Editorial: Making digital literacy work in Nigeria

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Early this year, the Federal government expressed its commitment to ensuring that 95 percent of Nigerians achieve digital literacy by 2030. This is a tall target yet it is achievable if the government go beyond verbal commitment and put all machinery in place to ensure this success. At the moment, the digital literacy in the country with over 60 percent of the population having no access to internet enabled phone is far below average.

But the National Information Technology, saddle with the responsibility of implementing the national digital economy policy for digital Nigeria said it is committed to ensuring Nigeria achieve the feat. The Director-General of the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said the government, in working towards achieving the goal had trained 200,000 youths in the use of productivity tools, digital content creation and digital marketing in 2021. This revelation by the DG was a commitment by the Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, in 2020 that the country would achieve the feat in 10 years. However, training 200,000 Nigerians annually may not take Nigeria near the target.

The ministry through NITDA unveiled the Nigeria Digital Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startup Policy a policy that is in line with the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to ensure that Nigeria tap from the global idea which is worth over 11 trillion USD.

The NDISEP is made up of five priority thrusts that are Advancing Human Capital, Unlocking Access to Capital, Enabling Infrastructure, Boosting Demand, and Promoting Innovative Entrepreneurship. The policy was formulated to achieve a digital innovation and entrepreneurship driven nation that would become a norm for improvement in digital technologies

Abdullahi said that the NITDA have crafted its strategic roadmap and action plan 2021 to 2024 with seven strategic pillars to help youths benefit from the national digital economy policy. Equally, Pantami, said the Ministry has established over 1600 centres and also developed 16 policies within two years, geared towards supporting digital economy in the country.

Lofty as these policies may be, Nigeria is plagued with policy misdirection and misplacement of priority. We put it to the federal government that there is no policy that is focused on the development of digital economy that is not hinged to availability of infrastructure to power the economy. In spite the rush of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to launch the 5th Generation (5G) network in the country, rural areas across Nigeria only have access to 89 percent 2G networks coverage while 3G has coverage of over 74 percent. It is therefore important for the government to ensure that there is adequate provision of energy infrastructure to power telecommunications infrastructure.

It is rather hypocritical that Nigeria, with a drive to ease business activities for both local and foreign investors would allow effective power generation, transmission and distribution all over the country to be an uphill task. Today, telecommunication masts all over the country are run by alternative power generating equipment that relegates Nigeria’s posture to ease business operations in the country.

For the country to therefore tap into the money spinning global digital economy, concrete effort must therefore be made to make sure that basic infrastructure are provided while equal measures to ensure that the infrastructures are secured and safe to void economic sabotage. More also, the Minister feared that the goal may be hampered by financial constrains but we suggest that digital economy is backed by active and full participation of the private sector. The private sector as a major player and beneficiary of a digital economy should be involved in the opening of the country to digital economy through Public-Private Partnership.

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