The Ministry of Communication Technology 2013 Mid-Term Review presentation at the Ministerial Platform by The Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. In starting her presentation the Minister stated that the ministry was created in 2011 out of a recognition of the role of ICT in facilitating socio economic development for wealth and job creation as well as social development. Jidaw notes that the ministry was also created to concentrate all the main ICT agencies under one umbrella.
She identified the Ministry’s priorities and went on to present a review of activities in each of the priority areas. The presentation was rounded up with the Ministry’s focus for the next two years.
– Connect Nigeria (provision of access to quality communications infrastructure all of Nigeria)
– Connect Nigerians (enable Nigerians to benefit from ICTs – access and capacity)
–Local Content (facilitate job creation, innovation through local content development)
– ICT in Government (employs ICTs to achieve significant efficiency, effectiveness transparency in governance)
– Enabling Environment (provide an environment that supports ICT development in society and the growth of the ICT Sector)
In her words the priorities aim “To deliver on the promises of the transformation agenda by addressing the challenges in the ICT industry and leveraging the opportunities in ICT for socio-economic development”.
- Jidaw notes that the presentation covered progress so far, outstanding issues, challenges and what needs to be done in the priority areas. Graphic illustrations and slides showing trends, highlighting indicators and indicating direction/future plans were very informative, and could be useful for researchers. The full presentation can be found here: Ministry of Communication Technology 2013 Mid-Term Review Full Presentation.
- From her presentation the summary is that a lot has been done facilitated by the Ministry but there is certainly still a lot of work to be done.
- In my opinion as a policy consultant, it does a good job of acknowledging the real challenges especially of infrastructure, exclusion (un-served and under-served areas), weakness of the ICT sector and the insufficient leverage on ICT to address developmental challenges.
- However, though it has taken some measures, Jidaw asks: are these options the right solutions? Decisions are not necessarily solutions.
- There is a need for balanced focus on the various areas within the ICT sector. Infrastructure, Industry development, Software and Education are all fundamental.
- More needs to be done to empower local actors. While protecting and encouraging investors there must be balance with local growth for long term sustainability
- The section on enabling environment needed more substance. Unreliable power and other infrastructure, insane cost of doing business and incompetence in governance discourages ICT development and innovation.
- There is a statement that “All MDAs now have effective websites” – how effective?
- To Jidaw, stakeholder engagement is major – t must be open, representative, and diverse. It is positive to note that the Minister, Mrs Omobola Johnson has said she will work hand in hand with industry stakeholders to transform the ICT sector. However, the role of advocacy groups such as the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) needs to be made clearer. Though the stakeholder forum initiative is commendable, it is surprising that the June 2013 Stakeholders was fixed for the same day that NCS and CPN members would be attending the CPN IT Professionals Assembly. It highlights the need for better coordination with stakeholders.
- While appreciating that the midterm review was an opportunity for the Ministry to present its scorecard, there is no mention in her presentations of any attempt to ensure independent monitoring and evaluation of the Ministry’s efforts and investments. Jidaw notes that independent efforts of this nature add credibility to overall performance as it strengthens transparency, accountability and impact, and keeps the Ministry focused and directed. How efficient, relevant and credible are some of these efforts? Yes, the Ministry should review its performance but also ensure there is independent review which will assess the appropriateness of measures taken and whether in fact investments are making the desired impact. Are structures, capacity and resources properly aligned to deliver? This means including economic best practice in implementation which enables better use of taxpayers’ funds.
The Common Goal is Progress
No doubt there has been some progress. How substantial, how far reaching is open to debate depending on perspectives about what priority is, and what matters for the long term. It is impossible to please everyone, or for all stakeholders to always agree on all strategies. For Jidaw, the common goal and vision of the forward thinking is progress. And such accountability by the Ministry must be applauded and encouraged. The Ministry is encouraged and expected to open up more to better serve the people of Nigeria. It should note in particular that engagement is not “one way” traffic. The people are not passive receivers; encourage real citizen participation in governance through periodic consultations with citizens.
Well done, Honourable Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson for your efforts and those of the Ministry so far. But there is still work to do. Wishing you more strength and leadership for the tasks ahead. The ICT sector in particular and the nation in general is counting on you.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What is your take on the performance of the Ministry of Communication Technology? Please share your comments, thoughts and opinions.
Innovation and Development Advisor, ICT at Jidaw
ICT Development Advisory Support and Consulting
(* Images from Minister of Communication Technology Presentation *)