Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Jonathan asked to prioritize ICT

Chairman, Zinox Group of Companies, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, has tasked the acting president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to prioritize Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in his programmes for the remaining part of his tenure in office.

He also tasked Jonathan to ensure that his administration spends at least, $5 billion, about N750.6 trillion in ICT before the end of his tenure to boost penetration.

Ekeh who spoke at the launch of the book, ‘e-Knowledge – Time is Running Out’ by the president, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Chief Chris Uwaje in Lagos, last weekend, said that it is sad that Yar’Adua’s administration, who most Nigerians said were largely drawn from academia, did not pay attention to the ICT sector through reflection of this in the national vote to encourage diffusion especially to favour the education sector.

According to Ekeh, who was the chief launcher at the event, the future of this country must be knowledge-based if Nigeria is to make headway and this must be aligned with growth in education and ICT.

Goodluck, he said, should invest at least $5b in ICT between now and next year when this tenure expires, stressing that he respects knowledge a lot and that was what drew him nearer to ISPON President, whom he described as a knowledge- driven personality.

“I respect knowledge and that is what will rule the world in the near future,” he asserted.

In his remarks, President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), Mr. Lanre Ajayi, lamented the decline in reading culture among Nigerians and attributed this largely to lack of writings in book form by the elders.

Noting that with the debut of the book by Uwaje, it is now a challenge on Nigerian youths. Ajayi later launched the book by pledging 50 copies to be donated to chapters of the group in Nigerian universities.

The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) through its president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, went home with 10 copies of the book for the NCS library in addition to a copy for each chapter of the National Association of Computer Science Students (NACOSS) nationwide.

This is coming as Computerize Nigeria Project (CNP) supported the initiative by purchasing 120 copies also for partnering schools in the country.

In a related development, Dr. Ekeh during a send forth session for the immediate past Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe by the Computer Society also said government’s attention should be in how to attract investment into the ICT sector for the interest of digital natives and immigrants.

Reacting to the call by some industry stakeholders that youth corpers be given a lump sum of N250,000 after their service year to enable them start a business, Zinox boss commended the initiative, but said it would like placing the cart before the horse.

Equally, he said, that what the government should do is to create new and solid foundations for education by providing appropriate ICT infrastructure in schools.

IT, he pointed out, should drive the teaching and learning processes in schools, beginning with the learning environment, the instructional materials, the resource centers and the e-libraries.

“IT driven education would come cheaper than analogue education and create access and pre-occupation for the millions of children who come to schools from poor homes,” he said.

As said by him, these youths are already tech savvy by the time they leave school, stressing that all they need to do is put together a scheme that ensures that every graduating student is empowered with a laptop.

This, Ekeh said, should apply to all graduates from universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

He explained that the idea would be to harness the energies of a new generation of Nigerians through the vital tools for change, insisting that only a deliberate and systemic empowerment of the youths could ensure that Nigeria participates gainfully in the unfolding knowledge economy.

Further, Ekeh said that China and India have joined the list of world super powers by investing heavily in the development and penetration of ICT.

“Today, China has become the workshop of the world not necessarily because labour is cheap but because she has a well trained and knowledgeable work force,” he said, noting that 75 per cent of the world’s software businesses are outsourced to Indian companies because her citizenry have been motivated to control the production of software globally.

In addition, Zinox Chairman said that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from both countries if the dream to join the world’s top 20 economies by 2020 is to be realized.

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