Participants at the Nigeria e-Government Summit 2020 have stressed the need for early adoption of technology and increased ICT infrastructure across the country that will promote economic growth and e-Government.
The summit, which was held in Lagos, and organised by DigiServe, had the theme: “COVID-19: Impetus for Accelerated e-Government Adoption.”
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami, who was represented by the Coordinating Director, FIRS, Mr. Femi Oluwaniyi, said the COVID-19 pandemic, despite taking the world by surprise, highlighted the importance and need for technology adoption that would keep citizens in tune with the new normal, where meetings and conferences are now held online and government activities are more accessible online.
According to Nami, “There is a need for early adoption of emerging technologies to improve governance and also improve the lives of Nigerians. Small businesses like Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), need to be empowered and government must begin to provide ICT infrastructure that could be leveraged by SMEs to further grow the Nigerian economy digitally,” Nami said.
He said FIRS was already at the forefront of technology adoption in providing seamless services for taxpayers, through the e-Tax and other initiatives of the FIRS.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his keynote address, discussed the importance of technology in developing Nigeria’s economy and e-Government across different states of the federation.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr, Obafemi Hamzat, explained how the state is deploying 3,000km Lagos Metro Fibre cables in order to address the shortfall of broadband infrastructure in the state, designed to boost high-speed broadband connectivity across the state. “Lagos State will continue to provide leadership for the adoption of relevant technologies that will enhance e-Government and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure spread across the state,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Executive Chairman, DigiServe Network Services, and convener of the e-Government summit, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, said: “Technology evolution has made it easy for government service delivery and no government can survive effectively without technology application. Nigerians, therefore, need technology to leverage e-Government services.”
According to Ajayi, there would be a detailed communique that would come from all deliberations at the summit that would assist the government in making its services easily assessable online.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Pro. Umar Garba Danbatta, who joined the summit from Kano through virtual conferencing, said NCC would continue to deepen broadband penetration across the country to enhance high-speed broadband connectivity. According to him, as of September this year, NCC increased broadband penetration to 45.43 percent, up from a paltry six percent broadband penetration in 2015.
“Telecoms subscription has reached 205 million and internet subscription has reached 150 million, with over 80 million Nigerians having access to high-speed internet. But in all of these, effective security must be put in place to guard against associated risks, which can affect e-governance, if not checked. NCC is therefore working hard to address cyber insecurity through the establishment of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), in collaboration with other agencies, to deal with cyberattacks,” Danbatta said.
The Secretary to the State Government of Akwa-Ibom State, Dr, Emmanuel Ekuwem, who represented Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, gave instances of how the state government is leveraging technology to provide healthcare and education services across the state. “Through technology, the state was able to establish remote healthcare services, where medical practitioners attend to patients in remote locations of the state, without physical contact. The same goes for the education sector where the state is leveraging technology to promote online education in the state,” Ekuwem said.
Highlights of the summit were the discussions from different panel sessions around e-Government and critical success factors in specified countries that were represented at the summit; The role of government agencies in advancing national e-Government plan; Domain name, Data Centre and Co-location, among others.