. Osinbajo: Digital economy, diversification will make oil less relevant to Nigeria
Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has said, studies have shown that Nigeria will be spending $143.8 billion on Information Communications Technology (ICT), products and services by 2019.
According to him, Nigeria loses about $2.8billion annually from the importation of ICT goods and services, including $1billion spent annually on software imports.
The DG made the disclosure at the 2016 e-Nigeria conference, in Abuja, adding locally manufactured or assembled computers represent less than 8 percent of all the computers used in the country.
Pantami, while calling for private sector investment in the sector added: “We strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship.
“The diversification of our economy has become imperative in the face of dwindling revenue from the oil sector.
“ICT provides a veritable option for diversifying our economy because it has the added advantage of being able to improve efficiency and enhance productivity in all the other sectors of the economy.”
He however said that Nigeria was fortunate to have a large percentage of young Nigerians that have a high level of interest in ICTs, stressing that NITDA is creating an environment that supports high level ICT-based capacity building for them.
He said: “This will create the critical mass required to drive the Local Content programme of the federal government, championed by NITDA.
“We will collaborate with industry leaders and put policies in place to support young Nigerians to develop world-class ICT products. This plan informed our decision to invite several start-ups to eNigeria.”
Within the limits of the mandate set up for the agency, he said NITDA is being repositioned to filter the IT gadgets being imported to the country in the overall interest of the nation.
According to him, there is tremendous gain to be made from a local content policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services, adding that this will significantly reduce capital flight.
The DG said: “NITDA will lay on regulation, local content development and capacity building, we are making concerted efforts to create, as well as review, existing standards and guidelines.
“This will enable us to regulate the sector in line with the highest global standards. We are committed to ensuring that the proliferation of fake and sub-standard ICT products and services in the country is eliminated or at least significantly curtailed.
“Security in the 21st century is highly reliant on ICTs and we want to encourage the development of ICT-enabled security services across all sectors of the economy. In addition to our support for the use of ICT for physical security, we are also committed to ensuring the cybersecurity of our nation.” he said.
He said NITDA as regulator of the IT industry, will correct irregularities, fight corrupt practices and resist unnecessary and unproductive interference in the affairs of the agency.
In his remark, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was the key note speaker at the occasion, said innovation in digital technology, has no doubt forced diversification on the country, adding that dependence on oil and gas is therefore becoming less important.
According to him, with the development of electric cars in Japan and China, who are importers of Nigeria’s oil, the country’s dependence on oil is gradually becoming irrelevant.
He said: “Nigeria may not be depending on oil for much longer because electric cars in Japan and China will depend basically on the the use of electric. By 2040, cars using electric cars will cost less than $20,000.”
He however regretted that the quantum leap being experienced in technology in the country is only delayed by the deficit in power, bandwidth and other infrastructure.
While assuring that government is investing heavily in technology, he stressed: “We have budgeted for training of 65,000 Nigerians in hardware as well as software in our social protection programme which has the collaboration of the ministry and NITDA.
“This means that we shall be building more local capacity to assemble hardware and software for development
“We shall focusing on technology for media and entertainment which which is relatively new. We intend to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally.”
With thee current pace of ICT growth, he assured, that Nigeria will lead India and China as a market for technology and innovation.
Poor Communication, Obsolete Navigational Aids Threaten Air Safety
The Senate Committee on Aviation has said that Nigeria’s airspace is endangered by poor communication between the pilot and the air traffic control (ATC) and non-functional and obsolete navigational aids.
Vice chairman of the Senate committee on aviation, Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah who is also a pilot spoke about the hard decisions pilots have to take every day in order to fly safely through the airspace with inadequate navigational equipment, noting that ineffective communication in the airspace has become inimical to air safety.
N’Allah recalled that these problems have been there over the years despite huge amount of money spent on projects to improve safety in the airspace.
The Committee berated the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), saying that the later has failed in its oversight functions to regulate the airspace management agency, It decried the billions of Naira spent on equipment procurement and execution without any discernible improvement in airspace safety.
Na’Allah observed that in the aviation industry, contracts are inflated and when compared to other countries, a 10th of what is budgeted to execute a project in Nigeria is used to provide the best of similar project overseas, adding “The navigational aids we have in Ghana, Togo, Dakar, Senegal, we have spent five times of the money they spent, yet we are yet to have the kind of equipment they have. So when we talk about funds the problem is much more than that. Collectively we have failed, so individually let us correct those mistakes that we made in the past. We do not have the funds now. We will never have the kind of funds that we had in the past in the foreseeable future. So we need to change our attitude now.”
The Committee promised to into the activities of the industry, the money the Senate appropriated to the different agencies and review the execution of the projects in line with the funds allocated to them.
However, the acting Managing Director of NAMA, Emma Anasi explained that paucity of funds have been the major factor for failure to implement projects in the agency and traced the history of communication and navigational aids in Nigeria airspace. He noted that expansion and multiplication of airports and air routes hampered the effectiveness of these equipment, which was initially made for relatively limited part of the airspace.
He said a major part of this problem would be solved if NAMA completes the on-going Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) automation, which is meant to improve communication in the airspace.
“When the project, which we call Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) automation was started it was designed to do two principal things. Create a V-SAT network in double redundant mode to enable us establish more extended VHF coverage sites and those sites are Benin, Calabar, Yola, Kaduna and many more. We have issues like that in Lagos, but this project by the time we finished it you can file your flight plan from you bedroom or from your cockpit because the network is web based. The network will also enable us to cover all the routes with radio communication to flight level 100. That is our target,” Anasi said.