Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, has said that the Federal Government would ensure that Nigeria would not continue to be a dumping ground for Information Communication Technology products and other foreign goods.
Shittu gave the promise speaking at the ongoing 10th edition of the eNigeria 2017 Conference organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency in Abuja on Tuesday.
The theme of the conference is: “’Fostering Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulation’’ and is expected to end November 9.
The minister said in realising the objective, “government will do everything possible to protect local products and services’’.
He said that the country would also promote locally made ICT products.
He said: “To inventors and innovators, I want to assure that any service and innovation that Nigeria can attain sufficiency and durability, government will take steps to prevent further using of Nigeria as a dumping ground.’’
Shittu recalled that the Federal Government, on July 17, 2012, issued some directives and guidelines to Ministries, Departments and Agencies to patronise locally made ICT products.
The minister, however, expressed concern that the patronage remained low in spite of the directive.
According to him, the government is more dedicated to enforce the guidelines to ensure economy diversification.
The minister stressed that ICT, being the driver of other sectors, should be given a premium for maximum benefits to the country.
Shittu said: “I strongly believe that this gathering will enhance the quality of our indigenous ICT services and products.”
Dr. Isa Pantami, the Director-General, in his address of welcome said that the rate of unemployment in the country was alarming.
He, however, expressed optimism that ICT sector and entrepreneurship could create jobs in the country.
Pantami noted that Nigeria was blessed with large population of youths that were highly talented in the use of ICT products, adding that it was necessary to leverage on their capability.
He said: “Our unemployment rate is very alarming; the only way to reduce that burden on the Federal Government is to ensure that we create so many entrepreneurs through ICT.
“This will enable the citizens to be self-reliant and contribute to the economy of our country.
“Digital economy is very important; many nations today are running away from conventional economy to digital one for transformation.
“We have the advantage of a high population of youths, they are ICT addicted, it is a clear indication that Nigeria is in a position to embark on the journey of significant digital economy.
“We have young talented Nigerians making us proud globally, we need to mentor them, give them the necessary support so that they can support the country in moving to digital economy.”
According to Pantami, in spite the country’s recession period in 2016, online communications generated over 50 trillion within the country.
He said that Nigeria had hardware, software that needed to be improved upon for its local content to stand out at the international level.
Pantami said that it was necessary to give priority to improving local content than considering importation as an alternative.
The director-general also said that effective regulation would enhance security situation in the country.
He, however, said that the agency was ensuring regulation for ICT projects in MDAs to bring money, value and avoid over pricing.
Pantami added that the agency had saved money for the country through regulation.
According to him, NITDA is also engaging the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Auditor General of the Federation to ensure MDAs do not siphon public funds through ICT projects.
The conference, which featured award and exhibition, brought together ICT experts from the private and public sector.
The conference is also aimed at discussing emerging technological trends, indigenous innovations, challenges in the ICT sector, enables stakeholders to make resolutions on the way forward to develop the sector and create jobs.
The conference has sub-themes such as: “’Roadmap toward National ICT skills Framework Development and Building a National Health Information Technology Ecosystem, among other topics.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari declared the three-day conference open.