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ICT Companies Pay N600m Tax to FG

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ICT companies

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

Registered companies in Nigeria operating under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector have paid over N600 million as tax charge to the federal government in the last two years, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, has disclosed.

According to him, the ICT companies, via IT projects clearing programs, has also saved about N5.5 billion for the government within the last 24 months, showing the key role played by the sector, especially in 2020.

Speaking on Sunday, October 24, at a virtual news conference organised to celebrate Digital Nigeria Day 2021, the Minister said, “The ICT sector had the highest growth rate in 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021. That growth was 14.07 per cent.

“This growth rate was the only double-digit growth rate that exceeded the aggregate growth rate of all the seven fastest-growing sectors.

“The ministry and its parastatals have generated over N1 trillion for the federal government in less than two years. This translates to an average of N44 billion monthly or over N1.4 billion.

“N1.05 trillion revenues were generated by the ministry and its parastatals; furthermore, the ministry has saved for the FG through the IT projects clearing programs the sum of N5,478,007,325.23.”

The Minister noted that these significant strides came from the implementation of some important national policies which have developed a friendly environment for the communications and digital economy sector to thrive in.

He listed the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, the Nigeria National Broadband Plan 2020-2025, National Policy on Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institutions, and also SIM card registration as part of these significant policies.

In addition, Mr Patami said that the ministry has organized a series of capacity-building programs where young citizens have been able to develop their IT skills to explore the never-ending opportunities in the technology space.

According to him, this includes the ICT training and empowerment for over 200 women, 102 training of persons with disabilities, Nigerian Data Protection Regulation where 296 persons participated, as well as the cyber security education for 21 Nigerian Army Personnel.

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Technology

Nigeria to Launch Another Satellite in Space Soon—FG

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NigComSat

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has disclosed that it plans to launch another satellite through the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) before the end of the year.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, during a tour of facilities at the agency’s base in Abuja.

He said: “That approval of federal government which I have secured has been forwarded to NigComSat. Now, it is on the table of NigComSat to answer that question. I want to make sure that as I said that 2022 is NigComSat year along with NIPOST. I want to make sure that all work in progress must be completed by 2022.

“As I said earlier, 2022 has been dedicated to NigComSat and NIPOST, and I want to do the best I can to improve what we have achieved in the previous years.

“I recently approved two subsidiaries of NigComSat and I am here to supervise what they have been doing, and I discovered some areas where we need to work to improve their performance significantly.”

He also stated that for the agency not to be considered for privatisation again, it must provide quality service and generate good revenue for the federal government.

He added: “Before I was made the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), there was the Oronsaye report which recommended for the scrapping of NITDA. But when I was able to turn things around from a generation of N7 billion to N19 billion in a year, no one talks about scrapping NITDA again.

“So, if you are able to turn things around, render quality service and generate income, no one will talk of privatising your company again.”

On her part, the Director-General, NigComSat, Mrs Abimbola Alike, appreciated the Minister for his immense support.

Mrs Alike stated: “We all know what our budget used to be N200 million-N300m, for a company that needs capital after overhead.

“He stood for us and said there must be something good in NigComSat because he is a man who believes that we can actually turn around NigComSat.”

She assured Mr Pantami of the agency’s readiness to deliver quality service and generate revenue to justify his efforts at revitalising the agency.

According to her, this year, Nigerians would see new significant changes that will make them know that NigComSat is a new company that can compete with its global counterparts.

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Technology

Balthazar Secures $3m to Achieve NFT Gaming Platform Growth

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Balthazar John Stefanidis

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The sum of $3 million has been raised by an NTF gaming platform, Balthazar, through the sale of tokens, with Animoca Brands emerging as the lead purchaser.

Other token purchasers were Finder Group (through Hive Empire Capital, which is led by Fred Schebesta), Zip co-founder Larry Diamond, Digital Asset Capital Management (DACM), Fantom, ZED Run, Darling Ventures, Pluto Digital, San Francisco-based VC Side Door Ventures, Algorand, and Three Arrows Capital’s TPS Capital.

