Government mulls creation of $1b ICT company
• Canvasses support for tech varsity
In efforts towards the fourth industrial revolution in Nigeria, there are plans by the Federal Government to establish a $1 billion Information and Communications Technology (ICT) firm.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who hinted this at the weekend in Ibadan, disclosed that there are plans to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja, which are also tailored towards the revolution.
Adebayo, while delivering a lecture titled: ‘Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere: ICT To The Rescue Of Unemployed Youths And Graduates’, at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, said the establishment of the ICT company would help to boost indigenous technology.
According to him, plans toward the establishment would soon be unfolded, while reminding Nigerians that ICT can drastically reduce the huge amount of N1.5 trillion being spent on Nigerian students studying in foreign educational institutions.
According to him, if the Federal Government succeeded in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country will not only develop world-class local capacity, but also reduce the strain on the naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.
The minister said government is prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.
Reiterating the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to use ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on job and wealth creation, and a critical tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy, Shittu said government has established one form of ICT infrastructure or the other across the six geopolitical zones.
Elaborating on the planned ICT University, Shittu said: “We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), which is for short term training programmes, in six locations across the country, and we will transform this Institute into the ICT University of Nigeria. This unique University would by God’s grace take off effectively in September 2017, and would be run as a Public Private Partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.
“I have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson, and I am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.
“I am happy to report that this project is receiving a global boost and endorsement. The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realisation of this objective, and has indeed submitted its final report on Tuesday 18th July 2017. A Vice Chancellor and other senior officials would soon be appointed.
“The ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba, and Yola.”
He said a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT is transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global and accordingly. It is also influencing employment both as an industry that creates jobs, and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways.
He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nation’s economy in 2014, and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years. The statistics also show that the sector attracted about $30billion of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.
The minister, therefore, urged Nigerian universities to take a cue from what is happening in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT.
He also promised that government would provide the much needed infrastructure, and favourable policies that would create the enabling environment for young people to innovate unhindered in the various start-ups and innovative centres across Nigeria.
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