The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), may have failed in its responsibilities if the paucity of ICT usage in government continues without remedy. This is apparently what the agency has realized of late.
Now, in a renewed vigour, the agency is promising to step up awareness among other measures it claimed to have devised to ensure adequate and increased application and use of IT tools and solutions in all government establishments across the country.
The agency told Hi-Tech that having been aware of the paucity of uptake and deployment of IT in especially the public sector, and in realisation of the critical need to embrace electronic systems for governance and administration, the crusade to carry IT into all nooks and crannies of the country, through public and private establishments, is now more urgent than before.
Despite the anomalies, Director-General of the Agency, Mr. Peter Jack, however sees a fertile investment ground in Nigeria’s ICT sector, for foreign investors.
In a business meeting of official partners to the GITEX expo, which kicks off Sunday, in Dubai, Arab Emirates, Jack showcased Nigeria’s potentials and wooed prospective investors to the ICT sector which he described as having high return on investment.
Meanwhile, Jack had promised that besides stepping up efforts to get government use more of IT in governance, the agency was also resolved to ensure that IT tools and solutions used in the country meet standards it had set for the purpose of ensuring rapid and widespread human capital development.
Jack said that as a body empowered by law to drive ICT growth in Nigeria, NITDA would also see to the training and re-training of government officials, in exercise of part of its core mandate for ICT development in the country.
He noted that NITDA’s core strategy was to position IT as prime catalyst for turning Nigeria into an ubiquitous society by getting those in government to begin to involve ICT in their day to day activities.
He however revealed that his agency, in recent times, had organised trainings for legislators as well as lecturers in the nation’s universities in addition to the regular training programmes and scholarships for youths and undergraduates which the agency undertakes periodically across the country for skill acquisition.
We’ll step in
Promising to step in and bridge the paucity of ICT usage in governance, he declared: “NITDA will continue to encourage ICT usage in government while it will not shy away from its responsibility of giving government the right recommendations for ICT acquisitions. Under the NITDA ACT of 2007, the Agency is to create incentives to promote the use of information technology in all spheres of life in Nigeria including the development of guidelines for setting up of information technology systems and knowledge parks. And part of these incentives has taken place in form of ICT trainings and scholarship programmes for government officials and youths.
“The agency is also saddled, among others, with the responsibility of developing guidelines for electronic governance and monitor the use of electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication transactions as an alternative to paper-based methods in government, commerce, education, the private and public sectors, labour, and other fields, where the use of electronic communication may improve the exchange of data and information”
Nigeria, fertile ground for ICT investment
However, in far away Dubai, Jack is preaching investment into Nigeria’s ICT sector. He is doing so, backed up with facts which he said were so glaring for all to see. Facing an array of high networth ICT professionals and potential investors in several economies of the world, Jack extolled the virtues of Nigeria: “ The potentials for investment in the ICT sector in Nigeria are enormous, not only within the country but for the sub-region and the continent as a whole. With a population of about 170 million people, the country is a ready market for Manufacturers of Hardware, Software developers, Software as a Service and ICT solution providers.
“At the end of 2013, Nigerian economy Gross Domestic Product, GDP, became the largest in Africa with more than $488 billion, the world’s 26th largest economy and the fastest growing economy across the globe. Nigeria is considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank, it is also a member of the MINT group of countries, which are widely seen as the globe’s next “BRIC-like” economies. It is also listed among the “Next Eleven” economies to become the biggest in the world.
“Therefore, with Skilled Low Cost Labour from our large army of Vibrant Entrepreneurs and IT Startups, Fast Growing Financial Sector and Free Flow of Investment, Nigeria offers the door of investment to investors in Africa.
Our government has put in place various incentives to attract investors especially in the ICT sector which currently contributes about 9% to our GDP. Our aim is to grow ICT contribution to our GDP to about 15% within the shortest time possible.
“In Information Technology, Investment opportunities abound in Manufacturing, Innovation Hubs, Business Process Outsourcing, Cloud Computing and Infrastructure as a Service.
We have developed a national ICT Strategic plan with a time line of 2010-2015. The implementation of the plan in sectors such as Education, Agriculture, Health, Human Capital Development, Governance, Judiciary and National Security amongst others has propelled the level of development in the ICT sector in Nigeria. With over 48 million regular Internet users, various activities are being carried out online. We are currently measuring the impact of the plan and implementation level in preparation for review next year. ICT contributes over 8% to the Nigeria’s GDP and is now growing at 7% annually. Our target is to grow the ICT industry to a point where it contributes up to 15% to the GDP within the next 3-5 years”.
Jack also noted that NITDA would Coordinate the participation of Nigerian official delegation, Exhibitors and Young Innovators with various home grown products and solutions in this year’s GITEX expo, particularly to attract foreign direct investment
According to him, “as the government agency charged with the responsibility of developing IT in Nigeria, it is part of our mandate to expose our country to developments in the global IT industry and Gitex is a major global event with participants from across the globe. It is therefore expected that our participation at Gitex 2014 would not onlycreate a good platform for our young start ups but would enable the ICT community in Nigeria to meet with investors and stakeholders across the globe who may be willing to be part of the success story of the ICT revolution currently going on in Nigeria”.