Nigeria: Minister Tasks Lawmakers Over ICT Bills

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The Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, has stressed that lawmakers have a critical role to play in the development of the nation's Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector through advancing legislation that will increase the availability of ICT networks services and devices to Nigerians.

Johnson, who made this call during the presentation of the roadmap of the ministry to the House of Representatives' Committee on ICT in Abuja, urged the lawmakers to aid the development of ICT in Nigeria via provision of legal instruments that will deliver the necessary inputs for a profitable and sustainable ICT industry.

She stressed that there was a need for lawmakers to enact relevant cybercrime and cyber security laws that will not only protect Nigerians, but protect the interest of the nation.

The minister also urged the lawmakers to protect the vulnerability of ICT infrastructure in Nigeria by "enacting laws that will make it a crime punishable by law for anyone to tamper with ICT infrastructure in any part of the nation", and emphasised that ICT infrastructure need to be critically protected by law for security and business continuity reasons.

She said that despite the perceived growth of the telecoms sector, Nigeria still remained at the bottom of the African Broadband download performance table with download speeds of 1.38Mbps, as compared to Ghana who tops of the table with 10.1Mbps.

According to her, this was due to several challenges and constraints which have hampered the growth of ICT in the nation, some of which include multiple and illegal taxation on ICT infrastructure, fragmented IT industry, delays in necessary government approvals, and inadequate ICT skills and capacity.

In his remarks, the Committee chairman, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, laid emphasis on the policy direction of the ministry in the area of provision of ICT tools, local content as it exists in the oil sector and harmonisation of the agencies of the ministry (many of which have overlapping functions).