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First Term: Experts Score Buhari Administration High On ICT

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Experts Score Buhari Administration High On ICT
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By Funmilola Gboteku and Florence Onuegbu

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector in Nigeria has witnessed tremendous growth during the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Information Technology (IT) experts attribute the growth to the various friendly ICT policies put in place by the Federal Government.

Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) in his candid assessment, says the Federal Government has done quite well in the last four years.

“I think it will be fair to say a score of 80 per cent, owing to the progress the administration has made in the past years, ‘’ he notes.

Adebayo says the industry has made a lot of progress in terms of broadband penetration; hence, achieving the broadband target and even surpassing it.

“We have more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) coming into the ICT sector and because of the relatively stable policy of government, the industry has been able to support a number of other sub-sectors of the economy.

“So, on the average, we are able to say that the Buhari’s administration has done quite well in the last four years,’’ he says.

Adebayo says unfortunately it appears that the progress of ICT in the country is being taken for granted.

He laments that telecommunication no longer has a mention by the government as one of the priority sectors.

According to him, it should not be, because ICT is a major driver of the economy.

“We are the infrastructure of infrastructure and we think that wherever issue of development is being discussed, ICT should be in the forefront.

“Other sectors that the government is making efforts to develop are all dependent on ICT in one way or the other.

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“So it would appear that we are no longer in the first line of interest of government; which should not be.

“As you know, we are in technology industry and technology is changing by the day; hence, the need for new investments, for new hardware and software.

“So we think that as part of our development as a nation, ICT should continue to be one of the issues of development that we should consider,’’ Adebayo explains.

He says there is no enough protection of the industry by government, as there are issues of base stations’ closure and seizure.

Adebayo says the industry is quite vulnerable and such vulnerability has exposed the issues of multiple taxation and multiple regulation.

According to him, taxes and levies have increased to 39 across all tiers of government in the country.

“I think that government should consider harmonisation of the taxes and levies. Telecom is on the exclusive list of the Federal Government.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect the sector, even from issues of interference, multiple taxation and regulation.

“So in my view, the major problem that we face is the issue of site closure and multiple taxation.

“We have issue of foreign exchange and government solved the problem. So the issue of multiple taxation is something the Federal Government must look into.

“I think the time has come that government should take up ownership and protection of infrastructure. We continue to require investments both foreign and local investments; and people will not invest if the industry is unstable,’’ he says.

Ikechukwu Nnamani, the Chief Executive Officer, Medallion Communications says the Buhari’s administration has done well in the arrangement reached by the National Executive Council in respect of Right of Way (RoW) fee.

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Nnamani says a number of states have been able to lower their RoW rates, which has enabled deployment of more fibre infrastructure.

Muhammed Rudman, the President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) wants the Federal Government to prioritise significant investments in ICT infrastructure in the next four years.

Rudman notes that although through government’s contributions to the ICT, the  industry has been able to deepen broadband penetration by 33 per cent but more effort needs to be made in ensuring that the rural areas also benefit from it.

He explains that the government already has laid-down policies regarding the ICT industry.

“The best time to implement the policies, which include the deepening of broadband penetration and building infrastructure is now.

“My advice is actually to have an ICT roadmap, that would ensure both the government and private sector identify all the stumbling blocks in the industry and address them.

“The players in the ICT industry should actually have an agenda that they will push to the government every year, so that the sector can grow,’’ he suggests.

Rudman points out that it will go a long way if the president can also resolve the issue of RoW and multiple taxation which are some of the major challenges faced in the industry, most especially by telecom companies.

He notes that those challenges were some of the things slowing down the telecommunications industry, while urging the government to address the issues.

The NIRA boss adds that the government needs to continue investing heavily in the sector, because it has played a big role in terms of revenue generation and also creating employment for citizens.

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Also speaking, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) says a lot has been achieved in terms of broadband penetration during the President’s four-year tenure.

“In 2014 to 2018, broadband was between 18 to 20 per cent.

“However, according to Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), we now have 33 per cent broadband peneration, which shows that a lot has been achieved in last four years of the Buhari’s administration.

“To sustain the growth, the government should set another benchmark for 2019 to 2023 where we should be looking at a minimum of 70 per cent or more broadband penetration.

“The government through some of its agencies like NCC is ensuring that Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) develop both the rural and sub-urban areas.

“NCC is supporting infracos by giving them some money to develop their structures and services,’’ Ogunbanjo notes.

He also suggests that government needs to have refined policies that will gear the industry toward achieving 75 per cent penetration by 2025.

Ogunbanjo urges the Federal Government to invest more in the sector because the ICT industry is the future of Nigeria, aside from oil and agriculture.

Most ICT industry experts are of the opinion that President Buhari’s administration has done quite well in the ICT sector of the economy and can do better in the second term.

The expert, however, note that the industry is a work in progress.

They point out that it is imperative to tackle the challenges of multiple taxation and multiple regulation, if further growth must be achieved in the ICT industry.

