Honourable Minister of Communication Technology
Barrister Adebayo Shittu
Given the pace Nigeria’s ICT sector is growing and in view of the prevailing potentials, the Federal Government is targeting additional Foreign Direct Investment in the sector in excess of N4trillion ($15billion). Speaking at the maiden edition of the communications sector retreat for all ICT stakeholders in Ibadan, the Minister of Communications Technology, Adebayo Shittu said the plan for such investment was an outcome of his recent trip to China where he held discussions with Chinese investors. The investment, he said, would further open and deepen the sector to automatically become the beautiful bride thereby accelerating its contribution to the nation’s GDP. Investment in the telecoms sector alone currently tops $32 billion.
The minister identified five steps to achieving digital economy. They are building on ICT sector growth, policy on innovative continuity, migration to a digitally smart Nigeria, increasing revenue and reducing waste as well as smart government to deliver ICT and broadband penetration. He added that the first step to addressing this is to reduce both the public and private infrastructure deficit in Nigeria’s ICT sector for substantial improvement in quality of service.
“Inadequate ICT infrastructure is the bane of ICT development in the country and a leading cause of quality of service deficiencies. From broadband penetration to last mile fibre optic connectivity, this infrastructure deficit is preventing all Nigerians from gaining affordable and reliable access. Lack of affordability, due in part, to the proliferation of taxes, fees, levies and associated costs further inhibits investment in infrastructure required to support and grow our boisterous ICT market”, he said.
The minister said that Nigeria has a lot to learn from Rwanda, despite its size (12 million population). “As the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria is already a regional hub for West African countries. We must now become the preferred destination for vendors to set up operations that cover the entire West African sub region. This will provide opportunities for the country to act as a supply hub for training, skills transfer, technology leadership and investment.
“We as a government will offer every support to ensure that our local ICT firms (service providers and manufacturers) have a qualitative competitive advantage over others. We need to work together to seize this window of opportunity to deliver the potential this sector promises by agreeing on and implementing a roadmap. If we do so, Nigeria’s Information and Communications Technology sector will attract international investors”, he said.