Vision 20:2020 is an articulation of the long-term intent to launch Nigeria onto a path of sustained social and economic progress and accelerate the emergence of a truly prosperous and united Nigeria. Recognizing the enormous human and natural endowments of the nation, the blueprint is an expression of Nigeria’s intent to improve the living standards of her citizens and place the country among the Top 20 economies in the world with a minimum GDP of $900 billion and a per capita income of no less than $4000 per annum.
Nigeria’s targets for 2020 are based on a dynamic comparative analysis of the country’s potential growth rate and economic structure vis-à-vis those of other Top 40 economies in the world. This implies that the Nigerian economy must grow at an average of 13.8% during the time horizon, driven by the agricultural and industrial sectors over the medium term while a transition to a service-based economy is envisaged from 2018.
Fundamental to the Vision are two broad objectives – optimizing human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth, and translating that growth into equitable social development for all citizens. These aspirations are defined across four dimensions:
A peaceful, equitable, harmonious and just society, where every citizen has a strong sense of national identity and citizens are supported by an educational and health care system that caters for all, and sustains a life expectancy of not less than 70 years.
A globally competitive economy that is resilient and diversified with a globally competitive manufacturing sector that is tightly integrated and contributes no less than 25% to Gross Domestic Product.
A stable and functional democracy where the rights of the citizens to determine their leaders are guaranteed, and adequate infrastructure exists to support a market-friendly and globally competitive business environment.
A level of environmental consciousness that enables and supports sustainable management of the nation’s God-given natural endowments to ensure their preservation for the benefit of present and future generations.
The need for a holistic transformation of the Nigerian state has assumed an urgent and critical dimension in the course of the last two decades. Notable is the increasing relevance of Nigeria as a leading emerging market albeit with under-utilized potential. With the return to democratic rule in 1999, and the gradual rebuilding of civil institutions and a vibrant market economy, the feasibility of Nigeria assuming a key position as a global economic power and a catalytic hub for development in Africa has become more profound. Using an all-inclusive consultative process involving over 1,000 of the nation’s leading professionals and thinkers, Vision 20:2020 is an authentic blueprint by the Nigerian people to set for themselves a stretch target to transform the lives of the average Nigerian, and by implication the Nigerian economy.
The roadmap for Nigeria’s economic transformation: How Vision 20:2020 will be realized
The economic transformation strategy for Nigeria is anchored upon three overarching thrusts:
1. Creating the platform for success by urgently and immediately addressing the most debilitating constraints to Nigeria’s growth and competitiveness;
2. Forging ahead with diligence and focus in developing the fabric of the envisioned economy by:
a. Aggressively pursuing a structural transformation from a mono-product economy to a diversified, industrialized economy.
b. Investing to transform the Nigerian people into catalysis for growth and national renewal, and a lasting source of comparative advantage; and
c. Investing to create an environment that enables the co-existence of growth and development on an enduring and sustainable basis.
3. Developing and deepening the capability of government to consistently translate national strategic intent into action and results by instituting evidence-based decision making in Nigeria’s public policy space.
The three pillars of Vision 20:2020 represent the building blocks of the future that Nigerians desire. The key strategic objectives of these pillars are outlined below:
Vision 20:2020 is anchored on the recognition that the people are the most essential assets of any nation. With a teeming and vibrant population of over 140 million people, Nigeria represents one of the largest markets in the developing world. Transforming Nigeria’s people into catalysts for growth and national renewal, and a lasting source of comparative advantage is the essence of this pillar of Vision 20:2020.
Given the nation’s history of wide income inequality, which is manifested in large-scale poverty, unemployment and poor access to healthcare, the disconnect between our economic growth and human development has to be addressed to increase the well-being and ultimately labour productivity of our people.
Nigeria currently ranks 158 our of 177 economies on the Human Development Index (HDR 2008), despite her rich cultural endowment and abundant human and natural resources.
Selected Human Development Indicators: Nigeria Vs Other Selected Countries
Vision 20:2020 recognises the criticality of attaining the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and improving the wellbeing of our populace, especially the under-privileged, including women and children.
To attain our people-oriented goals, Vision 20:2020 seeks amongst others to:
·Adopt a deentralised approach to the development and implementation of pro-poor programmes.
