Boosting Digital Economy Policy

Plans by the Nigerian Communications Commission to establish Information and Communications Technology Parks in each of the six geopolitical zones, will enhance digital transformation and boost the federal government’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, writes Emma Okonji

Riding on the federal government’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030), which seeks to fast-track digital development and empower Nigerians with the right technology skills that will enable them develop technology solutions that will drive digital transformation across the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission, the telecom industry regulator, has initiated the development of ICT Parks in each of the six geopolitical zones, and the Commission is in the process completing the technology parks. When completed, it will boost youth digital skills acquisition, promote innovations, provide jobs for the teaming Nigerian youth and ultimately support the overall digital economy agenda of the federal government.

As a subscriber-centric regulator, NCC has always played a strategic role in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy, most especially in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and digital skill development.

An ICT park comprises an area or location with concentration of all ICT facilities which enables a concerted leap into the digital age by creating a dynamic environment in which local talent is incubated, cultivated, and shared. ICT parks are designed to address the technology needs of the citizens, digital skills acquisition and the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) globally.

According to NCC, the four main objectives of establishing the ICT Parks are to provide Innovation Labs and Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fablabs) for use by ICT innovators and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into products and prototypes; provide a Commercial Hub for ICT capacity building and digital skills; create employment and entrepreneurial activities; and facilitate smart city deployment across the digital industrial complex.


NDEPS, which is the federal government’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, which was launched in November 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, was developed to reposition the Nigerian economy in order to take advantage of the many opportunities that digital technology provides. The policy, which provides the direction on major activities that the ICT industry must embark upon towards consolidating on achievements already recorded in the industry and highlighting new areas that should be focused on, in order for the country to achieve a truly digital economy for the country, was developed to diversify the Nigerian economy away from dependence on oil and gas sector.   

The NDEPS has eight pillars which include: Development Regulations; Digital Literacy; Skill Development; Solid Infrastructure; Service Infrastructure; Soft Infrastructure; Digital Societies and Emerging Technologies, as well as Indigenous Development.

Consequently, the NCC’s ICT Parks project resonates with three the key pillars of the NDEPS.

ICT Parks

The ICT Parks, which is an initiative of the NCC, under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, involves the construction and equipping of fully-functional Tier-4 Digital Industrial Complex (DIC) in each of the six geo-political zones across the country

The project concept is designed to support federal government ICT – related policies by facilitating the availability and accessibility of ICT services across the country and to promote their usage across all sectors.

The ICT Park consists of laboratories for ICT innovations and Commercial Hubs providing capacity building to ICT startups and entrepreneurial activities. The Parks are designed to have fast internet service (broadband) and constant power supply.

The Impact

Speaking about the national spread and impact of the ICT Park project, Danbatta, who recently visited one of the parks being built in Maiduguri, North-east geo-political zone, said, the NCC decided to embark on the important project, which according to him, will see ICT parks decentralised in all the six geo-political zones of the country.

According to Danbatta, the Commission is starting with four zones at the moment. These include the ones located in Abeokuta for the South-west; Enugu for South-east, Maiduguri for North-east and Kano for the North-west.

“The projects are being implemented with a view to building capacity, exposing Nigerian teaming youths to capacity building initiatives in the areas of skills acquisition and innovation.

“The whole idea of putting these two things (i.e. skill acquisition and innovation) at the forefront of this very important initiative, is to produce youths that can be self-reliant, that can generate employment for themselves and for other Nigerians,” Danbatta said. He explained that the project, which is consistent with global best practices, has targeted areas of in each of the zones with large concentration of youths.

He promised that since the project was designed to have a national spread, the Commission would ensure that no part of the country would be left out of the initiative, adding that every corner of Nigeria will see the initiative taking off at different times.

The Expectations  

Speaking on the expected tech fruits from the ICT Parks, Danbatta said: “As I said earlier, we have four ICT parks, which are at different stages of development. Going forward, we hope to see software development, incubation, including, even, hardware development. Above all, through NCC ICT Parks, we hope to see innovative technologies that will leverage the broadband network that the NCC is trying to deploy in order to socially and economically transform our communities and societies.”


According to Danbatta, as NCC deepens broadband access beyond its current 38 percent towards achieving the 70 percent broadband penetration set for 2025 by the federal government, the Commission, through the ICT Park, will build a pool of digital skills and literacy in line with the country’s National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

“As you may be aware, one of the eight pillars of the NDEPS is Digital Skills and Literacy and in this regard, NCC is supporting this critical pillar of the digital economy agenda. This is because, when we provide resilient broadband infrastructure platforms, there is a need for us to encourage local technology products and applications that will ride on the infrastructure toward developing the country’s overall socio-economic ecosystem in a sustainable way,” Danbatta said.

Asked when the projects will be ready for commissioning, Danbatta said he just visited the Kano Park to examine the level of progress of the project while the other three ICT Parks being built in Maiduguri, Abeokuta and Enugu are also at different levels of completion.

“So, going by the level of work already done, I would like to say that before the year runs out, all other things being equal, we should be able to commission one or two of these ICT parts in the country,” he further said.

Youths’ Empowerment

Danbatta explained that Nigerian youths would benefit from the ICT Parks, and encouraged them to take full advantage of the project, when completed. There are  huge opportunities that come with the ICT Parks and the youths will be the major   beneficiaries of the project, Danbatta said.  

“I would like to send out a very important message to our youths, especially those who are currently occupied with various innovative applications, those who have even acquired the skills and are looking for where to practice these skills to bring the skills to fruition by, maybe, incubating them, by commercialising them, by giving publicity to these excellent initiatives, that there is going to be a centre in the ICT Parks.

“These centres would be used to showcase their innovations to the global community and very soon, there is light at the end of the tunnel, these various initiatives by the youths in areas of apps, various software products developed and other initiatives, will see t light of day.

“This is  because, as I said, we are going to have a centre where we are going to be able to showcase this, not only to potential investors in this country but also to the international audience, who definitely will be interested in some of these important applications that, we hope, we can come up with,” Danbatta said.

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