Nigeria is spending $3.8 billion annually from the importation of Information and Communication Technology goods and services, including software according to the Director General of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Director General of NITDA, Mr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami said on Tuesday at the 9th edition of eNigeria in Abuja that locally manufactured or assembled computers in the country accounted for less than 8% of all the computers used locally.
According to him, “Nigeria is projected to expend about $143.8 billion on ICT by 2019- a vast sum that translates to over 7 times the value of the 2016 national budget.
“We strongly plead with our international manufacturers to domesticate their products in order to achieve a win-win relationship,” he said.
He further explained that, “Within the limits of the mandate that set up NITDA, we are repositioning ourselves to filter the IT gadgets being imported to the country in the overall interest of the nation.
“We want to transform NITDA from its administrative outlook to IT-driven and knowledge-based agency, and we request the support of all to materialize this aspiration.
“There is tremendous gain to be made from a Local Content Policy that encourages the development of local ICT products and services. Among other things, it will significantly reduce capital flight.
“In addition to the emphasis that NITDA will lay on regulation, local content development and capacity building, we are making concerted efforts to create, as well as review, existing standards and guidelines. This will enable us to regulate the sector in line with the highest global standards.
“We are committed to ensuring that the proliferation of fake and sub-standard ICT products and services in the country is eliminated or at least significantly curtailed.
Mr Pantami promised that “security in the 21st century is highly reliant on ICTs and we want to encourage the development of ICT-enabled security services across all sectors of the economy.
“In addition to our support for the use of ICT for physical security, we are also committed to ensuring the cyber security of our nation. Our Computer Emergency Readiness and Response team (CERRT) and our Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) project will support in these efforts.
“Job creation is also very important to us at NITDA. According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ national youth survey report, there are nearly 70 million people in the 15 to 35 age bracket.
“Unfortunately, they also report that over half of these are unemployed, and many more are underemployed. We recognize that this challenge gives us a good opportunity to use ICT to empower our youth, create jobs and generate revenue for the country.
“Interestingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the office of the Vice-President created 200,000 jobs for Nigerians.”
He further said in order to bring about the objectives set up under his leadership; NITDA will correct irregularities, fight corrupt practices and resist unnecessary and unproductive interference in the affairs of the Agency. He called on all Nigerians, particularly IT stakeholders, in the fulfillment of the task.
In his keynote address, Prof. Abubakar Daniel Sambo said nations of the world that are aware of the global knowledge economy are flourishing by optimizing the benefits of ICT.
The former Director General of Energy Commission reminisced that before independence, Nigeria relied majorly on agriculture for its foreign exchange earnings.
He however said that practice was gradually taken over by oil which provided the nation with substantial income but which has recently lost its relevance with its dwindling price in the international market that has, amongst others, led Nigeria to recession.
He said, “Time has come for Nigeria to adopt ICT as a catalyst for National Prosperity,_ he boomed.
“Nigeria needs to epitomize the opportunity of globalization and IT due to employment and job creation, creation of massive wealth and international Market.”
According to him, “Untapped potentials in IT innovations can generate significant revenue for Nigeria to reduce the over-dependence on oil as the nation’s sole source of national income.
“For this to happen there is need for an urgent review of the nation’s IT policy, legal and regulatory frameworks which will ensure the creation of more conducive environment for both the public and private sector to participate actively.
“There is also the strong need for ICT education as well as IT Research & Development in addition to enhanced support for more IT Innovation projects.”