By Emmanuel Elebeke
THE Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has kicked against the Smart City initiative, saying that such idea amounts to misplacement of priority for a country like Nigeria with low digital literacy rate.
He also argued that the country is not yet ripe to adopt the technology of Internet of Things. Pantami, made the proposition known when he featured in an NTA panel discussion entitled: The Platform in Abuja.
He said the proponents of Smart City initiative must try to take the peculiarity of the country into consideration given the fact that the country is yet to achieve digital literacy and penetration across all nooks and crannies of the country.
For him, Nigeria is not yet ripe for such a high technology driven initiative, which he said will be better adopted by the developed economies like USA and United Kingdom.
“I am aware that the Federal Government has initiated move to build Smart Cities across the country but my opinion on the smart city initiative is that it is a misplacement of priority for Nigeria. I sometimes think differently from how many people think. Some of us, when we travel to other places we want to replicate what we saw there without thinking if we are ripe for that kind of development. “We must try to take our peculiar situation into consideration. That is why I say we should think Glocally, that is thinking globally and acting locally. It is very critical for us to get our priority right.
“To me, discussing Smart City and Internet of Things should not be our priority. We are not yet there. We should be thinking about internet penetration, digital literacy. These are the issues that we are discussing. So we should try to get our priority right.
“Getting our scale of preference right is going to be difficult to achieve. In NITDA, we are not talking about Smart City as far as I am concerned, this should not be our priority. Internet of Things should not be our priority now.
The US, UK can talk about that but not for us. We are talking about digital literacy, inclusion, capacity building and digital job creation. These should be our priority. If we can achieve this significantly, we can go ahead and think about Internet of Things, Smart City. So, I insist that thinking about Smart City should not be our priority,” he stated.
On e-government, the NITDA boss disclosed that a national committee had been set up by the agency to drive the implementation of the initiative across all government ministries and agencies, describing it as a framework for good governance.
He said that NITDA is collaborating with the Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON, the umbrella body of software practitioners of Nigeria to strengthen them and make them more effective in software development.
He also stated that the agency has in place a talent discovery plan through which young innovators are being selected and exposed to the world stage with a view to making them become globally competitive.
“I have met with the President of ISPON. They came to give their proposal as software practitioners.
“We believe that we cannot succeed without collaboration without supporting them. That is why we are working on the proposal to see how we can strengthen our software practitioners and further make them more effective”, he said.