DIRECTOR-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Professor Cleopas Angaye, below, enunciates how the nation can achieve Vision 20-2020 through the use of IT, securing internet access, but laments the power situation while still mooting the use of solar as aletrnative to electricity.
On achieving millenium development goals, if we actually use the proper tools we will get there.
Have you heard of â€˜vision 2020â€™?Â What it means is that in the year 2020, Nigerian would be one of the 20 top economies. We cannot be this if we donâ€™t apply IT as a tool in all sectors.
That is why I was looking at the Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT for D), which actually spells it out. We have got the report, in fact right away we will now send it all to the sectors, and through this we can now use it in all sectors.
Regarding the 7-point agenda, when you look at it all the seven points stipulated,Â if you donâ€™t apply IT as a tool there is no way you can achieve it. This is similar to even vision 20-2020. To be recorded as one of the top 20 economies globally you have to use IT.
The development goals if you look at it e.g. poverty alleviation using ICT for D, especially trying to eradicate poverty and so on, IT is the answer. The good thing about IT is that it is positioned in variants, in the sense that you can sit down in any place irrespective of the distance you have to any point, you can use IT as a tool because what you need is internet access to go to cyber space.
That is why the RITC became very handy, whatever you have it goes right to the grassroot, wherever you are, whether in a semi-urban center, as long as you have a computer and an internet access. This is why we are harping on provision of power supply because we have a problem of power. But despite that there are alternatives which is the solar energy systems and this makes internet handy. If we have power and bandwidth as I have been hitting on, we are on track, because bandwidth will not provide power.
We are using VSAT, well not very bad!Â Fibre optics, WI-FI transmission, Wi-Max. Those are extensions of things that provide internet access. We are pursuing all those access now. We are using VSAT, from VSAT we can connect to WI-FI to other areas.
These RITCâ€™s are community based, in the sense that people in those communities can come to those centers and then connect other areas. We are trying to see how, from those RITC centers do other connectivities access providing internet, because the real issue is internet access and providing power.
The millennium development goals are achievable in Nigeria because if you look at it, we say how we can achieve it. Yes we can! If you look at India, they have software development centers; these people started in 2002 and seven years later if you go back to India, they have tremendous success in their exports, which is the greatest IT mark to their country. In fact be it India, be it China, be it Britain, be it Germany, everywhere you go you see it and Indians are everywhere with IT.
However software development, anything you want to call it, the real innovative tool now in the country, in the world its IT.Â So it is achievable, though we are not there yet but we will get there when we actually use the proper tools in IT, in all the sectors that are available in the country.Â Luckily we have a guide which is Vision 20-2020 and is supposed to make us aware that this is actually possible looking at its progress through utilization of IT.
One of NITDAâ€™s projects are the Mobile Internet Units. The MIU buses are very good; they are supposed to be powered to go into the rural and underserved areas.
They are internet available in a kit, just like first-aid boxes. MIU is the first-aid box for IT, where we have a generator, VSAT, computers can be used in rural areas but the problem is the cost of transmission. The cost implementation it is about N450,000 for about 2-3 weeks and the bandwidth has to be provided to get into these areas.
The beauty of it is that it can go anywhere and they are okay but the cost is expensive. When you go to some schools they donâ€™t even have tables, no chairs, no good teachers not to even talk about providing N450,000 every year for just two weeks to provide internet, but these buses can provide that.
NITDA was providing for schools, where we take these buses to them; give them services for one to two weeks as the case may be. Some MDAs also use it and pay the cost of bandwidth and the driver needed, but the cost of the bandwidth is too expensive. So you see itâ€™s the cost but rather itâ€™s better to provide RITCâ€™s everywhere where the software components are very permanent in that area or in that environment.