FG to set up ICT development bank by Jide Ayobolu

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Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications, has stated that plans are underway by the Federal Government to set up an ICT Development Bank that will provide funding for the industry in order to promote and encourage young entrepreneurs in Information Communication Technology, ICT.

The minister disclosed this in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State, during the launch of the Bayelsa Ecosystem and Ignition Week, organized by the Young Innovators of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bayelsa State Government.

Represented by Mr. Peter Jack, former director general, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, the minister noted that the ICT Bank will among other services, reduced the dependence on commercial banks for funding and also offer lower interest rates and grow the ICT industry.

He hinted that in pursuant of the ministry’s mandate of leveraging ICT in its entire ramifications and in order to promote local manpower of ICT sector, the ministry was implementing as part of the 2017 budget, incubation hubs across the six geopolitical zones in the country so as to boost empowerment and growth in the sector.

He said: “The ministry is also thinking of promoting the establishment of the ICT development bank just like the Bank of Agriculture and Bank of Industry so as to promote and assist the immediate funding of the ICT industry instead of depending on commercial banks which have high interest rates.

“The current administration at the federal level has been conscious of the role of ICT and has , therefore , been committed over the last three years to ensuring that ICT facilities and services are expanded rapidly across the country .

We are working round the clock to ensure that very soon the broadband penetration in the country would have risen above 20 per cent. Let me also state here that the achievement of 30 percent growth in broadband by the end of 2018 is sacrosanct.

Also, the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, says Information and Communication Technology (ICT) could grow and sustain the Nigerian economy. He spoke in Ibadan at the Eminent Person Business Lecture organized by University of Ibadan School of Business (UISB). Shittu had delivered a lecture entitled: “Maximizing the Potentials of the Telecommunications Industry for Reversing Recession and the Economic Growth of Nigeria.’’

The minister said that the diversification of the Nigerian economy would not be enough to take the country out of recession except the process was done by leveraging on ICT in an effective and efficient manner.

“The country is presently in a recession, but it is not because we are in it that we are concerned.

“We are concerned because each time there is a sharp drop in prices, we enter into a recession and we want to make sure that this cycle does not continue.

“And the only way we can do so is to diversify the economy by leveraging on ICT and moving the economy from being resource-based which it has been since independence,” he said. Shittu stated that the role of ICT and telecommunications was very significant and critical in any society, particularly in Nigeria, which was striving to be a new nation by leveraging on ICT. He said that the telecom sector alone contributed over 60 million dollars to the nation’s economy in the last 17 years of its existence.

“Given its immense contributions to economic growth, we are working assiduously with the National Assembly to declare all telecom infrastructure across Nigeria‘s critical National Assets,’’ he said.

The minister said that the there was compelling need for policy intervention in the form of a digital service strategy. Shittu also said that the high cost of governance in comparison with digital service delivery, low level transparency, accountability and considerable resource leakages must not continue.

“The policy concept rests on a vision which envisaged the development of a sound digital infrastructure.

“This is pivotal to effective, efficient, transparent and accountable service delivery for improved quality of the social and economic life for the citizenry,” he said.

He said that the industry currently provides more employment than the oil and gas sector, adding that the industry contributed about 10 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“The time has come to fully embrace ICT to enhance transparency and good governance if we really are to fulfil the ‘change’ mandate Nigerians voted President Muhammadu Buhari to bring about.

“It is arguably one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and is the second largest ICT market in Africa. “Industry analysts have extrapolated that ICT tools and devices, software solution, IT outsourcing and e-commerce sectors alone could employ over 40 million Nigerians and contribute billions of dollars to our economy,’’ he added.

Shittu said that the mission was to deploy ICT in all the sectors in a very effective and efficient manner so as to diversify the economy in a sustainable manner. He said that it was important to maximise the potentials and remained competitive for the economy to be strong to withstand shocks.

“Otherwise, after sometime, we will relapse to what the situation used to be and the problems would start again,” he said.

Dr Umar Mustapha, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Ibadan, said that there was still hope for the nation, considering the contribution of ICT to GDP and the millions of job it created. Mustapha commended the Federal Government on the proposed construction of eight ICT hubs across the nation.

Prof. Idowu Olayinka, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, stated that UISB was established with a vision to make it the most preferred fountain of knowledge in business education, research and management.

Olayinka said that the establishment was not only for regional development but for the productive integration of the African continent into the global economy.

