ICT Stakeholders in Nigeria set agenda for the Information Technology industry in 2013. Here are some views from Jidaw on how the sector can be moved forward in 2013. How can IT penetration be increased in Nigeria in 2013? What roles should government and other stakeholders play in driving the 2013 ICT Agenda in Nigeria?
Role of Government in increasing IT penetration in Nigeria in 2013?
Government should improve the operating environment which affects providers and operators on issues such as cost of doing business, power supply, security, public-private sector interaction and multistakeholder involvement in strategy/policy formulation.
Broadband strategy needs to address last mile connectivity as well as improving access for underserved/unserved communities. An effective infrastructure sharing policy that improves availability and cost holds promise for improving broadband penetration.
Government should provide leadership in stimulating innovation growth through the deliberate development and promotion of online and mobile services by government agencies. Creative IT infrastructure schemes for students in the educational sector that engender significant growth in local content development and enterprise should be developed. Student PC ownership scheme is a step in the right direction.
The IT innovation venture capital fund setup by the Ministry of Communication Technology is applauded. However, access to capital generally in the ICT sector needs to improve by ensuring the financial sector plays its critical role as part of innovation ecosystem required to create the future.
The issues of quality of service and consumer protection are still work in progress. Regulation and improvement of the operating environment are critical.
Government should be involved in ensuring there is legislation that provides the country with the legal backing and confidence for a knowledge driven society. More needs to be done to put the right legal and regulatory framework that promotes trust and confidence in IT enabled activities in place.
Role of ICT Stakeholders in 2013
Other stakeholders will play roles determined by their mandate. All stakeholders have a role to play in the ecosystem – industry players, government, investors, SMES, youth, the populace, etc. Essentially while stakeholders have different interests and varying responsibilities, they should all have the common goals of innovation growth and acceleration of IT development in Nigeria.
Professional and advocacy groups in representing the interests of practitioners and stakeholders will raise pertinent issues, organize events, engage in strategic partnerships and develop initiatives that ensure the country leverages on IT to address developmental challenges. With members within the social, education, business and technology communities, professional associations such as the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) will employ the expertise and capacities of members to ensure that IT is effectively deployed to improve security, poverty eradication, employment generation, local content development, research and youth innovation. In this regard, NCS will address the issue of “e-Government and National Security” during its annual conference holding in July 2013.
Young people represent the future of Nigeria and the future of IT. Stakeholders should organize meaningful youth innovation activities, career development programs, empowerment/entrepreneurship programs, competitions and awards to recognize and support promising young achievers in IT, while encouraging interest in the IT profession, professionalism, entrepreneurship and raising standards amongst the youth.
Direction and Focus of the ICT Sector in 2013
Direction should flow the ICT roadmap, the ICT policy which is expected to have realistic goals and strategies. This should articulate the country’s ICT vision to ensure the effective deployment of IT to drive development. Implementation of the ICT policy is critical in providing the sector with direction and a focus on priorities.
More should be done to mainstream ICT and ensure that socio-economic development programmes and initiatives (in Agriculture, Education, Security, etc) leverage on ICT to bring about inclusive development and overall prosperity. The effective and strategic deployment of ICT to provide inclusive growth and overall prosperity in Nigeria will increase the contribution of ICT to GDP.
To drive growth up and foster inclusive development, there should be further and even more significant enhancement of the recent initiatives of the Ministry such as the IT innovation venture capital fund, IT Incubation centres and the PC student ownership scheme.
In 2013, promotion of software development, youth innovation and entrepreneurship, local content development, ICT enabled job creation and e-government should be the highest priority. Creativity is also required in providing support and access to capital to ICT businesses in a considerable and widespread manner. Multistakeholder involvement is required in pushing forward and ensuring the initiatives are credible and sustainable.
Better monitoring and evaluation of ICT investment is expected to measure impact and value addition of ICT projects and ensure compliance with government policies. This is essential in ensuring transparency and accountability within governance and promoting IT for efficiency and value for money and investment.
Chairman, Publicity and Events Committee, Nigeria Computer Society