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FG inaugurates IT projects to boost skills, digital economy

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
13 August 2020   |   3:00 am
The Federal Government has inaugurated 11 projects in different parts of the country aimed at boosting digital economy and digital skills.

[files] Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami. Photo; TWITTER/ISAPANTAMI

The Federal Government has inaugurated 11 projects in different parts of the country aimed at boosting digital economy and digital skills. 

The projects include Emergency Communication Centres, Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centre, Information Technology Incubation Park, Remodelled National Mail Exchange Centre, New Neighbourhood Post Office, and Information Technology Capacity Building Centre among others. 

The government has also approved exemption for e-Commerce all over the country even as it claims e-Nigeria was very useful in most states during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, who inaugurated the projects virtually, said they are relevant to the government’s three agenda in the areas of security, economic diversification, and anti corruption. 

He explained that the Emergency Communication Centres are part of the Nigeria Communication Act 2003, and will support security institutions in the country in efforts to ensure security, while the IT Incubation Centres will promote and support diversification of the economy.

Pantami further noted that most of the projects related to e-governance will go a long way in fighting corruption, in view of the reduction in physical interaction.

He said this administration has addressed most of the lingering issues, which had hindered the sector for over 13 years, such as the vandalism of telecom infrastructure now been categorized as Critical National infrastructure, adding that this intervention will help improve quality of service, reduce cost of investment and bring down the price of data. 

He said: “During this lockdown only, we established some virtual Nigeria institutions where Nigerians were encouraged to enrol into programmes on cyber security, emerging technology, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, among others. In less than 60 days, more than 36,000 Nigerians have enrolled into the virtual institutions, and they earn their certification based on skills, and this is part of economic diversification.

“When you provide digital skills to your citizens, you are diversifying the economy of that country. In this lockdown, the founder of generated a profit of about $16 billion within 24 hours, the same thing to Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and many more that is all about digital skills. So when we are talking about diversifying our economy, we have to focus on a knowledge-based economy which is about digital skills,” he added. 

Pantani revealed that before his assumption of duty, the Federal Government had executed over 500 digital projects that were not inaugurated.

Commenting, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, called for the establishment of Emergency Communication Centres in every state of the federation and warned that without a uniform platform for security alert, Nigeria will be chasing shadows.

He said: “To me, the most important project commissioned today is the Emergency Communication Centre. Apart from the Constitution making it fundamental, the most important responsibility of government is security because people surrender their liberty and freedom to a state primarily because of the assurance of security. For me, security is too key to play with.” 

Also contributing, the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said most of the projects were conceptualized and executed within one year. 

He observed that Covid-19 has accelerated projects’ execution, as digital economy has become more profound with the outbreak of the pandemic, as most are done remotely

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, said four of the projects were executed by the Commission, and will help the government to foster digital economy, digital skills and digital inclusion.