Experts have stressed the need for Nigeria to embrace technology to grow her economy and stop the mass exodus of youths from the country.
The experts spoke at the unveiling of the Mega Trade Fair 2023 prospectus and mini exhibition, held at the UI Hotels Conference Centre, Ibadan, on Thursday.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Digitalised Economy: A smarter market place,’ the keynote speaker and Head, West Africa of CNBC and Forbes, Dr Adeleye Fabusoro, said if the government is serious about ending emmigration from Nigeria, especially among the youths, it has to make the economy a digitised one.
According to Fabusoro, a digitised economy reduces waste, allows people put their talents into good use and get commensurate reward for their ability.
“Digital and tech savvy people don’t need to move around, they can stay here in Nigeria and they would be fine. More people need to be encouraged to embrace technology, digital knowledge and skills if Nigeria wants to keep her youths. We need to find a way to keep them here and make them useful.
“Instead of students’ loan alone, the government should also find a way to inject grants into technology so that people who are yearning for it can learn it. It is going to bring a lot of foreign exchange into the country, make people more sustainable and relaxed,” he said.
Fabusoro noted that people should be encouraged to learn technology at a very young age.
“Let children interact with things that are digital in primary and elementary schools; coding for kids and so on. The government can encourage this type of things.
It is easier to teach a kid these things than adults. Onboard a lot of kids to learn these skill sets and they can tranmit it as they go. They can even impact their area of speciality,” the CNBC boss added.
In his presentation, the Head of Geology Department, University of Ibadan and Chairman, Mining Roadmap Implementation Strategy Team of the Federal Government, Prof Gbenga Okunlola, said there are mineral resources that can be harnessed for the next digital economy and low carbon revolution.
He said the mineral deposits are in the country to explore, adding that government should expand enabling environment.
“Let the institutions be strengthened within the mining system. The work of the government in mining is to regulate and organise, not to go into the investment. They should open it up for people who want to invest so that if people get licences and they are genuine, they can attract investment. The oil industry is well regulated, you don’t find this scavenger mining in the oil industry. Once you have real guys coming in and they see that there are studies that are done,they will bring their money. It is the same thing we should do in the mining industry. For businessmen, mining itself is knowledge based. If we do things properly, we can attract funds into the mining industry,” Okunlola said.
Okunlola, however, noted that mineral deposits can depleted, but if managed well, it can fetch the country foreign exchange and create jobs for the citizens.
In his own submission, the Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) for Oyo, Ondo,Ogun and Ekiti States, Lanre Popoola, said the country have to be prepared because the world has actually moved forward to digitalisation of the economy.
“Technology has stepped up and everything has actually changed. But in Africa, it is still very slow, but we are getting there.
“Our youths are doing excellently well and can compete anywhere in the world. The only thing lacking is the encouragement we are not giving to them and that’s why we have this issue of emmigration. What we really need is encouragement and level playing field,” he said.
Popoola added that government alone cannot drive digital economy, saying, “what we need is to actually encourage private sector participation to drive it and we are doing it.”
Speaking, the Executive Director, Mega Trade Fair Nigeria, Delight Owoyemi, said the fair started 10 years ago, adding that it was borne out of helping brands to get their products to everyone in the country.
“We found out there is a whole lot of gap between producing and selling, that is where Mega Trade Fair comes in, so that those efforts you are making to produce, we can give you a soft landing to selling your products,” he said.
Owoyemi disclosed that the 2023 trade fair is coming up between December 1 and 10, 2023 in Ibadan.
“This is the first time we are having 30 exhibitions in one. It has never happened in the country before and we are having people from the different sector of the economy to exhibit their products. The fair is targeted at ensuring that more production is taking place in the country and we can begin to explore from here rather than being the one importing all the time,” he said.
Owoyemi added that Nigeria has to incorporate “smart economy into what we do,” adding, “that’s why we have to go digital.”
He explained that Mega Trade Fair is ensuring that businesses are also taking the digital highway to sell their products.
Highlight of the event was the unveiling of the Mega Trade Fair 2023 prospectus by Baale of Ekotedo, Chief Taiye Ayorinde; Excutive Assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde, Rev Idowu Ogedengbe and Fabusoro.