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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nigeria must reap dividends of WSIS -Sesan

FEW months after the finale and second phase of the two-phased World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) ended in capital city of Tunisia, Tunis, Programme Manager for the Lagos Digital Village, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, has tasked the nation on how best to reap the dividends of the summit.

Speaking at the launch of the “Nigeria Rocks” project in Lagos recently sponsored by the Heinrich Boll Foundation office in Lagos.

Nigeria Rocks is a compilation of the Nigerian WSIS’ youths caucus experiences under the aegis of Nigerian Youth ICT4D Network (NYIN), during the two-phased summit produced in a book form and Compact Disc (CD) format.

In an address entitled “Beyond Tunis: Reaping the Dividends of WSIS in Nigeria” Gbenga, who also is the first Nigerian Information Technology (IT) Youth Ambassador, said that it is very essential that Nigeria as a nation fashion its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy to induce development at the community levels.

He noted that people remained critical resources for this key challenge of achieving Nigeria’s aim of becoming “an IT capable country in Africa and a key player in the Information Society by the year 2005, using IT as the engine for sustainable development and global competitiveness.”

Pointing out that though the nation may have missed the last digit in the year of target, but the decade should be made to remain the same, meaning that Nigeria has only 10 years to meet up to the targets set for 2015.

Emphasising that Nigeria should be in safe hands but the task of producing a conducive environment and appropriate policy frameworks remain with the government.

“Through the specialized agencies that have been saddled with the responsibility of developing Nigeria’s ICT sector.

Nigeria, the ambassador said, do not have the luxury of many options, but as it is popularly said, “We either shape up or ship out”.

He advised that Nigeria must shape up by doing the right and reaping the dividends of WSIS in the country.

While praising HBF for its support to NYIN, Gbenga recalled the journey from prepcoms in Bamako in 2002 to Tunis in 2005, saying that WSIS no doubt provided a unique networking and communication opportunity on a multi-stakeholder platform for Africa and Nigeria precisely.

According to him, the youth caucus made a good case for what young people could do when there is a meeting point between preparation and opportunities.

“Right from Bamako through to Tunis including all the preparatory committee meetings (prepcoms) and inter-sessional meetings, youth presence was felt” he asserted.

He did not forget so soon, the incident of the youth being entangled in the war that broke in Togo on their return from Accra after the African regional prepcom for the second phase early last year.

Describing it as a ‘miracle of Accra’, Sesan said that the collaboration with HBF changed the speed of action and participation for the ICT4D Nigeria, thus giving about 21 young Nigerians the opportunity to take part in the process in Accra.

“These vibrant young people led discussions, facilitated meetings, produced newsletters, met with dignitaries, resolved issues, matched words with action” he said.

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