The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has called for the adoption of smart Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and solutions as an alternative to oil in diversifying the Nigerian economy, warning that the country will not develop if the bulk of the country's savings is still tied to buying foreign exchange for importation.
The governor stated this at the Edo State Annual Banker's Dinner held in Benin City.
Obaseki said the growth of the digital economy is vital in providing ICT-driven solutions to everyday problems, noting that the sector is the most potent in mobilising other sectors to align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government.
According to the governor, Nigeria is not going to develop if citizens don't utilise deposits and savings effectively to drive growth and advancement.
"Nobody will bring their savings here as capital for your development; we have to do it ourselves," he said.
He noted that with the recent changes in the monetary environment in the country accompanied by a drop in interest rates, banks now have to invest in viable and profitable ventures to be financially buoyant.
Obaseki assured that Edo State is ready to cope with the credit change as his administration had in the past three years created an enabling environment, where businesses would thrive.
"We have made an investment in our physical, social and digital infrastructure. We have built roads and ate building infrastructure for digital technology.
"We have constructed about 400km of fibre lines across the state, so with that, we are ready for digital investment," he said.
He said his administration was also ready to partner with the banking sector to ensure financial inclusion for people in the rural area especially in areas prone to human trafficking.
"We want to partner with you in the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme so that our people can benefit from the scheme. The areas where we found human trafficking endemic are those with least investment in infrastructure and therefore the people are excluded financially.
"You can barely find a branch of a bank in Uhunmwode, Orhionmwon and the two Ovia local government areas in the state. When people are financially excluded, they don't have access to financial infrastructure," he said.
Obaseki, therefore, called on banks to establish more branches across the state to foster financial inclusion in areas with developmental projects.