Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nigeria must take advantage of e-Revolution – Uwadia

President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) Prof. Charles Uwadia has challenged Nigeria to take advantage of the on-going electronic-revolution (e-Revolution) to push further economic development.

Prof. Uwadia made this assertion while delivering the inaugural lecture on “Software Systems: the Driving Force Behind the e-Revolution” at the Main Auditorium, University of Lagos (UNILAG), at the weekend.

The professor of computer science and Director, Centre for Information Technology and Systems (CITS) at UNILAG said the contributions of Africa and Nigeria in particular has nothing to write home about.

He said that apart from the contributions of Nigerians in diaspora, the country has remained onlooker, bystander and at best beneficiary and consumer of these revolutions.

“The e-Revolution, information society, knowledge economy has been with us for quite some time, and is still unfolding,” he said, urging that Nigeria take advantage of the unfolding aspect to make active her impact.

According to him, the 21st century has been largely referred to as the Digital Century and Nigeria needs to take the digital advantage of the emerging scenarios in order to minimize the challenges of the digital divide.

This, he said saved the nation from an impending digital disaster that could lead Nigeria to becoming a digital colony.

He went on to recommend a five-point agenda for Nigeria, including a framework for participating in the e-revolution, software development policy, software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, development of the software industry and models for adopting computing and computerization as a way of life.

“We must join the club of Digitally Wealthy Nations,” he declared.

Uwadia stressed that Nigeria needs a framework for participating in the e-revolution arena, suggesting that Nigeria should fall back on the declaration of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and derivatives of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He pointed out that Nigeria blend these documents with some of the Nigeria’s national initiatives such as the National Economic Empowerment Strategy (NEEDS), Vision 20-2020, National Information Technology Policy and Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) among others.

This, when properly implemented, he said, would put Nigeria on the path of active participation in the e-revolution.

“I wish to note with gladness that the National IT policy of 2001 has been reviewed by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) working with stakeholders, while the reviewed policy should be approved by the Federal Executive Council without further delay for full implementation,” he said.

Uwadia also called for a National Policy on Software Development, saying that it should be developed and implemented.

This policy, he said, is to be driven from the National IT Policy framework thereby becoming a strategic imperative for nation building, development and creation of wealth.

“I am happy to report that NITDA has recently set up a committee headed by Prof. O.C. Akinyokun of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) Akure, to produce a National Policy on Software Development,” he said.

On the software development curricular and instruction in educational institutions, Prof. Uwadia noted that this entails that principles, techniques and tools should be accorded greater attention in the curricular of computer sciences and information technology programmes in the educational institutions.

“Exposure to programming at the most basic form should begin at either kindergarten or primary school level,” he said.

The NCS president pointed out that while principles and techniques of programming do not change too often, programming tools evolve and new ones are developed quite rapidly.

“Therefore, provision should be made for constant review of that aspect of programme curricular,” Uwadia declared.

He said that over the years, many students detest the word ‘programming’ simply because they perceive programming courses as difficult subjects that should be avoided where possible and except where the courses are compulsory.

“The students do everything possible to obtain pass mark. This is similar to the perception of mathematics by students in secondary schools,” he said.

In addition, Uwadia advocated for creation of incentives and motivation for the learning of programming, which could be done by creating stimulating learning environment through the provision of adequately equipped computer laboratories, award prizes and according recognition for outstanding performance.

He said the formation of software development clubs in schools, for instance, would boost networking for the exchange of ideas and knowledge as well as organizing more software competitions in schools.

“Teachers and lecturers handling programming courses should reskill and retool regularly. They must keep abreast of development in the area among others,” he said.

Remmy Nweke:
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Marcus Wellington said...

Marcus Wellington said...

On the issue of setting up framework, Uwadia said Nigeria does not have to stretch itself too far in order to determine the direction to go and what to do.