- The Nigerian government is seeking collaboration from its foreign neighbours as ICT development becomes a major source of income
- The government is not resting on its oars to ensure the ICT industry becomes an alternative and viable source of income for Nigeria
- To achieve this, the government is reaching out to other countries in the sub-region to form a partnership that would benefit West Africa
The Nigerian government has called for increased regional collaboration for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem in West Africa as a potential digital hub on the global ICT map.
Minister of communications and digital economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, and the executive vice-chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta made the call at the two-day 18th Annual General Meeting of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA).
The meeting commenced in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Wednesday, March 10.
Addressing WATRA representatives, Pantami said the time has come for African countries to come up with innovative ideas to fast-track the development of the ICT ecosystem in the sub-region.
He said Nigeria, as the largest ICT market in West Africa and the most populous African country, has taken policy and regulatory initiatives in making ICT/telecoms a major contributor to its economic growth.
Citing a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the minister said ICT/telecoms has become a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), far higher than what oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and other major sectors contribute to the economy.
Pantami acknowledged the role of NCC in spearheading the implementation of critical ICT policies, such as the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025, and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria (2020-2030).
While commending the leading role of NCC, as Nigeria’s representative in WATRA, the minister emphasised the readiness of Nigeria to continue to share ideas with other member states of WATRA and support the assembly for the overall goal of collectively developing the ICT ecosystem in the sub-region.
Corroborating the minister, Danbatta stressed the need for all member states to:
“Come together and see our differences as strengths because, at the end of the day, we all want to have a safe and thriving society devoid of poverty and strife.”
He said while the Nigerian government, as a member of WATRA, envisions societies with necessary infrastructure and services that will ensure prosperity for all our people, ICT is key to this vision.
Chairman, WATRA Exco, Charles Tontoma Milogo of Burkina Faso, commended the leadership role of NCC, especially in equipping the Assembly headquarters in Abuja. He added that this has ensured the smooth running of the daily operations of WATRA as the key regional ICT body.
Meanwhile, ICT ministers from Liberia, Cooper Kruah; Sierra Leone, Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara, The Gambia, Ebrima Sillah, among other participants at the annual conference, have commended Nigeria for its impressive ICT development.
They expressed readiness to emulate Nigeria in the area of innovative policy implementation and regulations to make ICT/telecoms a major economic contributor in their respective countries.
Meanwhile, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport located in Abuja has been named the best airport in Africa by the Airport Council International (ACI), a non-profit organisation representing the world's airports.
The airport was awarded the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award 2020.
In another development, the world’s first and only national scale drone delivery service, Zipline, on Tuesday, March 2 began the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to selected health facilities within its service area in neighbouring Ghana.
Jerrywright Ukwu is an Abuja-based senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He spends his leisure-time reading history books. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.