New national policy seeks expanded local content in telecoms

• SPV created to spearhead implementation 

A newly unveiled national policy for the promotion of indigenous content in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector has urged telecoms firms in the country to institute clear succession plans for senior management positions with conscious actions at building the capacity and providing an opportunity for indigenes to excel within the larger operators.

The new policy unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari is in line with his administration’s commitment to ensure that Nigerians become active participants in the different sectors of the economy.

The policy, sighted by The Guardian, addresses the pertinent areas including manufacturing, services, people, research and development.

According to the President, developing the capacity of Nigerians in these areas will enhance the role of Nigerians in the sector.

As such, the Policy directed that a minimum expatriate quota requirement, which states that each expatriate employed by a company should be understudied by two Nigerians and that expatriate quota approvals by the Ministry of Interior be adhered to.  

Also, the policy explained that enforcing expatriate quota in the telecommunications sector should secure regulatory approval for compliance monitoring.

To support this approach, the policy stressed that modalities should be put in place to ensure that foreign companies are not allowed to trade directly in certain segments of the telecoms markets unless there is a certain percentage of local content.   

The policy disclosed that the ratio of Nigerians to foreigners (for senior, line, contract and outsourced staff) in the industry is high in absolute terms at 98 to two per cent. However, it noted that the larger operators (especially the mobile network operators) have a healthier balance than smaller licensees and service providers.

It stressed that there is also a higher percentage of foreigners among top management staff when compared with other staff, with Nigerians making up only 31 per cent concerning foreigners.

MEANWHILE, the 20-page document revealed that the Nigeria Office for Developing the Indigenous Telecom Sector (NODITS), which is to be created, would serve as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) under the purview of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stimulate the development of local content in the telecommunications sector.
NODITS is expected to implement this policy as well as setting strategies, standards, guidelines and frameworks aimed at developing indigenous content in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
According to the policy document, the main functions of NODITS should include the following, where relevant: to support the creation and implementation of guidelines for the development of the indigenous content for the telecommunications sector, stimulate the growth of the sector through a focused, sustainable and incentives-based approach that encourages the active participation of the indigenous telecom operators and liaise with the Office for Indigenous Content Development at NITDA.
Others are building synergy and convergence of digital technologies, facilitating the sourcing of indigenous products, manpower and services across the entire value chain of the telecom sector and evaluating and endorsing indigenous content plans for operators in the telecom sector.

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