· Reform the educational system in conjunction with states and local governments to enforce completion of the mandatory nine-year Universal Basic Education programme, while building new capacity in technical and vocational education.
· Support small scale and rural farmers while sustaining the renewed national focus on commercial agriculture.
· Encourage population control measures to reduce the massive demand-pull on existing resources.
· Expand and enhance the primary health care system to improve access to health for all citizens while improving the national health database as a tool for proactive health delivery planning.
· Improve the availability, affordability, and transferability of housing units in the country through developing a new land administration and land title transfer system.
· Develop an effective primary housing finance system, and facilitate linkage of that market to the capital market to provide long-term mortgage finance.
Vision 20:2020 has a clear economic growth imperative, which requires a rapid industrialization of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria’s growth strategy will be underpinned by a drive to optimize the strategic drivers of economic growth for which the nation has already achieved considerable industrial maturity and unlock the potential of other sources of economic growth that currently remain under exploited.
The strategies to achieve this structural transformation are the essence of this pillar of Vision 20:2020.
The fundamental objectives of the economic growth requirements of the Vision are:
· Economic diversification away from primary commodities to processed and manufactured goods.
·Attainment of high levels of efficiency and productivity, in order to be globally competitive. As depicted above, Nigeria’s industrialization strategy is four pronged. The first elements to the quantum and structure of the primary production base to reduce the cost of input materials required in the secondary sector. The second element, which derives from the first, is the achievement of global competitiveness in the production of specific processed or manufactured goods. Industrial specialisation is critical to this objective, and Nigeria will anchor its industrial growth on six industries in which comparative advantage can easily be achieved due to the existence of primary resource and location advantages.
The third element is the stimulation of domestic and foreign trade in value-adding goods and services, and the fourth is to foster strong linkages among all sectors of the economy.
Nigeria’s strategy to achieving success in this pillar will be underpinned by two key departures from the past: Integrating Sectoral Planning, and adopting a Cluster-based approach to Industrialisation.
Vision 20:2020 will ensure proper integration of sectoral strategies to enhance linkage and realize potential synergies amongst the nation’s growth sectors. By focusing on initiatives that will foster the effective linkage of these input sectors to the domestic industry, Nigeria will unlock the latent potential of her primary resource advantage. Inter-sector strategies will, therefore, be designed to maximize the synergies that exist among the various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
To support the attainment of her industrialization ambition, industrial clusters will be built in each of the nation’s geo-political zones. These clusters would be built around different sectors based on the economic geography of the geo-political zones. The ‘hub-and-spoke’ industrialization approach will leverage the economies of scale and scope; and the critical mass of economic activity to catalyze development across the nation. The development of necessary infrastructure for these industrial clusters, leveraging private sector collaboration, will be a top priority of the Government under Vision 20:2020.
The third pillar of Vision 20:2020 is anchored on the need to create an environment that enables the co-existence of growth and development on an enduring and sustainable basis in Nigeria.
Over the years, Nigeria has experienced modest economic growth, driven primarily by the non-oil sector. The oil boom and associated income derived from oil exports have not translated into sustainable development and wealth for its citizens. The key challenges facing the sustainable social and economic development of Nigeria are the weak infrastructure base, especially power and transport, corruption, macroeconomic instability, security of lives and properties, over-dependence on oil revenues and poor governance.
The major flaws in policy reforms and programmes, developed over the years, include corruption, lack of continuity in policy implementation, inappropriate fiscal and macro-economic policies, ethnic and political division leading to instability of the political and social environment. The broad philosophical principles underlying the recommendations targeted at fostering sustainable social and economic development in Nigeria are:
A redistributive fiscal policy which will improve the revenue profiles of sub-national governments.
This will encourage the states and local governments to look inwards for fiscal sustainability.
Government’s involvement in the provision of critical infrastructure (power and transport) will be gradually reduced and the focus will be on creating an enabling environment for private sector participation.
Strengthening our democratic governance will involve tackling our perennial challenge of conducting free and fair elections while instituting a system of government that is transparent and accountable.
