Nigeria Now Produces SIM And Can Export To Africa – Pantami

The Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Pantami, has said that under the Buhari administration, Nigeria now produces her own Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards and even export to other African countries.

Pantami disclosed this on Tuesday while briefing members of the House of Representatives on the importance of an Executive Bill seeking to create enabling environment for technology innovators in Nigeria to maximise their potentials by becoming job creators in the ICT sector.

“A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Creation and Development of an Enabling Environment for Technology Enabled Startups in Nigeria”, if signed into law according to the Minister will attract serious investment to expand numerous business ideas by young Nigerians who come up with problem-solving innovations on daily basis without having to depend on government for sustainability.

Pantami revealed that since the private sector controls 91% of financial inflow into the economy as demonstrated by available statistics, the bill will encourage investors seeking to expand innovative ideas, giving instances of 5 leading startups in Africa originating from Nigeria.

“There are 7 Unicorns in Africa and 5 have roots in Nigeria with offices in Nigeria but registered in other countries due to lack of enabling laws to protect their innovations and investment.

“One of the startups that came up in 2018, by 2020, their value rose to $3trn which is the largest in Africa, and they are based in Lagos.

“The essence of this Bill first of all is to create jobs for the teeming youths through these innovations and improve the economy,” Pantami said.

Also the bill when enacted will create a regulatory Council which will be chaired by the President, with a view to providing policy guidance to tech startups.

“There will be a Council to be chaired by the President which is the best practice anywhere in the world. He has accepted to be the Chairman and my humble self as Minister will deputise Mr President on the Council,” he added.

Members, led by the House Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, questioned the competitiveness of the sector under the Council.

The lawmakers also expressed concerns in the area of funding and if the proposed Council will further burden the already overstretched Federal purse, as well as its effects on the role of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

Responding to the questions, Pantami said the purpose of the Bill is to encourage competition and not discourage it; adding that the Council been chaired by the president means no bottleneck will hinder the implementation of executive policies in the start-up subsector.

“Funding can’t be an issue because the Private sector controls 91% of financial inflow into the economy,” and that “the Council is to create an enabling environment for inventors to come in and invest in the startups which is what obtains anywhere in the world.”

“And funding for startups under the new law will be in form of soft loans aides by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority with flexible interest rate and repayment timeline”, he reiterated.

On NCC’s role, the minister said the Council will not affect the NCC in any way as it is in charge of telecommunications activities in the country, while the Council deals with innovations in the ICT sector.

“If there are effects on the NCC, they will be positive ones through creation of solutions for the Telecom sector, as the mandate of the NCC will not be affected but instead supported”, he added.

On the part of legislation, he assured that there will be no friction between the function of the National Assembly as this Bill purely deals with government policies which are different from laws enacted by the Legislature.

The House leader, Hon. Doguwa had earlier told the Minister that the interaction was necessary so as to provide background information that will enable the majority party defend the Bill on the floor during debates.