Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (born in Pantami, Gombe State, Nigeria), PhD, CON, FCIIS, FBCS, FNCS, is the Minister of Communications and the first ever Minister of Digital Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2019 to 2023. He was also appointed by the United Nations through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as Chairman of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Forum for the year 2022, where he chaired 193+ ministers of ICT globally. He served twice as a Council Member of the ITU from 2019-2023.
Professor Ibrahim obtained a 5 year Bachelor of Technology Degree in Computer Science (B.Tech), from the Federal University of Technology, known as the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, Nigeria, and proceeded to acquire two Masters Degrees from the same institution in quick succession. One in Computer Science (MSc) and the other, an MBA in Technology Management.
His scholarly pursuits then led him to the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom, where he obtained a Doctorate (PhD) in Computer Information Systems. Prior to that, he also obtained a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods from the same University. Professor Ibrahim also teaches cybersecurity and information security and also supervises postgraduate research student(s) and partakes in community service as the first professor of Cybersecurity at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO) Imo State. He took the appointment in March 2021, and he is also the first professor of cybersecurity from northern Nigeria.
He has the distinction of being the first and only African to be certified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec) amongst 89 other Fellows. CIISec is the only professional cybersecurity organization granted the royal charter in the United Kingdom.
Prior to his appointment as Minister in 2019, he was the Chief Information Technology Officer of Nigeria and Director General (DG)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), which has a strong mandate on research, regulation, and development of information technology. Professor Ibrahim is the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of the Federation, based on the National Policy for Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institutions.
Professor Ibrahim has also been Chairman and member of several Presidential and Inter-Ministerial Committees, including Chairman, the Presidential Steering Committee on Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial and Management Information Systems (GIFMIS) and Treasury Single Account (TSA) Systems review, Chairman, Presidential Committee on proposed Excise Duty for the Digital Economy Sector, Chairman, Presidential Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation sub-committee, National Committee on Export Promotion, Digital Identity Ecosystem Steering Committee, National Action Committee on African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), and member, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), among many others.
He was also appointed as AfCFTA Champion for Communications and Digital Economy, as well as Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee for National Identity and the Chairman of the National Council on Digital Economy and e-Government. Professor Ibrahim is also a member of the Governing Board of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), chaired by the President of Nigeria. Also, he is a board member of the National Defence Agency.
Under the leadership of Professor Ibrahim, the first-ever Minister of Digital Economy in Nigeria, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 – 2030) and the National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025) were developed, among others, and many unprecedented successes were recorded. Within 3 years in office, more than 19 National Policies were developed and are being implemented including the National Policy that led to the establishment and management of the First National Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (NCAIR) in 2021.
Also, in less than one year, as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the lingering issue of excessive Right of Way charges and vandalisation of telecommunication infrastructure was significantly addressed. Under his stewardship, broadband penetration increased by more than 10% in a year, rather than the average annual increase of about 1.7%, and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07% to the GDP based on the First Quarter 2020 GDP Report by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The ICT sector was also the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy with a 17.92% contribution to GDP based on Second Quarter 2021 GDP Report. He further broke that record as the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 18.44% to the GDP in Q2 2022 yet again. He developed the National Policy that led to the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.
Professor Ibrahim initiated the first virtual Federal Executive Council and the first virtual National Security Council meeting on the 13th of May 2020 and has been coordinating and supervising the technical aspects of the meetings since then. This saved the Nigerian government money worth billions of Naira monthly.
Recently, his achievements have led to him being recognised with an honorary doctoral degree and the chancellorship of a public university in Sudan. He was also honoured with the Presidential Nigeria Excellence Award in Public Service (NEAPS) distinguished award for digital innovation in 2022, the Digital Personality of the Year Award at the 10th Africa Digital Awards 2022, a fellowship in the field of Diplomacy and International Relations by African School of Diplomacy and International Relations in 2022; and the only person honoured with the GITEX 2022 Leadership Award in recognition of his commitment towards advancing Digital Economy.
Furthermore, he was also previously conferred the 2020 Minister of the Year Award by the Blueprint Newspaper; Most Outstanding Minister of the Year 2021 by Elite Exclusive Magazine; and the Digital Economy Driver Award by the National Body of Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), amongst others. He further received the 2020 Person of the Year Award from Thinkers’ Magazine in September 2021. In fact, he has received over 196, international and local awards, from 2017 to date.
Professor Ibrahim also holds certificates in Digital Transformation from Harvard University, Digital Strategy from both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Institute of Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland, Strategic Leadership from Oxford University, Bespoke Session on Lawmaking at the Sussex Law School, University of Sussex, and a University of Cambridge Certification in Management. The dynamic, inspirational agent of transformation is also a conflict resolution expert with national and international experiences in that regard.
