THE Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbata, has called on the Federal Government to address the digital poverty manifesting in the rural communities across the country.
Danbatta, who spoke on a topic “Mainstreaming Information Technology for Poverty Reduction in Nigeria”, however observed that investment in ICTs alone is not enough for development to occur, for development to be sustained or for poverty to be eradicated.
According to him, successful ICT poverty reduction interventions can only be achieved if there is an enabling environment, the participation of the private sector and NGOs, the free flow of information, access to ICTs by women and youths, and capacity building.
Danbatta stated that the poverty level in Nigeria is not a true reflection of our population size, natural and environmental endowments adding that the poverty level in the country contradicts the country’s immense wealth.
He said: “A large percentage of the people wallow in absolute poverty with no food, clothing or shelter. In the light of this, we must ask the following questions: How and in what ways can ICTs help the Nigerian poor people and those who are socially excluded? What are the connections between ICT and the government anti-poverty measures? What are the areas that are likely to create opportunities for the use of ICTs where they have the maximum potentials to benefit the poor?
“Consequently, ICTs may be regarded as the enabler of other developmental efforts and infrastructure required for sustainable development. Only a banquet of strategies duly implemented can attempt to resolve the global menace of poverty.”
Danbatta noted Nigeria and Nigerians at all levels and geographical locations must embrace ICT for the growth of the economy and eradication of poverty. In other words, a key benefit of ICT is poverty reduction and eradication.
He assured that the commission would continue to support the vision of the present government to put Nigeria amongst the top twenty in the comity of Nations and to align our developmental goals in keeping with the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but particularly the goal to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by year 2030.
Also speaking, Acting Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, said that ICT is an enabler that affects all the sectors of the economy adding that technological progress has been the biggest driving force behind economic growth since 1990 and has lifted over 10 percent of the world’s population out of poverty.