The Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu has said that recent commitment of the Federal Government to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) can drastically reduce the huge amount of N1.5 trillion being spent on Nigerian students studying in foreign educational institutions.
The SA Media to the Honourable Minister,Victor Oluwadamilare, in a statement on moday in Abuja said if the federal government succeeded in establishing the proposed ICT University of Nigeria, the country will not only develop world- class local capacity, but also reduce the strain on the naira through reduction of foreign currency sourced for the training of citizens outside the country.
The minister said government is prepared to use ICT to foster youth empowerment and development through granting of loans, sponsorships and financial support among other innovative schemes to lucrative business ideas.
The minister who made this disclosure at a lecture titled; Jobs Nowhere But Jobs Everywhere: ICT To The Rescue Of Unemployed Youths And Graduates at the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan at the weekend, said about 20 million youths and graduates are currently unemployed.
Stating that the Buhari’s administration to use ICT as a critical pillar to leverage on job and wealth creation as well as on economy and a critical tool in diversifying the Nigerian economy and recognising the role of ICT in making it a reality, He said.
Shittu also disclosed that the plan to build a national ICT Park and Exhibition Centre in Abuja is part of the preparations for the 4thIndustrial Revolution is on course. Similarly, and that a plan to “build a $1 billion-dollar ICT company” to boost indigenous technology has been articulated.
Elaborating on the planned ICT University, Shittu said, “We already have the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) which is for short term training programmes, in six locations across the country and we will transform this Institute into the ICT University of Nigeria”. This unique University would by God’s grace take off effectively in September 2017 and would be run as a Public Private Partnership with the best business and entrepreneurship models.
“I have engaged with several stakeholders at the international level, Facebook, Motorola, Ericson and am still talking to many more stakeholders. We are encouraging them to come and adopt the respective university campuses as their own.
“I am happy to report that this project is receiving a global boost and endorsement. The committee set up has been working round the clock on the realisation of this objective, and has since submitted its final report on Tuesday 18th July 2017. A Vice Chancellor and other senior officials would soon be appointed.
“The ICT University will be a multi-campus institution of the present Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) located in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Asaba and Yola”.
He said a recent World Bank report revealed that ICT is transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive and global and accordingly, ICT is influencing employment both as an industry that create jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of works in new and more flexible ways.
He added that the ICT sector alone contributed N500 billion into the nation’s economy in 2014 and created about 2.5 million jobs in 10 years. The statistics also show that the sector attracted about $30 billion of foreign investment from 2003 to 2014.
The minister, therefore urged Nigerian Universities to take a cue from what is happening in the Nigerian ICT ecosystem value chain and put their various faculties on the path of growth and prosperity by leveraging on ICT.
He also promised that the government would provide the much needed infrastructure and favourable policies that would create the enabling environment for young people to innovate unhindered in the various start-ups and innovative centres across the country.
“The digital revolution that has the power to transform societies is already underway. Success belongs to those who innovate and seize available opportunities”.
“I want to assure you that I will go talking with development partners home and abroad on the importance of investing in ICT today to leap-frog the nation’s growth for today and the future”.
“If we must achieve the desired goal of placing Nigeria on the global ICT mark thereby using it as major tool for job creation, earmarking investment for ICT is not enough”.
“More importantly, we have to decide that we are going to do it by developing and churning out fit-for-purpose youths from our institutions for the exceptional ICT market and opportunities at the global level”, He said.