Excerpts of Presentation By Prof. Cleopas O. Angaye, DG/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) at the Nigeria Computer Society NCS College Of Fellows (COF) Retreat on March 1st 2013
It is widely accepted that digitization of the global economy in particular has increased the speed of globalization and liberalization. While the information revolution has resulted in several positive socio-economic impacts to mankind, the revolution has also intensified the need for competiveness.
There is currently a general consensus that ICT is a catalyst for increasing competitiveness and the emergence of the new economy, both as a sector and enabler for enhancing efficiency, productivity and sustainable socio-economic development.
In realization of the above situation and the dire need for Nigeria to bridge the digital divide and be positioned as a major player in the global information society, the Federal Government of Nigeria has embarked on some major initiatives which are highlighted below.
2.0 Some Major Initiative/Projects Executed (in the Last 8 years)
The National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has now adopted a three-pronged approach of human capital development, infrastructural development and institution capacity building to drive its goals and objectives.
The approach had culminated in various initiatives, which included a massive awareness creation, workshops and conferences.
Some of the initiatives of the agency include the NEPAD e-School Initiative, Mobile Internet Unit, Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group, and the CAN! Project that has driven uptake and spread of computers in Nigeria.
Other projects, which the NITDA initiatives has given birth to include, the Catch them Young Policy, Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Rural Information Technology Centre Spread across Nigeria, IT scholarship awards, Cisco Regional Networking Academy, e-Government and Governance, IT Parts Virtual Library and development of the Nigerian ICT4D plan, among others.
3.0 ON-GOING PROJECTS
1) Rural Information Technology Centers (RITCs)
2) Information Technology Infrastructure for institutions
iii) Development of Standards and Guidelines
iv) Scan-ICT in collaboration with UNECA
v) Establishment of IT Parks
vii) Establishment of Software Development/Engineering Centers
viii) Provision of Post Graduate Scholarship for the Information Technology sector
4.0 KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS AND ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
I) Increase in the number of Internet Users
ii) Increase in the percentage of Internet penetration
iii) Increased Access to IT Services
iv) Number of Public Access Venues
v) Coverage of Rural IT Centre.
6.0 MAJOR TARGETS AND KPIs FOR 2013
I) Provision of Standards and Guidelines
* To ensure Heads of IT in the public and private sectors to adopt and enforce network security standards to prevent cybercrime.
* To develop a pool of NITDA certified network administrators in the public services
* Web Presence for MDAs
ii) Passage of Cyber security
iii) Implementation of Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team (CERRT)
• To provide critical threat information to stakeholders and general public
iv) Implementation of Document Management System
v) Software Testing Labs
To collaborate with local/foreign institutions
vi) Software Engineering/Development/Incubation
vii) Post Graduate Scholarship Scheme
Viii) Rural Information Technology Centers (RITCs)
ix) IT Infrastructure for institutions
x) Local Content in IT
xi) Implementation of Digital signature (public Key Infrastructure: PKI)
7.0 Impact of Government Initiatives on IT Development in Nigeria
The various government initiatives in IT Development in Nigeria have culminated in creating requisite enabling environment the level of IT deployment in the country.
Specifically, the following have been achieved through the awareness campaign; there is now massive IT deployment in the functioning of government organizations, education sectors as well as the private sector. IT currently drives virtually all activities in the banking and oil and gas sectors. The ASSYCUDA of Customs, epassport of Immigrations. last population census, elections, health insurance scheme, national identity scheme, JAMB, WAEC, NYSC are all being done through IT.
The Nigerian Internet population has witnessed tremendous growth with a boost from 2,418,679 users in 2005 to an estimated number of about 10 million Internet users in 2008, over 24 Million by 2010 and currently over 45 Million users thereby positioning Nigeria as the fastest growing Internet users in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the cybercafé and hand held devises remain the most common access point for users.
With the above statistics, Nigeria is currently placed eleventh in internet penetration in the world.
Also necessary enabling environment has been created thereby leading to both local and foreign direct investment in IT development in Nigeria. Five computer assembling plants have established factories in Nigeria while IT multinational companies now have offices in the country. This has led to job creation in the Nigerian labour market with attendant globally competitive income earning for Nigerians.
With the enabling environment, prices of IT equipment and services have now reduced considerably thereby making services and equipment available to more Nigerians as well as readily accessible access to online information. The number of ISPs and Cybercafé has increased tremendously.
In the area of telecommunications, Nigerian has moved from about 400,000 lines pre 1999 to over 70 million lines in 2009 thereby making Nigerian telecoms market the fastest growing in Africa. By July 2012 the Nigerian telecommunication sector had an active subscriber base of about 90 million with a teledensity of 60. This tremendous growth was buoyed in no small way by continued uptake of digital mobile services (with about 98% market share) and the adoption of a Unified Licensing Regime.
In addition, the broadcast industry has witnessed tremendous growth from the few ones mainly owned by federal and state governments. The country now has over three hundred radio and television stations across the country owned by both private sector operators and government at federal and state levels. The next level now is the digitalization programmed in order to be part of the global trend.
8.0 Challenges and Prospects of IT in Nigeria
Despite the inherent merits of IT and the various initiatives embarked upon by Nigeria government in order to be part of the global Information society, there are still obvious challenges to be addressed for the country to be adequately positioned in the new knowledge driven global economy.
Among the various challenges are that of requisite IT infrastructure which is not adequate and non-existent in most cases. Power is a major infrastructural defect but this could be address by adopting alternative sources of power in order to enhance the deployment of technologies.
Also, over 60% of Nigerians live in the rural areas and these people are yet to be served hence, reaching the underserved has been a major challenge in Nigeria since service providers do not see these areas as economically viable.
Furthermore, the requisite human capital in most cases is not available at the rural level because those who have the capability would have moved to urban areas where they can be easily employed and get better remunerations and conditions of service.
In addition, necessary Institutional frameworks are yet to be established at the rural level. To a large, extent this has slowed down the rate of progress in the few locations where the values of IT are appreciated. The implementation is either left in the hands of consultants or hidden under a department therefore limiting their rate and extent of deployment.
In addition, it is obvious that investment in IT is capital intensive whereas paltry amounts are always provided for in the annual budgetary allocations. Hence, little is achieved on yearly basis.
Presently, the IT sector in Nigeria is growing at a rate of 30 percent, a pace second only to China with about 90 million mobile subscribers and more than 45 million internet users. There is therefore, a growing need for skilled employees in this sector, where about 31.1 percent of Nigeria’s young people are below the age of 25 years.
The Government has demonstrated strong commitment towards the development of the industry through various policies and initiatives and also prepared to benefit from the outsourcing industry market which presently stands USD500 billion with a future projections estimate of UDS 1.65-1.80 trillion by 2020.
Though the IT industry is still developing in Nigeria, the potentials are enormous, not only within the country but for the sub-region and even the continent, Nigeria can become a nety exporter of IT, a destination for and a major hub for investments in outsourcing. This can only be achieved through collaboration and partnership.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What impact have government initiatives had on IT development in Nigeria? How should NITDA address the challenges mentioned? Please share your thoughts and opinions.