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Minister unveils 6 projects to improve Nigeria’s Digital Economy

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Dr Ibrahim Pantami has unveiled 6 projects which are geared towards supporting the development of Nigeria’s Digital Economy for a Digital Nigeria, in line with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.

The Minister disclosed this during the virtual commissioning of Digital Economy Projects in Abuja on Thursday, he said he is highly delighted to commission a number of projects which aligned with the 3 focus areas of the Federal Government, namely economic development, security and anti-corruption executed by the parastatals under the purview of his ministry.

According to him, “This commissioning ceremony will take advantage of technology to virtually showcase and commission a number of projects that reflect the dividends of the sustainable developmental programmes of the administration of Mr President.

“The projects commissioned are (1) the Emergency Communications Centre (ECC), (2) Kaduna, Information Technology Hub, University of Lagos, (3) Information Technology Hub, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna, (4) Information Technology Community Centre, Daura, Katsina, (5) Tertiary Institution Knowledge Center, Polytechnic Iwollo, Enugu; and (6) NigComSat Northwest Regional Office, Kaduna”, he said.

He noted that the ECC project is being deployed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) across the country and it will offer the following benefits, Universal, toll-free emergency telephone access for members of the public in times of distress/emergency; and A one-stop shop for receiving distress calls from the public and dispatching same to appropriate Response Agencies (Police, FRSC, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, etc.)

“The Information Technology (IT) Hub project is deployed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Lagos. The IT Hub is a state-of-the-art solar powered IT Centre equipped with computers, Internet connectivity and tools designed to create a platform where Technology, Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship are nurtured. The Hubs are fully equipped with both networking and computing devices to support the complete state of the art Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) production machines.

“The centres are expected to develop competency for local production of PCB devices and other downstream components of the IT goods. These IT Hubs will provided the following benefits, amongst others: Diversification of the nation’s economy through local production of IT tools and services, Development of strategic thrusts where technology, finance and human resources are going to be harnessed to create an enabling environment for the potential development of microelectronics, software applications and entrepreneurship.

“Bridging the gap between government, academia and the private sector by focusing on the development of indigenous talent through research, business ideation and promotion; Operate along the full IT value chain, from ideation to commercialization, and will be well positioned to help fulfil the expanding economic missions of the country; and Create a local supply for the IT Sector to meet the increasing demand for IT goods and services from both the public and private sectors.

“The Community Information Technology (IT) Centre was also deployed by NITDA in Daura, Katsina State. It is also a solar powered IT Centre equipped with computers, internet access and tools aimed at enhancing skills development, bridging the digital divide and promoting innovative digital solutions that will address challenges facing the country.

“It supports capacity building and digital inclusion for underserved/unserved communities. It will serve as a good avenue for creating jobs and providing access to information, knowledge and government enabled digital services for rural communities. In addition, these community centre has been deployed to stimulate economic growth by creating new products, increasing productivity and promoting new commercial opportunities.

“The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) deployed a Tertiary Institutions Know ledge Centre (TIKC) at the Enugu State Polytechnic, Iwollo. This project includes bandwidth connectivity and the installation of ICT devices and peripherals. The TIKC project also doubles as an ICT centre for students to acquire and improve their ICT skills. It will promote the use of ICT in teaching and learning at tertiary institutions and their immediate communities.

“Some of the benefits of the project include the following: It will enable lecturers, staff and students to obtain the requisite ICT skills essential for digital economy ecosystem; It will bridge the digital information knowledge gap especially among the teeming youthful population of Nigeria; It will provide personalised learning; It will enhanced research; It will improve student-teacher engagement; and vi. It will provide access to remote learning resources.

“The final project to be commissioned today is the Northwest Regional office of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat), located in Kaduna. In addition to servicing as an Office, the Centre will support in the creation of job opportunities for the youth as they will be trained on satellite technologies. This will empower the youths with the necessary skills to operate as independent installers of NIGCOMSAT services thereby generating income for themselves.

“In addition to this, the establishment of this Centre in close proximity to the people will make it easier for NigComSat to identify cluster service gaps in the rural areas and promptly address this through a strategic partnership with the state governments and the other stakeholders in the broadband eco-system”, he explained.

He implored the host communities of these projects to make the best use of the facilities for the benefit of the community. “I also wish to commend the CEOs of all the parastatals who have deployed the projects that I have commissioned today for their commitment to their responsibilities. I thank all our esteemed partners and stakeholders for participating in this launch to support our quest to build a Digital Nigeria.

“I wish to extend our sincere gratitude to all our special guests. In particular, I thank the Chairman of the occasion, the Executive Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, for gracing this occasion. I also wish to appreciate our Special Guests of Honour- the Honourable Ministers of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola and the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed. Thank you for supporting us”, he said.

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