Sunday, April 11, 2021

Digital Economy: Impossibility not in Nigeria’s dictionary – Pantami


Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan is a 30-year-old graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has said that ‘impossibility’ is not in Nigeria’s dictionary, as far as developing the country’s a digital economy is concerned.

Mr Pantami made the statement in an interview with newsmen during the closing of the just concluded 2020 Gulf Information Technology Exhibition, GITEX, in Dubai.

The minister stressed the need for the Nigerian government and its citizens to have the zeal, will as well as determination in harnessing digital technology.

Mr Pantami noted that much of the global emerging technology surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to solve the problems of mobility and physical interactions.

He added that Nigeria was also not left behind as its digital skills were polished with the creation of its Digital Academy.

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According to him, over 120,000 Nigerians enrolled in the academy and more than 80,000 had obtained a certification; either in Artificial Intelligence, Robotic, Cyber-security or cloud computing.

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I have also seen Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority to engage the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello as well as other state governors that are proactive and progressing.

He said: “I have visited the FCT minister once on the idea of creating a ‘Smart Abuja’ or creating a ‘Smart City’ within the FCT which will be automated and digitalized.

“We also have digitally inclined governors that I want to engage, sell the idea to them as well as encourage them to visit the place and see.

“We already have estate developers that are already working on smart estates in the FCT one of which will be commissioned in December.

“This means we can go beyond an estate to a full blown city or town as the case may be.”

On the advantages of the smart city, Mr Pantami said it comes with a lot of security as well as making life easy.

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He added that it brings peace of mind which is one of the benefits of technology.

While lamenting that Artificial Intelligence could terminate many jobs, Mr Pantami, however, said it paves way for many other job opportunities, as well as increasing revenue generation.

Speaking on the feature of Nigeria’s digital journey, Mr Pantami said with all the challenges Nigeria is facing, it still makes tremendous progress.

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He said: “For the first time in history on 23rd October 2019, Nigeria had a full blown Ministry of Digital Economy.

“We also developed the National Digital Economy Policy for a Digital Nigeria 2020-2030. The implementation so far is commendable.”

He noted that Nigeria had already exceeded a limit earlier set to achieve by the end of 2020 in terms of broadband penetration, digital skills, indigenous content and many more.

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On the area of broadband penetration, Mr Pantami said, Nigeria had been able to achieve its target for 2020-2021.

With this, he said, the journey so far has been encouraging, commendable as well as challenging.

On Nigeria’s major take-home from the GITEX, Mr Pantami said he had a virtual engagement with the Minister of Intelligence of the United Arab Emirate.

According to him, the major take-away is that the UAE has been proactive in the area of digital transformation.

Mr Pantami also acknowledged the country’s will in taking risks in digitalization.

On the Nigerian startups that were at Dubai, Mr Pantami said only one pitching was allowed for the startups to display their inventions where potential investors would see what interests them.

According to him, many investors had shown interest, adding that their investment would be of benefit to Nigeria in general.

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