ICT to create jobs for 23m unemployed Nigerians — Zinox boss
THE Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is being expected to create jobs for about 23 million unemployed Nigerians, the Chairman, Zinox Group, Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, has said.
Besides the sector creating millions of jobs in the country, Ekeh posited that in the face of the dwindling global oil prices, more investments in ICT was critical in sustaining the economy on the long run.
Ekeh, at a media chat commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s doggedness in the fight against corruption, targeted at bringing the country back from ruins. He stressed that the President has the political will coupled with his goodwill to return the country to the part of greatness.
Moving the country forward, the Zinox Group Chairman said he believed that the organized private sector holds the key to a way out of the present quagmire. As such, as a matter of urgency, he urged the president to engage the private sector in restoring confidence back to the country’s economy.
According to him, three levels of the sector drive over 80 per cent of Nigeria’s economy and hold the key to reviving the economy.
“It is my considered opinion that the time is right for the President to enlist the support of the sector in finding a way out of the current economic challenges by restating the vision and focus of the government as well as its sincerity to turn around the economy, as eloquently outlined during the electioneering period. In so doing, the President can secure the support of the sector for the vision and plans of his government. For instance, by reaching out to large corporates, influential businessmen and individuals, and even some of our big churches with huge reserves abroad, the government can find a way out of the foreign exchange challenges. These establishments and individuals can lend the government through promissory notes at an interest rate of, say 1.5 per cent per year which will be the highest anywhere in the world and repay gradually over a period of one year. The government can raise money through this means which will provide the needed foreign exchange to enable it meet the numerous commitments and also help it navigate and offset the low price of crude oil in the global market”, Ekeh stated.
Government, on its own part, according to him, can reward the private sector by giving them a chance to have a say in government and by looking into some of the challenges being faced by the sector in terms of confiscation of goods by some agencies, multiple taxation from the tiers of government, unconducive business environment especially as they are the custodian of power and they should be accountable to the people who elects them to office.
“With this done, I am confident that in 18 months, the current challenges will be solved and the economy will rebound”, he stressed.
Furthermore, Ekeh asked the government to find a way to resolving the challenges around the dwindling fortunes of the naira, urging that government should re-open the domiciliary account policies for survival of businesses.
Ekeh, who assured that no matter the current harshness of the economy, the firm will not downsize its workforce, disclosed that in the last nine months, the Group has lost about N14.6 billion because of foreign exchange fluctuations, “this challenge is not limited to Zinox Group alone, it cuts across other Nigerian firms, but we are ready and willing to remain in business, no downsizing. But the challenge around forex needs to be resolved, because if it is prolonged, it can hinder our credit ratings from international investors.”
According to him, the President Buhari led administration must give attention to the ICT industry when diversifying,” I have been saying it in the last 20 years; it is technology that can lift the fortunes of Nigeria. If past administrations invested heavily in this sector, the ICT sector would be earning more revenue than oil with solid hopes of prosperity for the majority, mostly for those from poor homes who have the brain power. Do we expect miracles from oil? The answer is no.
“The devices, software, solution and E-commerce sector could employ well over 45 million Nigerians with solid future and could also bring minimum revenue of $150 billion every year. I am not sure what we are still waiting for to save this nation. Is it not a shame we are all waiting for oil prices to move up for the nation to survive? We are ignoring what we have control of and putting all our hopes on nature in this 21st century.”