By Yakubu Sani Wudil, PhD
During the last three and a half years, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami—a digital dynamo—has demonstrated quality in leadership and has raised the bar of good governance in the country. Specifically, the Digital Economy sector has come to the limelight under his stewardship. Since his assumption into office, he has become the champion of Nigeria’s digital revolution.
Prof. Pantami has exhibited exceptional leadership skills in driving the Communications and Digital Economy sector to record several unprecedented achievements. His leadership has not only escalated the sector’s quarterly revenue generation by more than 500 per cent due to his digital innovations but also played a pivotal role in lifting the Nigerian economy out of recession.
Under his watch, the Digital Economy sector has multiplied the revenue generated from fifty-one billion Naira quarterly to about four hundred and eight billion Naira, according to an independent assessment carried out by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). On the other hand, the ICT sector recorded the highest growth rate in the year 2022, as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics.
From the onset, Professor Pantami has identified eight priority areas for development: developmental regulation, digital skills, solid infrastructure, service infrastructure, digital services development and promotion, soft infrastructure, digital society and emerging technologies, and indigenous content development and advancement. The Minister has done exceptionally well in these areas by implementing policies and projects that have significantly impacted the Nigerian economy.
For instance, he has established ICT skill acquisition centres across the states and has recorded over 219,000 direct beneficiaries of digital skills training. Additionally, he has laid about 19 kilometres of fibre cable to expand reach and coverage to MDAs (covering 28 MDAs). Furthermore, he has established digital economy centres to support the growth of the economy in the country. He has also developed policies and initiatives to promote indigenous content and created an enabling environment for the sustainable development of Nigeria’s economy, which has been able to resolve challenges that have lingered for decades.
Under Professor Pantami’s leadership, a significant number of National Policies have been developed. Currently, over a dozen of these policies are already being implemented, one of which is the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy 2020-2030, which sets out a comprehensive plan for the growth and development of the digital economy in Nigeria.
The Minister has also executed several projects, too numerous to mention, which have significantly impacted the Nigerian economy. Nevertheless, some of these projects include the establishment of ICT skill acquisition centres in most of the states, registration of all mobile sim cards, emergency communication centres, virtual examination centres, Data Sharing Centres, Digital Industrial Parks, Wireless Internet Cloud, Digital Capacity Training Centres, NITDA Community IT Training Centres, IT Innovation Hubs, IT Capacity Building Centres, and Provision of ICT Facilities in our Institutions of learning.
In his effort to transform governance to the 21st-century model, the minister has established the E-Government Training Centre to equip stakeholders with the necessary skills to achieve optimum productivity. He also constructed several E-Health Facilities, E-Libraries, and E-Accessibility Projects. Furthermore, the minister has coordinated the establishment of multiple Community ICT Centres, NIPOST Digital Centre, Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centres, School Knowledge Centres, Rural Broadband Initiatives, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. He also empowered Farmers through the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture Program. The Accelerated Mobile Phone Expansion-Base Transceiver Station was also accomplished under his watch.
Furthermore, to complement the efforts of security agencies in ensuring adequate National security, there have been over 92 million unique National Identification Number enrolments as of November 2022. These achievements are a testament to the hard work and dedication of Professor Pantami, who has been tireless in his efforts to drive the digital revolution in Nigeria.
It is worth acknowledging that President Buhari must be commended for the wise decision to appoint Professor Pantami as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. He is one of the best-performing ministers in the cabinet and has succeeded in delivering on his mandate to the Nigerian people. The country needs more brains like him to drive the nation’s development and ensure that we can compete on the global stage.
As we look to the future, it is clear that Professor Pantami has the ability and vision to continue to drive the growth and development of Nigeria’s Communications and Digital Economy sector. The erudite scholar has distinguished himself for integrity and selflessness. In addition, he has been a worthy ambassador for Nigeria’s young population.
We pray that he will have the opportunity to serve the country in many capacities and higher positions in the future. His leadership and expertise are vital to the continued progress of our nation. The policies and projects executed under his leadership have significantly impacted the Nigerian economy and have laid the foundation for a sustainable future in the sector.
Dr Yakubu Wudil writes from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia, and can be reached via email@example.com.