One of the key activities at this year’s Digital Nigeria Conference was the inauguration of a Digital Economy Industry Working Group (DEIWG) to serve as an action group and Public Private Dialogue (PPD) platform to be formed by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Prof. Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, inaugurated the group on behalf of the Federal Government during the closing ceremony of Digital Nigeria International Conference held in Abuja.
Similarly, the Federal Government has directed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to jointly establish a National Cyber Security Research Centre.
Speaking on the DEIWG, Pantami said the group will be saddled with the responsibility of mapping out government initiatives and policies that are affecting the private sector pertaining to the Digital Economy
He maintained that the group will harmonise and harness the work done by both the FMoCDE and the NESG to unlock the potentials of a fully Digital Economy and deliver benefits to the public, private and social enterprise sectors, with a view to supporting the delivery of the short, medium and long-term ministerial strategy for driving the growth of the Digital Industry in Nigeria.
The objectives of the group include; to establish a Public-Private Partnership Platform as communication link between the public and private sector to drive the Digital Economy Policies and Strategies; to create a framework for strengthening the immediate delivery of initiatives based on the 8 pillars as outlined in the Nigerian Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (2020-2030); to facilitate the creation of an Enterprise Programs Management Office (EPMO) and funding mechanism which will serve as a framework of funding for DEIWG Secretariat and to formulate, in partnership with the government, mechanisms that drive and catalyse growth and increase investments in the Digital Economy.
Other objectives of the group are to examine the current efforts by the Federal Government to digitally transform through policies, projects and programmes and co-create a private sector response plan; to facilitate leadership mindset that is digital-driven for shared prosperity and shared national vision and drive continuity of the policies to enhance the institutional arrangement that drives the Digital Economy and to call to action on private sector to take lead of the creation of the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
Highlighting the composition of the group, the Minister noted that it comprises of the government representatives, the private sector and the academia adding that it is a model the ministry has adopted in the last three years. “We don’t formulate policies alone, we ensure that we bring together all stakeholders to work with us as part of the implementation model, we try to interact with other people from different sector, this is what we are promoting.”
Meanwhile, the minister has disclosed that he has directed National Information Technology Development Agency and Nigerian Communications Commission to come up with the National Cyber Security Research Centre in Nigeria.
Prof. Pantami noted the centre when completed would actively support the Nigerian participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We are working every important component of the Fourth Industrial Revolution because we don’t want to be left behind. As at today, at least five African countries are part of the chase group that is chasing the developed countries and we have been displaying this in so many international events,” he added.
While decrying that African missed out in the previous three Industrial Revolutions, he expressed delight that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would usher in hope for Africa because it is a knowledge based revolution.
He said, “It is because of this we have been very proactive in Nigeria. The Nigerian Start-up Act, 2022 is to support our participation actively in the Fourth Industrial Revolution; also my directive to NITDA for the renaming of the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics from NITDA Academy was to make us proactive in the fourth Industrial Revolution. And recently we have built the National Centre for Emerging technologies under NCC.”
The Minister also revealed that the ministry would soon present the Nigeria Data Protection Bill to the Federal Executive Council.
According to him, the bill has been forwarded to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation for review and to give go ahead for it presentation to the council.
He said the bill will ensure confidentiality and privacy of Nigerians’ data when it comes to dealing with data and citizens’ information. He said Nigeria is one the countries to have data protection as a subsidiary law but it is now in the process of integrating the subsidiary law to a principal law.
Earlier, Kashifu Inuwa, the NITDA’s Director Gerenal, has said as the conference comes to an end, the government has reviewed the potentials availed in the country and had learned from the global community what is happening in other countries and regions and understood that all these prosperity and wealth are not evenly distributed.
He stated this on the backdrop that the 2022 Digital Nigeria International Conference has not come to end and urged the participants to continue with the momentum. “We want to keep the tempo until the end of November, when President Muhammadu Buhari will officially close the digital Nigeria 2022 ceremony.”
While acknowledging that this year’s conference is very massive, he reiterated that there are a lot to learn from it. He noted that the government is a listening government and ready to work with the tech ecosystem to make Nigeria the most vibrant ecosystem in the world.
He said, “We are already leading in Africa, but if we can compete globally, why do we need to settle for Africa? We have all what it takes to be the global talent party, and we have you, the youth, you are the greatest resources of this country. When we talk about digital economy or innovation economy, your greatest resource is not what is lying underneath you, but it is what you have in your brains.”
He advised Nigerians have to understand what it takes to make wealth through innovation because it is the only way a nation can be lifted out of poverty. “We have the brain; we have the government’s political will, and government has provided the enabling environment. What left is for you to use the opportunity; to use the legal framework, to use all what government is doing to complement it? Digital Nigeria is for all of us. Government is just one part of it and you are all critical stakeholders. And with you on board, nothing is impossible for us,” he declared.