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Nigeria urged to emulate China, others on tech agenda

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The quest for technology competitiveness on the part of Nigeria, would require it taking a cue from advanced countries such as China, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Israel, among others.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 25th Nigeria Economic Summit, Senior Manager for Technology Application Services at Verraki, Olatunde Olajide, advocated the need for Nigeria to overturn its perceived unwelcome stereotype and emulate these countries that have all articulated and implemented a national agenda. This has in turn helped them to create specific niches, improve their reputation while fostering economic growth.

Olajide posited that in achieving this, there must be collaboration between the private and public sector, to urgently develop and execute a national technology agenda that will be distinctly Nigerian, and will improve her competitiveness in the global economy.

He argued that although Nigeria boasts of Africa’s largest young population, bursting with entrepreneurial energy, tremendous resolve, resilience and creativity, the nation is yet to articulate a holistic agenda as a counter-narrative to the damaging reports of fraud, corruption and unemployment.

He asserted that this biased perspective has a negative impact on the country’s perception, creating a drawback to her ability to attract new investments, and ultimately her future economic potential.

In pressing for a national ICT agenda, Olajide quoted: “Following its release of an Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, China outlined AI as a national priority, expressed its commitment to building a domestic AI industry worth $150 billion and leading AI globally by 2030. China has already introduced AI pilot programmes in hundreds of schools, and training teachers to implement the new curricula throughout the country. Nigeria must define what its strategic ICT agenda is, in the global economy and work towards this.”

He continued, “There is a lot Nigeria can do in a global economy; Nigeria is home to the leading hubs for entrepreneurship on the continent, thanks to several strengths, including our resilient entrepreneurs, a growing number of engaging international investors, and a huge population with increasing access to technology. We also have a growing number of startup support organisations active in the ecosystem, over 84 million hectares of arable land with less than half cultivated for agriculture production, our creative industries especially music and Nollywood, a booming billion-dollar film industry. We must harness these strengths to determine how best we can play in the global economy.”

Olajide also highlighted the importance of local content and skills in the country’s IT agenda, and encouraged local enterprises and governments to patronise companies with research & development, product development and manufacturing operations in Nigeria, to help in developing national technology competence.

“China, South Korea, Japan’s competencies were not built in a day. I remember people scorned Asian (Japan, South Korea and China) cars some decades ago. The path to development is an interative process, and we must encourage our local players so they can improve. Given the low national literacy level of 66 per cent, we need to aggressively scale digital literacy training for teachers, students, and others, while also establishing systems and structures for protection of contents and IP rights of our inventors and entrepreneurs,” he stated.


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