Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said Nigeria is being repositioned to become the leading digital economy in Africa. Speaking at a meeting with the management of Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited in Abuja, the minister noted that Nigeria already had advantages over other countries in the race to become the continent’s leader in digitalisation.
Huawei at the event presented 10 Nigerian students, selected from different institutions to take part in an internship programme alongside participants from other countries at its headquarters in China. The internship scheme is known as ‘Huawei Seeds for the Future Programme’.
The Ministry of Communications was recently renamed Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and now has the added mandate of ‘digitalising’ the Nigerian economy in line with the Federal Government’s Economic Growth and Recovery Plan. Pantami noted that although Burkina Faso, a West African country, set up a ministry of digital economy before Nigeria, the Federal Government was bent on making Nigeria the leader in digitalisation on the continent.
“Nigeria is positioning to be the continent’s leader in digitalisation. Burkina Faso already has a ministry of digital economy but we have so many advantages,” he said. The advantages, according to him, include the country’s population and location, the contribution of the ICT to Gross Domestic Product, and the level of the ICT literacy among Nigerians.
He added that the government would henceforth be proactive in the ICT through effective application of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, and Virtual Reality. He noted that in a few years, Nigerians might no longer need to travel to India or other foreign countries for medical treatment, as surgeries could be performed on patients anywhere in the world by means of 5G technology.
He urged the students selected for the Huawei internship programme to see themselves as future entrepreneurs in order to make the best of the opportunity. “The ICT has the potential of employing and lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty,” the minister added. He commended Huawei for investing in the youths as part of its corporate social responsibility engagements.
The Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited, Mr Zhang Lulu, observed that with 176 million mobile subscribers, Nigeria is currently the leading mobile-user country in Africa. “Huawei has been investing strongly in digital skills in Nigeria. Over the years, we have implemented various programmes, including training 500 immigration officers in 2016, renovating our training centre in 2017, sponsoring the ICT competition in 2018, and empowering 1000 civil servants in 2019,” Lulu said.