By Emma Okonji
The Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh has called on the federal government to declare October 1, 2020 as Nigeria’s technology independence day.
Ekeh, the serial digital entrepreneur, who made the call in a recent virtual chat with journalists, said: ‘‘October 1, 2020 is traditionally Nigeria’s Independence Day. It is a day that commemorates Nigeria’s emergence as a sovereign state. Considering the massive strides recorded so far in our journey to technological emancipation, the federal government should strongly consider declaring October 1 as Nigeria’s technology independence day
‘‘I have often said it that no country achieves true independence without a level of technological independence. The time has come for Nigeria to boldly emerge as a technology force on the continent and globally, to make the right investments and critical positioning necessary for securing our collective future in the 21st Century.’’
Ekeh, who hailed the current administration’s greater focus on technology and knowledge development, referenced the renaming of the Ministry of Communications and its subsequent enhancement as a credible institution for anchoring Nigeria’s renewed approach to the emerging knowledge economy now brought to the front burner by COVID-19.
‘‘I commend the federal government for enhancing the Ministry of Communications which, by its current status as the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the appointment of a thorough-bred professional in Dr. Isa Pantami as the minister to oversee its affairs, is now eminently equipped to deliver on Nigeria’s march to digital emancipation.
‘‘It has indeed been a journey of immense leaps and bounds, right from the time of Dr. Omobola Johnson through the era of Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu and now to the current achievements being recorded under Pantami.
‘‘Nevertheless, there is a lot more to be done, especially in leapfrogging our prevailing developmental challenges by leveraging the power of technology, as is the case in advanced climes, to unleash the abundant skilled and modern human capital that Nigeria is potentially known for, create quality jobs and unlock a certified future for the huge population of energetic youths; while reducing sophisticated crimes – we have now seen a lot of women also indulging in to survive,’’ Ekeh said.
The Zinox boss reiterated Nigeria’s pre-eminence as a key driver of technology in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, even as he urged the government to act now.
According to him, “Today, a lot of our kids are out of school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – a development that should not be the case, especially considering our capacity as a technology-compliant nation in finding a solution to bridge the gap.
‘‘At this level of our development, Nigeria should be regarded as a global digital giant. We have the means, the talent, the human capital and the innate intelligence to make it happen. With the government taking the step of making critical investments in technology, it is only a matter of time before Nigeria starts raising tech billionaires that will rival the likes of Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma, who have become colossus through technology innovation,’’ Ekeh further said.