The Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mallam Kashifu Inuwa has expressed concern that Nigeria has failed to explore $11trillion digital economy despite its huge population and potentials.
He spoke in Abuja when the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, paid courtesy visit on NITDA Headquarters.
The NITDA boss during the visit declared that Data and not oil, were driving the economy of leading countries of the world today.
According to him, digital economy and not mono product one being run in the country, is what Nigeria must key into and which the agency with the support of its supervising ministry, is facilitating for the country through required innovations and technology.
He disclosed that a Centre for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence has been created by the agency in that direction just as 20,000 young Nigerians across the states, are being targeted for capacity building in the area of technology.
“Economy in the world is going or has gone digital, which is presently valued at $11trillion.
“But out of 616 digital cum data driven firms running the digital economy, while 256 are based in the United States of America , 204 in China, 26 in United Kingdom, 21 in India, 12 in Germany etc , only two each, are in South Africa and Nigeria.
“This to NITDA, is not good going by population and potentials the country is blessed with”, he said.
As a way forward, the NITDA boss said the agency is ever ready to promote usage of IT or digital devices by Nigerians in all their economic activities, particularly in the Agricultural sector.
He however said the 2007 Act upon which the agency operates after its establishment in 2001, needs to be amended in given it the required powers in the area of regulations of ICT operations in the country particularly as regards ability to deal with issues as they arise in digital sector.
“Our target objective upon availability of enabling laws , is making Nigeria the hub of innovations in the African continent .
“Even some Universities in the country are already keying into the digital world by substituting courses at PhD level on Oil and Gas for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence” he added.
In his remarks, Senator Basiru, assured the NITDA DG of expeditious consideration of whatever amendments the agency wants on the 2007 Act.
According to him, the 9th Senate and by extension, 9th National Assembly, being one that works for Nigeria, will provide the required legislations that will fast track the Digitalization process of the Nation’s economy.
“The Senate in particular, is basically impressed with the progress this agency is making in getting Nigeria fully on board as far as digital economy is concerned.
“This to the Senate is a welcome development at this time of diversification process from mono product economy to multi sectorial one.
” We shall be happy if the required technology is made available in enhancing productivity in the Agricultural sector because no society can really be secured without food sufficiency for its populace”, he said.