… Pledges digital revolution, National Talent Strategy
Vice Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kashim Shettima says upon emerging victorious at the February elections, their administration will ensure that Nigeria taps into the $14.5 trillion global digital economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Shettima stated this at a Roundtable Discussion with Leading American Company Representatives at the United States Consulate in Lagos at the weekend. The event was organised by United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, and Consul General William B. Stevens in conjunction with the American Business Council.
According to him, with Nigeria standing at a pole position and being the continent’s largest economy with a high mobile penetration index, the new APC administration will fully position the country to harness the potential of the burgeoning $14.5 trillion dollars global digital economy as pushed by the World Economic Forum.
This is just as he added that in addition to implementing Nigeria’s Start-up Act fully, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu when elected will proactively improve the nation’s digital innovation and entrepreneurship policies as enshrined in the APC campaign manifesto.
“We will invest in research and development through funding and developing effective legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks and policies to support the thriving Nigerian innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We will support start-ups with promising ideas to develop them from inception to impact.
“Our party will support the development and growth of the ICT industry to facilitate the production, distribution, and provision of ICT products, goods, and services from the local markets to the global markets. Our target is to turn small and medium businesses into innovation-driven enterprises. We want to create more unicorns in Nigeria. Today, we have five (Flutterwave, Interswitch, Jumia, Andela and Opay) out of seven African unicorns.
“We will open the country up to many opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Drones, Robotics, 3D printing will be leveraged to transform Nigeria’s economy by creating new business models that will boost productivity, create jobs, solve pertinent issues and grow the businesses and sectors of tomorrow.
“Nigeria presents a sea of economic opportunities in virtually every sector, and the country’s youthful demography is an enormous opportunity in this digital era, hence the need to make digitally-enabled socio-economic development a high priority. Digital Transformation is a driving force for innovation and inclusive, sustainable growth. Innovations stimulate job creation, create new markets, democratise wealth creation, address poverty, reduce inequality, facilitate the delivery of goods and services, and contribute to the achievement of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Policymakers, change makers and impact makers need to keep pace with advances in technology. Recognising the efforts of the present administration’s Digital Economy initiatives, Nigeria is ready for a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to guide a common, coordinated response to create immense value and prosperity for its citizens,” he stated.
The APC Vice Presidential candidate also tipped the promotion of talent, saying it is the people component of technology and that harnessing the Nigerian young and talented population can make Nigeria a global talent factory.
“According to the Korn Ferry’s report, there will be an 85 million talent deficit globally by 2030, which will result in an unrealised $8.5 trillion annual revenue. All developed countries will be affected because of ageing, but Nigeria has a competitive advantage to fill the gaps. The recent PWC reports titled Nigerian Brain Exports: – the optimal path to growing the Nigerian economy validated our belief in our talent in Nigeria. Therefore, we plan to invest hugely in crafting and executing the National Talent Strategy. To support the efforts of Big Technologies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon, who have invested in building engineering services business units in Nigeria,” he said.
Senator Shettima explained that across the world, there is a high demand for investment in infrastructure and that from 2016 to 2030, there will be a need to invest an average USD3.3 trillion annually to keep pace with projected growth, according to a McKinsey report.
“Nigeria isn’t an exception to this as its population continues to rise at an accelerated rate. Therefore, it is imperative for Nigeria to accelerate the growth of the economy and to close its enormous infrastructure investment deficit, which is estimated to be around $100 billion a year, according to Moody’s 2020 report.
“The Tinubu/Shettima movement do realise that there is the need for investment in major sectors of the economy such as agriculture, education, healthcare, power, oil and gas. We understand that Nigeria is yet a far cry from what is obtainable in first-world countries but we are irrevocably committed to accelerating the improvement of the system through massive new investment and deployment of new technologies. We plan to expand financing sources for infrastructure development across Nigeria, using a blend of public and private capital including institutional investors and specialized infrastructure financiers who can provide long-term capital. We strongly believe this financing plan can address the rising demand for infrastructure through various levels of intervention.
“Needless to say, Nigeria as a country has benefitted immensely from the technical knowledge and expertise of our Western friends and companies. Thus, we would be open to further friendly economic cooperation in a transparent and sustainable manner.
“It is noteworthy that the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria (InfraCorp), set up by the Buhari Administration last year aims to raise about $40 billion, to finance infrastructure projects, with a seed capital of N1 trillion coming from the CBN, the (NSIA) and the African Finance Corporation (AFC). This marks a significant step towards closing the infrastructure gap in the country and if elected, our team would look at ways to improve the milestones of InfraCorp.
“Along with several other national interventions and multilateral financing support sources, InfraCorp is therefore crucial to help realise the goals of the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), created in 2020, to attract infrastructure investments of $2.30 trillion by 2043,” Shettima said.
He however noted that similar to other countries, Nigeria is faced with daunting challenges of growing the digital economy and these include inadequate technology infrastructure, scarcity of skilled digital natives and commitment levels by the Government at all strata in driving the nation’s digital transformation agenda.
“The APC manifesto has designed a roadmap to aid the Nigerian Government in navigating the Fourth Industrial Revolution and leverage its innovative technologies for a viable digital economy within a sustainable, realistic, inclusive, enabling, empowering, safe, and secure framework.
“Our manifesto recommends policy, technological and other interventions for the Government to promote a digital Nigeria that can harness the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Furthermore, the objective of the APC digital revolution is to harness the promises of digital technologies while avoiding its perils. We will support innovation to transform Nigerian society and create wealth and prosperity for all. We will encourage citizens to use digital technology as a source of inspiration to promote integration, create inclusive economic growth and stimulate job creation. We will invest in digital infrastructure to connect the unconnected, break the digital divide, and eradicate poverty for the country’s socio-economic development,” the VP candidate emphasised.
The round table discussions also had in attendance the vice presidential candidates of the Labour Party (LP), Yusuf Datti, the Peoples Democtatic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Isaac Idahosa.