FG seeks enhanced private sector engagements for digital economic growth

The Federal Government has called for more private sector collaborations to ensure Nigeria’s participation in global technology trade for digital economic growth.

Dr Bosun Tijani, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, made the call at the opening ceremony of the 3-day Digital Nigeria conference, exhibition and awards in Abuja.

Organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the theme of the conference was “Harnessing Digital Technologies for Job Creation, Inclusive Economic Growth and Sustainability”.

Tijani said that technology was evolving and countries that made the most out of technology were those who had progressive attitude of continuously asking questions and demanding better ways of doing things.

He reiterated that his leadership had five key pillars that would transform the technology ecosystem in the country.

Tijani listed the keys as: Knowledge sharing, focus on policy, building of infrastructure, innovation, entrepreneurship on capital and participation in the global trade economy.

“We understand that for us to continue to make gains out of technology and to continue to develop technology for good in Nigeria, we must prioritise the development of our workforce.

“We must also prioritise knowledge generation for us to become a major player globally, not just in Africa in technology, we must be part of knowledge generation and application.

“As a nation that is open to coming up with policies to support the development of technology in our ecosystem, we do so by not using policy as a way of stifling innovation.

“We use policy as an opportunity to open up our market for innovators and entrepreneurs to actually build and also while protecting society,’’ he said.

Tijani further said that in spite of the gains that had been made on infrastructure in Nigeria, to benefit from the digital economy, the nation must continue to reimagine how to invest, regulate and make infrastructure available for people.

“We reimagine the use of our satellites, ensure that we manage our spectrum more effectively, ensure that we make innovation spaces available to our people to actually innovate.

“It is our duty to ensure that the pool of patient capital available for people to innovate in Nigeria is good enough, and is robust enough to support our dreams.

“It is also our responsibility to ensure that we use policies to encourage entrepreneurs, we help the country to capture value by driving more local domiciliation of startups.

“If we do one, two, three and four effectively, now we can actually also participate in global technology trade as well,’’ he said.

The minister said the government was open to collaborations, input from the private sector, adding that our collective responsibility and investment would get us to where we desired.

Tijani commended the efforts of technology players both in government and private sector which had led to the evolution of technology in the country.

”It is easy for us to focus on what we need to build in our country or lose sight of the gains that we’ve actually made as a nation,” he added.

Tijani said that it was their efforts that gave Nigeria the backbone required to participate in the global economy.

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, in his address, said that the celebration symbolised the collective aspirations to launch Nigeria at the forefront of digital innovation.

Inuwa said that technology had transformed individuals, nations, way of life and the very fabric of human identification.

He said that digital Nigeria was at the core of the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’, which included inclusive economic growth, productivity and prosperity for all.

Inuwa recalled that according to statistics, digitally transformed enterprises contributed 13.5 per cent dollars to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018.

“It is projected to contribute 53.3 trillion dollars to the global GDP this year, that means more than 50 per cent of the global GDP.

“Looking at these key activities or enablers of digitisation, we are so keen about innovation, on how we use digital to innovate and grow our economy.

“We aim to use the power of digital technology to foster job creation, ensure inclusive economic growth, and lay the foundation for the future digital economy in Nigeria,’’ he said.

Inuwa added that the conference was designed to boost networking, activate conversations around innovation and inspiration, engender policies and regulations that can provide the enabling environment to thrive as a nation.

Other objectives he mentioned included building a stronger ecosystem for global visibility, leading to economic activities, hence national prosperity.

Mrs Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne Cable, while speaking on “The Role Emerging Technologies Can Play in Helping National Frog Leap’’, said, ”we need to encourage global players in Nigeria.

”We need to encourage them to trade in our technology market and domesticate technology platforms and create jobs locally.

“If we are able to put in place a strategy to bring digital technology value chain to our country, provide the right incentives and build broadband infrastructure, provide our young people with access to knowledge.

”Nigeria can be positioned in the same way as South Korea, Singapore, or as India is lifting its citizens out of poverty.

“The one million jobs we are looking to create in this administration can become five million jobs in less than 10 years and create the wealth that will turn around.\”

The conference had in attendance, tech industry leaders, government officials, tech enthusiasts, students and many other participants.

There was also an exhibition tour by the dignitaries as well.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria