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FG to strengthen fight with ICT

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The Federal Government is enthusiastic about leveraging on information and technology in the fight against coronavirus in Nigeria.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Musa Istifanus reiterated this, stressing that ICT has the potential to help defeat COVID-19 and make the nation and the world at large safer, stronger and more connected.

He stated this yesterday, during a webinar conference on Pan-Nigeria Economy Intervention Forum (PANEIF) in collaboration with ICT stakeholders with the theme: Post COVID-19 Technology Intervention Towards Economy Rediscovery.

Istifanus said they’d continue to collaborate with the relevant public and private stakeholders on the acquisition of requisite sectoral skills and competences in the overall efforts to leverage ICT to solve problems. He said COVID-19 has further shown how connected and linked the world and the need to check coherence of policies and programmes across the ICT sectors, noting that the initiative is apt and couldn’t have come at a better time. He pointed out that there is need to improve efficiency in the use of scare resources, be more innovative and come up with creative strategies and platforms for mobilizing policy interventions in these trying times.

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In his presentation from South Africa, Andile Ngcaba stated that Nigeria Digital infrastructure is critical to the development of the digital economy in the continent and urged Nigeria to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Robotic Technology and 5G in the public and private sector.

He said Nigeria has the capacity to lead the continent and supply other African countries ICT services and expressed the need for Africans to share ideas and build partnership to address global challenges through innovative solutions. Ngcaba urged Africa countries to surprise the world by digitalizing informal sector using digital tools such as open data system, digital plant recipes, plant coding, cloud computing and servers.

In his contribution, the coordinator Local Content for Development, Inye Kemabonta pointed out that COVID-19 was the best thing to happen to Nigeria because it presents the opportunity for disruption of normal situations and the opportunity to look inwards. He commended the government for the enactment of executive order on local content and urged Federal Ministry of Finance to immediately give duty exception to Nigeria Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) for the import of CKD parts already certified by NITDA to enable them assemble ICT equipment such as temperature monitors and other devices needed during this pandemic and for the creation of manufacturing jobs.

Executive Director, Centre for Cyber Space Studies, Nasarawa State University, Dr. Uche Mbanaso, pointed out that there is a huge disconnect between the industry, academia and the government. He recommended complete overhaul of Nigeria’s education system to make the system functional noting that the ICT industry, academia and the government must work together and ensure that Research and Development (R&D) is demand driven.

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