indigenous Telecoms Sector, NODITS, Pantami was visibly livid.

He lamented that the importations are done even when some of the equipment can be obtained in the country.

The minister gave a marching order to all stakeholders that “henceforth, the Federal government will not tolerate importation of anything into the country, when we have the capacity to produce it.  In fact, let me make it clear that the federal government will no longer tolerate the importation of SIM cards, for instance. We are now producing them in Nigeria.

“Our aim is to increase indigenous content in the ICT sector so that by 2025, we will be self-reliant by at least 80 percent. We urge stakeholders and citizens to support government efforts to boost local patronage and consumption. If we do this, history will be kind to all of us.

“The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and the National Office for the Promotion of Indigenous Content, NODIT should enforce this policy”, he added.

In June, Pantami announced the establishment of a SIM card manufacturing plant in Lagos.

The facility, built with private sector support, has the capacity to produce 200 million cards annually and also export them to other African countries.

Corroborating his minister at the event, Executive Vice Chairman NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta explained that the “National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Nigerian Telecommunications Sector was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 8, 2021.

The Policy has four focus areas, namely: Manufacturing; Services & Software for the Telecoms Sector; People, and Research & Development for Digital Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

 It also provides for the creation of the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector (NODITS) which is a Special Purpose Vehicle resident in the Commission.The creation of NODITS to drive the provision of indigenous content for the telecom industry is not only apt but in line with the Nigerian Communications Act 2003,Section 1, sub-section (d) “Encourage local and foreign investments in the Nigerian communications industry and the introduction of innovative services and practices in the industry in accordance with international best practices and trends”; sub-section (e)”Ensure fair competition in all sectors of the Nigerian communications industry and also encourage participation of Nigerians in the ownership, control and management of communications companies and organisations;”  and sub-section (f) “Encourage the development of a communications manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy and also encourage effective research and development efforts by all communications industry practitioners ”.

Therefore, the objective of this Policy is to transform the enormous strides achieved by the telecom industry in the last two decades into long-term indigenous economic development outcomes for Nigerian companies and citizenry through capacity strengthening, institutional building and strategic policy tools which  will further promote domestic and economic linkages, job creation and the participation of local Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the telecom value chain, via the supply of goods and services to the sector.

At an earlier event in Lagos, Danbatta had revealed that his Commission, had so far identified 72 action points to promote indigenous content in the telecoms sector.

He added that the commission had gathered at least 30 stakeholders to a round table to discuss effective implementation of the Policy.

He explained that different entities including Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), SIM card manufacturers, tower and mast manufacturers, and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have been part of the ongoing discussions.

“At a higher level, the Commission had identified some time-based metrics for NPPIC which it classed in to immediate, short term, medium term, and long-term items these include activities such as creation of NODITS dedicated to guiding the policy; constitution of local content steering committee; engagement with relevant internal and external stakeholders; and commissioning baseline studies on the level of indigenous content in the Nigerian telecoms industry.”

Others, according to him, include development of regulations, monitoring and enforcement of Key Performance Indices (KPIs) and methodologies; development of implementation guidelines; and continuous efforts in research and development (R&D); and monitoring, evaluation and enforcement.

According Danbatta, the NPPIC requires more focused and direct actions than undertaken before now to actualise its set objectives.

“To ensure the effective implementation of the NPPIC, we have articulated several targets and high impact interventions, which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based (SMART).

“We will therefore be counting on the efforts of industry stakeholders, watchdogs and partners to create independent metrics that will ensure the achievements of the goals of the NPPIC,” he said.

He further noted that some of the 72 action points and plans are already being implemented by the Commission through NODITS which in some instances have also yielded fruits.

“An example is capturing some of the target areas for gazette by the Federal Government and Companies providing such goods and services shall be accorded pioneer industry status by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.

“Another achievement is the consideration given to telecommunications services as an exportable non tangible asset by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), thereby enjoying promotion and funding,” he said.

“Another achievement is the consideration given to telecommunications services as an exportable non tangible asset by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), thereby enjoying promotion and funding,” he said.

According to him, the Commission was also fully involved in the successes achieved thus far “as we are also promoting the establishment of a manufacturing facility for Corrugated Optical Duct (COD) in Nigeria which will complement the recent launch of the first optic fibre cable (OFC) manufacturing plant by Coleman Technical Industries in conjunction with Corning, a world-renowned leader in OFC development and manufacturing.”

He said provision of skilled manpower, funding and software development is equally receiving attention, noting however that this will require a different set of metrics such as skill areas, available personnel, skill migration, and new skill development for which the industry will be a key driver and source of statistics.

“Our discussions with the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) and some of the MNOs, TowerCos and OEMs are centred around skills development as well as repair and maintenance of telecoms equipment both of which are key element for the indigenous emancipation of the telecoms industry” he said.

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