" ITREALMS: NCS advocates review of CANi


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NCS advocates review of CANi

The umbrella body of computer professionals in the country, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has advocated for the review of the government owned computer purchase programme known as Computer for All Nigerian Initiative (CANi).

CANi, is purportedly Federal Government plan to make the ownership of Personal Computers (PCs) cheaper for the civil servants in the country as a Government Assisted Purchase Programme (GAPP).

This, the government said was designed to expand the usage of computers and Information Technology (IT) within the country even as the same initiative was implemented in other countries of the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Japan, China and Egypt among others.

Thus, CANi is a public-private partnership programme between the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology through its agency, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and two giants in the IT industry; Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation.

Alongside the trio, the initiative has Hewlett Packard (HP) and some four local OEMs, namely Zinox Technologies, Omatek Computers, Beta SpeetStar and Brian Computers, some banks as key participants on the project among others, until lately.

Affirming this call was the newly elected President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Prof. Charles Uwadia, in an exclusive chat with Champion Infotel, at the NCS secretariat.

He said the review has become important in the face of lapses witnessed in the implementation of the CANi scheme.

“So, I think what needed to happen is that there is a need for a review of CANi,” he asserted.

Prof. Uwadia also said that the inability for stakeholders to optimise CANi is an indication that something is actually wrong with the policy initiative, stressing that it is a very big set back in the nation’s development plans.

He insisted that CANi is not yet a failed project, because it is yet to be fully tapped by the local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), even as some of them until now have not fully delivered on the number of computes already paid for by the government.

He insisted that CANi could not be said at present to be a failure, “But what we‘re saying is if a project was conceptualised to be able to deliver certain services and some way in doing that those who are to deliver these services are complaining that it’s not too positive, then it means something is wrong.”

Prof. Uwadia who also is the director, Centre for Information Technology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), pointed out that though the CANi project was primarily set out to empower public servants in the country, beginning with the federal, every step must be taken to ensure that CANi scheme reaches out to all Nigerians and not just public servants.

“We must be able to work out schemes that empower in terms of computing powers in new different strata of the Nigerian society,” he declared, noting that good number of private sector are actively involved in improving computer literacy as far as Information Technology (IT) is concerned.

“What about the states, what about the local governments, the communities? You see, all these issues need to be taken together when we’re talking or making plans to get certain things done in the areas of our computing powers and in rural infrastructure and so on,” Prof. Uwadia said.

For him, stakeholders, especially the government need to take the other strata of the society along, which he noted is not happening currently.

“Maybe a few states are doing well, there are several states that are doing virtually nothing,” he noted.

However, he commended the government for the steps taken in improving computation in the country, especially the immediate past government of President Olusegun Obasanjo for some of the giant strides in IT and telecoms in the past eight years.

He outlined some of these to include the promulgation of the nation’s IT policy in 2001 and setting up of the National IT Development Agency (NiTDA), which Act was enacted at the first quarter of 2007.

“I think we have some things in place being done by the government or some development actions going on,” he said.

Prof. Uwadia further decried the state of lack of coordination of different activities geared towards implementing the IT policy such as CANi.

He described CANi as a policy initiative by the government to allow public servants own computers but at affordable rates and at the same time assisting the local OEMs to improve on their productive capacity.

CANi, he pointed out did not go the way it was envisaged, mostly by stakeholders and OEMs in particular.

“They envisaged a situation where it would be profitable to them, but I think something must have gone wrong in the packaging in terms of pricing,” he submitted.

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