Mrs Omobola Johnson, the Minister of Communication Technology, says the ICT sector contributed about 5.7 per cent to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2012.
Johnson made this known at a Forum on Emerging Leaders and the State of the Nation at the 18th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja on Wednesday.
She said the sector was the fourth largest contributor to GDP in the third quarter of 2012 and was growing at about 29 per cent, faster than any other sector of the economy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the sector contributed 5.46 per cent to GDP in 2010 and 2011, making it the fastest growing sector of the economy.
Official statistics attributed the growth to mobile network operators, device sales and distribution, value added services, equipment sales and distribution as well as software sales and distribution.
Johnson expressed delight that young persons in Nigeria were driving innovation and creating businesses in the sector.
She said that the ICT sector was the next most prominent after the agricultural sector out of the 1,500 awardees of the Federal Government's YOUWIN programme.
She said the ICT sector accounted for 11 per cent of the grants issued to emerging entrepreneurs under the YOUWIN programme.
According to her, many young Nigerians have realised that the sector provides one of the best opportunities to become an entrepreneur and make money.
"Skills are much easier to acquire by young people and it does not require huge capital, compared with other businesses.
"India is an example where ICT employs 2.5 million professionals and contributes 6.4 per of GDP, which is about 100 billion dollars for India", she said.
According to the minister, Nigeria and India share so many similarities in terms of demography, GDP per capita, human development index and poverty rate.
She, however, noted that India had been able to develop a very strong global world class ICT sector in spite all these challenges.
"We can also do this in Nigeria despite all the challenges we have," she said.
In recognition of the need to grow the sector, the minister said the Federal Government was promoting an incentive and support scheme targeted at youth's entrepreneurship in the ICT sector.
Johnson said the government had also worked assiduously to quicken the availability of broadband in the last 12 months.
She announced that the ministry would launch IT Incubation Centres in Lagos and Calabar to create an infrastructure-rich environment that would enable ICT entrepreneurs to thrive.
"The ICT entrepreneurs will bring their ideas to these incubation centres and would have people that will mentor them through the process in addition to providing them with the infrastructure they need."
Johnson also announced that government would soon launch an ICT Innovation Fund that would raise about 20 million dollars for ICT entrepreneurs.
The minister said the fund would be launched early in 2013.
She said the ministry was also collaborating with the banking and oil and gas industries to launch its software development initiative, Techlaunch Pad.
She said that the initiative, which would be launched on Monday, would give software developers opportunities in more established businesses and industries. NAN