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Maiden Telecom Indigenous Content Expo: Danbatta delivers another first

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At a time the country is experiencing economic downturn and dwindling foreign exchange earnings, Prof Umar Danbatta-led Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is turning the screw to stanch capital flight and nurture indigenous content in the telecom sector.

The goal is to get more Nigerians involved and in the long run conserve forex that would have been used to import telecom products, skills and services as the nation marches ahead to deepen the digital economy.

On Monday, July 1, in Lagos, NCC through the barely one-year-old Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector, NODITS, rolled out more than a red carpet to host the first ever Nigerian Telecoms Indigenous Content Expo, NTICE.

Metaphorically, the carpet was green, not red. And it symbolized the lush verdant opportunities in Nigeria telecom, reputed locally and internationally as one of the best performing sectors out of Nigeria, and a model for other nations, especially developing countries.

NODITS, as a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, targeted at driving local content was birthed on July 5, 2021 as mandated by the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content, NPPIC. And in just one year, the glass for indigenous content in telecom is looking half full, not half empty.

There’s no better time to look inwards to harness the potential in the ICT/Telecoms sector which continues to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than now.

Petro-dollar is abating, thus constricting massively the nation’s forex reservoir. On the balance of export-import, Nigeria is still holding the short end of the lever. Producing very little compared to her population, she has used up much of scarce forex to augment for import of critical products including machinery for manufacturing, military hardware, among others.

Moments like these in the life of a nation call for innovation, out-of-the-box strategy and decisive backward integration. NCC through NODITS is leading the charge. And with the hosting of the maiden edition of NTICE, symbolically in Lagos where the nation’s telecom giants and infrastructure take their roots, Danbatta has once again demonstrated that he is not just a workman worthy of his calling, he’s one determined to push his nation out of the shadows of stagnation to the brightness of solvency.

With the worrisome trend of importation into the country, stakeholders in the sector have continued to call for need to protect the ecosystem through local production of equipment and content to reduce capital flight in the industry.

A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

The establishment of the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecoms Sector, NODITS, as a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, targeted at driving local content on July 5, 2021 as mandated by the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content, NPPIC, is indeed long overdue.

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One year after its establishment, NODITS, a subsidiary of the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, in keeping up with its purpose, organised its maiden Nigerian Telecoms Indigenous Content Expo, NTICE, in Lagos.

The event further restates NCC’s commitment to actualising goal of implementing its policy on indigenous content.

IMPLEMENTATION IS KEY

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, at the opening of the 2-day event, decried the rate of importation into the country. He gave marching order to NODITS and the NCC to as a matter of necessity enforce the implementation to stop importation of ICT/Telecoms content/equipment that can be produced locally.

Pantami restated his ministry’s commitment to support and protect the sector.

According to him, “we discovered that the percentage of importation into the country is worrisome, and to support the eco system to consolidate on its gains, there’s the necessity to promote our indigenous technology in order to reduce importation”.

CONSTITUTIONAL BACKING

He emphasised that the Federal Government will no longer tolerate these unnecessary importations as the most recent Executive Orders 003 and 005 both enforce the necessity of prioritising our local content when it comes to patronage of goods and services.

“With these, the country can create more jobs for her citizens and by 2025, be able to increase our indigenous content and reduce importation by about 20 percent”, he noted.

For the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Danbatta, 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)  which states: “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) states:  “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 ”.

With effective implementation of its mandate, NODITS is poised to significantly improve local investment in the sector and help ramp up foreign exchange earnings.

Exhibitors at the event include: Amplus: Low carbon energy solutions ( Solars, microwave etc.); Coloured Spaces: indigenous brand support company (corporate gifts items, 3D printing items etc); EnextGen Wireless (Mobile Broadband Wireless Communications, software); Extended Networks: (Wi-Fi Extended Networks Carrier-Grade Wi-Fi solution platforms that routes all internet traffic directly at the source and free up operators’ network for voice calls, data, and other value-added services); AmChat, an e-commerce focused conversational solution for brands.

Professor Danbatta has through NODITS set the nation on the right path to sustainability in the telecom sector. History will imprint his name in the bowel of time.

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Author: Theresa Igata, Political Economist

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