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Nigerians must explore opportunities in the Digital Economy to eradicate poverty — NCC EVC

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By Ibiyemi Mathew

The Executive Vice Chairman/ CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta has called on Nigerians to explore opportunities in the digital economy to eradicate poverty in the country.

The EVC, represented by Mrs Nnena Ukoha, Head, Corporate Communications, said this while speaking at the 9th Lagos Public Relations Stakeholders’ Conference on Leadership and Poverty Eradication.

Speaking on the topic, ‘Poverty Eradication in Nigeria: Leveraging Opportunities in a Digital Economy,’ he noted that “For most developing countries, particularly those with large populations, inadequate infrastructure has made it difficult to participate as equal partners in the worldwide enterprise of knowledge production and dissemination.  This portends an unequal distribution of access, resources and opportunities in this new economy, the Digital Economy.  To avert the birth of a new type of poverty (Information Poverty), the ICT gap (digital divide) between the developed and developing nations must be bridged.”

“A nation’s development is measured in economic terms such as per capita income, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Gross National Product (GNP), among other indices. Indices such as level of literacy, social development, human capital development, cultural innovation and technological preparedness are not regarded as a measure of development.  If we must tap into the ICT revolution, then it is time for a paradigm shift!  The traditional economic terms are not a reflection of the new age of the Digital Economy,” he said.

On efforts made by the Nigerian government, he disclosed that there are several past and ongoing efforts by the Nigerian Government to alleviate poverty through ICT using organisations and programmes like the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), using the offices of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) across the country as ICT hubs, the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) to ensure that telecommunications services are accessible to the widest number of people (and communities) at affordable prices.   USPF has poverty-reducing activities like the Community Resource Centers, USPF Hackathon, RUBI – Rural Broadband Initiative,  UnICC – University InterCampus Connectivity,  BTS – Base Transceiver Stations, IRC – Information Resource Centres, SKC – School Knowledge Centres, and the E-Health Project.”

The EVC said that “NCC will continue to support the vision of the present government to put Nigeria amongst the top twenty in the comity of Nations and to align our developmental goals in keeping with the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but particularly the goal to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere which is currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day, by year 2030.

He listed initiatives at the NCC directly or indirectly target poverty eradication to include; “Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme: Transforming the Academics: Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme for Tertiary Institutions, ADAPTI is aimed at bridging the digital divide existing in academia with the provision of computers and other ICT facilities to equip the lecturers and other experts in order to improve ICT skills and also to enrich the students. The overriding objective of this intervention has been to elicit the pervasive application of ICT skills in academia for enhanced staff output, institutional efficiency, and student enculturation to e-based learning for sustainable national growth.

“Digital Awareness Programme (DAP): this is a special intervention programme to address the digital information knowledge gap in the country, especially among the teeming youthful population.  On the last count, the DAP Project supports 229 Secondary Schools across the Six (6) Geopolitical Zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory. The strategy in this programme is to expose schools and colleges to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) awareness, usage and application by facilitating access to ICT tools by the provision of twenty one (21) Desktop Computers, Local Area Network, Printers, Scanners, VSAT Dish and deployment of one Year Bandwidth Subscription for Internet Access.

“NCC- Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) Projects: Nigeria’s ICT flagship institution, the Digital Bridge, DBI, came into existence in 2004 to impact on the national ICT human capital building efforts by bridging the ICT knowledge gap.

“Frequency Auction: Contributing to National Purse: The Nigerian telecom regulator has contributed to the Federation Account from proceeds of frequency auctions and licensing. The frequencies auctioned, are in turn used for the deployment of services for poverty reduction and the benefit of the citizenry. The Commission has a clear understanding of this value chain and is determined to uphold it.

“Value Added Services (VAS): Telecommunication has given birth to several value-added services that open up benefits to all cadre of people irrespective of location and level of education. These VAS are great channels for revenue generation. Some VAT are content development, Phone repair network, IT device accessories sales market (phone pouches, screen covers etc), Ringback tones, and even government agencies providing service on telecom platform e.g NAFDAC – drug authentication code.

