Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, on Friday disclosed that Nigeria loses $287 million worth revenue annually on software piracy.
The minister, while delivering his keynote address entitled: “Continuing Innovation While Innovating Continuity: Creating A SMART Digital Nigeria” at the maiden Communication Sector Retreat in Ibadan, Oyo State, said that Information Technology (IT) outsourcing and e-Commerce sector alone could employ over 40 million Nigerians and contribute billions of dollars to the economy when appropriately channeled and nurtured.
While noting that ICT was the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and second largest in Africa, the minister however, said that despite this huge potential, the ICT sector’s commensurate impact had not been felt in the lives of many Nigerians.
He disclosed that at 9.58 per cent ICT contributes about as much to GDP as Oil and Gas, adding that it was arguably one of the fastest growing sectors of the Nigerian economy and is the second largest, soon to be the largest, ICT market in Africa.
He added that given the absence of fiscal buffers in a time of low oil prices and rising unemployment rate, ICT, which already employs more Nigerians than the oil and gas sector, was poised to drive growth.
“We believe we can considerably increase government receipts within the sector,” he said, adding that a technology savvy workforce and SMART government play pivotal role in raising revenue for government, improving efficiency, eliminating waste and generating employment for Nigeria’s teeming masses.
According to him, SMART strategy of the government would reduce the cost of governance while making revenue generation easier government.
He disclosed that government would promote online payments and support th enforcement of the payment of taxes and levies such as stamp duties while also using technology to ensure accountability in both private and public sectors.
Shittu said that the retreat was about ICT as a key element for inclusive as well as progressive diversification and development of Nigeria’s economy.
Also speaking, the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi while declaring opens the retreat, noted that ICT was useful n virtually all human life.
Ajimobi who commended the minister for organizing the retreat said that ICT had come to the rescue of the dwindling economy as a result of the decline in the world price oil.
He called on the stakeholders to produce a blueprint for the growth of the sector and improvement in employment in the country.
The governor also called for consistent and persistent in the outcome of the retreat.