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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GEJ keen on bridging digital divide – Johnson

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is keen on bridging the digital divide, according to the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.

Speaking at her maiden interactive session with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) editors in Lagos, at the weekend, Mrs. Johnson said that this is evident with the creation of the ICT Ministry under her care.

With the emergence of the ICT Ministry, she said, President Jonathan, had responded to the calls by stakeholders, simply because he is acutely aware of the strategic and important role ICT plays not only in national development, but in national competitiveness.

“… And of course, the creation of much needed jobs especially for our younger generation,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson maintained that her Ministry was birthed out of years of canvassing by key stakeholders for a supervising Ministry to co-ordinate, facilitate and drive the development of the ICT sector.

She recalled that Nigeria has had tremendous success in the telecoms sector as a result of the liberalization of the sector.

“Today, we have one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world as well as the largest mobile subscriber base in Sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.

Johnson stressed that unfortunately the Information Technology (IT) sub-sector for a variety of reasons has not been as successful.

“In fact, despite the success of our telecoms industry the ICT sector accounted for only 3.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared with 10 per cent for South Africa,” she said.

As said by Johnson, the opportunity for Nigerians as a country now comes in how to take the telecoms sector to the next level, namely the data, internet and electronic business as well as how to build a more robust and successful IT industry.

“This is the charge from Mr. President to the Ministry of Communication Technology,” she said, adding that the mandate of the Ministry could be summarized in four key areas, comprising facilitating universal, ubiquitous and cost effective access to communications infrastructure that of course includes a national fibre optic backbone

Additionally, she said, the ministry is to promote the utilization of ICT in all spheres of life to optimize the communications infrastructure; digital content, domestic software applications, the delivery of private and public services, that is, e-business and e-government

Equally, she said the mandate of the Ministry includes promoting and facilitating the development of the ICT industry and in so doing Increase the contribution of the ICT industry to GDP.

By deploying information and communication technologies to drive transparency in governance and improve, she noted, the quality and cost effectiveness of public service delivery would improve.

“Our aspirations for what ICT can do for Nigeria is ambitious. We believe that policies, programmes and plans that will be embarked upon to deliver on this mandate will provide a launch pad for Nigeria to leap-frog from a resource- dependent to a knowledge-based economy,” she said.

The minister emphasized that Nigeria could be transformed into a major ICT hub where knowledge, technology and innovation are used as tools to not only drive wealth creation and empower citizens of the country, but also deployed to provide security, promote efficiency and national competitiveness for sustainable socio-economic development.

This new Ministry, she said, would work closely with the private sector in Nigeria, international partners and other supporting governments through its implementing agencies.

She further listed some of the implementing agencies within the ICT ministry to consist of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Galaxy Backbone and the Nigerian Postal service (NIPOST).

Assuring that as time goes on, her team at the Ministry would reveal plans and strategies for execution towards the journey for transformation using ICT.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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