Computer Professionals under the aegis of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife in Osun State, have called for concerted efforts that will enhance the $8 million World Bank assisted ICT project, designed to establish Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Park in the university.
The ICT Park project commenced since 2014, with structures and facilities already on ground, is 75 per cent completed, but the university said there was need for more industry collaboration on the project to bring it to a desired global standard.
Speaking at a one-day forum built around the project, organised by the university authority in Lagos, with the theme: 'Rethinking Academia-Industry Engagement', the Pro Chancellor of the University, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, said the essence of the forum was to seek more collaboration from industry stakeholders in the form of industry partnership to boost the project.
Ogunbiyi noted that the centre was actively providing launch pad platform for new tech companies.He added that the one day Academia - Industry Interface Conference is the beginning of a series of engagement between OAU and their industry partners.Ogunbiyi reiterated the need for more ICT companies to take advantage of the OAU technology driven park, by building capacity in Park.
"We need to build strong interface between the academia and the industry, and we want industry participation and synergy on this project that will be of immense benefit to the student community, the academia and the industry," Ogunbiyi said. The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, said the ICT Park would help to bridge the practical skills gap that exists between the academia and the industry, who often times complain of unemployable graduates that universities release every year, because they lack the practical skills needed for industry jobs.
He said the ICT Park projects is capital intensive, hence the need for industry stakeholders to partner with OAU to train students that will be well grounded in both theory and practical skills before graduating.
The Director, World Bank Assisted Project, Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Adesola Aderounmu, who doubles as the President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said the varsity was selected for the project because of its excellent pursuit for education.
Aderounmu informed that the World Bank called for proposal from all Universities in Nigeria and Central Africa in 2014 and 30 Universities were initially selected from among 59 that applied from Nigeria and 10 was approved by the World Bank after a thorough review of the applications and OAU was eventually selected as the best institution for the ICT Park project.
"A grant of $8 million was given by World Bank for the ICT Park project, which had since commenced with students already carrying our research projects in the ICT Park, but we needed more industry collaboration on this."The programme has already started and some industry stakeholders have already signed MOU with us, designed to bridge the practical skills gap that currently exists," Aderounmu said.
Ogunbiyi, who spoke on the importance of electricity to the ICT Park project, called on the federal government to assist the university in its campus electrification project.
"OAU has been listed among 10 institutions by the federal government through the rural electrification agency to boost electricity in tertiary institutions. We need stable electricity to drive the project, and we are appealing to the federal government to assist us in this."The campus electricity project will provide uninterrupted electricity for the ICT park 24/7 if completed and it will ease academic researches that will be going on in the ICT Park," he stated.