Key emphasis would also include:
Tackling corruption. NV 20:2020 aims to stamp out corruption from Nigeria and improve Nigeria’s ranking on the corruption perception index to 60 by 2015 and 40 by 2020. The root causes of corruption in Nigeria have been identified as social insecurity and over – centralization of activities in the Federal Government, and government will deal with these underlying issues and not just the symptomatic manifestations government will deal with these underlying issues and not just the symptomatic manifestations of corruption.
Enabling the power sector to deliver sustainable adequate, qualitative, reliable and affordable power in a deregulated market, while optimizing the on-and off-grid energy mix. It is expected that the electricity supply industry will be private sector led with government providing an appropriate legal and regulatory environment for private capital investment. An analysis of the power generation capacity required to support the Vision 20:2020 economic vision shows that, Nigeria will need to generate electricity in the range of about 35,000MW by 2020.
Promoting the sustainable development of Nigeria’s geo-political regions into economic growth poles to facilitate equitable development.
Transforming Nigeria Through Movies, Music, Arts
Oil since its discovery in commercial quantity in Nigeria has dominated the nation’s economy, oil exports have contributed 98 percent of the Federal Government’s revenue. This over dependence has made the Nigeria’s economy unstable, non-static and has displayed a large over dependence on oil incomes.
It is on this premise that studies have been carried out to identify other sectors of the economy that could minimise the over dependence and mono economy syndrome of the nation. One of the veritable sectors is the entertainment industry, also known as the creative sector which comprises the movie, music, comedy, arts and culture, among others.
As Nigeria celebrates 60 years of independence from colonial rule, an indepth analysis of these eventful years reveals that the creative industry is dynamic and has not only generated unprecedented wealth for the country, but has also created employment opportunities for her citizens, contributed immensely towards transforming the country into a leading nation in Africa as well as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world.
After Nigeria’s independence in October 1,1960, the cinema business rapidly expanded. In 1972, the indigenisation Decree issued by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon encouraged the transfer of ownership of about 300 cinema houses from their foreign owners to Nigerians resulting in more Nigerians playing active roles in cinemas and film businesses.
Today, Nigeria’s film industry popularly known as Nollywood is adjudged the third largest film industry in the world after Hollywood of America and Bollywood of India and contributed 2.3 percent (N 239 billion) to the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016. It is one of the priority sectors identified in the economic and recovery growth plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria with a planned $ 1 billion in export revenue by the end of 2020.
In the music sector, music has become Nigeria’s new export, in November 2017, Nigeria’s music star, Wizkid won the Best International Act category at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards held in London, the first for Africa-based artistes. At the same MOBO Awards, another Nigerian super star, Davido, took home the Best African Act Award for his song “IF”, a love themed ballad with a blend of Nigerian rhythms and RnB.
Since its release in February 2017, the official IF video has raked in up more than 60 million views on You Tube views for any Nigerian music video and one of the highest ever recorded for a song by an African
Across the African continent, other musical groups such as Kenya’s, boy band, Soto Sol, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz and South Africa’s Mafikizolo have collaborated with or featured Nigerian top stars in attempts to gain international appeal.
Reuters news service calls Nigerian music,’’ a cultural export’ and the Nigerian government is now looking towards the creative industry including performing arts and music to generate revenue.
Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics Report that the local music sector grew in real term by 8.4 percent for the first three months of 2016 and that in the first quarter of 2017 the sector grew by 12 percent compared with the same period one year prior.
The Price Water Cooper (PWC) reports that the global attention the Nigerian music scene has received in the past three years has been accelerating. There is no better time for Nigerian artistes to use data and insight to reach billions with their musical content which will help to reposition the country.
According to the vice president, International Strategy and Sperations Warner Music Group, Mr. Temi Adeniyi,” the promise of what could be achieved by Nigeria’s booming music industry in the next decade is awe-inspiring especially if the industry focuses on the critical issues of adequate compensation and piracy.
In Arts, the Director General of National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe noted that” culture is the new revenue driving sector which can serve as an alternative to the oil sector in Nigeria “
He stated this at the official opening of the 13th edition of Akwaa Travel and Tourism fare in Lagos in 2017. He maintained that culture was a viable alternative revenue generating sector that could help to boost the economy.
