Nigeria, Vietnam To Deepen Relations In Digital Economy, Telecoms, Agriculture

 

In a determined effort to deepen the long-standing bilateral relations between Nigeria and Vietnam, both countries plan to work together more, particularly in the areas of digital economy, telecommunications, agriculture and trade, among others, for the mutual benefit of the citizens.

The need for improved collaboration between Nigeria and Vietnam was the focus of the bilateral meeting this morning between Vice Presidents Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Madam Võ Thị Ánh Xuân, his Vietnam counterpart, at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi.

The VP is on a three-day official visit to the Southeast Asian nation, the first high-level trip from the Presidency since 2005 when then President Olusegun Obasanjo visited.

Both Prof. Osinbajo and Madam Xuân acknowledged the countries’ great market potential generally and especially in digital economy, telecommunications, agriculture (especially cashew nut processing) and trade.


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According to Prof. Osinbajo “there are vast opportunities that exist for cooperation and collaboration, especially in the area of digital economy and telecoms, and we look forward to the signing of some of the agreements that we have spoken about – the trade and investment agreements, trade projection agreements, double taxation agreements.

“We look forward to accelerating the process, ensuring that those agreements are signed because they are vital to the collaborations that we will see between our countries in the coming years,” the Vice President noted.

Continuing he noted that “another area I think we might be able to cooperate with you more is in the area of digital economy.”

He noted that despite the COVID-19 disruptions and other occurrences that affected the economy, Nigeria has built, over the past few years, six companies that are engaged in fintech and e-commerce, now described as Unicorns (companies that are valued over a billion dollars each).

“We think that there are opportunities for collaboration between Nigeria and Vietnam, especially in the Digital Economy space. We also have a growing telecoms market, possibly one of the deepest penetrations of telecoms in the developing world. We have close 120 million of our citizens who have put to use telecoms equipment or devices. And also, broadband connectivity is vastly improved. We hope that by 2025, we will have broadband connectivity for all of our over 200 million people,” he noted.

In the area of agriculture, Prof. Osinbajo said, “given the food crisis that the world faces today, and is likely to continue facing even in the coming years, I like to say that the way forward is for our countries to collaborate. For instance, establishing cashew processing plants in Nigeria. What has happened in the past was the export of raw cashew, but at this point, we are concerned about value addition. We will like to see value addition.

“This is an area where Vietnam obviously has significant advantage and experience in the area of cashew processing. If these cashew processing centres are established in Nigeria, we will be able to have an opportunity to add value to raw cashew. In that way, we will draw from the benefits that our countries can derive from the cashew value chain.”

On Vietnam’s quest to establish relations with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Prof. Osinbajo assured his Vietnamese counterpart that “we will certainly support Vietnam’s establishment of relations with ECOWAS, we think that it is a very positive thing indeed and we are very mindful of the opportunities that will be created with that kind of collaboration.”

“I just wanted to also add that Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and this puts us at the centre of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which opens up trade in what will become the world’s largest free trade zone.

“We think that Nigeria as the gateway to the rest of Africa is strategic, and we hope that with some of the collaborations that we will be able to sign – specifically trade and industry agreements, Vietnam will see the opportunity in using Nigeria as a staging post for entry into the African Free Trade Zone and for greater collaboration with Africa,” the VP added.

On her part, the Vietnamese Vice President commended Nigeria’s leadership role in the ECOWAS sub-region and in Africa generally, especially in the peaceful resolution of disputes based on international laws, and in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She expressed confidence in Nigeria’s capability to resolve challenges confronting the continent and sub-region and sought the country’s support for Vietnam’s quest to establish relations with ECOWAS.

Madam Xuan also appreciated Nigeria’s support to Vietnam, especially in supporting her country’s candidates at multilateral forums, including United Nations, among others.

She spoke about the advance of digital transformation in Vietnam, and also stated the country’s commitment to the global energy transition, adding that her country would continue to work with Africa to meet its aspirations in agriculture, clean energy and digital penetration.

