The Federal Government says it is discussing with investors from Russia and other countries on the need to invest in the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart cities in Nigeria.
The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the side lines of the ongoing Transform Africa 2017 conference on ICT in Kigali, Rwanda.NAN reports that a smart city is an urban development vision to integrate in ICT and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets.
Shittu, who led the Nigerian delegate to the conference, was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.The conference is being attended by more than 3000 participants from different countries.
The participants include African leaders, ICT industry leaders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Non Government Organisations (NGOs) to discuss how to use technology to advance socio-economic development in Africa and improve access to technology on the continent.
Shittu said the provision of infrastructure would enhance the development of smart cities and help drive the nation’s extra ordinary potential on the global economic stage through the application of digital technology.
According to him, infrastructure development is a collective challenge to both the private sector and the Federal Government.
“If you talk of infrastructure as regards to ICT, you need to lay a lot of fibres across the country, particularly to the un-served and under-served areas.
“You also need connectivity by way of terrestrial facilities like the masts and tower we have all over the country.
“While I am here, I have the privilege of speaking with a lot of foreign investors persuading them to come to Nigeria because the country has the advantage of huge population,” he said.He said that he had spoken with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation on the opportunities that abound in the industry.
“I have spoken with the president of ECONET, Mr Masiyewa, I have spoken with Inmarsat CEO who will be coming to Nigeria by the first week of June, I have also spoken with courier telecommunications.
“When I came four months ago to Rwanda, I met with them and put in applications for them to bring in smart tower, that process is ongoing.
“We have renew our bid for them to come and invest in solar based towers to drive the communication sector,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria’s population is more than that of 14 countries in West Africa, which means that they have huge market waiting to be tapped into. “So any visitor who comes will never regret, we are working on all of these.’’
According to the minister, ICT is mostly private sector driven.“All the Federal Government does by law is to provide enabling environment for the private sector led ICT to be sustained.
“Ours is to regulate to provide enabling environment, provide all the encouragements that are required by way of tax regime, and security so that people can come and invest and make a lot of profit from it,” he said.
The minister also appealed to all state governors and other stakeholders to support the Federal Government in making Nigeria ICT based country.“Of course we need the patriotic participation of all states because Federal Government cannot do it alone.
“To transform Nigeria through ICT, we need all states to key into the project, they must get it right from the onset that ICT is the way to go.“We know of several countries that have no oil but have used ICT to develop and they have surpassed Nigeria in all their developments.
“So if oil prices have been tumbling down and there is hardly any other alternative to us, ICT has proven to be a veritable alternative which would bring in all the money and all the development that we need.“So we would appeal to all the stakeholders to key into it and then let us start on very steady part which will be profitable for development,” he said.