Opinion

Ogun digital economy: Setting the pace

In driving any growing economy in the face of global economic challenges, a focusdriven government harnesses available resources at its disposal to open up value chain opportunities for meaningful growth and economic prosperity of its people.

 

While other countries are still grappling to diversify their economies on account of their overdependence on crude oil for survival and key into realities of other unlocked potential, the recent launch of the “Ogun State Digital Economy Infrastructure Project (OGDEIP)” is, no doubt, a path to success to the burgeoning economy of the Gateway State and the country at large.

 

The state has taken hold of the future to making digital access available to all the citizens and businesses and it is the most farsighted action any government can take in the present time. Ogun State is blazing the trail of excellence as an investment destination of choice.

 

Thus, its proximity to Lagos State, the fifth largest economy in Africa, is a plus to the novel initiative in response to both the pull and push factors which are by no means a gradual process to the birth of direct investments to the state.

 

The benefits of the digital economy infrastructure are numerous. It is an infrastructure that will bring about great economic development, great access to youths and also attract more investments to drive end results, among others.

 

The journey to digitize the Gateway State began in 2019 given the clear vision of the helmsman Prince Dapo Abiodun and his robust background as a private investor to turn around the economic fortunes of the state on assumption of office.

 

Bringing his business acumen in the private sector to bear on the economic planning on the state, the governor has not betrayed the trust and confidence reposed in him by the good people of Ogun State when they gave him the popular mandate to lead them in 2019. Arguably,

 

Ogun is the first state to catch up with the realities of digitizing its economy and in keying into the critical component of President Muhammadu Buhari’s objectives of “broadband connectivity for all by 2023”. By and large, Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, while appraising the benefits underscoring the initiative, noted that digital economy technology is dependent on the future of all aspects of human existence, such as business, education, healthcare, governance, security, and the practice of every profession.

 

According to him: “Indeed, access to broadband and modern technology tools has become compulsory for any community that seeks meaningful growth, security and prosperity for its people. “So, I would like to commend our futuristic, dynamic, innovative and digitally compliant Governor, Dapo Abiodun, for credible and relevant initiative, by bringing broadband to homes, businesses and offices in Ogun State. You are opening up Ogun State’s residences and businesses digitally, not just across Nigeria, but to the entire universe.

 

“This project is a critical component of Mr President’s objectives of broad-band connectivity for all by 2023.

 

This ambition, as you know, is now enshrined in our Economic Sustainability Plan and as part of the national commitment to make broadband connectivity available to all. You will recall that, in 2017, the state governors under the auspices of the National Economic Council agreed to harmonise a right of way charge payable by telecommunication companies and related public utility infrastructure on local governments, states and Federal highways to encourage co-location of the companies that fibre the cables.

 

“In another demonstration of the government’s commitment in this regard, the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy launched a National Broadband Plan which is designed to deliver data downloads units across Nigeria with a minimum of 25A BPS in urban areas and 10 MPPS in rural areas with effective coverage available to, at least, 90 percent of the population by 2025 at affordable prices.”

 

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, stated that the expected returns on the marriage of commitment and partnership by the administration is as a result of the commitment to providing good governance while partnering with the private sector to bring about corporate and individual prosperity for all the citizens.

 

Abiodun commended the initiative of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) as being supervised by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy that have made it possible for Nigerians to continue to take advantage of the opportunities offered to be more creative and highly innovative.

“We all felt and saw the positive effects of the deployment of ICT towards resolving various challenges that have culminated in creating more employment opportunities and poverty alleviation.

 

This was very obvious during the critical period of COVID-19 when many Nigerians had to work from home; where businesses were transacted virtually and payments made online. Virtual online meetings became the inthing as almost every aspect of the economy and personal life and living depended on ICT and got digitized.

“No doubt, the Federal government policy of creating a thriving digital economy will enable the people, especially the youths to take advantage of information superhighway and new technologies to become leading players in our globalized world.

 

In fact, it will serve as a viable platform for strengthening the economic diversification as well as the attainment of many key national objectives of fighting corruption, improving security, job creation and expanding the economy,” averred the governor.

 

According to Abiodun, the formal launch of the OGDEIP is aimed at formally deepening the various advantages of information technology advancements into all sectors and making ICT an indispensable point of the economy. ICT, he said, has continued to account for more than 21 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and hence, continued to provide countless job opportunities for the growing educated and creative citizenry.

Furthermore, Abiodun underscored the importance of the OGDEIP in providing broadband connectivity to every nook and cranny of the state.

The project which is a joint effort between the administration and its technical partner, 21st Century Technologies Limited (21CTL) is to deliver fibre-optic cables and mechanics across all the 20 Local Government Areas within the next two years.

 

• Ezekiel writes from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital

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