Buhari vows to exploit digital tech for economic transformation

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    President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the Presidential Council on Digital Economy and E-Government, promising that his administration will continue to take advantage of digital technologies to transform every sector of the economy.

    While inaugurating the council, yesterday, in Abuja, the President directed the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, to chair the council on his behalf and give regular updates.

    He tasked the members to work towards strengthening the capacity of government to develop, adopt and deploy digital technologies to make government more efficient and transparent, thereby improving Nigeria’s global standing in the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) index.

    Buhari noted that the council, whose members were picked after a painstaking and thorough process, would provide the oversight needed to bring about a veritable structure for accelerating achievements in digital economy and in the implementation of e-government in the country.

    He enjoined members of the council to consider the task as a national assignment and justify the trust reposed in their ability to support and significantly enhance the country’s digital transformation.

    “I launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) on November 28, 2019 and expanded the mandate of the then Ministry of Communications to include Digital Economy. The implementation of that policy and mandate has enabled us to achieve significant progress and record a number of unprecedented achievements.

    “The impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on the global economy showed that the steps we took in developing and implementing NDEPS were indeed timely.

    The President expressed delight that the approval of the National Policy on Virtual Engagements for Federal Public Institutions helped to formalise government’s online meetings.

    He noted that statutory meetings like the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Council of State and others could effectively and legally take place online.

    Nigeria’s progress in e-governance has been noted by the international community, eliciting recognition from stakeholders, including the appointment of Pantami as the Chairman of the 2022 Forum of the World Summit of the Information Society, he added.

    While congratulating the minister, the President acknowledged that the ministry partnered with the Korea International Cooperation Agency to develop a National E-government Master Plan, approved by FEC in August 2019.

    He listed benefits from the partnership to include the training of over 1,400 Nigerian public servants in Nigeria and South Korea on e-governance; the launch of E-Government Training Centre handed over to the Federal Government in November 2019 and the signing off of Phase II of the E-government Project – for Building Foundations Towards Digital Governance in Nigeria (2020-2026).’

    Pantami remarked that NDEPS made provision for the establishment of the council to coordinate the development of an indigenous digital economy.

    Describing the implementation of NDEPS as very successful, the minister said, in the last two years, the sector provided Information and Communication Technology (ICT) intervention to no fewer than 1,667 institutions at the federal and sub-national levels.

    He added that the recent auctioning of spectrums by the ministry put over 400 per cent revenue into the Federal Government’s coffers, while two virtual institutions established by government trained some 500,000 Nigerians on digital and emerging technologies.

    The 27-man committee has Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed and others, including state governors, as members.

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