FG’ll leverage emerging technologies for transformation, says minister

The Federal Government is looking to leverage emerging technologies for socio-economic transformation in Nigeria, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said.

The minister said this in a keynote address at a regional workshop for Africa on ‘Standardisation of future networks towards building a better connected Africa’ organised by the International Telecommunications Union in Abuja.

Pantami informed the gathering of telecoms experts from various African countries that socio-economic transformation, through utilisation of emerging technologies, was the new focus of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

“The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is making every effort to reposition its focus and strategies.

“The new focus is on how to use new and emerging digital technologies to transform the socio-economic life and activities of the country and for its citizens to embrace a digital economy culture that would impact positively on the lives of the people,” he said.

The workshop, which involves a meeting of the ITU-T Study Group 13 Regional Group for Africa, is to develop standards for future and next generation digital networks.

ITU-T, through its Study Groups and the World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly, uses experts from around the world to prepare, deliberate and develop international standards known as ITU-T Recommendations, which act as defining elements in the global ICT infrastructure.

The workshop is to come up with standards for next generation digital networks that would support emerging technologies such as International Mobile Telecommunications-2020, Big Data, Network 2030, Internet-of-Things, Trusted Infrastructure, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Pantami noted that the emerging technologies would facilitate and enable a connected Africa by promoting and enabling ubiquitous broadband service provision and access to the digital economy.

He stressed the need for African countries to position themselves properly to participate effectively in the global digital economy eco-system.

Pantami also spoke of the need to bridge the gap in the standardisation of devices, equipment, systems and networks in African countries.

“Standards are critical to the interoperability of ICTs and whether we exchange voice, video or data messages, standards enable global communications by ensuring that countries’ ICT networks and devices are speaking the same language.

“It is obvious that the work of Africa Regional Groups in each of the Study Groups of ITU-T such as Study Group 13, is aimed at bridging the standardisation gap amongst African countries.

“To have a successful digital economy, we require global standards to drive and support robust network of technologies, digital platforms and a comfortable level of digital literacy,” he said.

The minister said Study Group 13 was well-positioned to develop the requisite standards for digital and IP-based Next Generation Networks and platforms for the digital economy initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria and similar initiatives in other African countries.

“It is important to emphasise that the evolution of Next Generation Networks has drastically reduced service providers’ CAPEX and OPEX costs and this has in turn enabled roll-out of a rich variety of services,” he added.

The minister explained that emerging technologies was a major aspect of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, which was inaugurated by the Federal Government on November 28, 2019.

He added that the Presidential Committee on the Development of a National Broadband Plan, which was mandated to prepare a five-year Broadband Plan for Nigeria (2020-2025), would submit its report later in February 2020.

In his remarks at the event, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated that there was a need to develop networks that could handle the peculiarities of the African environment in the drive to integrate emerging technologies in the continent.

Danbatta noted that the evolution of new and emerging technologies had made it imperative to develop resilient and robust standards for future networks.
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