Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Musa Istifanus has reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to continuing to leverage on ICT technologies to help defeat COVID-19.
He stated this at a Zoom Webinar conference on Pan-Nigeria Economy Intervention Forum (PANEIF) in collaboration with ICT stakeholders, themed: Post COVID-19 Technology Intervention Towards Economy Rediscovery.
Istifanus said the Ministry will continue to collaborate with the relevant public and private stakeholders on the acquisition of requisite sectoral skills and competences in the overall efforts to leverage ICT to solve our problems.
He said COVID-19 has further showed how connected and inter-linked the world and the need to check coherence of policies and programmes across the ICT sectors noting that the initiative is apt and couldn’t have come at a better time than now.
According to him, “We have to embrace a whole of society approach, where everyone’s voice and input in planning and implementation counts, whilst finding the best ways to cushion the challenges this pandemic has brought.”
Istifanus charged them to make the best use of the webinar and pointed out that there is the need to improve efficiency in the use of our scare resources and be much more innovative and come up with creative strategies and platforms for mobilizing policy interventions in these trying times.
He said COVID-19 has made the world a more challenging place than ever. He stressed that the Ministry will acquaint itself creditably and remain focus on the implementation of laudable programmes and projects that will turn around the fortunes of the country.
In his presentation from South Africa, Mr. Andile Ngcaba stated that Nigeria Digital infrastructure is critical to the development of the digital economy in the continent and urged Nigeria to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Robotic Technology, 5G in the public and private sector.
He said Nigeria has the capacity to lead the continent and supply other African countries ICT services and expressed the need for Africans to share ideas and build partnership to address global challenges through innovative solutions.
Ngcaba urged Africa countries to surprise the world by digitalizing informal sector using digital tools such as open data systems, digital plant recipes, plant coding, cloud computing, and servers.
In his contribution, the coordinator Local Content for Development, Mr. Inye Kemabonta pointed out that COVID-19 was the best things to happen to Nigeria because it brings great opportunities in the disruption of normal situations and opportunity to look inwards.
According to him, “ICT is an answer to COVID-19 and full implementation of the Nigeria content program is the obvious key to economy recovery” and urged the taskforce to adopt a Nigeria first attitude in ICT as an initiative and passionately call and appeal to government to fully and rigorously implement its Nigeria Content Policy.
He commended the government for the enactment of executive order on local content and urged Federal Ministry of Finance to immediately give duty exception to Nigeria Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEMs) for the import of CKD parts already certified by NITDA to enable them assemble ICT equipment such as temperature monitors and other devices needed during this pandemic and for the creation of manufacturing jobs.
The Executive Director, Centre for Cyber Space Studies, Nasarawa State University, Dr. Uche M. Mbanaso pointed out that there is a huge disconnect between the industry, academia, and the government.
He recommended complete overhaul of Nigeria education system to make the system functional noting that the ICT industry, academia and the government must work together and ensure that Research and Development (R&D) is demand driven.
Mbanaso added that accreditation of courses in the tertiary institutions must involve ICT industry stakeholders, Professional and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).