By Emeka Aginam
If Nigeria must build its economy on the basis of knowledge and skill as prevalent in developed worlds, there are certain hurdles that must be taken out of the way. These were some of the problems that 2014 Nigerian Computer Society, NCS conference which held in Enugu last week, highlighted.
Part of these hurdles include adequate legal framework for a knowledge based economy, data security, infrastructure, IT literacy, among others.
Although speakers at the event agreed that there were convincing signals currently in the country towards building a knowledge based economy, they however pointed to the need for the country to latch on the digital revolution to escape being a digitally colonized state.
Participants at the event noted that a number of initiatives by the government, including, broadband plan, IT parks, growing number of tech start-ups, among others, needed to be improved upon.
They also saw the need to protect critical key IT infrastructure in order not to allow foreign vendors continue to control Nigerian cyber space.
Any society, according to the conference that does not possess enough wealth to research, build and produce technology on its own, will be left behind technologically.
For a successful transition to a knowledge based economy, the forum believed that IT literacy was key. This is even as participants discussed other industry issues including security issues in knowledge based economy, e-government solutions, application of IT and local content development, broadband access, among others.
Apprehensive of the fact that the cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving with lack of appropriate legal frame work, the 25th NCS national conference noted that there was need for Nigeria to be more proactive and take urgent practical steps to ensure that IT infrastructure is secured.
Speaking shortly after he received an award of Excellence and achievement in Information Technology deployment from the NCS, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi warned that there was need to face the challenges ahead with right investment in IT.
Obi said, “We have missed industrial and agricultural era, we have to invest in IT to be part of the new economy. We have the human resources and everything in our disposal to get it right. Because I know that IT is the future, I took a bold step when I was governor, in ensuring that our children are retooled in the right way through ICT by acquiring 70,000 computers for ICT education. That was my own way of building a knowledge based economy which is the theme of this conference”
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of NCS, Prof. David Adewumi urged the Federal government to invest more in the installation of Close Circuit Television, CCTV in strategic places across the nation to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.
According to him, Nigeria cannot be talking of knowledge based economy when key IT infrastructure are not protected against cyber attacks, adding that there should be IT governance model to ensure a secured computing environment.
He advised government to establish a national biometric database programme to tackle insecurity in the country.
In his own contribution, immediate past President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON), Mr. Chris Uwaje in representation of the ISPON President, Pius Okigbo Jr, raised fresh alarm over vulnerability of critical government data. According to him, “we may not attain knowledge based economy if critical infrastructure are not protected’ he said.
The immediate past President of NCS, Sir Demola Aladekomo who chaired the first plenary session on ‘Broadband and knowledge Technologies’ told the gathering that IT literacy is vital to the success of digital economy. “We must promote IT literacy. IT literate workforce is critical for the new economy” he said.
Also in her own contribution, during the first plenary session, the President of Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, CPN, Alhaja Sekinat Yusuf, said that, “we cannot have digital economy without adequate security measures”.