The Minister of communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu has challenged the Information Communication Technology stakeholders to come up with useful proposal and advice for the government on how to leverage on ICT to come out the present economic recession as he said his ministry has resolved to give a level playing ground for ICT professionals to contribute their quota to the change agenda of the present administration.
He expressed this view in Abuja while declaring open, the first Annual Workshop organised by the Abuja Chapter of Nigeria Computer Society with the theme “The Role of ICT in Taking Nigeria out of Economic Recession.”
Shittu noted that, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration resolved to run an inclusive government, where ICT could play key roles in checkmating financial leakages and other problems militating against Nigeria development.
He said, “It is a public knowledge that ICT is playing a lead role in the economy with the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) operations, Medium Term Sector Strategy MTSS and Zero Base Budgeting System.” Adding that, it is clear that ICT drives itself and is also the core drivers or enabler of the other sector of the economy.
Emphasising the importance NCS contribution to development of ICT sectors, the Minister noted that “in today’s good governance policy processes, it is said that instead of neglecting the stakeholders, it is better to over engage them.
The guest Speaker and Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said, he strongly believe that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can provide a pathway out of this situation as several studies revealed that ICT can serve as a catalyst for economic growth.
Citing the United State’s Experience, Pantami said the country employed ICT to get out of recession by stimulating the economy through key investments in ICT as a driver of other sectors.
“The United States experienced a recession between December 2007 and June 2009 and they got out of that recession by stimulating the economy through investments in key sectors. One of such sectors was the ICT sector. For example, $22billion was spent to modernize the health ICT system, $650million was used for ICT in education and $7.2 billion was spent to complete broadband and wireless Internet systems, he stated.
He noted that Nigeria is on the way out of recession as data from the broadband penetration could testify to the fact. He said, “A significant increase in broadband penetration would go a long way in improving the economy and increasing the contribution of ICT to our GDP from its current level, which according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stood at 12.62% for the 2nd Quarter of 2016.”
The DG corroborated his argument by a study carried out by McKinsey- a respected global consulting firm that “there is a 1-2% increase in GDP for every 10% increase in Internet penetration.”
He observed that with an appropriate enabling environment, broadband would enable our young entrepreneurs to come up with a number of “innovative solutions to our local challenges.” This he said would support the nation local content initiative and reduce capital flight, thus reducing pressure on our foreign reserves.
While lamenting the unpleasant situation the nation has found itself as a result of over reliance on oil, the DG stated that the situation is not insurmountable as the proper application of the nation’s local content policy which would encourage patronage of “made in Nigeria” products could savage the situation.
He said the challenge presented the nation with opportunity to effect a change that would lead to lasting benefits for our economy which only ICT could afford. He said, “In order to come out of recession we are compelled to explore other avenues for generating revenue and ICTs provide such an avenue. It is instructive to note that 50% of the world’s 10 richest people acquired their wealth through ICT and have a combined net worth of $258.4 billion. The other 50% also rely heavily on ICTs to drive their business and increase their revenue.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Chapter, Mr. Ayodeji Rex Abitogun said the objective of the annual workshop was for the chapter to provide platform for stakeholders to be heard on any issues the chapter might deem fit to be discussed and come up with resolutions that would be presented to appropriate quarter for advocacy.
He said the platform desire that the outcome of the workshop would help in formulation of ICT policy, identified gaps to be bridged and strengthening the monitoring and evaluation, implementation, regulation and sensitisation in the ICT sector.