One of the highlights of the bilateral meeting between both VPs was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence cooperation between Nigeria and Vietnam. While Nigeria’s Ambassador to Vietnam; Ambassador Hassan Adamu Mamani, signed for Nigeria; Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defence; Senior Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien, signed on behalf of his country.

Shortly before arriving the Presidential Palace, VP Osinbajo visited the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to pay respect to the late Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh.

Prof. Osinbajo will later this evening be hosted to a State Banquet by the Vietnamese Vice President, Madam Xuan. Before that he would also hold a meeting with Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính.

FG Suspends Proposed Five Per Cent Tax On Phone Calls, Data

(FILE) The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami

 

The Federal Government has suspended the introduction of five percent excise duty in the digital economy sector, a tax which was earlier proposed by the Minister of Finance.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami disclosed this in abuja during the inauguration of a committee that will review the policy.

Pantami said he personally rejected the policy and advised president Muhammadu Buhari against it in view of the effects it would have on the digital economy.


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According to him, the introduction of excise duty in the telecommunication and information and communications technology industry would jeopardise the successes already recorded within the industry.

Pantami also noted that currently the ICT sector is over-burdened with multiple taxations both at the federal and state level.

He further disclosed that there are more than 41 taxes that telecommunication and ICT companies are paying and that it would be unfair to subject them to payment of excise duty.

Meanwhile, a presidential committee on the review of the excise duty in digital economy has been inaugurated by the federal government.

The committee has the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami as chairman and the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed as a member.

Other members are the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Danbatta, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami and representatives of the telecommunication industries.

Nigeria Ready To Lead In Digital Technology – Buhari

L-R ( Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Mr Isa Pantami meets with President Muhammadu Buhari and Microsoft President, Brad Smith).

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is ready to lead in digital technology and is poised to welcome more initiatives and investments in the sector.

The President said this on Friday at the statehouse in Abuja when he received the President of the Microsoft Corporation, Mr Brad Smith, in the company of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Mr Isa Pantami.

Buhari also appreciated Microsoft for the $200 million African Development Centre set up in Lagos.

Giving his remarks, the Microsoft President said the company plans to train five million Nigerians in the future, noting that 60,000 people have already enrolled for the courses while another 300,000 have completed some courses.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potentials.

He said one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.

This administration, according to the President, has shown great commitment in providing a conducive environment for investors and the massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was proof that the efforts were yielding positive results.

“Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. As the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies,” the President said.

See the photos below.

 

Microsoft To Train Five Million Nigerians In Three Years

President Buhari receives a presentation from President and Executive Vice Chairman, Microsoft Corporation Brad Smith alongside Hon. Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami during his audience with President of Microsoft Corporation in State House on 1st April 2022.

 

Tech giant, Microsoft says it will be training at least five million Nigerians in the next three years as part of efforts to help the country boost its digital technology.

Microsoft President, Brad Smith, said this on Friday when he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the state house.

According to Smith, 60,000 people have already enrolled for courses while another 300,000 have completed some courses.

Read Also: Nigeria Ready To Lead In Digital Technology – Buhari

 

 

This comes weeks after the company launched a $200 million African Development Centre located in Lagos.

President Buhari commended the development, saying the country is happy to welcome more initiatives and investments in digital technology.

“I have been informed that the African Development Centre in Nigeria is Microsoft’s first engineering hub in Africa as the current investment stands at about $200 million.

“I have also been informed of Microsoft’s skilling initiative that aims to train five million citizens and provide 27,000 jobs over the next three years. These initiatives are commendable and I urge you to expand them and continue to prioritize Nigeria as you roll out your global initiatives,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

 

L-R: Sr. Director, The Garage, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Linda Thackeray; Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr. Olatunbosun Alake, during the opening of Microsoft’s New Facility – Africa Development Center (ADC West Africa), at Kings Tower, Ikoyi, on Monday, 21st of March, 2022.

