Bagudu Seeks Appraisal of Digital Economy in National Devt Plans

•Cardoso: CBN to explore digital innovations to boost financial inclusion, productivity

James Emejo in Abuja

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, has called for critical assessment of the Agenda 2050 and the National Development Plan (2021 – 2025) to determine the place of digital economy in both blueprints.

This comes as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Olayemi Cardoso,  said the apex bank remained committed to harnessing the power of digital technologies to enhance financial inclusion, productivity, and create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in the country.

Both spoke when they separately received the Senior Executive Course 46 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) on a courtesy call to their offices.

The minister said the review had become imperative in order to know if issues of unemployment and sustainable job creation were properly captured in both documents.

Otherwise, he said a review was inevitable to enrich it and make them better documents for implementation to better the lives of Nigerians.

Bagudu stressed that the digital economy was not a preserve of a ministry or person but a golden field that should be embraced by all in order not to be left behind in the digital space.

In a statement issued by the Director, Information, in the ministry, Mrs. Julie Osagie-Jacobs, the minister further stated that the creation of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the separation of the Ministry of Youths from Sports Ministry, were clear demonstration of the current administration’s commitment to better these sectors of the economy.

Bagudu pointed out that a number of interventions including the approval of N300 billion Youth Investment Fund for the ministry; training of three million Youths in the (I –DICE) project and the creation of a National Agricultural Development Fund for every part of the country were laudable programmes of the present administration.

He said the investments are to stimulate the delivery of some of the key priorities of the current administration, especially priority seven, which was to accelerate diversification through industrialisation, digitalisation, creative arts, manufacturing and innovation.

He said, “With the advent of digitisation, the world has become a global village; making the digital economy a financial hub for our youths. The demography of the country highlights that 31 per cent of the population were youths, this number cannot be ignored if we wish to tackle unemployment, accelerate development and ensure sustainable growth, we must think outside the box, create the right synergy in addition to collaboration and encouragement of investments in the technology start-up across regions of the country.”

He added that the Nigerian technology and creative ecosystem had been in the forefront of job creation, especially for youths, within the few months of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, adding that this made the Nigerians relevant in the country as well as empowered to compete globally.

On the National Development Plan (NDP 2021-2025), the minister pointed out that the performances, programmes, projects, prospect, investment allocation, strategies and policies for accomplishing set objectives and targets, as well as inherent challenges in the digital economy space of the Nigerian economy were detailed in Chapter 14 of the plan.

He said the plan’s objective for the sector was to unleash Nigeria’s potential for industrialisation and sustainable economic growth to ensure competitiveness in the global digital economy.

This, according to him, is possible because the NDP has the concept of achieving double digit growth in an inclusive manner with consistency as guided by the National Protection Policy.

He solicited for the cooperation of all stakeholders in realising this objective, and called for the spirit of humility to embrace the change the digital economy had presented.

Meanwhile, Cardoso, who was represented by CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate, Dr. Bala Bello, said the bank had also deployed robust digital technologies in driving most of its processes towards achieving optimal performance.

He said the country’s digital landscape was rapidly evolving, presenting both immense opportunities and complex challenges.

The CBN governor commended the theme of the study tour, “Digital Economy, Youth Empowerment and Sustainable Job Creation in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities”, which he said, deeply resonated with the core priorities and strategic focus of the central bank.

Therefore, he stressed that as a forward-thinking central bank, it would take advantage of all the opportunities presented by digital solutions to drive the economy.

The CBN governor further noted that the bank and NIPSS have had a long-standing and robust working relationships since the establishment of the institute which had culminated into positive mutual benefits for both parties.

He said the CBN has, on the one hand, provided infrastructural support to the institute through the construction of an auditorium and a hostel, in addition to the provision of technical support.

Similarly, he said NIPPS has supported the technical capacity of the bank through the training of some personnel both at the Senior Executive Course level and the intermediate course cadre, especially the policy, leadership and strategy course.

Cardoso said the technical session will provide insights into the bank’s initiatives and strategies aimed at fostering a robust digital ecosystem as well as efforts towards promoting digital financial services, support for digital entrepreneurship, and leveraging emerging technologies to drive economic diversification and job creation.

“Furthermore, our team will highlight the intricate linkages between digital economy, youth empowerment, and sustainable job creation. In this regard, the CBN is focused on its core mandate of delivering price stability in order to provide an enabling environment for economic development.

“This study tour presents a unique opportunity for us to engage in fruitful discourse and explore collaborative strategies to address the multifaceted benefits and challenges of digital economy, youth empowerment, and sustainable job creation in Nigeria,” he added.

In the same vein, the apex bank boss said the bank would welcome NIPPS’ critical insights, thought-provoking questions, and valuable recommendations, adding that these would undoubtedly enrich the bank’s policy formulation processes.

He said, “I encourage you all to actively participate in the discussions and brainstorming sessions towards articulating meaningful policy recommendations. Collectively, we can shape a future where Nigeria’s digital economy serves as a catalyst for youth empowerment, sustainable job creation, and overall national prosperity.”

In his remarks, Director General of NIPPS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, who led the team to the central bank, further hailed the collaboration between both institutions, noting that most of the country’s economic prospects depended heavily on the activities of the central bank.

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