By Emeka Aginam
A the just concluded e-Nigeria forum held in Abuja, participants at t5he event rose up from the conference saying that unless local content was introduced in the Nigerian educational in the curriculum, the country may not develop the expected information and communication technology (ICT) sector to meet global standard and best practice.
The objective of the conference will include proffering appropriate strategies to enhance Nigerian content in IT products and services; developing requisite framework for empowering indigenous IT entrepreneurs in order to contribute to Nigeria’s GDP; developing framework for providing critical employment through outsourcing and other digital opportunity windows, among others.
In a communique signed by the National Information Technology development Agency, (NITDA) Prof. Cleopas Anagaye informed that the educational institutions to be affected by this will include primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Besides, he said that local ICT companies have to be encouraged to compete internationally through various proactive measures, such as reduction in the importation of software and hardware into the country.
The stakeholders, at the conference with the theme: “Local Content in ICT Development in Nigeria”, according to the communique also estimated that by 2013, IT investment in the country would have hit $25 billion, which will be a significant leap from the initial investment worth $200 million, representing 18 percent contribution to the nation’s economic growth, noting that the sector was growing at an increasing rate and remained the 4th largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
Accordingly, the forum, according to NITDA DG, recommended, “NITDA should focus on intense research towards achieving the vision of local content, while the theme of this year’s e-Nigeria should be sustained in subsequent editions until 50 percent local content is achieved in the sector.
“There is a need for government to include local IT manufacturers in its international trade missions, in order to expose our local manufacturers and stakeholders to the best practices in the areas of service, software, knowledge, and innovation.
“Stakeholders shall identify an ICT Champion and a lobby group to advance the growth of ICT.
“Government should upgrade NITDA to a National Information Technology Development Commission (NITDC) to ensure adequate regulation of the IT sector.
“NITDA should develop a multilingual web portal in Nigerian Languages, including development of special IT programmes for our teeming youths to meaningfully engage them.
“Government shall continuously facilitate the establishment of knowledge-based clusters (ICT Incubation Centres) in a strategic imperative to enhance the standard and quality of local content implementation processes.
“All stakeholders shall collaborate to develop ICT local content in Nigeria. Creative and innovative thinking should be encouraged at all levels of the education system.” Angaye noted.
While stating that NITDA should commence the development of a concise ICT local content policy in collaboration with stakeholders, the conference urged the agency to strengthen its partnership with other relevant stakeholders, such as Ministries of Education, Finance, Agriculture, Health, Trade and Investment for effective ICT development in achieving their mandates.