By Emeka Aginam,Â Â Â Â Asst. Online Editor
Efforts by the state government to retool for knowledge economy with Information Communication Technology for global competitiveness have started yielding results with the level ofÂ interest shown by MinistryÂ of Science & Technology of many states government at the just concluded IT Public- Private Forum, (ITPPF) held in Kano State recently
Interestingly, the capacity building forumÂ gave the participants the opportunity to discuss how bestÂ to retool for the 21st century knowledge economy with ICT.
For one thing, the summit which was rich in content may have steered the country towards developing public_private partnership (PPP) models in the deployment of ICT infrastructure and solutions.
Expectedly , over 60Â participants , including Commissioners and Special Advisers in charge of ICTs from different states, CEOs of IT companies and IT professionals from both within and outside the country were in attendance.
With the support of Kano State government, how best to connect government ICT initiatives with industry, support initiatives to increase government budgetary allocation for ICT; c) build skilled capacities for State Information Infrastructure (SII); d) create conducive atmosphere for FDI into States forÂ development, fast track the attainment of the objectives of the MDGs; f) help governments to reduce the impact of the Digital Divide, create a forum for networking and exchange of ideas among states and stakeholders, were among the burning issues discussed at the event.
For most participants, especially Commissioners of Science and Technology fromÂ different states,
Permanent Secretaries, Directors of ICT, Captains of industry and IT CEOs,Â the fastest way to save government, especially the state from eventual collapse in the 21st century knowledge economyÂ is through retoolingÂ forÂ Information Communication Technology, (ICT).
Following presentations of keynote addresses and papers by resource persons nd productive discussion, theÂ forumÂ came to the conclusion that for the country to achieve its vision of being one of the 20 top economies in the world, it must invest wisely and creatively deploy ICTs to make the economy competitive.
At the capacity building forum, speaker after speaker who spoke at the event which was one of the verifiable fruits of the admission of ITAN into WITSA on December 1, 2008 were worried saying that except government begins to pay attention to ICT with enough budgetary allocation, the muchÂ e_governance in different States across the nation may be far fetched.
In the opinion of Kano State Commissioner of Science and Technology, Dr Bashir Shehu Galadanci, there was need for more synergy between the state and the private sector so as to achieve the vision of using IT to survive the 21st century knowledge economy.
According to him, any state that fails to retool for the knowledge society using ITÂ may be left behind, adding that the Kano stateÂ Â was well prepared for ICT park long before now.
â€œWe are ready for E-governance. Kano state was well prepared before now. Our IT Park which is near completion can attest that. There are low handing fruits in some states that should be plugged. Both private andÂ Public sectors of the Nigerian economy should implement IT policy to attain vision 2020â€ he said.
For Alhaji Mohad Abubakar Katcha, Niger StateÂ Commissioner, forÂ Science & Technology, States Government may not achieve the expected results in e-governance unless priority attention is paid to ICT. â€œNigerÂ state is seriously interested in ICT. We have many projects going on now. We have partnered with Brian Integrated Systems where Laptops and Desktops have beenÂ supplied to the government functionaries. We will do moreâ€ he said.
Similarly, his Osun State counterpart, Abiodun Oladapo, Permanent Secretary, Osun State Government, while commending the present administration in the effort to achieve vision 2020 imperatives throughÂ ICT told the gathering theÂ Osun state was ready for e-governance before now.. â€œIn Osun state, you do not have to worry about infrastructure. Every state should wake up in the knowledge economy. That is the only way toÂ face the 21st century digital divide. Osun state has come to stayâ€ he said..
While commending the Kano state government for fast gaining reputation as the knowledge pyramid of Nigeria, the ITAN President earlier in his welcome address noted that there was need for the form to pluck as many fruits as possible in line with the theme of the summit tagged â€˜Plucking the Low Hanging Fruitsâ€.
As the WITSA Chairman counseled at the ITPPF inauguration, Olufuye who is passionate about IT education among the Nigerian youths believed that these fruits are here with us, adding that and we only need to make efforts to pluck them.
Similarly, the WITSA Chairman Datoâ€™ Dan E. Khoo in his message to the summit stated that there was need toÂ use ICT as an enabling infrastructure, a platform and resource base to transform Nigeria. â€œWith the appropriate adoption, adaptation and use of ICT for development, the change you desire by the year 2020 will surely be realized. On our part, WITSA through ITAN will assist and support you in areas where we can have the most impact. One such support is in the area of appropriate policy formulation for effective ICT Governance.
Specifically, the meeting resolved as follows:
*To call on the Federal Government to urgently address the power sector without which ICT utilization and application would remain hampered
*To call for collaboration between the public and private sectors to establish open source incubator centers in all the states of the federation.
*To call on the federal and state governments to embrace the culture of learning from one another by sharing experiences on their respective IT projects and programmes on regular basis.
*To urge states that do not have ICT/IT Policy to commence the processes of getting one for their states
*To advise all governments in the country to mainstream ICTs in their budgets so that ICT programmes and projects would be adequately funded
*To advise states that do not have directorate of ICT to establish one to be headed by a professional of not less than the rank of a Director and registered with the Computer Professionals (Registration Council) of Nigeria (CPN).
*To encourage all states to develop their information infrastructure so as to be properly positioned to pluck not only the low hanging fruits of ICTs but also those on the top.
*To assure public institutions rolling out ICT programmes and projects that they can avail themselves of the free professional advise from ITAN members.
*To call on state governments and the public in general to embrace the use of open source software which is cheaper and allows for the realization of the creativity and talents of Nigerians
*To encourage federal government agencies to participate actively in the forum.