- His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- Chair of House Committee of ICT and Cybercrime Hon Muhammad Onowa
- Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, Honourable Minister of Communications
- Sonny Echono, fnia, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications
- IT Stakeholders
- Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen
- All other protocols duly observed.
May Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you!
I am exceedingly delighted to welcome all of you to eNigeria, Nigeria’s annual international conference on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you all know, this conference provides a platform for industry experts to brainstorm on emerging technologies, local innovation and relevant ICT issues for the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
This is the 9th edition of eNigeria, and our theme was deliberately chosen to align with the Federal Government’s drive to diversify the economy of our dear nation. The diversification of our economy has become imperative in the face of dwindling revenue from the oil sector. ICT provides a veritable option for diversifying our economy because it has the added advantage of being able to improve efficiency and enhance productivity in all the other sectors of the economy.
Furthermore, we are fortunate to have a large percentage of young Nigerians that have a high level of interest in ICT. We are creating an environment that supports high level ICT-based capacity building for them. This will create the critical mass required to drive the Local Content programme of the Federal Government, championed by NITDA. We will collaborate with industry leaders and put policies in place to support young Nigerians to develop world-class ICT products. This plan informed our decision to invite several start-ups to eNigeria.
Nigeria loses approximately $2.8 billion annually from the importation of ICT goods and services, including a whopping $1 billion spent annually on software imports. Locally manufactured or assembled computers represent less than 8% of all the computers used in the country. Similarly, Nigeria is projected to expend about $143.8 billion on ICT by 2019- a vast sum that translates to over 7 times the value of the 2016 national budget! We strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship.
Within the limits of the mandate that set us up, we at NITDA are repositioning ourselves to filter the IT gadgets being imported to the country in the overall interest of the nation. We want to transform NITDA from its administrative outlook to IT-driven and knowledge-based agency, and we request the support of all to materialize this aspiration.
There is tremendous gain to be made from a Local Content Policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services. Among other things, it will significantly reduce capital flight. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, rightly pointed this out at the 2016 Nigerian Economic Summit Group meeting, where he stated that, “Economic growth is impossible without a focus on made in Nigeria”.
In addition to the emphasis that NITDA will lay on regulation, local content development and capacity building, we are making concerted efforts to create, as well as review, existing standards and guidelines. This will enable us to regulate the sector in line with the highest global standards. We are committed to ensuring that the proliferation of fake and sub-standard ICT products and services in the country is eliminated or at least significantly curtailed.
Similarly, security in the 21st century is highly reliant on ICTs and we want to encourage the development of ICT-enabled security services across all sectors of the economy. In addition to our support for the use of ICT for physical security, we are also focusing on the cybersecurity of our nation. Our Computer Emergency Readiness and Response team (CERRT) and our Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) project will support in these efforts.
Job creation is also very important to us at NITDA. According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ national youth survey report, there are nearly 70 million people in the 15 to 35 age bracket. Unfortunately, they also report that over half of these are unemployed, and many more are underemployed. We recognize that this challenge gives us a good opportunity to use ICT to empower our youth, create jobs and generate revenue for the country. Interestingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the office of the Vice-President created 200,000 jobs for Nigerians.
In order to bring about the objectives we have set for ourselves under my leadership, to correct irregularities, fight corrupt practices and resist unnecessary and unproductive interference in the affairs of the Agency. But I need the help of all Nigerians, particularly IT stakeholders, in this all-important task.
I welcome all of you to eNigeria 2016, and wish you fruitful deliberations. Thank you for your time and attention. May Almighty reward you immensely and bountifully.