By Ismaheel Ojo
The Information and Communication, ICT, sector has been described as a viable sector that could stabilise the nation’s economy if properly harnessed because Nigeria’s communications sector has been regarded as the fastest growing telecommunication market in Africa. With this feat, the ICT, sector should begin to receive adequate attention, especially at a time when diversification of the nation’s economy was paramount.
Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu stated this while delivering a keynote address at the Nigeria communications sector retreat held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Oyo State where he also disclosed that Nigeria loses $287 million worth revenue annually on software piracy.
His keynote address was entitled: â€œContinuing Innovation While Innovating Continuity: Creating A SMART Digital Nigeriaâ€ and the event was the maiden Communication Sector Retreat in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said that Information Technology (IT) outsourcing and e-Commerce sector alone could employ over 40 million Nigerians and contribute billions of dollars to the economy when appropriately channeled and nurtured.
He noted that ICT was the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and second largest in Africa, the minister however, said that despite this huge potential, the ICT sectorâ€™s commensurate impact had not been felt in the lives of many Nigerians.
He disclosed that ICT contributes about 9.58 per cent as much to GDP as Oil and Gas, adding that it is arguably one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and is the second largest, soon to be the largest, ICT market in Africa.
â€œWe believe we can considerably increase government receipts within the sector,â€ he said, adding that a technology savvy workforce and SMART government play pivotal role in raising revenue for government, improving efficiency, eliminating waste and generating employment for Nigeriaâ€™s teeming masses.
In line with this, the Ministry of Communications organised a two-day communication sector retreat to enable stakeholders brainstorm on strategies to explore the ICT sector.
Shittu noted that the present administration was ready to utilise the potentials of the sector to ensure productivity, provide employment opportunities and improve the nation’s economy and explained that the ministry was working to ensure Nigeria became a preferred destination in West Africa for training, skill transfer, technology leadership and investment on ICT. The minister said the time had come to fully embrace ICT in the country, which according to him, was part of the change agenda of the present administration.
Barrister Shittu also stated that the ministry was putting measures in place to ensure every Nigerian had access to ICT and improved quality of service delivery.
In a remark, Chairman, Senate Committee on ICT, Senator Fatia Buhari said the present National Assembly was poised to giving priority to the sector through the enactment of laws that would make Nigeria a leading state in ICT.
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi also emphasisedÂ Â the need to repositioning the nation’s ICT in the wake of current economic meltdown.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication, Architect Sonny Echono expressed optimism that the retreat would help define strategic road map for government on ICT development.