There is no doubt that Information and Communication Technology has found its niche in every sphere of Nigeria’s polity. Information and Communication Technology has been defined as “a broad based technology (including its methods, management and application) that supports the creation, storage, manipulation and communication of information”.

Also, information technology means a set of tools that helps you work with information and perform tasks related to information processing”.

Actually, the term originated as Information Technology (IT) until recently when it was thought that the communication component ought to be highlighted because of its significance. It was then that the concept transformed to Information and Communication Technology ICT. The ICT industry appears to be making significant in road into the Nigeria society. Prior to 1999, ICT resources and facilities were grossly limited in the country.

Only very few wealthy Nigerians had access to these facilities and services. Internet facilities and services were rare to come by and the facsimile (ie. Fax) remained for a long time, the only means available to Nigerians for transmitting and receiving data or documents to other parts of the world. Public awareness of ICT and its application was low.

Connectivity—whether the Internet or mobile phones—is increasingly bringing market information, financial services, health services—to remote areas, and is helping to change people’s lives in unprecedented ways.

New information and communications technologies (ICT), in particular high-speed internet, are changing the way. companies do business, transforming public service delivery and democratizing innovation. With 10 percent increase in high speed Internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent. The mobile platform is emerging as the single most powerful way to extend economic opportunities and key services to millions of people.

ICT provides economic opportunities to both urban and rural populations. One common contribution is that it increases productivity and makes the market work more efficiently, although the magnitude of the impact on economic growth is likely to be different. The fact that virtually all new mobile customers in the coming years will be in developing countries, and more specifically in rural areas, means that the ICT platform is reaching population with low levels of income and literacy. As a result, ICT is becoming the largest distribution platform of providing public and private services to millions of people in rural and poor areas. Market information, financial services, education and health services had largely been unavailable in those areas in the past due to lack of connectivity of any kind. Now the wireless platform is promoting new economic and social opportunities at all levels for the poor population.

The potential attributes and benefits of ICT to policy makers in the society have been accepted as imperative paradigm. To all intents and purposes, ICT is the acclaimed engine room of modern day global development and sustainable growth. In the same vein, no institution or organization can still rely only on the traditional printed information resources to perform efficiently. The infusion of ICT into public administration enhances efficiency in the delivery of services to the people.  ICT helps in taking high quality decisions and at the same time saves time. It is in line with the laudable roles that the federal government of Nigeria in order to ensure the full exploitation of the potentials of ICTs in sustainable democracy laid foundation for e-government in Nigeria.

Countries that have adopted and applied electronic services (ICT) to their operations have witnessed dramatic improvement in their development efforts. For countries such as Singapore, United States, Canada, Japan and most European nations, ICT is a strong tool for sustainable development and improving governance, widening democratic space, increasing productivity, administrative effectiveness and cost saving. It is not surprising therefore that the application of ICT in governance is engendering much concern in many countries of the world.

The economic benefit of telecommunications is enormous, both as a growing industry in its own right and in terms of its influence on economic development. Telecommunications is making the world a smaller place and creating new information highways of high speed electronic data exchange. The economic implication of ICT are far-reaching; mobile telephones, satellite television and automatic teller machines are just a few examples of the way in which ICT is changing how people communicate, become informed or do business.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) network is the basic facility through which information needs of industry, commerce and agriculture can be satisfied. Industrial development requires the coordination of a series of operation, including the acquisition of supplies, recruitment of labour, control stocks, processing of materials, and delivery of goods to buyers, as well as billing and record keeping. Information technology is vital to the effective development and control of many of these operations. Commerce is essentially on information processing activity; effective buying, selling and brokerage rely on the continual supply of up-to-date information regarding the availability of prices of goods and services. Farmers on the other hand, must not only grow food but they must sell effectively and buy seeds and fertilizer. They also need information on weather conditions, disease outbreaks and new agricultural techniques.

ICT policies in its economic and social development role are just catalyst meant to aid national development. The benefits of ICT policies to a national economy should be measured as an input to other economic activities. And more importantly should also be considered as complementary to other sectors. ICT development is linked with and complements the development of industry, trade, farming, education, housing, health and financial institutions. It is this complementary role of ICT that makes it appropriate to link ICT planning to a national economic and social planning.

Ayobolu, a public affairs analyst contributed this piece from Lagos State

 

 

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