The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami, has forecasted that the Nigerian economy would be 21 per cent digital by 2021.
The minister, while speaking at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 2020 Graduates’ Induction and Prize Award’s Day, yesterday, said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the digitalisation in the growth of any country’s economy.
Pantami noted that there has never been a more urgent time to fast track digital transformation in Nigeria, saying that the digital economy drive was aimed at rapidly enhancing digital identification, broadband penetration, how bank accounts are run, etc.
While stressing the need for professionals to develop more innovative digital tools and competencies, the minister said activities in the banking, customs, and ports sectors, including revenue collections are being digitalised.
He further noted that broadband penetration at the end of July rose to over 43 per cent an almost 10 per cent increase in less than a year.
The minister said compared to the usual two per cent penetration witnessed in the years before, this is a remarkable step in the digital direction.
Pantami went on to disclose that the ministry was working to ensure that indigenous digital solution providers and entrepreneurs get preference, saying that the current administration was committed to consuming what it produces.
“The latest Quarter Two (Q2) 2020 report recently released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), showed that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector contributed about to 17.83 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from 13.85 per cent in the same period of 2019.
“Yet, the digital economy was not included in the disclosed figure. If the digital economy was added, it would have risen well above 45 per cent to GDP,” Pantami added.
Also speaking, the President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, Bayo Olugbemi, in his speech, charged professionals to take advantage of the digital economy to shape the future of the banking industry.
He said it was in recognition of the important role the banking and finance industry plays in the growth and development of the economy that the Institute decided to x-ray the topic, “Digital Economy: The Role of Professional Bankers.”
According to him, Covid-19 accelerated the pace of the digital revolution, making it imperative for Nigeria to rethink its approach to the digital economy, which has become the new normal.
He maintained that technology has caused significant disruption in the financial sector, noting that the implication of the revolution to the institution was that professional bankers need to acquire new skills, to be able to combine digital awareness with great people skills.
His words: “I believe that highly qualified, knowledgeable, skilled, dedicated, customer-focused banking professionals will shape the future of banking, as much as the new technologies that are transforming the financial-services industry will.”
Also, Olugbemi disclosed that about 1,864 candidates were admitted into the various categories of membership of the Institute, with 899 admitted into the ACIB, 41 into Chartered Banker MBA, 22 into MSc/ACIB, and 902 into Microfinance Certification programmes, cutting across countries like Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra-Leone.
Declare State Of Emergency On Refineries, Oil, Gas Dealers Urge FG
The Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on Nigeria’s ailing refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.
The association lamented the disastrous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and investors in the downstream sector leading to a loss of over N320billion.
The NOGASA spokesman Mr Ukadike Chinedu, said in a statement that the loss sprang from products purchased at government-specified prices and were compelled to sell at reduced prices, which could cover the costs of transaction.
‘Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses.
‘There is an upward slide on the graph of job losses in the sector.
NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation.
The association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months,’ he said.
NOGASA also urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to abort its planned nationwide strike but pressure the government to repair the refineries, and also allow others to build private ones; to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
NOGASA, he added, strongly believes that further disruptions in the currently-struggling economy will create far more problems for workers and businesses that employ them than it seeks to solve.
“It is in light of these and many other economic challenges and negative outcomes to the entire Nigerian economy that NOGASA appeals to the NLC/TUC to reconsider their proposed action over the increase in petroleum pump price and electricity rates by the government and engage the government constructively on finding a lasting solution to the issues aforementioned,” he noted.
He said: “NOGASA is seriously concerned about recent developments in the downstream sector of the industry, especially with growing adverse effects on their businesses, workers and the Nigerian economy at large.
“Some of these concerns are heavy losses of over N320billion investment from products purchases at government specified prices, and sales at compelled price reductions, which could not be justified by the costs of transaction.
“Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses. There is an upward slide on the graph of job losses in the sector.
“NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation.
“The association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months.”
Ukadike explained that while the association fully aligns with the NLC/TUC that the government should repair the refineries and also allow others to build private ones to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
“While the association believes that there is great need for more sensitive considerations and far reaching negotiations and dialogue to resolve matters that affect us all, the association also uses this medium to appeal to government to declare a state of emergency on the refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.”
WTO: FG Seeks Iran’s Vote For Okonjo-Iweala
The Federal Government is seeking the vote of Iran for its candidate, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the race to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Director-General office.
The WTO is looking for a new director-general to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down a year earlier than expected at the end of August.
Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala is among the five cleared for the elections.
The others are Kenyan minister, Amina Mohamed; South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee; Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri; and British ex-minister, Liam Fox.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo told the Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mohammed Alibak, that Okonjo-Iweala’s election victory would strengthen global trade and economies.
The minister stated that Nigeria would rely on Iran’s support for the election of Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela as the next DG for WTO, stressing that if elected it would be the first time an African will occupy the position since its establishment on January 1, 1995.
Adebayo further said the Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTA) earlier signed between the two countries in 2001, the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) in 2008, the establishment of the Nigeria-Iran Joint Commission in 2004, and the Iran Chamber, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture in 2016 should be sustained.
He assured the ambassador that Nigeria would work with Iran to improve on the current low trade volumes as both countries have great potential that can leverage on considering the fact that the two countries are oil-dependent economies.
He said, “We can also share knowledge and best practices on economic diversification and our national development goals as Buhari’s led administration is pushing to diversify the economy into the non-oil sector through various initiatives and a strategic partnership in the industrialization of key sectors that can boost efforts towards export of Iran and Nigeria.”
FG Places Nine-Year Presidential Jet On Sale
The Federal Government has put up for sale a jet in the presidential fleet, Hawker 4000 aircraft with registration number 5 N- FGX/ : RC 066.
The business-size jet which entered into service in December 2011, according to findings, has capacity for nine passengers and three crew members.
Further findings also indicate that only 73 Hawker 4000 aircraft were manufactured by Hawker Beechcraft between 2001 and 2013 and they were sold for $ 22 .91 m each as of 2012.
The Federal Government, in a published advert on Wednesday, disclosed that the aircraft with a range of 3 ,190 -nautical mile had flown for 1,768 hours.
It said the aircraft could be inspected at the Presidential Air Fleet ’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja.
Interested buyers were requested to submit their closed bid to the Chairman , Committee for Sale of Aircraft , Office of the National Security Adviser, care of Special Services Office , Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In an advertisement published in some national dailies on Wednesday, prospective buyers were directed to submit a refundable bank draft for $ 50,000 to the committee with the bid .
It also said that all the bids should be quoted in dollars.
The notice read: “Please note that all bids must be submitted within one week of this publication.
“Background check is required as a pre -qualification for the bid . Prospective bidders who want to inspect the aircraft will be granted access within one week from this advertisement”.
The Presidency had similarly in 2016 put up for sale two presidential aircraft , a Falcon 7 X executive jet and Hawker 4000, in line with the directive of the President that aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet should be reduced to cut down on waste.
The government also said some aircraft in the fleet would be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force for its operations . It could not be confirmed if this had been done.
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