Expert Foresees Digital Economy as Catalyst for Nigeria’s Growth

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By Emma Okonji

An information technology (IT) expert, Dr. Evans Woherem, has said the move by the federal government to embrace digital economy strategies will serve as a catalyst for achieving economic transformation that will help in stimulating economic growth in the country.

Woherem, commended the federal government for upgrading the Ministry of Communication to a digital status, saying he was particularly delighted by the upgrade because he had for long advocated the need for the country to constitute a committee that would come up with a new policy and strategy aimed at creating a roadmap on how to turn the country into a digital economy.

Citing developments in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with UAE having a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, Woherem said it showed that such countries were really preparing for the fourth Industrial revolution and for the new century.

Woherem, a former Executive Director at First Bank Plc and Unity Bank of Nigeria noted that he had always pointed out the need for Nigeria to do the right kind of thing as a nation.

According to him, “Going by the creativity of Nigerians, by her population, and by what the youths are doing today, we need to do something that is audacious. We are just simply destined to do something great in leading Africa.

“Unfortunately, our leaders do not think long term; they rather think short term that has to do with themselves than pan-Nigeria.
“Simply, information technology is the major catalyst for development. Recent statistics showed that ICT alone contributes 13.8 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That to me, portends a lot of good for the country. It means that in the next 10 to 20 years, ICT contribution will reach about 30 per cent or more.”

Woherem advised that information technology should be taken seriously because it would positively affect all the sectors of the economy, all the activities of government and even her citizens, adding that currently Nigeria and indeed Africa are still at the lower end of the spectrum of information technology.

“We are just at the foundation stages. It does not however mean that it is like that in all the sectors of the economy. For instance, the banking sector might be at the beginning of the operational level, same as the Agricultural sector. Our various sectors of the economy are at various stages of development whereas all of them are supposed to be at the operational level going to strategic levels of use of information technology,” Woherem said.

Woherem who doubles as the Digital Africa Global Consult Group boss, warned that as a country, Nigeria should not just be technology users but should participate in developing technology applications that are going to drive the 21st and 22nd centuries.

According to him, “Digital economy is therefore a good thing for us as a country because it can definitely help us to not only have ICT but to also add more to our GDP. It is also going to develop and advance each of the industries and sectors of our economy as a nation by creating lots of employment opportunities for our youths.”

He, however, advised government to come up with a set of policies and strategies through which things can evolve to enable Nigeria attain digital transformation.

“To actualise the digital economy of our dream as a nation, government should build tech hubs, parks and experience centres through which people can acquire emerging technology skills.

“Government should also encourage the private sector to be involved in the digital transformation agenda of the country,” Woherem said.