Nigeria’s Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said government is determined to create an enabling environment for indigenous technology to thrive, thereby making Nigeria’s economy knowledge-driven and globally competitive.
He said this would help speed up the nation’s march towards economic diversification and create job opportunities for the citizens to thrive.
This assurance was made at the opening ceremony of the digital Africa Conference and exhibition taking place at the Shehu Yar’adua center Abuja, with the theme: The 4th Industrial revolution – Getting Africa Ready.
The acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo noted that adopting new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, drone and bio technology were vital.
Represented by the Honourable Minister of communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, the acting president noted that the Federal Government was determined to protect and project the local ICT sector, which would ensure Nigeria does not miss out on the 4th industrial revolution.
He emphasized government’s commitment to attract young entrepreneurs to create inventions that would make Nigeria a hub for technology.
“We have hubs all over the country, which serve as incubators for youths to focus on research and development. They don’t need to bother about rent, electricity, logistics and even mentoring. These hubs will be scaleable, which would help them develop their ideas into something that will be vital to technological inventions, thereby adding value to our economy,” he said.
The Acting President assured Nigerians that the local content policy on technology would be the basis for generating indigenous ideas suitable for national advancement.
He encouraged all Nigerians that have innovative ideas to liaise with the Ministry of Communications and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to make such ideas profitable.
To further boost local technologies, the Nigerian government set up a committee to work out modalities for the establishment of a University of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
In this regard, the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu said the proposed university would build up Nigeria’s local ICT manpower, since a lot of jobs in the ICT sector were occupied by foreigners.
“The university will be established to help Nigeria keep up with the speed and development of the evolving world of ICT. It will be a hands-on, knowledge-driven institution that will revolutionize Nigeria’s economy,” he said. “The current curriculum for computer studies in most Nigerian institutions is slow and has been made near-obsolete by the pushing power of disruptive technology; the proposed ICT University will address these shortcomings.”
The Chief Executive Officer of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Isa Pantami declared that the time had come for African countries to think global and act local.
Describing NITDA as the clearing house for technology services in Nigeria, Prof. Pantami said scaling up local technologies and mobilizing both public and private finance would create numerous profitable start-ups, as well as small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
“In implementing ICT projects, we must realize that Nigeria has a peculiar terrain. With our huge population, ICT should be next to oil and gas as our major revenue earner,” he pointed out. “But first we must ensure all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) adopt the most advanced, efficient new technologies to speed up service delivery and ensure the government’s agenda for development is realised.”
The chairman and chief convener of the Digital Africa conference, Dr. Evan Woherem, said this year’s edition focused on the 4th industrial revolution, because technology was evolving at an exponential, rather than a linear pace, which was disrupting all industries due to its velocity, scope and systems.
“Africa lost out massively on the gains of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. But the good news is that the current fourth revolution is a huge window of opportunity for the continent to benefit from”, Dr. Woherem said.
“We have a situation of varying degrees of development in parts of Africa; inadequate electricity, poor access to internet etc. Our luck is that with effective political will, accompanied by robust synergy between the public and private sectors, Africa would be unstoppable as the fourth industrial revolution would bridge the obvious gaps”, he said.
He noted that the conference would provide a platform for African countries to understand the benefits of new technology to unleash development.
The Digital Africa Conference is an annual event held to transform Africa from a passive consumer to a leading innovator and user of digital technology.