On broadband and poverty , “The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020–2025 (the “Broadband Plan”) devotes an entire section to targets, strategies and roadmaps to promote pervasive broadband deployment, increased broadband adoption, usage and availability to all at affordable prices.  These all point to government’s commitment to harmonizing and utilizing the benefits derivable from ICT for the good of all.

“In 2020, the latest National Broadband Plan was approved to foster fuller economic exploitation of ICTs. This means that there will be more pervasive deployment and usage of ICT to push the development and economic attractiveness of the nation.”

He assured that the Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to sustainable development of the ICT subsector for the growth of the economy and the eradication of poverty.  “This was made evident during the just concluded Communications sector retreat where the Ministry of Communications and the agencies under it converged to chart a five-year plan that would make communications services, affordable, accessible, and available to all persons in Nigeria.”

He concluded that “The credit for Nigeria’s ambitious broadband pursuit is traced to the potentials and prospects of broadband technology, the ease of deployment and the vast opportunities available through it.  The Commission will continue to put strategies in place to pursue last mile deployment of broadband. This would ensure small businesses are positioned to compete globally and communities and individuals are able to create wealth through access to ICT.

“By providing access to information, making markets more efficient, fostering social inclusion, and equalizing opportunities in rural areas, ICT offers an innovative and unprecedented tool to directly reduce poverty.”

Other speakers at the event include; Founder and Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu; Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Sheila Ojei, Director Strategy, Funding and Stakeholders Management, LSETF; The Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Lagos State, Mrs Cecilia Bolaji Dada and Dr Oluseye Ajuwon, Economist and Consultant, University of Lagos.

 

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DPI: Ministry partners ICPC to boost anti-corruption efforts

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Ministry of Communication Innovation and Digital Economy (FMoCIDE) have initiated a partnership to advance the fight against corruption through the utilisation of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI).

The Collaboration was sealed during a courtesy call by ICPC Chairman, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu, SAN on the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijjani yesterday.

Recognising the pivotal role that DPI plays in combating corruption and fostering transparency and accountability in the public sector, ICPC is committed to leveraging this innovative technology to achieve its anti-corruption objectives.

The ICPC Chairman said, “Through our partnership with MoCIDE, ICPC will harness the power of DPI to enhance public registries and create an environment where corruption finds no refuge. By leveraging state-of-the-art digital solutions, we aim to establish a robust framework that leaves no room for the misappropriation of public funds or the concealment of ill-gotten gains.”

“Furthermore, in accordance with our statutory mandate outlined in Section 6, ICPC will provide expert guidance and oversight to ensure the effective implementation of DPI-based solutions to eradicate corruption and corrupt practices at every level of government. We remain steadfast in our commitment to driving systemic reforms that promote integrity, accountability, and ethical conduct across all sectors,” he added.

Dr. Aliyu further said, “The impact of this collaboration extends far beyond the realm of anti-corruption efforts. By strengthening transparency and accountability in the public sector through DPI, we anticipate significant improvements in the ease of doing business, economic growth, and job creation. Moreover, by fortifying the integrity of digital systems, we enhance Nigeria’s reputation on the global stage, attracting foreign investment and fostering sustainable development.”

“As Nigeria’s lead anti-corruption agency, ICPC is fully dedicated to the pursuit of a corruption-free society. We call upon all stakeholders – government institutions, private sector organisations, civil society groups, and citizens – to join us in this noble endeavor. Together, we can build a future where integrity, transparency, and accountability serve as the cornerstones of our nation’s progress.”

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Food Security: NITDA, USAID to partner in tackling food insecurity

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With over 70 million arable land enough to feed not just Nigeria but Africa, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said that the Agency is willing to partner with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and relevant stakeholders to tackle food insecurity in Nigeria.

The Director General made this known while receiving representatives from USAID led by Josh Woodard Senior Digital Advisor Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security, at the Agency’s Corporate Headquarters in Abuja. The purpose of the visit was to have a rapid landscape assessment of digital agriculture in Nigeria and partner with NITDA.

Inuwa said, “One of President Tinubu’s areas of focus is boosting agriculture to achieve food security, and at NITDA we were set up to develop the National IT Policy, and IT policy is not just about developing IT but developing IT to boost productivity across all critical sectors including agriculture.”

