Nigeria has the capacity to produce sim cards for Africa and is already producing smartphones, Dr Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said at an interactive session organised by the All Progressives Congress, APC Professionals Forum at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja.
Dr Pantami said that sim cards and other items needed in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria will no longer be imported but would be produced locally.
According to him, Nigeria has the capacity to produce a minimum of 200 million SIM cards annually.
“We came up with a policy that in the next two to three years, a minimum of 60 to 70 per cent of what we need in the telecommunications sector is going to be produced locally and we have started it.
“When this administration came on board, even SIM cards were imported to Nigeria.
“But as it is today, the Federal Government has provided an enabling environment for the private sector to produce SIM cards not only for our consumption but for the entire African continent.
“We have the capacity to produce a minimum of 200 million SIM cards annually and have provided an enabling environment for the private sector to start the production of smartphones.
“Today in Nigeria, we are producing smartphones,” the minister said.
While giving an account of his efforts to digitise Nigeria, the Minister said the ministry was implementing over a dozen policies to enable the digitalisation of Nigeria in line with global best practices.
He said they are also focused on supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s three-point Agenda which is the fight against insecurity, corruption and economic development.
In the area of e development, the Minister said that the sector as of March 2021 had successfully saved over N22.4 billion to the federal coffers by executing its mandate to support the anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration.
He further explained that policies introduced in the sector to support the digitalisation of the economy have empowered it to provide and enhance digital capacities among the citizenry.
Dr Pantami noted that the National Policy on Entrepreneurship and Start-ups and the Digital Literacy and skills pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria has given impetus to the acquisition of digital skills and job creation drive of the sector.
“Under the DigitalNigeria portal, over 210,000 citizens including women, youths and the physically challenged have been equipped with various digital skills for economic empowerment. These training are implemented in collaboration with technology giants like Microsoft, Huawei, Cisco etc and the certificates are globally recognised and respected” Pantami said.
The Minister also noted that the rapid broadband penetration Nigeria is experiencing has contributed to the increase in GDP.
In the area of security, the Minister noted that SIM card registration which he directed the National Communications Commission to enforce has contributed to reducing crime.
Also the linking of SIM cards to the National Identification Number, NIN is also aimed at reducing crime.
“Security cannot be ignored. Security cannot be compromised because of economic development. We have come up with so many policies in order to support security institutions.
“When I was assigned to supervise the sector on 24, August 2019, unregistered, and partial registered sims were being used to perpetuate crime in the country. Nobody knew the total register of unregistered sims. Within less than 15 days in the office, we have engaged the NCC as a regulator. We have directed them to carry audit exercise to enable them to come up with unregistered and partial registered sims. They came with around 9.4 million which is enough to populate another country. It was the first time we didn’t know the total of unregistered sims in the country.
“And the federal government of Nigeria came up with another policy. National Policy on National Identification and Sim Registration to ensure that your biometrics on your sim is the same in the national database. So, that somebody cannot go and use your biometrics to register another sim to commit a crime. So if you are innocent you have no problem getting worried about biometrics. But usually, criminals will not like to present their biometrics. Because it is the easiest way to intercept them when committing a crime,” he said.