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eNigeria: Why I redesignated Ministry of Communications – Buhari [Full Speech]

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President Muhammadu Buhari has given reason why he redesignated the Federal Ministry of Communications as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, with Dr. Ali Isa Pantami as the pioneer Minister.

TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports President Buhari, who gave the reason on Thursday in his speech during the eNigeria 2019 conference, said promoting a digital economy in Nigeria will have a positive impact on every sector of the economy.

Read full speech: “I am delighted to participate in the Opening Ceremony of e-Nigeria 2019 Conference, Exhibition and Awards, where we will discuss a very important area of focus of my administration- The National Digital Economy.

“The Global Digital Economy is expanding at a very fast pace and several countries have used their digital economies to expand their traditional economies.  We have decided to be early adopters of the Digital Economy paradigm and this has informed my decision to redesignate the Federal Ministry of Communications as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The Ministry is to develop and implement a digital economy policy and strategy for Nigeria.

“Promoting a Digital Economy in Nigeria will have a positive impact on every sector of our economy.  The 2nd Quarter Report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for 2019 showed that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed an impressive 13.85% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.  This shows that ICT is a veritable sector for the economic diversification agenda of government.

“The Digital Economy is already playing an important role in improving security, fighting corruption and in developing the economy.  The issue of unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards had constituted a key vulnerability that had been exploited by men of the underworld to carry out their nefarious activities.

“We were happy to be informed that over 9.2 million SIM cards were normalized, blocked or deactivated in less than 40 days.  This is a very good development and will have a positive impact on our security as a nation. The Ministry deserves commendation for this timely and proactive measure and you need to stay vigilant to ensure that we never return to an era where improperly registered SIM cards make our mobile networks ready vehicles for crime.

“Furthermore, we have always emphasized our commitment to serving the citizens of our great country.  The recent pronouncements by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in protecting the rights of the telecom consumers attest to this fact and we will keep ensuring that Nigerians are treated fairly in line with global best practice.

“At e-Nigeria 2018, we gave a directive that government funded ICT projects should be reviewed and cleared by NITDA.  We are pleased to note that the process has saved government over 16.8 billion Naira. There is a need to maintain the tempo in order to help us to maximally utilize the resources that we have as a nation.

“The Digital Economy is already enabling us to fight corruption through the enforcement of digitally enabled policies like the Bank Verification Number (BVN), Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). These policies have saved government about N300billion annually and made the issue of ghost workers a thing of the past.

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“The Nigerian E-government Masterplan was recently approved and it will further streamline government processes and increase efficiency and interoperability among the different Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.  It will help in streamlining costs, fighting corruption, reducing duplication and improving the economy.

“Government institutions play a pivotal role in the development of a digital economy and we are committed to taking advantage of digital tools to transform government at all levels.  To this end, and as part of the implementation of the National E-government Masterplan, all government institutions are directed to create a Digital Transformation Technical Working Group (DT-TWG) to be coordinated by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and its relevant parastatals. In the same vein, all Federal Public Institutions should immediately start the process of digitalising their activities and participate in the training being organized by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

“Also, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies are expected to comply with the Nigerian e-Government Interoperability Framework, the Enterprise Architecture and the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation.

“We are well aware of the prerequisites for the development of a virile and sustainable digital economy and while we note that this process requires committed effort on the part of government, we are equally aware of the potential positive impact it will have on the overall economy.

“Government is working round the clock to ensure that improved and affordable broadband access is available across the country, especially in traditionally underserved areas.

“The Digital Economy is essentially an emerging economy that is driven by emerging technologies.  It is therefore necessary that we have emerging technology centres around the country that allow us to create a critical mass of digitally literate, highly skilled Nigerians that will help us drive our digital economy.  This will support our efforts to use digital technologies to create digital jobs that will lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

“We are delighted that our Nigerian startups were able to make their mark at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) and a Nigerian Artificial Intelligence solution, Chiniki Guards, took the first place, beating 750 contestants from 73 countries. We are also keen to encourage the development of indigenous technology tools like the Unity Board platform for building capacity and developing innovative solutions to local challenges.

“The Federal Government recognizes the potential of the digital innovation ecosystem.  We will support efforts to identify, celebrate and empower budding entrepreneurs with creative ideas.  We want our own indigenous success stories that will make a mark on the global stage. We are eager to create an environment that organically generates millions of digitally-driven jobs.

“As part of the implementation of the digital economy we will support the emergence of digital entrepreneurs and ensure digital and financial inclusion for Nigerians from all works of life. It is our aim to ensure that the digital economy is well integrated with the traditional economy in order to stimulate the growth of the latter.

“We want to ensure that Nigeria is more than just an observer in the unfolding events of the global digital economy, we are committed to taking deliberate steps to ensure that Nigeria becomes a key player in the global digital economy.

“To this end, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is mandated to coordinate all activities of the relevant institutions that are geared towards the attainment of a digital economy.

“We eagerly look forward to receiving creative and feasible recommendations from this important Conference.  Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, endeavor to see your participation as a unique opportunity to contribute to the emergence of a virile digital economy in Nigeria for the benefit of all.

“I thank you very much for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations. I hereby declare the e-Nigeria 2019 Conference open”.

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