“That is why we do a lot of initiatives in trying to see how we can build an agriculture Strategy with IT in mind and make it a more attractive business to the younger generation,” he added.

Inuwa stated that NITDA has identified six emerging technologies that will aid in achieving food security in Nigeria. He said, “We have an  Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy co-creation workshop going on, which started on Monday, where we are working with the ecosystem to develop a strategy on how to use AI in agriculture, health, education, and so on.

“We are working on how to use the Internet of Things, (IoT) in agriculture for crop monitoring, soil monitoring, precision irrigation, climate monitoring, livestock monitoring, and so on.”

“We are working using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to facilitate pest detection, water control, yield assessment, and so on.

“We are working on using Blockchain for the traceability of farm produce from farm to store, record keeping, quality assurance, and so on.

“We are working on using Robotics to enhance productivity in agriculture in terms of automation of physical farm processing like weeding, harvesting, tractors, and many more.

“For additive manufacturing, we are working on using it to upscale our manufacturing industry in the Agricultural sector for the production of crop and soil monitoring devices, customised equipment, and many more.”

Speaking on NITDA’s commitment to ensuring that Nigeria develops its digital offering in-country, Inuwa noted that the Nigeria Startup Portal was launched during the week with over 12,000 startups registered so far. He said they would be labelled after which they could have access to incentives.

Earlier Josh Woodard, USAID said that the meeting was to enable USAID to have first-hand information on what Nigeria is doing in digital farming to see how to enhance the integration of digital technology in agriculture.

He revealed that USAID recently launched the Global Food Security Strategy for Nigeria (2024 -2029) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

He said, “We want to work with all stakeholders to ensure food security in Nigeria.”

The meeting discussed the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) in relation to the success stories the initiative has recorded, the expansion strategy it is adopting and calls on the USAID to be part of the initiatives.

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NITDA, NIMC forge partnership to revolutionise Nigeria’s digital infrastructure

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By Blessing Emmanuel, Abuja

In a strategic move aimed at reinforcing Nigeria’s digital ecosystem and fostering digital trust, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has announced its collaboration with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on the implementation of the National Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) initiatives.

This collaboration is expected to significantly enhance digital identity management, streamline the payment ecosystem, and facilitate secure, seamless data exchange across the country.

The partnership was formalised during a recent high-level meeting between NITDA Director General, Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, and NIMC Director General, Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote.

During the meeting, Inuwa reiterated the importance of building robust DPI stacks to ensure the secure exchange of data, emphasizing that partnerships such as this are instrumental in transforming the national identity system. He also highlighted the pivotal role of PKI in driving Nigeria’s digital transformation agenda forward.

This partnership represents a key step forward in enhancing Nigeria’s digital infrastructure, ensuring secure data exchange, and fostering digital trust among stakeholders.

In discussing NITDA’s Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2.0, Inuwa provided insights into the agency’s evolving vision and mission, which have been crafted to align with current industry realities.

The SRAP 2.0 is built on eight key pillars, including fostering digital literacy, cultivating talent, building a robust technology research ecosystem, strengthening policy implementation and legal frameworks, promoting inclusive access to digital infrastructure and services, enhancing cybersecurity and digital trust, nurturing an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem, forging strategic partnerships and collaborations, and cultivating a vibrant organisational culture with an agile workforce.

Echoing Inuwa’s sentiments, NIMC’s Director General expressed the commission’s enthusiasm for collaborating with NITDA to advance the digital economy sector.

She emphasised the importance of cooperation among institutions to achieve common goals, stating, “No institution can implement all its policies and programs in isolation; we need each other to achieve the set targets.”

She also highlighted President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s support for data integration and harmonisation across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) as well as the adoption of PKI to drive the country’s growth and development agenda.

The meeting concluded with the inauguration of a 12-man committee tasked with kick-starting and harmonising the initiatives outlined in the collaboration.

The committee is expected to deliver a comprehensive implementation report in the coming weeks, marking a significant milestone in the collaboration between NITDA and NIMC.

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