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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stakeholders meet on ICT4D draft

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) stakeholders recently gathered in Lagos to brainstorm on the nation’s ICT for Development (ICT4D) draft plan at a workshop organised by the National IT Development Agency (NITDA) with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

NITDA sources said that with the end of the workshop, the agency is now ready to see to its implementation to align the sector with the nation’s 2020 economic target of being among the 20 world leading economies.

In his message to the occasion, Director-General, NITDA, Prof. Cleopas Angaye represented by Director, Technical Services, Dr. Moses Ubaru, said that the workshop has become imperative to ensure that Nigeria achieved the set goals.

“It is important to note that the direct relevance and usefulness of the Nigeria ICT4D plan in achieving the present administration Seven-Point agenda and positioning Nigeria amongst the 20 leading economies by year 2020,” he said.

He pointed out that the final document, which forms the outcome of the workshop would soon be presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

He noted that in sub-Sahara Africa, only South Africa has made substantial progress in leapfrogging its economy through ICT with heavy investment made in the last 10 years to build robust ICT infrastructure and developed sufficient human capacity to manage same.

Equally, he said that in the last decade, based on World Bank sources, Philippines, Malaysia, Brazil, Vietnam and Eastern European nations including Hungary and Poland have made remarkable progress to join India and China in becoming part of the new economic order.

“We’re all aware that ICTs have been identified as major tools in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other development agenda. The idea behind the Nigeria ICT4D plan is to set out a time-sensitive action plan with realistic targets and benchmarks for the sectoral applications of ICT for national development, which includes actions and programmes that cover various sectors of our National economy for short, medium and long term implementation by relevant stakeholders,” Prof. Angaye said.

For the President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, it’s exciting to note that ICT enthusiasts trooped out to be part of this making of a revolution.

“We must realise that full integration of ICT in achieving our development goals is crucial to getting anywhere near India or any of the newly emerging economies. I am glad that a meeting of this nature is holding to get everyone involved in drawing our common destiny,” he said.

Mr. Ajayi, who also is the chief executive, PiNet Informatics Limited, added that as the case in India and other countries with well defined ICT direction, the nation’s ICT4D is expected to enable government pay more focused attention on effective policy direction for the country’s IT industry, development of appropriate IT infrastructure, development of appropriate guidelines and standards as well as ICT curricula for the educational sector.

In addition, he said that capacity building for a globally competitive workforce would receive a boost when the ICT4D finally takes off as well as enhanced healthcare delivery, and effective law enforcement and judicial system.

Others are development of agricultural sector to enhance food security, and creation of the necessary enabling environment for the full integration of IT in the country’s national environment.

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