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Nigeria, China intensify plans to develop digital economy

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reassured that Nigeria is ready to deepen the relationship with China in developing a stronger digital economy that will benefit both countries.

He made the disclosure at the 2018 digital economic forum organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and Huawei on Thursday.

The Vice President who was represented by his Special Adviser on ICT, Lanre Osibona, emphasised on the increasing need of information communication technologies in the development strides of Africa.

Focusing on the theme “Africa-China cooperation in Information Technology and Digital Economy: prospects and challenges,” he said Africa has huge opportunities that can be leveraged upon to create a huge digital economy.

“Statistics have shown that 10% improvement in broadband translates to 1% increase in GDP.

“Bearing this in mind, effective collaboration and relentless efforts in developing right business strategies that will support the right model of investment in broadband cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

He said there are plans to digitize the government process in Nigeria in a bid to increasing transparency, accountability and effectiveness in governance process.

The ambassador of China to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian who described the relationship between China and Africa as a progressive one, stated that China remains committed to stepping up cooperation with Africa in information and communication technology and digital economy within the FOCAC framework.

He said since the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, the action plan made it clear that the two sides agreed to actively explore and push forward cooperation in ICT and work together to narrow the digital divide in Africa, much progress has been made so far in this area.

The envoy expressed strong believe that the expected presence of President Muhammadu Buhari at the upcoming FOCAC Beijing summit in September this year, will provide an important opportunity for further development of China-Nigeria strategic partnership.

Minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, represented by the Acting Director(Asian and pacific division), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, John Shaga, said “the prospect of digital economy in Africa particularly Nigeria is predicated on ICT infrastructure, policy frameworks and regulatory initiatives, human capacity building and the approach of Nigeria in responding to changes in global and domestic affairs”.

He called on ICT stakeholders in Nigeria to contribute more to public private partnership towards developing the sector.

Minister of communication, Abdul Raheem Shittu is confidence that Africa has recorded tremendous growth in the ICT sector within the last two decades.

“This development has been underpinned by rapid investment in and significant deployment of digital mobile infrastructure by telecommunication operators in many African countries, most especially by Chinese companies- Huawei tech,” he said

“In Nigeria, the revolution in the ICT sector has provided well over $32 billion in foreign direct investment over the last 15 years”

Shittu stated that “guided by the recognition of the boundless potential of our great nation within the digital economy, Chinese companies have invested over $16 billion to date in fixed assets and facilities nationwide to build and support most network operators in the country”.

He revealed that there are plans to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of innovation hubs in partnership with the private sector.

The digital economic forum attracted key players from the ICT, telecommunications sector in Nigeria and beyond, and is geared towards creating platform where the viability of a stronger digital economy in Africa can be discussed.

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