By Prince Osuagwu (Hi-Tech Editor)
At a time when the safety of a nation against threats, such as terrorism, war or espionage has gone beyond physical methods, stakeholders in the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, industry are charging the nation to get its digital acts right.
For Mr Chris Uwaje, former President, Institute of Software Providers of Nigeria, ISPON and Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub, getting the acts right begins with data protection, local software protection and control of own cyberspace.
Uwaje while interacting with Hi-Tech recently, responded to the issue of creating Nigeria’s own social media platforms like China did; which is resonating in the Nigerian ICT sector.
He said: “Social media has become a phenomenal revolution and is now rewriting the socio-continuum and existence of humanity. Today, the social media narrative has become the existential currency for millions of people and has already impacted the fabric of social frameworks and to a large extent, that of governance. The power of social media has now become absolute to the extent that any business, politician or government that neglects it is bound to perish.
“Therefore, it is not only important but strategic for Nigeria and indeed, Africa to establish and own social media platforms. The ultimate goal of social media is reshaping and transferring the real power to the people, as a refined layer of democratic living process.”
Although his submission appears farfetched but the framework to achieve the target, considering the dearth of infrastructure in the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, sector.
However, Uwaje has a solution: “Government should begin to gradually build robust ICT infrastructure to accommodate broadband, Internet of Things and 5G Technologies’ development. These are critical and inevitable for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
“There should also be concerted efforts at building massive ICT capacity and skilled capabilities of Nigerians to engage digital knowledge. When all these and more are done, we would have leveraged on ICT to redefine knowledge and apply a merit-first models of existence by building a digital trustworthy society. We don’t even need to ask whether there would be results because the Mexican population was able to build support and arrange protests, to change the balance of power and set the record straight, using social media.
Raising the consciousness
Other issues Uwaje tackled included the growing concern of who will be responsible for raising the consciousness. “Social Media has indeed become the mainstream platform to beat. It is people-based, self regulated to some extent, and able to give people medium to voice their opinion and transform society. Therefore, it should be people-led. Intellectuals, youths and concerned citizens should be at the forefront of the movement. Not only that, business owners also have a lot to gain by promoting and supporting the establishment of social media platform because it delivers equitable playing field for their businesses as much as it helps to build and reshape brands. Above all, it is a strategic development vehicle for national and global accountability. The new media presents a win-win situation, because it cannot be controlled and exclusively manipulated without short-term detection.
Localising data has been discovered as one of the ways to manage national security, do we have such kind of laws that ensure this is possible in Nigeria?
Your question is not only thought-provoking but at the core of National security and survivability of the country. We should begin to look at all that; proactive data governance, good legal frameworks and tight cyberspace. We are talking about data, digital information and national security. It involves National and Personal Privacy issues which are no light matters. We must act fast.
Can Nigeria develop and export tested software apps?
Yes, this has been happening unannounced for some time. Today, our innovation potential is weakened by inadequate local patronage by government and the wedge of global financial aid. It is therefore time to restore trust in the ability and audacity of software applications developed in Nigeria, by Nigerians wherever they may be anywhere in the world.
In my professional assessment, the cumulative potentials of ICT Solutions, processes and services currently developed and supported by Nigerians all over the world is worth over 200billlion USD – including unaccounted patents and Intellectual Property, IP, missing in digital action. Indeed, to avoid emerging catastrophe in Nigeria’s digital future, rethinking our national ICT strategy – beyond local content in Oil & Gas, has become a matter of topmost urgency.
If Nigerian companies domicile local data in foreign lands, will Nigeria be right to compel them to reroute the huge data in their possession?
Current and future mathematics teaches us that data is and remains the ultimate currency and centre of life, human advancement and survivability. All digital players in the world are searching for data. Nigeria requires and should build a local cloud to house her data. Any nation which allows her critical data to be controlled by outsiders will pay dearly within the context of her sustainable development and may indeed not recover from the trauma. Data of listed public companies belongs to the shareholders – period! So, corporate entities must be made to comply with that principle, because the reusable opportunities of data are far larger than the disclosed revenue at the trading floor.
How can Nigeria be part of the 4th industrial revolution?
I will call it 4th Data Revolution rather than industrial revolution. The origin of man had always been based on data, Information and knowledge-of-things distilled and extracted into Intelligence-of-Things, IoT
For the avoidance of doubt, all the answers we have been searching for driving our sustainable development over the past 60 years have always resided in our skilled human resources and not on financial aids. For example, with the Treasury Singly Account, TSA, and similar ICT solutions and services delivered to Nigeria by Nigerians, the nation has indeed arrived at knowledge export and support services to many parts of the world. This is why the promotion of inter-generational knowledge solutions – with particular reference to harnessing the National ICT Ecosystem should be our core strategic imperative.
Numerous evidences abound and vividly illustrate why this is the wisdom roadmap to our collective destiny and prosperity. In my professional assessment, the cumulative potentials of ICT Solutions and services currently developed and supported by Nigerians all over the world is worth over 200billlion USD – including unaccounted patents and IP missing in digital action.
Smarter countries have realised that the core interface to ensuring maximum results reside in making ICT key driving force and critical linkage for achieving improved GDP, national security, youth empowerment assurances, global competitiveness and national survivability.”