Wednesday, February 24, 2010

USPF, CTO to train 10m Nigerians, warn against vandalisation

THE Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Nigeria and the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO) said they have concluded plans to train no fewer than 10 million Nigerians on Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) scheme, reports CHARLES OKOH.

The training programme is to hold over the next 12 months.

Representatives of the two organizations made these known at a two-day stakeholders’ forum which held in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, last week.

Director, CTO, Mr. Bashir Patel and board members of USPF present at the forum jointly agreed to set a target of training 10 million Nigerians nationwide under the USPF access for all project.

Mr. Patel said ten million people nationwide is the target that USPF has set for itself for training within a 12 months period and that the training would include youths, children and people from all walks of life.

“You have set a very ambitious project of training 10 million people and I pray to God that collectively we will deliver those 10 million trained people within the shortest possible time and that is a great ambition. When we say 10 million people they could be children, youths, adults from all walks of life so we must make sure that that is a target we will sincerely achieve,” he said.

He also said the proposal of one Community Communication Centre (CCC) per local government area is a recommendation that USPF has decided to take up, but would require feasible proposal on counterpart contributions to make them sustainable.

“One thing I would like to see in Nigeria, is that every child has the same level of education like the child in Europe or America. The federal and state governments as well as private sector companies should not deny us that right and it’s your right to demand it from them,” Mr. Patel said.

He also said the road ahead to achieving this target is a difficult one but was pleased with the level of participation of the people from the South West geopolitical zone.

Mr. Patel lamented that Africa has less than one per cent of access to ICT while America has over 50 per cent, advising that the only way to catching up with the rest of the world is to reach the rural areas.

Also speaking on some of the achievements of the forum, the founder of Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF) Dr. (Mrs) Ndidi Edozien, said the forum has commitment by the board of USPF on training workshop and that it will not just be training but also exploring potential projects and partnership opportunities.

She the project would succeed at moving forward given the level of participation shown at the forum.

She revealed that the board has accepted to provide opportunity for all participants to own a laptop.

She also said there was a general consensus by participants on the need to use ICT to build market linkages and that USPF would look into it.

Dr. Edozien called on communities with connectivity problem to share such information.

Speaking also the Managing Director, GBF, Emeka Orjih said to concretize what has been spoken about during the forum the delegates should begin to put structure to their aspiration

Meanwhile, the Secretary, USPF, Mr. Funso Fayomi, has condemned the vandalisation and careless handling of some of the facilities provided by USPF in various schools across the nation.

Mr. Fayomi who was speaking at the forum said in some cases over 100 computers were stolen while in some other schools these materials were either set ablaze or poorly handled by the students.

He said to sustain the projects in secondary and tertiary institutions USPF is developing models to share the facilities with surrounding communities and generating additional resources for periodic maintenance and upgrading of the infrastructure.

Fayomi said that USPF will continue to use the creativity and entrepreneurship of Nigerians to make information and communications technologies (ICTs) an engine for economic and social development as well as to bring the immense benefit of ICTs to Nigerians through e-education, e-commerce, e-government, e-health, e-security, e-socials among others.

He also called on stakeholders to collaborate with USPF to extend ICT infrastructure and services to underserved and unserved areas and communities.

“The USPF has opportunities for such collaboration and there are many locations that may not benefit without support from all stakeholders,” he said.

The USPF, he said, is creating a joint education and enlightenment programme and campaign for technology adoption not only in schools but in everyday living,

According to him, this campaign would dwell on the benefits of the infrastructure and services as well as the need for communities to protect the infrastructure.

Fayomi explained that to be eligible for USPF financing all proposals must meet criteria that are consistent with USPF principles and presented in standard format and such projects must be located in unserved or underserved community.

He also to meet the quest of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) on access for all, the USPF has initiated projects for the country.

According to him, some of these projects are School Access Programme (SAP), Community Communication Centres (CCC), Accelerated Mobile Phone Expansion (AMPE) projects, BTS and collocation infrastructure projects.

Fayomi said the USPF has put in place a five year strategic plan (2007-2011) which gives policy direction for projects to be implemented within the five year period.

The Universal Service Fund is a global phenomenon with 50 countries as signatory to an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreement to set aside funds to provide access to technology to the citizenry of their country, while the USPF is the organ of the Nigerian government saddled with the responsibility of achieving the mandate under the supervision of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

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