The federal government claims to have reached 100 percent in the production of subscriber identification module (SIM) cards as well as in the manufacture of many components of cell phones used in the country.
Communications and Digital Economy Minister Dr Isa Pantami said this during a special interview program with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said the government was partnering with the private sectors for the local production of SIM cards, cell phones, tablets and other ICT facilities.
Pantami said the local production follows the national local content policy signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on promoting indigenous content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
Pantami said this is in line with the Nigerian government’s commitment to ensure that Nigerians become active participants in different sectors of the economy.
He said the policy addressed relevant areas including manufacturing, services, people, research and development, thus advancing the nation’s goals.
Pantami said that capacity building of Nigerians would ensure an increased role for Nigerians in the design and manufacture of devices and in meeting labor needs in the sector.
“The main policy objective transcends literary translation to more technical translation when the President said that Nigerians must produce what we eat and eat what we produce.
“In the digital economy sector, we see this statement not only as the literary meaning of agriculture, but extends to other sectors.
“We produce what we want to consume in Nigeria and manufacture what we need in the ICT sector, the telecommunications sector,” he said.
The minister, however, said the policy had ensured local manufacturing, skills development, sponsorship and mentorship of other Nigerians to acquire the same skills to serve the country.
“After initiating the policy to this day, SIM cards are made in Nigeria.
“Before this administration, SIM cards were imported into the country, but today Nigeria has the capacity to produce SIM cards for the African continent.
“In Nigeria, we manufacture smart phones, we have obtained an international license and we are partnering with others for the production of smart phones and tablets,” he said.
Pantami said that over the next few months and years, the Industrial Training Fund, together with other private sectors, will manufacture phones that can be exported.
“The policy is to make sure we make what we sponsor, and sponsor what we make.
“On February 12, the President signed the executive decree on local content sponsorship, under which federal institutions were invited to give priority and preferences to citizens in consultancy work and many others .
The minister said that the production of SIM cards and ICT facilities goes beyond reducing imports, adding that this will increase job creation and bring big products to citizens.
He said the country faces the challenges of unemployment and unemployability “where graduates have certificates of relevance sometimes without basic skills and opportunities.
“When ICT items are produced locally, they can get their hands on and acquire the skills required. This will end the brain drain, as many Nigerians leave the country for other countries.
“It will help us strengthen the value of our local currency; one of the major challenges facing the naira today is more the fact that we are a consumer rather than a producer nation.
“Almost everything you need, you find out it’s imported. So that puts so much pressure on our local currency, ”he said.
The minister said there was a need to change the perception of being producers rather than consumers, saying this would reduce the demand for currencies and international currencies.