Nigeria Looks at ICT to Bring Transparency in Governance

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Nigeria is soon to begin work with Federal Government to facilitate the effective use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in creating transparency and accountability in government businesses.

The minister of Communication Technology, Mrs. Mobola Johnson reiterated the commitment of the new ministry to work closely with the Federal Government to facilitate efficient and effective use of ICT to create transparency and accountability in Nigeria.

The minister who disclosed this in Lagos while unveiling the ministry road-map to stakeholders at a round table on “Creation of a Digital Economy and Information Society in Nigeria”, said government is the big procurer and utilizer of ICT.

Mrs. Omobola Johnson disclosed that the mandate of the new ministry amongst others include policy development, policy articulation that will ensure a robust ICT industry growth particularly in terms of social and economy development.

According to the minister, the policy direction intervention of the ministry in the next four years will focus on the areas such as software development, rising awareness and strengthening implementation of intellectual property laws, setting up ICT parked digital havens (equipped with physical serve infrastructure; proximity and access to skill human capital, promoting local software investment in skills to drive ICT forward.

Mrs. Johnson pointed out that Nigeria is one of the most liberalized economies in the world, adding that one of the reasons for the success of the telecoms industry in the country was the liberalization, noting that the same liberalization in the telecoms should be replicated in both IT and ICT industries to allow competition that will give room for growth.

She further explained that ICT is not a domestic issue, stressing the need to partner with countries that have succeeded in utilizing ICT for their national development, stating that India is one of the countries that have recorded a lot in ICT; she added that the ICT contributed 6 per cent to the country’s GDP.

The minister revealed that statistics had shown that per annum, ICT in Nigeria grows between 3 to 4 per cent, projecting that in the next four years, based on the growth, ICT would contribute about 5 per cent to the country’s GDP, she expressed optimism that by year 2015 over one million jobs must have been created in the industry, she however called for increasing participation of Nigerian companies in the ICT industry, adding that the multinational companies should increase priority of the Nigeria market within the organization and deepening the expertise of Nigeria.

She disclosed that barely 60 days in office, efforts have been made to harmonize the various disparate policies that currently governs the ICT sector and development of a national ICT policy, accelerate the roll- out broadband infrastructure, increase online presence on Nigerian businesses and institutions through collaborations and partnership ; e-agriculture, e-government requirement and among others.

Speaking at the forum, Bill Best, a globally acclaimed expert and former CTO of the GSM Association, said government should try to avoid thinking about mobile as text wind fail, quarterly licenses fees, numbering range fees, spectrum initial and renewal fees microwaves backhaul among others.

Mr. Bill stated that what government and regulators were expected to do include thought leadership and direction, harmonize spectrum, encourage investment through correct allocation of spectrum, and think tactically as well as strategically. He added that they should also allow network sharing or wholesale, encourage contracture for social service and use universal service provision.

The Chief Executive Officer, Chams Plc, who is also the President Nigerian Computer Society, Mr. Ademola Aladekomo applauded the minister for a well set out and highly professional road-map that will drive the industry forward.

The president of Nigerian Computer Society disclosed that in IT only one million jobs could be created in the next five years, saying the jobs that would cut across the private and public sector, saying call centres alone could generate five hundred thousand jobs.

Aladekomo said Nigerians were not happy because they cannot get information out of government, as a result they don’t know what the government is doing, who is responsible for what and they don’t know how much government is making and they need education without knowing where to go, noting that call centres services alone can substantially reduce the country’s problem.

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