Focusing On ICT Sector, New Communications Minister

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The Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani.
The Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani.

Before becoming a ministerial nominee, Bosun Tijani was a quiet, unassuming tech whizkid, running his race in the chosen lane of his expertise. Those within the information and communications technology (ICT) industry were well aware of him as a young man with boldness and remarkable audacity. Some even saw him as a competitor. With several noteworthy accomplishments, particularly through the Co-Creation Hub (CcHub), which he co-founded and the state-of-the-art technology cluster established in Yaba, known as the largest in Africa, Tijani has achieved many firsts in Nigeria and across the African continent (including Kenya, Rwanda and Namibia). He has invested his time, expertise and resources in projects that have not only transformed lives but also entire systems in Nigeria and various African nations.

Tijani’s accomplishments drew the attention of global technology leaders.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta boss and owners of Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and lately, Threads visited Nigeria in 2016, while Twitter co- founder, Jack Dorsey came in 2019 and Bill Gates was here in 2023 all on the invitation of Tijani because of the confidence they had in him.

As a minister, Tijani is expected to leverage his capabilities to attract more such prominent global players, who will not only bring investment but also valuable expertise to further develop Nigeria’s ICT sector. These visits, originally initiated by Tijani himself as a private player in the technology sector, are projected to continue, benefiting the nation’s technology ecosystem.

Upon his appointment as Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, industry experts and knowledgeable Nigerians both domestically and internationally hailed the selection of Tijani as a fitting choice. Given his background and accomplishments, high expectations have been set for him. In his own words, shortly after his appointment, Tijani expressed his readiness to collaborate with stakeholders and make a meaningful impact in his role. This sentiment was reiterated during his first meeting with agencies under the ministry.

“We are going to be partnering with the best organisations and institutions in the world,” Tijani declared, acknowledging the challenges ahead. He emphasised the need to connect people to opportunities, particularly through his ministry’s role in unlocking possibilities for all citizens across the nation.

Tijani brings to the table not only youthfulness and education but also substantial resources and a deep sense of patriotism—qualities that will undoubtedly contribute to his success in this role. As he sets out to revitalise an industry that was teetering on the edge, Nigerians remain hopeful that he will achieve notable progress.

Having witnessed firsthand the policies of the previous administration that posed challenges for investors, Tijani’s perspective as an industry player is invaluable. Unlike the previous minister, who positioned himself as all-powerful, Tijani will lead by example, guided by his substantial experience as an investor. The pain inflicted by adverse government policies on investments is well understood by Tijani, as he navigated the challenges posed by policies during the previous administration in the telecommunications sector. This firsthand experience should guide him in his role as minister.

Nigerians have high hopes for the ICT sector’s multiplier effect, viewing it as a substantial revenue source for the government, after oil and gas. Tijani’s appointment is expected to lead to a reversal of the policies that destabilized the industry and confused both operators and customers. The industry experienced a tumultuous period for nearly five years, but Tijani’s appointment is anticipated to bring about a change for the better.

However, Tijani must remain vigilant and avoid complacency, as Nigerians are unlikely to overlook any setbacks. He should also be wary of those who show support only when things are going well. In this context, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) outlined an informal agenda for the minister, expressing its enthusiasm for his appointment and highlighting the need for policies that will facilitate industry growth.

ATCON commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for selecting a candidate with an ICT background for the Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy Ministry. They appreciated the addition of “Innovation” to the Ministry’s portfolio, recognizing its importance in achieving the government’s goal of creating a million digital jobs. Recognising that the sector’s growth depends on a solid infrastructure base, ATCON emphasised the necessity of addressing issues such as funding, security, permits, right-of-way agreements and multiple taxation and regulations.

ATCON’s agenda further included the creation of a special foreign exchange window for industry operators and a push for an Act for Critical National Infrastructure. They also stressed the urgency of resolving the Right of Way agreement issue and addressing the problem of multiple taxation and regulations. ATCON’s willingness to collaborate with the minister demonstrates a shared commitment to enhancing the sector’s growth and effectiveness.

Given his background, Tijani is well-positioned to identify and rectify missteps in the industry, ensuring clarity in roles between regulatory and development agencies. Drawing from his extensive experience and ability to harness ideas from industry practitioners, Tijani is poised to make a meaningful difference. Under his leadership, CcHub flourished and expanded across Africa, positioning itself as a crucial catalyst for the African tech ecosystem. His collaborative efforts with global partners and founders have contributed significantly to the development of innovative solutions to local and global challenges.

As Tijani assumes his role as the minister, Nigerians are hopeful that he will leverage his expertise to drive the industry forward, benefiting not only investors but also the broader population. With a young, capable and driven leader at the helm, the future of Nigeria’s ICT sector looks promising, ready to embrace innovation, growth and prosperity.

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