FG to leverage on digital technology to enhance good governance

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…As ICT sector contribution hits 18.44 per cent Q2, 2022

By Gloria Akudoro, Abuja

President Muhammad Buhari has reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to ensure good governance at a reduced cost to Nigerians leveraging on digital technology in all sectors and at all government engagements.

President Buhari said his administration is also leveraging on emerging technologies to support the different sectors of our economy with the auctioning and roll-out of the 5G services in Nigeria.

The President stated on Tuesday in Abuja  at the official opening ceremony of the 2022 National Engineering Conference, Exhibitions and Annual General Meeting Wednesday with its theme: “Advancing the Frontiers of Communication and Digital Economy in Nigeria”.

The event was  hosted by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to further accelerate the Gross Domestic Growth of the nation utilizing technology.

According to the President, “It is worthy of mention that the Federal Government’s partnership with the Nigerian Society of Engineers, through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, in organizing this conference, is not misplaced. It has further strengthened our conviction that such partnerships between and amongst the government and private sector players are not only key, but inevitable handshake that any nation needs for accelerated growth and development.

“My administration will continue to engage with professional Engineers, to achieve sustainable social and economic development in the country in line with the nine priority areas of my administration in order to achieve the desired milestones in the Digital Economy”.

He however, asked for NSE advisory support and strategic collaboration to further accelerate economic growth and improve efficiency in strengthening all other sectors of the economy for the good of our country.

Commending the unwavering commitment of the body to partnering with the Federal Government to deliver a better life to our citizens, President Buhari said its has evolved through time into vehicle for advocacy that are specifically geared  towards enhancing the socio-economic wellbeing of the nation adding the development has been recognized with interest by the government.

“The theme for the 2022 National Engineering Conference, “Advancing the Frontiers of Communication and Digital Economy in Nigeria”, bears great testimony to the potency of NSE conferences in drawing attention to the critical aspects of our corporate existence as a nation that need intervention. The theme of this conference reflects the yearning of the Federal Government’s drive towards digitizing the country’s economy using modern technology, and making our country rank among the most advanced in the world in the communications sector,” said the PMB.

In a bid to achieve the goal of digitization of Nigeria, Mr President further disclosed its administration launched and unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), National Broadband Plan between 2020-2025, among others initiated.

He equally stressed digital economy being the fastest growing sector by double digits at the peak despite the COVID-19 pandemic made phenomenal and unprecedented contribution to the country’s GDP in the last three years which were 14.07 per cent in Q1 2020, 17.92 per cent in Q2 2021 and 18.44 per cent in Q2 2022, witnessing the highest ever contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP.  “This shows that our efforts are yielding positive results,” he added

In addition, PMB revealed that the sector had developed 19  national policies which are all in various stages of implementation, and have facilitated the quantum leap recorded by the sector.

He added that the national policies are in the areas of developmental regulations, infrastructure, digital skills and indigenous content development among others.

“I have just assented to the startup Act; this will further boost over 383 Nigerian tech startups in the nation due to the deliberate policy-focused initiative of the sector in partnership with relevant  stakeholders. This Act has the capacity to significantly transform the innovation and startup ecosystem and we eagerly await the impact of the Act”, he noted.

Speaking, the Federal Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Ali Ibrahim Pantami, lamented on the gap in infrastructure development which poses major threat to  the economic development as well as limiting national target achievements.

To achieve economic growth, Prof. Pantami said that investment in the creation and upkeep of core infrastructure that complies with international standards is a vital condition giving the tight relationship between economic performance and global competitiveness.

He hinted Nigeria Society of Engineers, NSE  have  a key role to play in advisory, policy, and strategy in the promotion and provision of critical engineering infrastructure for accelerated urban and rural development as well as sustainable investments to achieve the set objectives.

While reaffirming its continues commitment to partner to attaining the desired infrastructure development, he reeled out seven (7) major sectors prioritized for infrastructural development which includes: Energy, Transport, Housing, Social Infrastructure, Vital Registration and Security, Water/Agriculture/Mining and Information and Communication Technology.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, the Minister said it aligned pretty well with the Ministry’s conviction and plans towards enhancing the communications ‘Channel’, prioritizing the digital ‘Content’, while ensuring that the economy remains the Central Focus of its initiatives.

“The overarching policy for the development of our digital economy is the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) and our focus is for the digital economy to drive other sectors of the economy while facilitating digitalization of every sector in Nigeria.

“The Ecosystem approach to the Digital Identification Project has created several thousand job opportunities and wealth creation avenues as over 150 Front-end Partners (as at May, 2021) are being paid per successful enrollment. The FGN is on track to spend US$433 million on the Digital Identification Project spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission.

Consequently, Galaxy Backbone is carrying out ICT Infrastructure development projects including a Tier 4 Datacenter with Cloud Computing Infrastructure having a storage capacity of 2.2PB and memory size of 41,216GB and a Pilot Safe City with an Emergency Command Center, among other projects.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has made investments in 78 Information Communication Technology (ICT) start-ups so far, to create jobs and wealth in the country.”

Describing Digital Economy is a real catalyst for National Development, Prof. Pantami hinted that it is important to develop it in a way that supports resilience and also position the country for global competitiveness.

“We must therefore work together to create a coordinated approach towards achieving this target.”

In his remark, the President, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and Converner, Engr. Tasiu Sa’ad Gidari-Wudil, thanked the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,  for  its collaboration in ensuring the success of the conference and also ensuring full participation  of the Ministry’s MDAs.

As part of its commitment to solving the challenges confronting the country, Engr. Gidari-Wudil disclosed NSE National Secretariat efforts towards working closely with the security agencies to ensure safety of the lives and properties of everyone throughout the duration of the conference.

According to him, on the United Nations report, digital technologies have advanced more rapidly than any innovation in our history, reaching over 50 per cent of the developing world’s population in barely two decades and transforming societies in multifaceted ways.

As a significant player in the trajectory of nations growth, NSE President said Nigeria however must be in a strong position to benefit from the changes that the digital technologies have sparked and with a goal of advancing the country into a developed and globally-focused digital economy. Adding that Nigeria is endowed with innovative human resources and therefore, a thriving digital economy will create employment opportunities for the teeming population, improve security, reduce corruption and enhance the overall wellbeing of the nation and its citizenry.

He lamented that over time the political class have failed to realize that there cannot be meaningful development without infrastructural development with engineering and engineers at the centre of it.

“We invited all the eighteen (18) Presidential Candidates of political parties for the 2023 elections for an interaction on their respective Roadmap for Infrastructure Development in Nigeria to hold on Wednesday 16. However, this is due to poor response by the political parties which shows their lack of preparations on comprehensive road maps for infrastructural development of this country.

“We shall keenly watch them to see what they are coming to do if elected without engaging the services of our members. You cannot afford to continue to be treated as second class group in this country. Enough is enough.” he stated.