The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, has expressed the resolve of the Federal government to move the nation’s economy to a digital economy. He stated this during the launching of an Information Technology and Innovation Centre by the National Informational Technology Development Agency (NITDA) at the University of Portharcourt (UNIPORT).
Pantami said the facility, known as Information Technology Innovation and Incubation Park building, would be used to develop ideas to end the nation’s dependence on crude oil. The minister said: “This policy was derived after we came up with idea of establishing IT skills centres all over the country. “The Federal Government is establishing these centres across the country as part of its drive diversify the economy away from oil and gas.
“Presently, the world is moving from natural-resources based economy to knowledge –based economy and so, federal government is following suit in order not to put all eggs in one basket. Pantami, who noted that digital economy occupied a central position in a knowledge-based economy, said Nigeria was on track to having a digitised economy.
He said that many countries, including the United States, China and European, no longer employ people based only on degrees but skills acquired. “Recently, China shut down 600 universities and converted them to skill acquisition centres. “Nigeria needs to bridge the gap between the academy and industry. “We need to change the current system where theories are only thought in the universities and skills acquired in the industries.”
The minister urged states and local governments to key into the federal government’s digital economy policy to promote entrepreneurship in the country. Earlier, Prof. Ndowa Lale, Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, commended Federal government for citing the South-South IT centre in the institution. He said the university was delighted to host such prestigious IT and innovation centre, that would be used to recruit and train specialised skills on telecommunication.
On his part, the Director-General of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said that the World Bank had rated Nigeria as one of the countries with improved-Ease of Doing Business. He expressed delight that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had identified Information and Communication Technology as an enabler for development. According on him, digital economy is reshaping economies and social lives of many societies in the western hemisphere, adding that Nigeria should not be left behind.