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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stakeholders review IT policy

Stakeholders in Information Technology (IT) in the country, at the weekend assembled in Lagos, to review the nation’s IT policy, reports Obi Chinemerem.

Champion Infotel recalled that the Federal Government on March 2001, proclaimed an IT policy being managed by the National IT Development Agency (NITDA), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Speakers at the event were the immediate past President of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, (CPN), Dr. Gabriel Obi, Head of Operations NITDA Abuja, Mr. Gbenga Adebusi and Chief executive Condata Systems Limited, Dr. Chris Nwannenna.

The event also had in attendance the President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), Professor Charles Uwadia, who led the discussion session.

He congratulated participants at the event and urged them to make contributions to the programme that will move the industry and the nation forward.

Mr. Adebusi in his contributions said that IT in any nation is undisputable and Nigeria should not be left out.

He also said that IT is ubiquitous in the everyday life of any nation and as a result should be leveraged upon by Nigerians.

Equally, he said that it is a good tool for achieving the vision of Mr. President with regards to project 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to Dr. Obi, for the policy to be effective, NITDA should provide IT in governance for the country.

He was also of the opinion that IT should be elaborated more on education, therefore IT has to penetrate educational institutions nationwide.

Noteworthy is that the policy, which had its mission statement as to make Nigeria an IT capable country in Africa and a key player in the information society by the year 2005 needs a review.

The major achievement of the policy was however the establishment of NITDA, a body that was recommended as one of the strategies for implementing the policy itself.

Stakeholders further identified that inadequate funding of NITDA and lack of a clear policy direction by the organization at inception as lull that characterized the implementation of the 2001 IT policy, as a result, very little success was recorded.

Another factor, according to stakeholders was that the status of IT development in Nigeria at the time in question was very low.

While recounting the status of IT in the country before the policy, Dr. Nwannenna described it as next to nothing when compared with that of both the developing and the developed nations.

According to him, the country lagged behind even in terms of how IT is used in business and public administration.

In a draft presented by Dr. Nwannenna, he highlighted some of the factors that contributed to low IT usage and penetration prior to 2001 to include the high cost of acquiring Personal Computers (PCs), as well as high import duties, other government tariffs and unfair exchange rate of the Naira.

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