CBN Moves to End $2bn Annual Importation of IT Solutions


•Bankers’ Committee takes over National Theatre

Nume Ekeghe

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed its resolve to curb the $2 billion spent annually on the importation of information and technology (IT) solutions that could have been produced in Nigeria.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in an address yesterday at the Creative Nigeria Summit held in Lagos, said the IT sector was expected to benefit from the Creative Industries and Financing Initiative (CIFI), designed to improve access to long-term, low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian creative and IT sub-sector.

He said the creative hub expected to pilot in Lagos by the CBN and Bankers’ Committee would benefit 50,000 Nigerians and create over 150,000 skilled and unskilled jobs.
According to him, the federal government has also agreed to hand over the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, to the Bankers’ Committee, for the establishment of the creative hub.
He said: “We cannot afford to let the talents of our youthful population go to waste, as it would portend great dangers for the progress of our nation.

“Efforts must therefore be made to harness the innovative and creative energy of our youths towards enabling them to create productive ventures that will support improved wealth and job creation in Nigeria.
“This was the critical reason behind the CBN and the Bankers Committee’s decision, following our annual retreat in December 2018, to set up the CIFI.

“Using the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) fund, through which the banks set aside, on an annual basis, five per cent of their profit after tax, our goal is to support start-ups and existing businesses in the creative industry space, as well as the development of a creative industry park across three major cities in Nigeria.
“With the support of the federal and Lagos State Governments, the National Theatre, Iganmu in Lagos is expected to serve as the initial pilot for the Creative Industries Park.”

Commenting on the ICT Initiative, Emefiele said: “In the area of ICT, we are all aware of how the digital revolution is reshaping the nature of services being provided by organisations across the globe.
“Banks, schools, farming communities, healthcare centres as well as security agencies are leveraging on technology to improve the quality of service and solutions being provided to their customers.

“So far, over $2 billion is spent annually in the acquisition of hardware and software solutions in Nigeria. In order to ensure that Nigeria is well positioned to address emerging opportunities and challenges in the digital era, the CBN and the Bankers Committee decided to work towards the establishment of an ICT training centre, which will also include an IT hub.
“These centres will be located in the Creative Industries Parks being established. Students will be provided with loan facilities to enable them to obtain advanced trainings at the centre on developing cutting edge technological solutions around cyber security, data analytics and cloud computing.

“Over 50,000 Nigerians are expected to benefit from this centre, which will result in creating over 25,000 software engineers and 150,000 skilled and unskilled jobs. It could result in potential Gross Domestic Product gains of close to $2 billion while curbing importation of IT solutions that can be produced in Nigeria.”
He added that the centre would enable Nigeria to serve as an outsourcing centre for IT services required in other parts of the globe.

“Nigeria can expect to earn over $200 million annually from the provision of IT services to individuals and corporate organisations in other parts of the globe,” he stated.
He said with the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Art Theatre has been handed over to the Bankers’ Committee and the CBN to give the facility a facelift.

“In addition to that, the Lagos State Government has also allocated 40 acres for the development of the creative industry hub.”
He also said the CBN and the Bankers Committee would provide a textile apparel shared services facility at the creative park to train Nigerians on how to design and develop good quality made-in-Nigeria fashion products for the local and export markets.
In his speech, Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said the committee planned to create direct jobs for about million people over the next five years.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, urged the private sector to support sporting activities nationwide.
He said: “The era we waited for government to sponsor sport development is gone; we have benchmarks across the board where private investments in sports is the norm. The banks and private investors have taken the lead and in that direction we want to start a campaign called the ‘Adopt Campaign.’