InfoTech

Executive Order 5 as Path to Economic Growth

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By Sylvester Thompson

President Muhammadu Buhari in February 2018 signed the Executive Order No.5.  The Order was meant to set Nigeria on the path of viable and sustainable economic growth and rapid transformation, using the instruments of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

The Order was also meant to boost planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts, science, engineering and technology for Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora.

Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the immediate past Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, said that the Order was the initiative of President Buhari’s administration to boost the economy via STI.

The former minister spoke recently in Abuja, at a sensitisation workshop on the Presidential Executive Order No.5.

The workshop featured the launch of Complaints and Appeal Procedure of the Presidential Order No.

5.

Onu clarified that the Order was revolutionary, aimed at mandating procuring entities to give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts in line with the Public Procurement Act of 2007.

He stressed that the Executive Order also involved the engagement of Nigerian professionals in areas where their requisite expertise were available, among others.

“I am happy that already the effect of the Executive Order is being felt in the country, the University of Transportation, Daura, is one of the products of the Executive Order.

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“Also, as a result of the Executive Order, it became necessary to organise both the first and second Strategy Competitiveness Workshop for various regulatory bodies in the country.

“This helped to strengthen the operations of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for the good of the country,” Onu said.

Experts and stakeholders in the STI are optimistic that if the Executive Order No.5 is fully implemented, it would fast track the country’s industralisation and development.

An article on: “The Implications of the Presidential Executive Order No 5,” published by George Etomi and Partners, commended the Federal Government for initiating the Executive Order.

The authors wrote: “This is a policy in the right direction and has laid a proper foundation for an industrial, diversified and self-sustaining economy.’’

They noted that it was a step towards a sustainable path and to a future in which wholesale importation and consumption of foreign technology would be reduced.

They expressed optimism that the implementation of the Order was bound to impact positively on the economy of Nigeria, which also includes promoting the application of local content in STI.

Etomi and Partners said other positive impacts were that the Order would encourage indigenous experts in diaspora to return to Nigeria for public procurement purposes which would lead to improved standards and healthy competition.

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They reasoned that preference would be given to Nigerian companies and firms by procuring authorities in the award of contracts.

“Immigration agencies may create a special immigration class for experts in African countries to work and reside in Nigeria so as to share their knowledge with Nigerian experts, which would aid the capacity of the companies and foster inter-Africa relations.”

They also held that there would be increased production of local materials for building and construction.

Mr Ibiam Ogbuejiofo, the National Coordinator, Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order 5(SITOPEO-5) at the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, said no civilian president in Nigeria issued an Executive Order before now.

He stressed that an Executive Order should not be confused with Presidential Proclamation or Memorandum or even Federal Government circulars, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SFG).

According to him, the fundamental difference between the Executive Orders and the Federal Government service-wide circulars is that the circulars do not derive from Section5(1) of the powers of the President in the 1999 Constitution as amended.

He clarified that circulars are signed by the SGF and not the President, and that Presidential Memoranda was essentially an Executive Order.

“The difference is that an Executive Memorandum does not have an established process for how the President issues it.

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“It may also not be required by law to be published although publication to the general public is necessary in order to have general applicability and legal effect,” he said.

Ogbuejiofo explained that with an Executive Order, the President instructs how to work within the parameters of the       laws already set by the National Assembly, allowing him to push through policy changes without going through the National Assembly.

On the functionality of the Order, the SITOPEO-5 National Coordinator said the Executive Order remediation was aimed at the rapid movement of Nigeria to the fourth generation industrial development.

He believes it will improve Nigeria’s productivity and global competitiveness ranking, create enabling environment to mobilise local investment in `Made in Nigeria’ goods and services as well as attract foreign investments.

He said the Order was important for economic empowerment of Nigerian professionals, manufacturers and the youths among others.

Ogbuejiofo stressed that the Federal Government recognised that entrenching STI in everyday life is the key to achieving the nation’s development goals across all sectors of the economy.

“The full implementation of the Executive Order 5 will no doubt boost the realisation of Mr President’s  promise to move 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years,” Ogbuejiofo said.

Sylvester Thompson is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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Two Tech Start-ups Qualify for Gitex’s $200,000 Talent Show Price in Dubai

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From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

Two Nigerian technology start-ups, Paddy Cover and Pricepally.com, have won the Lagos qualifiers for the Dubai World Trade Centre’s $200,000, while TruQ emerged the EIC and Lagos State winner.   

The insuretech firm, Paddy Cover, co-founded by Mayowa Owolabi and Tobi Obasa, and the food sourcing and distribution tech firm, Pricepally, owned by Luther Lawoyin, as well as TruQ, owned by Williams Fatayo, beat 24 other contestants who pitched their ideas before six judges.

   

The two winners will go on an all-expense paid trip to the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October to pitch their idea to over 400 investors and thousands of technology ecosystem players at the GITEX 2022 exhibition for a chance to win $200,000.   During the five-day business show, they will also enjoy mentorship and networking with world technology business leaders.

   

The Africa roadshow was organised by Gitex Global and sponsored by Dubai North Star, which represents the UAE Government, and partnered locally by the Lagos State Government and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).   

