Minister berates low response to ICT by Nigerians

GDPWITH an average of 9.58 per cent contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and rated as one of the fastest growing sector in the Nigerian economy, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has said that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry has no commensurate impact on the Nigeria citizens.
The minister expressed this in his keynote address titled: “Continuing Innovation While Innovating Continuity: Creating a SMART Digital Nigeria” at the maiden Communication Sector Retreat held in Ibadan, Oyo State, at the weekend.
The minister said the challenges of service deficiencies, from broadband penetration to last mile fibre optic connectivity, and infrastructure deficit are preventing Nigerians from gaining affordable and reliable access.
Shittu said the priority of the Ministry of Communication was to create enabling infrastructure required to support and grow the ICT market.
According to him, SMART strategy of the government would reduce the cost of governance while making revenue generation easier government.
He expressed government would promote online payments and support the enforcement of the payment of taxes and levies such as stamp duties while also using technology to ensure accountability in both private and public sectors.
The sector potentials, according to him, have not been fully harnessed to enable the citizens feel the impact, stressing that the 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.
The minister, who recently led an industry delegation to China and after discussions with the investment community and unveiling investment potential in the Nigerian ICT sector, the Chinese investors have decided to come to the country to invest about $15 billion into ICT sector.
Shittu, who last week returned from two international conferences on space technology in Belarus and China where he marketed Nigeria’s cyberspace and telecommunications sector potential to foreign investors. This visit also coincided with the award of a Carrier Spectrum Management (CSM) contract to one of the agencies in the ministry, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), by the Republic of Belarus.
The minister said that the ICT retreat is a key element for inclusive as well as progressive diversification and development of Nigeria’s economy.
Also speaking, the Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, while declaring opens the retreat, noted that ICT was useful n virtually all human life.
Ajimobi, who commended the minister for organizing the retreat, said that ICT had come to the rescue of the dwindling economy as a result of the decline in the world price oil.
He called on the stakeholders to produce a blueprint for the growth of the sector and improvement in employment in the country.

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