ICT Devt Will Contribute to Nigeria’s GDP Growth, Says Minister

Nigeria’s Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has disclosed that the ministry would co-ordinate, facilitate and drive the development of the ICT industry to Increase its contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Productin a way that will catapult the Nigerian economy to greater heights.

Johnson told newsmen in Lagos that though Nigeria has had tremendous success in the telecoms industry due to the liberalisation of the sector, the ICT accounted for only 3.5 per cent of GDP, compared with 10 per cent for South Africa.

She stressed that the country could be transformed into a major ICT hub where knowledge, technology and innovation are used as tools to drive wealth creation.

She reiterated that ICT could be deployed to drive not only wealth creation, but also to empower citizens of the country and deployed to provide security, promote efficiency and national competitiveness for sustainable socio-economic development.

She said that though the country had had tremendous success in the telecoms sector as a result of the liberalization of the sector, making it one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world as well as the largest mobile subscriber base in Sub-Saharan Africa, its IT sector had not recorded the same success.

Unfolding the mandate of the Ministry, Johnson said the mandate of the ministry was geared towards facilitating universal, ubiquitous and cost effective access to communications infrastructure that included a national fibre optic backbone.

She said the ministry would promote the utilization of ICT in all spheres of life to optimize the communications infrastructure – digital content, domestic and software applications.

She also added that the delivery of private and public services in e-business and e-government and the deployment of ICT to drive transparency in governance to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of public service delivery was a mandate the ministry would execute.

On poor quality of service, Johnson said that poor service quality was an issue and promised to resolve poor service quality in the country by working with all relevant government agencies to address the problem.

She said that Nigeria required about 60,000 thousand base stations to have effective coverage of the whole country.

” Poor service is an issue and we need more than 60,000 thousand base stations in Nigeria. The United Kingdom with its land size of 250,000 kilometers has 70,000 base stations. Here in Nigeria, we are talking about 1 million square kilometres with less than 20,000 base stations. That clearly affects service quality”. She stressed.

Johnson also unveiled policies, programmes and plans that would be implemented by the ministry .

These, she added, would provide a launch pad for Nigeria to leap-frog from a resource- dependent to a knowledge-based economy.

She emphasised that the new ministry would work very closely with the private sector in Nigeria, international partners and other supporting governments through its implementing agencies.

The implementing Agencies are the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and the Nigerian Postal service (NIPOST).