December 7, 2022

FG boosts local content development by engaging indigenous construction firms – Minister

By John Alechenu, Abuja

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has said the Ministry has prioritized the engagement of competent indigenous construction companies in the execution of complex projects.

He explained that the decision to prioritize the engagement of local firms which the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was championing was aimed at boosting local content development.

Pantami said his ministry on its part is determined to ensure local content and give the companies an opportunity to showcase their competence.

The Minister, said this while inspecting the site of the the ongoing construction of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Centre and the headquarters of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in Abuja, yesterday.

He said the quality of the work being executed by the indigenous construction company exemplifies the ability of Nigerian companies to execute complex projects in line with world-class standards.   

According to him, the engagement of an indigenous construction company to execute the task is in line with Executive Order 003 which ‘prioritizes the consideration of competent indigenous companies for projects of this nature,’ he noted that the Federal Executive Council had approved the project twice on 11th November 2020 and 6th April 2021.’ 

While expressing satisfaction with the quality of work being executed by Cosgrove Africa, the indigenous Smart Real Estate development company handling the project, the Minister noted that by engaging a competent indigenous company to execute a large scale project, a lot of jobs are being created while local content is also being developed.

He said, “By doing so we are creating jobs and supporting our local economy in line with the provision of Executive Order 003.”

The minister further said, “There are one thousand and one ways that our citizens are going to benefit from this project: We have the Nigerian Start-up Act 2022, this building will play a significant role in its implementation.

‘You may have observed that the floors are designed to be centres that will accommodate hands-on training of Nigeria’s young innovators. This is going to be the centre where we will coordinate the issue of tax holidays for them, pioneer status, and intellectual property among others.”

Pantami further explained that ‘from the initial stage, without recommending any company, I said “this project must be executed by an indigenous company,” and I believe we have the capacity to do that, and I am glad that the project is being constructed by an indigenous company.

“When completed and put to use, the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Centre will facilitate the instrumentality of ICT to contribute to the ongoing economic diversification of Nigeria,’ adding that the complex will also help to consolidate the diversification of the Nigerian economy.

The minister also noted that his ministry is saddled with the responsibility of regulating the Information Technology sector which he explained plays a critical role in the diversification of the economy. 

He equally said, “As you can see, there are two buildings that are interconnected: One of them would serve as the actual digital innovation and entrepreneurship development centre as approved by the Federal Executive Council, after my presentation on the 11th of November 2020.

“The second one would also serve as the National Information Technology Development Agency Headquarters that will manage the other centre.”

He disclosed that on April 6, 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved an augmentation of the project, the minister noted that the approval was also being satisfactorily implemented, stating that the entire cost of the project is ‘around twelve billion Naira, inclusive of vat and other taxes.’

In his remarks, the Director-General, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi commended the Hon. Minister for giving the Nigerian construction industry the opportunity to showcase the competence of an indigenous Real Estate construction company, Cosgrove Africa, stating that this is the first time a project of this magnitude is being implemented by an indigenous construction company in the FCT.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister for seeking approval for the project as well as approving the commencement of the implementation.

Abdullahi said, “This project was conceptualized in 2020 to strengthen national digital entrepreneurship and strengthen the digital ecosystem in Abuja, and it can be replicated nationwide by providing a space where we can bring together entrepreneurs, regulators, and government under one roof to discuss how to move the digital economy forward.”

The Director-General, who described the project as a signature project of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, adding that the consultants, Cosgrove Africa, are working day and night to ensure that the project is completed within the stipulated timeframe.

Chairman, Cosgrove Africa, Mr. Umar Abdullahi who was represented by the Chief Technical Officer, Cosgrove, Engr. Baba Kalli thanked the Hon. Minister and the inspection teams from the Ministry and its parastatal, NITDA.

While saying that Cosgrove Africa is proud to be given the opportunity to showcase the advancement it has made in terms of project competence, he assured that Cosgrove Africa will continue to uphold the values that earned it the confidence, stating that it will not deviate from perfect compliance with standards set by the Federal Executive Council which approved the project.

He commended the Hon. Minister for his visionary leadership that has made the ICT sector a leading revenue-generating sector in the country, ‘playing a greater role in lifting the Nigeria economy out of recession as well as contributing in a substantive way to economic diversification.’

The Chairman thanked the Minister for the commitment to ensuring that an increasing number of Nigerians get basic training on ICT over the last few years, adding that the National Digital Innovation Centre is an addition to the achievements of the administration in the ICT sector.

He assured that Cosgrove Africa will contribute its quota to the development by delivering the project in line with set specifications as a world-class quality infrastructure that will be among the best in the world.