ICT stakeholders synergise for digital inclusion at PIC parley
Stakeholders in the digital ecosystem, on Tuesday, set the stage for a synergy between the public and private sectors, to facilitate digital inclusion and set Nigeria on the path to sustainable economic development.
Held in Abuja, the formative dialogue was the first run of the Policy Innovation Centre’s (PIC) ‘Inclusive Digital Transformation Programme’, sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), to advance inclusive digital development through an enhanced policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian economy.
The event was attended by MDAs, ICT professional bodies, digital inclusion start-ups and corporate players in the digital space.
Gail Warrander, Economic Adviser to the UK Government, emphasised the relevance of the UK government’s support for the growth of the Nigerian digital economy. She said digital business contributes significantly to the nation’s GDP, and has grown to become a sustainable source of employment generation and foreign exchange for the Nigerian economy.
“The Digital Access Programme (DAP) is a UK government strategy led by the FCDO, and is supporting responsible, sustainable digital inclusion,” said Dr. Osasuyi Dirisu, Deputy Director, PIC. “The regulatory landscape in Nigeria has proved there is a robust institutional setup to govern an enabling ICT infrastructure. But there are still gaps in creating that conducive environment to support the growth of the digital economy in Nigeria.”
Highlighting the role of policy and developmental regulation in closing the digital skill gap, Femi Adeluyi, Representative of the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, said: “Government is responsible for policy formulation and the enabling environment, but the private sector also has a critical role to play.
“There are lots of opportunities for jobs in the digital economy, and it is important for us to take advantage of them…. We have to create the right regulations to drive the sector… but without the requisite skills and critical mass, talking about the benefits of the digital economy will remain a pie in the sky….”
According to Oswald Osaretin Guobadia, SSA to the President on Digital Transformation, there is a need for enabling policies to facilitate digital inclusion in Nigeria.
He however added that it is also critical to understand stakeholders in the sector to enable policies that will create fertile ground for digital access and inclusion to work.
“In moving the digital economy forward, it is critical that the ones who have been excluded don’t remain excluded,” said Oge Modie, SSA to the President on Strategic Communications. “The first movers in the digital space are men; they should be the ones asking that women should be included. That is the only way the excluded can actually be included.”
The dialogue provided participants an opportunity to brainstorm strategies to get the Nigerian digital economy out of the woods through breakout sessions focused on Sustainability in the Digital Economy, Broadband Access, e-Government Policies and Regulation, as well as Inclusion/Digital Divide. The second leg of the event is set to hold in Lagos by mid-June, 2022.