Pantami Assures Techpreneurs Of Government Commitment To Drive Growth In Digital Ecosystem

2 years ago
3 mins read

The digital technology sector in Nigeria in recent times has witnessed unprecedented growth but needs an enabling environment to thrive even much more better.

The minister of communication and digital economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has said the govenrnment is not resting on its oars in creating an enabling environment for the industry to thrive.

The Minister stated this on Tuesday during a breakfast interactive session with innovators in Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, which held at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

In his opening remark, Pantami noted that the interaction was to identify the challenges confronting the sector and discuss what government need to do to create an enabling environment for the sector to continue to develop appropriately.

The discussion centred around the theme: “Fostering an Enabling Environment for Startup Growth.”

The minister highlighted some elements termed as ingredients upon which the interaction focused on for consolidating or building a very successful ecosystem, particularly the digital economy. These according to him include, how to consolidate on what has been achieved in the sector, understanding the digital technology market challenges, mapping the market to determine the targets, building a strong social network, need for working with the government and having honest discussion of issues challenging the sector and the way forward.

READ ALSO: FG Releases 5G Spectrum To NCC For Deployment

The need for working with the government he said, “has a role to play in providing the enabling environment.”

Highlighting some of the government interventions, the minister said, “Within the space of three years, we have been able to develop 17 national policies. This with a sense of humility, is unprecedented in the history of the sector. These policies are all being implemented. In the course of implementing policies, challenges may come up.”

He further said the president has signed and conveyed the Nigerian Startup Bill (NSB) to the National Assembly for consideration and approval.

NSB is a body of rules that aims to provide a platform for startups to be able to interact with regulatory authority, with other key objectives looking at local content and overall conducive business environment in the digital tech sector.

Pantami implored the digital tech players to study the Bill in order to gain deeper knowledge of the provisions and follow up the lawmakers from their constituencies to support and make contributions during public hearings and considerations at plenary for the Bill to be successfully passed and returned to the president for assent.

He said there are so many provisions in the Bill to address the challenges in the sector. Some of them include provision for startup grants, tax incentives, among others.

He also noted that the Federal Executive Council has approved the establishment of National Policy for the Development of Local Contents in the Telecommunications Sector, and will be implemented by the National Communication Commission (NCC). To fastrack the implementation, the government has established a subsidiary under the NCC called National Office for the Development of Indigenous Contents in the Telecommunications Sectors.

He disclosed that a standing council called National Council for Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship will be set up to be chaired by the President, followed by the Vice President as co-chair, the Minister of communication and digital economy as deputy chair, and minister of finance as member of the council. Corporate Affairs Commission, will be there and other related institutions representing various groups within the sector. This council he said, will be meeting virtually to discuss challenges in the sector.

He further noted that the 5G network technology currently being deployed in Nigeria is not only for government, but the entire citizens and would also boost growth of fintech and other activities in the digital technology sector.

The Minister praised digital tech entrepreneurs for their commitment in raising the bar of digital revolution in the country, through their hard work, innovativeness and resilience, adding that with their continued support, the sector would actualize its full potential.

Reports had indicated that between 2016 and 2020 Nigerian startups were the most funded on the continent, raising $1.58 billion in venture capital and representing 27 per cent of the overall deal volume, closely followed by Kenya.

Delivering a keynote, Prof. Pat Utomi, founder of Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), emphasized the need for public and private sector players to seemlessly collaborate to open up the tech space for robust growth.


Pantami Assures Techpreneurs Of Government Commitment To Drive Growth In Digital Ecosystem
Prof. Pat Utomi Delivering keynote at Breakfast interactive session with Nigeria Digital Technology Innovation Ecosystem

Prof. Utomi expressed optimism that with the crop of tech innovators already operating and more to come, coupled with government policies to create enabling environment, there will be a massive positive changes in the sector which will also attract foreign exchange earnings and make the country less dependent on oil.

Founder and CEO of Teesas Education, Osayi Izedonmwen, said the issue with Nigeria is not making policies but Implementation. He recommended that the government should form an executive team which include those who have been in the industry making the transformation happen.

The Founder of Learn Factory Aba, Chibueze Ukaegbu identified some of the challenges affecting the digital tech startups in the country to include data and power costs.

Ukaegbu said without data one cannot do much, therefore, asked the government to address the challenges, adding that if addressed, Nigeria can do more in the tech space.

The interactive session had in attendance, other government delegations including Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Poster Master General, Nigeria Postal Service, (NIPOST), Dr. Ismail Adebayo Adewusi, Managing Director, Galaxy Back Bone, Professor Muhammed Bello Abubakar, and Managing Director, NIGCOMSAT, Ms Abimbola Alale.


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