Osinbajo explains Nigeria’s interest in developing digital sector

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The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has explained Nigeria’s interest in the development of the digital economy.

According to him;

“The focus of the Nigerian government on the digital sector is crucial in various socio-economic aspects of national life, from education, e-commerce, social investments programmes to the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.”

Osinbajo stated this on Friday during a fireside chat with Facebook’s Vice President on Global Affairs and Communications, former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Sir Nick Clegg. The chat focused on the digital economic pillar of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP.

According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo’s explanation during the fireside chat was however greeted with the news of the plan of the social media giant, Facebook, to open a Nigerian office in Lagos.

Clegg and other Facebook officials, including Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s Head of Public Policy, Africa, had informed the Vice President about the decision to open the company’s second African office in Lagos before the end of the year.

It would be recalled that a delegation of the Federal Government, led by the VP and including the Communications & Digital Economy Minister, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, had visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and one of the issues on the table then was how such global tech giants like Facebook could have full representation in the country, including a Nigerian office.

According to the Vice President during the fireside chat on Friday, the focus of the Nigerian government on the digital sector is crucial in various socio-economic aspects of national life, from education, e-commerce, social investments programmes to the activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

He said;

“The NESP is our response to the economic crisis caused by the (COVID-19) pandemic. Our focus on the digital sector is really because practically everything we are doing centres around expanding our reach in the digital sector.

The VP also noted that the Federal Government is collaborating with the private sector to fund, establish and expand e-learning and education platforms, and other areas of digital technology growth.

“Practically everything is now being done remotely. Earlier on today, I did a virtual commissioning of the MSME clinic in Lagos, sitting in my office in Abuja. So, for us, the digital space is very important, which is why the focus was on the digital economy in the Economic Sustainability Plan.

“We are led by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, which is the ministry fully devoted to all of what we do in the digital space. We have NITDA, an agency responsible for information technology (policy implementation); as well as the private sector.”

Recalling the trip to Silicon Valley and Facebook campus in the US in 2018, the VP stated that the tours helped to boost the government’s digital drive, while leading to significant improvement in the country’s digital sector.

On his part, Sir Clegg noted that he was impressed with Nigeria’s broadband goals and what the government is doing to improve the digital sector.

He said;

“Let me say how excited I am, on behalf of the whole of Facebook and all of our teams, of the emerging ambitions that we see in the broadband space in Nigeria, particularly with the Economic Sustainability Plan led by His Excellency, the Vice President. What a huge pleasure for me to hear directly from the Vice President about these ambitions.”

At the chat also attended by the Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Facebook announced that it will be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria. This would be its second office on the African continent as the tech giant officials explained that the opening is part of its continued commitment and ongoing investment in Africa.

According to Facebook officials, this is aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the office is expected to become fully operational in 2021. The Facebook Nigeria office will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.

According to Facebook;

“The office will be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.”

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