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IT stakeholders set agenda for Communications Minister

25112015C Barrister ShittuDespite persistent calls by stakeholders for the creation of Information Technology, IT, Ministry, the Federal government of Nigeria recently renamed the Communications Technology Ministry as the Ministry of Communication with the appointment of Mr. Adebayo Shittu as the new Minister.

Although the IT professionals had earlier urged the government to appoint a seasoned IT professional to head the Ministry and other IT agencies so as to maximize and deepen the benefits of electronic governance and digital transformation in Nigeria, the appointment of Mr. Adebayo Shittu as the new Communication Minister has started attracting reactions from the industry with the stakeholders setting agenda.

Meanwhile, the new Minister has said that he is committed to make IT the next major source of revenue for the economy.

Digital agenda

Setting the digital agenda for the new Minister, the stakeholders in the Nigerian IT ecosystem while pushing for for expedited implementation of broadband plan noted among other things that Shittu must leverage on the efforts of his predecessor, Dr Omobola Johnson to further transform the country to digital economy.

Although the appointment of the new Minister was a welcome development, the Nigerian Computer Society, NCS, earlier in their meeting with Secretary to the Federal Government , Babachir David Lawal had urged the government to appoint an IT professional to head the Ministry.

Use IT to build economy, tackle terrorism

For the President of NCS, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, while speaking to Technology Journalists last week in Lagos to unfold activities for the 2015 National Information Technology Merit Award (NITMA) slated to hold tomorrow in Lagos noted that the new Minister should use IT to achieve digital economy.

“The name of the Ministry does not matter. What is important is activities in the Ministry. What is more important is how to use IT to drive the economy.

Continuing, Aderounmu said: “We call for urgent deployment of IT to tackle Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria. NCS is ready to provide practical solutions using IT to solve the problem.”

Implement broadband plan

For the President of Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria, ATCON, Engr. Lanre Ajayi, the new Minister must expedite action in the implementation of the Broadband plan.

“ We would expect that the minister sustains existing policies and ensures rapid implementation”, he added.

Digitize broadcasting in Nigeria

The statement by the new Minister of Communication to transform ICT as the key revenue earner for the nation, according Jimson Olufuye, the Chairman of Africa ICT Alliance, AfICTA, is highly welcome.

“The Minister therefore should make priority the digitization of broadcasting in Nigeria to free spectrum for increased broadband penetration.

“ The issue of multiple taxation and right of way, quality of service, smart regulations and cybercrime should be of concern as well. Support for bottom-up multi-stakeholder approach to policy development and implementation is key along with full and constructive engagement at the African and International ICT ecosystem”, he said.

Interface with Police on mobile phone crime /Cybercrime

In order to reduce mobile phone crime / cyber-crime, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Mr. Adeolu Ogunbanjo, urged the new Minister to interface with the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies in order to make mobile phone crime / cyber-crime a step-by-step reporting process that is less cumbersome and without any encumbrance.

“ This will encourage the reporting of mobile phone/ cyber-crime as well as make tracking of fraudsters easier. The current mobile phone crime / cyber-crime reporting process is very stressful, very cumbersome and excessively engaging”, he said.

Price cap reduction to N20 per minute

While noting that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been operating N50 price cap regulation since 2001 to date, the NATCOMS President pointed out that the Minister should as a matter of urgency reduce the current price cap to N20 per minute.

It would be recalled that Shittu while addressing directors and staff of the Ministry of Communications on assumption of duty in Abuja recently had said that he would turn things around by exploring the untapped potentials of the ICT sector as an alternative source of revenue to the economy.Telecommunication, according to him will serve as the new cashcow for the country.

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