The Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, has tasked the Nigerian Communication Commission's board to push for significant contribution of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He made the call during the swearing in of four new board members of NCC already cleared by the Senate in his office in Abuja.
The new board members were presented to the minister by the board chairman, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and in attendance were the executive vice chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, a non-executive commissioner on the board of NCC, Clement Baiye and other senior management members of the commission, officials of the ministry, other industry stakeholders and journalists.
On the occasion, the oath of office was subsequently administered on the new board members, namely Engr. Ubale Maska, as executive commissioner, technical services, Prof. Millionaire Abowei; Salman Abdul-Azeez and Aliyu Abubakar who are non-executive commissioners.
While congratulating the new members over their appointments by the president, Pantami urged them to "work together with existing board members of the commission on how we can effectively utilise telecoms and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in general to support the tripartite agenda of the president to improve security, improve economy and reduce poverty as well as fight corruption."
He further enjoined the board members to work harmoniously with each other and leverage their wealth of experience to double the contribution of ICT to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next coming years.
He said, "By the second quarter of this year, ICT had contributed 13.86 per cent to the country's GDP and this is encouraging. Generally, non-oil's GDP contribution to economy was 91 per cent. The NCC has played a significant role in this direction and I will enjoin the NCC board members and management to always challenge yourselves to exceed current or previous successes."
Pantami also noted that NCC's management had briefed him on the 200 access gaps in the country where almost 40 million Nigerians do not currently have access to telecommunication services and which, he said, must be addressed.
"We would have succeeded in doubling the sector's GDP contribution if we work together to close about 80 per cent of these 200 access gaps. As part of measure to achieve this, the NCC has told us about its plan to have access points in all the 774 local government areas in the country and as a ministry, we won't hesitate to give you necessary support in this regard," Pantami said.
In his remarks, the board chairman, Durojaiye, thanked the minister for his readiness to support the commission in his various efforts at leveraging the ICT/telecoms to create economic prosperity for the country.
He stated, though "we are still expecting two new board members already appointed by the president to join the commission once the National Assembly resumes from recess to have the full complement of 9-member board of NCC, the commission is committed to leveraging ICT to support Mr. President's agenda at improving security, bolstering the economy and reducing poverty as well as in fighting corruption.