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UK, Nigeria in partnership to bridge technological gap.

The United Kingdom has reiterated its commitment towards supporting the Federal Government to promote the growth of Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and close the digital divide in the country.

Ben Llewellyn-Jones, OBE, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, stated this on Thursday, March 11, in Lagos.

This was during a virtual technical conference facilitated by the UK’s Digital Access Programme on Digital Inclusion for Underserved/Unserved Communities and Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs).

“As our fight against the pandemic goes on, our focus is on supporting a sustainable and resilient recovery across Nigeria,” he told participants at the conference.

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Llewellyn-Jones added, “Tech has the ability to help us tackle some of the greatest social challenges of our time – from protecting our environment and reducing carbon emissions, to transforming health systems, saving lives through diagnosing diseases earlier, to aiding economic inclusion by deepening access to underserved populations.

“To drive this growth, Nigeria needs a combination of increased access to faster and better quality internet connectivity infrastructure, and upskilled tech talent pool, a vibrant start-up ecosystem, access to investment, and partnership opportunities both regionally and internationally.”

Furthermore, the UK envoy explained that the conference was organised as a catalyst to aggregate views and develop quick-win strategies to resolve the issues of populations without access to digital, in order to bring poor and excluded people into the digital economy, reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.

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In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, who also attended the conference, delivered a keynote address titled ‘Optimising and Prioritising Digital Inclusion in the Face of COVID-19.’

According to him, the Federal Government’s priority is developing a strategy and policy to provide an enabling environment that supports the private sector to bridge the digital divide.

He noted that the government was supporting the growth of the sector which contributed 14.70 per cent to the GDP in Q4 of 2020 and would continue to do so.

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A technical report presented at the conference highlighted demand, supply and systematic issues that have hindered digital inclusion efforts.

The reports by experts also proffered detailed solutions to the issues raised from short, medium to long term.

Reacting to the technical study, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta, also thanked the UK government’s Digital Access Programme for their support in championing digital inclusion in Nigeria.

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