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TRANSFORMATION AGENDA: FG scores self high on ICT

By Prince Osuagwu

President Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet last week rose stoutly to claim that his Government has raised the bars in ICT development within the short span it has already spent directing the affairs of the country. However, government admitted failure in Quality of Service, QoS, saying it remains a major problem.

Contained in his Mid term presentation of the transformation agenda, during the Democracy Day celebration, was a summary of federal government’s account of achievements in ICT since the administration took charge in 2011.

According to the document, “the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan came into being in May 2011. At the second year the administration considers it appropriate to render an account of its activities to the nation. This report therefore highlights the achievements of this government in advancing the rule of law, democracy and development in Nigeria”.

The document titled “presidential mid-term report: Summary of policies and strategies for delivering the transformation agenda” by Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that President Jonathan’s administration, created, for the first time, a new Ministry of Communication Technology to champion reforms, arguing that this has increased the ease of doing business for Telecom Services Providers.GSM-cartoon

According to the document, application for building infrastructure has now been streamlined that it takes only 30 days to process and approve applications. She also in the document claimed that the GEJ government has reduced cost of right of way from five million naira to one hundred and forty five thousand naira only (?5 million to ?145,000).

Listing other achievements and developments in the ICT sector, Okonjo-Iweala said that the administration has also reduced multiple taxation on operators and created a strong government support to and licensing of mobile companies.

She said: “Mobile phone subscriptions have increased.  In 2004, only 8.5% of the population had access to mobile phones, but this was to increase to 92.75% in 2013.

Access to internet is rising. 38% of Nigerians now have access, compared to 34% at the end of 2012”.

She noted that as a result, more of government services like passports are being delivered online to the convenience of Nigerians

Iweala claimed that “government is now delivering around 50 services online, compared with 30 at the end of 2012. Yet about 1800 individuals registered in micro work/e-lance initiative equating to $121,000 new revenues.

Online shopping habit in Nigeria is gradually gaining momentum. Online vendors, like Konga.com, and Jumia.com report about 100,000 unique visitors each day and this has grown the value of online shopping by 25% amounting to ?62.4 billion in 2011 from ?49.9 billion in 2010”

NCC Boss, Juwah and Minister of CommTech, Mobolaji Johnson
NCC Boss, Juwah and Minister of CommTech, Mobolaji Johnson

She however admitted that Quality of service remains a problem, adding that government was working hard to encouraging more investments to tackle this problem.

From its inception, President Jonathan’s administration has created the impression that ICT would play a pivotal role in the success of its transformation agenda, meant to deepen the turn around of the Nigerian economy and position the country among the twenty strong economies of the world in the year 2020.

However, before now, notable practitioners in the Information and Communications Technology ICT, sector who took a cursory look at the agenda, declared that President Goodluck Jonathan may not need much pressure to get it right, if only it could fix certain areas in the sub sectors of the ICT industry.

The ICT experts including the president of Institute of software practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, Dr Chris Uwaje, Chairman of Zinox technologies, Dr Leo-Stan Ekeh, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo and the Chairman Teledom Group, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem among others, said that, world over, ICT has been discovered to be major economic enabler .

They expressed belief in the principle of transformation and said it could achieve aim if backed with known vehicles of change. They, therefore, proffered solutions they believed would help the government use ICT means to achieve vision 202020.

Ekuwem:
We need identity recognition (IR) software that matches video output of CCTV cameras, IP cameras, mobile phone cameras to video clips of “persons of interest” stored in a backend criminal database. Criminals/terrorists are going around unidentified and unapprehended. Vehicles carry bombs,explosives, arms, ammunition, weapons, etc undetected by scanning using VACIS with broadband interconnection for remote surveillance.

Uwaje:
To ensure National security and prosperity of 21st century, we need to establish a Software Commission and Nigeria must execute herNational Software Policy, Strategy and Legislation and also ensure that proactive government and e-learning Framework/Solutions are put in place.

This is because new knowledge society and economy (Information Society) cannot be separated from the education process. Indeed, conventional wisdom dictates that education is a socio-continuum and our cumulative life experiences as human beings translate into education – lifelong-learning, where mother nature and the total environment is and remains the inevitable classroom and research laboratory for all!


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