The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami has touted the information communication technology (ICT) sector as the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in the last quarter of 2020 and the only sector to have grown by double digits.
Pantami made this statement at the Digital Nigeria Day (DND) in Abuja, themed “Digital Transformation: A Path To Sustainable Digital Economy”.
He severally emphasized that the implementation of a digital economy policy accelerates digitalisation and this, in turn, enhances the digital economy.
Pantami said: “According to the World Economic Forum, $100 trillion is going to be added to the world economy through digital transformation from 2016 to 2025. That is an average of $10 trillion annually. Moreover, by 2025, interactions driven by platforms are expected to enable roughly two-thirds of the $100 trillion value at stake from digitalisation.
“The ICT sector provided 3 unprecedented contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country in the last three years, namely 14.07 per cent in Q1 2020, 17.92 per cent in Q2 2021and 18.44 per cent in Q2 2022. Each time, that has been the highest ever contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP.
“The ICT sector grew by 14.70 per cent in Q4 2020, making it the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy in the last quarter of 2020 and the only sector to have grown by double digits. This played a critical role in enabling Nigeria to exit recession.
The minister highlighted that digital platform have engendered the digitisation of business processes and led to significant savings.
“As part of the activities of this pillar, we launched the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings and this was unprecedented. The National Policy on Virtual Engagements in the Federal Public Institutions which we developed supports the activities of this pillar.
“We have also developed an IT clearance portal to support inoperability, eliminate duplication and ensure value for money in the implementation of ICT projects in the country. The quarterly savings from the IT Projects’ Clearance Process rose from N12.45 million to N10.57 billion,” he said.
Pantami called for the urgent promotion of the development of indigenous content in every sector of the economy, as is being addressed by the ‘indigenous content development and adoption’ pillar. This pillar aligns with Executive Orders 003 of May 2017 and 005 of February 2018, on “Support for Local Content Procurements by Ministries, Department and Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria” and the “Planning and Execution of Projects, Promotion of Nigerian Content in Contracts and Science, Engineering and Technology”, respectively.
“We have developed a policy for promoting indigenous content in the telecom sector to complement similar efforts that focus on the information technology sector. This is important to stem the tide of capital flight, amongst other things.
“The ministry has a critical role to play in the development and digitalisation of the different sectors of the economy,” he said.
Pantami tasked stakeholders to persist in supporting the ministry to further accelerate the development of the digital economy sector.
In his address, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said: “Communication and digital economy is the fastest growing sector of the economy. In Nigeria, it also created not only jobs but opportunities.
“Under the leadership of Prof. Isa Pantami, we have seen the new side of technology. Today, we are proud of our young men and women who are innovators.
“I was in the Naruria Commission Africa and was pleased and proud to hear that Nigeria attracted the highest and largest foreign direct investment (FDI) in IT in 2021, estimated to be over USD3.5 billion. The country after Nigeria in Africa attracted just USD100millon. All these were enabled because of the IT infrastructure and services provided by the Nigerian government.
“Regrettably, the growth has affected my ministry. These technologies have made access to information easy and created a lot of problems in terms of fake news, disinformation and hate speech.”
In his remark the Gambian Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Hon. Ousman Bah, disclosed that the deployment of blockchain technology can help one decrease the cost of transactions.
“Blockchain technology allows users to perform transactions free of cost and is also secured. It is a distributed general ledger through which transactions done by this technology are recorded in registers that can be verified and accessed by the people involved in the transactions at any time.
“So, we can see enormous benefits of blockchain, especially for improving financial inclusion and nurturing the growth of micro and small businesses. There are also significant challenges to overcome if we are to realise these benefits. Issues of trust, consumer protection, and systemic network risks that can slow the pace of progress require clear and robust regulations.
“Advances in ICT development present unique opportunities for developing financial services in Africa. These advances touch all facets of the financial services sector ecosystem, from innovations and cost reductions for user access to devices and transmission technology (including the revolution in mobile communications and the growth of broadband Internet access), data storage and sharing, security and analytical processing.
“These developments can accelerate the drive towards development goals and allow African nations to leapfrog challenges that have afflicted other countries.
“Beyond the ‘hard’ infrastructure investment side of ICT, much more is needed to unleash the contribution of ICT investment to enabling business environment. My ministry is engaging [with stakeholders] on this front,” he assured.
In his address, the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi stressed that digital transformation and sustainability are increasing its portal.
He used an analogy of the three-part gain flag to highlight the positives for Nigeria.
“First, Nigeria’s creation of firms positions her as a leader in digital economy; Secondly, we have initiatives to strengthen the field in terms of processes, policies and legal frame work. Thirdly, we have initiatives to tidy up the defence. Under ‘defence’ we have initiatives to explore technology to enhance our process and services. That is why we have initiatives around the e-government master plan, digital infrastructure, connecting the unconnected, building the data centres to host government services and also promoting other sectors to digitise,” he said.
According to the NITDA boss, today, Nigeria has fully digitised the financial sector and is a global leader in the digitisation of the financial sector.
“Nigeria has the capacity to fill the global talent gap by exploring how to use technology to create and capture values,” he added further.
Speaking earlier, the chairman, ICT and Cybercrime Committee, Sen. Yakubu Oseni said: “We need to give our youths opportunities in the digital economy sector. We have over 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population who are youths.
“Right now, we have 18 trillion job vacancies waiting for youths to key into. After your training, the funds are available, to prevent the talent from going to waste.
“We are going to collaborate with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to create this awareness. I have been doing my bit in ensuring that young people are aware of the benefits and potentials of the start-up Bill. I trust Nigerian youths, their intelligence and talents, that they will key into it and also contribute their quota to the GDP and place Nigeria on the world’s ICT map.
“The government decided that a total of N5billion will be used as starting grant. It means that there are other funds we are expecting in the sector from other sources, so that we can have something to fall back to. This Microsoft training is key because the chain effect will be enormous and positively impact the Nigerian economy.”