With the new development, Animoca Brands, a global leader in gamification and blockchain with a large portfolio of over 150 investments in NFT-related companies and decentralised projects, will provide advisory services to Balthazar, which aims to be the leading NFT gaming platform in the metaverse.

Balthazar, which commenced operations in 2021, wants to be the largest decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) in the play-to-earn space.

The company is a community-focused platform, removing the barrier to entry for gamers to access play-to-earn games through its scholarship program with no upfront costs.

Balthazar is more than a guild, with plans to develop its tech platform, its rent-to-earn lending model, and to scale up its community.

Prior to the token sale, Balthazar deployed 1,100 scholars into several NFT games including Axie Infinity, Splinterlands and Thetan Arena, with a further 30,000 people on its waitlist, and a community of more than 70,000 people in its Discord channel.

“We are so thrilled to be backed by Animoca Brands and all of our supporters in helping to shape the metaverse and to continue assisting and expanding our community.

“This support means we can fulfil our vision of empowering the biggest community of gamers to create a self-sustaining, wealth-building ecosystem.

“We are developing the most incredible platform that will bring together gamers, crypto holders and individuals through our own NFT games, valuable tokenomic strategies and gaming partnerships.

“I’m excited about the future of the play-to-earn space, in particular how it’s spreading earning opportunities to those who need it most, as well as providing a new use-case for cryptocurrency,” the CEO of Balthazar, John Stefanidis, stated.

Also commenting, the Executive Chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu, stated that, “Balthazar has a thriving and fast-growing community, offering opportunities for all people to be involved in the NFT gaming space, including gamers, game companies, and crypto holders.

“With its dynamic leadership, we believe that Balthazar will be able to tap growth for NFT-based gaming in new markets, and we are excited to be part of its journey.”

Balthazar has opened a private token sale round, with plans to sell $8 million of tokens at a token cap valuation of $150 million by February 2022.

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2,000 Youths to Access N100m for Software Development, Others

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N100 million Technology Fund

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

To nudge the emergence of world-class technology experts, the federal government has set aside the sum of N100 million for about 2,000 youths across the country.

The money, according to the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, would be accessible to the beneficiaries in the next two years for training in different areas such as software development and design, amongst others.

The Minister said the N100 million Technology Fund is part of the government’s efforts to tap into the growing digital economy.

Speaking at the inauguration of a Digital Nigeria Centre (DNC) in Ilesa, Osun State, applauded the commitment and dedication of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards enhancing digital skills development among youths, through the implementation of various Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skill acquisition programmes.

He particularly lauded the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Mr Umar Garba Danbatta, for their efforts in promoting a digital economy.

“I would like to thank my very good friend and brother, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, for assenting to our request to have the first of this remodelled project in Osun State sited in Ilesa.

“I will also like to thank the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and the entire management and staff of NCC and the USPF, as well as their technical partners for a timely and successful completion of this laudable project,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Pantami, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, board of commissioners of NCC, Mr Adeolu Akande, stated that the federal government was focused on promoting the digital economy across the country.

He asserted that the DNC inaugurated at Ilesa was a concrete implementation of digital literacy and skills, the second pillar of NDEPS.

According to him, the overarching objective of the DNC project is to facilitate the adoption of digital lifestyle in the schools as well as in the school communities.

The Minister averred that the project’s significance cannot be under-estimated, considering its ability to improve digital skills for the youths and subsequently make them globally competitive.

Mr Pantami said the Nigerian government was determined to arm the youths with digital skills, strong literacy and numeracy skills, critical and innovative thinking skills, complex problem-solving aptitude, the ability to collaborate and deploy socio-emotional skills, which they require to transform their lives and build the economy.

“We have already made a number of giant strides in the development of our digital economy culture and the deployment of initiatives such as the Digital Nigeria Centre eloquently demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to connecting all Nigerians,” Mr Pantami said.

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