Emefiele calls for solid digital economy to drive economic growth

TO further drive growth, Nigeria needs to build a solid digital economy by focusing on digital infrastructure, says Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

These include internet connectivity, digital literacy and skills, digital financial services, digital platforms and digital entrepreneurship and innovation.

In his keynote address delivered at the 30th Seminar for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors, held virtually, on March 20, 2021, Emefiele said the digital economy will be a key factor in the bank’s efforts at driving growth over the next few years.

“As we are all aware, the digital economy is made up of various components, including data analytics, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, e-commerce, e-business, e-infrastructure. It is based on the interconnectedness of people, organizations, and machines that results from the internet, mobile technology and the Internet of things (IoT),” he added.

According to him, over the years, the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Seminar has continued to provide a veritable platform for the CBN to deepen the knowledge and understanding of Business Editors and Financial Correspondents as it relates to CBN’s policies, interventions and initiatives.

He said the theme of this seminar: ‘Leveraging digital economy to drive growth, job creation and sustainable development in the midst of a global pandemic’ is very apt in view of the challenging global environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services of the CBN, Mr. Edward Lamtek Adamu, the governor said CBN is focused on stimulating economic growth.

He added that Nigerians currently live in an era of unprecedented change, posed by the volatile effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on every sector of life and business globally.

The presence of these digital channels along with various mobile and web-based channels helped to support households and business continuity.

It was also critical in mitigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on GDP growth in 2020.

The ICT sector grew by 14.7 per cent in 2020 relative to the growth of 10.16 per cent in 2019.

“As the pace of technological adoption increases, we must find ways to leverage digital channels in improving access to finance and access to credit for all Nigerians,” he stated.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Tope Fasua, the Chief Executive Officer, Global Analytics Consulting Limited said the term “digital economy”  refers specifically to the recent and still largely unrealized transformation of all sectors of the economy by the computer-enabled digitization of information.

He said the digital economy has three components namely: E-business infrastructure (the share of total  economic infrastructure used to support electronic business processes and conduct electronic commerce; electronic business (e-business) or any process that a business organization conducts over computer networks; electronic commerce (e-mediated commerce)  or the value of goods and services sold over computer-mediated networks.

However, digitization according to Fasua, could widen the income gap internationally and within a country if imposed from the top.

He further said that it is hard to deal with the international function, which is already at play presently (tripling the fortunes of the richest men).

“Youths should be challenged to create useful apps that help solve problems. We have Uber, our rails, among problems in Africa, being fixed by other people.

“It is Important to keep acquiring new digital skills. Many Nigerians are good but wrongly applied their skills in the form of bank account hackers.

“If we consider innovation around different areas of technology and apply our youth bulge, digitization can create millions of jobs for the youths starting from the basic: environment, security, education and Health,” Tasha stated.

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