Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to comply with the Federal Government’s local content policy in the award of contracts.
According to Pantami, stakeholders in the telecoms sector have reported that NCC is not complying with Executive Orders 003 and 005, which are aimed at promoting local content in government activities.
Executive Order 003 expressly asked all ministries, departments, and agencies to grant preference to local manufacturers of goods and service providers in contracts for procurement of goods and services.
Also, Executive Order 005 directed 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.
Pantami, in a statement on Tuesday signed by his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, observed that the failure of the NCC to comply with the orders had sidelined indigenous companies.
Pantami “Stakeholders have drawn the attention of the ministry to the non-compliance of the sector regulator with the policy as a result of which indigenous companies in the sector have continued to be sidelined.
“The 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 sub-sector is one of the most important.
“In the light of this, it is our obligation to entrench the rule of law and ensure that, as much as possible, National Security Infrastructure and Information is domiciled locally with local companies as a first choice, and indigenous innovation is developed by adhering to the tenets of the Executive Orders.”
The minister directed NCC to immediately review activities in the telecommunications sub-sector and give top priority and preference to Nigerian companies with the requisite skills and qualifications.
He also directed the commission to provide an enabling environment for local capacity to develop through collaborations with foreign companies in the event that a contract was awarded to a foreign company where indigenous capacity is lacking.
“NCC should ensure that patronage of indigenous content, as outlined in the Executive Orders, are complied with in the sub-sector,” the statement said.
The commission was given one month to comply with the directive.
Pantami had, in recent times, issued a series of directives and orders to the NCC management.
The minister had ordered the NCC to block unregistered SIM cards and also directed the commission to compel the telcos to reduce the cost of data and stop illegal deductions from subscribers.
Pantami, who recently raised the alarm over alleged attempts by ‘corrupt’ individuals to sabotage efforts being made by the ministry to sanitize the sector had also accused operators of ‘compromising’ regulators in the sector.
He has also vowed to put a stop to what he described as the ‘unhealthy dependence of regulators on operators’ in the telecoms sector.