By Florence Onuegbu/Perpetua Onuegbu
Mr Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications says the Federal Government will partner with Google to train the teaming technology savvy youths in various levels of ICT capacity development.
Shittu said this in a statement by Mr Victor Oluwadamilare, the Special Assistant on Media to the minister, at the closing of a Google event in Lagos on Thursday.
According to him, the government will deploy the opportunity given by Google to further open up the accessibility of turning around the nation’s economy and making ICT the mainstay.
He said that Nigeria as a nation had so much more to learn and gain from the digital revolution being championed by Google.
The minister commended the commitment of Google Nigeria to implement ambitious reforms and bring about macroeconomic stability in the context of the country’s ongoing Smart Digital Nigeria transition process.
Shittu stressed that the efforts were bearing tangible results and had laid the foundation for a credible path to fiscal sustainability and collaboration.
He said that Google, being one of the tech giants in computing and the web, had been at the centre of the digital penetration.
He said that with its popularity it had opened platforms that power lots of smartphones with android and other digital tools.
“A lot has changed in Nigeria since the huge wave of Internet and mobile adoption globally. Today, access to smart phones and the web is growing.
“Indeed, there are about 149 million mobile subscribers and 97 million internet users, 76 per cent of them can access the internet on their phones.
“The growth in adoption of these trends amongst Nigerians presents huge opportunities for businesses which is important for government’s ambition on economic diversification.
“However, only a small number of individuals and enterprises are currently taking full advantage of new digital opportunities available.’’
The communications minister said it was therefore worthy to note that through critical partnerships government was leveraging on Google’s strong community relationships, the goal to train one million people in Nigeria and Africa.
“It is also instructive to note that the web is a driver of economic growth, and is transforming society as a whole.
“People must be equipped through training and re-skilling to make use of the tools and take advantage of it for entrepreneurship, employment and e-inclusion.’’
The minister said there was no better time to collaborate with Google Nigeria and to harness the benefits of ICT than now when the Nigerian economy was in dire need of diversification.
“ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy and virtually all sectors leverage ICT for optimal performance.
“To this end, I charge you to key into the ministry’s mandate and collaborate with my ministry.
“It is only logical that government is determined not only to create policies and incentives but also collaborate with global tech leaders like Google to ensure smart digital Nigeria initiative become a reality.
“And to make technology more accessible and useful to drive more businesses and in turn, contribute to a richer and diversified economy,” he said.
The minister said he looked forward to where all Nigeria’s major languages would have web portals.
He recalled that Google in 2016 announced its commitment to train one million young people in Africa in digital skills as part of its contribution to growing digital economy across Africa.
He said that shortly after the announcement, Google launched digital skills web portals in English, French and Portuguese as a way to reach individuals in areas where physical training was unavailable.
“Having over one million digitally skilled young people in Africa is not good enough, you can do more than that.
“ If many young people have the right skills, they will build businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth across the continent,” he charged Google
Shittu promised that the ministry would continue to support the establishment of companies or organisations in the areas of hardware and software development by ensuring that they were protected through requisite regulations.
“We have accepted that Nigeria must take the leadership role in Africa’s ICT ecosystem. Therefore, we are amenable to Public Private Partnership to drive the Ministry’s projects.
“As government’s preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Federal Government had conceived a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in the Federal Capital Territory.
“The establishment of the centre will encourage investments in the ICT sector and complement the ICT University which will also produce the required skilled manpower for the industry.
“On this note, I invite Google to play a very active role as a partner in ensuring the successful take off of the ICT University of Nigeria.’’
He said that government was determined to leverage ICT and break its monopoly and open up the economy to foreign investors just as it did in the telecom sector.
He further said that in spite of the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan of government, government was determined to actualise the content of the ICT roadmap.
“This is imperative for the country’s highly import-dependent and consumption-driven economy. This administration has hinged the Economic Recovery Plans on ICTs as well as with fiscal and strategies policies,” he said. (NAN)