The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, on Thursday said Nigeria had invested over 60 billion dollars in the ICT sector since 2001 when digital mobile services were launched.
The minister disclosed this in his keynote speech at the 6th European Union-Nigeria Business Forum in Lagos.
The theme of the forum was: "Youth as Engine of Broad-Based Economic Transformation".
According to Mr. Shittu, the federal government has been conscious of the role ICT plays in national development.
He said that the government had therefore been committed for over 15 years in ensuring that ICT facilities and services were expanded rapidly.
Mr. Shittu said that over 26 million youths were unemployed or underemployed, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics.
"Businesses and organisations are feeling the effects. Our educational institutions are producing thousands of graduates but many are not likely to secure jobs," he said.
"The nation's growing population does not help matters.
"Government is addressing the issue of investment in ICT infrastructure and ICT education and regulation in order to build on the successes of this digital revolution.
"We are mindful of the fact that youths play a key role in developing the ICT sector, and we are putting in place the right business environment and regulatory framework to allow our young people to unlock all the potential of digital economy.
"Undoubtedly, ICT has a vital role to play in this endeavor."
The minister said that globally, ICT had become a veritable tool for advancing growth and economic development, especially in countries endowed with natural resources.
"ICT has changed the way people communicate, learn, and conduct businesses.
"A World Bank econometric study carried out in 2009 showed that every 10 per cent increase in ICT investment generates a 1.38 per cent increase in GDP.
"The Nigeria ICT sector today is one of the fastest growing despite the economic recession.
"Riding on ICT has become expedient as traditional approaches are falling to reverse the unemployment trend," he said.
Mr. Shittu said that the country had the potential to become a major player in the global economy by virtue of its human and natural resource endowments.
He, however, said the potential had remained relatively untapped over the years.
He said that the country was leveraging on ICT to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality and cost effectiveness of public service delivery as one great impetus that the Nigeria economy was pursing with vigour.
The minister said, "No nation can fight a war without an army. The progress of any nation lies in the productivity of its citizens.
"In order for the ICT sector to supplement or replace the oil and gas sector, we have put in place strong policy framework which favours the sector.
"We want the ICT sector to be the cash cow for our nation," he said.
Earlier, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation, Ketil Karlsen, said the EU was focusing on youths and women on how their roles in the ICT and agriculture sector.
Mr. Karlsen said that EU was also focusing on how it could provide thousands of jobs for Nigerians through European investments.
He said that the main priority in Nigeria was to develop an already flourishing partnership between the EU and the country.
He said that the union was working hand in hand with the Nigerian government to create conducive environment for European investors to come and invest in the country.