Dr. Ali Isa Pantami, minister of Communications & Digital Economy, is the man that the
President placed in charge of e-government master plan. A computer scientist and a
technology advocate, he has been one of the key drivers of the Buhari’s legacy from the angle
of creating a digital economy.
Emphasis on creating a digital economy is based on the understanding that the ability to fulfill
the President’s promise of creating jobs and lifting Nigerians out of poverty resides largely in
the information communication technology (ICT) sector. The capacity to create digital jobs
therefore needed to be expanded and significantly enhanced.
In pursuit of the mandate, Pantami relentlessly pursued the implementation of the e-
government vision by mobilizing all the agencies under his ministry to advance the pace of a
digital economy in Nigeria.
The target is to keep Nigeria on same footing with the rest of the world in enhancing the
performance of the economy through the use of ICT to drive government and commercial
Faster and more efficient processes offered by ICT hold the promise of achieving output
expansion across sectors and industries in the economy and consequently boosting Nigeria’s
GDP. The multiplier effect of that is expected to trigger the entire economy, creating new jobs,
enhancing household incomes and lifting people out of poverty.
Pantami has through the years adopted a practical approach to translate the hopes and
promises of socio-economic development into action through strategic implementation of the
The ICT capacity building initiatives of his ministry was tested and proven when the coronavirus
pandemic suddenly broke out in 2020. Nigeria had after all attained a state of economic
digitisation big enough to keep the wheel of commerce streaming in the face of economic
The nation’s economy was able to adjust instantly to the e-world in an unprecedented
emergency. The success reflects major capacity building and transformation that have taken
place in a short period of time in the ICT industry.
The enhanced capacity offered by ICT enabled the country to switch over to digital economic
activities during the economic lockdown in 2020 paved the way for Nigeria to stem the tide of
economic decline and quickly resume growth. Since then, it has continued to offer new and
cost saving alternative routes to doing business in the country.
The much capacity building endeavours that have taken place in ICT has placed it among the
growth driving industries in the economy. The industry has maintained a continuing growth in
the size of its contribution to GDP from an unprecedented mark of 17.8 percent in the first half
of 2020 to a new high of 18.94 percent in the second quarter of 2022.
The phenomenal growth achieved in the industry has helped to moderate declines in other
sectors and industries, particularly the industrial sector and crude oil production and keep
overall GDP mostly growing. The minister has therefore succeeded in his mission of employing
the rapidly growing industry to quicken the rest of the economy.
To Pantami, the strong and rising contribution of ICT to GDP “has shown how critical the ICT
sector is to the growth of our country’s digital economy and by extension, the general
economy”. This, he said, is a direct result of focused and committed effort of the government
under President Buhari.
According to him, the inclusion of digital economy in the mandate of his ministry is a key
element of the strategic policy direction of the federal government.
Some of the major ICT capacity building projects under the ministry are contained in the
National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy and the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),
amongst others unveiled and implemented during the 8-year rule of Buhari. A number of
milestones have been attained in pursuit of the targets under the plan.
Broadband penetration in the country is the key driver of financial inclusion by making possible
seamless digital financial services across the country. The attraction of new investments to
create broadband infrastructure has deepened broadband penetration rapidly to 44.5 percent
as at July 2022.
Implementation of broadband connectivity for development of a digital economy is a key
priority of government assigned to Pantami. The remarkable achievement recorded in
broadband penetration evidences the extent of progress the government has made in realizing
its pursuit of a digital economy.
The implementation of the New National Broadband Plan under his ministry is projected to
deliver data downloads across Nigeria at increased speed and low cost with effective coverage
of not less than 90 percent of the population by 2025.
Over the eight years of the Buhari’s government, the ministry and its parastatals have made
major regulatory interventions that have reshaped the economy significantly towards the
digital world. By deploying technology to bridge the digitisation gap in Nigeria, the opportunity
for digital jobs has been unveiled for Nigerians more than ever before.