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ICT tools instrumental to containing Ebola virus in Nigeria- Johnson



The Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. (Mrs) Omobola Johnson has disclosed that a combination of social media tools were instrumental in Nigeria’s fight to contain the Ebola virus, reports ITRealms.

Dr. Johnson disclosed this in a policy statement delivered at the ongoing International Telecommunications Union ITU 2014 Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan, Republic of Korea. ITRealms gathered that Johnson told delegates made up of Ministers and senior government officials from across the globe, that with Ebola, time is of essence to the fact that mobile device apps helped in reducing reporting times of infections by 75 per cent.

“Test results were scanned to tablets and uploaded to emergency databases and field teams got text message alerts on their phones informing them of the results,” she revealed.

Dr. Johnson reiterated that the combination of the internet and mobile cellular phones has opened up tremendous opportunities for countries like Nigeria.

The vertical increase in mobile use, according to Johnson is driven by a number of factors, particularly, the additional ways in which mobile phones are being used in Nigeria. 

She stressed that beyond conducting voice conversations, mobile phones are often the preferred channel for receiving data and for conducting transactions in Nigeria thereby making phones an indispensable tool used as-cameras, wallets, shops, music players, movie screens, and information or service centres of Nigerians.

Nigeria’s policy focus Johnson noted, is in step with the reality of the mobile internet revolution spreading across the globe- thus, the Ministry of Communication Technology is looking to create a viable environment for the proliferation of lower priced devices, increased investment in network infrastructure, and increased availability of spectrum for mobile broadband, in the knowledge that these will further drive growth in the nation’s ICT sector.

Johnson also disclosed that through the implementation of the National ICT Policy, National Broadband Roadmap, and Guidelines for Nigerian Content in ICT, the Ministry is bringing greater clarity and predictability to the Nigerian ICT sector.

She stated that in the past four years, Nigeria has seen mobile subscription increase from 87 million active SIM cards to over 131 million and mobile internet subscription stood at 67 million as at June 2014.

The Ministry’s policy framework, Johnson said aligns with the ITU’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2019, particularly its identified goals and targets of growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, and innovation and partnership.

The ICT sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP is growing and was about 10.44 per cent in 2013. The sector also indirectly impacts GDP through its influence on other key sectors; for example, in the 2013, ICTs were responsible for 12.05 per cent of the value added by the Finance and Insurance sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

In terms of social growth, Mrs. Johnson said that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are helping government to meet health objectives, and are amplifying benefits in the education and agriculture sectors.

The ITU’s growth priority of enabling and fostering access to and increased use of telecommunications through ICTs, according to Johnson, therefore, resonates with Nigeria, both economically and socially.

Nigeria, she said, is also using telecommunications and ICT tools to build a more inclusive society. Just as the Broadband initiative which Nigeria is currently implementing across technologies and at various levels of governance, are in line with the Union’s priority of bridging the digital divide and providing broadband for all. 

ITRealms further gathered from Mrs. Johnson that these initiatives are cognisant of the needs of women and girls, as well as other marginalised groups of the Nigerian society.

 +Remmy Nweke (ITRealms) +Efem Nkanga @NGRCommTech @NgComCommission @ITU #Nigeria
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Pix: Dr. (Mrs) Omobola Johnson

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