COVID-19 Era fast tracking Nigeria’s Digital Economy, says Pantami

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami has said that broadband plan 2020-2025 which focused more on broadband penetration, stated that as at July 2020 the level of broadband penetration is 42.0% and at the end of the year it will reach at least 50%, while Federal Government is making use of COVID-19 era to achieve digital economy development.

The Minister made this known recently while speaking at the virtual Nigeria Internet Governance Forum 2020 (vNIGF) with the theme: “ Achieving Inclusive Digital Economic Development in the Post-COVID 19 Era”, he said digital economy will contribute more than 45% of the nation’s GDP, as the contribution of the ICT sector alone is 17%.

In his goodwill message, the Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi CCIE, represented by the Director, e-Government Development and Regulation Dr Vincent Olatunji has described the event as apt, adding that, “as this is a new era and it is important for government to ensure that the infrastructure it need to keep governance up and running when all government organisations fully come on board to use the internet is already in place.”

Abdullahi maintained that the campaign to move government businesses online which is eGovernance has now become a reality, adding that there was no other choice than for government to deliver its services online which could only be achieved with corporate internet governance.

The NITDA boss revealed that the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation is set to formally approve and recommend virtual meetings, programmes and workshops for all government officials in the country in order to facilitate digital economy. “A lot of people see e-governance as a bigger calamity but I see it as a bigger advantage for the sector” the DG said. He added that when other sectors were losing money the IT sector was making money.

He cited that most government organisations went to sleep during the pandemic but for those in the IT sector, they knew they have no choice than to improve on what they were doing before. And that was why offices were kept running. Now most government organisations have keyed into this and there are so many reforms in the public sector; like the renaming of the ministry and the launch of the Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.

The DG said with the pandemic, working remotely has become the norm even globally “whether you are a developed or developing nation, in the public or private sector you don’t have any choice but to use the internet to deliver on your services.”

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