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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NCS tasks Yar’Adua on ICT ministry

Umbrella body of the nation’s Information Technology (IT) professionals, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has tasked President Musa Umaru Yar’Adua over the need to revisit the creation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) ministry, because of convergence.

Champion Infotel recalls that convergence in ICT has become increasingly hot topics, which avails the possibilities of integrating telecommunications and broadcast media both in operation and regulation.

An instance is the use of Internet for telecommunications through the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and Podcast, which is an online broadcasting via the Internet.

Additionally, podcasting, is a method of publishing files to the Internet, that allows users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically by subscription, but used largely as audio files since 2004.

NCS speaking through its immediate past President and chief executive, Condata Systems Limited, Dr. Chris Nwannenna at the just concluded 21st Annual General Meeting and international conference held at the Sam Mbakwe’s Hall, Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, called on President Yar’Adua to revisit the issue of creating ICT ministry.

Presently, he noted that key federal government parastatals are scattered into three ministries, including the placing of telecommunications regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Information and Communications Ministry, the national IT policy administrator, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) in Ministry of Science and Technology and the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) located at the Ministry of Education.

Although, he noted that NCS had in the past consistently advocated for the creation of an IT Ministry, in the light of obvious implications and convergence at this time, as well as need to learn from other countries like Egypt, the society has reiterated its recommendation for ICT Ministry.

Dr. Nwannenna pointed out that a Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies (MCIT) should comprise a merged National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and NCC, NITDA and CPN.

This recommendation, he noted, was almost unanimously adopted by members of the Technical sub-committee of the Federal Government’s Task Force for restructuring the industry last year before the then Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government moved NCC to the Ministry of Information.

“While NITDA was left in the Ministry of Science and Technology, and CPN still in the Ministry of Education,” he said.

NCS also stressed that this arrangement placed the IT and communications agencies in three different ministries thus still leaving room for duplication of functions, which the society thought the whole exercise of harmonization was intended to curb.

“Another point worth mentioning is that the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology has more that 20 agencies and parastatals under its supervision,” he observed.

Dr. Nwannenna equally said that to leave NITDA in this overstretched Ministry implies that the country is not placing any premium on Information Technology (IT), “which the whole world has come to accept as a key enabler of the economy.”

Theme of the event was “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria: IT Strategies and Tools.”

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