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Why FG wants multinationals in ICT sector – Shittu

By on February 14, 2016

The Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, on Thursday said federal government present policy in Information Communications and Technology (ICT) sector is targeted at encouraging multinationals and foreign investors to come in as players, “because Nigeria cannot be an exception to the current wave of growth in ICT industry across the world.”

He said the government would not protect local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), software developers and local ICT players at the detriment of the foreign companies, adding however that it will ensure conducive level playing field for all to thrive.

The minister, who spoke in Abuja at a stakeholders’ forum on the promotion of ‘ICT Local Content’ which was organised by the National Information Technology development Agency (NITDA), was represented by Mrs. Monilola Udor, the Director of ICT in the ministry, saying the government will however encourage partnership between local ICT players and foreign investors because of its inherent benefits.

He said: “Yes, there is benefit in partnership. Nigeria is open to multinationals and foreign investors as we actually want to encourage them to come in. What we don’t want is the capital flight.

“At the moment, ICT is the fastest growing industry in the world, and Nigeria is not an exception, but what percentage of this industry is actually localised? How much of the investments in ICT that come in are actually retained in Nigeria.”

Shittu said the only way government can diversify its present economy from oil and gas, create jobs and increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is to leverage on ICT, “because it is the enabler for all other sectors.”

According to him, “We want to leverage on the power of ICT in doing this, and that is right because ICT is actually the enabler to grow every other sector- agriculture or manufacturing-and any country that is serious in going to the next level cannot afford to ignore the power of ICT. This is the reason the present administration is placing so much emphasis on using ICT for socio and economic development.
“Government has put in some framework to support the growth of ICT in Nigeria, and one of this is the local content guidelines which are issued for every stakeholder to know where and when to key into this initiative.
“Within this, we had issues with the activities of OEMs, local assemblers, because truly, they do really manufacture serious component of these equipment may be in the area of the casing, where we have local producers, but apart from that, what else we produce may be speakers.
“Also, on the quantity and quality that we need to look at in a situation like this, I believe the opportunity is there now.”
The minister acknowledged that ICT sector is presently contributing 8 percent to the GDP, adding that the aim of government is to increase it to 30 percent before the end of 2019.
He said: “We want to encourage the multinationals to come in and set up their plants here to impact on government’s job creation effort as opposed to what we have presently- where our ideas content are hosted outside the shore of the country.”
In  his remark, the acting Director-General of NITDA, Mr. Vincent Olatunji, said the agency is working towards creating an enabling environment for OEMs through setting standards and certifications of their factories.
He said: “On annual basis, they get certification from us. We go there always to look at their factories and their production lines, looking at the standard they are rolling out, but we need to really go beyond that.”