Journalists in the Information and Communications Technology sector, under the aegis of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), comprising reporters and editors in broadcast, print and online media have called for the nomination and appointment of a competent Minister of Communications and Digital Economy in the new administration of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
In a statement that aggregated the views of members and the position of the Association, the group, which had in the past consistently engaged stakeholders towards the growth and development of the ICT industry, noted that it will spell retrogression if a Minster, who is not in tune with growth indices in the industry is appointed to drive the most important sector of the economy.
According to the Chairman of NITRA, Chike Onwuegbuchi, it is imperative to put a round peg in a round hole when appointing the next Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
He said: “As an Association, we implore the President to look at the antecedents of proposed individuals and bring forth someone who has played well in the ICT industry.
Someone who knows the challenges, gaps and needs of the industry, and is ready t tackle them head-on to achieve results.”
He noted that in the past few years, the ICT industry has experienced much growth, but still has a long way to go to be globally competitive, especially in future techs.
In his views, Pioneer Chairman of NITRA, Emma Okonji, highlighted some attributes expected of the next Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
“We need a Minister with technology discipline who is digitally savvy and ready to collaborate with industry stakeholders in driving technology development in Nigeria.
Such Minister should come from among the various IT bodies and organisations that are registered in Nigeria, and not a politician.
The Minister should be ready and willing to work with ICT Media in enhancing technology development in Nigeria.”
He further noted that the minister needs to focus more on Tech Startup development in Nigeria and provide the necessary funding, support and mentorship for growth.
“It will help the country to produce several unicorns that will drive technology development in the country.
“The Minister should focus on SME growth using technology as the driving force. Again the Minister should look into the feud between Telcos and the Banks to build cordial working relationships among them that will promote growth and development in the ICT sector.”
Echoing the same thoughts, Group Technology Editor, Leadership Group Limited, Chima Akwaja, said the new Minister must be a technocrat who should be well versed in Telecom industry issues and a core professional.
Speaking further on the task ahead, Akwaja noted: “He should give the agencies in the Ministry free hands to operate.
He should not encroach on their functions; focus on the creation of tech hubs in the 6 geopolitical zones and encourage states to have their hubs to train and nurture tech talents; partner with higher institutions on new digital skills training and modules;strategically work with ICT bodies and associations to create a level playing field and attract FDIs; and ensure there is harmony and synergy among the agencies and other inter-agency regulators.
He also said the minister should work towards creating technology banks that would provide seed capital to tech entrepreneurs/startups in the country, and work to promote local content in technology usage.