By Emma Okonji
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu has assured Nigerians that the collaboration between Nigeria and India in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will be beneficial to both countries in several ways in the area of local capacity building.
This is just as the federal government and the Republic of India have begun moves to upgrade the bilateral agreement existing between both countries, in the areas of human capacity development, e-government, industrialisation and ICT.
This was made known when the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Communications in Abuja.
Receiving the High Commissioner, Shittu, said India remained one of the best countries Nigeria had enjoyed a relationship with in terms of partnership and benefited both countries.
According to Shittu, “In the area of bilateral agreement, we can raise a team to work on crucial areas and look at the details and appraise what we can do on low hanging fruit that would be beneficial to both countries.”
He urged the commissioner to appeal to Indian companies to translate their investment, plans, and interest on Nigerian soil to reality in order to boost the economic fortunes of both countries.
Shittu said: “A lot of Indian companies had often indicated interest to invest in Nigeria by way of establishing industries but rarely translate such into action, hence, the need to encourage them to translate such interest into reality.”
The minister called on the commissioner to encourage India investors to establish 5G network village in Nigeria and also partner stakeholders in building the proposed ICT Park in Abuja, which is expected to be located in a free trade zone that would add beauty and elegance to the country as well as boost revenue base of the investors.
Shittu, said the facility grant requested from India government would assist rural broadband network throughout Nigeria and stressed the need to have a pilot scheme that would enable the government to implement the project within the shortest time as well as enlighten Nigerians on the importance of the grant, which would be spread across the country.
He urged the High Commissioner to expand India’s capacity training for engineering staff of the Ministry to consolidate their capacity and boost the nation’s rapid development.
The India High Commissioner said India and Nigeria relationship was underutilised and need to be enhanced in terms of bilateral trade, noting that there is the availability of half of $10 billion lines of credit with 1.75 per cent interest that emanated during the India –Africa Forum Summit by Prime Minister of India.
“This is a good facility which to my knowledge, half of it has just been utilised and for Nigeria, we are not fast enough to allocate to projects that have been identified which can enhance our area of collaboration,” he said.
Thakur, thanked the minister for his relentless cooperation over the recent years in partnership with the Republic of India and thereby promised Indian Government’s readiness to cooperate with Nigeria in e-government developmental projects and human capacity development.
The federal government recently said the planned Abuja Information and Communication Technology (ICT) park inside the Abuja Technology Village would open investment opportunities for Nigeria.
Shittu had said although the initiative to establish the ICT Park was from the federal government, foreign and local investors have indicated interests to invest in the ICT Park, which he said would in turn boost the economy.
According to him, “In line with the knowledge-based initiative, the federal government, through the Ministry of Communications, designed a programme to establish a National ICT Park with the aim of providing an enabling platform, where ICT knowledge can be acquired through appropriate initiatives, including incubating tech ideas into viable startups, research and development, testing and certifications of ICT solutions.”
He, had therefore, called on the major stakeholders and private companies operating in the ICT ecosystem to cooperate with government on the initiative and support its plans for the successful implementation of the project.