Federal government through the Ministry of Communications is set to unveil Digital Single Market in Nigeria in collaboration with the European Union Commission.
Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications, made this disclosure in Lagos on Tuesday at the 2017 Information Communication Technology & Telecommunication Expo (2017 ICTEL Expo) held at the Eko Hotel & Suites.
Speaking on the theme: The Digital Economy: Strategies For Growth in a Connected World, as the Special Guest of Honour, the minister said this collaboration is timely and coming at a time the ministry is making concerted efforts to implement its ICT Strategic Roadmap, e-Government and Mobile Broadband Plans.
According to him, the size of Nigeria makes it the most lucrative investment destination in sub-Sahara Africa with a high return on investments and an emerging market that made it one of the new frontiers for investments and Digital Market consideration.
Towards achieving this, the minister stated that he had instructed that a committee is raised comprising the Ministry’s agencies and the Nigerian Computer Society on the new Digital Single Market paradigm ahead of the EU/Africa Summit holding November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Shittu who spoke extensively on efforts of the Ministry of Communications to implement Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda by leveraging on ICT said this administration has hinged the Economic Recovery plans on ICTs as well as with fiscal and strategies policies.
These efforts, he said, are codified in a document known as the ICT Roadmap which components include; the hosting of the Smart Cities Summit, precisely on the 8thand 9th of August, 2017; establishment of an ICT University; establishment of a National ICT Park and Exhibition Centre at the Abuja Technology Village; establishment of a secretariat for implementation of the eGovernment master plan, and establishment of an Electronic Document management system, among others.
The minister noted that the ICT Sector has in the past year, recorded landmark activities and significant achievements.
“The environment for greater achievements has thus been created. Now, there is greater access to ICT and Nigerians are today better able to use ICT, thus integrating them into the global digital economy and its benefits. Although challenges still abound, implementation of already mapped out initiatives and programmes will ensure the optimal transformation of Nigeria to a true SMART State”, he said.
He said government is determined to leverage ICT and break its monopoly and open up the economy to foreign investors just as it did in the telecom sector.
“Despite coming up with the economic growth and recovery plan, we are determined to actualize the contents of our very comprehensive ICT Roadmap. This, to my mind, is imperative for the country’s highly import-dependent and consumption-driven economy.
“Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a technology-driven World. The success of any venture without technology is doubtful. The Information & Communications Technology has become a catalyst for success in virtually all sectors of our economy and even in our socio-political landscape.
“This Government is working hard to ensure that all needed infrastructure is in place for the desired growth in the sector, thus helping our national development agenda.”
Shittu urged the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to mobilise the Private Sector for the needed collaboration with the Government so that adequate local and foreign investments can be sourced for the sector.
He also enjoined the Chamber to key into Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, to revive the economy as well as exploring the enormous potentials of the sector to advance the economy.
Commending the importance of event, the minister said, “I can tell you categorically that the ICTEL Expo is worthwhile and has contributed immensely to the development of the sector”, while urging the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organizers of ICTEL Expo to sustain the event for the benefit of Nigeria.
Earlier, Dr. (Mrs) Nike Akande, president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said there was no best time to harness the benefits of ICT than now when the Nigerian economy is in dire need of diversification.
She reaffirmed that ICT was strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy. "Today, virtually all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance. This is evident in the financial services sector, where electronic banking is now the vogue; the agricultural sector, where government allocates farm inputs through mobile phones to farmers; the consumer goods sector where online stores and e-commerce has brought an incredible transformation to retail business; the medical sciences where ICT applications are now being widely used for efficiency and many more. The fact is that ICT has become the backbone of businesses.
She said, although, Nigeria has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its ICT sector over the past two decades. "But there are still enormous potentials yet untapped. This Expo is one of the major platforms that offer opportunities to unlock these potentials," she said.
The LCCI President added that, as the foremost private sector body in Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber is providing, through the Expo, a credible platform to advance the opportunities and linkages in the world of ICT.