Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies to comply with ongoing transition of all government operations to digital platforms that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery, and promote more inter-agency synergy.
This is even as he has expressed happiness with the fact that last year’s directive to harmonize ICT supplies in all MDAs saved the nation N16.8 billion.
Buhari who spoke at the opening ceremony of the e-NIGERIA 2019 Conference on the Nigerian Digital Economy with the theme: “National Digital and Economy,”
held at the International Conference Centre (ICC).
According to the President, the transition to digital economy was no longer optional for the MDAs, but “an absolute necessity,’’ following the launch of the e-government master plan which will drive and guide the process.
Buhari noted that a directive in 2018 that all government funded ICT projects must be reviewed and cleared by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) saved the country over N16.8 billion.
“Our recent introduction of the Nigerian E-government Masterplan will further consolidate our successes to date and increase interoperability among the different Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
“A key requirement of the e-government Master plan is for all government institutions to create a Digital Transformation Technical Working Group that will work with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to ensure seamless and coordinated implementation of projects, programs and policies.
“Furthermore, the Nigerian e-Government Interoperability Framework, the Enterprise Architecture and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation are in place and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are expected to comply with these policies,” he said.
President Buhari said that the digitisation of key operations in public service such as the use of the Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) has enabled the government to save cost and fight corruption.
He said the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy will develop training and sensitization programmes which will be rolled out across all key MDAs with immediate effect to ensure seamless implementation of the master plan.
The President pointed out that the push for more job creation and diversification of the economy received a boost in the second quota with the ICT sector contributing 13.85 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), quoting figures from the National Bureau of Statistics for 2019.
“This clearly shows the importance and potential of the ICT sector to our job creation and economic diversification agenda.
“Already, Nigerian ICT startups are leaving their mark on the global stage. For example, at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), a Nigerian Artificial Intelligence solution provider, Chiniki Guards, took first place, beating 750 contestants from 73 countries. We shall continue to encourage and support such digital entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions for local and global challenges,” he added.
The President said the Federal Ministry of Communications was re-designated Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to refocus on the emerging value of digitalization all over the world with a mandate to develop and implement a harmonized and well-coordinated digital economy policy and strategy for Nigeria.
President Buhari, however, warned:
“Of course, as we celebrate the successes and explore the opportunities in this sector, we must remain mindful of its threats. We all know how the use of unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards by terrorists is a key national security threat.
“Today, I am informed that over 9.2 million SIM cards have either been normalized, blocked or deactivated in less than 40 days due to improper registration. We encourage all Nigerians to ensure that their phones are properly registered. As a Government, our priority is to protect the lives and properties of all Nigerians.’’
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, in his remarks said:
Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami says all stakeholders in the Information Communication Technology sector must continue to synergise, in order to take the country to higher levels in the technological world.
He made the call on Thursday, in his remarks at the opening of this year’s e-Nigeria conference, held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Pantami said that has been his area of focus, since he assumed office in August, as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
He said: “The first thing we did under the federal Ministry of Communications was to bring synergy and establish a pragmatic team. ICT has converged today so all stakeholders must converge with the aim of supporting one another in order to take the country to higher levels when it come to ICT.
“The first thing we did was to establish synergy within all the parastatals under the ministry and other bodies, that we feel are very important in delivering our mandate. This has supported us significantly and that is why for instance, even e-Nigeria conference for the first time is being hosted by all the parastatals under the ministry. This is a demonstration of the unity and synergy, without which it is absolutely difficult to achieve anything.”
On the successes so far recorded by the ministry, the Minister said a programme called digital job had since been launched and it is already yielding the desired results for the country.
“I can recall vividly on the 10th of September, we launched a programme called digital jobs where we started training unemployed youth and some were married women, to give them the digital skills in order to become entrepreneurs and we have achieved that significantly. In the pilot programme, so far, over 5000 Nigerians have benefited from the training and most of them are entrepreneurs today,” he said.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke who delivered the Keynote Address, noted that if government indeed wants to create jobs across the country, it must improved on infrastructure provision.