Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The federal government has said the country recorded well over $32 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) over the last 15 years as a result of revolution in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu who disclosed this in Abuja recently, said such investments inflow came in form of infrastructural development that created an ICT backbone that powered various critical sectors of the economy such as banking, e-Commerce, insurance and oil & gas.
However, as part of efforts to overcome economic challenges facing the nation, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said there was the need to leverage more on ICT skills to achieve industrial revolution through emphasis on digital economy.
Speaking at the opening of a one-day conference with the theme; “Africa-China Cooperation in ICT and Digital Economy” organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in collaboration with the Embassy of the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China in Nigeria and Huawei Technologies Company (Nigeria) Limited, Osinbajo said improving skills and refocusing our priorities would help to reap more benefits from the ICT sector.
The Vice President who was represented by his Special Adviser on ICT, Mr. Lanre Osibona, stated that there was an urgent need to overcome challenges facing the nation towards leveraging ICT to fuel the fourth industrial revolution that brings about digital economy.
“Africa must develop its skills. We must know how to scale workforce and move away from business base outsourcing to knowledge base outsourcing. Data is the future and new hope. For us as a country we must invest heavily in capturing data,” he said.
Shittu also advocated the need for all stakeholders to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of innovation hubs in partnership with the private sector.
â€œThis conference provides the opportunity to jump-start the critical game-changing steps needed to make Nigeriaâ€™s objectives a reality in digital economy. Beyond this conference, we must work to strengthen relationships and knowledge management platforms towards building a better and more digital future that we seekâ€, Shittu said.
Also speaking at the conference, the ambassador of China to Nigeria, Dr. Zhon Pingjian, said China would continue to share its development opportunities with African countries and that Nigeria is “welcome on board the train of Chinaâ€™s development.”
The Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Nigeria, Tank Li, said: “A robust ICT infrastructure is the bedrock for digital transformation in Nigeria. In order to unleash the digital economy potential in the country, issues of broadband availability and affordability need to be addressed.
“In order to foster digital transformation of the economy, policies and programs to increase ICT infrastructure and ensure wide-spread coverage both in urban and rural areas, should be prioritised to make voice and data services available.”
Li added that strategic measures of infrastructure sharing, investment-friendly regulatory framework and preferential taxation policies were needed to reduce sites acquisition and broadband deployment costs in order to bring down the cost for users to really encourage application of ICT across the industries and the whole society.