The implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, (NDEPS) in less than two years of its launch, have had significant impact on Nigeria’s economy with the digital sector contributing 17.90 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in second quarter of 2021 from 13.83 per cent in 2018, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has said.
The minister disclosed this in his keynote speech titled, “Driving the Implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria: The Journey So Far,” at the just concluded 14th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV 2021.) held in Athens, Greece.
The Minister, who was represented at the conference by the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, decried Nigeria’s loss at previous industrial revolution and maintained that Nigeria had to make strategic decision to join the digital bandwagon as it cannot be left behind in this digital age.
He said, “We lost totally in the past industrial age but we must not lose in today’s digitalisation and the digital economy, driven by the Fourth Industrial revolution. Industry 4.0 is the next phase of digitalisation. The digital economy is developing at a remarkable rate, and it has been widely accepted that it is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth.”
Pantami said the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG), would largely rely on the increased proliferation of new technologies and innovations that is currently revolutionising all sectors of the global economy.
While ascribing the success Nigeria is recording recently to the re-designation of the former Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the launch of the NDEPS, the minister said: “These timely and strategic actions have positioned Nigeria as an early adopter of the digital economy paradigm with the aim of taking advantage of the many opportunities that it provides.”
He stated that the alignment of the NDEPS with the three focus areas of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of economic diversification, fight against corruption and security, had contributed to the growth of the nation’s economy.
While listing 16 policies that the ministry under his supervision has initiated, the minister noted that the strategic implementation of these policies and foundational initiatives of the NDEPS, served as the catalyst for enabling Nigeria to exit recession after the negative effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quoting from the report of the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS) Patanmi maintained that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector recorded the highest growth rate of all sectors of the Nigerian economy, in both the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) and the entire year.
“The 14.7 per cent growth rate of the ICT sector was greater than the combined 14.21 per cent growth of the 2nd to 7th fastest growing sectors in Nigeria in 2020. The telecommunications sector also recorded a growth rate of 15.90 per cent and this was its highest growth rate in the last 10 years. The NBS released the Q1 2021 report and the ICT sector retained its position as the fastest-growing sector of the economy, contributing 14.91 per cent. In the second quart of 2021, ICT contributed an unprecedented 17.92 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. The Digital Economy sector has therefore proven to be vital for the diversification of the economy,” Pantami stated.
On the nation’s security, the minister explained that various initiatives adopted, were already providing necessary solutions to the insecurity challenge the country is facing. He noted that the recent presidential directive for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to be moved to the Ministry, was part of the government’s efforts towards accelerating the implementation of the Digital Identity Programme and enhancing security in the country.
He further stated that the country recorded surge in the implementation of SIM-NIN linkage which stands at 64 million Nigerians with completed National Identification (NIN) registration. He added that the government was committed to ensuring that the nation’s cyber space is safer with various initiatives.
On the issue of fighting corruption in the public sector, the minister stated that the government had established an automated Information Technology (IT) projects clearance process, which aimed at eliminating duplication and ensure the nation derive value for her money in the implementation of ICT projects in the country adding that “From 2017 to date, the IT Projects Clearance program has registered 1,048 users, cleared 485 projects and saved N22. 856 billion, about $58.8 million for the federal government.”