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Thursday, December 01, 2005

NITDA inaugurates NITAC as NCS opposes merger plans

IN efforts to reposition the implementation of the Information Technology (IT) policy in the country, the National IT Development Agency (NITDA) has concluded plans to inaugurate tomorrow, Friday, a National IT Advisory Committee (NITAC).

This is coming as the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) is opposed to the proposed merger of NITDA with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The committee to be made up of key and high-level experts would work towards harmonising inputs from stakeholders, according to the Director General of NITDA, Prof Cleopas Officer Angaye.

He made this disclosure at a reception organised by the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body of six professional groups in the country for him and special adviser to the President on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mr. Emmanuel Arinze and special adviser to the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Uche Ofili, in Lagos.

The inauguration to be held at the nation’s Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, NITDA boss said, would be a key organ in IT governance in the country.

“I am happy to announce today that after the initial delays
occasioned by necessary consultations, the date for the inauguration of NITAC has been fixed for December 2, 2005 at Abuja,” he declared.

Prof. Angaye explained that NITAC would be structured to have standing committees to address the four key steps, including an immediate review of the IT policy so as to bring it into alignment with current global trends and national aspirations, evolving issues of national network security.

Other immediate hurdle of the committee would be to facilitate the passage of the NITDA bill into an enabling law for the agency and enactment of other legislation to make electronic commerce and IT development easy in the country.

The onus is also on the committee to standardise by certification of software, hardware and firmware in line with the Institute of Electronic, Electrical Engineers (IEEE) specifications and guidelines developed in the country in partnership with stakeholders.

This is in addition to harmonization of ICT infrastructure in both the private and public sectors which would result into a national backbone.

He pointed out at the event chaired by the managing director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi, that chief among the standing committees soon to take off would be the Standards Committee, which he expects NCS to play a key role.

“Indeed, as soon as NITAC is inaugurated the Standards Committee is expected to swing into action,” he said.

The chief executive of NITDA also disclosed that by March next year, his office plans to establish a system testing laboratory to facilitate the processing of systems’ standardization and certification in Information Technology (IT) industry.

He maintained that his promise to propel buy made in Nigeria campaign would be strengthened when local products are benchmarked along international standards.

He appealed to NCS and other stakeholders to make unreserved inputs
and contributions to the standards committee process being established by NITDA.

Earlier in his address, NCS president, Dr. Chris Nwannenna solicited for collaboration with the government especially on the indigenous software promotion.

He also chided advocates for the merger of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Broadcasting Commission and NITDA, wondering the motive behind such an agitation.

“NITDA is not a licensing agency, but a development agency,” he said, stressing that NCC and NBC are commercially based organs and they have been very successful.

He noted that though this kind of merger exists in neighbouring Ghana and was supposedly proposed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), he said, the Nigerian environment is not ripe for such endeavour.

Rather, Dr. Nwannenna said, that NITDA should be empowered with enough funding to deliver its IT policy implemenation promises.

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