The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has directed Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to review its local content policy implementation to align with the mandate of the Federal Government.
In a statement signed by the Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, Dr. Pantami noted that following complaints of non-compliance by some stakeholders in the industry, it has become necessary to point the regulator to the relevant provisions of the Executive Orders 003 and 005 as contained in the Presidential directives of May 1, 2017, and February 12, 2018 respectively, in awarding contracts in the sector, and to mandate it to adhere strictly to those provisions.
The statement notes that Executive Orders 003 of 2017 and 005 of 2018, were “specifically enacted to give impetus to the Local Content Development and Promotion drive of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as the Telecommunications subsector is one of the most important.”
According to the Minister, the aggrieved stakeholders had complained about the breach which has resulted in indigenous companies in the sector being continually sidelined.
Further explaining the provisions of the directive, Dr. Pantami said: “Executive Order 003, which is aimed at support for Local Content in public procurement by the Federal Government of Nigeria, expressly states that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shall grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers, in their procurement of goods and services.”
He said that Executive Order 005 is however more specifically directed at the sector. “The document titled ‘Planning and Execution of Projects and Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts of Science, Engineering and Technology’ directs all MDAs to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects and maximize in-country capacity in all contracts and transactions with Science, Technology and Engineering components.”
Dr. Pantami noted that his Ministry is determined to entrench the rule of law and ensure, as much as possible, that National Security Infrastructure and information is domiciled locally with local companies as a first choice; and that indigenous innovation is developed by adhering to the tenets of the Executive Orders.
While expressing confidence and trust on NCC’s ability to address the situation, the Minister gave a one-month ultimatum to the regulator to set things right.
He enumerated the areas of immediate concern and charged the NCC to speedily review the Telecommunications sub-sector activities and give top priority and preference to Nigerian companies with the requisite skills and qualifications; to provide an enabling environment for local capacity to develop through collaborations with foreign companies, in the event that the contract is awarded to a foreign company, where indigenous capacity is lacking; and to ensure that patronage of Indigenous Content, as outlined in the Executive Orders are complied with, in the sub-sector.
Dr. Pantami assured that the directive is in line with the President’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Policy and the Ministry’s mandate.
It will be recalled that the Minister, since assumption of office, has been taking in-depth scrutiny of Agencies and Commissions under his Ministry in a bid to make them more proactive and transparent.