 

He told the visiting Microsoft team that as the largest economy and most populous country in Africa, Nigeria was positioned to play a strategic role in the global technology ecosystem and seek the right partnerships to harness the potentials.

The President added that one of such key partnerships was in the area of capacity building.

According to him, his administration has shown great commitment in providing a conducive environment for investors and the massive jump in the Global Ease of Doing Business Ranking was proof that the efforts were yielding positive results.

“Our emphasis on the development of our Digital Economy has also positioned the sector as a prominent factor in the Nigerian economy. As the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in 2020, the Information and Communications Technology sector played a very important role in supporting our country to exit the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are keen to build on the momentum as we continue to implement our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, along with other related policies.”

Apart from partnerships in the area of skills building, President Buhari said he looked forward to further partnerships that will support the digital infrastructure and innovation ecosystem, with regard to emerging technologies.

“I believe that this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how the Nigerian government can support the growth of your business here and how Microsoft can contribute to the growth of our economy through the active support of our policies and programmes,’’ he added.

President Buhari said he launched the Nigerian National Broadband Plan on the 19th of March 2020, with the aim of expanding broadband access across Nigeria and Microsoft’s connectivity initiative aligns with the plan.

“I believe it would be very useful and mutually beneficial to both Microsoft and Nigeria if your connectivity project is expanded beyond the current four locations in this country.

“Emerging technologies play a key role in digital transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a number of indigenous companies have developed very useful solutions. We are willing to partner with Microsoft to make Nigeria the epicenter for innovative emerging technology in Africa.’’

The President commended the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and all industry stakeholders for their support for the sector.

“In order to sustain the momentum, I further direct that you and other stakeholders in the technology ecosystem keep government fully informed of your ongoing and proposed activities that support the growth of our digital economy.

“We have the potential of becoming your most lucrative market in Africa. As such, we urge you to continue to support the development of our digital economy. We also urge you to step up your Corporate Social Responsibility programmes and support for Research and Development that will enhance your services in Nigeria and on the African continent,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said he represented President Buhari at the commissioning of the African Development Centre, adding that Microsoft had over 200 Nigerians working for them in the country, and Seattle.

Prof. Pantami noted that 320,000 Nigerians have also been trained on digital skills by the technology company.

The President of Microsoft and Vice Executive Chairman said the company will keep creating jobs to help build technology that will change the world, noting that the “multi-tasking approach’’ also stretches to digital infrastructure.

“We pledge to train five million people in Nigeria in the future,’’ Smith said, noting “60,000 people had already enrolled for courses while 300,000 had completed various courses.’’

The President of Microsoft said the company had gone into partnership with other companies to increase Internet and broadband penetration, while efforts have been advanced in innovating technology that will fight corruption and preserve cultural heritages, like languages.

FG Restates Commitment To Transform Economy Through Digital Innovation, Tech

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami (File Photo)

 

The Federal Government has restated its commitment to transform the country’s economy through digital innovation and information technology.

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Ali Pantami, disclosed this on Tuesday when he commissioned the newly established Muhammadu Buhari Information Technology Innovation Hub in Katsina State.

Pantami who described the hub as an incubation centre where ICT talented youths will be trained and mentored on new innovations in ICT for them to become job providers and contribute to the nation’s economy explained that the project is part of the Federal Government’s policy on the National Digital Economy Policy on strategy.

Read Also: Focus More On Talents Not Certificates, Pantami Tells Youths

Pantami further described digital innovation and digital entrepreneurship as two major prerequisites to digital economy and requirements for establishing and building a successful digital economy globally.

He observed that all the leading nations of today which comprise Europe, Switzerland, Asia, South Korea, China, USA and UK excelled, became stronger and successful with digital innovation and Digital entrepreneurship, adding that the world economy had moved from being dominated by those in the oil and gas sector to those in Information and Communication Technology.

