Monday, April 08, 2019 1.30PM /
I wish to thank His Royal Highness, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, for inviting me to speak at this event.
This is the 9th edition of such a gathering. At this point, I want to congratulate HH, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his vision to support such a platform where world leaders in both the public & private sectors exchange ideas on how to make this world a better place.
Today, we have a Cyber-World that is intangible but real. This borderless world is powerful, and it impacts the lives of billions of people, no matter how remote their physical locations are.
People work in it. People socialise in it. And people invest in it. This presents enormous opportunities. But it also remains a constant threat if left unregulated.
On the one hand, it has made the human race more productive and more efficient. Today, we have digital banking, virtual currencies and many social platforms that connect people and cultures.
On the other hand, we have seen platforms hijacked and manipulated as evidenced by the steady rise in fake news and cybercrimes.
More recently, we are also witnessing the use of the cyber space to manipulate elections, subvert the democratic rights of citizens as well as propagate violence.
In effect, the digital world has become the new frontier for both good and evil. Therefore, the challenge for world leaders must be to ensure that this space is inclusive, accessible and safe.
In Nigeria, our mobile phone penetration exceeds eighty per cent. This means majority of Nigeria’s one hundred and ninety million citizens are fully connected to this new digital world; especially our youth.
Sixty five percent or one hundred and seventeen million Nigerians are under the age of 25 years. These bright minds are the drivers of this emerging digital sector.
Today, Nigeria has close to ninety technology hubs and every day, new ones are coming up and they are all developing solutions for Nigerian, and indeed global problems.
Already, these young entrepreneurs have attracted investments of over one hundred million dollars. A sizeable amount from overseas including Silicon Valley.
As many of you from this region are aware, Nigerian start-ups always have a very impressive outing at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX). Many have won prizes.
As leaders, it is therefore our responsibility to create the enabling environment for these minds to flourish and reach their full potential.
When we came in 2015, we immediately agreed that any future economic growth must be inclusive.
We therefore leveraged and supported digital platforms in our numerous socio-economic programs: from training extension workers in agriculture, health and education sectors; to enabling micro-credits to increase financial inclusion.
However, whilst this digital globalisation has occurred rapidly in the private sector, many governments and regulators have not kept pace.
New waves of cybercrime and terrorism continue to threaten the positive strides being made.
On cyber security, Nigeria has taken the lead in cyber policing in West Africa. In this, we are working with our regional and global partners.
Furthermore, our public sector reform programs focus on digitising key operations. From procurement to payroll to revenue collections, we are using digital platforms to reinforce our objectives of improving efficiency, accountability and transparency in governance.
We are also working on creating the largest digital database in Africa. Already, our digital identity system has captured over thirty million Nigerians and legal residents.
As earlier observed, the digital world is borderless. In many instances, the criminals in this world are faceless and without physical addresses. This is why we must all come together to protect the good while eliminating the bad.
Emerging threats are difficult to prevent or manage unilaterally. It has to be a collective effort, led by both public and private sector leaders – many of whom are here today. A certain level of regulation is needed to preserve the integrity of the digital economy.
I therefore would ask all of us here present, over the coming days, to put our heads together and come up with proposals on how we create a digital world that is accessible, inclusive and safe.
I thank you for listening and wish you very successful deliberations. Thank you very much.