By Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Ibrahim Pantami last week in Athens, stoutly claimed that the gains of Nigeria’s foray into digital economy has yielded fast return on investments.
The minister spoke at the just- concluded 14th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, ICEGOV 2021 in Greece.
The conference was themed: Driving the Implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria: The Journey So Far.
Listing several gains the country has made since embracing digital transformation, the minister said the adoption of IT projects Clearance had saved the country over N22.8 billion in the last four years.
He said the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, NDEPS in less than two years of its launching have had a significant impact on Nigeria’s economy with the digital sector contributing to the GDP an unprecedented 17.90 per cent in second quarter of 2021.
The minister who was represented by the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, lamented Nigeria’s loss at previous industrial revolution, maintaining that Nigeria has to make a strategic decision to join the digital bandwagon as it cannot be left behind in this digital age.
He said: “We lost totally in the past industrial age but we must not lose in today’s digitalisation and the digital economy, driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Industry 4.0 is the next phase of digitalization. The digital economy is developing at a remarkable rate, and it has been widely accepted that it is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth.”
According to him, the establishment of automated IT projects’ Clearance process which is aimed at eliminating duplication and ensuring the nation derive value for her money in the implementation of ICT projects in the country, has registered 1,048 users, cleared 485 projects and saved N22,859,306,220.96 billion (about $58,764,283.34) for the Federal Government from 2017 to date.
“At the Federal level, I have led the process of improving and transforming our governance processes through the implementation of different Government Digital Transformation instruments and programs such as capacity-building for civil servants in different categories, the Nigeria e-Government Interoperability Framework, Ne-GIF, the Nigeria Government Enterprise Architecture, NGEA, the National Cloud Computing Policy, National Public Key Infrastructure, PKI, Government Digital Service Framework, Establishment of Digital Transformation Technical Working Groups, DT-TWGs and ultimately, the Digital Government Transformation Performance Assessment and Toolkit through which we are here at the ICEGOV 2021 to share our experience of making IT deployment in the public sector more efficient and creating new economic sector from Government Digital Transformation efforts,” he said.
He stated that the Nigerian Smart Initiative has seen to the launch of National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture which is designed to use ICTs and emerging technologies to support the Federal Government in its drive to create more jobs for the youthful population and attract them into agriculture, improve food production, increase wealth and income of farmers and agricultural value chain players, improve food security, promote access to international food markets and ultimately, a means of economic diversification.
For him, the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, would largely rely on the increased proliferation of new technologies and innovations that is currently revolutionizing all sectors of the global economy.
Citing the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS’ report, Patanmi maintained that the Information and Communications Technology, ICT sector recorded the highest growth rate of all sectors of the Nigerian economy, in both the fourth quarter of 2020 and the entire year.
“The 14.7% growth rate of the ICT sector was greater than the combined 14.21% growth of the 2nd to 7th fastest growing sectors in Nigeria in 2020. The telecommunications sector also recorded a growth rate of 15.90% and this was its highest growth rate in the last 10 years.
The NBS released the Q1 2021 report and the ICT sector retained its position as the fastest-growing sector of the economy, contributing 14.91%. In the second quarter of 2021, ICT contributed an unprecedented 17.92% of Nigeria’s GDP. The Digital Economy sector has therefore proven to be vital for the diversification of the economy,” he stated.
On the nation’s security, the minister explained that various initiatives adopted are providing necessary solutions to the insecurity challenge the country is facing.
He noted that the recent presidential directive for the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC to be moved to the Ministry is part of the government’s efforts towards accelerating the implementation of the Digital Identity Programme and enhancing security in the country.
He said that the country has recorded surge in the implementation of SIM-NIN linkage which stands at 64 million Nigerians with completed NIN registration, adding that the government is committed to ensuring that the nation’s cyberspace is safer with various initiatives.