By Perpetua Onuegbu
Abuja – Mr Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, says the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) can drastically reduce the huge amount of N1.5 trillion allegedly spent on Nigerian students studying abroad.
Shittu said this in a lecture titled: “Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere’’at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, in a statement signed by Mr Victor Oluwadamilare, the Special Assistant Media to the minister.
He expressed optimism that if the Federal Government succeeded in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country would develop world-class local capacity.
He said that it would also reduce the strain on the naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.
The minister said that government was prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.
He said that about 20 million youths and graduates were currently unemployed.
Shittu said that the Buhari’s administration recognised ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on wealth creation and a critical tool in diversifying the country’s economy.
He added that in recognition of the role of ICT, the Federal Government had established one form of ICT infrastructure or the other across the six geopolitical zones.
He said that the plan to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja was part of the preparations for the 4thIndustrial Revolution, “which is on course globally’’.
He said that the plan to build a one billion-dollar ICT company to boost indigenous technology had also been articulated.
Shittu said a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT was transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global.
Accordingly, ICT is influencing employment both as an industry that create jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways.
He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nation’s economy in 2014 and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years.
According to him, the statistics also show that the sector attracted about 30 billion dollars of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.
The minister, therefore, urged Nigerian Universities to take a cue from the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT.
He promised that the government would provide the much needed infrastructure and favourable policies that would create the enabling environment for young people to innovate unhindered in the various start-ups and innovative centres across the country.
“The digital revolution that has the power to transform societies is already underway. Success belongs to those who innovate and seize available opportunities.
“I want to assure you that I will go talking with development partners home and abroad on the importance of investing in ICT today to leap-frog the nation’s growth for today and the future.
“If we must achieve the desired goal of placing Nigeria on the global ICT map thereby using it as major tool for job creation, earmarking investment for ICT is not enough.
“More importantly, we have to decide that we are going to do it by developing and churning out fit-for-purpose youths from our institutions for the exceptional ICT market and opportunities at the global level,” he said.
On the planned ICT University, Shittu said, ”We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), which is for short term training programmes in six locations across the country.’’
“We will transform this institute into the ICT University of Nigeria. This university will take off effectively in September 2017 and be run as a public private partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.
“I have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson and am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.
“The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realisation of this objective, and has indeed submitted its final report on July 18.’’
“The ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba and Yola,” Shittu said.