While Nigeria has experienced significant growth in the use of digital technology and the number of tech companies, there is still much room for much improvement, especially on how to effectively use digital technology for mass education and for healthcare.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, stated this at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group Chairman’s Forum for 2022 in Abuja.
“Beyond all of the successes that we are seeing, we need to educate a large number of people and train teachers; that’s going to be a major issue in all of this, especially in states where we have a large number of out-of-school children,” he was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande.
In his address on Friday, Osinbajo stressed that providing more access to education and healthcare services to a larger population has to be technology-driven to ensure maximum impact.
He explained the critical role technology would play, restating Nigeria’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2060.
Highlighting the importance of transition fuels for Africa and developing countries, he believes gas, which Nigeria has in huge reserves, is an important commodity for the country and other African nations.
Speaking on the topic ‘Digitisation, COP26 and African Development’, the vice president said digitisation and climate change would determine to a large extent Africa’s growth trajectory in the next few decades, especially as digital technology offers the most effective way for Africa to fast-track development.
He pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic showed the resilience of Nigeria’s public healthcare system over the years, from experiences in tackling Ebola and Lassa fever.
“So, we have a robust health system,” Osinbajo said. “But the issue is that there are just several millions of people out there in the nook and crannies.
“And technology must play a role; technology must play an increasing part in our abilities to be able to reach our population everywhere they may be.”
Moving on to climate change and detailing how it affects Africa, he re-emphasised the importance of placing premium consideration on African needs in the transition towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, particularly the planned defunding of fossil fuels projects by some wealthier countries.
Dilemma In Africa
According to the vice president, the issue goes beyond just climate change to the existential crisis of extreme poverty in Africa.
“The question for us in Africa is slightly different from those of wealthier countries. It is not just about climate change… for us, it is climate change as well as extreme poverty. And this is important, as that is tied to access to energy.
“So, for an African country, Nigeria, for example, it is important for us to take into account the fact that, yes, we want net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in our case, by 2060; but in transitioning to net-zero emissions, we have to take into account that, even today, we don’t have enough energy. Most of our population do not have access to power,” he said.
The vice president added, “But for most of the wealthier countries of the world, they would rather see a situation where at least public investments in fossil fuels are no longer made available. So, African countries have a dilemma.
“Yes, we want net-zero emissions by 2050, but how are we going to transit from where we are and at the same time be able to provide power for our people? Our country, for example, has huge gas reserves. We know that the transition fuel for us is gas. The only way by which you can power industries is to use gas for power.”
“The point that we have been making – those of us from African countries and the developing world, is that we refer to gas as a transition fuel. That it is important for us, not just for industries, but also to ensure that we are able to move from firewood and all sorts of pollutants in cooking. Clean cooking can only be done with LPG, which is gas. So, if we are going to transit from firewood and others, then we need LPG -gas – to be able to do so. For us, it is not just gas for industrialisation, it is also gas for clean cooking.”