Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Digital disaster awaits deaf and dumb IT nations (3)


By Chris Uwaje

We must adopt the paradigm that to be educated is to be able to read, write, and use a computer. We need to instill in the students that a Bachelors degree is no longer enough. A Master’s degree is not enough either. We must teach them that their future will be based on a lifelong learning experience.

We must recognise that the control over the means of production is no longer exclusively in the hands of a few and motivate our students to believe that they can compete internationally.

Software development offers the fastest stairway to actualization in this brave new world and we must equip as many as we can to become true knowledge workers with skills capable of attracting globally benchmarked compensation plans.

In less than 10-years, the local software industry can grow from a two million-dollar industry today to potentially a US $10 billion industry. Indeed, the software sub-sector offers a chance for a QUANTUM LEAP by achieving the following five significant applications to national growth and development:

1) As an instrument for transforming existing data and information structures into standardized databases for efficient productivity, transparency and accountability.

2) As a solid foundation and engine of economic activity and revenue generation on its own.

3) As a fundamental tool for functional and result oriented education, Research & Design & Development (RD&D) and for the promotion of Art and Culture.

4) As a friendly instrument of governance and security protection for the citizenry.

5) As a significant instrument for International Relations and competitiveness.

Our national leaders, key policy advisers, and educators must understand clearly that the new economic order will be driven primarily by information technology. To participate fully in this economy, we need first to understand its dynamics and then to consciously plan and implement policies that create the capacity to compete.

The continuing prioritization and emphasis in Nigeria on local manufacture of computers (whatever that means) almost blinds us to the contemporary reality that the significant component of the total cost of ownership of an IT solution lies in the software not the hardware. Perhaps as a consequence, we have taken so long to bring to bear the force of our industry’s lobby behind the articulation of an IT policy.

This is the knowledge Communication Age, not the Industrial Age, or even the Information Age. The country that controls knowledge and can communicate information and is able to harness and deliver it better and faster will become the super power of the 21st century.

Undoubtedly, for establishing and sustaining software exports to the emerging African markets, a vibrant domestic market is required. Market forces alone is incapable of accelerating the development of informatics knowledge technology – due to its fast pace – government must therefore bring forth the political will to shore-up I.T development.

Government is the catalyst. It is time to look at the overwhelming benefits of: e-business. e-education, e-governance and the internet. Computers and Internet connectivity in every school and colleges throughout the country within the next five years is feasible and should be implemented.

We must prepare now to begin the shift from mass consumption to mass creativity and production - applying and using information knowledge technology.

To do this, we must re-engineer the entire educational system and empower the youths with I.T Tools and facilities. We must also start now to consciously prepare for the production of a minimum of 300,000 I.T-related engineering students annually from our universities. The core attention should be placed in Mathematics, English and Statistics. Needless to state that R&D is must-have.

All the above will amount to a pipe dream, if the accelerated establishment of IT Knowledge and Software Parks with testing facilities is not established as a matter of top urgency. A Digital Research Village is urgently needed. Special grants should be given to I.T companies to re-locate their operational sites or create new branches within the vicinity of our universities – this is absolutely necessary, if we must bridge the gap of theory-only student material.

Establishment of I.T software parks and production centers nationwide should be encouraged as a matter of policy. And indeed, it is imperative that a national centre for the study of digital sciences and future societies be put in place if we must master the 21st century knowledge society dynamics and earn from its benefits embedded in the global revenue basket.

To succeed, we must act as of yesterday … today may be too late! Who will act? First is the number one citizen of the Federal republic, who delivers the political will to master the emerging storm. Others are core professionals in organizations- big or small. They include, but not limited to: Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Compliance Officer (CCO),Chief Security Officer (CSO),VP Strategy and Architecture, Director e-Commerce, Database Administrator, Data Security, Administrator, Manager Data Security, Manager Database, Manager Disaster Recovery, Manager Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, Manager Facilities and Equipment, Manager Media Library Support, Manager Network and Computing Services, Manager Network Services, Manager Site Management, Manager Training and Documentation, Manager Voice and Data Communication, Manager Wireless Systems, Capacity Planning Supervisor; Disaster Recovery Coordinator , Disaster Recovery - Special Projects Supervisor, Network Security Analyst, System Administrator – Unix, System Administrator – Windows.

Future assignments will include, finding out the scope of works and job responsibilities of all the above players to understand the enormity of the challenges before a nations which aspires to survive in the knowledge society.

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