Nigeria

Post Covid-19: Virtual engagements to be institutionalised —FG

THE Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said that the  Federal Government has approved the institutionalisation of virtual engagements,   post- COVID-19.

Pantami said this at the first Annual Digital Nigeria Day with the theme, ‘Digital   Economy, a New Frontier for Economic Prosperity’, in Abuja over the weekend.

The Minister said the day was established in Nigeria on October 23, 2019, following  President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to recognise the day to bridge the digital  divide gap and expand the mandate of the ministry.

He recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved it then and gave the  directives to commence implementation of digital Nigeria on October 24, 2019, which   birthed the day.

He also said that October 24 was also established by the UN General Assembly in 1972   to be celebrated as the World Development Information Day to address issues on   digital divide.

According to him, ICT is becoming obsolete because the world is migrating to digital   economy which is all encompassing.

Pantami said that virtual engagements, which was adopted as an alternative means of   running governance in many climes with the advent of COVID-19, needed to be   sustained.

The Minister said that it was in line with the developmental regulation pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) toward a digital economy.

He said other pillars include digital literacy and skills, solid infrastructure   development, service infrastructure, soft infrastructure, digital services   development and promotion, digital society and emerging technologies.

“We presented a national policy on virtual engagements in Federal Government   institutions and the policy has been approved last week.

“The policy institutionalises virtual engagements which will be recognised even after   COVID-19 and will be accommodated in public service rules.

“Our public service rules is under review now and the policy will be accommodated in   the new rule,” Pantami said.

According to the Minister, there are already existing policies which will foster   implementation of the NDEPS and there are others in draft form which we are working   toward approval.

He said such policies are National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content in   Telecommunications Sector, National Policy on Digital Innovation and   Entrepreneurship, National Policy on SIM Card Registration, among others.

He also said the government was working to improve broadband penetration, cyber  security, increase patronage of locally-made ICT products to consolidate on digital   transformation and economy.

Pantami said that the ministry had two digital virtual learning platforms with over  66,000 and 114, 000 enrolments respectively to build digital skills and emerging  technologies.

He called on the private sector to join the Federal Government in the implementation   of the digital economy agenda while the government would provide the policy   frameworks and enabling environment.

Earlier, Mr Musa Istifanus, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communications and   Digital Economy, said the day was to promote the digital economy agenda of President   Buhari.

Istifanus called on stakeholders to join government efforts toward developing a   digital nation.

Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said ICT had contributed about 17. 83 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Inuwa called for collaborative efforts from both private and public sectors to drive the digital economy agenda.

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of  Nigeria (ALTON), said there was need to create awareness on digital behaviour among citizens.

“The ministry should collaborate with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to champion the awareness on digital culture, to let people know the outcome of behaviour online,” Adebayo said.

Other goodwill messages came from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Galaxy Backbone, Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Nigeria Communication Satellites Ltd., among others.

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