Addressing newsmen at the event, the Head, Corporate Planning and Strategy, NITDA, Dr. Aristotle Onomo, said the programme was “a platform to expose our start-ups to gain the right visibility, traction; be able to attract investors.”   

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Onomo, who represented the NITDA director-general, said the agency was passionate about start-ups, innovations, and was trying to catalyse the entire ecosystem in order to drive digital economy in Nigeria.   

“The North Star has come to harness the innovative skills already within Nigeria to start early marketing of the two to be selected and connecting them with various investors across the globe, so that even before they get to Gitex proper, they would have had a kind of visibility.”

   Similarly, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tumbosun Alake, said “the initiative was meant “to give opportunities to our ecosystem start-ups with better access to local and foreign markets.   “At the same time, Dubai and Gintex are keen to be part of the start-up ecosystem in Lagos.

The number one objective is to grow our ecosystem; in terms of accelerating the state as a tech hub, it gives us more recognition globally because of our partners in the UAE.”   Explaining the Africa roadshow, the Director, Commercial Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre, Zarko Ackovik, said the organisers “recognize that Nigeria obviously has the largest ecosystem in the whole Africa.”   

However, “we don’t see too much of African and Nigerian start-ups coming up for expansion, so instead of just sitting there, we decided to come to the region to offer the opportunity for the start-ups.   

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“The show brings them the opportunity to network, to go into competition, the $200,000 cash price money and the opportunity to take their start-ups there.   

“It is not just to compete and meet investors but also the exposure comes with a lot of the big media as well, and they create partnerships and networks, because the show brings 700 start-ups from over 60 countries, and investors coming from all over the world as well.

So, it is a great opportunity because Gitex brings a lot of people to the event over five days.”  Meanwhile, Akande Ojo of the United States-based Pinnacle International Consulting – country representative of Dubai World Trade Centre, said it would be African focus, Nigerian focus going forward.   

“A winner gets accommodation, space as a start-up to showcase yourself, they engage with investors, because technically you are part of their programme,” he explained.   

“This is the first time we are dealing with them to ensure that they can bring the event close to sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, among others.   “The idea is that many of our start-ups are talented but they don’t have that bridge to connect with, because they don’t have the resources. So, they bring it close to you, we try to see the real talent, so the only thing it costs you is your car fare to come here, not flying to Dubai.”

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NDPB Charges Nigerians on Data Protection

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By Yakubu Abubakar, Abuja 

The National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), Dr. Vincent Olatunji has said that with the exponential rise in the processing of data online through satellite communications, appropriate mechanisms must be put in place to ensure adequate security, effective protection and regulated data processing in line with laid down legislations in Nigeria.

The National Commissioner who made this assertion during a working visit to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), Dr. Abimbola Alale and her management team at the Space Agency’s Headquarters in Abuja noted that best practices that meet global standards in the protection of data must be adopted in satellite communications.

Dr. Olatunji said that with the re-designation of the supervisory Ministry to include Digital Economy and with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), relevant laws must be put in place to guarantee protection of data.

“The NDEPS is the roadmap for the digitization of the country and appropriate laws and regulations must be put in place to ensure protection of data in line with global standards bearing in mind local and international regulations to safeguard data of citizens”, he stated.

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While commending the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Pantami for the giant stride he took in the issuance of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulations (NDPR), Olatunji disclosed that the industry is now worth over 4 billion naira with about 8000 people gainfully employed.

He added that the role of the Bureau is to ensure that data of Nigerians wherever they are is adequately protected and to ensure that all organizations in Nigeria comply with the provisions of the NDPR. Olatunji further mentioned that the Bureau was established to ensure the implementation of the NDPR to safeguard the rights, freedom and privacy of citizens as well as ensure that the country has a principal legislation in that regard.

The NDPB boss however noted that the Bureau was not out for sanctions but rather encourage organizations to comply with the provisions of the NDPR and make it a culture by default. “We are out to create awareness on data protection for all data processors and data controllers to adopt and see as a norm so that the global community will see us as being serious when it comes to issue of data privacy and protection”, he averred.

Emphasizing on the importance of the awareness being created by the Bureau, he emphatically stated that data subjects need to know their rights in terms of consent, security, storage and cross border transfer of their data while at the same time enlightening data controllers on their obligations to data subjects. “It is highly important that those in charge of data processing in organizations are sound enough to know what to do, how to do and the kind of measures they need to put in place in terms of organizational and technical measures to ensure the safety of data of their subjects”, he mentioned.

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He then gave assurances of the Bureau’s support in terms of trainings, peer reviews and guidelines to NIGCOMSAT and urged them to comply with the provisions of the NDPR by annually filing their audit reports with NDPB.

Dr. Alale in her remark applauded the National Commissioner and his team for their proactive initiatives in ensuring the security of data in the country. Affirming her support to the Bureau, Alale stated that NIGCOMSAT is already working on their data privacy audit report for the year which will be filed with the Bureau and promised to share the guidelines with their partners who in turn can be independently monitored by the Bureau. “As we push forward the digital agenda of Nigeria, we should support one another and we at NIGCOMSAT pledge our support to you”, she said.

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