Expert hinges Nigeria’s growth path on digitisation

OPECFor countries to wriggle out of the current economic downturn, the need for them to digitize their economies has been stressed.Speaking at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ministerial meeting in Vienna, last week, General Manager, Cisco Nigeria, Olakunle Oloruntimehin, said with the OPEC countries failing to reach an agreement on oil production levels, it will become more and more crucial for oil-reliant countries to digitise their economies.

“If Nigeria is to remain the largest economy on the Continent, it will have to move to other modes of revenue generation and a viable one at this stage, is country digitisation. Country digitisation is the connection of everything that makes a country function optimally. Connecting people, companies, devices, appliances, and homes by using digital technology to allow us to function optimally, smarter and more cost-effective”, he stated.

Oloruntimehin said Cisco’s interactions showed that multiple stakeholders in Nigeria are accepting the idea of diversifying Nigeria’s economy through country digitization, stressing that government has already started initiating projects that could see the country leapfrog into digitisation.

“Cisco is working with the office of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to establish eight innovation hubs in Nigeria all sharing Cisco’s innovative digital and collaborative technology. The innovation hubs will be spread across, Lagos, Abuja and six other geographical regions in the country. In addition, Cisco will be providing training support services at the innovation hubs through its flagship Networking Academy programme.”

According to him, the Cisco Networking Academy is an IT skills and career building programme for learning institutions and individuals worldwide, where over 5.5 million people have been trained globally since its inception in 1999.

Oloruntimehin disclosed that the Continent has 80 active academies currently, of which more than 70 000 students graduated in the last financial year.

“The innovation hubs will leverage the Cisco Networking Academy’s content and curricular by training +/- 100 000 students in Nigeria to provide them with skills to be able to realise the country’s digitisation vision”, he stated.

The Cisco Nigeria General Manager said digitisation will not only diversify the economy and fast track the creation of jobs, but will also provide the platform for improving the efficiency and transparency of government services by affording citizens engagement and visibility about what Government is doing to improve services in a cost effective manner; driving innovative job creation; utilising technology to intelligently generate and distribute power. “Current capacity caters for approximately less than 10 per cent of the demand due to distribution constraints”, he stressed.

He added that the platform will aid the use of technology to improve safety and security thereby favourably positioning the country for Foreign Direct Investment; and providing a more suitable and innovative better buyer and seller format for the agriculture sector.

According to Oloruntimehin, all country’s need to digitise in order to diversify their economy, which is the only way nation’s will continue to grow in a challenging and competitive environment, of which Nigeria is no exception.

“Nigeria could leverage technology to increase productivity and if it is to become a critical leader in the fourth industrial revolution, which was declared by WEF Africa in Davos and Kigali respectively, then the country will need to digitise”, he stated.

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