By EMEKA AGINAM
Nigerian quest to become an ICT capable country in the knowledge economy has started yielding expected results as the Federal Government on Monday announced plans to invest about $15m in the software incubation centers in Lagos and Calabar in the first phase respectively.
While targeting 6 more centers across the nation including Kano, Enugu, Abeokuta, Ife, Abuja among others,by 2015, the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson at a stakeholders session held in Lagos on Monday, told the gathering that software incubation centres will go a long way in accelerating the development of a commercial software industry by ensuring that appropriate support and funding was available to software and other IT entrepreneurs.
The project, the Minister disclosed will have six months pilot phase while implementation phase will have duration of 18 months.
By December 2012, the Minister assured that the capacity building program would have been established, adding that private sector partnership was essential..
According to her, the Ministry has looked at other countries including India, Egytp, Kenya among others where it has worked as a model
With optimism, she said that software incubation centres will enable indigenous software developers in the nationfs burgeoning Information Communication Technology (ICT) landscape, tap into the mufti-million dollar global applications development market.
With the intention of raising software development capabilities of the nation, the Minister said that the
Nigeria youths would not only be able to develop the necessary skills that would enable them innovate and create software applications to be reckoned with, but will also enable them establish IT businesses that can thrive and make a difference in their lives.
The future belong to the youths. We need to begin now to grow them. We need to support them. We need to train them to be able to compete with their peers at the global stage. The incubation centers will act as a hub of innovation that will supports software development. Enterprise software development, linguistic software, mobile software application, business intelligence among others sge said were the program focus , she added.
With huge funding from the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) the incubation center, she said would attract funding from the international donors.
This framework will include minimum IT infrastructure requirements, the creation of a technology innovation venture capital fund, avenues for the commissioning of bespoke software by the business community, institutional support for incubates in the form of business services and a strong mentoring framework by successful business entrepreneurs and a transparent and credible process to select incubates.
The youth of Nigerian are innovative, dynamic, creative , hardworking, entrepreneurial in nature and hungry for technology. If given the chance and the enabling environment to develop their inherent skills, they will not only thrive but will make Nigerians and Africans proud.
We have seen the result of what exposure to ICT can do with the remarkable achievement of some of our youths who have excelled in several local and international software competitions especially the just ISPON software cup and the Microsoft Imagine cup,h the minister said.
Unfolding details of the software incubation centers, the program manager of the capacity building project, Mr. Helen Anatogu, disclosed that the Federal Government was seeding N500m for technology venture capital fund..
We expect $3m from Nigerian information development fund. AdditionaL $12m will come from other sourcesh she added.
According to her, the center will also cater for those who are not privileged to be students but who have the passion for software development.. gWe do not want to exempt those that are not students. Any youth who have the skills for software can come and develop solution. Business skills and entrepreneurial training are where the students will come inh she added.