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ICT critical to Buhari's future success

ICT critical to Buhari's future success

The ICT sector is the only focus area with a specific- and clearly stated budget within key campaign promises made by Nigeria's re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari has vowed to provide US$500-million in funding to galvanise the sector and create 500,000 jobs.

He plans to position the internet as a critical infrastructure to strengthen Nigeria's economy, with specific attention to online access within education, healthcare and business.

His administration plans to extend broadband coverage through 120,000km of fibre network across Nigeria, particularly since harmonised Right of Way charges have been agreed to between the federal government and all states.

Job creation remains a critical consideration and according to the most recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics the total number of people classified as unemployed increased to 20.9 million by Q3 2018.

Economically active or the country's working age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased to 115.5 million.

Though Buhari has continued to emphasise the agriculture sector, ICT is being positioned as the catalyst for job creation.

Prioritising the internet alongside age-long infrastructural issues like roads, rail and power is generally regarded as a clear indication of the role envisaged for the ICT sector and the telecommunications industry.

On paper, Buhari's next four years could give the country's tech start-up community a boost as he plans to recruit more youngsters in government boards to mentoring schemes for graduates to serve at ministries.

It's a new approach that would provide the start-ups with a direct channel of communication to the government which, until now, has been non-existent.

The tech start-up community also stands to participate in helping to actively pursue relevant solutions to major socio-economic challenges particularly as the government plans to widen and upgrade the country's health system.

There is also the government-backed entrepreneurship bank which is proposed to be tech-enabled and offer online services to support business plans from young entrepreneurs.

Buhari plans to focus on digital literacy among students and teachers and broaden the health system.

The jury is still out on whether the 76-year-old has been fully convinced of the significance of ICT as a fundamental need to effectively engage young Nigerians which now make up more than 60% of the country's approximately 191 million population.

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