The Nation

Digital economy imperative, says minister


By Lucas Ajanaku


THE Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ibrahim Pantami, yesterday said the new reality is that digital transformation of the  economy has become imperative for sustainable national development.

Declaring open the virtual Information Communication Technology and Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition, ICTEL EXPO 2020 organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) with theme: “Exploring opportunity in the Digital Economy”, the minister said the transition to digital economy is a global march, adding that the country could not afford to sit on the fence.

He said digital economy is creating opportunities in the emerging world with innovations resulting from digital technologies impacting virtually every sector–retail, transport and logistics, financial services, manufacturing, education, healthcare and broadcasting.

“Now is the time to quicken the alignment our digital transformation agenda with our economic needs. Globally, businesses are shifting from brick and mortar form to innovative enterprises driven by digital technologies. Now is the time for businesses, enterprises and organisations, whether public or private to reinvent and automate to fit into the global digital economy,’’he added.


“This new reality and lessons learnt from the ‘new normal’ arising from the COVID-19 pandemic makes it mandatory for Nigeria, like other developing countries, to rise up to the challenge, innovate and occupy her place in the global digital economy.”


“In the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), digital economy is referred to as any aspect of the economy that is based on or driven by digital technologies. Globally, digital revolution is changing lives and societies with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities as well as associated challenges. As predicted by the World Economic Forum, over 60per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be digitised by 2022 and that over the next decade, digital platforms will be used to create close to 70per cent of new value.”.


He said the role of government, as the driver of the digital economy, cannot be overemphasised, especially, in formulation and implementation of national ICT policies, as well as sustaining infrastructure. Therefore, to actualise the dream of a digital Nigeria, he said the redesignated Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy came up with National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) (2020-2030), which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari last year and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025 early this year.


He said the NDEPS document is based eight pillar which are developmental regulation; digital literacy and skills; solid infrastructure; service infrastructure; digital services development and promotion; soft infrastructure; digital society and emerging technologies; and indigenous content promotion and adoption.


The NNBP is designed to deliver data download speeds across Nigeria of a minimum 25Mbps in urban areas, and 10Mbps in rural areas, with effective coverage available to at least 90% of the population by 2025 at a price not more than N390 per 1GB of data (two per cent of median income or one per cent of minimum wage).


In order to achieve these ambitious targets, the plan focused on recommendations in four critical pillars of infrastructure; policy/spectrum; demand drivers; and funding/incentives.


NDEPS and the NNBP also provide opportunities for the private sector to participate in the development of the digital economy.


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