Being speech delivered by His Excellency, The Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON at the e-Nigeria summit, organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) with the theme “Leveraging I.T. Innovation For Economic Diversification” held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja 22nd November 2016
(I think already so much has been said here today and you can already see that we are well on our way to diversifying our economy with the kinds of innovation and the kinds of thoughts and ideas that we’ve seen on display today.)
It is my pleasure to be with you today at this 9th edition of the e-Nigeria summit. I don’t think there is any subject of greater importance in Nigeria today than the theme of this summit which is Leveraging IT Innovation for Economic Diversification. The Director General of NITDA, Mr Musa Ali Ibrahim and his team truly deserved to be commended for this excellent and innovative idea. Their choice of subject and task that they’ve set for themselves are entirely spot on.
Every once in several centuries comes an innovation that completely redefines every aspect of human life and experience.
The printing press for example is described as the turning point at which knowledge began freely replicating, and quickly assumed a life of its own.
The invention of the telegraph was so revolutionary that a notable commentator said that before it “information was moving only as quickly as a man on a horseback.”
Electricity is yet another innovation that has completely transformed everything. The internal combustion engine.
There is so much talk about how that transformed all that there is to know about mechanical devices, the automobiles and all of that.
But the invention of the innovation of Information Technology has certainly changed everything, we have a new world paradigm and this is why it is that, whether we like it or not, there is a new reality, the virtual world, a new world in every sense.
The implications are varied and profound. They compel diversification and the creation of new opportunities in practically every aspect of human endeavor.
To put it differently, digital technology has created a situation where whether we like it or not diversification will be forced upon us. Our dependence on oil for example, simply cannot continue whether we like it or not.
As the years go by, oil is becoming less and less important. Cars are some of the largest users of petrol.
But technology is changing all of that and if you look at what is happening today, the birth of the electric car, with all what have gone into the technology, just shows us that, whether we like it or not, we may not be depending on oil for much longer.
Last year, Electric Vehicles or EVs as they are called grew by 60%. Japan has more electric car charge points than petrol stations.
Both Japan and China are aggressively investing and encouraging the use of Electric cars and both offer subsidies to buyers of Electric cars.
Fairly conservative analysis indicate that by 2040, long-range electric cars will cost less than $22,000, according to the projections and thirty-five percent of new cars worldwide will be electric cars.
So the most frightening implication for us who are oil producing countries is that there will be far less oil consumption especially from the Asian countries, who today, are our major oil markets.
Bloomberg estimates that electric vehicles could displace oil demand of 2 million barrels a day as early as 2023.
Now, that would be equivalent to what created the glut of oil, to what triggered the 2014 oil crisis. How about self-driving cars?
Technology can now produce self-driving cars; Toyota, Mercedes for example. And all of those are very quickly expanding in operation, there are now self-parking, and of course cruise control.
Google, by the way, is one of the most aggressive innovators in the self-driving car category.
The company has in fact indicated that the driverless car technology in development within its Google X research lab is from two to five years from being ready for widespread use.
Chris Urmson, the Google executive who was in charge of the project, discussed the imminent possibility of autonomous vehicles patrolling neighborhoods to pick up and drop off passengers.
Clearly, whether we like it or not technology is forcing diversification, as innovation opens up new vistas, new business opportunities and greater access to benefits that were once exclusive.
In medicine for example, some of the most incredible innovations and futuristic ideas are already happening.
If you look at what digital technology has done to accelerate medical advances in diagnosis, treatment, and health preservation, from electronic aspirin for people suffering from migraines or other chronic head or facial pains (Autonomic Technologies), to needle free diabetic injections, it is clear that the next few years promise astonishing leaps in healthcare.
Telemedicine, the system of health care delivery in which physicians examine distant patients through the use of telecommunications technology is becoming more available.