Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu
Minister of Communications
Indo-African ICT Expo 2017
6-7TH September, 2017
It is indeed a great honour and pleasure to be with you this morning on the 3rd Edition of Indo-Africa ICT Expo holding for the first time in Nigeria.
I wish to extend a special welcome to all the international friends who have joined us here in Nigeria and hope that you will not only enjoy the deliberations of this forum, but also spare some time to equally sample the tranquility of our beautiful country and the hospitality of the Nigerian people.
ICTs continue to drive global development in an unprecedented way, providing huge opportunities for social and economic development. Today, billions of people enjoy access to ICTs as we continue to experience technological progress, infrastructure deployment and work towards affordable usage models.
However, according to the International Telecommunications Union, out of the 940 million people living in the least developed countries, most of them being in Africa, only 89 million people use the Internet, corresponding to a 9.5% penetration rate. It also projects that by the end of this year; only 50% of households in developing countries will have Internet access, compared with more than 80% in the developed countries. These statistics are a clear call for the need to identify opportunities for collaboration, sharing best practices and exploring inclusive technologies to drive the world into a truly connected community.
In the case of Nigeria, the Government recognizes ICTs as one of the key drivers of the economy. To this end, ICT has been factored in all national long-term development blue-prints that aim at transforming Nigeria into a knowledge economy by 2020. We have developed a National ICT strategic Roadmap whose aim is to provide a systematic approach to harnessing the power of ICTs across all sectors of the economy.
Our commitment towards ICT innovations has made Nigeria well known in the tech space. Today, we have over 145 million mobile subscribers, representing a penetration of 85.5% while Internet penetration rate stands at about 70%. More undersea fiber optic cables are landing and increasing our international connectivity to other region, resulting in better, reliable and fairly affordable Broadband connectivity. These achievements are attributable to partnerships and collaboration between the public, the private sector and international stakeholders.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Nigeria is the fastest growing ICT markets in Africa and in the worldwide. This is attributable to the improving conducive business environment and younger and more affluent population – all of which are strong indicators of not only a source of capital, but of job creation, skills development, technology transfer, infrastructure development, responsible governance and sustained growth with long-term diversification and transformation of Africa economies.
In this regard, I am pleased that India is keen to establish linkages with us here in Nigeria and Africa at large to build a relationship that will go a long way in promoting trade. I am sure this conference will explore areas in which the two regions can collaborate for the mutual benefits of their citizens. I have no doubt that India has proven its capabilities in the ICT sector and is acknowledged as a preferred destination for services and outsourced Research and Development. Given the large domestic demand for telecom equipment in India, Indian companies are now using Innovation, Research and Development to create world class products for India as well as for other emerging markets having similar needs like Africa.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in our world today, the role of academia cannot be ignored as we move ahead in ICT development. As Government, we recognize Research as a key component in stimulating sustainable ICT growth. In this direction, the Ministry in pursuance of its mandate of leveraging ICT in its entire ramifications and in order to promote local manpower of the ICT sector, is establishing a proposed ICT University of Nigeria with specialized programme on ICT across the six geopolitical zones in the country. The Ministry has reached out to a number of ICT companies locally and internationally for the PPP management of the proposed ICT University. Many have and still counting who have expressed enthusiasm towards investing in the project.
The Ministry is also thinking of promoting the established of an ICT Development Bank to assist in providing the needed funding for the ICT industry instead of depending on commercial banks which charges high interest rate.
Furthermore, the Ministry has reached an advance stage for the establishment of a befitting ICT Park and Exhibition center in Abuja. This is to develop Nigeria’s ICT sector towards achieving a Smart Digital Nigeria.
The Ministry hosted Smart Cities Summit Nigeria from 8-9th August, 2017 in Abuja. The primary goal of the summit was to bring together global leaders and experts as well as friends and partners in the Smart city space from around the world, in an open dialogue, under one roof to discuss issues, identify solutions, harmonize different initiatives and solutions, while proffering next steps on how to develop smart city initiative across the country.
