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SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 2018 e-NIGERIA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION, ORGANISED BY THE NATIONAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NITDA), HOLDING AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA ON MONDAY 5TH NOVEMBER, 2018
I am delighted to be here at the commencement of this event – the 2018 e-Nigeria International Conference and Exhibition. The theme of this occasion – “Promoting Digital Economy in an Era of Disruptive Technologies Through Effective Regulations” is apt, building on last year’s theme that centred on Fostering the Digital Economy through Local Content Development and Effective Regulation.
2. This administration’s commitment towards delivering good governance and development to our people is as strong as ever, considering the huge role ICT is playing in the successes recorded in the past three and a half years.
3. You may recall that in my address at last year’s event, I raised a number of issues relating to ICT’s role in fostering the digital economy in Nigeria, including:
a. The sector’s contribution of about 10% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I am pleased to note that this has been taken seriously and stakeholders’ efforts resulted in ICT emerging as one of the key performers of the second quarter of 2018 by recording 11.81% growth.
b. We challenged the country’s reliance on foreign hardware resulting into the importation of about 80% of ICT hardware through local distributors of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) by MDAs and other government establishments. We stressed the need for concerted efforts aimed at reversing the trend.
c. It is pleasing to note the efforts by all relevant stakeholders in forging strategic partnerships towards ensuring that Nigeria becomes an export hub for ICT hardware in Sub-Saharan Africa.
d. The efforts of NITDA aimed at reorganising the registration and certification process for OEMs to ensure adherence to world class standards as well as guarantee quality and durable devices are highly commendable.
e. The Agency is encouraged to work with relevant regulatory agencies to ensure strict compliance with these new regulatory instruments.
f. Furthermore, the Agency’s work on the Nigerian ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship Vision that focuses on the development of Digital Infrastructure, Education Reform, Skills Development and Research and Development as well as supporting the ecosystem is highly commendable.
g. I understand that the Agency worked with relevant stakeholders in developing the document. I continue to encourage the Agency to use its regulatory instruments in ensuring full socialisation and implementation of this document.
h. We emphasised the need for the public service to be highly competitive, innovative and digitally-enabled to deliver public services and effectively drive government programs and policies. I note that NITDA and other relevant government agencies have taken this up by creating the enabling environment through the development of policies, frameworks, standards and guidelines.
i. I am aware that some of these regulatory instruments have been subjected to critical scrutiny and revision through a series of stakeholder engagements. Efforts should be intensified at making them public as well as sensitising public servants and the general public about the value of these regulatory instruments.
j. The enforcement of the use of the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and the impact they have made on the administration’s public financial management reforms.
k. In addition to the consolidation of accounts and elimination of ghost workers that resulted in a combined monthly savings of about
N24.7 billion, the TSA facilitated the recovery of huge sums of money including the recent N1.6 billion from a single account. These policy initiatives reinforce this administration’s fight against corruption by ensuring transparency and accountability in government business transactions.
4. You may recall the issuance of Presidential Executive Order 003 mandating all ministries, departments and agencies to give preference to locally manufactured goods and services in their procurement of information technology services, in order to strengthen its implementation as well as provide clear policy directions.
5. Presidential Executive Order 005 was also issued in February this year. This is part of the administration’s deliberate efforts and strong commitment at strengthening the role of Science, Technology and Innovation in the country’s socio-economic development.
6. Of particular note is NITDA’s initiative focused on the Registration of IT Contractors and Service Providers in collaboration with other regulatory bodies with special emphasis on competencies. This will ensure the delivery of quality IT projects, as well as facilitate the development of indigenous IT companies in line with global best practices.
7. You may also recall the remark about NITDA’s efforts at enforcing Federal Government’s directive on ensuring that all ICT projects in the country are cleared by it before implementation.
8. This will ensure that government’s ICT procurements:
a. Are transparent,
b. Aligned with government’s IT shared vision and policy,
c. Lead to cost savings through promotion of shared services,
d. avoid duplication,
e. ensure compatibility of IT systems and improve efficiency in government business,
f. enforce the patronage of indigenous companies where capacity exists; and
g. uphold the highest standards for service delivery.
9. In this administration’s efforts at ensuring full realisation of these objectives, a new Circular was issued in August this year, to reiterate this directive.
10. NITDA is expected to work with all relevant government agencies to ensure full compliance with this directive. Defaulters of IT Clearance among the public establishments are to be reported to government.
11. We are serious about fighting corruption. We must not fail in our quest to eliminate corruption in government businesses and in the wider society.
12. The success of this administration’s Social Investment Programme (SIP), tagged as the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in our recent history, relies heavily on the application of ICT.
13. Components of programmes such as the N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) and the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) all leverage on ICT. This programme has so far benefited over 9 million Nigerians.
14. Furthermore, NITDA, in collaboration with the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), is coordinating Federal Government’s initiative of establishing eight (8) Innovation Hubs, one in each of the six Geo-Political Zones and one each in Lagos and Abuja.
15. The purpose of establishing these hubs is to facilitate digital capacity building for immediate employment, entrepreneurial skills development, job and wealth creation. All these are aimed at promoting the digital economy in an era of disruptive technology through effective regulations.
16. Finally, I enjoin the Conference to come up with innovative ideas, workable and implementable recommendations that would help and enhance government’s efforts at creating the enabling environment for the promotion of the digital economy in an era of disruptive technologies, considering our peculiarities as a country.
17. While declaring this Conference open, I thank you very much for your attention and wish you fruitful deliberations.