…We’re poised to deepening digital access – Danbatta
The Federal Government has applauded the commitment and dedication of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) towards enhancing digital skills development among youths, through the implementation of various Information and Communication Technology skill acquisition programmes. Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, gave the commendation during the inauguration of a Digital Nigeria Centre (DNC), a project executed by the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), an arm of NCC, at the Ijesa Muslim Grammar School, Ilesa, Osun State recently.
Representing President Muhamadu Buhari at the event, Aregbesola commended the NCC for timely and thorough implementation of the project, saying he was confident that the project will promote the connection of public secondary schools to broadband internet in Ilesa community and ultimately equip beneficiaries with 21st-century skills.
“I would like to thank my very good friend and brother, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, for assenting to our request to have the first of this remodeled project in Osun State sited in Ilesa. I will also like to thank the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta and the entire Management and staff of NCC and the USPF, as well as their technical partners for timely and successful completion of this laudable project,” he said.
On the sideline of the commissioning, Aregbesola also announced the establishment of President Muhammadu Buhari N100 million Technology Fund for Youth empowerment, to nudge the emergence of world-class technology experts. The Minister of Interior stated that the Fund targets 2,000 youths in the next two years, who will be provided with devices for training in different areas such as software development and design, amongst others.
The Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, who was represented by the State’s Commissioner for Innovation, Science and Technology, Dr. Babatunde Olawale, expressed the gratitude of the State Government to the Federal Government, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission, for initiative and particularly for inaugurating the pioneer remodeled DNC project in Osun State. Oyetola also informed the enthusiastic gathering that Osun State Government was willing and ready to collaborate with NCC to replicate the project in other parts of the State.
Speaking in the same vein, Pantami, who was represented at the event by the Chairman, Board of Commissioners of NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande, also commended the NCC and USPF on the delivery of the DNC project on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He declared that the project and similarly instituted ones were initiated by the government to give expression to its vision to effectively digitise the nation’s economy for increased prosperity for all Nigerians. Pantami stated that the Federal Government is focused on promoting digital economy across the country and that this had informed the renaming of the Ministry of Communications to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
On the heels of the re-christening, Pantami recalled that the Federal Government emplaced Digital Nigeria-oriented policies to reinforce the focus of existing policies in order to accelerate the delivery of derivable benefits of digital economy to Nigerians, regardless of their locations and circumstances. Very central among the policies is the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030, a 10-year, eight-pillar focused blueprint for actualising Federal Government’s digital economy agenda unveiled in November, 2019.
Pantami asserted that the DNC inaugurated at Ilesa was a concrete implementation of the Digital Literacy and Skills, the second pillar of NDEPS.
According to Pantami, the overarching objective of the DNC project is to facilitate the adoption of digital lifestyle in the schools as well as in the school communities. The Minister averred that the project’s significance cannot be under-estimated, considering its ability to improve digital skill for the youths and subsequently make them globally competitive.
Pantami said the Nigerian government is determined to arm the youths with digital skills, strong literacy and numeracy skills, critical and innovative thinking skills, complex problem-solving aptitude, the ability to collaborate and deploy socio-emotional skills, which they require to transform their lives and build the economy. “We have already made a number of giant strides in the development of our digital economy culture and the deployment of initiatives such as the Digital Nigeria Centre eloquently demonstrates the current administration’s commitment to connecting all Nigerians,” Pantami said as he equally expressed Federal Government’s commitment to its tripartite agenda of improving the economy, curbing corruption and enhancing national security through effective deployment of ICT in all nooks and crannies of the country.
In his remark, Danbatta, who was represented at the event by the Commission’s Director of Projects, Iyabode Solanke, said all the regulatory activities, initiatives and programmes that the Commission had undertaken since 2019, in collaboration with its critical stakeholders, including its arm, the USPF, have been targeted at giving concrete expression to Nigeria’s deliberate policy to migrate to a fully digital economy. He said the Commission achieves this by consistently committing itself to the expansion of appropriate infrastructure to enhance digital literacy and skills in view of the economic and social impact of digitization on all sectors.
The NCC Chief Executive restated the Commission’s commitment to the overall objective of bridging the digital divide through the provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as broadband access to the unserved and underserved institutions and communities in the country. Earlier, the Principal of Ijesa Muslim Grammar School, Ramota Ilesanmi, thanked President Buhari-led Federal Government for the project, saying that it will go a long way in meeting the ICT needs of students and residents of the city.
The DNC, formerly known as School Knowledge Centre (SKC), is one of the projects in the Access Programme framework of the USPF, conceptualized to promote the availability and utilisation of ICT and resources of the Internet in teaching and learning in public schools in underserved, unserved and rural areas. Specific objectives of DNC are to increase ICT literacy among school teachers and students; provide a platform for accessing online educational resources; equip students with ICT skills; facilitate ICT adoption in teaching and learning; as well as increase pass rate in Mathematics, English language, and other science subjects.