Home Top Stories FG Seeks Foreign Investors For Smart Cities Project, Plans Summit In June

FG Seeks Foreign Investors For Smart Cities Project, Plans Summit In June


By Nse Anthony-Uko,

KIGALI, (Sundiata Post) – In the bid to replicate the phenomenal ICT transformation of Rwanda in Nigeria, the federal government is planning the “Smart Cities Nigeria 2017 Summit” scheduled for 28 and 29 June 2017.

To actualize this, the government is seeking foreign investments into the country’s ICT sectors to fast-track the digital transformation agenda once kick started in the country.

Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who led the Nigerian delegation to the ongoing Transform Africa Summit (TAS) 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda, disclosed this to journalists during an interview session.

Shittu, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the summit, said he has used the opportunity of the summit to discuss with several foreign investors and gotten their commitments on the project.

“While I am here I have had the privilege of speaking with a lot of foreign investors persuading them to come to Nigeria because Nigeria offers a lot of advantage in terms of the huge population. On the West African sector of the African continent, Nigeria’s population is more than that of the other 14 countries. That means that that huge market and any investor who comes will never regret.”

The minister also disclosed that he has spoken with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Strive Masiyuwa of Econet as well as Inmarsat among others.

“In fact Inmarsat will be coming to Nigeria for a meeting early in June. I have spoken with Korean Telecommunications. When I came to Rwanda four months ago I spoke to them and put in application for them to bring in smart towers so that process is still ongoing I have renowned our bid for them to come and invest in solar based tower stations and I am confident that once they come it a leap jump towards our having enough infrastructure for the steady progress of ICT,” he said.

Elaborating on the “Smart Cities Nigeria 2017 Summit” Shittu said it would provide the opportunity to get a buy in of all stakeholders in the Nigerian project.

According to him, Nigeria needs the buy-in of all stakeholders especially that of the state governments if the ICT transformation project is to work.

“To transform Nigeria using ICT we need the buy-in of all states who must get it right from the onset that ICT is the way to go. Of course we would demand the patriotic participation of all states. The federal government has no land effect the land in the federal capital territory which is just a very small piece of land.

“We know of several countries which never had oil, but using ICT they have developed and surpassed Nigeria in all indices of development. If oil prices have been tumbling and there is no alternative to us, ICT has proven to be a veritable alternative to bring in all the money and all the development that we need. So we appeal that all stakeholders must key in and let us start on a very steady part which certainly will be profitable for Nigeria’s growth and development.”

On lack of necessary infrastructure, the minister said “Well the issue of infrastructure is a collective challenge to both the private sector and the Nigerian government. If you talk of infrastructure in terms of roads it is the responsibility of government. But in with regard to ICT development roads are not the only thing that is important. You need a lot fibre laying across the country particularly to the unserved and underserved areas. You also need connectivity by way of terrestrial towers. We are encouraging the private sector to come and invest.”

Nigeria has been understudying Rwanda and Kenya, two countries that have surpassed Nigeria in terms of development of ICT, in terms of domesticating digitization, e-commerce practices in order to replicate some of their success stories in the country.

Commenting on this, Shittu said, “You won’t imagine a small country like Rwanda, with 11 million population, with size of about say, Lagos and Ogun States would be where Nigeria would come to learn. But I had to bury my shame as a Nigerian communications minister to come here four months ago. I visited Rwanda and Kenya in appreciation of the fact that these two countries have surpassed us in terms of development of ICT, in terms of domesticating digitization, e-commerce practices, and what have you. I came to the two countries to learn, during which time I had the privilege of meeting President Kagame and we spoke for more than an hour and I have learnt a lot. Since then we’ve being taking a lot of initiatives to replicate some of these things in Nigeria.”

He noted that over the years Nigeria’s problem has been that of proper leadership, dynamic leadership. “Rwanda went through a period of civil war, when the war was over it had the good luck of having President Kagame. And over the last 10 years he has transformed this country, there is a lot of peace, there is safety, security and there is transformation using ICT. We are happy that Nigeria even though we are starting late we have started steadily. We had some delay within the governmental operations. We ought to have unleashed some of these new ideas on to the Nigerian scene more than eight months ago but we had some delays which I do not need to go into.”

He however said, “I am confident that once they come it a leap jump towards our having enough infrastructure for the steady progress of ICT.”

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