President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday personally flagged off the 2017 e-Nigeria conference, saying “My presence here today is a demonstration of our commitment and strong belief in using ICT as a major driver of our developmental governance and economic reform plans aimed at bringing about the true CHANGE we promised our people”.
According to him, “ICT is strategic in driving productivity and efficiency in all sectors of the economy. Currently, almost all sectors of our economy leverage on ICT to increase efficiency, productivity and performance”.
The e-Nigeria Conference was organised by the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as part of efforts to raise national consciousness in the adoption of ICT in governance and economic activities.
President Buhari said the ICT sector has recorded huge investments and has contributed well over 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that “We are making conscious efforts to see that this contribution continues to grow in the next few years”.
“About 80% of ICT hardware purchases are imported through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments.
“This makes it difficult for us to benefit from the dividends of continuous procurement and consumption of ICT infrastructure and limited value retention within the country.
“As the most populous country in Africa, there are huge opportunities for ICT manufacturing in Nigeria. This, when harnessed, will provide job opportunities for our teaming youths, enhance the quality of locally produced infrastructure, reduce cost of acquisition and increase government revenue.
Buhari further called on ICT experts to come up with viable recommendations on how we can make the country an export hub for ICT hardware in Africa.
Giving more advantages of ICT to the economy, he said “We enforced the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA). Today, we are all witnesses to the impact it has made on our financial management”.
“We have so far consolidated over 20,000 accounts, resulting into about N4.7 billion monthly savings. In addition the policy facilitated transparency, accountability and ease of transactions and payments between Government and businesses as well as Government and citizens.
“Another initiative leveraging on ICT and making huge impact on the economy is the introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and Bank Verification Number (BVN). Its implementation has helped to eliminate the menace of ghost workers thereby reducing waste in the system by saving government over N20 billion monthly.
He also hinted on the prevailing Executive Order mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services.
In his submission, “Such measures are part of the deliberate efforts at encouraging local manufacture of ICT infrastructure, creating job opportunities, providing investment opportunities as well as strengthening our currency. We commend NITDA’s efforts on fostering the patronage of indigenous IT products and services through continuous engagement with indigenous OEMs, relevant stakeholders and other laudable initiatives”.
“ICT plays a pivotal role with agencies of government such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) which have leaned on ICT in improving public service delivery in an efficient and transparent manner. So far, 31 reforms have been completed by the Council and these reforms are already making noticeable impact on our economic diversification efforts,” President Buhari averred.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General of NITDA, Dr. Isah Ibrahim Pantami reiterated the resolve of the agency to deepen development of ICT in the country and growth of local content especially in procurement to reduce the high level of capital flight.
Besides, contrary to earlier speculations that the agency is under probe according to insinuations made by the Minister of Communications on a Radio Programme monitored in Ibadan weekend, NITDA had maintained that none of the anti-graft agencies are trailing any of its contracts so far awarded or paid for.