Later this year, students in the nation's tertiary institutions will begin to own notebook computers made here in Nigeria if plans by the Federal Government in this direction come to fruition.
Minister of Communications and Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson at the weekend ave indications that the Federal Government will partner indigenous PC manufacturers, including Beta Computers Limited, on a students PC ownership scheme. The scheme is expected to be the market elixir for locally manufactured personal computers in the country.
Mrs Johnson who said this when she visited the SPEEDSTAR Computers brand plant of Beta Computers Limited last week in Lagos disclosed that the scheme, which is still in the works, is a public-private arrangement expected to equip Nigerian students in tertiary institutions in the first phase with notebook computers and relevant content and broadband connectivity.
This, she said, is needed to face the challenges of bridging the digital divide and fully integrating Nigerian youths into the emerging global knowledge economy.
More IT jobs coming
Excited by the motorized conveyor driven assembly plant of Beta Computers, Mrs Johnson assured that the scheme when fully implemented will create thousands of jobs in the country for a lot of Nigerians that will be involved not only in the manufacture of the computers, but also in distribution, sales and support of the deployed computers.
Speaking further, the students PC ownership scheme, which will be launched later this year will make personal computers available to students of tertiary institutions at affordable prices with the payment structured in such a way that students may pay as little as N3, 000 every month over up to 24 months to own a laptop.
From left - MD, Beta Computers, Mr Will Anyaegbunam, CommTech Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, Ola Ogunleye, Special Adviser to the Minister on IT, during the minister's visit to BETA's SPEEDSTAR Computers assembly plant in Lagos where she unfolded the FG's plans on students PCs ownership scheme.
While assuring the Board of Beta Computers represented the chairman, Dr. Anthony Oboh, and two other directors, of government commitment to Buy-Nigeria, the Minister said: "We are going to work with the banks. We will work out the payment structure so that no student runs away without adequate payment for the PC.
"We cannot continue to be consumers of foreign products. With our large student population, we will create demand for our local manufacturers with a level playing ground and healthy competition among them."
Mrs Johnson, who has been preaching Buy Nigeria goods assured that the present administration was committed in device penetration among Nigerians but lamented that only 10% PCs in use were locally manufactured. What we saying is that more devices will be pushed into the market through this scheme so that local brands can create jobs for Nigerians. This is the only way to move forward and create captive market for local computer manufacturer's , she said.
Beta boss lauds FG
Earlier in his response, the Managing Director of Beta Computers, Mr. Will Anyaegbunam was full of praise for the minister for conceiving the laudable scheme and the methodical way and thought process that is very evident in her approach to its implementation.
He assured her that "we are ready to partner with the government on this scheme. We have the capacity to do that with our high quality SPEEDSTAR range of Computers."
While commending the federal government on scheme, Mr. Anyaegbunam identified negative perception as the major challenge indigenous brands face in the market today.
This he said is in spite of the fact that there is no real difference in what foreign brands are doing in PC manufacturing and what the locals are doing . All the Laptops contain the same Intel processors and motherboards and the chassis known as "barebones" come from the same top ODMs (Original Design Manufacturer's) in Asia.
He assured the Minister that with BETA's over 20 years' experience in the ICT industry in Nigeria, SPEEDSTAR Laptops offer the best value in the market for propagating the desired e-learning experience of Nigerian scholars at every level which is part of the requirements of the 21st century knowledge economy.
Anyaegbunam further said that their PCs products have been put through stringent quality tests that ensure the user gets the very best in performance, stability and compatibility while providing excellent scalability and practical functionality for both home and enterprise computing demands.