By Sarauniya Usman

The Minister of Communications,Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has approved the establishment of a Digital Literacy Council of Nigeria for the development of a National Policy on Digital Literacy through which appropriate digital literacy guidelines and standards in Nigeria would be promoted.

In statement by SA Media to the Hon. Minister,Victor Oluwadamilare, the Council is expected to develop a National Digital Literacy Policy and Strategic Action Plan for the implementation of this initiative as well as identify and harness opportunities for partnerships.

The minister who made this disclosure Tuesday in Lagos while delivering a keynote address at the 2017 Digital Citizenship Summit Nigeria held at the University of Lagos said this is in order to provide digital literacy services to Nigerian citizens irrespective of their geographical location within the country. Adding that its decisions will be implemented by the Digital Literacy Management Committee under the leadership of the Director-General,National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). The Council is already deliberating on its operational methods.

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Shittu stressed that digital literacy is beneficial because; it is a requirement for an individual to be competitive and be best prepared for today’s business world of advanced technology; it makes learning faster, allows everyone to study at his own pace, lookup words, data, facts, figures etc; saves hours per month for tasks that could only be done offline; and a means to employment because most jobs today require some form of computer literacy.

The minister informed the gathering that the National Economic Council (NEC) has approved a policy to harmonise right of way charges payable by telecom companies and related public utility infrastructure on Local Governments, States and Federal Highways.

This policy, he said, will minimise the spaces occupied, burden on the roads and reduce taxes payable by the telecom operators. On our part, we are ready to liaise with States and relevant stakeholders for the smooth implementation of the ‘Right of Way project’.

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He further brought to the knowledge of Nigerians,various efforts of the federal government in prioritising ICT, such as the plan to establish a specialised ICT Development Bank for the development of the ICT industry to cater for the needs of operators in the ICT industry which the regular banks cannot provide because of the time it takes to develop ICT products and services.

“In present day’s high-tech world, digital literacy is a requirement for an individual to be competitive and be best prepared for today’s business world of advanced technology. It is the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. It came to the fore in the last decade with the advent of platforms and apps that have changed the way our world works”.

“There are numerous digital applications that we cannot do without them today such as, Mobile Money transactions, e-verification apps that allow people to verify the authenticity of drugs and other products, e-learning, online transactions, Health, Education, Banking, workforce, bills payments, etc.”, he said.

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He said the Ministry has done so much to ensure the development of the Information and Communications Technology industry in the country and has remain committed in its doggedness to address relevant issues despite various challenges facing the sector by working with all stakeholders to provide guidance and direction for the sector.

The minister was happy to inform to say that the Information and Communication Technology Roadmap has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and that the ICT roadmap is a fundamental component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017 to 2020) of the Federal Government.