Minister Urges NGF to key into FG’s National Digital Economy Policy

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has urged state governors to key into the Federal government’s  National Digital Economy policy and strategy.

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NAN reports that on Nov. 29, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari, unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

As part of key requirements of the e-government master plan, the President has directed government institutions, “to create a digital transformation technical working group that will work with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to ensure seamless and coordinated implementation of projects, programs and policies

Pantami made the call while speaking with newsmen, shortly after his presentation to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja.
He said implementation of that digital economy launched in November 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, would not be possible without the support and willingness of state governors.
“We are here to encourage them to key into the National Digital Economy policy and strategy for a digital Nigeria.
 
“Our target is to achieve a digital Nigeria in 2030. So, the work is not only for the federal government, it is for federal, state and local governments. 
 
“We presented the policy of digital economy, We outlined the eight pillars and the role they are supposed to play as state governors.”
 
Pantami said that the delegation also presented to the governors’ intervention the Federal Government had in place to support states which wanted to start the process. 
 
He said that interested states were expected to indicate interest, while the Federal Government through the ministry in collaboration with its agencies would set up a team on how such states could be supported.
He explained that each state was supposed to develop its digital economy strategy based on its peculiar challenges and the level it had attained.
 
 “If that is done, we begin with a visibility study. If we produce the documents, Federal Government through the Ministry and parastatal will see what we can do as an intervention for them when it comes to training, the infrastructure required to start the process.
“Many states have indicated interest. We can provide that intervention in order to start the implementation.
“We are in partnership now with International Business Machine (IBM) World Bank, Africa Development Bank and many more.
“They are willing to train millions of Nigerians. So any governor that is interested, then the state will be considered for training where we are going to train digital skills, innovators and entrepreneurs in the country.
“Today if you look at unemployment, you will agree with me that it is a bomb. We need to address it immediately and the only way we can do is to focus more on creating potential employers instead of creating potential employees where there are  no job opportunities.”
Pantami said that the delegation also used the medium to discuss challenges facing the communications sector, and how the governors could be of help.
 
One of the challenges according to him includes the lingering issue of the right of way fee to be paid to state governments, for the laying of Fiber-optic cables, saying because broadband is key in the digital economy.
 
 “We also presented the issue of vandalization of our telecommunications facilities and the role they can play. However, the Federal Government has been taking some measures to resolve the issue.
“I have a meeting with the president and he directed IG and other security agencies to protect telecommunications structure and that has been convened to them officially.”
Pantami said that the issue of multiple taxations was also raised and addressed it, while the governors also raised concerns about some operators instead of paying tax to the state, paid it to the headquarters.
“So they feel that tax of employees should be paid where they ate working not in the headquarters and I think the ministry and the regulators will look  into how we can intervene and resolve so that the center can move forward.”
The minister expressed satisfaction with the response of the governors, who he said pledged to work with the ministry to achieve digital Nigeria.

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