The Federal Government has commissioned seven more projects in five geo-political zones of the country in its drive to promote digital economy and inclusion of citizens.
Speaking at the virtual commissioning of the projects today (Friday, April 23, 2021), the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said the projects being commissioned, the ninth in the series, were part of government’s efforts to consolidate on implementing the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS).
He said the projects were in line with the key agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari which are economic development, security and fight against corruption.
“The ICT parks of the digital economy centres are more inclined to economic development and secondly they are also in line with fighting corruption. We are using the digital centres to build capacity for our citizens and we also do encourage them to migrate from manual way of doing things to online.
“The emergency communication centres are part of government agenda to fight insecurity through activating emergency numbers in cases of emergencies,” he said.
The minister also pointed out that virtual activities had saved cost for government, adding government has approved the National Policy on Virtual Engagements in federal public institutions, hence making the virtual commissioning institutionalised.
“We all know how the COVID-19 pandemic led to a rapid change in how events and meetings are conducted. There has been a major transition from physical meetings to online meeting and this motivated us to develop a National Policy for Virtual Engagements in the Federal Public Institutions. This policy was presented at the Federal Executive Council on October 14, 2020 and the implementation commenced immediately after its approval at the council.
“This policy on virtual engagements is also in line with our digital economy policy for a digital Nigeria and our digital economy policy enabled us to mitigate the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It also encouraged us to accelerate the implementation of the policy. The COVID-19 pandemic plunged our economy into a recession but the ICT sector was up to the task and played a significant role in helping Nigeria exit recession. We are confident that the digital economy sector will continue to support the development of our economy across all sectors.
“Our physical-virtual hybrid approach to the commissioning of projects has been very successful and we are very pleased to commission batch 9 of projects executed by the parastatals under the ministry. This approach results in substantial savings for the country as it reduces the need for airfare, duty tour allowance and related costs. The fact that we are commissioning the projects simultaneously also leads to savings for government,” he added.
He further said the ministry had almost completed the national digital innovation startups policy to promote startups, entrepreneurship and innovation, even as he called on private and public sectors to adopt solutions by startups because the government is creating the enabling environment for them to be successful.
Earlier in his remarks, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Festus Dauda, said the centres would bridge the digital divide and ensure fulfillment of the President Buhari’s promise of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
The projects that were actualised by parastatals and agencies under the ministry included Community ICT Centre, Dutse, Jigawa State for North West; IT Hub, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi for North East; Digital Economy Centre, Imo State Polytechnic, South East; Digital Economy Centre, Garki Secondary School, Abuja for North Central; Digital Economy Centre, Ojodu Grammar School, Lagos State; Emergency Communications Centre Abeokuta, Ogun State for South West; and Emergency Communication Centre, Enugu for South East.