Monday, September 29, 2008

ICT4D: Akwa-Ibom State reiterates commitment to citizen empowerment

The government of Akwa Ibom State, has reiterated its commitment to continuously position the state as the when it comes to using Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) in changing the lives of the citizenry.

Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Samuel Efanga restated this position, during a working visit of some three sites where work on the state’s science park is on-going. He witnessed demonstration of some of the completed projects, including telephone booths.

Mr. Efanga expressed satisfaction at the level of work carried out by the contractor and its partners in the country, noting that the project, when completed, will not only put Akwa-Ibom State ahead of others in ICT4D, but also empower its citizens and create wealth for the populace.

Champion Infotel recalls that about four years ago, the Akwa-Ibom state government, commenced the plan to set up science parks in the state and connect all government offices with internet, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and video conferencing, with a plan to extend same to all local government areas in the state.

The contract was awarded to SBT Juul Africa and since then, however, a lot of efforts have been made to ensure speedy completion of the project, which earned the current Governor, Mr. Godswill Akpabio a prize of digital governor recently.
The completed first phase of the project, powers up the Ministry of Science and Technology, the State House of Assembly and the State Government Annex.

At the instance of the contractor, SBT Juul Africa, the supervising ministry, the Ministry of Science and Technology were invited for a test run of the first phase of the project.

Speaking to newsmen after the visit, the Commissioner who had earlier demonstrated the use of VoIP via telephone from the State House of Assembly to the State Ministry of Science and Technology, explained that the project is intended to provide internet access, VoIP and Video Conferencing to all state ministries with plans to extend it to the local government areas of the state.

The design, he said, is to facilitate e-government in the state.

“I am impressed with the state-of-the-art technological facilities that have been installed and running. The state government is investing heavily in the project and it is fully committed to the funding of the project,” Efanga said.

As said by him, the project would enable infrastructure development for the state and the idea is to link all state government offices and the local government areas with one network, such that the governor or permanent secretary to any of the ministries could decide to hold video conferencing with staff of the same ministry from the comfort of their various offices.

He cited an instance that the Governor could hold video conferencing with various Commissioners and Directors in various ministries from the comfort of his office, without necessarily inviting all of them to a physical conference room.

All these, he said, will lead to industrial revolution in the state and spur wealth creation and attract foreign and local investors to the state in the area of manufacturing, while government in turn will provide the infrastructure and the enabling environment for their businesses to thrive.

The Commissioner further noted that presently, Nigeria depends so much on oil revenue, and promised that with the digital project of developing Akwa Ibom State-owned Science Parks, the state will be looking at alternative sources of revenue generation.

He appreciated the state governor, Godswill Akpabio who is known for his belief in the digital project, as well as his commitment to it, assuring that within a short time, the project will be completed.

“This is just the completion and inspection of the first phase of the project and the idea is also to transform Uyo, the state capital into a mega city,” he said.

Also speaking at the session, the chief executive officer, Teledom Group, partner to SBT Juul Africa, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, commended the governor for believing in the project of his predecessor and for continuing with it.

No nation, Ekuwem said, could grow effectively if there is no continuity in governance, stressing that the Governor is not called ‘digital governor’ for the fun of it, explaining that he has been in the forefront of technology drive for the country, having assumed the position of Publicity Secretary of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) some years ago and has organized several Information Technology (IT) events for the country.

He also said the planned Science Park is to provide enabling environment for knowledge workers to design and develop their ideas.

“What knowledge workers need do is to walk into the science park and begin the process of development either as software developer, systems engineer, or hardware developer. It will save them the stress of looking for an office space and the difficulties in raising money over a period of years to kick start their knowledge development business,” he said.

Ekuwem, further said, that virtually everything needed to advance technology will be found in the science park, which he listed to include library, research department, incubation centre, cyber café, offices, recreation centre among others.

Director for African Projects at SBT Juul Africa, Mr. Albert Awolaja, equally commended the courage of the state government in embarking on such a developmental project which will definitely transform the state.

“We, at SBT Juul Africa are happy to be part of the project,” he said.

Also commenting, Chief Executive Officer, SBT Juul Africa, Mr. Trevor David Juul, said the science park project is special not just for Akwa Ibom State, but for all well meaning Nigerian, pointing out that without ICT infrastructure in any community, there will be no meaningful development in that community.

“Our desire is to ensure the successful completion of the project. We have developed similar technology in Malaysia, South Africa, Romania, among others,” he said.

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

No comments: