The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu has said that the federal governmentâ€™s commitment to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) can drastically reduce the N1.5 trillion being spent on Nigerian students studying in foreign educational institutions.
He expressed optimism that if the federal government succeeds in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country will not only develop world-class local capacity, but also reduce the strain on the naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.
The minister who made the disclosure at a lecture titled; Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere: ICT To The Rescue Of Unemployed Youths And Graduates, at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan recently, stated that the government is prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.
He disclosed that about 20 million youths and graduates are currently unemployed.
Stating the acknowledgement of the Buhariâ€™s administration to use ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on job and wealth creation as well as on economy and a critical tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy and recognising the role of ICT in making it a reality, he said, government established one form of ICT infrastructure or the other across the six geopolitical zones.
He disclosed that the plan to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja, as part of the preparations for the 4th Industrial Revolution, is on course, adding, the plan to â€œbuild a $1 billion-dollar ICT companyâ€ to boost indigenous technology has been articulated.
Shittu said: â€We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), which is for short term training programmes, in six locations across the country and we will transform this Institute into the ICT University of Nigeria. This unique University would by Godâ€™s grace take off effectively in September 2017 and would be run as a Public Private Partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.
â€œI have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson and am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.
â€œI am happy to report that this project is receiving a global boost and endorsement. The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realisation of this objective, and has indeed submitted its final report this month. A Vice Chancellor and other senior officials would soon be appointed.
â€œThe ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba and Yola.â€
Furthermore, he said that a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT is transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global and accordingly, ICT is influencing employment both as an industry that create jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways.
He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nationâ€™s economy in 2014 and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years. The statistics also show that the sector attracted about $30 billion of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.
The minister, therefore urged Nigerian Universities to take a cue from what is happening in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT.