by Laila Ibrahim
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday called on all African countries to become more active participants in the digital revolution going on in the world.
Speaking at an international conference on information and communications technology, in Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, President Jonathan observed that because of the strong correlation between the efficient deployment of ICTs and socio-economic development, Nigeria and other African countries stand to gain a lot from the effective adoption of the new technologies.
“Africa and Africans must be active participants in the digital revolution that is taking place all around the world. We must in fact be at the forefront of that revolution, creating information societies and knowledge based economies.
“African governments must facilitate and support the deployment of the necessary ICT infrastructure required to connect our citizens to each other and the rest of the world, we need to educate our citizens on ICTs and make them digitally literate so they can actively participate in this revolution, we need to encourage the development of our local ICT industries, creating companies to drive added domestic economic value, create jobs and support sustainable growth in GDP,” the President told the gathering which was hosted by President Idriss Deby of Chad.
Jonathan said to ensure Nigeria gets the full benefits of new information and communication technologies which include improving national commerce, the development of an ICT workforce, the creation of high skilled, high paying jobs, improved international competitiveness and the establishment of stronger, more competitive small and medium businesses, the Federal Government was judiciously implementing a National ICT Policy, National Broadband Strategy and Roadmap and the Guidelines for Nigerian Content in the ICT industry.
“The results of our efforts in this regard include an ICT sector that is 19% of our Services sector which in itself is 54% of total GDP. In addition to this, the ICT sector has an enabling effect on other sectors of the economy contributing a further 2.56% of added value,” Jonathan said.
He said that in addition to encouraging and facilitating the development of ICTs within Nigeria, his administration was also helping to increase the geographic spread of high capacity broadband networks to support the harmonious and integrated development of regional economies in Africa.
“With over 10 terabytes of undersea cable landing on our shores we are, through the bi-lateral Nigeria Niger Joint Commission extending that capacity to Niger and we are in the process of entering into an MoU with the Chadian Government to interconnect the optic fibre networks of Chad and Nigeria,” he told guests and participants in the conference.
Noting that information and communication technologies and the internet have clearly become catalysts that can expand the scope and scale of socio-economic development, President Jonathan commended his Chadian counterpart for hosting the conference.
The Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Dr Hamadou Toure, lauded Jonathan for his vision and leadership which has kept Nigerian in the forefront of ICT development in Africa.
Toure said; “For five years running, Nigeria remains the number one country in ICT development in the continent.
“And to have won it five times in a roll means you must have done something right.
“This is due to the leadership and the vision that you have in your country, and I would like to thank you on behalf of the ITU.”
He also expressed gratitude to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, for her support and leadership to the ITU over the years.
“In the past few years she has been the patron of our child online protection initiative, protecting children in the cyber space, which is the greatest challenge we face as we enter the cyber world.”