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Minister seeks support, claims digital transformation critical to Nigeria

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, has solicited the support of the private sector in actualizing Nigeria’s digital agenda.

  
Pantami said it has become highly imperative to change the direction of the economy with a focus on digitization.
  
Speaking in Lagos, at the virtual 2020 ICTEL EXPO, themed, “Exploring Opportunity in the Digital Economy,” he explained that in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), the digital economy is referred to any aspect of the economy that is based on or driven by digital technologies.   
  
Pantami noted that globally, the digital revolution is changing lives and societies with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities as well as associated challenges.
  
According to him, as predicted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), over 60 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be digitised by 2022, and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70 per cent of new value.
  
He argued that the role of government, as the driver of the digital economy cannot be overemphasized, especially in the formulation and implementation of national Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policies, as well as sustaining infrastructure.
  
Therefore, to actualize the dream of a Digital Nigeria, he said the re-designated, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, under his watch came up with NDEPS 2020-2030, which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 28, 2019, and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025, on March 19, 2020.
  
Pantami said the NDEPS document is based on the following eight pillars – developmental regulation; digital literacy and skills; solid infrastructure; service infrastructure; digital services; development and promotion; soft infrastructure; digital society and emerging technologies; and indigenous content promotion and adoption.
   
The NNBP is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria at a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90 per cent of the population by 2025, at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data.
 
To achieve these targets, Pantami said the plan focused on recommendations in four critical pillars, namely: infrastructure; policy/spectrum; demand drivers; and funding/incentives.
  
The Minister said the digital economy is creating opportunities in the emerging world, while innovations resulting from digital technologies are impacting virtually every sector (retail, transport and logistics, financial services, manufacturing, education, healthcare, and broadcasting).
  
“The new reality is that the digital transformation of our economy has become imperative for sustainable national development. Now is the time to quicken the alignment of our digital transformation agenda with our economic needs. Globally, businesses are shifting from brick and mortar form to innovative enterprises driven by digital technologies. Now is the time for businesses, enterprises, and organisations, whether public or private to reinvent and automate to fit into the global digital economy.
  
“This new reality and lessons learned from the ‘new normal’ arising from the COVID-19 pandemic make it mandatory for Nigeria, like other developing countries, to rise up to the challenge, innovate and occupy her place in the global digital economy,” Pantami stated.
    
Earlier in her welcome address, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, noted that currently, virtually all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance.
   
She said this is evident in the financial services sector, where almost all banking transactions are conducted through digital channels; and the agricultural sector, where sophisticated technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and Global Position System (GPS) technology are largely deployed.

Also, in the consumer goods sector, online stores and e-commerce have brought an incredible transformation to retail business; the medical sciences where ICT applications are now being widely used for telemedicine, more precise diagnostics, administrative efficiency, and medical research.

Mabogunje argued that ICT has become the backbone of business, government, and personal lives, adding that automation has made businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly.
  
“The ICT sector remains one of the most resilient sectors of the Nigerian economy even in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but there is still enormous potential yet untapped. This Expo is one of the major platforms that offer opportunities to unlock these potentials,” she stated.


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