The federal government has stated that it would leverage on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) development to achieve an all inclusive economy growth in Nigeria.
The Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, noted that with the dwindling revenue from the oil and gas sector, the federal government has realised more than ever before that telecommunication and ICT are amongst the main drivers of socio-economic development in Nigeria, maintaining that ICT plays a vital role in enhancing access to basic services in all sectors of the economy.
The minister, during the ICTEL Expo organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), stated the federal government is focused on creating opportunities for citizenship participation in ICT training, knowledge and skills acquisition, general application and usage of ICT tools to solve problems, promote their wellbeing and enhance national growth.
He said the global quest for ICT for development is enormous in both developed and developing countries, due to the fact that ICT skills are critical to the success of enhancing national development in a globalised era.
He enjoined the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to continue to connect businesses and create opportunities for Nigerians in the ICT sector as the nation strives to diversify its economy from the non-oil sectors.
According to him, global issues as the digital divide, cyber-insecurity, emergency telecommunications and climate change enjoy varying levels of prioritisation in the change agenda of the government, stressing that it is central to its strategies and work programmes.
He pointed out that Nigeria stands to gain a lot from leveraging opportunities in the sector to boost the economic fortunes of the country, saying that the sector is one of the major priority sectors that Nigeria should target for diversification efforts
“Currently at about 10 per cent, the ICT sector has the potential of becoming a major contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is no more news that this sector currently employs more professionals than the oil and gas sector. It is on record that ICT is the only sector that has recorded a positive growth in the first quarter of the year,” he said.
In his words, “The change mantra of this administration comes in different colourations. We in the ICT sector have a responsibility to put the nation on the path of growth. This can be easily achieved when partners like LCCI key into its SMART digital initiative.
He noted that the expo will further offer a platform for corporate organisations seeking to build partnerships for enhanced profitability in the sector, maintaining that it is also a veritable opportunity for government and private sector operators to meet and articulate policies that would boost the productivity of ICT sector in Nigeria.
Also speaking at the event, the president, LCCI, Dr. Nike Akande, said the theme of the fair, “Mobility, technology and the Nigerian economy” is apt and timely, noting that there is no better time to harness the benefits of ICT than now when the Nigerian economy is in dire need of diversification.
She added that ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy, maintaining that all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance.
“This is evident in the financial services sector, where electronic banking is now the vogue, the agricultural sector, where government now allocates fertiliser through mobile phones to farmers, the consumer goods sector where online stores and e-commerce has brought an incredible transformation to retail business and many more. ICT has become the backbone of businesses,” he said.
According to her, Nigeria has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its ICT sector over the past one and half decades, but stressed that there are still enormous potentials that yet untapped, assuring that the expo is one of the major platforms that offer opportunity to unlock these potentials.
“As the foremost private sector body in Nigeria, the chamber is providing through this expo, a credible platform to advance the opportunities and linkages in the world of ICT. We are committed to the building of economic and commercial bridges across all subsectors and players in the ICT sector,” she added.
She pointed out that the chamber has plans to continuously broaden the horizon and scope of the expo over the coming years, stating that the sector has bright prospects of great investment opportunities coming from closer interactions and business integration among ICT players and their customers.
The Vice president and Chairman of the Trade Promotion Board, LCCI, Mr. Sola Oyetayo, said the ICTEL expo offers a credible platform for professionals, top players, investors, students, regulatory agencies and venture capitalists in the ICT industry to meet the larger business community for vaue adding networking.
He said with the quality of players and stakeholders in the ICT and telecoms sectors present at the exhibition, the LCCI has struck another positive chord within the business community.
“We therefore thank our exhibitors, sponsors and partners for their support and participation in this event. It is our belief that this event will add tremendous value to all participants by connecting business and creating new opportunities.
He said the event marks yet another significant outcome of a year-long and painstaking preparatory effort by the trade promotion board of the chamber to present to the business world, an event that will further enhance the transformation of the ICT sector of the Nigerian economy.