By  Prince Osuagwu & Laide Akinboade

Last week, the Digital Bridge Institute, organised a programme hinging on ICT for development. The three day seminar was unique in the sense that it was structured to unlock the key barring Non Governmental organisations and indeed the civil society from accessing the fund necessary to carry out projects that can encourage a robust Nigerian economy.

Another area the conference sought to solve was the problem of poor electoral processes in Nigeria. To this effect, a group of NGOs, civil society groups and other stakeholders in the economy gathered and agreed that ICT has a big role to play in all these.

But before the event came to a conclusion, Vanguard Mobile Week, caught up with the president of the Institute, Prof. Raymond Akwule and he gave more insight into the vision of the seminar and the outcome expected. Excerpts:

What exactly is ICT for development?

Well ICT for Development is an acronym that has come to stand for the concept of using Information, Communication, Technology (ICT), to enhance civil society and organizations as they try to influence development on their own communities so really its trying to get ICT first of all to empower and energize civil society organizations.

Do you think this concept is going to work in Nigeria considering the fact that it has been over flogged? How far do you think it can reach?
Well it depends on how you are looking at it, ICT can help every aspect of the society, ICT can help kids to participate in the society, businesses, government and civil society, organizations and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), now if you take the case of say one of the groups we are showcasing at the conference the FANSUA FOUNDATION which have used ICT to do marvelous works in Kafanchan.

If you have not been there, you have to just go and see, I was blown away when I went to a rural area. When I saw this civil service organization an NGO, run by husband and wife. They have started first a training programme, they have a small health facility over there and they use ICT in the rural area to communicate with doctors in far away areas and get results They’ve also moved it to other areas within the same locality, all of these different areas have one thing in common and that is that the FANSUA FOUNDATION is using information communication technology to foster and make more holes in what they do.

How do you think the Federal Government can come in here?  Well at the time you called me we were just finishing a presentation by two Federal Government officials the national information, technology, development agency and Galaxy Backbone these two organizations are charged by government to one create a right policy environment to actually provide direction and then come out with IT policy for the nation.

What about the fund that have been provided for this purpose?  Oh yes, there is a fund, and this fund comes from the levy on the information organizations. What is playing out from these discussions here is that these funds are available for people who have ideas from the private sector. The private sector can have access to the fund, if any of the private sector have this idea that they think using ICT would impact the community they are in.

Whether it is a community or a group across the country or whether it a community in terms of geographical definition such as rural area or urban area or underserved communities. Ideas can also be flowing from the urban areas . The bottom line is that Government organizations can partner with NGOs and businesses in order to foster development in the nation. This is the only way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and  President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua‘s seven point agenda and vision 2020.

If you are to submit a proposal to the Federal Government, what kind of initiative will you package, for e-governance that is elections projects?
That’s a good question you know we highlighted in the presentation of the programme already the government is doing something. If you look at the discussions that are going on, they are surrounded with what can be done to make election processes better in Nigeria. Everybody agrees that ICT will have to play a role somewhere both at the national level and at the state level and that is the area to look at. How ICT can improve electoral process in Nigeria.


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