By Prince Osuagwu
Business and technology solutions firm, Verraki Partners, has called on the Nigerian government, working in collaboration with the private sector, to urgently develop and begin to execute a national technology agenda, which will be distinctly Nigerian and will improve the competitiveness in the global economy.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the recently concluded 25th Nigeria Economic Summit, Senior Manager for Technology Application Services at Verraki, Olatunde Olajide who facilitated the summit’s Industry Breakfast Meeting on Information and Communications Technology, said Nigeria needs to overturn its perceived unwelcome stereotype and emulate countries like Israel, China, Singapore and South Korea that have all articulated and implemented a national agenda.
He said the agenda has helped them create specific niches, improve their reputation while fostering economic growth.
He said though Nigeria boasts of Africa’s largest young population, bursting with entrepreneurial energy, the nation is yet to articulate a holistic agenda as a counter narrative to the damaging reports of fraud, corruption and unemployment. He argued that this biased perspective has a negative impact on the country’s perception, creating a drawback to its ability to attract new investment and ultimately future economic potential.
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Pressing for a national ICT agenda, Olajide said: “Following its release of an Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, China outlined AI as a national priority, expressed its commitment to building a domestic AI industry worth US$150 billion and leading AI globally by 2030.
China has already introduced AI pilot programmes in hundreds of schools and training teachers to implement the new curricula throughout the country. Nigeria must define what its strategic ICT agenda is, in the global economy and work towards this”. He added that: “There is a lot Nigeria can do in a global economy; Nigeria is home to the leading hubs for entrepreneurship on the continent thanks to several strengths, including our resilient entrepreneurs, a growing number of engaging international investors, a huge population with increasing access to technology, a growing number of startup support organizations active in the ecosystem, over 84 million hectares of arable land with less than half cultivated for agriculture production, our creative industries especially music and Nollywood, a booming billion dollar film industry.”