According to a recent entertainment and media output report by PWC, Nigerian entertainment and media industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.8 billion by the end of 2023.The report which was released in October 2019 disclosed that the market is dominated by internet revenue as it presently contributes about 61 percent of the sector’s revenue followed by television and radio which is expected to push towards $1billion in revenue by 2023.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “We are ready to explore and exploit the new oil. When we talk about diversifying the economy, it is not just Agriculture or solid Minerals alone, it is about the creative industry, about the films, theatre and music”.
The minister made the comments ahead of a Creative Industry Financing Conference held in Lagos in 2018.He noted that the Nigerian government is already providing incentives in the sector including a recent $1 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for young and talented Nigerians preparing to set up business in the creative industry.
He also said, “The country is allowing the industry pioneer status, meaning that those inventing in motion picture, video and TV production, music production publishing, distribution exhibition and photography can enjoy a three to five years tax holiday.
Other incentives such as government backed and privately backed investment funds are also been implemented. The minister noted that with the impressive performance so far recorded, the creative industry has been viewed as a sector that could help the government reach its goal of diversifying the nation’s economy away from oil.
Oil Exploration And Niger Delta Environment
From the first crude oil export in 1958 to the exploration of its associated products such as gas, the Niger Delta region for the past 60 years has not fared well in terms of sustained development despite being the source of the nation’s means of livelihood.
According to reports from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the region generates between 65% to 75% of all Federal Government’s revenue especially after the end of the Civil War in 1970.
But today, although oil and gas and its associated products still run the nation’s economy, its bye-products and impact on the region are quite devastating on both environment and the socio-economic life of the people of the area. The aquatic life, forests and farmlands have been so degraded that some areas are now devoid of human and animal habitation. Diseases and sickness are now prevalent with some communities are facing great health challenges.
Worried by these hazards, the late renowned playwright, and novelist, Kenuule Saro-Wiwa raised alarm in the late 1980’s about the fast paced degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta region. Although he was eventually killed during the struggle to find an equitable solution to the problem, the fight for a comprehensive study and remediation of the environment continued unabated despite the obstacles placed on would-be environmental activists.
The region is also described as one of the most polluted in the world. It is estimated that while the European Union experienced 10 incidences of oil spills in 40 years, Nigeria recorded 9,343 cases in 10 years which could be described as a deliberate effort to slowly eradicate life from the area through poisoning of the environment.
Following the long agitations and protests from the area, the Federal Government in 2016 finally gave the nod for the implementation of the long awaited United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report beginning from 2016.
In a foreword to the report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland as a case study, UNEP had this to say: “The history of oil exploration and production in Ogoni land is a large complex and often painful one that till date has become seemingly intractable in terms of its resolution and future discussion.”
It also says, “It is also history that has put people and politics and the oil industry at loggerheads rendering a landscape characterised by lack of trust, paralysis and become set against a worsening situation for the communities concerned.”
The situation in Ogoniland is peculiar to the rest of the Niger Delta region.
The discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa State was the beginning of the environmental crisis bedeviling the Niger Delta region.
It would be recalled that the agitation for environmental reparation of the Niger Delta region dated back to the colonial times.
The agitations led to the setting up of the Willinks Commission of inquiry into the fears of the minorities. Although the commission amongst others, recommended the granting of special developmental status to the Niger Delta, the recommendation was never implemented by successive Nigerian governments after independence.
The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon in the Niger Delta region can be said to be of mixed blessings to the region.
On the one hand, it improved the per capita income of the region through the creation of middle and high income earners. But on the other hand, it has led to series of environmental pollutions, thereby depriving communities in the region of their sources of livelihood.
This situation has led to series of crisis in the region such as the Ogoni crisis of 1990 to 1993, the Kaiama Declaration which led to the creation of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the crisis in Umuechem in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State and others.
Similarly, the development of artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta has also been blamed for contributing to the recent acid rain and black soot in the environment.
Although the Nigerian authorities may have taken some measures to ameliorate the sufferings caused by oil explorations in the region, through the creation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) which metamorphosed into Federal Ministry of Environment, the creation of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); inclusion of derivation into the Constitution and the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs have not been able to provide the much-needed succour to the people of the Niger Delta as the problems still persist.
