The importance of Information and Communications Technology for the development of any country’s economy cannot be overstated. ICT and telecom play a very important role and cut across all sectors of development, like agriculture, education, oil and gas, health, telecommunication, industry, trade and investment, security and defence, transportation, works and housing etc.
By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja |
To underscore the need for the government and other private establishments to invest more in the development of the nation’s ICT sector, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) organised a national dialogue on telecom and ICT sector in Nigeria, with the theme ‘Harnessing the digital resources for the building of our national economy,’ in Abuja, where ICT experts and government representatives reassured Nigerians of their commitments to drive technology development across the country, through the use of digital resources.
In his remarks, the president of ATCON, Mr. Olusola Teniola, while giving details of the national dialogue, said the digital technology growth across all the sectors of Nigeria’s economy became exponential as a result of government’s resolve under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to drive the entire economy through digital resources and the frantic efforts being pursued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and members of ATCON.
Teniola said the dialogue on telecom and ICT sector was targeted at changing the narrative of our nation’s development through the optimal utilisation of digital resources and to achieve this, state governors, ministries, agencies and sectors were invited to be part of the national dialogue along with telecom and ICT companies in order to see the strategic essence of taking advantage of digital resources to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their respective sectors for the betterment and overall benefits of the country.
He described ICT as an enabler in execution of government’s programmes and that without proper utilization and deployment of ICT in running of government activities, Nigeria would continue to lag behind in the technology space. He said ICT had turned the world into a global village and only nations that are prepared would catch up with the speed, adding the programme was aimed at charting a clear ICT roadmap that would ensure a robust commitment of both the government and industry players in development and domestication of indigenous technologies.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, a panelist who is also the director-general of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. DanAzumi Mohammed Ibrahim, called on both government and private establishments to devote a large chunk of their budget to the development of ICT sector for socio-economic growth of the country.
He said the ICT sector had become a pioneer and dependable catalyst in addressing the needs and interests of developing countries like Nigeria and needed an improved and sustained budgetary allocation to thrive.
The NOTAP boss stated that though globally ICT has been perceived as the major ingredient for socio-economic development, powering every functional society especially the developing countries, Nigeria still depends largely on foreign ICT providers to power her economy.
Ibrahim further stated that NOTAP as a technology regulatory agency sometimes approves some technology transfer agreements with pain, considering the huge amount of money expended by Nigerian entrepreneurs in acquiring foreign softwares that power their businesses.
He revealed that the world is vastly being taken over by digital economy which is powered by ICT and if Nigeria does not come to speed with the rest of the world, it would continue to be a spectator in the global technology ecosystem than a major player.
The NOTAP helmsman said as a stakeholder in technology development in Nigeria, NOTAP is working closely with the knowledge institutions by establishing intellectual property and technology transfer offices (IPTTOs) in some selected knowledge institutions. He added that the reason for establishing IPTTOs was to create awareness on the importance of investing and carrying out market and demand-driven researches instead of engaging in researches for the purposes of publication and career progression.
The DG said the IPTTOs’ programme started in 2006 with the establishment of six centers in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and had since progressed both in number and capacity to 43 IPTTOs across the six geo-political zones of the country.
A statement by NOTAP’s head of public relations unit, Raymond Ogbu, said representatives of state governments gave their perspectives on how ICT had helped in blocking some loopholes through which corrupt officials had used in defrauding the states, adding their governors were more prepared than ever to deploy ICT in daily running of their activities.