In a bid to promote local content development and reduce expenditure on foreign goods, the Federal Government of Nigeria has announced that it has saved as much as $12 million from the sales of locally developed Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards used in mobile phones and other devices. This was disclosed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on February 9, 2023, in Lagos during a panel session. It was moderated by the Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Reuben Muoka, at the ongoing AfricaNXT forum.
The director said the money was saved from August 2022 to January 2023, following the ban on foreign SIM cards in the telecom sector. According to the NCC, the ban compelled telecom operators to patronize local SIM cards that were produced and sold in Nigeria, against foreign SIM cards that were imported at the rate of $3 per SIM card. Muoka, who spoke at the panel session on theme, “The NCC Mandate Towards Realization of Full Digital Economy,” said that the Digital Economy Agenda was built around the Eight Pillars of the NCC, which was driven largely by telecom infrastructure.
Harnessing the benefits of digital culture the objective of FG’s policies.
Mr. Muoka said, “The need to ensure individuals, businesses, and the nation harness derivable benefits and the opportunities offered by the emergent digital culture, to improve quality of life, grow businesses, and leapfrog the national economy, remains the overarching objective of government policies, plans, and strategies.” He stated that the NCC is obligated to ensure that this is achieved as well as many other objectives by enhancing the availability, accessibility and affordability of digital services. In executing these duties, the NCC has established processes to improve connectivity, protect infrastructure, and defend the interest of consumers and other stakeholders.
Continuing on he stated that while there have been challenges, the commission has ensured that it consolidates on the success recorded in the telecom industry. It is also striding steadily to achieve government plans as laid down in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, and particularly the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, the NCC Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, and the Strategic Vision Plan II (The Five-Point Agenda) 2021-2025, to meet the targets outlined in the policies, plans and strategies.
Infrastructure is key to achieving full digital economy.
The success recorded in the industry are measurable in terms of country-wide broadband access, connectivity, qualitative improvement in citizens’ life, quantifiable growth in businesses, and remarkable growth of the nation’s economy. Additionally, one of the panelists, and Head of Digital Skills and Services at NCC, Freda Bruce-Bennett, said infrastructure development remained key to achieving a full digital economy. According to Bruce-Bennett, NCC licensed seven Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) across the six geopolitical zones, including Lagos, to drive broadband infrastructure that would further help to achieve full digital economy and innovation.
He said that the NCC will continue to support digital talents in Nigeria. “NCC is at the forefront of driving technology innovation and creativity, which have helped to build Nigerian unicorns that are driving the African technology space. Among the seven unicorns in Africa today, Nigeria has five, and unicorns are technology startups with a minimum of $1 billion,” Bruce-Bennett said. Meanwhile, FG has employed some other means in a bid to promoting local content development in other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
FG to boost local content development in other sectors also.
One of such is the implementation of the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC), which is carefully targeted at ensuring that local equipment manufacturers and fabricators are protected and made competitive. Under the IDEC, the government through the federal ministry of industry, trade and investment grants incentives to local manufacturers to import machinery and equipment that are not fabricated locally, at zero percent, as a way of cushioning the effect of the high cost of production for commodities, goods and services. Also, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) made a case for local production of fabricated materials two years ago in a bid to improve local content and achieve the 70 percent manufacturing target.
Nigerian Communications Commission: Website