By Aduragbemi Omiyale
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the $547 million generated from the sale of 3.5Ghz spectrum to MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications for the provision of 5G network in Nigeria as a good source of development funds.
He said this Tuesday at the launch of the National Shared Services Center in Abuja. The facility, which also houses a cyber security operations center, network center, and call center, is a one-stop-shop for Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to interact with citizens.
The President said that the money raised from the exercise, which was carried out twice, clears up doubts about the contributions of the digital economy to boost growth, job creation and income generation for the country.
He said the Information, Communication and Technology ICT sector had accelerated the diversification of the economy, and the second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed the extent of the growth, with ICTs contributing an unprecedented 18.44 percent to GDP, nearly tripling the 6.33 percent contribution from the oil sector in the same quarter.
“As part of our efforts to expand our digital infrastructure, we increased our 4G base stations from 13,823 to 36,751 from August 2019 to date, and this has increased the percentage of 4G coverage across the country from 23 percent to 77.52 percent. , also from August 2019 to date. We have also followed this with the rollout of 5G services.
“It is noteworthy that the digital economy sector has excelled in generating revenue for the government. In particular, at the Ministerial Retreat that I chaired on October 18-19, 2022, our independent analysts determined that the digital economy sector had generated 594% of its revenue target since the 2019 baseline. This is very laudable.
“As part of these unprecedented achievements, the sector generated more than $547 million from the 5G spectrum auction alone,” Mr. Buhari said at the event, also attended by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Isa Pantami.
The president applauded his administration for creating an environment conducive to thriving, stating: “To ensure that the digital economy sector continues to succeed and to reduce the burden on citizens, I recently approved the suspension of the proposed excise tax on the telecommunications. since any initiative that leads to difficulties for the citizens will not be carried out”.
He further said: “Our administration’s commitment to promoting data advocacy and privacy is receiving praise around the world, and we have increased our digital identity enrollments from 39 million in October 2020 to approximately 92 million today.
“The massive increase of around 63 million in about two years is a global success story and has led to several partnership requests from countries within and outside of Africa. I also approved the establishment of the Nigerian Data Protection Office on February 4, 2022, to provide an institutional framework for data protection in Nigeria, in line with global best practices,” the president told the expert meeting. in ICT and government officials. ”
President Buhari praised the great strides made by the digital economy sector under the leadership of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and other stakeholders, describing them as impressive.
In his remarks, Mr. Pantami praised the president for his support for the digital economy, with broadband sales/Internet penetration, skills acquisition for global competitiveness, and infrastructure development, such as fiber optic cable, which was from about 15,000 km in 2015 and increased to more than 60,000 km.
Furthermore, Galaxy Backbone CEO Mr. Muhammed Bello Abubakar said that 400 MDA were already connected to the National Shared Services Center.