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Friday, March 30, 2007

CANi: PMO may be fired

The Programme Management Office (PMO) of the Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi) being run by AMB Multiserve Ltd, may be relieved of the responsibility of managing the scheme.

Champion Infotel investigations revealed that contrary to claims that CANi has stopped marketing of the project as complained by most of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in the initiative, recently, the marketing is still going on thereby attracting some venom in the core Information Technology (IT) sub-sector.

Much touted as a public-private partnership (PPP) programme between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through its agency, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and two giants of the Information Technology industry - Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation. CANi is expected to be driven by local private partners participation.

AMB Multiserve Ltd, is to see to the implementation and coordination of the operation, which it has since included as “marketing and sales of computers under the scheme.” These activities are being reviewed by the Ministry of Science and Technology and would soon release a white paper on it, pending the return of the Permanent Secretary who Champion Infotel gathered has been away, obviously out of the country.

It would be recalled that OEM complaints over the marketing activities by PMO led to the recent facility tour of their factories, by the Director General of NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye. Most of the OEMs are based in Lagos, including Zinox, Omatek, Beta and Brian, who are currently partnering on CANi in terms of providing hardware.

However, our investigations revealed that the issue of CANi marketing had caused some ripples in the past and has even metamorphosed into the PMO being summoned by NITDA, just as Prof. Angaye had promised to call PMO to order.

Investigations also showed that some industry practitioners complained lately of getting telephone calls from PMO, requesting meetings to enable them make marketing presentations to the management of some institutions in Lagos State, which eventually filtered to the OEM, who were supposed to leverage on the marketing aspect to promote their individual local brands.

One of our sources equally said that after listening to the call from PMO male officer (names withheld), and on reminding the caller of the fracas this kind of action had caused the industry in the recent past, he was told not to worry about that, even as the caller ‘promised to call back’ and hung off.

Industry watchers said that the PMO personnel’s promise to call back was in realisation that this particular recipient was aware of development in the industry and may need strong conviction which may not be achieved through mere telephone conversation.

It was also gathered that given that PMO was summoned previously which afforded it the chance to deny what it then described as ‘allegation’ and now that it has been established, NITDA may go the extra mile of recommending the dissolution of PMO to pave way for peace to reign in the industry.

CANi computers are to be sold for $300, about N45,000 for the least price and non-upgradeable category.

Established in mid-2006 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, CANi, is a Government Assisted PC Purchase programme (GAPP) designed to expand the usage of computers and information technology in the country.

Similar initiatives have been implemented globally including United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Singapore, Japan, China and Egypt among others, aimed at driving Personal Computers (PCs) penetration into sections of the Nigerian community, which are currently underserved.

The scheme, industry observers noted, was structured around the creation of awareness of information technology generally, and engendering demand for computer usage as well as Internet access amongst people in paid employment across the public and private sectors of the economy.

“The scheme will make available desktop computers and laptops at prices significantly below the prevailing market prices for all such employees and in addition offer bank financing for the purchase of the PCs to be repaid at affordable rates over a period of 24 months.

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