Federal and State governments to deploy ICT for economic recovery.

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By Tobiloba Kolawole

The Federal Government and State governments in Nigeria are consolidating efforts to take advantage of the far-reaching potentials in the deployment of information and communications technology for social and economic gains.

At the opening ceremony of the 6th regular meeting of the National Council on Communications Technology, which held last Thursday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the Executive Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency, Ibikunle Amosun reinforced the need for governments at all level and the private sector to invest in ICT to fast track development and reduce unemployment rate to the barest minimum.

In his opening address, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, who was the chief host of this year’s NCCT meeting underscores the impact of communication technology on development. He said, “The interests to share and the ideas to exchange among the people have assumed a multi-dimensional proportion and have totally become driven by technology. These evolving challenges of information management have led to advancements in Big Data, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cryptography and Robotic Engineering.”

It is imperative that a society that is desirous of continued growth and development must not only put in place necessary machinery to ensure seamless information and communication but must also place a high premium on the various means of communication. This is why the conception and hosting of the 6th National Council on Communication Technology in our dear State, is a welcome development at this critical time in our nation’s development.”

Governor Amosun further emphasized that there is a nexus between modern development and Information technology, which necessitates that any country that is desirous of achieving a turn around transformation in the economy, social welfare delivery, employment, effective agricultural process, education, and other areas must proactively invest in ICT.

Amosun said “on our part as an Administration in Ogun State, we appreciate the need to deploy technology in all our programmes and policies. Our belief is that, in Ogun State, by building an ICT ecosystem and leveraging on the benefits of technology, we will not only sustain the momentum of the achievement of our Administration, but we will also fast-track the process of development.”

The Ogun State Governor highlighted his government’s efforts to identify and help channel the exuberant energy of youths in Ogun State towards innovation. He said the aim is to encourage a crop of tech-savvy people who will deploy disruptive innovation technologies to solve society’s socio-economic challenges.

“This is one of the major reasons, amongst others, for featuring Technology in our 2018 Investors Forum and, the hosting of the 2018 TechSummit Ogun on Thursday 18th January 2018”, Amosun said.

He also said “Apart from opening up a wide range of opportunities in employment generation for our teeming youth on a macro level, the TechSummit Ogun was also conceived to explore the potential for creating new economies along the ICT value chain, such as web development and maintenance; programming; software design and hardware engineering. It is my joy that our dear State has continued to take full advantage of the expected manpower needs by facilitating ICT hubs to provide needed skills acquisitions.”

FrontPage recalls that about two weeks ago, the Ogun State Executive Council approved a new ICT policy that highlights the development of human resources; provision of infrastructure; the roles of Government and other stakeholders; and strategies to be adopted in the deployment of ICT towards the development of vital economic sectors such as education, health, Agric, commerce and industry, tourism, etc.

The Chairman of the National Council of Communications Technology and Minister for Communications, Hon. Adebayo Shittu reiterated the impact of ICT as a veritable tool for advancing the growth and economic diversification in countries. The minister noted that a World Bank econometric study carried out in 2009 showed that every 10% increase in ICT investments generates a 1.38% increase in GDP.

In his address, Shittu said that “the Nigerian ICT sector today is one of the fastest-growing despite the economic recession and contributed 9.8% in GDP in 2014. The challenge is how to address the issues of revenue, investments, cost savings, employment generation, and national productivity among others.

“In pursuit of national agenda, we have continued to reposition the ICT sector in the areas of infrastructure and industry development, local content optimization, enabling policy, legal and regulatory framework; deepening of ICT in Government and mainstreaming of ICT into all spheres of national life among others”, Shittu said.

While highlighting some of government’s efforts towards ICT integration, the Minister said that through Galaxy Backbone, internet access has been provided to about 40 MDAs, over 11,000 nodes of wireless LAN to all MDAs at the Federal Secretariat, over 40,000 email addresses for government officials under the gov.ng and mil.ng domains, which is aimed at ensuring that government data is hosted locally on a secured website with data back-up to MDAs and 200 servers hosting 94 MDAs.

“We are working to have ICT infrastructure designated as critical national infrastructure. Efforts are being made to procure additional communication satellites to complement the existing NigComSat-2 as a means of reaching areas that cannot easily be covered by terrestrial fiber”, the Minister explained.

He said further “we are also working to make more investments in building the capacity and harnessing the talents of our youth. In particular, we are increasing Accelerators and Incubator programmes as a means of building and harnessing the capacity of our increasingly ICT savvy youth population.”

“Going forward, the government will expand its investment in ICT infrastructure to extend connectivity to un-served and underserved areas. In this regard, attention will be paid to the issue of multiple taxations of ICT infrastructure. A robust, safe and resilient infrastructure is the key enabler of a digital economy.”

Also, the Special Adviser on ICT to the Governor of Ogun State, Bunmi Adebayo stressed the need for a synergy between ICT professionals and service providers on one hand with the aim to recognize problems and attendant solutions for alleviation. He further emphasized the Government’s role in creating and enacting necessary social policies to address such problems.

Adebayo highlighted some of the achievements of the Ogun State Government through the Bureau of ICT.

“We have been innovative in this end in Ogun State and it may interest you that Ogun State is the First State to provide the longest Government Sponsored 250-kilometer Fiber optic layout in the Country in partnership with MainOne Cable, a private sector company, in a “Quid pro quo” arrangement by giving concession on Right of Way fees. The first to deploy a Satellite-based ICT solution to deliver Precision Management to Agricultural potentiality of our land, Pertinent positioning of our Agro-cluster and Agricultural yields.”

The first to host the only CISCO Networks Academy Support center (ASC) for English Speaking West and Central Africa stretching to the Gambia and Southern Nigeria which is managed by the center”, Adebayo said.

The theme for this year’s meeting of the National Council on Communications Technology was Leveraging ICT as a Vehicle for Economic Recovery and Growth. It began with a technical session on Monday 19th November and ended on Friday 23rd November. The meeting focused on how the highly acknowledged potentials of the ICT sector can be used to achieve the main policy objectives of economic recovery and growth.

The National Council on Communications Technology is the highest governmental policy advisory body in the ICT sector with the Federal Minister for Communications as the Chairman.

Members of the NCC includes the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications, State Commissioners and highest state official in charge of ICT matters across the 36 states of the Federation; Chief Executives of Government agencies and parastatals in charge of ICT and key private sector stakeholders.