Ministry assures Nigerians of 30% broadband penetration by year- end

Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu.

• Shittu targets Bayelsa’s youths for ICT development
The Ministry of Communications is keen on making sure Nigeria hits the 30 per cent broadband penetration target set for this year.

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who emphasized on this at the weekend, informed that the government is creating an enabling environment for the sectors and young innovator to thrive.

He enjoined all relevant stakeholders to keep supporting the government in making sure that broadband becomes a basic necessity in every home. He said that some years past, the Internet was known to be used only in the educational sector for research, but today every facet of human development cannot do without the existence of ICT.

For effect, the Minister hinted that as part of the 2017 Capital Project, the Federal Government is building Incubation Hubs across the six Geo-political zones of the country to boost empowerment and growth in the sector.

Shittu said the Ministry is also thinking of promoting the establishment of an ICT Development Bank just as “we have Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry to assist in promoting the needed funding for the ICT industry instead of depending on commercial banks which charges high interest rate.”

Speaking at the ‘Bayelsa ICT Ignition Week’ and ‘Innovation Ecosystem’ in Yenagoa, Shittu expressed the willingness of his ministry to support the government of Bayelsa State in its quest to develop ICT human capital among its teeming youths.

He assured the state that the ministry of communications would provide all the required policy and personnel support to help the state create the appropriate framework for development of digital capacity among its young population.

“ICT is a critical component of the world’s economies today, having permeated all sectors. The importance of ICT innovations cannot be over emphasized as it has shown to be the world highest earning sector as most of the world richest personalities evolved from ICT innovations and entrepreneurship, hence the need to build the capacity of our teaming youths in digital skills to enable them compete with their peers across the globe,” said Shittu while commending the state for setting the pace to run initiatives designed for capacity building around ICT in the Niger Delta region.

“It is my pleasure and privilege for being with you on the occasion of the Official Launch of the Baylesa ICT Ignition Week & Innovation Ecosystem on the important theme: Human Capital & Youth Development in Bayelsa through ICT for Economic Restoration. It is apt and could not have come at a better time than this when government is putting all measures in place to leverage ICTs and to reposition our national economy,” said Shittu while being welcomed by Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson.

“This Ignition Programme put together by Young Innovators of Nigeria (YIN), in collaboration with Bayelsa State Government, demonstrates Governor Henry Seriake Dickson’s commitment to restore Bayelsa State youths with requisite 21st century skills that will transform the state’s natural wealth to human capital and will further boast the quality of skills by start-ups across Bayelsa State through investing in human capacity, which is a vital component of the ICTs growth strategy. “

We believe that our capacity to compete in the global market greatly depends on the ability of our people to innovate and apply the relevant technology for growth and development,” added Shittu.

Parts of the objectives of the ‘Ignition Programme’ are to create opportunities for startups to take their business to the next level; help develop Bayelsa State Technology Forum (BSTF); provide young people the opportunity to explore software engineering/application development; and provide a common platform for young people to interact with local/global industry figures and policy makers.

“The initiative is expected to open a portfolio of opportunities in entrepreneurship for young people to self-initiate and create jobs in challenges times such as the country is experiencing now,” said Shittu, and assured the governor and the state of support from the Ministry to help build ‘an army of geeks’ from Bayelsa State.

“We have come to recognise the critical role of IT in manpower development and the high prospect to build an economy out of unwholesome dependency on natural resources. Our youth are our wealth and we believe a centre that encourages their natural talent to innovate is important to building a new Bayelsa that is prosperous and peaceful. We are glad to have the honourable minister with us and his team, which demonstrates his commitment to the sector and our country, said Governor Dickson while thanking Shittu for visiting the state.”

Immediate past Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Peter Jack, drew on the governor’s words to declare that the new imperative for development was young people and technology.

His words: “The honourable minister has rightly observed that there’s no future outside of ICT and capacity development in young people. I am happy that the Young Innovators of Nigeria (YIN) has initiated to work with government at federal and state levels to provide the building blocks to create a knowledge direction for our young people in this state.”

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