By Emma Okonji
Following complaints from industry stakeholders that the awards of telecommunications contracts have been lopsided, and that most indigenous companies in the sector have been sidelined from getting telecoms contracts, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has mandated the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Executive Orders 003 and 005 as contained in the Presidential directives of 1st May 2017 and 12th February 2018 respectively, in awarding contracts in the sector.
According to a statement signed by the spokesperson to the minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, stakeholders had drawn the attention of the minister to the non-compliance of the sector regulator with the policy, as a result of which indigenous companies in the sector have continued to be sidelined.
“The Executive Orders 003 of 2017 and 005 of 2018, were specifically enacted to give impetus to the Local Content Development and Promotion drive of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as the telecommunications sub-sector is one of the most important.”
“Executive Order 003, which is aimed at supporting local content in public procurement by the federal government of Nigeria, expressly states that, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers, in their procurement of goods and services. Executive Order 005 which was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, on 12th February 2018, however, is even more specifically directed at the sector.
“The document titled Planning and Execution of Projects and Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts of Science, Engineering and Technology, directed all MDAs to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and maximise in-country capacity in all contracts and transactions with Science, Technology and Engineering components,” the statement added.
Pantami, therefore said: “In the light of this, it is our obligation to entrench the rule of law and ensure as much as possible that National Security Infrastructure and information is domiciled locally with local companies as a first choice, and indigenous innovation is developed by adhering to the tenets of the Executive Orders outlined above.”
Pantami, in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Policy also as directed the sector regulator to immediately, review the telecommunications sub-sector activities and give top priority and preference to Nigerian companies, with the requisite skills and qualifications; provide an enabling environment for local capacity to develop through collaborations with foreign companies, in the event that the contract is awarded to a foreign company, where indigenous capacity is lacking; and ensure that patronage of indigenous content, as outlined in the Executive Orders are complied with, in the sub-sector.
Uwa said the minister remained confident that the leadership of NCC would rise to the occasion and expedite action on the matter a month from the date of issue of the directive.
Furthermore, he assured all Nigerians of his commitment to the protection of the rights of all citizens and the delivery of government’s mandate.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Mr. Musa Istifanus has reiterated the commitment of the federal government to fully integrate the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) into the socio-economic development of Nigeria in order to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy.
He stated this at the opening ceremony of the 7th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Communications and Digital Economy with the theme “Leveraging the gain of ICTs in Developing and Implementing Digital Economy Strategy in Nigeria”, which held recently in Gombe, Gombe State.
The Permanent Secretary stated that connectivity, capacity building and inter-agency collaboration, were key factors that would bridge the digital divide and enhance technology development across the nation.
“The policy thrusts of the ministry clearly articulate government’s intent in a number of thematic areas amongst which are local content development, ICT Research, Development and Innovation, Investment and Funding, inter agency cooperation in ICT Hardware production, Universal access and service Internet and broadband,” Istifanus said.