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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Broadband access occupies high priority for GEJ


The availability of broadband access to Nigerians is  a huge priority to the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, says the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.

In her address to the 17th investiture of the President of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) in Lagos, Mrs. Johnson said that broadband is a huge priority for the government of GEJ going forward.

The priority that the Federal Government is seeking today, she said, is to get fibre to universities and schools and ensure they are connected to high speed broadband.

This, she noted is premised on the belief that if Nigeria could get fast broadband to every university in this country, there will be an explosion in terms of research that could be done and knowledge captured and innovation as well as creativity that comes with accessed resources. He described high speed internet access to universities, schools and hospitals as well as businesses as key to development.

Another crucial area for GEJ administration, she said, is the development of the Information Technology (IT) industry. 

“I know that many of you would have read about the IT business incubation centres committee we set up two weeks ago to help develop a framework that will incubate and develop IT companies that will contribute to national development,” she said.

Federal Government under GEJ, she pointed out has identified software as a key area of focus for Nigeria moving forward.

“We have identified software as a key area of focus for Nigeria going forward for obvious reasons,” she said.

As said by her, there are about 80 million mobile phone users in Nigeria today and they need software.

This, she said, is coupled with a youth population that embraces technology, stressing that she has met some 10 Nigerians who won competitions both in Nigeria and outside practicing software.

These, Johnson said, are people who have gone to Geneva and all over the world participating and winning software competitions and doing Nigeria proud, even as her office recently hosted with the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), three Nigerian universities that emerged tops in software.

“So software development is going to be a priority for us going forward and we are going to use the IT incubation centres to nurture, develop and push out to the market, Nigerian software entrepreneurs that will become the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of Nigeria and of the world,” she said with optimism.

Her ministry, she revealed is looking at IT parks with a vision at places where there is already infrastructure.

“We are a ministry in a hurry. Yes, we will build IT parks, but for now in setting up IT parks, we are looking at places where there is already infrastructure and we see that in a number of places,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson pointed out that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), an agency under the ministry is signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cross Rivers State government to leverage on its Tinapa infrastructure to develop a knowledge city in Calabar, the state capital.

The MOU, she said would herald the beginning of the process of creating a knowledge city out of this infrastructure before the end of this year.

“We also have an IT incubation fund that is similar to the IT incubation centers that we talked about. This is what we call a public private sector business partnership. It will be government fund that will be taking out of the innovation fund and of course we are hoping that we could merge this fund with the private sector,” she submitted.

It is no longer news that government is not in the business of running business, but what FG is doing is creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

“We will engage with relevant partners to make sure that this is done,” she assured, saying that ICT innovation fund will be used as a venture capital fund to encourage young entrepreneurs in the IT industry to ensure that they get the fund they require.

According to her, it’s not only funding in the IT incubation centre, the government is looking at not just giving money but support.

“Support in terms of legal support, banking support, business advise through a number of channels within the IT incubation centres and of course the venture fund will be used to encourage many of these young innovators many of whom we know don’t have any means of support, they don’t have the money, they don’t have the capacity to borrow money and so therefore we will give them the venture capital they need to support them financially,” she said.
 
Remmy Nweke

ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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