Utomi calls for creation of development zones



THE Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Values in Leadership, (CVL), Prof. Pat Utomi has urged the Federal Government to create zones of development around the country.

Utomi submitted that the current local government areas could serve as economic zones and not strictly for administrative conveniences. He also appealed to the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to thrive in the country in order to open up the economy by investing in infrastructure and create access to capital.

Speaking at the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition organized by Digital Africa Global Consult in Abuja, Utomi, who stressed the need to empower Nigerian youths with entrepreneurial skills that would help them become self-reliant, adding that access to capital is problematic in Nigeria because the institutions are weak.

He said: “We need to create entrepreneurs in IT. There is nothing better than example like the Abuja IT hub. Some years ago we wanted to create something like the Silicon Valley type of hub in Delta state and it was sabotaged.

There are so many smart young Nigerians who already have the capacity that create and leverage on the latent comparative advantage of that area development and it will enable us to open up the economic space.

The problem here in Nigeria is that there are no institutional arrangements for access to capital. Look at what Kenyans has done with mobile money.

Nigerians are clever enough to create solutions from many of the problems that we have and technology can help us overcome and we can export this . . . ICT growth, if you don’t have infrastructure, broadband access we need peer national strategies and incubators and we can then leverage on the infrastructure to open up the economy.

Our institutions are weak especially towards property rights. A lot has been lost due to our inability to pursue property right. Nigeria can earn a lot using technology to drive the intellectual property right.”

Utomi who also called on government to use technology to drive economic growth, explained that with each Local Government developing endowment that it has comparative advantage on, government must use technology to support how incubators play within those economic zones and help them develop value chains that are global and find financial support for the infrastructure that can drive development agendas.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Digital Africa Global Consult, Mr. Evans Woherem said that the conference is aimed at promoting the adoption and development of digital technology in Africa in order to make Africa an active participant in the creation and use of technology. He said: “We believe that Africans are highly interested in IT.

If you look at our schools you will realize that there are a lot of interest. Last year, we had digital Africa and it was marvelous the number of innovative products that came from our Universities, and so it is something that is possible, people are interested in IT.

When it comes to development of IT whether it is hardware or software, our people are very much interested and are able and that being the case means that the capability is there, what they need is greater effort for people to be engaged in.”

Mohammed Hayatudeen, who chaired the occasion, observed that despite low broadband penetration in Africa, which is one of the biggest challenges Africa face today, African countries need to make technology and innovation a strategic priority from the standpoint of a world view that Africa can invent and innovate, and must do so in order to liberate itself from the oppressive dominance of globalization.

He noted that Digital Africa can help government agencies and regulators formulate policies that better reflect market realities and help grow the economy adding that Africa need to move away from being a passive consumer to a leading innovator and user of digital technologies

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