The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the renaming of the Federal Ministry of Communications as Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the digital economy had become a global trend and was making meaningful contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“I am here to convey the message to Nigerians that the Federal Ministry of Communications which I supervise has been renamed and re-designated as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy; so that the amendment is the that digital economy should be added to the name.
“We came up with the proposal knowing that digital economy today is about to dominate the world and even in Nigeria, if you look at it critically, the contribution of ICT to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is increasing by the day.
“ If you look at the second quarter of 2019, you will find out that oil and gas contributed 8.82 per cent to our GDP while non-oil sector collectively contributed 91.18 per cent while ICT contributed 13.85 per cent to our GDP.
“So, even the contribution of oil and gas as only 8.82 while ICT 13.85 per cent.
“Now, the global practice is that nations are moving into digital economy and we felt leaving digital economy as just a peripheral in our country will not be for our economy particularly in order to give more priority to the priorities of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“There is need for us to have a ministry that will supervise the development and implementation of digital economy in Nigeria; most importantly, with regard to our economic recovery and growth plan.’’
Pantami said that in order to be in alignment with the global best practice, many nations in the world were coming up with new ministries as ministries of digital economy.
He said that in the European Union, a commissioner had been assigned with the mandate of digital economy while Scotland has also appointed a minister of digital economy.
The minister said more so, that Thailand had a minister of digital economy while in Africa, Bukina Faso had also appointed a minister of digital economy.
He said that the move was to make sure that digital economy was not a peripheral aspect of Nigerian economy but a central one.
“In Nigeria, looking at the contributions of ICT and secondly, looking at how our population, most importantly, youths are addicted to ICT; they are naturally inclined to ICT; so, I feel it is very important.
“No one will argue with me that if you look at the richest people today in the world, they come from that aspect of digital economy.
“For example, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com; he came up with that idea of Amazon in 1994; up to the 2003, he couldn’t get any profit; by 2004, he got his first profit and by 2017, 2018, 2019 constantly, he became the richest person in the world.
“What he did only significantly was to come up with that platform of Amazon.com; he doesn’t own any shop where you go and buy property but one that will provide that digital platform so that you will be able to connect potential buyers and potential sellers and that platform alone catapulted him to be the richest person in the world.’’
He said that Nigeria had advantages in terms of population and resources; therefore, should harness digital economy as a global trend to improve its economy.