The United Nations (UN) has pledged to support Nigeria’s digital economy sector even as it urged the government to make more investments into digital computing technologies.
Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina J. Mohammed, during a courtesy call on the country’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, in Abuja this week, urged for concerted efforts to spread the benefits of a digital economy to many Nigerians considering the strategic importance of Africa’s most populous country of over 200 million.
The UN Deputy Secretary-General commended Pantami in steering the ministry to lead Nigeria’s guided transformation into a digital economy.
The UN recognised that the rapid spread of digital technologies is transforming many economic and social activities; and also creating many new opportunities for millions of people.
However, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) first-ever Digital Economy Report 2019 notes the widening digital divides even as digital economy takes foothold globally.
“Technology is the lifeline of all other sectors from education to medical and financial services, and a lot of what the economy will see in the coming years will be determined by what we do now, in terms of investments,” said Mohammed.
Adding: “With the exemplary leadership we have in the sector right now, the Nigerian government should really prioritise investments in the sector. The United Nations really supports this sector and its leadership, to make sure that you are a big part of the success of Nigeria’s growth and development. Technology is what will bring efficiency and connectivity in all aspects of life and especially in the green transitions.”
Mohammed lauded the National Digital Economy Policy (NDEP) stressing it has become incredibly important within the framework of the 2030 agenda on the sustainable development goals of the UN.
While noting the role of the UN in spreading digital prosperity, Pantami expressed gratitude to President Muhammad Buhari for his efforts at diversifying the economy through various enabling policies and for making the sector a priority as the benefits are already manifesting.
The minister noted that the most recent figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics which puts the digital economy sector ahead of others with a 14.7% growth within the Q4 OF 2020 is a clear indication that the sector is indeed advancing. This also indicates a 13% growth within the year under review.
Pantami thanked the UN for its support and noted that more can be done in bridging the digital divide especially in the area of capacity building.
The UN report states that “digital wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few US- and China-based platforms. The gap between the under-connected and the hyper-digitalized countries will widen and worsen inequalities if unaddressed.”
According to the UN, global efforts are needed to spread digital economy benefits, and particularly close the gaps for countries in Africa and Latin America trailing considerably far behind.