“Katsina State is blessed with talents because its indigenes had on several international occasions or competitions been emerging as the global best.

“What we need is to provide them with enabling environment, the mentorship, and the support they need to be successful and by extension make the country more successful,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari assured people of the state of the government’s readiness to continue to encourage youths to embrace Information Technology, adding that 60 per cent of the current population of the state (7 million) are under the age of 30.

He announced that the civil servants now consume nothing less than 90 per cent of whatever federal allocation is coming to the state hence the need to engage youths in the area of ICT.

He, therefore, assured residents that the newly commissioned IT hub would be put into good use under the state Institute of Science and Technology.

WTO DG Visits CBN Talks About Embracing Digital Economy, Exiting Recession

File photo of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele

 

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the newly appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday paid a visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Headquarters in Abuja and spoke on how Nigeria can exit recession and the need to embrace the digital economy.

The WTO DG who was received by a delegation led by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said Nigeria has enough resources and opportunities to exit the recession.

“I think we have what it takes in the country, particularly our young people to do the necessary which is to move forward as to how we are going to create jobs and move this economy in the direction that would support our youths in the future.

“There are opportunities that can be used in improving trade so that our economy can climb out of this pandemic recession that we are in faster than would have been the case,” she said.

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According to the WTO boss, the country also needs to embrace trade remedies and a digital economy to help Nigerian industries.

“WTO has what we call trade remedies. Without banning things we can be able to protect our industries against dumping and cheap imports if we use those remedies. We can use those remedies as a tool to help our industries.

“Digital Economy has come to stay and people are doing well there. We need to support our young people to make use of the digital economy,” she explained.

She added that this is a big task before the country and conversations must start in that direction and also the creative industry should not be neglected as it creates more jobs for the youths.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in response said the local industry should be given the room to grow as it would create more job opportunities, given the rate of high unemployment

He also announced Nigeria is open to business in any part of the world.

NGF Collaborates With Communications Ministry To Achieve 70% Broadband Penetration

 

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) says it is prepared to collaborate with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, in order to achieve the Federal Government’s target of 70% broadband penetration.

Chairman of the forum, Kayode Fayemi while addressing journalists after the meeting of the governors in Abuja on Thursday explained that the move is aimed at developing the states’ digital economic strategies.

He revealed that some of the areas of intervention include the harmonisation of all rights of way charges as well as multiple taxations.

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“Governors are committed to harmonise all rights of way charges to achieve the 70% national broadband penetration target by the end of the year 2020.

“Members (NGF members) also invite the ministry to take full advantage of the universal service provision fund (USPF) which was set up to facilitate investment in critical communication infrastructure across part of the country not considered commercially viable,” Fayemi said.

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy in reaction said he is optimistic that such collaboration with the governors will help to speed up broadband penetration across the states.

According to him, the issues of multiple taxation and right of way charges which the governors have promised to address are some of the critical challenges militating against broadband penetration.

E-Nigeria Conference: Buhari Unveils Strategy For Digital Economy

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday unveiled a strategy document aimed to galvanise the nation’s digital economy.

The President unveiled the strategy at the eNigeria conference, exhibition and awards for 2019 held in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He also directed development and training of personnel in digital economy across all ministries, departments and agencies.

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According to President Buhari, the Digital Economy is globally expanding at a very fast pace and has transitioned from being a luxury to an absolute necessity.

“It is in recognition of this fact that we decided to re-designate the Federal Ministry of Communications as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy with a mandate to develop and implement a harmonised and well-coordinated digital economy policy and strategy for Nigeria,” he said.

The conference, which is the 12th edition this year, is Nigeria’s annual Information Technology (IT) summit hosted by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Other dignitaries at the event include Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; Director-General, NITDA Kashifu Abdullahi; Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and Representative of Speaker, Honourable Lado.

Organisers believe that the two-day event which attracts global participation will unlock the country’s potential in the virtual economy.

See photos from the conference below…