Isa Ali Pantami, a professor of Cybersecurity and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has said that in the last few years, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Econony, has been taking significant steps to position Nigeria in the global tech race.
Pantami spoke on Tuesday, in Abuja, while declaring open the 10th Edition of the Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition themed: “Positioning Africa in the Global Tech Race.”
He said that the Buhari administration recognised the need for a regulatory environment that supports, rather than stifles development, and has developed a number of policies in this regard.
“Nigeria has a potential critical mass of ‘digital natives’ that can transform the country into a regional and global digital powerhouse.
“These creative Nigerians can play a key role in the creation of digital jobs across all sectors of the country; jobs that are either based on or are dependent upon Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs),” Pantami said.
While noting that the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) emphasises the importance of the innovation and startup ecosystem to the development of an indigenous digital economy, the Minister pledged that his ministry will continue to position Nigeria to develop this ecosystem to transform the country into a sustainable and thriving digital economy.
He stated that in recognition of the role of emergng technologies and in preparationfor the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Federal Government is actively building competence in these technologies and have set up a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics to serve as the digital laboratory for advancing skills development and innovation in emerging technologies in Nigeria.
“In addition, we are establishing a National ICT Park and a National Digital Innovation Centre to create an atmosphere that would usher in innovation-driven culture among the Nigerian populace,” he said.
Pantami said that for Africa to assert itself in the global tech space, there is need effective collaboration, and insisted that “we must urgently improve international
cooperation and work together towards achieving our national and regional development plans in building the Africa we want.”
While reiterating Federal Government’s commitment to providing the enabling environment required for such partnerships to thrive, he reaffirmed government’s willingness to continued partnerships and forging new ones with industry stakeholders in this regard.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of Digital Africa Limited, organisers of the tech show, Dr. Evans Woherem noted that for a decade, Digital Africa has been an advocate and breeding place of informed debate and independent analysis, on issues to do with tech and Africa, leading to the generation of new, incisive policy proposals.
He said the theme of this year’s conference couldn’t have been more timely and relevant than now, technology is fast evolving at an exponential speed, and is today disrupting almost every industry in all countries of the world.
“Looking carefully at our development myopia and non-progress compared to what is happening in other continents, we can conclude that Africa is currently living in a Matrix Simulation. In other words, we are passing through an Alternate Reality within our Multiverse.
“There are billions of possible realities at any one point in time that applies to an individual, to a society, to a country and even to the whole world. I believe that it is an alternate reality that we are experiencing here in Africa. This is not the reality we started out with.
“I believe somewhere along the line of our evolutionary trajectory and paradigm, something flipped, leading to an inflexion point that took us to an alternate reality. even when some other parts of the world continued with their original reality,” he said
Woherem expressed confidence that even in this present reality, Africa should muster enough will power to begin to do the right things, so that it can go back to its mis-aligned reality.
“We have to see it as a challenge to get Africa back to its historical standing, embrace the right mentality to move Africa forward, and shun any negativity that have hampered Africa’s growth. We can reposition Africa!”
The opening ceremony was also used to honour some corporate organisations that have over the years supported the Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition.
The companies include VDT Communications, Chams Access, Africa Data Centre, and Zoracom.