Minister of the Communications and Digital Economy, Profession Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has reaffirmed Federal Government’s determination to reverse the trend of importation of all types of telecommunications products, especially where production in Nigeria is possible.
Pantami who spoke at the first indigenous telecom content expo at the Landmark Center in Lagos, got immediate commendation from the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor UmarDanbatta, who told the audience that the Minister’s efforts and support has spurred the Commission to take certain steps that have yielded immediate results that were being showcased the expo.
He emphasised that Governmenthas put efforts towards the protection of the telecom industry, which contributes impressively to the GDP, by insisting on the drastic reduction in the reliance on foreign products. He consequently warned against importation of such products like SIM Cards that can be produced in Nigerian.
According to a statement by the Director of Public Affairs of the NCC, Reuben Muoka in Abuja Tuesday, Pantami also took a swipe at the recent efforts to impose 5 per cent Excise Duty on telecommunications services in Nigeria, arguing that the Ministry which oversees the industry was not consulted and that the timing of such duty in a period of hardship as is being witnessed in Nigeria today is antithetical to the growth of the industry.
“I was not consulted before the decision on 5 per cent excise duty was reached, and it was unfair to impose such a tax on an industry that was already burdened with other taxes and already contributing about 17 per cent to the country’s revenue”, he said. Pantami told his audience, including the Chairman of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Hon. Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi, that his position was already shared by the National Assembly which was also not also consulted on this issue before it was announced.
“We must do what we need to do to protect the industry. Beyond making our opinions known, we will take legitimate and legal steps to stop any plan against the interest of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry”, he said.
Speaking further on the efforts of the Commission to pursue indigenous content in the industry, EVC of NCC, Prof Danbatta, said the objective of the policy is to transform the enormous strides achieved by the telecom industry in the last two decades into long-term indigenous economic development outcomes for Nigerian companies and citizenry.
Danbatta said the Commission has taken various steps to ensure that this process is painstakingly pursued through capacity strengthening, institutional building and strategic policy tools which will further promote domestic and economic linkages, job creation and the participation of local Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the telecom value chain via the supply of goods and services to the sector.