Isa Ali Pantami
Isa Ali Pantami

Communications ministry generated N1trn revenue in 2 years — Pantami

NEWS DIGEST – The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali-Pantami, has revealed that his ministry generated a total of N1trillion as revenue through the implementation of various policies, initiatives and interventions for two years.

The minister made the disclosure during the virtual commissioning of the 12th batch of the Digital Economy Projects for a Digital Nigeria on Friday.

The 12th batch of the projects commissioned virtually by Mr Pantami includes; the e-Accessibility Centre in Bauchi State; Orphans and Vulnerable School in Bauchi; the Digital Economy Centre and e-Learning Facility at Ogba Grammar School in Lagos; the Digital Economy Centre and e-Learning Facility at St Paul Secondary School in Eke, Enugu State.

Others include; the Digital Economy Centre and e-Learning Facility at the Federal Character Commission, Abuja; the Emergency Communications Centre at Leko Abdulrahman Hospital in Daura; the e-Accessibility Centre at the Alderstown Schools for the Deaf in Warri; and the Virtual Examination Centre, at the College of Education in Argungu, Kebbi State.

According to the minister, the Communications and Digital Economy sector lifted the country out of recession, with ICT recording the highest growth rate according to reports given by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“The Ministry and its parastatals have generated over N1 Trillion for the Federal Government in less than 2 years, this translates to an average of about N44 Billion every month or over N1.4 Billion every day,” the minister added.

He explained that within this period, the ministry was able to record some major achievements in the area of national policy formulation, infrastructure, national identification number enrollment, revenue generation among others.

Mr Pantami further disclosed that about N360 Billion of this revenue was largely from Spectrum allocated by the National Frequency Management Council, NFMC, under the Chairmanship of the Minister, to the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC and National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, for commercial purposes.

According to him, over N600 Billion was paid by ICT Companies to the account of the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“Furthermore, over Ninety-Four Billion Naira (N94,000,000,000) was generated for the Federal Government and approved by the National Assembly in line with relevant laws, as part of the 2020 appropriation for personnel, capital projects, capacity building, interventions, etc.

“The IT Projects Clearance Programme also saved over Five Billion Naira (N5,478,007,325.23) for the Federal Government,” Mr Pantami recalled.

He also expressed his profound gratitude to the CEO’s of all the parastatals under the Ministry for their commitment and unflinching support towards him in the last two years in office.

“I want to use this opportunity to encourage all the host communities and beneficiaries of all our projects and programmes to ensure that they take full advantage of the facilities and skills for the benefit of their communities and the Nation”, he said.

“In addition to those already established, we have over 455 other projects and programmes that are ongoing. All these are in full alignment with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria,” he said.

In creating and developing a sustainable digital economy, the minister said it is imperative to create a critical mass of highly skilled citizens by engaging in constant capacity programmes.

“In the last 2 years, we have offered direct world class training to well over 219,198 citizens in digital skills and emerging technologies.

“This number does not include the many citizens that have benefited from training through our Centres,, he stated.

According to him, the mass trainings were efforts geared at promoting a paradigm shift from the general societal focus on degrees to a strong focus on skills acquisition.

While speaking on policy formulations, Mr Pantami said that within his 2 years tenure as Minister, 16 National policies have emerged, which includes; the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy, NDEPS; Roadmap for the Implementation of the NDEPS; the Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025; Sim Card Registration Policy;

Others include; the National Policy on Digital Identity for Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria; National Policy on VSAT Installation Core Skills for Nigerians, amongst many others that have been developed and implemented as against just one policy he inherited on assumption into the office.

The minister explained that a highly robust identity programme was critical to creating a secure and sustainable digital economy.

He disclosed that the ministry has significantly increased the number of National Identification Number, NIN, enrolments since the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, joined the Communications and Digital Economy family in September 2020.

“The increase of about 20 million enrolments in less than a year is unprecedented. We have also launched the Android enrolment software and have received Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval for the upgrade of critical ICT infrastructure of the National Identity Management System,” Mr Pantami announced.

Mr Pantami thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the opportunity to serve the nation and its citizens.

In his remarks, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa-Abdullahi, congratulated the minister on his second year in office.

According to him, the achievements recorded in the minister’s tenure are unprecedented.

The NITDA boss gave assurances of his agency’s support and commitment into the full implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS, in creating a sustainable Digital Nigeria.

“At NITDA, based on our Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan,(SRAP) we will key in 100% into the implementation of the NDEPS and cascade our activities in line with the policy,” he said.