Those taking the ‘Change’ mantra of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Governent for a joke are getting it wrong, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday.

He said the mantra should not be seen as a mere rhetoric, pointing out that the policies of the President Buhari administration are anchored on the pillar.

According to him the administration embraced a comprehensive and holistic approach to address the myriads of challenges confronting the country.

Besides the challenge of economic diversification, the country was also grappling with the problem of infrastructural deficit, which would be needed for sustainable growth and development.

The Acting President who spoke at the opening of the “Smart City Summit” organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications in conjunction with other stakeholders at the Transcop Hotel in Abuja, maintained that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) “hold the key to change and future prosperity”.

He said the government has taken bold initiatives to change the narratives of Nigeria’s economic transformation by taking advantage of opportunities in the ICT sector.

Prof Osinbajo said: “The Federal Government has big plans for the Nigerian ICT ecosystem. There is unrealised ability in other assets the nation possesses besides oil, which are capable of growth and development that can generate surplus, one of such is ICT.

“ICT can lead to grand expansion of the economy that is needed to provide opportunities and benefits to many Nigerians. The key to change and our future prosperity lie in leveraging ICT in its entire ramification.

“The Federal Government plans to establish innovation hubs across the country. In partnership with several major technology companies, the technology hubs will be fully resourced with infrastructure and capacity building tools.

“Each hub will be designed to produce relevant innovative technology solutions to a wide range of business, commercial and government problems.

“The government intends to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally.”

The Acting President, who was represented by Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu, said: “the government plans to encourage innovative technologies to spearhead Smart domestic production, Smart Agriculture, Smart e-government & Health delivery, Smart Mobility, Smart Energy & Environment, Smart policing, and indeed Smart cities.

“The Federal Government plans to come into the technology space and help transform the sector by providing the necessary infrastructure and enabling environment.

“The government has developed and approved a new ICT strategic road map that would make affordable broadband access as an essential part of national economic planning in pursuance of the vision 20:2020 as laid down by President Buhari, in order to make Nigeria rank among the 20 global economy by 2020.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria recognizes the urgent need to increase access to, and usage of, internet and broadband services in Nigeria. Going forward, the country’s ICT development blueprint and National Broadband Plan (NBP) would be implemented holistically for the next two to three years to address the obvious gap.

“Efforts will be made giving the resources available, to increase funding for ICT infrastructural developments in next year’s budget to help drive all these initiatives”, the Acting President said.

The Minister of Communications assured that Nigeria would not be left behind in taking advantage of the expert forecast that the number of smart phones connections in Africa will increase from approximately 79 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 512 million by 2018.

He said the noticeable challenges of education and skill development, access to electricity, broadband connectivity and access to capital would be tackled headlong.

The minister spoke of government’s plans partner with stakeholders and global brands such as Huawei, HP, IBM and HSH Global, among others, to address the challenges.

Adebayo said that steps have been taken to establish ICT Development Bank, ICT University, ICT Park and Exhibition Centre and the Smart City Summit, to leapfrog the process of developing the country along other nations in Africa and the world.

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