Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has applauded the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and CISCO Network Academy for their efforts in assisting the Federal Government of Nigeria in achieving a digital economy through the nation’s Academic Institutions, particularly universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education in training students on digital skills, emphasizing the importance of equipping citizens with digital skills.
Prof Pantami made the remarks while delivering the Keynote Address at the NITDA-CISCO SAFARI International Conference 2022, which was hosted at the Digital Economy Complex in Mbora, Abuja.
The conference themed “Digital Skills in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Impact on National Development,” is an annual event where experts gather to discuss the progress and achievements of CISCO Academy in mentorship and career development programs in the country, as well as to strengthen the partnership it has enjoyed over the years with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Pantami described the conference’s theme as appropriate and a reflection of the current administration’s foresight in aligning with global trends, stating that digital skills and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have been highlighted as key pillars in diversifying the country’s economy in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy.
“If you look at our National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria 2020- 2030, which was unveiled on the 28th of November 2019 by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, you will notice that these two components of the theme have been effectively mentioned and captured in the policy under pillars number 2 and 7. The second pillar is digital skills and literacy, while the seventh is digital society and developing technologies”, he noted.
Pantami asserted that the world is already in the 4th Industrial Revolution, claiming that emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Blockchain Technology, among many others, have replaced the existing emergence of computers, worldwide webs, and the internet that occurred during the 3rd Industrial Revolution.
“A significant distinction exists between general information and communication technology and emerging technologies.” Today, the world is being converted into a virtual world to the point where we are addicted to it and know it better than we know and interact with the physical world. “We have already entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he believes.
While highlighting the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the national economy through the emergence and dominance of a knowledge-based economy over a resource-based economy, Pantami revealed that in the second quarter of 2021, Nigeria experienced ICT and other digital services contributed 17.9 percent to the Nation’s economy, compared to 8 percent contributed by Oil.
The Minister stated that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is about knowledge, not natural resources and that companies like Microsoft, Apple, SpaceX, and Amazon have surpassed companies like Shell, Mobil, and Chevron.
Pantami commended the country’s educational sector for various policies developed to improve digital skills in their institutions, noting that the primary focus should be on equipping undergraduates with Soft Skills such as analytical thinking, critical thinking, project management, and hlHard Skills such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and the internet of things should be introduced to boost employability in the country.
Prof. Pantami claimed that “recently, we have reached a deal with Huawei and CISCO to create a minimum of 300 academies in Nigeria and to train a minimum of 30,000 persons on advanced training.” In addition, we have another arrangement with Microsoft under which 5 million residents will be trained in ICT, notably in artificial intelligence.”
Earlier in his special presentation, the Honorable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, praised Prof. Pantami for his outstanding efforts in sustaining a digital Nigeria.
Mr Gbenga Oderemi, the Ministry’s Director for ICT, represented Adamu, who underlined the Ministry’s commitment to equipping their institutions with the necessary skills to generate medium and high-level workers to play an active role in the country’s push for growth.
“We need to improve the existing teaching approach in our schools, and our commitment is to provide digital skills for our children, as proven by our policies, strategies, and projects,” he stated.
The Chief Host of the event, Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa CCIE, noted that the conference shows the nation’s leadership’s strong vision and commitment to transforming Nigeria into knowledge and skills-based economy.
He reiterated the government’s goal of achieving 95 percent digital literacy in the country by 2030, stating that “although lofty, it is possible, and with this collaboration, we will undoubtedly reach this 95 percent digital literacy before 2030.”
Other dignitaries present at the event were the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta who was ably represented, the Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr Vincent Olatunji, the Postmaster General of the Nigerian Postal Services, Dr. Ismail Adewusi who was ably represented, the Managing Director, Nigerian Communications and Satellite, Dr. Abimbola Alale who was represented among many others.