By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the digital economy has the potentials and offers opportunities for diversification from the oil and gas economy to put Nigeria on the global map of digitally prosperous nations of the world.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, stated this in his presentation at the Civil Society Roundtable on Digital Economy on Tuesday, in Abuja.
The title of his presentation was: “Understanding the Gains of the Department of Digital Economy towards Economy Diversification and Social Prosperity”.
The event was organized by the Civil Society Group for Good Governance (CSGGG), with support from NCC, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), among other partners.
Danbatta said Nigeria had 187 million mobile lines with 98.39 per cent tele-density in the country, adding that Nigeria, therefore, possessed all that it takes to reap huge gains from the digital economy.
“The Digital Economy offers Nigeria the opportunity to grow and diversify its economy from over-dependence on oil and gas.
“The Digital Economy is worth over $11.5 trillion globally, accounting for 15.5 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product. Nigeria can tap into this.
“However, we have three components of the Digital Economy and they are Infrastructure, Innovative services and Entrepreneurship products/digital skills.
“Capitalizing on the digital economy to improve the economy is a great possibility, because, you can see that, Uber, the world largest Taxi Company has no vehicle. Facebook has no content, but yet they are making billions of dollars,’’ Danbatta said.
The NCC boss disclosed that the Federal Government had launched two strategy documents for the development of the digital economy that include the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2013-2018, and 2020-2025.
“The second document is the Nigerian Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030. This has about eight pillars which has to do with digital regulations, literacy and skills, solid infrastructure, content promotion and adoption and many others,” he said.
Danbatta explained that the challenges facing the Commission included vandalism, infrastructure gap, right of way, Forex issues, and duplication of functions.
He, however, said that in spite of the challenges, there was hope for a digitally mature structure in Nigeria to solve issues, promote collaborations on a larger scale and prospects of e-governance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Danbatta was represented at the event by Dr Augustine Nwaulune, the Director, Digital Economy Department at NCC.
Speaking, The Director-General of NITDA, Dr Inuwa Abdullahi, represented by Dr Aminu Lawal, observed that digitisation had come to stay in Nigeria and that “it is for us to follow the trend”.
“NITDA is doing a lot to ensure that Nigeria achieved its goals as set out in the National Digital Economy Policy Strategy Document.
“On digital innovation and entrepreneurship, we are doing a lot to promote and see that more jobs are created; currently we are collaborating with MIT, Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Scholarship Scheme and many others.
“The Agency has train over 6,000 youths on Digital Entrepreneurship across the country. We taught them how to develop content and sell their products and services online.”
Also speaking, the Convener and President of CSGGG, Mr Dominic Ogakwu, said that there were gaps between those with digital literacy and those without.
He stressed that the essence of the programme was to create awareness in the youths to seize on the opportunity of the digital space to do legitimate business, create wealth and positively contribute to the economy of the country and the world in general.
Dr Ahmed Adamu, a lecturer at Nile University, in his presentation on “Maximising the potentials of digital entrepreneurship for youth empowerment and self-reliance”, called on youths to use the Internet to make a decent living.
Adamu said Internet fraud does not pay, and that youths should develop digital skills and be courageous to delay gratification for a better future.
Meanwhile, Mrs Theresa Ushie, the President and Founder of the Nigerian Rural Women and Girl Child Initiative, noted that during census, women and girls were counted, and so they also needed to be carried along in digitisation.
Ushie noted that the Digital Economy had changed the way we work, talk and relate with each other in the world, which made life easier and more interesting.
“Thus, a digital economy can provide women means of earning a living and can also allow them to contribute their quota to the overall development of the country’’.
In his address, Mr Solomon Adodo, the President, National Youth Council of Nigeria, called on youths to shun Internet fraud and capitalize on the digital economy to create wealth and improve the country’s economy.
NAN reports that the event attracted stakeholders, including officials from the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, NCC, NITDA, Nile University, among others. (NAN)