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Nigeria May Re-introduce Telecom Tax to Obtain new $750m World Bank Loan

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Nigeria may reinstate a previously suspended telecom tax and other fiscal measures as it seeks to secure a new $750 million loan from the World Bank, as per Nairametrics report.

Nigeria May Re-introduce Telecom Tax to Obtain new $750m World Bank Loan

This is according to the Stakeholder Engagement Plan for Nigeria – Accelerating Resource Mobilisation Reforms (ARMOR) P-For-R (P177308) program dated March 2024, between Nigeria and the World Bank.

A copy of the plan’s document was obtained and seen by Nairametrics suggest the government reintroduces the excises on telecom services, EMT levy on electronic money transfers through the Nigerian Banking System among other taxes.

President Bola Tinubu in July 2023 ordered the suspension of the 5% excise duty on telecommunications and the Import Tax Adjustment levy on certain vehicles.

However, it appears that this suspension may be lifted to meet the program targets for a new, yet-to-be-approved World Bank loan.

Nairametrics has confirmed that negotiations are ongoing between the Federal Government and the World Bank.

The program’s development objective is to strengthen the government’s financial position by enhancing its capacity to manage and mobilize domestic resources effectively, which includes improving tax and customs compliance and protecting oil revenues.

Affected stakeholders and sectors

The planned tax reforms under the ARMOR program are expected to have significant implications across various economic sectors.

According to the plan, affected stakeholders will include manufacturers of goods such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), telecom and banking service providers, as well as the general tax-paying public.

Importers and international traders will also feel the impact of these new fiscal policies.

Key industry groups such as the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) are engaged regarding the excise duties on telecom services.

The banking sector, represented by the Committee of Bankers, are engaged regarding the introduction of an Electronic Money Transfer (EMT) levy on transactions processed through Nigerian banks.

Additionally, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) will play a crucial role, particularly for those involved in producing targeted products such as tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

The plan document read:

“Domestic Revenue Mobilisation drive in the government ARMOR program seeks to increase revenue on some targeted industries and sectors of the economy. Specific groups and agencies within affected sectors include

“1. Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria: The introduction of excises on telecom services requires that all telcos are mobilised to fully participate in the collection of such revenue.

“2. Committee of Bankers: Introduction of EMT levy on electronic money transfers through the Nigerian Banking System would need the buy-in all banking institutions

“3. Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria: Manufacturers of tobacco products, sugar sweetened beverages(SSBs) and alcoholic beverages who would be required to collect excises on their products are critical stakeholders for the introduction of the new excise regime. They are currently organised into various sectoral groups under the Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria (MAN). Producers of alcoholic beverages organised under the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria also need to key into the reforms

“4. Importers: Strategic partners involved in importation of different items into the country will be mobilised to participate in the ARMOR program. A key stakeholder group is the Association of Nigeria Customs Agents (ANCLA).

“5. Vehicle Importers and Manufacturers: Stakeholders in the automobile trade industry must be engaged on reforms involving the introduction of green taxes on high GHG emission vehicles. Local manufacturing and assembly of vehicles is growing through a phase of growth in Nigeria. The demand for vehicles is mostly met through importation by vehicle importers under the aegis of Association of Motor Dealers of Nigeria (AMDON).”

The document also emphasized the importance of engaging vulnerable groups to ensure they are not disproportionately affected by these changes.

It also said:

“Services that will be subjected to the newly introduced excises are regulated by key public sector agencies. The introduction of the new revenue measures will require the application of existing regulatory mechanisms available within these institutions. The concerned institutions include

“1. Nigerian Communication Commission

“2. Central Bank of Nigeria.

“There are also agencies with the mandate for making policies on some of the issues covered in the ARMOR program with respect to policy framework on matters of public interest in Health and Environmental Protection. The government institutions relevant to ARMOR in this regard are.

“1. Federal Ministry of Environment

“2. National Environmental Standards Regulatory and Enforcement Agency (NESREA)

“3. Federal Ministry of Health”


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NITDA, FCT-UBEB, Collaborate To Foster Digital Literacy In Schools

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In a significant development in Nigeria’s educational sector aimed at boosting digital literacy among school children, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), is set to collaborate with the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Educational Board (FCT-UBEB) towards revolutionising the way young Nigerians engage with technology and equipping them with necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

NITDA

The forgoing information is contained in a press statement e-signed by the Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations at NITDA, Hajia Hadiza Umar.

As per the statement, the Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi , made this known when he hosted a delegation from the Head-to-Head Debate Committee of FCT UBEB led by its Ag. Executive Chairman, Dr Alhassan Sule, at the Agency’s corporate headquarters in Abuja to discuss possible areas of collaboration.

Mallam Abdullahi , who was represented by the agency’s Director of the Information Technology Infrastructure Solutions (ITIS) department, Oladejo Olawumi, stated that the collaboration aligned with a pillar of NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP 2.0) 2024-2027 which was to Foster Digital Literacy and Cultivate Talents.

While stating that the pillar was key to the proposed educational board’s debate competition, the NITDA DG emphasised the importance of integrating technology into education to capture the interest and potential of young people.

“Children today, often referred to as digital natives, intuitively use technology and unlike us, who are digital migrants, these children seamlessly adapt to new gadgets and platforms. Therefore, it is essential to embed digital knowledge in their learning environment,” he noted.

Abdullahi disclosed that the agency had been providing infrastructure and resources to facilitate educational transformation as well as digital learning centres across all states of the country.

