President Muhammadu Buhari, has described ICT as a major driver of developmental governance and economic reforms.
The president said this at the opening ceremony of the 2017 e-Nigeria Conference held at the International Conference Center, Abuja with the theme– “Fostering a Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulation”
“ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy. Currently, almost all sectors of our economy leverage on ICT to increase efficiency, productivity and performance.
According to him, “the sector has recorded huge investments and contributes over 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and we are making conscious efforts to see that this contribution continues to grow in the next few years.
He however, lamented that about 80% of ICT hardware purchases are imported through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments. “This makes it difficult for us to benefit from the dividends of continuous procurement and consumption of ICT infrastructure and limited value retention within the country.
He stressed that, “as the most populous country in Africa, there are huge opportunities for ICT manufacturing in Nigeria. This, when harnessed, will provide job opportunities for our teaming youths, enhance the quality of locally produced infrastructure, reduce cost of acquisition and increase government revenue.
“There is, therefore, the need for deliberate efforts, both from government as well as the private sector to see to the realization of this.
He urged the participants to come up with viable recommendations on “how we can make the country an export hub for ICT hardware in Africa.
“This administration recently issued an Executive Order mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services.
“Such measures are part of the deliberate efforts at encouraging local manufacture of ICT infrastructure, creating job opportunities, providing investment opportunities as well as strengthening our currency.
“In this respect, I hope this conference will come up with practical, viable solutions and recommendations to further develop local content in ICT as well as how we can best regulate the deployment and use of ICT systems to foster a digital economy in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, DG National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Isa Pantami, said ICT stakeholders are brought together to discuss indigenous ICT innovations, technology innovations and how to provide jobs for our youth.
“NITDA has carefully selected the theme to address critical areas in the sector. Our unemployment rate is very alarming and to address it is to create jobs through ICT.
According to him, “Nigeria is on a good position to use ICT to address its economic challenges…this is an indication that we have a lot to benefit from digital information.
According to him, NITDA has saved the country N2.5billion from its policy and regulation on MDA’s ICT infrastructure purchase.
“The agency has saved a lot of money for the Federal Government through regulations. We realized that MDA’s have been siphoning monies through ICT purchases.
Minister of Communications Technology, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, said, eNigeria is Nigerians annual information Communication technology conference that provides the platform to discuss relevant information technology issues.
The sector has contributed 12.58 percent to the GDP.
He however lamented that despite the directive on purchase of made in Nigeria ICT products, patronage is still very low. Nonetheless, “enforcement of regulations and guidelines will be upheld for the growth of ICT in Nigeria.
Attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, represented by Dayo Apata, said, “there is need to do more through the ICT innovation funds to provide funding for ICT manufacturers.