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Pantami begins U-Turn, now thinks collaborative approach to ICT industry issues

For the first time, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, has agreed that the onerous task of expanding the frontiers of growth in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry is a collective responsibility requiring active collaboration of the Ministry with its agencies and industry stakeholders.

Before now and since his appointment, he had been on a lonely part which was evident in his momentary issuance of strange but unilateral directives to critical agencies without recourse to the impacts on industry operators.

Whereas experts are still skeptical on the Minister’s change of attitude to sector matters on the basis of collective approach, analysts are upbeat that the mere mention of the importance of ministry-stakeholders’ synergy means his clear readiness to create more industry harmony than the hitherto lingering deep gap between him and stakeholders’ including some agencies under him.

Sharing his vision for the ICT and telecom sector during a special reception hosted in his honour by the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Abuja, Pantami, expressed his gratitude to ATCON members for the reception.

He reiterated that he has been presented with some of the challenges and concerns facing the telecommunications sector to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for necessary actions and called for collaborations of all stakeholders in telecommunications sector to enhance the growth of the subsector and entire ICT industry.

According to him, “Most of the issues raised were familiar issues as they had been brought before me earlier and I can assure you that actions are being taken towards resolving those issues for the development of the industry. More importantly, I would like all of you to join hands with the Ministry and its agencies to see how to take our industry forward. Let me be the first to be contacted for any problem in the industry. Furthermore, I want to pledge my commitment to work with all stakeholders in the sector and ask for their support, suggestions and constructive criticisms wherever necessary, in order to promote the growth of the sector for the betterment of all Nigerians,” he said.

Business Hilights recalls that the special reception, attended by leading personalities in the telecom sector, was spiced with a special documentary on the Minister and packed with presentations by ATCON member organisations focusing on key industry issues requiring the attention of the Minister.

However, to show his clear departure from unilateralism to seriousness in the emerging collaborative approach to industry issues, Dr Pantami proposed a periodic meeting of the Ministry and its agencies, associations and captains in the industry to regularly review issues and progress made in the industry.

The Minister noted that the reception has provided a platform for all industry stakeholders to be on the same page with regards to the need to work together towards advancing the frontier of the ICT industry.

Earlier, in his welcome address, President of ATCON, Olusola Teniola, observed that the idea of the reception  was conceived to achieve three objectives – to formally present and introduce the Minister to the captains of the industry, to give the industry the opportunity to meet with him and share experiences on the state of the industry and where ATCON expect the industry to be after the Minister’s tenure, as well as to offer the Minister the opportunity to share his vision for the industry with the relevant stakeholders.

Teniola also hinted the Minister of ATCON’s willing and ready to work with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in order to understand how “we can shape, mould and create an industry that attracts further huge investments and create the environment where innovation creates a fitting eco-system for both the smaller and larger operators to co-exist in order to create positive shareholder’s value and deliver a consumer experience that exceeds expectations. Collaboration remains a critical factor in the success equation of our industry.”

Key players at governmental level at the event include Musa Fuktur Istifanus, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; Prof. Umar Danbata, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Kashifu Abdullahi, Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agencies (NITDA); and Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

Other personalities at the reception to honour the Minister include Yusuf Kazaure, Managing Director/CEO, Galaxy Backbone Limited; Adebisi Adegbuyi, Postmaster-General of the Federation and CEO Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST); Ayuba Shuaibu, Acting Executive Secretary, Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), Directors from various agencies in the Ministry and its agencies, ATCON executive members, CEOs of telecommunication companies, and other industry stakeholders.