FG Launches World Bank Development Report 2021

Minister of communications and digital economy, Professor Isa Pantami

The Minister of communications and digital economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami, has re-echoed the need for key players in the sector to create value within the digital economy by using data to enhance the process.

Professor Pantami said this while launching the World Development Report 2021 in Abuja.

The minister who was represented by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, described the theme of the event: “Leveraging Data to Foster Development; Where does Nigeria Stand?” as not just exciting but also thoughts provoking.

While reacting to the question regarding “where Nigeria stands”, the Minister noted that the country stands at a crossroad, between harnessing the value of data for development and avoiding its perils.
“President Muhammadu Buhari re-designated and expanded the mandate of our ministry from Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy because Communication is just technology which is just an enabler, and can be used as a means to an end, while the end is how you can use technology to enhance your economy. This will help us create the value.”

While alluding to the observations captured in the report which indicate that Nigeria appears to be struggling in terms of the usage, Prof. Pantami acknowledged the fact that under the formulated national economy policy and strategy for a digital Nigeria, the nation has an ambitious target to achieve a lot in terms of building trust, being equitable, especially in the area of safeguarding data and infrastructure among others.

“For example, we have the ambition to achieve 95 per cent broadband penetration by 2030. How can we ignite the usage of that broadband, and how can we increase the coverage as well. The government is doing a lot in that aspect. Moreso, it has issued InfraCo (Infrastructure Companies) License to Private Companies to deepen the penetration.”

According to the Minister, NITDA’s ambitious target of achieving 95 per cent Digital Literacy by 2030 is expected to also help the users as there is a dire need for Nigerians to fully understand the technology in order to embrace it and use it.

He expressed the hope that with the support of the World Bank as well as other partners, the seemingly ambitious target will be achieved in the long run.

“We want every Nigerian to be able to use his/her mobile phone, computers, and other digital devices to access digital services as well as to use it for economic activities.”

The minister disclosed that within a year, NITDA, which is a parastatal under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has been able to impact 1.6 million Nigerians in terms of basic digital literacy as well as discovering, building and hatching talents; adding that the Agency would be unveiling another initiative on training 1 million developers within a year in Nigeria.

“We need services that can easily be used in the different Nigerian languages and English as well as something that can easily connect with our people in terms of our culture and value. We are doing a lot on that and we’re looking forward to your partnership in digital literacy.”

“When you are online, you need to be identified and the only way to achieve that is digital identity, we want every citizen to be identified both online and offline.”

In the area of Data Protection, the minister made it clear that the Federal Government established the National Data Protection Bureau to ensure that data protection is independent of any agency, stressing that the establishment has helped immensely to achieve more in terms of safeguarding and enabling the regulations.

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