The Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, has said that the full implementation of the Ministry’s blueprint recently released, should see Nigeria become a net exporter of technology in another four years.
Tijani said everything is being done currently to ensure that the country moves from becoming a consuming nation to producer, stressing that technology will be very crucial in achieving this.
Speaking yesterday on a television programme, witnessed by The Guardian, he said the potential of Nigeria’s ICT sector remains huge, stressing that the industry has contributed immensely to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the tune of over 18 per cent.
He said to achieve more from the sector, the country needs to be more intentional with driving the ICT sector. He pointed out that the various skills acquisition and training planned by the ministry should see Nigeria exporting technology abroad in another four years.
“Today, unlike other regions, Europe, America and the likes with aging demographics, 60 per cent of Nigerians are young and youthful with the required energy to develop. We shall explore these demographics. Technology is going to help leapfrog development in Nigeria and rub off well on the economy,” he stated.
Tijani disclosed that the Federal Government will open applications for its three million digital skill empowerment programme today (Friday). He said the application will be for both trainers and individuals hoping to get technical skills.
According to him, the first phase of the programme would be targeted at 30,000 Nigerians, saying “Starting from this Friday, you will see applications being released for both trainers and those who want to be fellows.
“So everything we’re going to do, we won’t start by saying we want to train 3 million people. The approach we are going to take is we are going to start with one per cent of that, in the first zero to three months.”
“The model will be that we are starting with one per cent of our three million target and that is going to run for the first three months. And that one per cent is going to be 30,000 people. It sounds like a lot. But one thing we’ve also done is if you take the 36 states of the country and you break down that 30,000.”
Further, he said the industrial cluster in Aba, Abia State would be explored greatly, stressing that a centre for development would be set up there to explore, especially in the development of hardware products for the ICT industry, “because those people are really doing a lot in that space. We have the capabilities to produce hardware in Nigeria and Aba can be a launchpad. We can leverage that space by bringing in new technology to aid what they are doing. There is also Alaba Market and the Computer Village in Lagos.”
Speaking on the challenges facing the sector, where some 568 firms have become moribund, Tijani said: “The globe had gone through a lot in the last three years, even with the coming of COVID-19, economic slowdown, among others. The challenges are noted. We shall use policies, not as regulatory tools to stifle but bring more players on board.
“The challenges are huge. We must encourage more technology companies to come up and not go down. This must also be mentioned that the country has also produced some big firms, including Flutterwave, Andela, among others. We also have brands such as MTN, Airtel becoming bigger. We will do everything within our means to keep players from collapsing. More technology, especially local players, must be encouraged to stay afloat and that would be done with policies,” Tijani stated.