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A/Ibom leveraging tech to drive nat’l development – Ukpeh

Udom, ex-Akwa Ibom gov, tasks Nigerians on protection of public utilities

Akwa Ibom is leading an economic revolution in Nigeria leveraging digital technology, Gabriel Ukpeh, chairman, Akwa Ibom State Committee on Foreign Direct Investment Commission, has said.

Ukpeh spoke at the third annual Nigeria Tech Summit which held in Abuja recently, describing the south-south state as an emerging technology and innovation hub, with a planned science park.

According to him, the state government is also prioritising information technology (IT) and related subjects in educational curriculum, and several tech and innovation hubs employing thousands of young people.

The Nigeria Tech Summit is an initiative hosted by the Global Startup Ecosystem in partnership with US Embassy in Abuja, Google Cloud, AWS, IBM Cloud, Hubspot, Sendgrid, and more.

The summit boasts of an active network of Nigeria’s investors, tech entrepreneurs, celebrities, politicians, and business moguls. Each year the programme gathers thousands of pioneers from across Nigeria and around the world to address challenges that affect Nigeria’s future.

Among the key speakers at the summit were Mary Beth Leonard, the United States ambassador to Nigeria; Akwasi Awua Ababio, ambassador director, Diaspora Affairs at Office of the President; Christine Ntim, CEO at Global Startup Ecosystem.

Ukpeh said that “The experience of COVID 19 has made it mandatory to enhance online connectivity and remote working facilities right across the globe.

“A good example is this programme; the numbers joining online outstrip the physical participants. The backbone to this is broadband connectivity. With the recent auctioning of 5G technology in Nigeria, the shape of the industry will change,” he said.

Read also: Akwa Ibom unveils agribusiness training centre

On investment opportunities in the tech space, Ukpeh pointed to the digital infrastructural developments going on in Akwa Ibom State.

According to him, “the Akwa Ibom State government is working assiduously to ensure that an undersea cable lands on its shores in the next 12 to 24 months. The speed will be 20 times faster than the current fastest undersea cable in Nigeria, and related data will be 10 times cheaper than the current cost of data.”

He said the government was also working to ensure that a world-class data centre is established in Akwa Ibom.

On the reason that makes Akwa Ibom the most conducive destination for investment, Ukpeh said that the state has the longest shoreline in the country at 129 km, and this is a major requirement to land an undersea cable.

In addition, Akwa Ibom State has the largest reserves of crude oil and gas in the country, and thermal power plants can be built to supply the electricity needed to power the data centres. He also noted that data centres and indeed, other manufacturing businesses, were best sited in import duty cum tax-free locations – Akwa Ibom State has the largest free trade zones in the country at 64,000 hectares. Import duties and company taxes are non-existent, and sales are billed and collected in foreign currency”.