Meanwhile, experts have attributed the high rate of poverty in the Niger Delta to the environmental degradation of the region. At a recent Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo shared a documentary of the current situation in the Niger Delta, adding that the region has remained backward despite its huge economic contributions to the Nigerian nation.
Ambassador Toyo who was secretary to the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration said, “it is frustrating to know that the context has not changed as these challenges still stare the region in the face.
“The Niger Delta is still very much degraded as issues such as the following are still debated upon: gas flaring, abject poverty, militancy, crude oil theft, unemployment, cultism and organised crime, poor state of infrastructure and underdevelopment,” she said.
She also said; “apart from lack of opportunities in the region, there is also the breakdown of law and order in the communities.
“Communities often fight over who gets what when development opportunities arise as seen in some communities in Ogoni with regards to the clean-up,” adding that such fight can scare investors away and the region will continue to suffer underdevelopment.
Also in its policy brief note on insecurity in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Dialogue Secretariat says, “there is an environmental dimension to insecurity in Rivers State. For several years now, Port Harcourt and its environs have been covered by soot.
“This is as a result of increased artisanal refining of crude oil and other forms of pollution in the state.
“These pollution-inducing activities from both illegal artisanal and legal oil production has increased environmental insecurity in Rivers State.
“This has negatively impacted on the quality of life in Rivers State,” it said.
Also speaking on the issue, a civil society activist, Ambassador Christy Iwezor said the Nigerian nation has not done enough for the Niger Delta.
She said 60 years down the lane, some oil producing communities have no water to drink and cited the example of some communities in ogoniland in which sources of water have been polluted.
Also speaking, another civil rights activist, Prince William Chinwo stressed the need for a policy that will incorporate the polluters pay principle into the Nigerian law.
According to him, if multinational companies are fined for pollution, they will be more careful in their operations.
He also blamed environmental problems on sanitary conducts.
“The problems of environmental degradation in Nigerian is caused by poor sanitary conduct of Nigerians and inefficient use of local government council workers on environmental sanitation.”
According to him, local government councils must also wakeup to their responsibilities of ensuring improved level of hygiene in their various communities.
The question is after 60 years of independence, have we really made any meaningful progress in the Niger Delta compared to similar environments across the globe where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy. It would be noted that the gulf countries where oil and gas are the mainstay of their economy have gone far ahead in terms of environmental remediation.
The 60 years anniversary should provide the opportunity for the country to further look into the Niger Delta issues.
How ICT Can Push The Envelop In National Dev
If it was just for information and its gathering, processing and transmission, it can be said without any fear of equivocation that Nigeria has never lagged, especially in the context of the development of that sector within sub-Saharan Africa. After all, the first crop of the country’s political leaders was among the best journalists and newspaper publishers in the region, namely Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro, among others.
Azikiwe’s West African Pilot and the Western Nigeria Television inaugurated in 1959 by Awolowo served to inform, educate and entertain the people while also effectively galvanizing them for the Independence struggle of the time.
At that time, radio broadcasting had already been dominated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). All the people did was to cluster around their short-wave radio sets for an hourly dose of news from London. Private radio stations were not a common sight, if they existed at all.
Cinema was a luxury then as the mobile cinema units of the various regional information ministries travelled around to entertain mostly rural dwellers who had little or no access to electricity and television. A community was considered lucky if it enjoyed such visitation as many as three times in one year.
On the other hand, telecommunication and its associated technology did not develop as rapidly, being the more expensive. For a long time after attaining Independence on October 1, 1960, Nigerians depended on whatever communication infrastructure their British colonial masters left behind. This consisted of the local town crier system, postal and wire services (including land telephone, telegraph and cable telegram). The Post and Telecommunications (P&T) Department saw to the provision of the latter services. It was later split into the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), now privatised as NTel.
Foreign companies like the International Telephone and Telegraphs (ITT) won major contracts for the development and rehabilitation of communication infrastructure, especially after the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. Recall that the late politician and business mogul, MKO Abiola, once rose to become its chief executive officer for the African region.
It is widely believed that not until the introduction of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) on August 6, 2001 by the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led civilian government did the face of ICT change in Nigeria.
