Nigeria has taken a major practical step in its efforts to actualise plans to diversify its economy away from oil by sending a high-powered delegation to attend Center for Office Automation, Information Technology and Telecommunication (CeBIT) 2016, the world’s leading information and communications technology conference and expo.
The Nigerian delegation was led by the Acting Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, who represented the Honourable Minister of Communication, Bar. Adebayo Shittu. The delegation, which also included ICT stakeholders, regulators, as well as the chairmen of the ICT Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives, Senator Abdultfatai Buhari and Honourable Mohammed Onawo, Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Engr. Ubale Maska and the Director, Customer Affairs Bureau of NCC, Mallam Abdullahi Maikano, Dr. Agu Collins Agu, Director, Infrastructure and Technical Support Services and Mrs. Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs NITDA.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister to the Deutsche Messe organisers of CeBIT, to explore ways of collaboration and how Nigeria as a country can actively play and participate at CeBIT, Dr. Olatunji told the organisers that Nigeria is looking towards ICT as a very good avenue to tap into so as to shore up her revenue inflow especially as price of oil is falling at the international market.
Explaining the uniqueness of Africa’s largest economy, Dr. Olatunji said:
“Because the market in Nigeria alone is enough to convince an investor to say I really must go into this market; Nigeria is like putting five to six countries in Africa into one country, because of the population. And a very high percentage of the population are the youths, and they are really ready and willing to adopt and use ICT.
“In fact, their presence is a clear testimony to government’s overall preparedness and willingness to adopt ICT as a reliable alternative to oil for economic growth, for earning foreign exchange and for growing a self-reliant population.
“We are glad to further assure you that we will work with you on the part of the Agency in implementing government’s policies in the area of ICT development in Nigeria.
Speaking on the impressions of CeBIT 2016 and the impact it could have on Nigeria, Honourable Mohammed Onawo, the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on ICT said:
“I am particularly excited that I have attended CeBIT 2016; and with what I have seen, it has encouraged me to take a lot of things back home. One, the digital economy. While we were going round on the guided tour, we visited SAP; and they demonstrated to us software where everything that is done in government can easily be monitored. I was excited about that; because what makes most of our governments fail in the Third World is lack of proper monitoring.
And, Distinguished Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT added:
“The opportunity of being at CeBIT 2016 is really commendable. I’m coming to CeBIT for the first time. What we witnessed today while being given the guided tour was amazing. I compare it to what happened in my country some months ago – and I thought if the guy in question was in Europe or America probably investors would have identified his talent.
“This Nigerian in a rural area in the country, manufactured an aircraft, and everybody watched in amazement; and, like a joke, he was able to fly the aircraft. He tried it once; the second time, it landed on water. When he was interviewed, he said that is IT (information technology). But if nobody identifies him that’s how he could remain with his initiative.
The NITDA Acting D-G further explained that the agency’s annual lead event for 2016, e-Nigeria, is themed and focused on young innovators. His words:
“Incidentally, the focus of e-Nigeria this year is on Young Innovators, where they will pitch, for three days, in a competitive atmosphere.”
The five-day CeBIT 2016 conference, which put digitisation at the top of the business, political and social agenda, featured more than 500 concrete examples of digitisation and the Internet of Things, where it was reported that in the coming years, more than 50 billion objects will likely be connected with the Internet, with 90 per cent of added value being created in the B2B sector.
With the lead theme “d!conomy: join – create – succeed” , CeBIT 2016 focused on the people behind the decisions powering the digital transformation.
A major feature also on the exhibition areas was the Start-ups at SCALE11 which demonstrated how the Internet of Things can create new business models. More than 400 start-ups at CeBIT 2016 provided a creative boost. They demonstrated how technological innovations go hand in hand with innovations in business models.
Plans are being put together for Nigeria to feature at CeBIT 2017 very strongly.