Government has expanded the 1-gov.net platform which consolidates existing government ICT infrastructure into a common platform. 1-gov.net enables MDAs to exchange data in a seamless manner while allowing each other to remain independent and maintain its privacy and the security of its operatives. Efforts are on to expand the number of Data Centres and Government is about to commission its tier three certified Data Centre, the highest certification for any Data Centre, in Abuja. Using the 1-gov.net Platform, Government has been able to save 30% of what it would have expended on a unit per unit cost. As at date 90% of all MDAs within Abuja are linked with fiber backbone and 3,500 locations of different MDAs have been touched across the country. Over 270 MDAs websites and applications are being hosted on the network.
Government is supporting the development and sustenance of ICT Applications that are driving cost effectiveness and transparency in Government Service delivery. Applications supporting the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA), IPPIS, Budget Portal and BVN verifications among others are already resulting in huge savings.
The Ministry of Communications has expanded the Open Government Data Portal which is a part of the Federal Government Open Data Initiative. Over 60 civil servants have been trained across MDAs on the use of the portal.
As we endeavor to promote the use of ICT in the country, we are working towards having at least 80% of all our public services provided through digital platforms by 2018. At the moment, a good number of key services leverage on ICTs for their delivery.
Ladies and Gentlemen, an approach of using the development of State ICT Policies to foster the growth of the ICT sectors in the various States of the Federation has been adopted. To this end, ICT policies have been developed for over thirteen States
The National e-Agriculture project is a strategic initiative of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD). It is aimed at creating opportunities for information usage in a manner to create jobs, enhance effective policy planning, food security and generate revenue for farmers in particular and the country at large. The Web Portal (www.e-agriculture.gov.ng) is up and running.
On Cyber Security, this initiative seeks to provide trusted IT platforms, infrastructure and capacities to safeguard the cyber activities of Nigerians by developing and implementing guidelines for a healthy, coherent and highly effective eco-system strategy to enable Government prioritize IT instruments to eliminate waste and engender empowerment through information access, thereby increasing transparency, accountability and aid in fighting corruption. The increased capability to achieve high levels of cyber security was demonstrated when JAMB website was hacked. Within 48 hours of attack, NITDA mobilized, averted and restored the examination body’s cyber system.
On the IT Innovation Hub, the project is planned to provide a structure, which enables communities to manage their own development, by providing access to appropriate information, facilities, resources, training and services. Total of Two (2) centres have been established, one in each of the Northern and Southern regions of the Country.
Nigerian businesses will no doubt tap into reservoir of knowledge among their Indian counterparts and develop technology based solutions for the Nigerian, African and even the global market. There are numerous opportunities for partnerships between both public and private sector of Nigeria and India. I implore Indian investors to explore areas to further enhance the lives of our people through technology. Nigeria has huge unmet ICT demand and businesses that were apprehensive till some time back have realized the potential of ICT and are willing to invest in this sector, setting in motion a number of key trends that is reshaping the economic landscape in Nigeria.
The requirements in Nigeria offer huge opportunities for Indian companies, arising in segments such as products and services related to mobility, security solution, telecom, education, capacity building, tourism healthcare eCommerce and enterprise solutions.
As I conclude, I take this opportunity to hail the cordial diplomatic relations between India and Nigeria. I am sure, for business people looking forward to investing in Africa, Nigeria offers the best opportunity for your hub activities. We have a robust economy with many opportunities for collaboration, a well educated population, pro-investor policies and focus, and when we mean business we mean big business. This is evident in the number of major multinationals, already active in the Nigeria ICT marketplaces who are also proposing establishing their research and development centres in Nigeria.
Technology entrepreneurs seeking for high Returns on Investments (RoIs) have Nigeria as a strong ally. The business environment in Nigeria is favourable. The current administration recently formed a presidential commission to significantly improve our Ease of Doing Business ranking. Nigeria remains the major investment destination in Africa for investors because of the country’s huge market and abundant resources.
With these few remarks, it is now my humble pleasure to declare the 3rd Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2017 officially open and wish you fruitful deliberations.