The government took the decision to deregulate the telecom sector through its policy on adoption of ICT in 1999 by licensing such international mobile phone service providers as ECONET (now Airtel), MTN, and Etisalat (9Mobile) to set up shop in Nigeria. They were later joined by an indigenous telecom firm, Globacom, as a Second National Operator (SNO).
It could be recalled that the entry of Globacom into the telecom industry was at a time when call cost was N50 per second. The firm immediately introduced a pricing system that charged 11 kobo per second, thereby forcing a crash in the cost of mobile telephony as the competition was practically whipped into line. As if that was not enough, it soon undertook the laying of underwater international fibre-optic cable for superior service delivery.
Private Telephone Operators (PTOs) like Starcomm, Reliance Telephone (Reltel), Multilinks and Visafone were also licensed to provide mobile phone services but mainly on the fixed wireless GSM and CDMA platforms.
With regard to its social and economic impact on the nation, industry experts are agreed that the GSM revolution has led to massive employment generation. From the ubiquitous roadside under-the-umbrella call centres to the street corner cybercafés and cell phone retail shops the nation had never witnessed such rise in the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Additionally, available statistics indicate that the overall Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the telecoms sector stood at $32 billion in mid-2015; second only to the oil and gas sector. Others have even posited that, with the collapse of crude oil prices between 2015 and 2017, activities and earnings from this sector may have seen to Nigeria’s quick recovery from the recession of those years.
In terms of policy and regulatory oversight, ICT in Nigeria is said to be conducted under three major policy documents, namely: the National Mass Communication Policy of 1990 which implementation falls under the purview of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); the National Telecommunications Policy of 2000 with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) as chief executor; and the National Policy for Information Technology of 2001 to be executed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
NBC is the main regulator of the broadcast industry in Nigeria. Some of its activities include the issuance of broadcast licences, allocation of transmission frequencies, establishing operational standards and ensuring compliance with the broadcast code.
The Commission is, by law, required to report to the Presidency through its parent ministry (Information and National Orientation).
The NCC which came into existence via an Act in 2003 has regulatory authority over activities in the telecommunications industry. It has powers to license operators, encourage competition, ensure quality service, monitor tariffs and protect consumers, among others.
The NITDA came on board through a 2007 Act and is charged with the planning, promotion and development of IT penetration and projects across Nigeria.
There are four other policy implementation and regulatory bodies within the ICT sector. They are: the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA); NIGCOMSAT; National Frequency Management Council (NFMC); and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).
The non-ICT sector has also recorded some significant gains arising from developments in information and communications technology. For instance, the use of presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint in schools and corporate boardrooms, computer spreadsheet for accounting, e-learning, e-library, e-banking and e-commerce are some popular applications that have yielded good social and commercial dividends.
The use of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (POS) terminals and mobile money transfers have helped to decongest banking halls and also save man-hours that would ordinarily have been wasted in long queues.
Another benefit of ICT was made even more manifest at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown when schools were abruptly shut down and children who could afford it engaged in virtual learning from their homes. Even some of their parents were forced to work from home using whatever ICT means available to them.
Also, the New Media which is powered by ICT and includes Internet publishing and social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have significantly enhanced real-time information sharing and social interaction with people across the globe.
Personnel management and remuneration systems have been made easier with the advent of biometric exercises, electronic time-keeping and integrated staff records and payroll methods long adopted by the private sector, and more recently, the federal, state and local governments. Even the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the systems upgrade steadily being undertaken by some of its agencies are ICT-driven.
In agriculture, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration used GSM phones to dislodge middlemen while distributing fertilizers and other farm inputs directly to beneficiaries in the rural areas. This may have served to boost food production.
After successfully emerging from the latest economic recession, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration drew up a four-year Economic Reconstruction and Growth Plan (ERGP). In this plan was included an ICT Roadmap 2017-2020 which it hoped to achieve through activities of the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and which seeks to create two million jobs by the end of 2020.
Overall, the ICT sector still has the potential of yielding more positive results if only the government can follow through with some of its lofty roadmaps, especially those that aim to establish ICT Centres and Innovation Hubs in selected states across the country.
By: Ibelema Jumbo
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