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Digital Technology As Panacea To Economic Development

Posted: Apr 18, 2016 at 3:11 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Emmanuel Okwuke, Lagos

“Digital wealth is the new mega wealth that rewards the effort in few months or years but you must create solid platforms to uplift your people. It is about building creative platforms for our kids and millions of today’s restive youths which will channel their energies and passion towards what is termed today as true miracle wealth. Increased access to education as captured in the building of a knowledge economy, a clear change of attitude, visualising the bigger picture and liberalising access to information through ICT are core essential requirements to achieving this”.

This was the summation of the speech of Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Group, integrated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) conglomerates, headquartered in Lagos with branches spread across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. He delivered the speech at the first Enugu State Investment Summit tagged Oganiru 2016 which held at the Michael Okpara Square.

The three-day summit with the theme: “Beyond Oil: Fostering Inclusive Economic Growth & Sustainable Development”, brought together local and international business leaders and investors, bankers, financiers, the diplomatic community and the academia to explore Enugu’s rich potential – and that of the entire South-East”.

Dr. Eke admonished state governments in Nigeria to invest in digital technology to enhance rapid development of their various states. Also, he disclosed that what is required is for the state governments to enhance the profile of the numerous resources they already possesses and the comparative advantage it enjoys in certain areas.

He noted that Enugu State has the potential of earning the status of the digital capital of Nigeria and that of West Africa by taking advantage of the limitless opportunities which abound to create digital wealth.

“Enugu enjoys a rare privilege of being an established cosmopolitan city and remotely developed rural areas with minimum infrastructure. It is therefore easier for the government to take ownership. The state presently has the largest concentration of ambitious tertiary institutions in the country, you have fiber optic cables laid all over the state, you enjoy cheaper rental cost for quality accommodation, good roads and the general cost of living is less than 50 per cent of most cities in Nigeria”.

“The only thing holding you back is the political will and electric power infrastructure which you can provide temporarily with generators before partnering to build power plants and you will see this state transform into a haven for digital wealth creation as well as smart and quality lifestyle in the 21st century,” he enthused.

Ekeh decried the nonchalant attitude of some South East Governors who, according to him, have near zero investment on infrastructure for digital wealth creation in the 21st century.

The serial digital entrepreneur who featured as one of the guest speakers at the summit wondered how leaders in the region wish to create billionaires who will pay taxes in the near future without any form of concrete investment in place for providing opportunities and nurture the youths.

“I must state here that the Igbos are not ready for digital wealth creation as it is obvious that leaders in the region are not ready to transit to building the knowledge economy which holds the key to achieving this,” he stated.

“This is a century of results and not efforts and sincerely, no one was created by God to be poor in this century but government must invest in critical infrastructure for her people to benefit”.

Ekeh who congratulated the State Governor, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for initiating the professionally packaged summit while commending him also for the ambience and quality of invited speakers, expressed deep concern with the resource gap between Igbos of his age and the next generation of youths.

He disclosed that many in his generation were able to build and defend their franchises because the economy was transiting in all sectors from analogue to digital, which they were able to key into.

“This is why you will observe that there is no noticeable gap between my generation and when the likes of erstwhile leaders and successful businessmen from the South-East such as Odimegwu Ojukwu, Chief Augustine Ilodibe, Godwin Alaefuna Tabansi, Emmanuel Akwiwu and Ferdinand Anaghara, among others held sway.

“It is unfortunate that the next level after us has not been able to interface due to lack of determination by government to invest and create platforms that will host our brilliant but impatient kids to activate wealth in this century. Some states in Nigeria are now run on pay-as-you-go as some of our leaders are not interested in investing in quality relevant infrastructure which is the foundation to the sustenance of an economy. This is why all manners of social vices such as kidnapping have become an occupation.

“My sincere advice is that it is not too late to make a fresh start. The Presidential Hotel, Enugu and Imo Concorde Hotel, for instance could be converted by both state governments into digital incubation centres which could raise 200 companies each with a prospect of creating more wealth in the next four years than the annual allocation of each state. Why can’t we host the largest movie production studio and entertainment centre in same premises for cost efficiency?

“The multiplier effect is unquantifiable in the long run as the first two years will see each state employing over five thousand potential dollar billionaires. I panic because my people love the good life, have energy and intelligence and are today more educated than most of us and the generation before us. If the government ignores them in this new race for digital wealth, they will incubate negatively and the Igbo nation may face eternal crisis.

“We are now in a century where Godfathers will become obsolete in the 2nd quarter while competence, capacity and commitment will be the basis for survival. We are nearly over with the phase where bank loans and contracts are extended based on emotions who you know. We are now faced with the reality of knowledge of what you do as many youths can potentially create more wealth in a year than their parents created in two generations”.

He urged leaders in the South East to embrace the global revolution in digital wealth creation.

“You must invest in quality education; protect basic infrastructures like fiber optic cables, power stations, telecoms towers and cell sites, etc. for the growth of the region. There are so many investors including me looking for conducive environments in Nigeria to invest and Enugu could become that hub”.

Advising Igbo parents to invest less on dead, analogue assets like property and other short-term status assets and instead take sensible risks with their well-informed children, Ekeh described himself as a testimony in the new digital space.

“Parents must trust our well-trained youths because they understand global economic direction. They are more educated; more exposed and will create unquantifiable wealth with style for themselves, the family, state and the nation”.

The Zinox Group Chairman, whose extempore speech excited participants at the event, received a standing ovation from the sizeable crowd and assured that his book due for release next year will reveal more.