The Federal Government has said the Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the nation’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector stood at over $32 billion in the last 15 years.

The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu who gave this hint in Abuja, said such investments inflow came in form of infrastructure development which created an ICT backbone now powering banking, e-Commerce, insurance and oil and gas, amongst other critical sectors of the economy.

Shittu canvassed the need for all stakeholders to strengthen the technology and innovation ecosystem by supporting the development of innovation hubs in partnership with the private sector.

He described the conference as providing the opportunity to jump-start the critical game-changing steps needed to make the nation’s objectives a reality in digital economy, adding that beyond th econference, stakeholders must work to strengthen relationships and knowledge management platforms towards building a better and more digital future for the country.

This is even as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that there was the need to leverage more on ICT skills to achieve industrial revolution through emphasis on digital economy as part of efforts to overcome the nation’s economic challenges.

The Vice President, who spoke at the opening of a one-day conference with the theme; “Africa-China Cooperation in ICT and Digital Economy” organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in collaboration with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria and Huawei Technologies Company (Nigeria) Limited, said that improving skills and refocusing the nation’s priorities held great economic benefits to the country from the ICT sector.

Osinbajo, who was represented at the forum by his Special Adviser on ICT, Mr. Lanre Osibona, pointed out that there was an urgent need to overcome challenges facing the nation towards leveraging ICT to fuel the fourth industrial revolution that brings about digital economy.

“We must know how to scale workforce and move away from business base outsourcing to knowledge base outsourcing. Data is the future and new hope. For us as a country we must invest heavily in capturing data”, he said.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Nigeria, Tank Li, noted: “A robust ICT infrastructure is the bedrock for digital transformation in Nigeria. In order to unleash the digital economy potential in the country, issues of broadband availability and affordability need to be addressed.

“In order to foster digital transformation of the economy, policies and programs to increase ICT infrastructure and ensure wide-spread coverage both in urban and rural areas, should be prioritised to make voice and data services available”, Li added.

He identified strategic measures of infrastructure sharing, investment-friendly regulatory framework and preferential taxation policies as required to reduce site acquisition and broadband deployment costs in order to encourage application of ICT across the industries and the whole society.