…. Says Govt. should rather create synergy among stakeholders
The process of formulating a new policy for Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry has sparked revulsion from industry expert.
This follows recent comment by Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Pantami in a meeting with the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) where the minister hinted that the Ministry is on the verge of developing a National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
According to the minister, the policy will address the issues militating against the growth of the industry.
He said, “We are already working on some of the issues raised by ALTON. I have had continuous engagements with the President on some of the issues; we would study your submission and begin to address the various issues you have raised.
“Accordingly, we will also explore better alternatives besides and beyond what ALTON has recommended in its submission to us towards ensuring that the issues are dealt within the interest of all Nigerians,” Pantami said.
In 2012, a National Information Communications Technology (ICT) policy was drafted by the ministerial committee on ICT Harmonization set up by the first communication minister, Dr Omobola Johnson.
This draft policy – a brainchild of the Ministerial Committee on ICT Policy Harmonization set up by the Presidency- is stated to be in line with the road map towards Vision 20:2020.
The road map targeted the application and promotion of ICT in areas such as agriculture, health, education, manufacturing and service sectors, governance, entertainments, media and a host of others.
In 2016, the Federal Government announced another ICT Sector Roadmap (2016-2019), with the goal of addressing the key challenges plaguing the ICT sector and promoting President Buhari’s SMART Digital Nigeria Initiative under the administration of the former Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu.
According to the former Minister, the focus of this policy document includes improving infrastructure and quality of service, promoting national broadband penetration and security, and supporting e-commerce.
Also, last year at the Africa-China Cooperation in Information Technology for Digital Economy, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta disclosed the Federal Government plans to formulate a new Nigeria ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 geared towards a target of 2 million jobs by the year 2020.
According to the NCC Boss, the new policy would provide a framework for streamlining the ICT sector and enhancing the ability to catalyse and sustain socio-economic development.
The new policy would cover ICT infrastructure, internet and broadband, local content development, legal and regulatory framework.
Speaking exclusively with Business Remarks on this development, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr Gbenga Sesan noted that the industry has had a lot of formulated policies that lacked proper implementation.
The expert, who was among the member that drafted the National Broadband Plan of (2013 -2018), stated that creating multiple policies will result in conflict of interests and time-wasting.
He argued that what Nigeria needs is just to ensure that there is adequate synergy for everyone before implementation.
“Policies that went through different processes and took time to develop were just ignored and not implemented.
“The problem here is that each new minister just wants to have his own policy. The former communications minister tried to create his own roadmap and now the present Minister is drafting his own ICT policy.
“There’s no point in formulating policies without implementation. It’s a perfect waste of time and resources. Why are they not building on existing policy and fine-tune its weak,” the IT expert said.
He further posited that there is need to re-strategise the approach taken to implement policies in Nigeria’s ICT sector.
”We have an ICT policy that was rectified by the Federal Executive Council; and the the essence of the policy was in recognition of convergence in the ICT industry”, Sesan highlighted.