The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, approved N26.7 billion contracts for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including N8.9 billion for the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, for a new National Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) park in the FCT to coordinate public and private ICT hubs in the country.
The government’s plan is aimed at strengthening and harnessing Nigeria’s abundant ICT potentials with a view to turning Abuja into another Silicon valley.
Isa Pantami, minister Communication and Digital Economy, while speaking after the virtual meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the government would soon release the timelines for the replacement of BVN with NIN in bank accounts.
Pantami explained that a 4,200 square metres land has already been acquired for the establishment of the ICT Park.
“The wisdom behind the ICT Park is for it to be a centre where public and private ICT hubs are going to be coordinated by the Federal Government of Nigeria, where young innovators with crazy and disruptive ideas will be mentored and all their needs provided for.
“We will provide enabling environment for them to utilise and come up with disruptive technologies.
“This is the first of its kind in Nigeria. We have so many parks and hubs but they are regional. This one will be central and will be a centre of job creation for our teaming youths. It will be a centre where technology will be developed and incubated.
It will play a significant role in reducing unemployment,” he said.
The minister added that “the Federal Executive Council has approved the memo and we are going to start of establishing it in Abuja and we hope Abuja is going to be another Silicon Valley in Nigeria.”
Other contracts covered in the N26.7 billion include, projects under the ministries of Information and Culture; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and Water Resources.
The meeting which held at the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also approved a new National Policy on Aging.
Suleiman Adamu, minister of Water Resources, said FEC also approved N8.43 billion for the implementation of Damaturu water supply scheme.
According to Adamu, the contract for Lot A was awarded to Mallam Matari and Service Centre Water Supply Project. Lot B is the construction of Water Supply at Nufakalam and Lot C Water Supply Scheme at Sunsuma.
“They are all ground water or borehole projects spread over wide distance because they are covering three major cities. They will be mostly solar based and also it’s in response to the critical needs of these localities in Yobe State.”
Adamu said the localities were affected by the activities of insurgents eight years ago, adding that the area is a high Sahel region where surface water is difficult to come by.
“We hope that with this intervention, the water supply within this area will be greatly enhanced. The completion period is 24 months.”
On his part, Lai Mohammed minister of Information and Culture, said council approved N9.43 billion to complete the digital switch over, which had previously missed the deadline set for implementation.
Mohammed said: “As you know, the ITU had two cut off dates, one in 2017 another in 2020, where nations were supposed to completed their movement from analogue to digital. Regrettably, we were not able to make it. But with the approval of this memo today, we would be striving to switch from analogue to digital.
“We will now agree on a date for a launch in the biggest cities like Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt. And we will start the switch off in the already switched on states.
“The effect of the more today is that, digital switch over is now real and the economic effect of it will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in content production, channel distribution, Nollywood and Electronic appliance productions to service about 20 million Nigerian homes. At the end of the switch over, we would have created the biggest free to air TV platform in Africa. I will be announcing a ministerial task force that will execute the council resolve either this week or next.”
Mohammed also revealed that the council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Bankers Committee for the renovation of the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.
He said: “This is a landmark approval because it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry.
“The approval of these two memos is capable of creating one million jobs in the next three years.
“President had in 2020 gave approval to the CBN and the Bankers Committee, to develop, refurbish, renovate the National Theatre and at the same time take over the adjourning lands to create a veritable creative industry where there will be four hubs.”