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Digitalisation and Nigeria’s economic development

Many studies have shown that the digital economy is now the main driver of economic growth in both developed and developing countries across the world.…

Many studies have shown that the digital economy is now the main driver of economic growth in both developed and developing countries across the world. The digital economy helps to increase capital and labour productivity, and also helps to obtain goods and services at lower prices.

Digital technology levels the playing field for entrepreneurs anywhere in the world. Digitalisation enables technology  to lower the costs of storing, sharing, and analysing data. This has changed how consumers behave, how industrial activity is organised, and how governments operate.

Digital technologies can also transform markets and economic opportunities. Digitalisation of public sector operations and services, together with development of digital industries and jobs, helps drive socio-economic development, according to experts. 

“Digitalisation is the great leveller of opportunities,” says Benoit Denis, a senior economist on digital projects at the European Investment Bank.  He said, “Investment in digital education, infrastructure and digital services can improve gender equality, build resilience to climate change, and help achieve many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Even in developing countries, digitalisation has been argued to be a leading driver of economic growth, by raising capital and labour productivity, lower transaction.

IT digitalisation speeds up development, helps economic growth, brings people closer together and enables better use of resources. 

Why digitalisation remains key to Nigeria’s development

The Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, has said digitalisation is the key to Nigeria’s socio-economic development and that government is committed to it.

The minister stated this when the Secretary General of the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), Ms Deemah Al-Yahya, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

Chief Ikoh said digitalisation and technology transfer has made the world a global village.

He said deliberate digital human capacity building will enhance accelerated industrialisation in Africa, which in turn, would create jobs, reduce poverty as well as minimise the exodus of Africans to Europe, who are in search of greener pastures.

He said Africa can only achieve its goals in digitalisation, technology and innovation through collaboration which will enhance the cross-fertilisation of ideas necessary to compete and take its desired position among the comity of nations.

“The synergy is what is required. Capacity building is key, technology transfer is what Africa and in particular Nigeria needs now. We must collaborate in all areas to make sure there is harmony in the world,” he said.

Also speaking, permanent secretary in the ministry, Mrs Monilola Udoh, said Nigeria is open to partnership with individuals, organisations and nations that will support the country’s quest for digital growth.

She said Information Communication Technology (ICT) is the key driver of innovation, stressing that the ministry is willing to partner the Digital Cooperation Organisation for mutual benefits.

Speaking earlier, the Secretary-General of the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), Ms Deemah Al-Yahya, said her visit was to empower the digital transformation and economic strategies of Nigeria as well as understand the ICT ecosystem of the country.

Ms Deemah Al-Yahya, stated that the visit was to reiterate the organisation’s commitment to empowering the digital transformation and economic strategies of the country, especially that Nigeria is a founding member of the organisation.

She said, “Digital Corporation Organisation is a Multilateral Organisation that focuses on advancing the digital economy in member states. We are presently in 12 countries from different continents representing 60m and $2trn in GDP.”

But many developing countries like Nigeria  are still struggling to invest in innovation and digital technologies, because they barely afford to finance it. Nearly 30million people in Nigeria and 2.9 billion people around the world, especially women and girls, lack a telephone, computer, or internet access, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This could inhibit the growth of the digital economy, experts said. 

This is why infrastructure is key to the digital economy.  The private sector players and, of course, the government, need to invest in ICT infrastructure if they want to tap the economic potential of the digital era. The infrastructure that needs to be prepared includes hardware, software, and networks.

Why adopted FARI’s recommendations 

The federal government  said Nigeria adopted the recommendations of the African Forum on Research and Innovation (FARI) in order to make our indigenous goods and services compete favourably with products across the world. 

A statement by the  Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation quoted the minister, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, as disclosing this in Lagos during the South – West zonal dialogue between government and stakeholders in the Science, Technology and Innovation ecosystem on the  establishment of technology and innovation centres (TICs).

Represented by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mrs Monilola Udoh, Mamora said Nigeria was the first country in the entire ECOWAS sub-region to substantially comply with the recommendations of FARI to improve its economy.  

“The adoption of FARI’s recommendations is the best way to ensure that products and services in our country are made to compete with the very best in the world,” the minister was quoted as saying.

 He said the recommendations would also improve on the present understanding of the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in the socio-economic development of Nigeria by the general public.

He added that this would move Nigeria from resource to knowledge-based economy.

The minister further said under the 2022 revised STI Policy, Nigeria is geared towards having a large, strong, diversified, sustainable and competitive economy that will effectively harness the talents and energies of its people. 

Nigeria has capacity to fill global IT talent gap – FG

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, and Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Abdullahi, have said Nigeria has the capacity to fill the global Information Technology (IT) jobs gap. 

The two top federal government officials told local and international stakeholders at the ongoing Digital Nigeria Conference and Exhibition in Abuja yesterday. 

This is as Nigerian Senate called on stakeholders to put in more efforts towards awareness creation for the recently assented Startup Act so that youths will be aware of the advantages and opportunities that the Act offers.

In his remarks,   Prof. Pantami reiterated the unprecedented achievements of his ministry. 

He said the digital economy has greatly supported the traditional economy. 

He added that the contribution of the digital economy to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria and  its role in making the economy resilient to adverse events like the COVID-19 pandemic are two good examples of the impact of the digital economy on the traditional economy.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee chairman on ICT and Cybersecurity, Senator Oseni Yakubu, said awareness is key to the success of Nigeria Startup Act 2022.

He said, “The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy should create more awareness of the Startup Act for Nigerian youths to know the benefits and opportunities that abound with it.

“We are going to collaborate with the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy to create this awareness and I’ve been doing my little bit to create awareness of the potential of the bills. I trust Nigerian Youths; they are very intelligent and talented and I am sure they will key into it and also contribute their quota to the GDP and placing Nigeria in the ICT world map.”

Speaking on the government’s partnership with microsoft to train five million Nigerians the Senator said: “The five million young people that we are talking about are going to be trained (by microsoft). The jobs are already there, awaiting the youth to key in.

Earlier, the Director General  of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said Nigeria is working on how to become a global supplier of tech talents.

“We have several initiatives to position Nigeria to become the global talent supplier. Nigeria has the capacity to fill up the global talent gap. We are exploring how to use technology to create and capture values.

“Digital transformation is not about the technology; it is all about designing technology to deliver things the way you want it and how you want it,” he disclosed.