The Nigerian government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy last week in Abuja, the country’s capital launched the World Development Report 2021.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami re-echoed the need for key players in the sector to create value within the digital economy by using data to enhance the process.

The Minister who was represented by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Kashifu Inuwa, CCIE, described the theme of the event: “Leveraging data to foster development; Where does Nigeria Stand?” as not just exciting but also thoughts provoking.

While reacting to the question regarding “where Nigeria stands”, the Minister noted that the country stands at a crossroad, between harnessing the value of data for development and avoiding its perils.

“President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated and expanded the mandate of our ministry from Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy because Communication is just technology which is just an enabler, and can be used as a means to an end, while the end is how you can use technology to enhance your economy. This will help us create the value”.

While alluding to the observations captured in the report which indicate that Nigeria appears to be struggling in terms of the usage, Prof. Pantami acknowledged the fact that under the formulated National Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria, the Nation has an ambitious target to achieve a lot in terms of building trust, being equitable, especially in the area of safeguarding data and infrastructure among others.

“For example, we have the ambition to achieve 95% broadband penetration by 2030. How can we ignite the usage of that broadband, and how can we increase the coverage as well. The government is doing a lot in that aspect. Moreso, it has issued InfraCo (Infrastructure Companies) License to Private Companies to deepen the penetration”.

According to the Communications and Digital Economy Boss, NITDA’s ambitious target of achieving 95% Digital Literacy by 2030 is expected to also help the users as there is a dire need for Nigerians to fully understand the technology in order to embrace it and use it.

He expressed the hope that with the support of the World Development Bank as well as other partners, the seemingly ambitious target will be achieved in the long run.

“We want every Nigerian to be able to use his/her mobile phone, computers, and other digital devices to access digital services as well as to use it for economic activities”.

The Minister disclosed that within a year, NITDA, which is a parastatal under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has been able to impact 1.6million Nigerians in terms of basic digital literacy as well as discovering, building and hatching talents; adding that the Agency would be unveiling another initiative on training 1million developers within a year in Nigeria.

“We know there is a challenge gap, and we know we need to bridge the gap and build capacity in the country so that our people can build applications that can easily be used by our citizens because it’ll be easier for us to build our services than to buy off the shelf services. We need services that can easily be used in the different Nigerian languages and English as well as something that can easily connect with our people in terms of our culture and value. We are doing a lot on that and we’re looking forward to your partnership in digital literacy”.

He made reference to the impact made by Digital Identity which is anchored by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), confirming that what the commission has achieved within one and a half years is more than what has been achieved in the past 10years in terms of Digital Identity.

“When you are online, you need to be identified and the only way to achieve that is digital identity, we want every citizen to be identified online and offline”.

In the area of Data Protection, the Minister made it clear that the Federal Government established the National Data Protection Bureau to make sure the data protection is independent of any agency, stressing that the establishment has helped immensely to achieve more in terms of safeguarding and enabling the regulations.

“The government is trying to make sure everyone is carried along. I think the insight we got from the presentation is quite impressive, we will look at where we need to improve and where we need to consolidate on our achievement so that we can make sure every Nigerian benefits from the digital economy and every Nigerian knows how to use data for good. For the big tech, we are working with them to make sure they use data for profit and for humanity as well. We are working with them to come up with a code of practice as well as trying to come up with a law that will safeguard every Nigerian using the digital platform because”.

Prof. Pantami commended the World Bank Group Flagship Report and sued for a commitment from stakeholders towards harnessing the value of data to create prosperity for all.

Speaking earlier, the Country Director of World Bank, Shubham Chaudhuri said the body’s mandate is to work with the Government of Nigeria and helpline up support in delivering for the Nigerian people, concessional financing both at the Federal and sub-national level.

Chaudhuri emphasized that the projects are basically World Bank-supported Nigerian programmes and not World Bank’s as usually misconstrued in some quarters.

He expressed certainty that the potential of Nigeria will come to fruition if all hands are on deck.

While describing Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy with huge potential and market, he said the organization is willing to not just support the country financially but also contribute in other key areas, including institutional reforms and Policies.


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