Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, has forecasted that the Nigerian economy would be 21 per cent digital by 2021.
The Minister, while speaking at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria’s (CIBN) 2020 Graduates’ Induction and Prize Award’s Day, said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the digitalisation in the growth of any country’s economy.
Mr Pantami noted that there has never been a more urgent time to fast track digital transformation in Nigeria, saying thay the digital economy drive is aimed at rapidly enhancing digital identification, broadband penetration, how bank accounts are run, etc.
While stressing the need for professionals to develop more innovative digital tools and competencies, the Minister said activities in the banking, customs, and ports sectors, including revenue collections are being digitalised.
He further noted that broadband penetration at the end of July rose to over 43 per cent an almost 10 per cent increase in less than a year. He said compared to the usual two% penetration witnessed in the years before, this is a remarkable step in the digital direction.
Pantami went on to disclose that the Ministry was working to ensure that indigenous digital solution providers and entrepreneurs get preference, saying that the current administration is committed to consuming what it produces.
‘The latest Quarter Two (Q2) 2020 report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed about to 17.83 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from 13.85 per cent in the same period of 2019.
‘Yet, the digital economy was not included in the disclosed figure. If the digital economy was added, it would have risen well above 45 per cent to GDP,’ Pantami added.
Also speaking, the President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, Bayo Olugbemi, in his speech, charged professionals to take advantage of the digital economy to shape the future of the banking industry.
He said it was in recognition of the important role the banking and finance industry plays in the growth and development of the economy that the Institute decided to x-ray the topic, “Digital Economy: The Role of Professional Bankers.”
According to him, COVID-19 accelerated the pace of the digital revolution, making it imperative for Nigeria to rethink its approach to the digital economy, which has become the new normal.
He maintained that technology has caused significant disruption in the financial sector, noting that the implication of the revolution to the Institution was that professional bankers need to acquire new skills, to be able to combine digital awareness with great people skills.
His words: ‘I believe that highly qualified, knowledgeable, skilled, dedicated, customer-focused banking professionals will shape the future of banking, as much as the new technologies that are transforming the financial-services industry will.’
Also, Olugbemi disclosed that about 1,864 candidates were admitted into the various categories of membership of the Institute, with 899 admitted into the ACIB, 41 into Chartered Banker MBA, 22 into MSc/ACIB, and 902 into Microfinance Certification programmes, cutting across countries like Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra-Leone.