Samuel Atiku, an Information and Communication Technology, ICT, expert, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to adequately exploit the potential of ICT to develop the youth and create more employment.
Mr Atiku, Head of Research, BudgiT, told newsmen in Lagos that the government could include youth-driven, ICT-based programmes in its economic diversification agenda.
BudgiT is a civic startup that liberates budgets and public data from an inactive state into a more engaging format, mostly through infographics and interactive application with the aim of improving civic discussions and institutional reform.
Mr Atiku said: “In Nigeria, about 75 per cent of the population is below the age of 40.
“It is not out of place for the government to have agenda to train about 10 million youths to become software developers within two years.
“We are yet to take full advantage of the possibilities of an ICT-driven education in Nigeria.
“In the U.S., for instance, there is a labour plan to train about three million people to become software developers.’’
Mr Atiku noted that ICT sector cut into education, publishing, broadcasting, newspapering and others.
“Information communication and technology is bigger than it looks.
“According to research, the universality of ICT has made it an indispensable media for transacting every aspect of human and material resources in the world.
“This trend of development has provided significant changes in the lives of thousands of youths in the developing world,’’ he said.
Mr Atiku said that rapid development in ICT in Nigeria had provided enormous job opportunities and contributed meaningfully to national development.
Mr Atiku said that the ICT industry had immensely increased Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
According to him, the ICT sector in Nigeria had in recent time provided more employment opportunities than the country’s oil and gas sector.
Recall that the Nigeria Communications Commission recently said that the quarterly contribution of the ICT sector to Nigeria’s GDP increased to N1.6 trillion from N1.4 trillion, making the sector to be contributing nearly 10 per cent to the GDP annually.
Therefore, according to Mr Atiku, more infrastructures should be put in place to increase ICT’s contribution to the country’s GDP.
He added that universities were not teaching technology adequately, advising that the Federal Government’s diversification agenda should be approached from an education perspective.
He said that there were still issues surrounding the payment system in the country.
“If somebody wants to transfer money to you from the U.S., for example, the process is still very rigorous.
“The government needs to work closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria to adopt payment systems that would allow seamless transactions,” he said.
He said that the country would need to run an open economy to lead in ICT in Africa.
Jide Awe, Chairman, Conferences Committee, Nigeria Computer Society, also affirmed that the ICT sector had contributed significantly to the country’s GDP.
Mr Awe said that much employment opportunities had been created through innovation in the ICT sector.
He also said that a lot of transactions had been made seamless through the use of ICT.
“In the financial sector, the systems of payments are more efficient; money transfer can be done online within the comfort of your home.
“One cannot ignore the improvements in infrastructure because, now, we have internet access which has enabled creation of applications such as financial and tech apps.
“The telecom sector, especially, has created tonnes of jobs for our youths,’’ he said.
He also noted that ICT cut across governance, financial system, educational, agriculture and more.
“ICT is becoming a norm; this is evident in countries such as Singapore, Japan, China and India, where ICT is making tremendous impacts.
He urged a more conducive environment for local ICT production.
“Right now, most of the ICT contributions we have are dependent on foreign ideas.
“The government needs to create an environment for more local ICT production,” he said.