Telecoms

How NCC is Working to Ease Nigeria into Digital Economy Era

If all government ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs] are as forward-looking as the Nigerian Communication Commission [NCC], the country’s economy and government activities would function better.

The recent creation by the NCC of a Digital Economy Department responsible for the implementation of programmes and policies aimed at supporting and promoting the national digital economy agenda of the federal government has corroborated this assertion.

Aside from infusing new dynamism into the existing digital economy function, the Digital Economy department has magnified the Commission’s “regulatory excellence” which is one of the five pillars of its Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024.

Not only did the Commission create this department, but it will also support the agenda of the country’s digital economy. The department is under the supervision of the Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta. Engr. Babagana Digima, an Assistant Director in the Special Duties department will be the pioneer head.

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With this new bold step, the Commission has declared the importance it attached to the need to successfully drive the overall national “digital economy strategy of the government” through ensuring effective monitoring and supervision.

Earlier the EVC had restated the Commission’s commitment to driving the digital economy policy of the federal government through effective regulation of the telecoms industry.

As the telecom regulator, the NCC will play a significant role in the overall implementation of the digital economy policy and strategy. Therefore, the new department will concentrate on working with the eight pillars of the National Economy Policy and Strategy [NDEPS] and oversee the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020-2025.

According to information emanating from the Commission, the Governing Board of the NCC had approved the creation of the Digital Economy Department at its last meeting.

Prof Danbatta had explained in a media report that the Commission is working with the eight pillars of the NDEPS document – the Broadband Implementation unit in the Commission – previously placed under the Special Duties department. All the staff of this unit has been directed to migrate to the Digital Economy department.

In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Orders 003 and 005, the NDEPS – as a national policy document – was unveiled by the president in November 2019. It is an impetus to the actualisation of the federal government’s Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

The NDEPS, as its eight pillars, centres on the Indigenous Content Development and Adoption that hinges on the provision of a policy framework that gives preference for digitally-skilled Nigerians for government-funded projects. This will encourage millions of digital startups in the country.

The first pillar is the Developmental Regulation that centres on the effective regulation of the ICT and digital sector in a way that enables development. The second is the Digital Literacy and Skill that focuses on the provision of policy backing for massive training of Nigerians from all works of life in order to enable them to obtain digital literacy and other digital skills. This pillar will also facilitate the training of Nigerians.

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The Digital Services Development and Promotion is the sixth pillar and it addresses the development of a vibrant digital ecosystem that supports Innovation-driven Enterprises (IDE) and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in a way that engenders innovation.

The seventh pillar is the Digital Society and Emerging Technologies, focusing on tying the development of the digital economy to indices of well-being in the lives of the ordinary citizens; mentoring startups on emerging technologies and deploying their solutions.

The NCC will work with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami whose ministry will drive the vision of the digital economy of the federal government.

Other MDAs should emulate the Commission’s forward-looking step and collaborate with other ministries in order to actualise the federal government’s digital economy agenda.