The nation’s economy has been monolithic up to the recent past, owing largely to its dependence on crude oil revenues. Consequently, government has recognized the need to diversify the economy so as to attain solid and sustainable growth. Economic diversification is a global solution for overcoming rigidity of and vulnerability to the sector in order to increase reliance and productivity.
Efforts have been made over the years by various governments to develop the non-oil sectors of the economy by initiating various supportive policies and incentives aimed at encouraging economic diversification with varying levels of success.
The liberalization of the telecoms and ICT sector in 2001 triggered a realistic opportunity of economic diversification, as the sector is adjudged to be one of the major support services needed to promote growth and modernization of other sectors of the economy.
ICT breaks distance barriers, and as such, can act in its own right as not just an enabler but, indeed, an effective catalyst to drive socio-economic transformation, growth, development and modernization across all sectors of the economy.
The ICT sector plays a dual role in economic activities – as a distinct circle in economic system and acting as a sustainable means to other sectors. The sector has come to play critical roles in sustainable growth and development of nations. In Nigeria today, the ICT sector is the fourth pillar of the economy in terms of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. The sector is the fastest, growing at a rate over 25 per cent and currently contributes about 10 per cent to the country’s GDP.
Although Nigeria currently has a population of over 180 million people, it has many of its citizens living abroad who are endowed with both the technical and the financial resources to develop the ICT sector.
The Minister of Communication, Barr. Adebayo Sittu, who addressed journalists during a media parley on the proposed Nigerian Diaspora Direct Investment Summit (NDDIS) and Nigerian Information and Communication Technology Summit scheduled to hold in London In April, said the nation’s tremendous growth had begun to pave way for a vibrant connected future rich with opportunities for young entrepreneurs and UK investors alike.
He explained that the event, being organized in partnership with the Nigerian High Commission in London; the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on the Diaspora and Foreign Affairs; British African Business Alliance; the Centre for African Studies; SOAS and AFFORD UK and several other partners, was aimed at tapping into the potentials of getting Nigerians who are expert in the ICT sector, their friends and business partners to explore investment opportunities available in the ICT sector, saying the Federal Government had developed initiatives to woo experts in diaspora.
“The Nigerian Information and Communication Technology initiative is not a silver bullet or a magic wand from government designed to make all revive our economy with one shot. Rather, it is a conscious effort by government working with the Nigerian Diaspora Direct, private sector and all other stakeholders to forge a public private partnership to develop scalable, replicable, interoperable and measurable solutions that will make our ICT more sustainable and smarter.
“It starts by doing simple things, one step at a time. That is why we are willing to work and partner with everybody in the IT space towards this summit,” he said.
Shedding more light on the NDDIS, its executive director, Bimbo Roberts Folayan, said it was established to help Nigerians in the diaspora connect and set up their businesses in Nigeria, with a view to mobilizing the very resourceful but silent business class of the Nigerian diaspora who are keen to contribute to the development of Nigeria but have not been able to do so because of the lack of regulated opportunities, a properly structured approach and necessary information.
He pointed out that the summit would galvanise Nigerian businessmen and women in the diaspora and their counterparts in UK business environment along with international investors to establish new businesses in Nigeria, either as individuals, organisations, or by creating partnerships as well as ensuring sustainable development opportunities in the country.
“The summit is also an opportunity to identify potential sources of finance, technology and technical skills that could boost the promotion and stimulation of enterprise and the creation of jobs in Nigeria,” he added.
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