On the 6th of May 2023, in London, the United Kingdom, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FCIIS, FBCS, FNCS, was conferred with the prestigious “Most Outstanding Minister” Award by Triangle News Magazine. The award was given in recognition of the dedication, hard work, outstanding leadership and deep commitment to duty displayed by Prof. Pantami, which seeks to position Nigeria’s digital economy sector on the path of progressive development.
Under the stewardship of Professor Pantami, the digital economy sector has recorded unprecedented achievements in areas of broadband penetration, digital innovations and entrepreneurship, digital inclusion, developmental regulation, data protection and privacy, and digital skills, among others.
Minister Pantami personally championed the formulation of two important bills for Nigeria’s digital economy sector, Nigeria Startup Act 2022, a piece of legislation that provides a safe haven for innovation to thrive and the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau Bill 2022, which provides guidelines for the protection of personal data in Nigeria, promoting trust in the digital economy and ensuring the privacy of individuals are protected.
The initiatives and policies championed by Minister Pantami, such as the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, have ensured that ICT becoming the fastest growing sector in Nigeria, superseding oil and gas in contribution to GDP and contributing immensely to the growth and diversification of the Nigerian economy.
Prof. Pantami is an epitome of impactful leadership and it was no surprise that the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), found it worthy to appoint the Nigerian Minister as the Chairman of the Forum for the year 2022. Prof. Pantami’s impact was so significant that the leadership of the Forum changed the tenure of the Chairman from the traditional 5-day period of the Forum to a whole year and even institutionalised this new tenure for all WSIS Forum Chairpersons at the ITU Plenipotentiary in Bucharest, Romania on the 12th of October 2022, through Resolution 140. Similarly, Minister Pantami remains the first and only African to be conferred with the revered fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Information Security (FCIIS).
The personality of Professor Pantami has attracted global and regional bodies to woo Nigeria into alliances and these include the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), and Smart Africa Alliance. Similarly, his courageous leadership ensured that Africa won the election as the Director of ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). In the same vein, Nigeria unanimously emerged as Chairman of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) for 2021.
In a congratulatory message on the occasion of the 50th Birthday of Professor Isa Pantami, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that appointing Professor Pantami to supervise the digital economy sector remains one of the best decisions he has made, as the minister has added tremendous value to good governance.
The digital identity ecosystem in Nigeria will forever remain grateful to Minister Pantami for an unprecedented transformation resulting in massive enrolment of citizens and legal residents, data interoperability, and implementation of an improved welfare package for staff of the identity commission, among others. The enrolments rose from less than 40 million in 14 years of the existence of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to close to 100 million in 3 years, under the leadership of Prof. Pantami.
To further enhance digital communication, education and commerce, under the leadership of Pantami, the Federal Government has provided free unlimited broadband services to public and private higher institutions of learning aimed at enhancing the quality of research and learning. Similar free broadband services have also been made available to markets and airports.