In the just concluded ICT Start-up Ecosystem stakeholders meeting organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), in Abuja, Adebayo Shiitu, Communications Minister said that Nigeria has spent an accumulative figure of $70b to support IT start-ups in the last sixteen years.
According to him, the country did not hesitate in splurging such funds, because technology is the future of the world, the only way out to redemption from the economic quandary. He emphasised that every sector should accept and utilize the never ending innovations to boost growth in their individual businesses.
With the current episode where employment is looming hard like never before and there’s almost no faith in the government to provide jobs or absorb all the graduates in government owned parastatals, he says that spending such funds is a culture that will persist to improve the country. He said:
‘Whether we like it or not, since the government cannot provide jobs for everyone, the government must create an enabling environment for everybody to responsibly be engaged. If we can appreciate what is happening in other climes, it means Nigeria’s government has a primary duty, not only to create the enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive, but we must amass positive support and collaboration for innovators and entrepreneurship to be properly engaged, so that they can contribute to national development.’
It is considered that entrepreneurship may be the way to go but obviously, this will be hard for many people because the environment to operate independently is not enabling enough. Against this backdrop, Shittu agrees that the ‘Government has no option but to support the innovators and entrepreneurs in order to survive and create jobs to the teaming population’. With a population of about 180 million, how will the government possibly absorb a quarter of this population when in fact, the entire civil service consists of only 1.5 million Nigerians?
This is far from being a reality anytime soon and this is why he says that government will always be ready to support any innovation, he said. Currently, ICT is attributed to be the third in contributing to the country’s GDP, which is still lesser than the expectations. He opines that Nigeria should be able to match up with the standard of tech innovations in developed countries. Alas, the country is still many miles away.
While some developing countries are looking to have flying taxis and aircrafts, the country is still battling with the broadband infrastructure to provide quality internet service. In a couple of years, petrol cars will be taken off the roads to promote air quality. This is the kind of environment that will make start-ups and entrepreneurs function appropriately.
Dr. Pantami, Director General, NITDA was also present at the workshop. Addressing the attendees, he said that ‘the ICT sector is a catalyst in addressing the needs and interests of many sectors’. He agreed that leveraging on technology enhances business productivity and even better, is when two or more people collaborate to establish an idea.