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Tasks Before Pantami at Communications Ministry

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Dr Isa Ali Pantami’s reputation precedes him. He is the new minister of Communications.

The immediate past director general, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); to his admirers, he is IT sector’s anti-corruption Czar.

To them, Pantami has redefined public service elevating NITDA as one of the most respected agencies in Nigeria.

But to others, he is meddlesome interloper, seeking to influence and change things that do not concern him.

There is however in denying that he appears undaunted by criticisms and the litany of problems facing the Nigerian ICT industry.

Prior to his appointment as the DG/CEO of NITDA, he worked as an academic in various capacities.

Armed with relevant education and training, he needs to prove his critics wrong by mustering enough political that will to cheetah-pole-vault Nigeria into the knowledge age.

To do this, he should focus his energy on establishing the much awaited ICT Development Bank.

This is because the ICT sector has been a pillar of Nigeria’s economy and a key driver of job creation over the past decade.

With the ICT Development bank, funding can be provided for the industry in order to promote and encourage young entrepreneurs in ICT and reduce the dependence on commercial banks for funding; offer lower interest rates; and grow the ICT industry.

The culture with commercial banks, is responsible for the delay or abandonment of great innovative ICT projects in Nigeria.

Apart from the ICT Development bank, he has a long list of “to dos” including urgent rejig of ICT curriculum to make young school leavers productive and IT compliant.

He should also pursue a more robust integration of local content in the communication industry; and ubiquitous access to IT services for Nigerians.

But if his performance at NITDA is anything to go by; it may be all talks.

In NITDA, despite the promises, that agency is still behaving like the typical government bureaucracy.

Pantanmi must show his ministry has all it takes to build a new nation underpinned by technology and innovation.

This is one chance to prove he is worth all the hypes.


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Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcos

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Ekiti, Kaduna, Imo, Katsina and Plateau states recently blazed the trail by implementing right of way (RoW) resolution of resolution of the Governors’ Forum in a bid to deepen broadband penetration in the country and promote a digital economy for a digital Nigeria.

Aside RoW, Other Roadblocks Hobble Telcosn

Right of way charge of per meter of fiber optics cabling is considered one of the most vexatious and biggest hindrances to growth in the industry

It is however, disheartening that some states have decided to disregard these resolutions and have, in some cases, increased the RoW charges by over 1,200 percent.

Experts believe that if all states in the country can implement the resolutions, it will facilitate digital literacy and accelerate broadband penetration across the country and also improve Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Apart from implementing the resolution on RoW, regulatory authorities must draw from its political will to prevail on the states and local governments to stop insisting on collecting taxes and levies on operators’ infrastructures such as base stations and masts.

The canker worm of multiple taxes by local, state and federal governments and their agencies is threatening the survival of the telecom sector.

At last count, the industry estimate they pay over N20 billion annually to various agencies of government.

Also, the problem of insecurity, which has assumed alarming proportions, is discouraging further investments.

Added to this, are the constant harassment, intimidation and killing of workers in the industry while equipment are stolen every day.

Another major problem is the thorny issue of Nigeria’s public power supply, which seems to have defiled all known solution.

A situation where telecom operators spend an incredible N45.9 billion (approximately $2.9 Billion) annual bill on diesels in running power supply to their infrastructure is unacceptable.

Power supply is like the nerve, in fact, the engine of production. The near absence of public power supply has a devastating effect on businesses and has forced many companies to close shop because they could no longer remain competitive.

Regulatory authorities must find appropriate way to communicate to governments at all level that the current RoW, tax, public power as well as state of insecurity cannot create a knowledge driven economy or so called new economy in which the generation and the exploitation of knowledge play the major part in the creation of wealth.


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Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has, again, clarified that Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was never involved in the process of offer of office allocation to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex located at Mbora District, Abuja, as the public is being made to believe.

Why Office was Withdrawn from NiDCOM- NCC

The Commission reiterated this position in a press statement signed by Dr. Henry Nkemadu, director Public Affairs, in which it made further clarifications to the members of public and other stakeholders on the situation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, was never involved in the offer to the office space, nor in the withdrawal of the offer for same office space.  the Minister should not, therefore, be brought into the issue,” he said.

According to Dr. Nkemadu, the decision to withdraw the offer of office space from NiDCOM was purely of the NCC, the custodian of the office complex.

“It should, however, be made abundantly clear that the withdrawal of the offer of the office space, which was unconditionally given, in the first instance, to NiDCOM, was informed by exigencies and change in priorities within the NCC, which led to the taking back of the office space earlier allocated with intention of finding a suitable replacement for NiDCOM,” he said.

The Commission therefore reiterates its confidence in the leadership, person and office of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami


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MTN Nigeria Commences Payment of 2019 Company Income Tax Obligations

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MTN Nigeria has initiated payments for its 2019 Company Income Tax (CIT) obligations ahead of the statutory deadline of June 30th, in line with the request by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to corporate taxpayers whose operations are able to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of constructive engagements with its Board and Management, MTN Nigeria agreed to continue its existing practice of initiating early payment for its CIT obligations.

In this regard, it has committed to making full payment in a series of instalments ahead of the June 30th deadline. As a demonstration of this commitment, it has made payment of the first instalment.

FIRS would like to thank MTN for this demonstration of support for Nigeria during a time of significant disruption to the nation’s economy, and also to MTN’s own business.

FIRS Chairman, Muhammad Nami is particularly happy with this prompt response by MTN Nigeria and urges other companies to emulate MTN Nigeria so that together we shall continue to support the growth of Nigeria’s economy as well as business enterprises in the country.

Commenting on the agreement, Ferdinand Moolman, ceo, MTN Nigeria said: “We value the relationship that we have built with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and are pleased to be able to deepen that relationship by collaborating closely with the government and its agencies to manage the challenge that COVID-19 represents to the nation.

“Conscious of the role companies’ play in sustaining government revenue and services, MTN has consistently initiated payments towards our CIT obligations well ahead of statutory deadlines and despite prevailing conditions.

“This year, the Board of MTN Nigeria has once again approved advance payments towards our annual tax obligations.”


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