29 November 2012

Nigeria: Stakeholders Challenge FG On Local Content

The Federal Government has been enjoined to introduce local content in the curriculum of all levels of educational institutions in the country.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) stakeholders made the call at the just concluded e-Nigeria conference, titled "Local Content in ICT Development in Nigeria", organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). They reasoned that the introduction of local content would help develop Nigeria's (ICT) sector to meet global standard and best practice.

In a communique issued at the end of the event, which held in Abuja, stakeholders estimated that by 2013, Information Technology (IT) investment in the country would have hit $25 billion, which would be a significant leap from the initial investment worth $200 million, representing 18 per cent contribution to the nation's economic growth.

They noted that the sector was growing at an increasing rate and remained the fourth largest contributor to the nation's Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

The stakeholders also recommended that NITDA should focus on intense research towards achieving the vision of local content, while the theme of this year's e-Nigeria should be sustained in subsequent editions until 50 per cent local content is achieved in the sector.

"There is a need for government to include local IT manufacturers in its international trade missions, in order to expose our local manufacturers and stakeholders to the best practices in the areas of service, software, knowledge, and innovation," they said, adding that stakeholders shall identify an ICT champion and a lobby group to advance the growth of ICT.

They challenged NITDA to develop a multilingual web portal in Nigerian languages, including development of special IT programmes for the teeming youths to meaningfully engage them.

They suggested that federal government should create a service-wide IT cadre that will have the Information Technology-System-General of the Federation (ITSGF), adding that NITDA should collaborate with the National Assembly, with a view to fast tracking appropriate legal framework for smooth IT integration in all sectors.

While stating that NITDA should commence the development of a concise ICT local content policy in collaboration with stakeholders, the conference urged the agency to strengthen its partnership with other relevant stakeholders, such as Ministries of Education, Finance, Agriculture, Health, Trade and Investment for effective ICT development in achieving their mandates.

According to the stakeholders, indigenous hardware and software manufacturers should commence the development of workstations for forensic technology works, even as they recommended that organising the annual software competition for students should be collaboratively handled by NITDA, Computer Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) and Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) and the National Mathematical Centre (NMC).

The conference, however, pointed out that Nigerians were yet to leverage on the country's existing ICT infrastructure to bring about the desired transformation, adding that there is still a wide gap between monitoring and evaluation of ICT projects on value added on investments.

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