By Emeka Aginam
At the end of the just concluded Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, (ISPON) national software conference and competition held in Tinapa, Calabar, Cross River State, participants rose up from the conference saying among other things that there was need to retool the national workforce with ICT with particular reference to civil service operations by making all workers ICT literate and skilled.
The conference with the theme, “A Framework for Software as a National Imperative for a 21st Century Nigeria.”explored, assessed, evaluated the software-readiness status of Nigeria and provided an all inclusive framework for software as a National Imperative for a 21st Century Nigeria.‘
The conference which attracted global IT professionals, business community, academia, NGOs, stakeholders and distinguished resource persons and facilitators who are world experts and champions in software engineering afforded the participants the opportunity to unfold a roadmap for a 21st century Nigeria.
For a 21st century Nigeria, ISPON, at the end of the conference recommended the following :
*There is a fundamental need for a strategic Framework for Software as a National Imperative for a 21st Century Nigeria, Federal Government should therefore accelerate the actualization and approval processes for the adoption of the National Software Strategy/Policy for Nigeria.
* Enhancing the Software-Readiness status for Nigeria requires a conscious political will anddemands that the President become the driving force behind ICT development nationally and internationally.
*Establish a National Software Innovation Fund and encourage Software Competition at all levels of education and entrepreneurship.
*Increase ICT Investment and funding – ensuring that her national IT spend is scaled-up to between 10-12% of the National Budget.
*Policy makers should view National Software and related services issues as the key and strategic local content component for actualizing economic policy and national development, ensuring that the policies and programs they put in place spur digital transformation and benefit societies at large.
*Ensuring that consistent, energy supply and Broadband-centric ICT Infrastructure, Leadership and political will and that IT Skilled Capacity Building should become the strategic imperatives for National development *Adopt multi-stakeholder PPP approach to ICT policy re-engineering, that government and the private sector should work in concert to establish a national framework that offers the right incentives to encourage venture capital investment which includes the necessary structure to develop knowledge-based human capital.
* There is need to sponsor an executive Bill on National Information Technology Framework capable of promoting the following Acts: Indigenous Software Content Act, IT Law and Cyber Crime Act, e-Education Act. Digital Signature Act, National Information Infrastructure Protection Act and others.
*Develop ICT industry clusters of Knowledge Science and Innovation Parks such as the Tinapa Knowledge City that can drive the economy by contributing to the GPD, building sustainable businesses and creating knowledge intensive jobs.
*There is an urgent need to review the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program and reengineer its function to engage the opportunities in Business Process Offshoring/Outsourcing.
*Institute a National Software Competition Initiative at all levels of Education in Federal, State and local Government Areas. Establish ICT Departments at all levels of Government operations at the Federal, State and Local Government.
*Retool the National Workforce with ICT with particular reference to Civil Service operations by making all workers ICT literate and skilled.
At this global conference, scientific and professional papers were presented on very important issues/topics with special focus on strategies for ‘‘Framework for software as a national Imperative for a 21st century Nigeria.
Special mention was made on how national software policy engineering is important in achieving Vision 20-2020 and the mission of re-branding and transforming Nigeria.
For one thing, the conference observed that the emerging technologies are speedily moving the world into a globalized information society (IS).
It also recognized that unless software was recognized and made the engine room of nation-building, many of the economic and social developments in our nation may become unattainable.
The conference also evaluated and recognized with great concern that the current ICT e-readiness framework in Nigeria was grossly inadequate, especially in the areas of National Power Generation and Supply.
Information infrastructure, automation of government processes, electronic payment, e-education, capacity building with special emphasis on software engineering skills and ICT network and internet security, ISPON conference said must be given priority attention.
In view of the above, ICT leaders, Government policy makers, experts and stakeholders at the event witnessed the outcome and highlights of the national software Competition between 20 teams from Nigeria Tertiary Institution have endorsed this communiqué with the following recommendation.
It would be recalled that the conference was hosted by the ISPON and Government of Cross Rriver State of Nigeria in collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Nigeria Computer Society (NCS)