By Emma Okonji
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Musa Istifanus has charged stakeholders in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector to evolve a workable synergy in line with the change agenda of President Buhari to re-examine the present status to formulate new strategies towards realizing the vision of a Digital Nigeria.
He stated this during the just concluded 8th National Council on Communications and Digital Economy, with the theme “Leveraging the Digital Economy Policies and Strategies for Economic Recovery in a COVID-19 Era and Beyond,” which took place in Owerri, Imo State.
The Permanent Secretary said, the theme was very apt and a step in the right direction considering the impact of the pandemic and government’s stance in achieving a globally competitive economy, with digital technologies.
According to him, “Nigeria, like most developing nations have come to recognise the importance of ICT as a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development. This is why we chose the theme”.
He explained that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected economies globally, compelled the ministry to make some far-reaching policies like the Development of the National Policy on Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institution and facilitation of Virtual Federal Executive Council Meetings.
According to him, “the ministry has been rejigged to use digital technologies to enhance national socio-economic development by increasing the contribution of ICT to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The policy thrusts of the ministry clearly articulate the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in the Telecom Sector, National Digital Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Policy, Policy on virtual engagement in the Public Service, among others.”
Adding that, the purpose is to use digital technologies to enhance national socio-economic development by increasing the contribution of ICT to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Istifanus stated that the country is confronted by a new challenge and the expectations of citizens must be delivered with limited resources. “We are fully committed to the integration of ICTs in the socio-economic development of Nigeria in order to transform the country into a knowledge–based economy,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary stated that connectivity, capacity building and inter-agency collaboration, were key factors that would bridge the digital divide and enhance technology development and to address these new challenges by ensuring that we actively engage with stakeholders.
He said the society had realised the gains of ICT and that the ministry is committed to utilising these possibilities adding that that society is moving towards transparency and openness and there are initiatives to increase the engagement with the citizen, attract usage, develop increased levels of trust, and improve the service delivery. Digital technologies offer the best platform to achieve all of these, Istifanus noted.