Prior to joining FUTO, Professor Ibrahim lectured and conducted research at various universities and other institutions for almost two decades. During his early days, Professor Ibrahim was a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology, Bauchi for over a decade, where he taught various undergraduate and postgraduate courses including Management Information Systems, Multimedia Concepts, Fundamentals of Software Engineering, Systems Analysis and Design, Computer Systems and Networks, and Analysis & Design of Information Systems to mention a few. He also supervised postgraduate students’ projects to graduation and was involved in other research and administrative activities at the University. During his early career, he acted as the Head of the Information Technology Department.
Similarly, Professor Ibrahim taught various courses including Operational Research, Information Systems Application, Analysis and Design, and was Head of Technical Writing and Laboratory Practical while at the International Islamic University of Madinah (Al-Jami’ah Al- Islamiyya), in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was also involved with the supervision of students’ research and reports, administrative activities and moderator of the Committee for Accreditation and Quality Assurance in the University, among others.
In addition, Professor Ibrahim is a recipient of several global awards and is a well-sought-after speaker, delivering convocation/graduation lectures in several public and private universities, including the Federal University of Technology Minna; the Nile University; the Federal University Kashere; and the National Defence College, among others. He has also served as Speaker at leading global events like the Gulf Information Security Expo & Conference (GISEC), in Dubai World Trade Centre, UAE; Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona; the GSMA Africa Policy Leaders Forum; Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) in Dubai; World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos, Switzerland; ID4Africa Conference, Marrakesh, Morocco; the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Las Vegas; African Telecommunications Union (ATU), Algiers, Algeria; and International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Bucharest, Romania. In Nigeria, he also served as Chair and Special Guest Speaker at the Nigeria Computer Society’s (NCS) International Conference 2021 and 2022, as well as the 2022 IT Assembly of the Computer Professionals (Registration Council of Nigeria) [CPN] among others.
Furthermore, as an expert in key fields of the digital economy and cybersecurity, he also serves as a resource person to several institutions, including the National Defence College, Nigerian Army Resource Centre, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), among others. He led a team of researchers from NITDA to lead in developing a curriculum for Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity and Management Information Systems, introduced as new postgraduate courses at the Africa Centre of Excellence on Technology Enhanced Learning (ACETEL) of the NOUN.
His major achievements in promoting cybersecurity date to when he was the DG/CEO of NITDA with the establishment of the first-ever Cybersecurity Department and the development of its mandates. Also, to his credit was leading the efforts for the revamping of the Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT) at NITDA in 2019 and the deployment of a Computer Security Incidence Response Team (CSIRT) at the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) in 2021.
In addition, Professor Ibrahim has developed several policies that are currently being implemented to promote cybersecurity. Amongst other policies, the Revised National NIN-SIM Registration Policy, National Policy for Unmasking SIMS and enforcement, blocking of 2.4 million unregistered SIM cards in 2019, enforcement of internet exchange point, and enrolment of over 100 million citizens and residents as of May 2023, on the national identity database and issuance of national identity numbers (NIN) were key achievements in promoting cybersecurity. Indeed, it is under his leadership that an unprecedented number of policies and regulatory instruments were developed for the communications and digital economy sector of Nigeria.
Furthermore, Professor Ibrahim has been the Champion of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP), Abuja from 2019 to 2021. The MIT-REAP is a global initiative that helps regions accelerate economic growth and promote social progress through Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship (IDE). He has published several academic articles in professional journals, presented papers in more than 190 conferences and published several books. These include “Datafication of Society to Foster an Internet Economy”, “Building a Digital Economy for a Digital Africa”, “Selected Speeches on Developing the Nigerian ICT Sector (Volumes I – III)”, “Cybersecurity Initiatives for Securing a Country” “Cybersecurity Guide: Simple Awareness, Mitigation and Regulation”, “Counter- Terrorism Through Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies”, “Skills rather than just Degrees” and “Digital Agriculture: the panacea for global food crises” among others.
Professor Ibrahim has visited over 40 countries for academic activities and to foster collaboration towards the development of the Digital Economy and Cybersecurity. He has visited the United States of America (over 5 times), England & Scotland (over 20 times), Wales, France (over 5 times), Germany (over 3 times), Switzerland (over 5 times), Spain, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Kuwait, Turkey, South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Tunisia, India, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Mauritania, Cameroon, Portugal, Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Poland and Romania, among others. In 2022, he served as the keynote speaker during the Gulf Information Security Expo and Exhibition Conference (GISEC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim who is popularly known as the Digital Minister is a global IT citizen, a Chartered computer scientist, and a Chartered cybersecurity expert is also a revered and highly respected Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Information Security (FCIIS), Nigeria Computer Society (FNCS) and the British Computer Society (FBCS), as well as a Fellow of Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Forensics Specialist Group of the British Computer Society. He is also a registered Computer Scientist with the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (MCPN), among others. Professor Ibrahim is happily married with children.