The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to integrate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) into the socio-economic development of the country, to transform the economy to knowledge-based. According to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Musa Istifanus, Nigeria must work to harness all efforts towards this end.
Istifanus, at the 7th Regular Meeting of the National Council on Communications and Digital Economy themed ‘Leveraging the gain of ICT in Developing and Implementing Digital Economy Strategy in Nigeria’ in Gombe State, said that connectivity, capacity building and inter-agency collaboration were key factors that would bridge the digital gap and enhance technology development across the nation.
His words, “The policy thrusts of the ministry clearly articulate government’s intent in a number of thematic areas among which are local content development, ICT research, development and innovation, investment and funding, inter-agency cooperation in ICT hardware production, universal access and service internet and broadband.”
He pointed out that society had realized the gains of ICT and that government was committed to utilizing these possibilities with new policy interventions that would be required to address global challenges in areas such as the digital economy and local challenges of social cohesion, escalating healthcare costs, ageing society and lifestyle changes.
Istifanus said, “New technologies (devices, mobility) and technology capabilities (interoperability, security, data analytics) offer new ways to make this achievable. The society is moving towards transparency. There are initiatives to increase engagement with the citizen, attract usage, develop increased levels of thrust and improve service delivery. ICT offers the best platform to achieve this.”
He urged the participants to take advantage of the many sessions at the meeting to come up with solutions to challenges in present-day realities and take advantage of the networking opportunities available to forge strategic partnership towards realizing the vision of a new Nigeria. Earlier, the Gombe State Commissioner for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Aishatu Maigari, thanked the minister for choosing the state to host the council meeting.
Delivering a paper entitled ‘Harnessing New Opportunity Areas for Mobile Money Adoption in Nigeria’, Academic Director, Lagos Business School (LBS), Professor Olayinka David-West, lamented that only four percent increase in digital payments was recorded since 2016. She further revealed that out of the estimated 99.8 million adults in Nigeria, only 3.3 million are Mobile Money (MM) users, and of the 36.8 percent excluded, most are women.