The world’s Global Economic System as we know is fast changing and the impact of digitization across nations is in the modern civilization which no doubt has come to stay. In western countries, Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship has scaled greater heights and its dominance is parallel to non. Nigeria and Africa as a whole is yet to swerve into the potency embedded in a Digital Economic System. The advent of COVID-19 inadvertently ushered in some aspect of Digital Entrepreneurship we can see today. It is worthy of note that the largest part of most nations Economic activities is basically dependent on Digital Systems.
Knowledge they is power, lack of knowledge leads to ignorance and ignorance is tantamount to illiteracy. Luckily, in this part of Africa, Nigeria; the apex government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who have employed the use of all digital platforms at their reach to tutor citizens on the importance of Digital Entrepreneurship which most participants learnt about during presentations by stakeholders at the just concluded “CIVIL SOCIETY ROUND-TABLE ON DIGITAL ECONOMY”, which took place in Abuja on the 21st of September 2021. The program enjoyed attendance physically and online.
The occasion commenced with the opening prayer and the National Anthem afterwards, the President of Civil Society Groups for Good Governance, Mr. Ogakwu Dominic Ogakwu made his welcome address. In his statement, he thanked everyone who took out time from their busy schedule to grace the occasion. Speaking further, he said the reason that spurred his move towards the advocacy is that most Nigerians are not fully abreast with the knowledge of Digital Entrepreneurship and how it can transform our Economy. “We are advancing and moving into a Digital Economy and the digital way of life. For us as Civil Society practitioners, we want to expand discussion on the subject matter and set the narrative in a better way it should go. We need bridge the gap between those who are digitally learned and stakeholders in the Digital space. The Civil Society community wants to login and take advantage of what is happening in the space, we need to understand the affluence of Digital Entrepreneur and how it can positively transform the lives of citizens and our GDP as a nation. We need to understand Fintech, Big Data, Robotic Process Automation, etc, Ogakwu said. In his final words, Ogakwu encouraged participants who attended virtually and delegates who were physically present to be open minded during the discourse.
KEY NOTE ADDRESS BY DR. AHMED ADAMU
Maximizing the Potentials of Digital Entrepreneurship for Youth Empowerment and Self-Reliance.
The discuss on Digital economy as it relates to youth empowerment was kick started by a thought provoking session which was addressed by Dr. Ahmed Adamu, a Petroleum Economist, Certified Brain Coach and lecturer at the Nile University, he spoke on the main theme of the program titled “Maximizing the Potentials of Digital Entrepreneurship for Youth Empowerment and Self-Reliance.” In his opening speech, he cited that “digital economy is the next oil and digital entrepreneurship is the refinery” Dr. Ahmed also expatiated that, digital entrepreneurship means adding value, solving problems, and making money online. With the much potentials, access, addiction for digital space, Nigerian youths have more opportunities to engage and succeed in digital entrepreneurship. furthermore, he also stated that it is highly imperative for the youth to address their consumption culture which is mostly limited to showing off or trying to prove a point and engage themselves productively because digital entrepreneurship is where the next oil money will come from. He went on to encouraged the Nigerian youths to embrace delayed gratification and abstain from all fraudulent acts. He also buttressed the need for young people to build and harness their skills because we are in the era of intellectual or knowledge driven age. He also condemned the lack of patronage and value on Nigeria goods as this keeps discouraging the youths from indulging creatively in the digital space. He added creators must also invest in advertisement and why it is important for the youths to use the social media space wisely citing that it is easier to do business online which comes with lesser logistics than the traditional way of doing business. In his final words, he challenged youths to engage in digital entrepreneurship in a scale-able manner citing Facebook, Amazon, Netflix who are serving the world population.
THE NIGERIAN COMMUNICATION COMMISSION
Understanding the Gains, Challenges, Prospects of the Department of Digital Economy Towards Economic Diversification and Social Prosperity
Speaking at the occasion, on the subject, “Understanding the Gains, Challenges, Prospects of the Department of Digital Economy Towards Economic Diversification and Social Prosperity”, the representative of the DVC, Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Engr. Austin Nwalune said that Telecommunication sector in Nigeria has witnessed significant and unprecedented growth as the country currently has 187,805,237 mobile lines, 98.39% broadband subscription, and 39.79% penetration. In his words, the telecom sector has transformed various sectors of the economy ranging from the banking, healthcare, commerce, education and agriculture. Speaking on the meaning of Digital Economy, he said that Digital Economy refers to the full range of economic, social, cultural activities supported by the internet and related emerging information and communication technologies. The three components of Digital Economy include; infrastructure, innovative services, entrepreneurship products and digital skills. He went further by saying that the Digital Economy offers Nigeria the opportunity to diversify its economy from over-dependency on oil and gas. He further revealed that the government is doing so much to incorporate Digital Economy in all MDAs. In his revelation, he said that the Federal Government launched two documents for the development of Digital Economy in Nigeria. The documents are;
- The National Broadband plan (NBP) 2013-2018, 2020-2025.
According to his statement, the NBP is to deliver 120,000km of fiber, 70% penetration, data download speed of 25mbps, and 10mbps in urban and rural areas – to at least 90% of the population at not more than N390 per 1GB of data by the end 2025.
- The Nigerian Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPs) 2020-2030
He further revealed that the satellite broadband capacity as at August 2021 include;
- Total Terrestrial Capacity approximately – 40TB – 78.8%
- Total Satellite Capacity approximately – 10.74TB – 21.2%
- Total Landed Capacity in Nigeria (Satellite plus terrestrial/fiber – 50.74TB -100%
In his final words, he reiterated that NCC has done tremendously well in the area of increased awareness, increased projects, programs and initiatives on Digital Economy, training and capacity development for women, children, and girl child, increased NCC led support for local innovators and digital SME’s, among many other contributions of NCC.
NATIONAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NITDA)
Fast Tracking Digital Economy in Nigeria through the mandate of NITDA
In further discourse, the representative of the DG, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said that some progress has been achieved so far on the area of digitalization by the agency. Such progress includes;
- Issuance of several IT development regulations
- Guidelines of the management of personal data of public and private institutions
- Guidelines for Nigeria content and development information technology
- Framework for public internet access
- Guidelines for clearance of incoming technology project in public institutions
- Guidelines for registration of ICT providers and delivery for MDA’s
- Establishment of IT hubs and digital centers across the country
- Provision of enabling environment that’ll facilitate the number of indigenous IT companies and manufacturers.
- Digital literacy and capacity building initiatives for civil servants, artisans, women, unemployed people and people with disabilities.
- Emergency response team for maximum security
In his statement, He revealed that smart initiatives have been adopted by the agency and such includes;
- National Adopted Smart Agriculture (NADSA)
- National Adopted School for Education (NASED)
- National Center for Artificial and Robotics.
He further stated that NITDA is interested in Digital Entrepreneurship as they carried out training for 6000 participants. In his final words, he said that NITDA is looking for digital innovative ideas that will go across borders as they have gained foreign partnerships like Massachusetts Information and Technology Centre, and Maschallenge. He said that such has opened grounds for technology innovative entrepreneurship scholarship scheme.
GOODWILL MESSAGES FROM SELECTED CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS.
Theresa Ushie Akwaji, the Executive Director, Rural Women and Girl Child Initiative,
In her goodwill message, Mrs. Theresa Ushie Akwaji, the Executive Director, Rural Women and Girl Child Initiative, said that it is imperative for the government to consider inclusion in the area of digitalization especially for the women and girl child in the rural communities. She also noted that women can do better in the area of digital entrepreneurship, if carried along. In her final, she thanked the organizers of the event for such advocacy measures.
Comrade Solomon Adodo (The President, National Youth Council of Nigeria)
In his goodwill message, the president, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Comrade Solomon Adodo, expressed delight with such advocacy steps. In his statement, he said that urgent steps need to be taking to address the high level of insecurity, inflation and the dwindling of our currency. It will only take the youth to build the nation as we are in the digital age, Adodo said. In his final words, he stressed that Nigeria needs to take a clearer road mapped action to rescue the country from where it is right now. He advised the youths to use their potentials wisely to promote National Economy and growth and that Digital Economy should be related to all aspect of the economy for maximum growth. He also encouraged NITDA to continue with the positive development programs that will better the lives of the youths positively.
CREATIVE STRATEGY AND OPEN DISCUSS SESSION
This section of the program witnessed creative brain storming question and answer session which was chaired by two innovative Nigerian youths. The first phase was anchored by The M.C Obinna Daniel Chukwuka (CEO and TEAM LEAD WONDERMAN DIGITALS). Mr Obinna Daniel Chukwuka who was able to give the program an objective direction because he is one of the principal brains behind the conceptualization, planning, and execution of The Civil Society Round Table on Digital Economy. A strategy and approach curation document was given to all participating CSO’s, they tabulated their perceived Digital Economy hindrances and suggest ways that these hindrances can be mitigated or controlled.
Mr. Micheal Edem-Duke engaged and gave participant opportunity to ask questions and answers where given by the keynote speaker, representatives of NCC and NITDA.
On ground and virtually, the occasion was graced with the presence of creative and innovative minds who have built a castle for themselves Nationally. The founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citizen Journalist Network, Mr. Micheal Edem-Duke, Mr. Ogheneyero Patrick, founder and Executive Director, Centre for Peace, Transparency, and Accountability, Mr. Daniel Obinna Chukwukwa, TEAM LEAD, Wonderman Digitals, among many other distinguished dignitaries were all present at the occasion.
These young minds who have made massive exploits in the entrepreneurship business did not fail to make their contributions, suggestions and opinions.
Highlights of the event includes a question and answer section where the representatives of NITDA and NCC assured Nigerian’s that they are doing their best to see that Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship takes a faster pace no time. Although the government has done much, we at NITDA are taking gradual steps in supporting and harness innovative ideas, Dr. Lawal said.
Part of the problem statement, opinions, and contributions of participants are as follows;
- Name – Mr. Mbama Emmanuel Chinedu
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 07068176617
Organization – Climate Change Strategic Network
Problem Statement – Electricity challenges to the SME’s and Eco-life. Management of electricity waste.
Possible solutions – Green energy such as scalable solar energy, and other green energy sources should be supported.
Contributions – Government needs to build an eco-friendly environment for technological innovations and Digital Economy is important because technology is the new oil.
- Name – Martina Eneh
Email – Enehmartina@yahoo.com
Telephone – 08157469052
Organization – OPTITEK
Problem statement – Bad network or difficult access to internet
High cost in terms of data usage
Lack of digital skills
Contributions – Government should help reduce the cost of data usage and train more hands that will be competent in digitalization.
- Name – Ofomhi Christopher
Email – email@example.com
Telephone – 08037017147
Organization – Integrity Advocacy for Development Initiative
Problem statement – Inadequate access to the latest technology and low computer literacy. Cultural and socio-economic factors are some of challenges facing the Digital Entrepreneurs.
Possible solution – Government should provide enabling environment by subsidizing technological gadgets and giving Digital Entrepreneurs free access to data network.