By Emma Okonji

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu has said that investments in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) since 2001 when digital mobile services were launched, have helped Nigeria to build an all inclusive society that the country could be proud of.

Shittu, who made the disclosure in a keynote address he delivered at the 6th European Union-Nigeria Business Forum 2017 held recently at the Eko Hotels, Lagos, said the Nigerian ICT sector today is one of the fastest growing despite the economic recession and contributed 9.8 per cent in GDP in 2014 alone.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar GarbaDanbatta, had last week in Busan, South Korea, during the just concluded ITU Telecom World, revealed that investments in the telecoms sector since 2001, have reached $70 billion.

According to Danbatta, “In 16 years since the Digital Mobile Licences (DML) were issued, investment in the sector has hit about $70 billion from a mere $50 million in 2001. Most of these investments are Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).”

Shittu in his address, said: “Nigeria is also using ICTs to build a more inclusive society. Our broadband initiatives, which are being implemented across technologies and at various level of governance, are in line with union’s priority of bridging digital bridge and providing broadband for all. Nigeria is committed to a sustainable ICT environment at a global level, as well as within its national boundaries”.

He said the Nigerian government is addressing the issues of investment in ICT infrastructure, and ICT education and regulation in order to build on the successes of this digital revolution.

According to the minister, the government of Nigeria has been conscious of the role ICT can play in national development and has therefore been committed over the last 15 years to ensuring that ICT facilities and services are expanded rapidly.

“Globally ICT has become a veritable tool for advancing growth and economic diversification in countries, even those that are not endowed with natural resources. ICT has changed the way people communicate, learn, and conduct businesses. A World Bank econometric study carried out in 2009 showed that every 10 per cent increase in ICT investments generates a 1.38 per cent increase in GDP”.

Speaking further on the significance of ICT, the minister said: “In order for the ICT sector to supplement or replace the oil and gas sector, we have put in place strong policy frameworks which favour the sector. We want the ICT sector to be the cash cow for our nation. The success of local content drive in the telecom and ICT in Nigeria would accelerate the progress of the sector.”

Shittu commended the EU-Nigeria Business Forum, organisers of the forum for its unflinching commitment towards transforming economies, stressing that the theme of the conference ‘Youth as an Engine of Broad-based Economic Transformation’ is apt and timely, because it brings attention to a segment of the Nigerian population that should have been increasingly contributing to the economy of the country.

The minister added that the theme aligns with the ministry’s mandate and forthcoming Africa Union and EU summit later this year.