FG Laying Foundation For Digitally Skilled Citizens – Pantami

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami virtually commissioning a digital economy project in Abuja.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has said the Federal Government has established over 1,667 centres and developed 16 policies to promote digital economy development in the country.

He made this known during the virtual commissioning of seven digital economy projects across the country yesterday in Abuja, saying the seven new ones were part of the policies of his ministry to ensure the digital economy would continue to impact the economic growth of the country.

“These projects are part of several other projects we have executed. In the last 2 years we have developed policies, initiated programmes and executed projects to ensure that Nigeria’s digital economy continues to play a key role in growth of our economy,” he said.

He listed some of the projects commissioned by the ministry to include “unprecedented” 60,748,629 NIN enrolments; emergency communication centers; virtual examination centers; e-Health/Data Sharing Center; digital industrial parks; ICT innovation and incubation park/hubs; digital capacity training centres (DCTC) & e-learning facilities; community IT training centres; and IT capacity building centres.

Others are digital economy centers; National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic (NCAIR); tertiary institution knowledge centers (TIKCs); school knowledge centers (SKCs); e-accessibility projects; e-libraries and e-healths, among others.

“All these policies, programmes and projects are in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria and the Federal Government’s key objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy. The projects being commissioned today also align with the policies of the ministry, which the parastatals are to implement,” he stated.

The minister said government had so far commissioned 10 batches of projects, adding  the 11th batch which he commissioned yesterday include(  Emergency Communication Centre, Lokoja, Kogi State (North Central); School Knowledge Centre, Sanda Kyarimi Day Secondary School, Borno State (North East);  digital economy centre & e- learning facilities, Imam Malik Academy, Sokoto State (North West); Digital Economy Centre, e- learning facilities, Nneato Secondary School, Abia State (South East); Digital Economy Centre, E- Learning, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State (South South); Digital Economy Centre, E- Learning, Eleyele Secondary School, Oyo State (South West); and  Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centre, Gombe State College of Education, Gombe (North East).

He explained that the tertiary institution’s knowledge Centre (TIKC) was deployed by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and the project included bandwidth connectivity and the installation of ICT devices and peripherals, adding the TIKC project also doubles as an ICT centre for students to acquire and improve their ICT skills and for the teaching and learning in tertiary institutions and their immediate communities. 

Pantami said government’s goal was to have at least one emergency communication centre in each state of the federation including FCT to ensure an effective emergency response to cater to the needs of the people.

“Today, we are also commissioning four digital economy centres (DECs) and e-learning facilities which were deployed by NITDA as part of its mandate to ensure that the Federal Government continues to provide support for our institutions to facilitate learning.  The facilities are solar powered, equipped with computers, Internet access and tools aimed at enhancing skills development, bridging the digital divide and promoting innovative digital solutions that will address challenges facing the country. 

“The DEC and e-learning centres will support economic growth by ensuring digital inclusion for the underserved/unserved communities through capacity building efforts.

“It is well known that the digital economy is a core driver of innovation, competitiveness and economic growth.  However, no nation can build a digital economy without a constant pool of highly qualified creative talent, as the digital economy is knowledge-based and is characterized by dependence on a highly-skilled, and technology-inclined citizens. 

“Therefore, fostering and supporting the capacities of Nigerians is a fundamental backbone of our digital economy strategy. This is why NDEPS has a pillar dedicated to digital literacy and skills.

“Furthermore, knowledge institutions play a critical role in the development of the Digital Economy. They serve as centres for generation and impartation of new knowledge to citizens. These institutions not only equip individuals with relevant knowledge and skills, but also provide a bustling environment that stimulates innovation thereby enabling them contribute meaningfully in the socio- economic development of their society,” he added.

Quoting World Bank report which said digital technologies are forecast to be a major driver of productivity, with successful economies depending on greater numbers of digitally skilled workers than has previously been the case, Pantami cited an example of a digital single market in Europe which is expected to increase the region’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by €415 billion and will increase the need for a new set of digital skills by 12 per cent in 2024, adding “it is recognition of the need to empower our citizens with the requisite knowledge to thrive in the digital economy that we are deploying projects such as the ones being launched today.”

He encouraged all the host communities of the interventions provided by government through NITDA and NCC to ensure they take full advantage of the facilities for the benefit of their people and communities.  

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