He added that the Digital Literacy for All programme was a national initiative of the agency which was designed to extend digital education resources to all corners of the country and urged the visitors to key into the programme while he asserted that it would be instrumental in enhancing digital literacy skills among students and out-of-school children alike.

Highlighting the agency’s focus on emerging technologies, Abdullahi stated that extensive research and development were being conducted in areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics which were pivotal for future skill sets.

While referring to a recent collaboration between the agency and the Abuja Enterprise Agency on a Robotics competition organised for secondary schools in Abuja to spur interest in Robotics and technology among students, he said “I think we can work together in this area and make sure that Robotics interest is geared up among the youth.”

Elaborating on the Agency’s ongoing initiatives toward achieving 70 per cent digital literacy in the country by 2027, he further disclosed that the agency was working to integrate digital literacy into the national educational curriculum and providing hands-on experience with technologies like AI and Robotics.

While stressing the importance of addressing the needs of out-of-school children, he mentioned “We are developing programmes in partnership with various stakeholders to attract these children through incentives like school feeding, coupled with digital literacy and other educational training.”

Abdullahi noted that the multifaceted approach would ensure that children were not only fed but also equipped with essential digital skills that would pave the way for a more inclusive and technologically proficient future.

In his earlier remark, Dr Sule commended the agency for their various strategic initiatives to ensure a sustainable digitally transformed economy in the country.

While stating that the head-to-head committee was saddled with the responsibility of conducting the FCT Basic Schools debate competition, he noted that 900 students in the FCT would contest in a debate.

Sule said that finalists from the competition would be moved to a reality house which will be aired live on different media platforms where they would be trained on AI and Robotics.


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Group Seeks Restructuring of N15Bn USPF

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Association of Telecommunications, Information Technology, Cable Satellite Network Operators and Allied Services Employers of Nigeria (ATICEN) has again called on Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy,  and Aminu Maida, executive vicecChairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to make the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) work for the purpose it was created and be more accountable about the rural telephony projects.

Dr. Bosun Tijani, minister of Communications, Information and Digital Economy

According to the Association, the Fund should be restructured or scrapped if it continues to fail to achieve the purpose for which it was created. It noted that despite the Fund, the digital gap was still wider in the rural areas.

In December last year, the USPF committee led by the Minister unveiled a project on rural telephony powered by solar – one of the many initiatives that USPF aimed at expanding the communication network to rural areas across the country.

It would be recalled that stakeholders in the telecoms industry had called for the investigation of the Fund allegedly misappropriated. The USPF was established in 2003 with an initial N15 billion to promote the widespread availability and usage of network and application services throughout Nigeria.

The NCC charges telecom operators 2.5 per cent of their turn-over as licensing fees, of which 40 per cent of the licensing fees is transferred to the designated fund called USPF.

However, despite the Fund, a wider digital divide still exists in the rural areas as many rural communities in the country are yet to be adequately connected to the country’s telecommunication system.

This lapse has been attributed to the misappropriation of funds partly budgeted for that project by some officials who held sway in the sector in the recent past. Sensing the mismanagement of the fund, some players in the sector called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to investigate the utilisation of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) earmarked to bridge the infrastructure gap in the rural area.

They made the call following the non-impact of the Fund established by the Federal Government to facilitate the achievement of national policy goals for universal access and universal service to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural, unserved, and underserved areas in Nigeria.

The Fund is being managed to facilitate the widest possible access to affordable telecommunications services for greater social equity and inclusion for the people of Nigeria.

It would be recalled that a sum of N15.174 billion was recommended for approval as the Universal Service Provision Fund’s 2019 budget. Since it was established, the industry players said it had never had any impact on the telecoms industry, claiming that the fund had not been used for the purpose it was established.


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MTN Rallies MSMEs on Social Media Challenge to Promote creativity and innovation

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As the 2024 World MSME Day approaches, leading ICT company, MTN Nigeria has announced a social media challenge for MSMEs.

MTN

This challenge aims to encourage creativity and innovation in the way these businesses operate.

World MSME Day is an annual event that recognizes the vital contributions of the Micro, Small, and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the achievement of the nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to a report by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), MSMEs significantly contribute to Nigeria’s SDGs accounting for about 43% of the country’s GDP and 84% of employment.

To commemorate the World MSME Day celebration, MTN Nigeria has tasked MSME entrepreneurs who are active on social media to participate in a challenge.

The challenge requires business owners to upload a video showcasing their creative use of any one of the MTN’s business solution tools with the hashtag #MTNMSMEChallenge.

The winning business will be rewarded with free radio publicity, while four other business owners will receive exciting prizes. The challenge will run till June 27, 2024, on all social media platforms.

This initiative reflects MTN Nigeria’s ongoing commitment to supporting small and medium businesses in Nigeria. The company provides these enterprises with the right tools to perform competitively in the market and enhance the quality of their services.

Some of the business tools available for the MSMEs to utilise in the challenge include:

  • Meetings+: Powered by Zoom, is a video conferencing platform that integrates video, voice, and chat features and offers daily, monthly and yearly subscription plans – with current discounts of up to 55%
  • EyeSyte – A Wi-Fi/4G enabled smart device designed to provide real-time, 24/7 security for businesses, environments, assets, and homes. The devices will be discounted at 5% during the World MSME week
  • ESET from MTN:  A high-quality cybersecurity solution that protects valuable data and devices from cyber threats without slowing down work.

By encouraging the creative use of these tools, the company aims to empower MSMEs to thrive in the Nigerian market, ultimately contributing to the nation’s economic development.


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